NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community-led healthy food initiatives

Community-led healthy food initiatives

The year to June 2021 saw 8 tonnes less sugar consumed* and 508 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables sold across the 41 remote Indigenous communities serviced by Outback Stores. This outcome is the joint result of the Outback Stores Healthy Food Policy and strong, community-led decision making from local store directors to tackle diet-related health problems.

Communities such as Engawala, Santa Teresa and Ali Curung have implemented restrictions on the size of soft drink bottles sold, as well as introduced sugar-free days of the week. “At first people didn’t like it, but as store workers we told them it was better for our health and they understood,” said store director Audrey Inkamala, about implementing ‘Sugar-Free Wednesdays’ in Engawala.

Since 2012 an ongoing trend has seen the proportion of full-sugar drinks fall by 23.24% across stores serviced by Outback Stores. The proportion of water sold increased 2.46% and sugar-free drinks also increased 0.25%. The result of this is 80,079 litres less of sugary drinks sold in remote communities, enough to fill an average backyard swimming pool.

“It’s great to see Outback Stores and local store directors working together to promote a healthier retail environment for stores and communities,” said Anna Murison, Health & Nutrition Manager for Outback Stores.

Improving access to nutritious and affordable food continues to be a key component in the Outback Stores nutrition policy. In the last financial year customers bought a total of 508 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables, which is a quantity four times greater than the average amount sold per store in 2011.

To view the Outback Stores media release click here.

two Aboriginal male store workers Ali Curung

Store workers, Ali Curung, Barkly Region, NT. The image in feature tile  is another store worker, Audrey Inkamala.

World’s first children’s mental health strategy

The Morrison Government has launched the world’s first National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy. The Strategy provides a framework to guide the development of a comprehensive, integrated system of services to maintain and support the mental health and wellbeing of children aged 0-12 and their families.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the Strategy was part of the Morrison Government’s long-term national health plan. “Caring for the mental health and wellbeing of our younger children, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is critical. We know that proper support can improve long-term outcomes and can help children achieve their full potential in life,” Minister Hunt said.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.logo for The National Children's Health and Wellbeing Strategy; line drawing red head, arms, orange semi-circle, sunrays blue & green

A number of organisations have commented on the new strategy. Thrive by Five welcomed the recognition of early education in the strategy and urged the Federal Government to introduce universally accessible, high quality early learning and care for every child. Thrive by Five, CEO Jay Weatherill, said: “so many children and families are struggling right now, making the work of our early educators more vital than ever. Thrive by Five is calling for the Federal Government to fast-track the professional training and development of guidelines for educators to follow when they believe a child or family is struggling.”

To view Thrive by Five’s media release click here.

Image source: SNAICC website.

Mental health aides assist police

A new initiative to help people suffering with mental illness involved in incidents where police are called has been praised as a success just four weeks into the trial, thanks to a reduction in the number of people hospitalised which has kept police on the streets for longer.

The first regional roll-out of the police mental health co-response program, which has successfully run in four metropolitan districts since 2016, has seen the detainment of people at the centre of mental health-related police call-outs decrease as much as 60 per cent over the four weeks of the trial.

The program has involved 16 selected Geraldton police officers receiving special Department of Health training. A clinician and an Aboriginal health worker are assigned to the mental health team each shift.

Geraldton police officer-in-charge Sen. Sgt Chris Martin said the result had drastically reduced the amount of time officers had to spend at hospitals dealing with mental-health incidents, which had previously been up to three hours for each case.

To access the article in full click here.

Assistant Commissioner Jo McCabe, Geraldton MLA Lara Dalton, Police Minister Paul Papalia, Aboriginal Health Worker Chris Fitzgerald and Mid-West Gascoyne Supt Roger Beer standing in front of a paddy wagon in front of police station

Assistant Commissioner Jo McCabe, Geraldton MLA Lara Dalton, Police Minister Paul Papalia, Aboriginal Health Worker Chris Fitzgerald and Mid-West Gascoyne Supt Roger Beer. Photo: Edward Scown, Midwest Times. Image source: The West Australian

First Nations perspectives in curriculum

The Australian Physiotherapy Council’s Accreditation Committee member Danielle Manton recently shared her story and why all Australian physiotherapists should become culturally safe healthcare practitioners.

Danielle, is a proud Barunggam woman and Indigenous Health Lecturer. Her work, embedding Indigenous perspectives in the health curriculum involves many community partnerships. Danielle says community partnerships are exceptionally important “the community must lead this and have a direct voice and influence within healthcare education. All the work I do is firmly entrenched in advocating for my family, my community and a better future for my people. There is still a long way to go to influence change in healthcare access and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“It is important to educate yourself, it is not the responsibility of the community or your Indigenous friends and employees to educate you. The Council has developed a great cultural safety training resource, which will also contribute to continuing professional development to help get you started.”

“The key to inclusive practice for all peoples is communication, authentic relationship building and being proactive, flexible and responsive to client’s needs – the same approach doesn’t always work for all people, it may just be simple adaptations such as allowing clients to attend appointments together or moving to an outdoor space.”

To access the interview in full click here.

Danielle Manton & Australian Physiotherapy Council logo

Danielle Manton. Image source: Australian Physiotherapy Council website.

Oral health workforce needs to grow

Tooth decay and gum disease, the main dental diseases affecting Australians, can cause pain and deformity as well as affecting eating and speech. Dental practitioners are efficient and effective in relieving dental pain, and they can effectively restore oral function. There is good evidence that better health care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are associated with care from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals.

Unfortunately, the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the dental practitioner workforce is very low. The authors a research article Addressing the oral health workforce needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians argue that a strategic approach, along with additional investment, is needed to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people qualified as dental practitioners.

To view the article in full click here.

University of Newcastle Bachelor of Oral Health Therapy students completed clinical placements at Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation in Singleton for the first time in 2017. Image source: Newcastle Herald.

EnableMe Stroke newsletters

The EnableMe newsletter features news, stories and advice on every aspect of life after stroke, whether you are a stroke survivor, carer or family member.

The Stroke Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month and the October EnableMe newsletter looks back over the years. Twenty five years ago, when a stroke happened, we watched and waited as families were devastated by the impact of stroke. Advances in medical treatment now mean that when someone experiences a stroke, emergency treatment is available including life-saving blood clot-busting drugs or blood clot removal in hospital.

The EnableMe newsletter September issue highlights how the Australian Stroke Alliance is one step closer to achieving its goal of treating regional and remote stroke patients faster. An Adelaide company has started developing a small CT brain scanner that can be fitted in ambulances and emergency aircraft. If successful, the device will allow paramedics and retrieval teams to diagnose and then start treating stroke patients in the golden hour – the first hour after a stroke, wherever they live.

You can view the EnableMe September newsletter edition here and the October edition here.

banner orange with white font, Stroke Foundation logo & enable me stronger after stroke'

Partyline magazine contributions sought

Partyline magazine, a publication produced by the National Rural Health Alliance, has a strong following across the rural health and services sectors. It is a platform to promote products or services to people and organisations of influence that care about health ‘in the bush’. The latest Partyline issue is available here.

Through technology we are increasingly able to merge our digital and physical health systems. This particularly benefits the rural healthcare system in Australia which has unique constraints, such as geographical distance and the sustainability of services in thin markets.

With the end of the publishing year in sight, Partyline would like to celebrate the technology, innovation and digital wins that are helping to strengthen our rural health services in communities across the country.

The Alliance is now seeking contributions for Partyline, Issue 77, to be published in December 2021. Contributions are due by COB Thursday 11 November 2021 and can be submitted using the email link here.

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New process for job advertising

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from:

11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 14 October 2021.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Penny Shakespeare, Deputy Secretary, Health Resourcing Group, Department of Health.

This week’s GP webinar will have a slightly different look and feel as it will be held via webex. This will enable guests from other locations to join the GP webinar panel. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

When you’re ready to join, use this link.

COROONAVIRUS (COVID-19) update for GPs banner, blue background, pink virus vector images

Allied Health Professions Day

Allied Health Professions (AHP) Day 2021 is happening tomorrow Thursday 14 October 2021. As with previous years you are invited to join other Allied Healthcare Professionals in a day of collective action, by doing something that is meaningful and important to you.

The first ever AHP’s Day was held on the 15th October 2018 to celebrate, appreciate and recognise the extraordinary work of the AHP workforce. In 2019 we were all about sharing why we were proud to be an AHP and joined by AHPs from across the globe including Singapore, NZ and Australia making it a truly international social movement.

For more information about AHP Day click here.

banner - Indigenous Allied Health Professionals Day

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Every year, around 110,000 Australians have a miscarriage. 2,200 more endure the pain of stillbirth, 600 lose their baby in the first 28 days after birth and many more face the grief of termination for medical reasons. October is a time for Australia to break the silence and acknowledge the heartbreak happening too often right now.

With October marking International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, hundreds of Australian parents are sharing what’s hurting them right now – silence. From now until the end of October, families are sharing their silence stories with Red Nose in a bid to get Australia talking about this too-often taboo topic.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness month events are happening right around Australia and online throughout October, giving families an important opportunity to publicly remember their much-loved babies.

You can read a media release from the ACT Legislative Assembly recognising International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day here.

For more information about International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day visit the SANDS website here.

banner text 'International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day 15 OCT' & line drawing of red heart held in palms of hands

Image source: SANDS website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Feature tile - Tue 21.9.21 - Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Although First Nations children comprise a relatively small proportion of the general child population, they represent more than 30 per cent of the Indigenous population.

And as state governments edge closer to easing restrictions at the 80 per cent double-dosed vaccination targets – targets that do not include under 16s – health and data experts are concerned it will be at the expense of First Nations people.

As children as young as 12 are faced with the choice to be vaccinated, mental health experts are urging support services and structures to be at the ready. Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association board director Tanja Hirvonen said the decision could weigh heavily on the shoulders of young Indigenous people.

“What can help to alleviate that pressure is support from family and friends and the health sector, and getting the information from the qualified professionals,” Dr Hirvonen said.

“Everyone has different circumstances, different health needs, are in different communities, so they can make the best decision for them and their families.”

Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service chief executive Kane Ellis was concerned First Nations kids had been left behind in the vaccination rollout.

“Our young ones are getting missed in the conversation because they think they don’t have [health] issues, which is not the case for our young ones,” he said.

“We want to make sure we look after our young ones as much as our elders because they’re the future for us.”

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

Kahliah West and her pop, who was recently discharged from hospital. Image source: ABC News.

Kahliah West and her pop, who was recently discharged from hospital. Image source: ABC News.

90-95% First Nations vax rates needed to protect mob

While some Australians are awaiting the nation reopening after lockdowns with hope and optimism, others are approaching it with dread. This is because a blanket lifting of restrictions when the vaccination rate reaches 70% will have devastating effects on Indigenous and other vulnerable populations.

At present, vaccination rates in Indigenous populations are very low. Once restrictions are lifted everyone unvaccinated will be exposed to the virus.

Aboriginal organisations including NACCHO, the Aboriginal Medical Services of the Northern Territory (AMSANT) and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) have called on state and federal governments to delay any substantial easing of restrictions until vaccination rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations aged 12 years and older reach 90-95%.

A 90-95% vaccination rate gives about the same level of population coverage for all ages as the 80% target for the entire population. That’s because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are younger than the wider population.

You can read the article in the Conversation here.

Australian Wiradjuri elder and Indigenous rights activist Aunty Jenny Munro after receiving a covid vaccine. Image source: The Conversation.

Australian Wiradjuri elder and Indigenous rights activist Aunty Jenny Munro after receiving a covid vaccine. Image source: The Conversation.

Boy with disability detained from age 10 in NT

A Northern Territory Indigenous teenager with disability has been intermittently imprisoned in the Don Dale detention centre since the age of 10, an inquiry has been told. The 17-year-old told the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability that some of the charges related to breaching bail when he fled abusive foster homes.

The young man, who gave evidence under the pseudonym IL, said he’d been placed in 20 Darwin foster homes in his life but had never had an Aboriginal carer or caseworker.

“I’ve never really had anybody to teach me right and wrong, you know,” he told the inquiry in a pre-recorded interview.

You can read the story in 7 News here.

Aboriginal health services are among those expected to give evidence to the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability when the latest hearing resumes. The 16th hearing of the royal commission will on Monday examine the experiences of Indigenous children with disability in out-of-home care.

Representatives from the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and Darwin’s Danila Dilba Health Service are expected to give evidence, along with a disabled Indigenous child and her carer.

The six-day inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. It aims to provide an insight into the life course for Indigenous children with disability and their experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, including cumulative and systemic abuse and neglect by multiple systems over time.

You can read the article in The West Australian here.

The inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. Credit: AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

The inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. Credit: AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

Cherbourg calls for help to deal with suicide crisis

The community of Cherbourg has lost more than 10 people, mostly young men, to suicide in the past year. Local leaders say treatment models need a major shakeup to make them more culturally appropriate. Young men account for most of the deaths. Alex Speedy, 35, has stepped forward as a champion for mental health in the community.

“It’s important coming out the other side and talking about it,” he said.

Mr Speedy’s aunt, Dolly Davidson, has lost two sons to suicide in the past few years. She said she reached out to multiple services for help for her younger son, but they were not approachable and did not understand what he was experiencing. He passed when he was 17.

“There were nine other young men [who have died] … who used to attend school with my sons. You’re talking about 11 kids from one school and that’s a lot — 11 kids out of 20,” said Davidson.

Community services manager and SPAN member Edwina Stewart said:

“What’s not being addressed is the underlying stuff that’s happening to our families, the amount of grief and loss we’ve been going through,” she said.

“It’s like a dark cloud over our community.”

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Alex Speedy wants young men in his community to know it isn't weak to speak up. (ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson).

Alex Speedy wants young men in his community to know it isn’t weak to speak up. (ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson).

Free Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale training

The Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale (KMMS) is a validated perinatal depression screening tool. It was developed in partnership between Aboriginal women and healthcare professionals in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in response to challenges with the mainstream screening tool the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).

The KMMS is a two part screening tool. Part one of the KMMS is an adapted version of the EPDS using language and graphics as determined through the community co-design process. KMMS part two is a ‘yarning’ or narrative based assessment focusing on a woman’s risks and protective factors across seven psychosocial domains.

The training takes approximately one hour and will enable healthcare professionals to confidently and appropriately use the KMMS with patients.

Access the KMMS Training here.

For more information on the KMMS implementation project click here.

Please contact the KMMS project team if you have any further queries:
Emma Carlin on emma.carlin@rcswa.edu.au or
Kat Ferrari kmmsprojectofficer@kamsc.org.au.

$10m for frontline digital healthcare research

The Morrison government is investing $10 million in research projects that use the latest digital and mobile technology to improve primary healthcare delivery.

Australian researchers can now apply for grants to undertake critical research through the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund, which is designed to help develop ideas, make projects viable and improve medical care.

Two areas of primary healthcare research will be funded – testing and implementing new applications of existing wearable electronic devices, and examining new ways of delivering point-of-care testing, particularly for people in rural areas.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said research was the key to better healthcare and treatments, and continued advances in technology could unlock more improvements in medical care, including helping people in rural and remote areas.

The $10 million in grants flagged on Wednesday will be managed through the National Health and Medical Research Council and is funded over two years though to 2023.

You can read the article in The Australian Financial Review here.

 Ambra Health DrHIT: Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age - Your Medical Imaging Cloud. Image source Ambra Health website.

Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age – Your Medical Imaging Cloud. Image source Ambra Health website.

New online MBS tool

A new interactive tool is now available to help GPs calculate out-of-pocket expenses when delivering care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. The resources have been developed as part of the RACGP’s Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) online tool.

There are now two easy-to-access interactive guides, including one for GPs providing care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These list frequently used items such as face-to-face and telehealth MBS numbers. A complementary tool is available for other medical practitioners (OMPs). This includes items that are often employed by allied health providers and nurse practitioners, for example.

The tool allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Hard copies can also be printed.

You can read more on the RACGP website in GPNews.

The resource allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Image source: RACGP website.

The resource allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Image source: RACGP website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Australian Community Sector Survey – open

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the COSS Network, supported by Bendigo Bank, have opened the 2021 Australian Community Sector Survey.

The Australian Community Sector Survey is the longest running survey of the community sector – by the community sector – for the community sector and communities we serve. This 2021 Survey is a vital opportunity for us to compare changes in the community sector between 2019 and now. The Survey covers the impacts of changes to funding structures, demand on services, emerging needs and pressures and sector priorities.

ACOSS and the COSS Network thank you for your help with the Survey. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please email Penny Dorsch at penny@acoss.org.au for details.

The survey closes Friday 24 September 2021.

You can take the survey here.

ACOSS Community Sector Survey_2021

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Getting jabs to rural and remote communities

tile text 'ACCHOs finds ways to bring COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable rural and remote communities' & image of front of 4-wheel drive on outback red dirt road

*Image source in feature tile, The Conversation.

Getting jabs to rural and remote communities

NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills says Covid-19 vaccination is a key priority. There 143 Aboriginal community controlled health organisations with more than 500 clinics currently trying to get jabs in arms with the help of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Covid has cut a devastating swathe through the Navajo and Amazonian Indigenous people. “When I think of the devastation in other first nations, that footprint, that traditional passage of law, language, culture and custom, it just stops,” Ms Mills said. “So it is why we must, if we have questions, go to your doctor. We have to protect our longevity in the country, 60,000 years and we must keep going strong.”

And getting vaccination rates up in far flung communities is vital. Some of the lowest rates are in WA northern region with only 10.86 fully vaccinated and 21.29% fully vaccinated. Rates across all Indigenous communities are lower than all other groups across the board.

But some communities are doing exceptionally well. “Shout out to NT mob Maningreda they did over 65% of their population over four days and in the Kimberleys, they’ve had two pop up vaccination clinics and they have done in excess of 250 vaccinations each day. We have to get as close of possible to 100% because of the fact we have 2.3 times the burden of disease than non-Indigenous Australians,” she said. “Some of our services have been doing door to door if we identify there may be an elder that can’t get to a clinic. We are reaching out and finding ways of bringing the vaccine to them.” Ms Mills said.

Donnella Mills NACCHO Chair with nurses Melinda Pascoe (left), and Catherine Moro (right)

Donnella Mills NACCHO Chair with nurses Melinda Pascoe (left), and Catherine Moro (right). Image supplied.

Another hurdle has been vaccine hesitancy, and the anti-vaccine movement has targeted the Indigenous population with scare tactics. “It has been so challenging, there has been such a direct intentional move to put this anti-vax narrative out there and what we’ve had to do is face that front on and make sure we keep communicating with all of our mob and identifying leaders in the community encourage them to keep coming to speak to us,” Ms Mills said.

This news story has been released by News Corp Media and released in The Telegraph and The Advertiser.

CAAC vax efforts applauded

The Burnet Institute, whose mission is to achieve better health for vulnerable communities in Australia and internationally by accelerating the translation of research, discovery and evidence into sustainable health solutions, has affirmed their support for the efforts of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from the Delta variant of the SARS-Cov-2 virus.

The Burnet Institute says the leadership of community-controlled services like Congress has helped keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities safe during the first and second waves of COVID-19 during 2020 and the success of that control effort was driven in no small part by the self-determining and community-led responses that should underpin the delivery of all health services to Indigenous communities.

A just published paper co-authored by Burnet colleague Troy Combo offers some interesting insights into the response to the pandemic by Indigenous communities in Brisbane.

Burnet’s consistent message to the public has been to ‘leave no one behind’. They note the low vaccination coverage among Indigenous Australians in most states and territories and the demonstrated vulnerability of communities in Western NSW to the severe impacts of Delta infections. The outbreaks in the West and Far West local health districts of NSW could be repeated in other areas of Australia unless Indigenous communities are protected by high vaccination rates and other public health measures.

To view the full article click here.

Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs

Congress employees Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News website.

Remote AMSs mobilise rapid testing drives

As COVID arrived in remote areas of the Western NSW Local Health District (LHD), health workers on the ground mobilised testing and outreach services in a matter of hours. While the LHD set up makeshift testing facilities that would service the droves that followed, Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) acting chief executive Katrina Ward sent out staff to collect swabs from close contacts to be processed back at the clinic.

“It just gave that speed of results because otherwise you were waiting a good 12 hours before it got back to Dubbo [pathology],” she said. “At one stage my staff worked until midnight trying to get through the close contact tests just to alleviate a lot of the fear and anxiety off the community.”

Remote health clinics like the Walgett AMS were given access to a rapid PCR testing device called GeneXpert. Each machine can test four swabs at a time and produce results in about 45 minutes — much faster than the tests taken at hospitals and pop-up clinics, which are sent to pathology labs. The technology is part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Point-of-Care Testing Program, a federally funded initiative managed by the Kirby Institute in partnership with Flinders University.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

close up photo of rapid covid-19 tests

Image source: ABC News.

School exclusion further harms vulnerable

Increasing numbers of students are being excluded from Australian schools. This is done both temporarily, through informal and formal suspensions, and permanently, through expelling them and cancelling their enrolments.

Publicly available data in NSW, SA and Queensland shows these exclusions begin in the first year of school when children can be as young as four years old. Informal exclusions are more common at this stage and usually occur in the form of a phone call requesting parents “take home” their child.

But because exclusionary discipline does not address the issues underlying childrens’ behaviour — and can reinforce it — short informal exclusions quickly progress to longer, formal suspensions. And because suspension still doesn’t solve the problem, one suspension can become many.

Four in five students suspended more than five times have a disability. Along with students with a disability, Indigenous students and those living in out-of-home care are also massively overrepresented in suspension and exclusion statistics. These are not distinct groups. It is possible to be Indigenous, have a disability and be living in care.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

rear view of youth with blue hoodie facing brick wall with graffiti

Image source: world.edu.

Concerns for long-term mental health

Psychologists are concerned about anxiety and depression becoming long-term problems due to the pandemic, with the worst effects felt by the young and the vulnerable.

Professor Richard Bryant, of UNSW Sydney’s school of psychology, an expert on post-traumatic stress and anxiety believes the effects of continuing lockdowns and uncertainty are cumulative. “We know from previous experience that people are able to manage certain stressors for a time, but after a while they start to erode our resources.”

Research shows adults are adaptive. But what happens in kids is different, because they’re not adapting. Instead, they’re maintaining higher and higher levels of distress as time goes on.”

The mental health of Indigenous Australians has also been negatively affected. Professor Pat Dudgeon, a Bardi woman and director of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention at the University of WA, says the pandemic has amplified existing vulnerabilities and inequities, compounding the already extremely high rates of mental illness and psychological distress among Indigenous Australians. She also points to a series of pressures unique to Indigenous people, in particular the psychological effects of being prevented from carrying out cultural practices, concern about the potential loss of Elders due to infection, and of being unable to visit Country due to lockdowns and border closures.

To view The Saturday Paper in full click here.

hand palm holding white line drawing of brain, outback sunset in background

Image source: The Mandarin.

The most amazing opportunity

“People think general practice is so isolated, but it’s just such a nice cohesive community and the colleagues and friends I’ve made here are just sensational.”

New Fellow Dr Melanie Matthews has had a similar experience in the NT.

It was while spending three months as a junior doctor in Maningrida through the Prevocational General Practice Placements Program (PGPPP) that she decided to apply for AGPT, and says she hasn’t looked back. ‘I just really, really loved it,’ Dr Matthews said. “I decided that it was Aboriginal Health that I wanted to work in, and that the NT was the right place for that.”

Her training program was delivered through NT GP Education (NTGPE), and she says it was ‘very supportive’, with opportunities throughout the year for registrars to come together. ‘I thought it was excellent,’ Dr Matthews said.

Positions for the 2022 AGPT Program’s General and Rural Pathways are still available in NSW, Queensland, SA and the NT.

Applications for the final intake of the 2022 AGPT Program close at 11.59 pm (AEST) –  Tuesday 21 September 2021. More information, including resources to assist with the application process, is available on the RACGP website here.

To view the full article in GPNews click here.

Dr Melanie Matthews sitting at desk at clinic

Dr Melanie Matthews, Mala’la Aboriginal Health Board, Maningrida. Image source: ABC News website.

Aboriginal author wins Stanner Award

A thesis tracking the development of the first truly empowering national study of health and wellbeing in Indigenous Australia (the Mayi Kuwayu National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing) has won the 2021 Stanner Award from AIATSIS.

‘Making Cultures Count: Transforming Indigenous Health Data in Australia’ by Sarah Bourke was assessed by a panel of independent judges as the best academic manuscript submitted for this year’s award. The AIATSIS Stanner Award is presented biennially to the best academic manuscript submitted by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander author.

Ms Bourke is a descendant of the Gidja people from the Kimberley region in WA and the Gamilaroi people on the border of NSW and QLD. Her doctoral thesis used an Indigenist research framework to examine the historical, social, and political factors that influenced the development of Mayi Kuwayu and its emphasis on measuring cultural determinants of health.

The Stanner Award acknowledges the significant contribution of the late Emeritus Professor William Edward Hanley (Bill) Stanner to the establishment and development of AIATSIS.

To access the full media release and an interview with Sarah Bourke click here.

tile text '2021 Stanner Awards best academic manuscript by an ATSI author congratulations Sarah Bourke' & portrait photo of Sarah Bourke

Image source: Books+Publishing.

Pregnant prisoners need more care

Research into the health of women and mothers in prison has found a high number of incarcerated Aboriginal women were pregnant, with many giving birth while in prison, according to a study by The University of WA. The paper, published in  Australian and NZ Journal of Public Health, identified the need to provide more opportunities for primary care in the prison system, particularly for Aboriginal women and mothers.

Adjunct Associate Professor Marisa Gilles from UWA’s School of Population and Global Health has researched prisoner health since 2008. Her findings revealed that 30% of incarcerated Aboriginal women had been pregnant while in prison, and 20% had given birth while in prison.

Periods of custody also served as a vital time for providing healthcare to women who may not have been engaged with a GP when living in the community, or who hadn’t had a positive experience with health services prior to incarceration. Dr Gilles’ research showed that one in five Aboriginal mothers in custody had themselves been separated from their families as children by government services. They are typically also young, with 42% aged under 30. Furthermore, 92% of Aboriginal mothers in custody were current tobacco users.

Dr Gilles said the results suggested a strong correlation between inmates’ mental health, alcohol and drug issues, and violence. “It is an area of interest for me, particularly with respect to the high proportion of inmates with alcohol and drug issues, the high prevalence of mental health issues, and the history of violence in the lives of women in prison,” Dr Gilles said. “Not only do prisoners frequently arrive in prison with a number of health problems, they may face higher exposure to some conditions as a result of their incarceration, for example, communicable diseases, mental health issues, and violence.”

To view the article in full click here.

shadowy side image of pregnant woman against prison bars

Image source: University of WA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Let’s CHAT dementia research project

The University of Melbourne’s research project Let’s CHAT (Community Health Approaches To) Dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities aims to increase detection rates of dementia by developing and implementing a best-practice model of care for dementia care with a group of ACCHO partner organisations.

Let’s CHAT Dementia is running a free webinar series with Dementia Training Australia over the coming months. The main target audience is Aboriginal Health Workers / Practitioners, and nurses, allied health and other staff who work in ACCHOs and/or with First Nations patients in primary care. It’s a great opportunity for primary care staff to learn about culturally safe and appropriate best-practice care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia.

A session coming up on 6:00 PM (AEST) – Wednesday 22 September 2021 will focus on detection of cognitive impairment and dementia. It will be run by GP and Adjunct Professor Mark Wenitong from the Kabi Kabi tribal group of South Queensland and Adjunct Professor Edward Strivens, Clinical Director for Older Persons, James Cook University and Cairns and Hinterland Hospital.

You can view a flyer for the webinar here and register here.

female Elder being shown a booklet by a male health professional

Image source: Dementia Training Australia.

‘This Rural Life’ launch

You are invited to join RACGP Rural and RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health from 7.30–8.15 PM (AEDT) – Wednesday 6 October 2021 as they launch the ‘This Rural Life’ photo competition in  webinar from .

This innovative project puts the spotlight on RACGP members across all career stages working in rural or remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by sharing their incredible stories and experiences to inspire others to consider a career in rural general practice.

You can register for the FREE online webinar here.

6 photos taken by GP Jean-Baptiste Philibert of outback

Jean-Baptiste Philibert’s rural placement inspired him to pursue a career as a rural GP. Image source: GPNews.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To read the media release in full click here.

New e-cigarette laws webinar

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

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

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

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

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

To register for this FREE webinar click here.

hand holding a vapper, lots of smoke from mouth

Image source: The Guardian.

New approach to preventing suicide

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

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

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

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

To view the media release in full click here.

Record demand for suicide prevention services

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

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

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

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

National Suicide Prevention Office

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

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

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

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: Calaveras County website.

Call for 90-95% NT vaccination threshold

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

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

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

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

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

AMSANT CEO John Paterson. Image source: ABC News.

Homeless Noongar women die on streets

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

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

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

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

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

Aunty Barbara Moore

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

Reducing violence against First Nations women

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: University of Melbourne – Pursuit.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Diabetes-related foot complications

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

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

For further details, including a zoom link click here.

UNC Health Talk website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community control vital in managing pandemic

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

Community control vital in managing pandemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMS health worker taking temperature of older woman

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

CAAC makes progress with town, bush jabs

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

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

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

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

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

New antenatal program launched

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

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

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

health care worker with arm around Aboriginal mum holding baby

Image source: Royal Women’s Hospital.

Thirrili suicide postvention service

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women urged to consider health

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

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

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

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

To read the media release in full click here.

Ending gendered violence in Australia

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

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

To view the press release in full click here.

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

Image source: WETECH website.

ACC services key to reducing OOHC

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

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

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

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

Image source: SNAICC website.

Adoption implications for First Nations kids

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

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

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

To access the article click here.

Image source: Wandiyali website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

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

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

Health problems dire long before COVID-19

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

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

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

ACCHO trying to meet high vaccine demand

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

Worimi Local ALC Andrew Smith receiving first jab

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

Community-led programs to reduce family violence

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

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

To view the media release in full click here.

rear shot of three Aboriginal women in dim light, dusk

Image source: The Conversation.

Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old homelessness interventions don’t work

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

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

Image source: CityMag website.

First Nations’ community development framework

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

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

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

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

Overdose deaths remain stubbornly high

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

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

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

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

Women’s Health Week

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

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

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

Aboriginal mother & two young children, girl, boy

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

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

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

AIDA reinforces the message, get vaccinated

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

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

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

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

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

Image source in feature tile: NPS MedicineWise website.

ACCHO develops ‘I want to quit’ toolkit

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

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

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

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

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

CDU leads sector on staff vaccination

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

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

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

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

Image source; CDU website.

SA Rural Aboriginal Health Workforce Plan

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

AHW SA, in office

Image source: Health Translation SA website.

Podcast: How to Change a Life 

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

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

To listen to the podcast click here.

Sam Cooms portrait with trees in background

Sam Cooms. Image source: CQ University website.

Wiyi Yani U Thangani Design Committee EOIs sought

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aboriginal artwork & portrait of June Oscar

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

First Nations FASD review 

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

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

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

You can access the review here.

Allied health follow-up services for Mob

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

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

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

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

female worker with female Aboriginal elder

Image source: ISACNT website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Indigenous Literacy Day

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pregnant women eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

feature tile text 'pregnant women or women trying to fall pregnant eligible for COVID-19 vaccine' torso of pregnant belly with Aboriginal body painting

Pregnant women eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

All pregnant women or women trying to fall pregnant are now eligible for their COVID-19 vaccine.

You can hear Dr Marilyn Clarke explain why it’s important to get a COVID-19 vaccine to protect both you and your baby during pregnancy in this video.

For more information speak to your local health care worker or visit the Australian Government Department of Health website vaccine eligibility page here.

 

Make an informed vaccine choice

“Make an informed choice after speaking to a trusted Aboriginal medical professional.” That’s the advice Andrew Birtwistle-Smith has for people who are on the fence about the COVID-19 vaccination.

Birtwistle-Smith is a Boandik Meintangk man from southeast SA and the CEO of South Australian medical service, Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation in Mount Gambier. Birtwistle-Smith is fully vaccinated and said he made the choice to get the jab after weighing up the pros and cons.

“I just got myself informed [by] speaking to my medical professional and my local GP in regards to the role of the vaccinations, what it means, and what the pros and cons were,” he told NIT. “The benefits far outweigh the negatives. If I got COVID and I wasn’t vaccinated, based on statistics, I could be in serious trouble.”

“Even with the vaccinations … I might not be 100% covered and I still might get the virus, but based on research around hospitalisations, death, and long-term effects from COVID, if I’m vaccinated, there’s less likelihood that will happen to me.”

He said it’s important to be aware that not all information available about the vaccinations will be reliable. “Try and avoid taking things from Facebook or from your particular websites that have no evidence about whether that information is accurate or not,” he said. “I know it’s difficult to do, particularly when it’s coming from family or family’s Facebook pages, but I still say that may not necessarily be accurate information. What’s best is to go and speak to medical professionals.”

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

Andrew Birtwistle Smith.

Andrew Birtwistle Smith: Image source: National Indigenous Times.

COVID-19 resources for carers

The current COVID-19 restrictions are affecting many among us in Australia, particularly family carers caring for a person at the end of life. To support them in their caring role, a  range of information resources have been developed by CarerHelp, including factsheets on:

  • Caring for a person at the end of life at home during COVID-19
  • Caring for a person at the end of life in hospital during COVID-19
  • Funerals and grieving during COVID-19
  • Using telehealth
  • Can I trust this information
  • Caring during COVID-19 infographics

You can access all of these resources on the CarerHelp website here.

CarerHelp logo & male & female Aboriginal elders

Image sources: CareHelp website and CarerSearch website.

COVID-19 task force commander interview

Lieutenant General John Frewen, the COVID-19 task force commander, was interviewed by Leigh Sales on ABC 7.30. In response to to Ms Sales question “In the race between cases spreading through the population and vaccination spreading through the population, vaccination is winning, but is it moving fast enough that when lockdowns and case numbers inevitably move into much higher figures, that death and serious illness will remain low?” Lieutenant General Frewen replied:

“Leigh, so as you’ve mentioned, I’m glad you’ve seen that the momentum in the vaccine rollout is really picking up speed, but of course, this Delta variant is- it’s really- it spreads rapidly. It’s really concerning. So we do have to have two arms at play. We’ve got to have the lockdowns, the testing, the tracing, the isolation. And then we also need to be vaccinating as quickly as we can. And I’m committed to a national vaccine rollout because I think for the very reason you’ve described about outbreaks moving around, that we do need to make sure that the vaccine rollout is happening as consistently as we can.”

“Ideally in some areas we’ll manage to get to those high rates of vaccination before further outbreaks. But in situations like we’ve got in Sydney right now, which you know are very, very challenging, we’ve got to do the two concurrently. So we’re working to get those vaccines into the highest priority areas as fast as we can. But all of those other measures we’ve got to persist with until we get the spread under control.”

To view a full transcript of the interview click here.

Leigh Sales ABC 7.30

Leigh Sales ABC 7.30. Image source: ABC iView.

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from:

11:30am–12:00pm this Thursday 26 August 2021.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

When you’re ready to join, use this link.

tile light blue background text in navy 'Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for GPs' pink vector virus cells

All-Aboriginal police station brings huge change

Senior Constable Wendy Kelly helped make history when she transferred to the Aboriginal community of Warakurna: it became Western Australia’s first entirely Indigenous-run police station.

In a video produced by Isabelle Rodd, Senior Constable Kelly explains how a new policing approach had a dramatic effect in the community.

Senior Constable Wendy Kelly, her colleague Revis & Daisy Ward, Ngaanyatjarra Elder standing against police vehicle in outback setting

Senior Constable Wendy Kelly, her colleague Revis & Daisy Ward, Ngaanyatjarra Elder.

Child immunisation rates continue to rise

The Australian Government invests over $450 million each year though the National Immunisation Program, providing free vaccines to protect against 17 disease groups for eligible Australians, including children, adolescents, the elderly, pregnant women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Among two-year olds, the coverage rate has increased to 92.63% for the 12 months to June 2021. One-year old children have a coverage rate of 94.85%. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at five years of age continue to have the highest coverage rate of any group at 97.12%. The coverage rate for two-year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children increased to 91.96%, while the rate for one-year olds is 93.36%.

To view the media release in full click here.

young Aboriginal child on mother's knee getting vaccinated

Image source: The North West Star.

If you see disrespect, unmute yourself, speak up

As parents and influencers of our young people, we want the best for them, and for our community. You may have seen the Stop it at the Start campaign’s ‘Unmute yourself’ advertising over the past few months. Stop it at the Start is the Australian Government’s national campaign to reduce violence against women.

While not all disrespect results in violence, all violence against women starts with disrespect. We all want our young people to be healthy and proud of who they are. We want them to understand right and wrong, and to respect others and respect themselves. Our young people learn from us — what we say and do tells them what kind of behavior is OK.

Stop it at the Start aims to unite the community to help break the cycle of disrespect and violence against women by:

  • setting positive role models for respectful behaviour
  • unmuting ourselves to ‘speak up’ about disrespect when we see it
  • yarning with young people about respect.

There are simple ways we can all make a positive change. By speaking up about respect, we can make our communities better, stronger places for our future generations.

You can access a range of resources, including the video below, developed especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the Australian Government’s Violence Against Women – Let’s Stop it at the Start website here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Wear it Purple Day

Wear It Purple was founded in 2010 in response to global stories of real teenagers, real heartache and their very real responses. As the world saw the faces of precious young lives lost, some young people found a new sense of conviction and purpose to ensure that young people everywhere would know that there were people who did support and love them. Wear it Purple was established to show young people across the globe that there was hope, that there were people who did support and accept them, and that they have the right to be proud of who they are.

Since 2010, when Wear it Purple was founded Wear it Purple has developed into an international movement. New generations of rainbow young people continue to be dedicated to promoting the annual expression of support and acceptance to rainbow young people.

What started out small has now grown; however the message remains the same. Everybody has the right to be proud of who they are.

For more information you can access the LGBTIQ+ Health Australia website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO talks about COVID-19 vaccination rates

feature tile text 'NACCHO CEO talks about COVID-19 vaccination rates in ATSI communities' photo of back of Aboriginal man in outback receiving vaccine

NACCHO CEO talks about COVID-19 vaccination rates

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM spoke with journalist John Paul Jenke (Wuthathi from Cape York and from Murray Island in the Torres Strait) on NITV’s The Point last night about COVID-19 vaccination rates. Mr Jenke asked Pat Turner why we aren’t further along with the vaccinations in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and whether this is a supply issue or vaccine hesitancy.

Pat Turner said the vaccination rates are worrying but 96 of NACCHOs [143] member services around Australia are now delivering the Pfizer vaccine and 16 ACCHO Commonwealth vaccination centres (formally the respiratory clinics ) have commenced delivering Pfizer and 13 ACCHOs are being supported by the RFDS. In total have 197,246 doses have been ordered by ACCHOs, 75,486 of Pfizer and 121,760 of AstraZeneca. Pat Turner emphasised that COVID-19 is a very dangerous virus and to avoid getting seriously ill and ending up in hospital and possibly dying you must get vaccinated.

You can watch the interview with Pat Turner at 19:43:40 here.

tile text 'NITV NACCHO CEO Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM COIVD-19 Vaccine rates National Agreement on Closing the Gap View Episode 15, Season 2021: The Point, NITV' & photo of Pat Turner smiling in very colourful shirt

Image in feature tile from The Conversation.

GP COVID-19 update for GPs TOMORROW

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health webinar series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs is tomorrow Thursday 12 August from 11:30am-12pm (AEST). Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response Department of Health and Dr Chris Harrison, General Practitioner, Canberra will join Professor Michael Kidd AM on the webinar this week.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout.  GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

When you’re ready to join the webinar, use this link.

Mental health fastest growing hospital admission

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has warned that despite additional investment in the last Budget, chronic underfunding of existing frontline services and a lack of psychiatrists is besetting a mental health sector struggling to cope in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The AMA has told the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Australia’s mental health system is suffering from underfunding at all sector and government levels, and services are not coping with demand, even before the impact of COVID-19 is felt.

Calling for more investment into mental health care, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said that although extra funding in the last Budget was welcome, the providers of existing mental health services received no additional support despite overwhelming demand. The situation in public mental health is even more dire, landing more people with severe mental health conditions in already over-stretched hospital emergency departments.

“There are not enough psychiatrists in Australia and there is likely to be increased demand for their services generated by the pandemic. We urgently need an alternative to emergency departments treating people experiencing acute mental ill-health. We know that mental health admissions to hospitals are the fastest growing of any hospital admission, increasing at an average rate of 4.8% each year from 2013–14 and the five following years, so that’s a total growth of 26.4% over five years from 2013.

“People with mental health conditions are also staying longer in hospital – up to twice as long as people with heart conditions, for example, according to data from AIHW. “Australia also has a serious shortage of child and adolescent child psychiatrists and we need a serious commitment to grow this cohort of the mental health workforce to support early detection. We need to understand there is very high demand for mental health services in regional and rural areas and getting the workforce into these places requires urgent attention,” Dr Khorshid said.

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

Image source: Australia247 website.

First Nations census inclusion only 50 years ago

It’s been half a century since Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were included in the national headcount. It’s more important than ever. The national census rolls around every five years, like just another item on life’s to-do list. But this year is special.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1971 census, the first ever to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It followed the successful 1967 referendum to change Australia’s constitution, allowing First Nations people the right to be counted as citizens in their own country.

While many may see the quinquennial event as just another piece of government administration, a glorified headcount, it’s a significant moment. It’s a chance to get a clear picture of the country: where we come from, how old we are, what languages we speak, our health, and so much more. It’s why this anniversary is important: it gives us a snapshot of where we are as a community.

“The census is the largest time where our voices are heard as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” says Haidee Allan, a Census Spokesperson for 2021. “The census tells us things like housing, education, who’s living at home, and those things are really important for the services that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders need so vitally.”

To view the article in full click here.

Census Engagement Officers. Image source: NITV News.

Funding boost for FASD diagnosis and care

The diagnosis and treatment of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is set to be strengthened with the announcement of $3.68 million in funding from the Federal Government’s Drug and Alcohol Program awarded to Griffith University researchers.

Led by Professor Sharon Dawe and Associate Professor Dianne Shanley from Menzies Health Institute Queensland, the projects worth $1.88 million and $1.8 million respectively, will help further the development of diagnostic and family support across south-east Queensland and establish new diagnostic facilities in rural and remote Queensland with a focus on supporting First Peoples communities.

In collaboration with Associate Professor Doug Shelton (Queensland Health), Dr Andrew Wood (University of the Sunshine Coast) Dr Gerald Featherston (Kummara Association) and Associate Professor Paul Harnett (Griffith) Dr Dawe’s project will help establish a specialist neurodevelopmental clinic at Griffith’s Logan Campus. It will also assist ongoing collaboration with the Gold Coast Child Development Clinics, Kummara Association, Institute of Urban Indigenous Health, University of the Sunshine Coast and Coastal Developmental Paediatrics, Sunshine Coast.

“The expansion of these clinics allows us to provide services to younger children aged 3–7 and embed a pathway of care that support children at a key developmental phase,” Professor Dawe said. She said early diagnosis and support was essential for children with FASD, “Early to middle childhood is a time when children learn important foundational skills around managing their own behaviours, learning to plan activities and follow more complex instructions. These skills are essential for success in school and life.” “Children with a FASD need extra help in developing these skills and there is growing evidence that supporting children and their families at this critical time can help reduce some of the damage that has occurred due to prenatal alcohol exposure,’’ Associate Professor Shelton said.

“This grant will expand the capabilities of health professionals in primary care, by using our co-designed, culturally sensitive, tiered assessment process to identify and support children who are developmentally not-on-track. Our project involves true partnerships between community Elders, health practitioners and university researchers whereby multiple world views have been genuinely valued and integrated,’’ Dr Page said.

To view the full article click here.

Image source: Australian Government AIFS website.

Build ’em up podcast

The Build ’em up podcast series which aims to inspire communities to build the health, social and mental wellbeing of rural, regional and remote communities around Australia.

In the first episode of Build ’em up Elsie Seriat OAM, a Torres Strait Islander Elsie Seriat, an inspirational mum of two young boys, talks about her life and her involvement in Deadly Runners an Indigenous marathon project involving her participation in the New York Marathon. Elsie talks about why she took up running to self-manage her weight problems, the role models in her life and how important it is to inspire others in her community to make positive changes and not to be shame or ashamed.

You can listen to the Build ’em Up Elsie Seriat interview here and access the Build ’em Up website here.

TSI mum Elise Seriat holding two young sons - a baby & toddler

Torres Strait Islander Elsie Seriat. Image source: National Rural Health Alliance website.

Solving rural health workforce shortages

Three local government areas (LGAs) in north-western NSW have been selected to participate in a research project to address their long-standing health workforce shortages. Glen Innes, Gwydir Shire and Narrabri LGAs will work with a research team headed by Dr Cath Cosgrave to establish, fund and manage a Health Workforce Recruiter & Connector (HWRC) position.

“We have had a fantastic response from interested communities to establish the Health Workforce Recruiter and Connector (HWRC) positions,” said Dr Cosgrave. “The successful towns should be congratulated for their commitment to ensuring their residents have access to a range of health professionals needed to keep people healthy.” The purpose of the HWRC is to build networks to better identify and successfully attract health professionals (allied health, doctors and nurses) who are a ‘strong fit’ for the local community.

To view the media release click here.

Image source: University of Melbourne.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Children aged 12–15 to get Pfizer vaccine

Feature tile - Tue.3.8.21 - Children aged 12–15 to get Pfizer vaccine

Children aged 12–15 to get Pfizer vaccine

In a statement from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), it is now recommended that the following groups of children among those aged 12–15 years be prioritised for vaccination using the Pfizer vaccine:

  • children with specified medical conditions that increase their risk of severe COVID-19
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 12–15 years
  • all children aged 12–15 years in remote communities, as part of broader community outreach vaccination programs that provide vaccines for all ages (≥12 years).

ATAGI will make recommendations to Government for use in all other children in the 12–15 years age group within the coming months, following review of emerging information.

You can read more about this statement on the Australian Government Department of Health website here.

Teenage Aboriginal girl with mask being administered vaccination by health professional.

Teenage Aboriginal girl with mask being administered vaccination by health professional. Feature tile image credit: SNAICC.

 

Nursing shortage due to border restrictions

At least 18 remote communities across the NT are experiencing a shortage of nursing services due to COVID-19 international and interstate border restrictions.

The “movement” of nurses into remote areas has “been limited over time”, according to John Wakerman from the Menzies School of Health Research.

Chief executive of Purple House Sarah Brown said prior to the pandemic, and throughout the changing lockdowns, she planned to have nurses travel to remote communities in the NT from interstate, but that plan had been delayed.

She said the priority to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations and testing, as well as aged care services across Australia, had put the “whole system under enormous pressure”, but she remained optimistic about attracting more nurses to Central Australia.

“If we could actually have a bit of a plan to move some of these visa applications along and find a safe way to get some nurses in the country that would take a lot of pressure off the whole system,” she said.

“If we can do it for pop stars and tennis champions maybe there’s a way we could do it for some nurses too.”

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

COVID-19 interstate and international border restrictions have impacted upon nurses coming to work in remote communities. Image credit: ABC News.

COVID-19 interstate and international border restrictions have impacted upon nurses coming to work in remote communities. Image credit: ABC News.

 

Census data supporting mums and bubs program

The Institute of Urban Indigenous Health uses Census data to inform expansion of its successful Birthing in our Communities program, which is delivering outstanding results for mums and bubs in South East Queensland.

The program also hosts a community day every Friday. It’s a chance for mums, their family, and their community support network to come together to celebrate the family unit and learn from visiting specialists like dieticians and psychologists.

Queensland mum Mackapilly said it’s been a great opportunity to learn and be part of a community of mums and bubs.

“I am so grateful for playgroup and community days. It was been useful to connect with other mums and share advice. We feel like we are at home, like we are a family,” Mackapilly said.

Mackapilly would love to see this program expand to other areas and communities to help more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums and bubs.

“Now that I know Census data has helped to create and expand the Birthing in our Communities program, I’ll be telling other mums to make sure they fill out the Census because I can see how it can help show what community services are needed,” said Mackapilly.

Other important dates on the calendar provide opportunities for mums and families to come together. The Birthing in our Communities program is getting ready to host a COVID-safe celebration and playgroup for National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on 4 August.

You can read the media release here.

For more information call 1800 512 441 or visit the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census website with information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities here.

Census data supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums and bubs program to expand across South East Queensland.

 

Chronic disease mapped across Australia

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released new geographical data, showing where Australia’s most common chronic diseases are more prevalent.

Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease are together responsible for the country’s highest ‘burden of disease’ – the years of healthy life lost to a disease. They account for 14%, 2.2% and 1.4% of the burden of disease, respectively.

While common, these diseases are not evenly distributed. For instance, 6.2% of Australian adults report having heart, stroke and vascular disease, but for Northern Territorians the rate is only 1.8%. Conversely, 7.4% of adults in the NT have type 2 diabetes, compared to 5.9% of the national adult population.

Areas with greater socioeconomic disadvantage have higher rates of disease when age is taken into account.

Regional and remote areas, and places with high proportions of Indigenous Australians, also had worse health profiles when adjusted for age.

The AIHW has released this data in a series of dashboards on their website, where you can examine your own state or suburb’s health profile.

Type 2 diabetes prevalence in Australia. Credit: AIHW 2021.

Type 2 diabetes prevalence in Australia. Credit: AIHW 2021.

 

Program to increase number of surgeons

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) is proud to launch its Indigenous Surgical Pathway Program Australia to try and increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander surgeons in the medical workforce.

The program aims to reduce the professional health workforce inequity faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

While there are over 83,000 doctors registered to practice in Australia, fewer than 400 are Indigenous. This is despite over 760,000 people in Australia identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

“In Australia and NZ we have a severe shortage of Indigenous surgeons and we need to do everything we can to change this disproportionate under-representation,” said Dr Sally Langley, RACS President.

“The College is committed to addressing this health discrepancy and the program will support this by encouraging and actively recruiting medical students and recent graduates into surgery.”

You can read the media release by RACS here.

Aboriginal surgeon Dr Kelvin Kong. Image credit: The Australian.

Aboriginal surgeon Dr Kelvin Kong. Image credit: The Australian.

 

Community Liaison Officers to improve SEWB

In February 2021, the WA Government announced a further $17.6 million commitment to establish a three year Social and Emotional Wellbeing Model of Service pilot at five Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) sites.

The Model is part of their commitment to address and reduce Aboriginal suicide rates through the establishment of the newly created Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer (CLO) positions across the State.

Based at Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, the CLOs will work with their respective communities and support the implementation of the region-specific Aboriginal suicide prevention plans.

The region-specific plans form part of the implementation of the Western Australian Suicide Prevention Framework 2021-2025 and include culturally informed social and emotional wellbeing initiatives designed by and for Aboriginal people.

You can read the media statement by the Government of Western Australia here.

Aboriginal women embracing each other.

Aboriginal women embracing each other. Image credit: Independent Australia.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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