NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Youth justice funding response to rising public alarm

The image in the feature tile is from an article WA government announces funding boost for youth justice reforms in the face of growing pressure published in the National Indigenous Times on 27 November 2022. Photo: Govanni Torre.

Youth justice funding response to rising public alarm

After a long-running campaign and in the face of rising public alarm, the WA government has announced a $63m package it says will address the crisis in youth detention. The funding and reform plan is intended to deliver expanded mental health care, improved conditions and more education and vocational training in youth detention.

This comes in addition to funding announced earlier for building upgrades and to tackle the long-running dire staff shortages that saw the excessive use of lockdowns in the system. “The public rightfully expects that community safety is paramount. It is also vital to break the cycle of crime for young people,” Premier Mark McGowan said.

Former Inspector of Custodial Services, Professor Neil Morgan, has noted repeatedly that the high rate of re-offending among former Banksia Hill detainees, around 70%, indicated the failure of the system. Indigenous youth are radically overrepresentated in the children detained at Banksia Hill and Casuarina Prison’s Unit 18.

Premier McGowan recently met with a small group of advocates at a summit called in the wake of disturbing footage from within Banksia Hill being broadcast by state and national media. Human rights advocate Megan Krakouer, who has worked with hundreds of current and former Banksia Hill detainees building a class action case, said that “more than half of the newly announced spend is on upgrading cells”.

To view the National Indigenous Times article WA government announces funding boost for youth justice reforms in the face of growing pressure in full click here.

A related article Fiona Stanley and advocates urge for inquiry, greater Indigenous involvement in rehabilitation in juvenile detention was published earlier today by ABC News and is available here.

Fiona Stanley says Indigenous people have answers to problems facing the youth justice system. Photo: Cason Ho, ABC News.

SCMSAC celebrates 40 years

The Nowra Showground came alive as mob celebrated four decades of the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation (SCMSAC) on Friday. Elders and school students united in song and dance to champion and reflect on the incredible work done by so many part of the organisation.

In 1982, Jane Ardler along with a number of local leaders formed the corporation, with the aim of achieving accessible and effective health care for Aboriginal communities with a focus on prevention and self-determination. The service started with just a single doctor working one day in a small meeting room at the cultural centre in Nowra.

Now 40 years on, the corporation has a proud team of over 120 employees, spread across eight locations, spanning from the head office in Nowra down to the Victorian border.

To read the Illawarra Mercury article South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation celebrates four decades of self-determination in full click here.

The Nowra Showground came alive as mob celebrated four decades of the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation on Friday 25 November 2022.

Supporting students into tertiary studies

The vital knowledge of First Nations people will be harnessed in a new program to support students into tertiary studies in health, education, and arts. In January 2023, Charles Darwin University (CDU) will launch the First Nations Introduction to University for Health, Education, and Arts students, a taste of university for students interested in a career in health, education or arts.

Split into two interlinked units, the program will give foundational academic skills and knowledge in the students proposed future study area. The program was co-designed with First Nation and non-First Nation educators and professionals and will include guest speakers from local organisations.

Co-developer and Gudanji and Wakaja woman Dr Debra Dank said the inclusive program aimed to empower students and give them confidence to use and expand their knowledge.

To view the Charles Darwin University article New program to guide First Nations students into health, education and arts in full click here.

Image source: Charles Darwin University website.

Early Childhood Voice Conference 2022

Charles Sturt University is hosting a major early childhood education and research conference online from Monday 5 to Friday 9 December 2022 featuring international experts from Luxembourg, Canada, the USA and Australia as keynote speakers.

One of the keynote speakers will be Dr Hontel Givson  by Dr Chontel Gibson, a Kamilaroi woman from north-western NSW, who presentation is titled ‘Valuing Indigenous peoples and their health and wellbeing in early childcare services’. Dr Gibson graduated as an occupational therapist in 2000, was awarded a Master of Public Health in 2010, and a Doctorate of Philosophy relating to Aboriginal health and wellbeing in 2018. She has worked as an occupational therapist, policy officer and academic, and has held many leadership roles, including Board Director of Occupational Therapy Australia and the inaugural Deputy Chairperson for Indigenous Allied Health Australia.

Dr Gibson co-developed and continues co-chairing the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Occupational Therapy Network, which provides strategic advice on occupational therapy. She is currently managing the ‘Good for Kids. Good for Life’ team that supports early childhood education and care (ECEC) services in the NSW Hunter-New England region to implement health promoting practices in-line with ‘Munch and Move’.

To view the Charles Sturt University article Leading experts to speak at online Early Childhood Voices 2022 Conference in full click here.

iSISTAQUIT – change starts with a chat

For centuries, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People have been yarning with each other, utilising collective knowledge to solve complex problems. Through the iSISTAQUIT (implementing Supporting Indigenous Smokers to Assist Quitting) program, health providers are being trained and empowered to start a chat with pregnant women who smoke tobacco to encourage them to quit smoking, and empower Indigenous women to connect with health services that are trained and ready to assist.

All health providers understand the importance of quitting smoking, especially during pregnancy. Quitting smoking in pregnancy not only improves infant health outcomes such as birth weight and gestational age it also improves the health and wellbeing of the woman, her family and the entire community. Most Indigenous pregnant women want to quit smoking but may not get enough culturally appropriate guidance, resourcs and support from health providers.

It is not that health providers lack motivation to provide smoking cessation assistance. The issue is that Australian GPs and other health care workers who provide care to pregnant women often find themselves ill-equipped to provide smoking cessation care to Indigenous pregnant mums. In a study of 378 GPs and obstetricians, more than 75% agreed that training would help them provide better smoking cessation care in pregnancy.

To view the Insight Plus article Change starts with a chat – connecting through iSISTAQUIT in full click here.

Massive GP problems in coming years

The more than 1,500 RACGP members attending the GP22 conference were left in no doubt about the scale of the problems facing general practice in the coming years. Continued underinvestment, current and projected workforce shortages, and the erosion of their place in the healthcare system were at the top of the agenda. However, attendees also received insights into the amount of behind-the-scenes work the college has been doing to reverse this burgeoning crisis, as well as a path towards a brighter, more sustainable future.

Outgoing President Adjunct Professor Karen Price spoke about the challenges of her two-year term and thanked members for their tireless and much needed efforts. But she also warned about the need to redouble efforts to combat the coming headwinds. “We have endured another exhausting 12 months; however, you should all hold your heads high,” she said. “You have to delivered millions of COVID vaccines and boosters, flu vaccines, cared for patients who delayed or avoided screenings and consults during the pandemic, [and] we’ve helped those with mental health [concerns] and will continue to do so.”

“We achieved all of this despite many of the nation’s leaders and media commentators not fully appreciating the immense challenges and the complexity that we face every day – nor do they understand the value of our work. As professionals we must actively and rebelliously resist. We must declare that we are the experts in complexity and in general practice. We need meaningful reform backed by real investment. And as I’m fond of saying … reform without reinvestment is just red tape. We must draw more future GPs to the profession. We must keep the GPs we have. We must ensure high quality care is available to all patients in all corners of Australia. And we must secure the future of general practice care for years to come.”

To view the newsGP article Message of hope kicks off GP22 click here.


More than 1500 people have travelled to Melbourne to attend GP22 in-person. Photo: Adam Thomas, Image source: newsGP.

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: Connected Beginnings national gathering hosted by SNAICC

The image in the feature tile is from the SNAICC website on the event.

Connected Beginnings national gathering hosted by SNAICC 

“We all want the best for our children, and it’s incredibly important that all kids thrive in their early years to get the best start to life,” said Senator Malarndirri McCarthy – NT as she shared pictures in a post on the Connected Beginnings national gathering earlier this week in Brisbane.

Powerful stories, sharing and experiences as day one of the Connected Beginnings event. This is the first time services have been able to get together for a few years, and the first with SNAICC as Community Partner.

NACCHO along with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) are happy to work in partnership with the Australian Government and SNAICC-National Voice for our Children to deliver the health component of this program which makes a real difference towards improving the lives of our kids and building better outcomes for them.

Background Information

The Connected Beginnings program forms part of the first Commonwealth Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.. It aims are to contribute to achieving Outcome 4, that children thrive in their early years, under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Connected Beginnings currently fund 14 ACCHOs and Aboriginal Medical Services across Australia. In 2021, the Australian Government provided additional funding to expand the Connected Beginnings Program to a minimum of 50 sites by 2025 and are working in partnership with NACCHO on the delivery of the health component of the Connected Beginnings program.

The program demonstrates how change can be made within the new Closing the Gap partnership arrangements and how transformation can happen if everyone has a shared vision, trust, and commitment.

You can find more information about Connected Beginnings on the Australian Government Department of Education and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations joint website page here.

To read a previous article on a Connected Beginnings program run by one of our affiliates, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), an ACCHO for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community click here.

Image source: Senator Malarndirri McCarthy – Northern Territory Facebook page

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Scholarships

CSIRO offer opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students to undertake postgraduate research degrees. Master and PhD scholarships are available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who are enrolled in an Australian university and wish to undertake a postgraduate research degree.

The CSIRO postgraduate scholarships provide additional funding to a research training program (RTP) Scholarship, Centrelink education scheme payment or equivalent scholarship.

Applicants must be of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent and enrolled in an Australian university.

If you have studied in any of the following disciplines, the CSIRO team are happy to hear from you:

  • science
  • technology
  • engineering
  • maths.

For more information click here.

Dr Veronica Matthews work recognised as top 10 First Nations health author

Matthews’ work focuses on improving holistic health care systems, the model of comprehensive care embodied by community-controlled primary health services that care for body, mind and spirit for first nations patients. Dr Veronica Matthews is a health systems researcher from the Quandamooka community of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island). She is based at the University Centre for Rural Health (UCRH) on Widjabul/Wyabul Country in Lismore.

Last month Matthews was acknowledged as top 10 First Nations health author by scholarly output in the world along with two other University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health colleagues FMH researchers.

Early influences – as a saltwater Murri, Matthews’ early experiences – the saltwater country around Minjerribah aka North Stradbroke Island – were the initial inspiration for her studies in ecology and environmental toxicology. Her PhD involved assessing persistent organic pollutants in Moreton Bay seafood for consumption advisories and health risk assessments for surrounding communities. This took Matthews to work for more than 20 years in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector across government and research roles. And always, from the get-go, Matthews’ work focused on improving holistic health care systems, the model of comprehensive care embodied by community-controlled primary health services that care for body, mind and spirit.

To read the full story click here.

Image source: University of Sydney website

Grant to research shortage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives

A Charles Sturt University nursing educator is part of a multi-organisation research team to be awarded a large grant to investigate why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are under-represented in the ranks of nurses and midwives.

  • $1.1 million ARC Discovery Indigenous Grant awarded to a consortium team of nursing and midwifery education researchers
  • A leading Charles Sturt University nursing educator is a member of the research team
  • The researchers aim to strengthen anti-racism and cultural safety in healthcare education

A Charles Sturt University nursing educator is part of a multi-organisation research team to be awarded a large grant to investigate why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are under-represented in the ranks of nurses and midwives.

Head of the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Healthcare Sciences Associate Professor Linda Deravin is a member of the research team led by Professor Karen Adams, Director of the Gukwonderuk Indigenous Unit in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science at Monash University.

To read the full story click here.

Aboriginal lady on dialysis and Aboriginal nurse

Image source: Queensland Health.

RACGP announces GP training leadership appointments

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed the appointment of senior leaders to support its Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program delivery in 2023. The RACGP has been recruiting the people required to deliver its profession-led AGPT program across Australia from 1 February 2023.

RACGP Chief GP Training Officer Ms Georgina van de Water joined the RACGP in February 2022, and previously led GP Synergy in NSW and the ACT. Ms van de Water said she knows from 14 years of leadership experience in the sector that regional training organisations have provided a great service to GP training, and the RACGP’s new appointments will enable the college to build on that success. “Our new national and regional leadership appointments come with extensive experience in managing general practice education, to meet the current and future needs of the profession and managing the systems that support trainers and GPs in training,” she said.

One of the RACGP’s key priorities is ensuring a smooth transition for GPs in training, supervisors and practices, and minimising disruption. To this end, the College is recruiting local and regional staff who know the local operations, training practices and participants in each state and territory, and can ensure a seamless transition.

Ms van de Water said, “We continue to work closely with stakeholders to ensure a transition with as little disruption to the delivery of GP training as possible, including the Department of Health, peak bodies representing GP supervisors and registrars, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, rural workforce agencies and clinical schools, primary health networks, state health organisations, local hospitals and community health services.”

To read the full story click here.

torso of doctor in white coat hand on stethoscope around neck

Image source: Armidale Express.

Australian-first cervical cancer screening program aims to reduce high mortality rates among Aboriginal women

Reducing the unacceptably high rates of cervical cancer in women from remote Aboriginal communities is the aim of an Australian-first cervical screening program being trialled in WA’s Kimberley region.

The program, developed by the University of Notre Dame Australia in collaboration with health providers and other research partners, enables specialist medical staff to travel to remote communities with the latest portable testing equipment, which can determine within 45 minutes whether a patient is carrying the cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV).

The initiative is only possible through existing partnerships with the WA Country Health Service (WACHS), WA Cervical Cancer Prevention Program, King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service, Australian Centre for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer, Australian National University, University of Queensland, and the University of Sydney.

UNDA post-doctoral researcher Dr Aime Powell said Aboriginal women were twice as likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer and three times more likely to die from the disease, mainly due to a lack of testing.

She said cervical cancer was one of the most preventable and treatable cancers and cervical screening was the most effective way to detect precancerous cells. Those cells can then be removed before they develop into cancer. However, less than 50% of all eligible Kimberley women participate in routine screening at the recommended interval.

“Given the existing inequitable health outcomes, it was clear that an innovative approach was needed to improve women’s access to participate in cervical screening.” Dr Powell said.

Read the full story here.

Image source: Menshalena, Getty Images.

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: Unique helpline 13YARN officially launched

The image in the feature tile is from

Unique helpline 13YARN officially launched

This morning, Federal Member for Indigenous Affairs, the Honourable Linda Burney MP, was joined by Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, the Hon Emma McBride MP to officially launch Australia’s first – and only – national Indigenous-led crisis hotline, 13YARN. Funded by the Australian Government (through the Department of Health), the purpose-built, 24/7 national telephone helpline was co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is run with the support of Lifeline.

More than 2,500 calls to 13YARN were answered in October 2022, which is an increase of 500 on the previous month. In the first 10 days of November, the service answered over 1,000 calls and is on track for its biggest month to date. “The more we have gone out into the community, the more trust we have been able to build – by showing mob that we are listening to their needs and yarning about the ways in which we can help them when they are feeling overwhelmed or doing it tough.”

“On average, our First Nations Crisis Supporters are helping keep over 100 people safe a day – and this call volume is growing week on week. We believe there is always hope at the end of a yarn. We know how to listen without judgement or shame, and we believe in the power of storytelling to heal.” Mrs Anderson said that the service filled a gap that had existed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for too long, “This one-of-a-kind service has been designed from day one to be culturally appropriate and is there to make sure any mob who are having difficulty coping have their own place where they can connect and get help from a trained Crisis Supporter who understands what they might be experiencing.”

To view the Mirage article Unique Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander helpline officially launched in Sydney in full click here.

Image source: 13YARN tweet 28 October 2022.

Plan to cut mob’s hearing loss by half

Hearing Australia has set itself an ambitious target, launching a plan to halve the rate of hearing loss among Indigenous children by 2029. It’s a widespread and chronic problem across Australia, with one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experiencing otitis media, inflammation and infection of the middle ear. Local diagnosis and treatment are not always available. These infections cause temporary hearing loss, making it hard for children to hear, learn, and yarn. The Hearing Australia action plan is an all-out effort to improve ear health and hearing outcomes for Indigenous children. It calls for earlier diagnosis, better access to treatment, and building workforce capabilities in primary health care services across Australia.

One of the people leading the effort is Denise Newman, who was born on Thursday Island and grew up in Bamaga on Cape York Peninsula. Early detection of ear infection is vital to prevent hearing loss Denise is a strong advocate for better ear health and hearing, who understands the challenges better than most. “I’m profoundly deaf in one ear, but I’m moderate in the right. I can really feel for the children. I know what it feels like not to hear.”

Otitis media can be a product of socio-economic factors in remote communities like overcrowding, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, poor access to services, and low immunisation rates. Since the introduction of the Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE), there has already been a reduction in hearing loss because children are coming in early, and they’re being detected early and being treated early.

To view the Tropic Now article Bold plan to cut Indigenous hearing loss by 50 per cent in full click here.

Hearing Australia’s Denise Newman was born on Thursday Island and grew up in Bamaga. Image source: Tropic Now.

Nurse and midwife shortage research

A Charles Sturt University nursing educator is part of a multi-organisation research team to be awarded a large grant to investigate why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are under-represented in the ranks of nurses and midwives. Head of the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Healthcare Sciences Associate Professor Linda Deravin is a member of the research team led by Professor Karen Adams, Director of the Gukwonderuk Indigenous Unit in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science at Monash University.

The $1.1 million ARC Discovery Indigenous Grant was awarded to the team of researchers from Muliyan, a consortium of nurse and midwifery education researchers and hosted by the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) that Associate Professor Deravin is part of.

Associate Professor Deravin said the $1.1 million ARC Discovery Indigenous Grant is the largest-ever funded ARC Indigenous grant and represents approximately 10% of the total Indigenous Discovery grant allocation of $10,688,702. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are only 1.3% of the nursing and midwifery professions in Australia, far below the 3.8% of the nation’s First Nations population (as of June 2021).

To read the Charles Sturt University article $1.1 million grant to research shortage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives in full click here.

Image source: Charles Sturt University Latest News webpage.

Centre for Disease Control consultation paper

The Department of Health and Aged Care has released a consultation paper Role and Functions of an Australian Centre for Disease Control: Prevention-Promotion-Protection outlining plans for the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), including 28 questions to guide further consultations about the initiative. The document reveals that the CDC is likely to be established from early 2024. The new document is an excellent discussion paper which clearly seeks to walk the tightrope between high aspirations for the new agency, and the pragmatism of working with a government with many competing priorities and resource constraints. We will of course be pushing those aspirations.

The paper provides a Draft Mission Statement and a set of Draft Purposes for the agency. The purposes are that the CDC will Protect, Gather and Analyse, Guide and Communicate, Lead, Cooperate, Prioritise and Develop. Themes highlighted in the consultation paper include climate and health, One Health, the importance of prioritising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, equity, diversity and the wider determinants of health.

To view the Role and Functions of an Australian Centre for Disease Control: Prevention-Promotion-Protection consultation paper click here and to read the Croakey Health Media article On the new Centre for Disease Control, here are 28 questions requiring your attention in full click here.

Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Inequities in cancer care can be overcome

Cancer care is suboptimal for some groups in Australia, but according to experts, the disparities can be overcome. While cancer instances went down by 16% between 1998 and 2015 for Australians as a whole, the numbers increased for Indigenous Australians by 26%. Rural Australians were 1.3 times more likely to die from cancer in 2021 and members of the LGBTIQA+ community were also disproportionately affected by certain cancers, including breast and ovarian cancers.

In addition to the heightened physical challenges, family stress and financial and employment difficulties that come with a cancer diagnosis, patients from rural areas are commonly faced with extensive travel to access medical services unavailable closer to home, she said.

Dr Kalinda Griffiths, an epidemiologist at the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at the University of New South Wales, works on empirically addressing complex health disparities through existing data, particularly by using Indigenous data for research and reporting purposes. Addressing inequity and the needs and aspirations of Indigenous people begins with the application of human rights and the appropriate and effective use of Indigenous data, said Dr Griffiths. She emphasised that supporting Indigenous worldviews, values, understandings and practices within Western structures plays a crucial role in the rights and interests of Indigenous people being met.

To view the Oncology Republic article Inequity in cancer care: instances of change in full click here. In the below video Professor Alex Brown from the Aboriginal Health Research Adelaide Medical School, The University Adelaide talks about the health disparities in Aboriginal communities.

Lowitja Institute funding round CLOSES Monday!

Applications for the Lowitja Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Major Grant Round 2022-23 close on Monday next week.

The purpose of the Major Grants is to support innovative and responsive community research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The aim is for research to influence policy and practice through the rapid translation of community priorities for improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. It will also support the capability and capacity building of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to do their own research, their way.

Applications close on Monday 21 November 2022. More information can be found on the Lowitja Institute website here.

Puzzle piece image from Bond University website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

World Prematurity Day

November 17 is World Prematurity Day, a globally celebrated awareness day to increase awareness of preterm births as well as the deaths and disabilities due to prematurity and the simple, proven, cost-effective measures that could prevent them.

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

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

For more information about World Prematurity Day visit the Miracle Babies Foundation website here and for further information about preterm birth in Aboriginal populations visit the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance website here. The image below is from a Solid Mob – Tackling Indigenous Smoking Facebook post on World Prematurity Day last year. Accompanying the image is the following information: If Smoking during pregnancy was eliminated among Indigenous women, 1 in 6 preterm births could be prevented. Among babies born to Indigenous Women, 14% were born preterm, which is one of the biggest risk factors to bub dying by 1 month old.

Image source: Solid Mob – Tackling Indigenous Smoking Facebook page – 17 November 2021.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Ancient practice helping Kimberley

The image in the feature tile is of a cultural healer treating a patient’s knee by rubbing in red ochre and singing healing songs. The image appeared in an article ‘The women’s song is so strong’: cultural healing in the Kimberley published in The Guardian yesterday, Monday 14 November 2022. Photo: Richard Wainwright, AAP.

Ancient practice helping the Kimberley

Deep in WA’s outback, in a region haunted by trauma and loss, a group of elderly women carry out an ancient healing practice. Red ochre is rubbed into a patient’s knee as they sing a powerful song, their arthritic hands working in a liquid motion. The healers have seen plenty of pain – both physical and spiritual – among those seeking their help.

“We see their eyes when they come to us. We see the eyes and the eyes tell us that person is sick,” a healer said. “They come to us ladies and we sing that healing song to them. We put the red ochre on them first to protect them, because the women’s song is so strong. And after that, they feel real good. They feel settled and calm and everything.”

Jalngangurru Healing is a trial program connecting patients in the Kimberley with male and female cultural healers. It targets clients in Fitzroy Crossing, Derby and surrounding communities, supported by the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre and Emama Nguda Aboriginal Corporation with federal funding. But the demand for its services is flooding in from across the nation.

“It went active on social media and it just went mad,” said Emama Nguda chief executive Ben Burton. “There were people from all over Australia sending messages trying to access help … people who are just desperate, in pain and suffering from mental health, loss after loss after loss and depression. All the feedback so far from people is it’s just life-changing.”

To view the Australian Associated Press article Ancient practice helping to heal Kimberley in full click here.

Tammy Solonec is helping people access traditional cultural healing in WA’s north. Photo: Richard Wainwright. Image source: AAP.

Repeated breaches of child rights at detention centre

Save the Children is appalled by the footage from WA’s Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre aired by ABC’s Four Corners and condemns the conduct as a gross violation of children’s rights. The video shows a boy being handcuffed, forcibly held down and sat on by guards in a dangerous restraint technique known as ‘folding up’, with reports several other boys have been subjected to similar practices. The ABC footage is further evidence that children’s rights are continuing to be violated at Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre, highlighting the urgent need for an overhaul of WA’s youth justice system before more irreparable harm is done.

To view the Save the Children media release Repeated breaches of child rights in WA youth detention must end now in full click here.

In a related article Union: ‘Chronic understaffing’ contributing to stress and aggression among Banksia Hill child detainees available here a union representing youth custodial officers say “chronic understaffing” at Banksia Hill Detention Centre is contributing to the heightened stress and aggression among child detainees.

The CPSU/CSA on Monday released a letter its leadership sent to the Department of Justice in May 2021 – 18 months ago – that sounded the alarm on safety concerns at the facility. The letter said dangerously low staffing levels was putting the workforce at risk, denying the children in custody proper rehabilitation and resulting in “rolling lockdowns”.

The 15-year-old boy spent more than 60% of his recent stint in custody, in unlawful solitary confinement. Image source: ABC News.

Flooding makes existing disadvantage worse

Australia is currently experiencing its third consecutive year of a La Niña weather cycle, with more rainfall than average expected over the spring and summer months and a heightened risk of floods, tropical cyclones, prolonged heatwaves and grass fires in southern Australia.  According to the Human Rights Council Report 75-80% of the world’s population will be negatively impacted by climate change. It also states climate change will exacerbate existing poverty and inequality and have the most severe impact on our poor.

Indigenous people in Australia make up just 3.8% of the population. Still, they account for nearly 30% of those living in poverty and up to 50% in remote communities. Many live in poor, overcrowded housing not prepared for natural disasters or the effects of climate change such as persistently hotter temperatures. In addition, there is limited nearby infrastructure or resources to prepare for and respond to emergencies.

All levels of government have been criticised for a lack of action in supporting Indigenous communities during times of crisis. This now needs to be addressed urgently, given the destructive weather is forecast to continue in the coming months. Earlier this year, when floods hit the town of Lismore in NSW, the local Indigenous community was left to fend for themselves, with many people losing their homes and possessions. First Nations communities were among those worst affected, with many people stranded without access to food or clean water.

To read the Mirage article Effects of climate change such as flooding makes existing disadvantages for Indigenous communities so much worse in full click here.

Chelsea Claydon (left) and Izzy Walton (right) have been running the Koori Kitchen in Lismore, which is still providing 100s of meals to flood-affected residents on the Northern Rivers. Photo: Matt Coble. Image source: ABC News.

Workplace racism leaves workers traumatised

Between 2018 and 2020, Ms Jacqueline Stewart worked within the NSW Health Education Centre Against Violence (ECAV) — a unit responsible for helping with the prevention and response to violence, abuse and neglect, including within Indigenous communities. She resigned in 2021 after, she said, her complaints to NSW Health management about racism and bullying were not properly addressed.

There were several incidents, but some of the main ones she made formal complaints about included that a contracted worker in her team painted her face black at a work function and then posted it on the ECAV’s Facebook page at the time. Ms Stewart describes her time at NSW Health as “emotional destruction” and says the impacts of racism and bullying are long lasting. “It’s impacted my family. It’s been a massive impact.”

Research conduct last year by consulting firm MindTribes and the University of Melbourne, found that 76% of respondents either witnessed discrimination, experienced discrimination, or had both witnessed and experienced it, and 69% of respondents felt “low or no confidence” in the reporting process.

The latest data follows a report from Diversity Council Australia (DCA) called Racism at Work, released earlier this year found 88%t of respondents agreed racism was an issue in Australian workplaces and 93% agreed organisations needed to take action to address it. While support for organisations to tackle workplace racism was high, only 27%t of survey respondents said their organisations were proactively preventing workplace racism.

To view the MSN article ‘Isolated and traumatised’ workers subject to racist slurs call for employers to do more to stamp out bullying and harassment in full click here.

Jacqueline Stewart, a former employee of NSW Health, was a victim of racism. Photo: Daniel Irvine, ABC News.

Calls for input on draft Australian Cancer Plan

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, said the Australian Government is calling for stakeholder input on the draft Australian Cancer Plan (ACP) which is designed to provide lasting change and improve outcomes for all people affected by cancer. Australia leads the world in cancer outcomes however, it is still the leading cause of death in this country. This year alone, 50,000 people will lose their lives to cancer.

The draft ACP presents the opportunity for all Australians to comment on a ground-breaking national strategy that sets out strategic objectives, ambitions, goals and priority actions for cancer control. To make a difference we need coordinated system-wide engagement.

To view Minister Butler’s media release Consultation opens on draft Australian Cancer Plan in full click here.

Indigenous Eye Health Unit to launch book

Indigenous Eye Health Unit invite you to the launch of “Minum Barreng: The story of the Indigenous Eye Health Unit” (IEHU). This book documents the work and achievements of the IEHU over the last 15 years.
The launch will be from 10:00 – 11:30AM on Friday 2 December 2022 in the Woodward Centre, Level 10, Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton.

Registrations for the launch close on Thursday 24 November 2022.

For more information you can access a flyer about the book launch event here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Health services holding communities together

The image in the feature tile is from an article Kerang residents now urged to leave, Echuca braces for more flooding published in the Bendigo Advertiser on 22 October 2022. Photo: Dareen Howe.

Health services holding communities together

Health services in rural and regional communities have been inundated with increased needs for their services after flooding around the country stretches into a third year. Some health services – including ACCHOs and nursing homes – have found themselves under water while unsafe roads have made it harder for people to reach healthcare. Health workers are contending with new health concerns including illnesses related to contaminated flood waters, mould and mosquitoes as well as high stress levels as people lose their homes, food sources and livelihoods. Growing concerns about Australia’s continued inaction on climate change is also contributing to the distress felt by communities. Some have now experienced successive extreme floods, fires and droughts. Community and primary health services in Victoria, including ACCHOs, have been integral in the flood response.

ACCHOs are the “beating heart” of Aboriginal communities, many of which have been directly affected by recent floods, Abe Ropitini, Executive Director of Population Health at the VACCHO said. VACCHO was quick to respond after floods hit some of its member organisations last month, providing immediate food and housing relief, in part supported by its own appeal.

Many of VACCHO’s 32 member organisations are spread along the Murray River which has experienced extensive flooding. Njernda Aboriginal Corporation in Echuca and Kerang Aboriginal Community Centre have been damaged and are facing operational challenges due to flooding and the Cummeragunja Housing & Development Aboriginal Corp on the banks of the Murray River was entirely evacuated. As Ropitini explained, these organisations provide a range of health services, including housing, contributing to the significant investment needed for rebuilding.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Inundated health services holding communities together in full click here.

Salvation Army Pastor Ronald Stobie handing over sleeping bags and blankets to Njernda CEO Tracey Dillon, Director Corporate Services Robert Nugent and Executive Director Family Services Aunty Hazel Hudson. Image source: Njernda Aboriginal Corporation Facebook page 23 October 2022.

Improving hearing health for children

Combining Indigenous and western research methods, a new Flinders University project is aiming to stop Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from falling through the cracks when it comes to their hearing. Recently awarded over $1.1 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council, the project will provide culturally appropriate pathways to ensure children are not missing out on crucial ear health checks.

“All children have the right to hear well as it is vital for language development,” says project Chief Investigator Dr Jacqueline Stephens, an epidemiologist from Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health. “For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children this is especially important as language is a key component of their identity and for the passing on of history and knowledge, as well as building relationships with family and Country.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the highest prevalence of poor hearing health in the world, experiencing earlier, more frequent, more prolonged and more complicated ear disease and consequent hearing loss than other children, despite ongoing efforts to address the issue.

To view the Flinders University article Improving hearing health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in full click here.

Image source: Flinders University News webpage.

What’s best for tackling type 2 diabetes

Australian scientists reviewed seven previous studies that looked at interventions to address type 2 diabetes in Indigenous communities in Australia, NZ, Canada, and the USA, to see which worked and which were less effective. Although these communities are distinct, they also share some similarities, the authors say. This study analysed a decade of research in a field with disproportionate burden of disease and limited research. Indigenous group engagement with chronic disease management, including T2DM, is challenged by the ongoing impacts of colonialism, socioeconomic hardship, and racism. High income economies have relatively large pools of resources for their health systems that need more effective application to reduce barriers preventing healthcare access and use for Indigenous communities, given the ongoing disproportionate burden of disease.

The team identified seven components of effective interventions: reducing barriers to healthcare; a focus on community consultation; adaptable primary care programs; involvement of community-based health workers; empowerment of Indigenous people to help strengthen community ties and self-management; short, intensive programs; and group-based programs. The authors say policymakers should apply these seven components when designing approaches to tackle type 2 Diabetes in Indigenous communities.

To view the SCIMEX article What works best for tackling type 2 diabetes in Indigenous communities? in full click here and a link to the research article Effective primary care management of type 2 diabetes for indigenous populations: A systematic review in full here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Head injury 69 times more likely for First Nations women

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 69 times more likely than non-First Nations women to go to hospital with a head injury because of an assault. But not all First Nations women get the support they need. A new study shows how health and support services working in remote areas are not equipped with the tools to identify the potential of a head injury for women who experience violence.

Not only are service workers not asking women about a potential traumatic brain injury, there’s a lack of referral options, and often no diagnosis, limiting women’s access to services and supports for recovery. The study tries to understand the needs and priorities of First Nations women who have experienced a traumatic brain injury due to family violence. Timely and culturally safe care, and support, following such brain injury is vital.

To view The Conversation article First Nations women are 69 times more likely to have a head injury after being assaulted. We show how hard it is to get help in full click here.

First image source: Shutterstock, The Conversation. Second image source: Temet – Getty, The New Yorker.

HESTA Nursing and Midwifery awards

Heading into its 17th year, the HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards ecognise the amazing nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers, and personal care workers for their work, providing exceptional care across Australia. Healthcare workers are heroic. They go above and beyond daily with dedication, compassion and support while keeping our communities safe and delivering care for patients during challenging times. Each exceptional health professional has their own story worth celebrating.

Three winners will receive $10,000 to support their future-shaping work thanks to our long-term sponsor ME Bank. The categories include Nurse of the Year, Midwife of the Year and Outstanding Organisation.

Nominations are open until midnight on Sunday 5 February 2023.

You can read HESTA’s media release here and you can find more information about the awards here.

The 2022 Midwife of the Year winner was Melanie Briggs, as Senior Midwife at Waminda South Coast Women’s Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation (Waminda) Nowra NSW. Melanie Briggs was recognised for her tireless work to improve First Nations maternal and infant health. A descendant of the Dharawal and Gumbayngirr peoples, Melanie is the Director and Founder of Binjilaani, the first Aboriginal-led maternity model of care in Australia.

Renowned for her strong advocacy, Melanie implemented the Waminda Birthing on Country Model, incorporating culture into maternity care to improve outcomes for First Nations women and babies. Her vision is to see Aboriginal women birthing on their homelands, practising traditional lore and continuing cultural connections to country for their baby and their families.

Medicine safety depends on working together

The AMA said today that the global #MedSafetyWeek was a timely reminder of the need for medicine safety to remain a key priority for policy makers, including the preservation of the separation of prescribing and dispensing to protect the community. The AMA marked this week’s global #MedSafetyWeek (7-13 November) saying that patients are best served when doctors and pharmacists work together in providing care for the community.

AMA President Professor Stephen Robson said he was concerned poor policy decisions by State governments were undermining the important safeguard for patients, evidenced by the move to over-the-counter urinary tract infection (UTI) prescribing by pharmacists in Queensland and a “dangerous” prescribing experiment approved for North Queensland. “This is a model that promotes pharmacy profits at the cost of patient safety,” he said.

“Pharmacists are experts in medications and medication management and the AMA wants to work with pharmacists to develop models where we can contribute more to the delivery of health care in this country in a safe and collaborative way. “Unfortunately, we are seeing models being pushed that do the opposite. They fragment care and lead to negative health outcomes, as we have seen in Queensland.”

To view the AMA media release Medicine safety depends on doctors and pharmacists working together in full click here.

Image source: Aged Care Insite.

Sector Jobs

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

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

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

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

Indigenous perspectives of planetary health

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

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

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

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

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

SWAMSmob digital health platform wins award

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

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

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

Ieramaguadu woman uses FASD diagnosis to help mob

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

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

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

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

Non-Indigenous world views still inform health research

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

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

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

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

Kimberley urgently needs youth suicide action

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

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

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

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

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

Chlamydia prevention and management

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

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

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

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

Chlamydia bacteria. Image source: Medicine Plus website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

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

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

Arts can have positive impacts on health

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

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

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

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

Images from the Australian Council for the Arts Facebook page.

Julie Tongs leading the way in health care

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

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

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

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

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

Funding for crime prevention projects

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

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

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

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

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

Aboriginal health services best for prisons

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

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

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

Image source: The Canberra Times.

Stroke rates higher for mob

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

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

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

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

Making a difference for mums and bubs

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

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

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

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

Sector Jobs

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

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

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

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

Suicide prevention video launched

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

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

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

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

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

APY Lands mental health model causes dismay

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

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

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

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

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

Impact of obesity on life expectancy

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

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

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

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

Funding to rebuild Mutitjulu Health Clinic

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

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

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

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

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

Recommendations to address food security concerns

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

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

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

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

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

Sector Jobs

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

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

NICU Awareness Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACCHO dreams come true with $15m for upgrade

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

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

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

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

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

AIMhi-Y digital mental health tool launched

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

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

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

AMSANT on Four Corners program ‘How many more?’

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

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

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

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

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

Videos to support first 2,000 days of life

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

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

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

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

Aiding the mental health of those most in need

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

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

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

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

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

Sector Jobs

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

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

World AIDS Day 2022

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

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

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

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

For more information about World AIDS Day 2022 click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Conference 2022 highlights

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022, Tuesday 18 October 2022.

NACCHO Conference 2022 highlights

The two videos below include highlights from the NACCHO Youth Conference 2022 held on Monday 17 October 2022 and the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022, held from Tuesday 18 to Thursday 20 October 2022.

Coonamble AHS launch new health app

The Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service (CAHS) has broken new ground by developing a mobile app to connect people to health services and promotion. The Fair Dinkum Choices ™ app was launched on Friday 21 October at Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo with a bevy of high profile supporters on hand.

Glen Inglis, former NRL International, has signed on to help champion the app and spoke at the launch about his own story and his Goanna Academy, the first accredited and Indigenous-owned mental health organisation in Australia. He was joined by current NRL player Brett Naden, former National Basketball League star Tyson Demos, the Honorable Mark Coulton MP, Rob Skeen CEO of the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC), Andrew Coe, CEO of the Western Public Health Network, the CAHS Board of Directors and other government officials as well as community members and school students. Master of Ceremonies for the launch was comedian Sean Choolburra and Coonamble’s own Castlereagh Connection provided musical entertainment.

CEO Phil Naden says that CAHS have been working on the app for at least 18 months. “It came out of a grassroots health promotion conversation we had in the community,” Mr Naden said. “We got the idea for the wording ‘Fair Dinkum Choices’ from Jonathon Knight out in Bourke.” “He talks a lot on social media about making ‘fair dinkum choices’ and so I rang and asked him if we could turn this into a health promotion and he said ‘go for it.'”

To read the Western Plains App article CAHS launch health app in full click here.

Beau Ewers, Jonathan Knight, Phil Naden at the launch of ‘Fair Dinkum Choices’. Photo: Bageshri Savyasachi. Image source: Daily Liberal.

Police, not crime behind swelling prisons

In a speech to the Australian Institute of Criminology today, Assistant Minister for Treasury, Dr Andrew Leigh, said Australia’s incarceration rate has more than doubled since the mid-1980s while most crimes have fallen.  Leigh said the “issue has instead been with how we have chosen to handle complex social challenges. Stricter policing, tougher sentencing and more stringent bail laws appear to be the main drivers behind Australia’s growing prison population.”

In 2020 research, Leigh – a former economics professor – estimated recurrent spending on prisons totalled $4.7b annually, or $240 for every Australian adult. If the incarceration rate remained at its 1985 level, Australia would save $2.6 billion annually.

Incarceration particularly affects Indigenous Australians, among whom “the incarceration rate has risen from 1% in 1990 to 2.3% today,” and is now more than twice as high as when the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report was delivered. “Based on the available data, incarceration rates for Indigenous Australians are higher than for African-Americans in the US. They are also higher than for Indigenous people in Canada, NZ and the US.”

University of SA emeritus professor of law and criminal justice Rick Sarre said Leigh was smart to frame the argument as an economic one, adding there were “thousands of things you could do” with the money states poured into incarceration. If you pump [the funds] into welfare services, child protection, Indigenous mentoring, mental health support, supplementing income for families in crisis, then you’re going to get far better bang for your buck than waiting for people to screw up and putting them behind bars, which is probably the most inefficient way of stopping crime,” Sarre said.

To view the Brisbane Times article Policing, not crime is behind swelling prisons – and it’s costing billions: MP in full click here.

Image source: Law Society Journal Online.

Health Literacy Strategy – we need your feedback!

The National Health Literacy Strategy Framework Paper is now open for public consultation.

Your feedback is important and will be used to inform the content, approach and structure of the National Health Literacy Strategy.

NACCHO is encouraging all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations, including the health sector, to please take a few minutes to complete the National Health Literacy Strategy Consultation Online Survey here.

The deadline for input is Wednesday 9 November 2022.

You can access the strategy and online survey below:

Consultation Paper – Development of the National Health Literacy Strategy

National Health Literacy Strategy Framework Consultation Survey Questions

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

First care standard on stillbirth launch

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

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

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

Click here to register.

ACCHOs issuing bowel cancer screening kits

Catch Bowel Cancer Early.

From October 2022 ALL ACCHOs can issue bowel cancer screening kits direct to community.

For more information contact the NACCHO Cancer Team by phone 0498 290 059 or by email using this link.

$171m for Qld end-of-life care

Palliative and End-of-Life Care Strategy and Queensland Health Specialist Palliative Care Workforce Plan launched last week. In a statement, minister for health and ambulance services Yvette D’Ath said she understood people with life-limiting illnesses wanted choice and a greater say in where they wished to die.

A total of $102m of the government’s extra investment will go to attracting, recruiting and retaining a specialist palliative-care workforce through the state’s health network. This will include an extra 231 full-time frontline employees such as professional nurses, doctors, physios, and counsellors. “First Nations communities will also benefit from a significant increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, as well as targeted funding to trial innovative models of care to support families experiencing sad news and/or sorry business when losing a loved one or community member.”

To read The Mandarin story Queensland invests more for services to bring dignity to end-of-life in full click here.

Image source: Gwandalan Supporting Palliative Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities 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.