NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 30 years on, deaths in custody a national shame

feature tile text '30 years on from Royal Commission report Aboriginal deaths in custody a national shame' transparent Aboriginal flay overlaying Aboriginal hands holding jail bars

30 years on, deaths in custody a national shame

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the of the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) and numerous stakeholder organisations have released statements condemning the continued failure of governments to implement all of the report’s recommendations.

The Partnership for Justice in Health (P4JH) said it stands in solidarity with the grieving families and communities of loved ones who have died in custody due to a failure of governments to effectively implement the clear and comprehensive recommendations outlined in the RCIADIC report. The P4JH said all levels of government must reflect on the loss and grief that could have been prevented had they acted on the recommendations as a matter of priority in 1991 and in the years since. “We are sending our strength to those families and friends whose grief and trauma is compounded by that continued failure of Australian governments to act with resolve and commitment,” said the P4JH co-chairs Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute and Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP). To view P4JH’s media release click here.P4JH logo

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) released a statement acknowledging the deep loss and grief of families and friends whose loved ones have passed away while in custody, both before and since the RCIADIC report. IAHA said ‘we are at our best when we go beyond empathy and act to reduce the causes of that grief and loss. We must do that now.’ IAHA called for the full implementation of the RCIADIC report’s recommendations. To view the IAHA’s media release click here.IAHA logoThe Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) said that ‘Aboriginal deaths in custody continue to occur to this day – and the over-representation of our people in custody – is a national travesty. This is an abject failure of Australian governments. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer unacceptably high levels of physical illness, mental illness and suicide. There is ample evidence that grief, stress and trauma make us sick and incidents such as ongoing deaths and over-representation – further add to the burden of health and disadvantage. Racism and unconscious bias – institutional, systemic and individual – is an unacceptable fact of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Culturally safe services can support service providers to confront and understand cultural difference and deliver effective and safe services to our people.’ AIDA called on all governments to accept, and to address racism and unconscious biases that are embedded in police, prison, legal and health systems. To view AIDA’s media release click here.AIDA logoThe National Native Title Council (NNTC) similarly said that three decades on from the RCIADIC report the rate of Indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody continues to be one of our country’s greatest shames. The NNTC referred to research from The Guardian that found Indigenous peoples who died in custody were “more likely to not have been charged with any crime” and were “three times more likely to not receive all required medical care, when compared to non-Indigenous people”. The Royal Commission made 339 recommendations, of which more than one hundred have not been implemented. To view the NNTC’s media release click here.National Native Title Council logo

Change the Record says it is a national shame that in the three decades since the RCIADIC report, state, territory and Commonwealth governments have failed to implement the majority of the report’s recommendations – and as a result ‘our people are still dying at horrendous rates.’ To view the Change the Record’s media release click here.Change the Record logo

Human Rights Watch agreed that the Australian government’s continued failure to address Indigenous deaths in custody tarnishes the country’s rights record and global standing. To view the Human Rights Watch article click here.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said: “Today is a historic and shameful day for our nation. Thirty years ago, the landmark report of the RCIADIC revealed the full extent of the danger that our justice system presents to First Peoples, and laid out the path we needed to take to make things right. Thirty years on, and things are much worse – with incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more than doubling in relative terms. Our leaders have been missing in action on this issue. They have failed to implement many of the report’s 334 recommendations, and they have failed to show care and compassion for First Peoples by changing an unfair and unjust system.” To view Oxfam Australia’s media release click here.OXFAM Australia logo

Thirty years ago Robert Tickner AO, the Aboriginal Affairs Minister in the Hawke government, presented the RCIADIC report to the national Parliament. Now as the Chair of the Justice Reform Initiative he said “It is to our great shame that 30 years later, we have progressed so little. We cannot wait another 30 years for real change.” The report made 339 recommendations, including that imprisonment should only occur as a last resort. This recommendation was adopted by all Australian Governments including by every State and Territory Government from all political persuasions. This support was given on the back of incontestable evidence that jailing was failing Aboriginal people. To view the media release click here. Justice Reform Initiative logo

Cairns ACCHO gives students a strong start

Commencing on 22 April, six students in Year 11 from Bentley Park College and Trinity Bay State High School, will start a school-based traineeship at Wuchopperen Health Service (Wuchopperen) to kickstart their health career with 100% Indigenous owned and operated Group Training Organisation, Australian Training Works Group (ATW), leading the recruitment drive.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traineeship Program, ‘Strong Start’, will give Indigenous youth a head start, achieving a nationally recognised qualification and on the job training while completing year 11 and 12. “By allowing students to gain work skills while completing school, they’re able to work towards a goal, whether that be higher education or transition to work,” says Rachael Ham, Deputy CEO at Wuchopperen. To view the media release in full click here.

photo L–R: Tony Marten (owner & Managing Director at ATW), Wendy Burke (Director of Health Services at Wuchopperen), Rachael Ham (Deputy CEO at Wuchopperen) standing in front of Wuchopperen banner

L–R: Tony Marten (owner & Managing Director at Australian Training Works), Wendy Burke (Director of Health Services at Wuchopperen), Rachael Ham (Deputy CEO at Wuchopperen).

Health sector’s role in deaths in custody

As Australia marks the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC)  the health sector has been urged to reflect on whether it is part of the problem or offering solutions. Associate Professor Megan Williams, Wiradjuri justice health researcher and educator, has identified multiple areas where the sector has failed to address the health needs of prisoners.

Professor Williams says ‘justice is essential for health, for all people in Australia. How we disregard the Royal Commission recommendations is as sick as how we treat First Peoples. $40 million, three years of testimony and evidence about 99 Aboriginal deaths in custody in the 1991 final report and 339 recommendations. But what about deaths since? More than 474. Barely a family have not been affected by Aboriginal deaths in custody, police brutality, poverty or racism. It’s time to make a list of all the government frameworks that overlook, minimise, forget, ignore, exclude, tokenistically mention or silence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison, and all people in prison.’

To view the full Croakey article click here.

End Black Deaths In Dustody rally in Naarm Melbourne to mark 30th anniversary of the Roayl Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody - crowd carrying photos, signs, placards

End Black Deaths In Custody rally in Naarm Melbourne to mark 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Photo by Marie McInerney. Image source: Croakey.

Raising criminal responsibility age urged

National Children’s Commissioner, Anne Hollonds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO have urged all Australian governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility as a matter of priority. A report commissioned by a meeting of Attorneys-General in July last year recommended that all jurisdictions raise the age and ensure younger teenagers are not held in detention. Recent reports have suggested that Australian Attorneys-General are considering raising the age from 10 to 12. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14-years-old as a minimum. As we mark 30 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its report, it’s important to acknowledge that Indigenous children account for 58% of young people being held on remand and 48% of young people in sentenced detention.

To view the Australian Human Rights Commission media release in full click here.

spray painted image of an Aboriginal child on a brick wall overlaid with white chalk lines representing jail bars

Image: Chris Devers, Flickr. Image source: newmatilda.com.

Mega prison raises fears for prisoner health

Governments often hail the economic benefits that new or expanded prisons bring to regional communities. But what are their health and social impacts? These issues are investigated as part of Croakey’s new Rural Health Justice series. In the feature article launching the series, journalist Linda Doherty explores how Australia’s newest mega jail, the Clarence Correctional Centre (CCC), near Grafton, NSW is affecting the health and wellbeing of prisoners, their families and the local community.

Around 60% of the 155 women prisoners in CCC have dependent children and one-third are Aboriginal women, according to SHINE for Kids which advocates for the human rights of children with a parent in prison, transports children to jail visits, runs evidence-based parenting, cultural and education courses in 27 jails in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, ACT and WA, and funds tutors for primary school children.

Like many of the 339 recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody that have been ignored by governments, recommendation 168 resonates for the parents in the new CCC facility. It says: “…where possible, an Aboriginal prisoner should be placed in an institution as close as possible to the place of residence of his or her family.”

To view the full article in Croakey click here.

photo of Storytime book called 'Tracks my Country' created by parents in prison for their children

One of the Storytime books created by parents in prison for their children. Image source: SHINE for Kids.

Increasing vaccine take-up in remote NT

In East Arnhem Land, the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation said only 129 of about 5,600 eligible people had received the AstraZeneca vaccine since the rollout began in the region at the start of April. Chief executive Eddie Mulholland told the ABC he expected that number to be higher, but people were now becoming even more reluctant because people are hearing reports of rare blood clotting among recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The NT’s peak Aboriginal health service is working on a plan to improve the take-up of COVID-19 vaccines after reports of growing reluctance in remote areas. A spokeswoman for the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT said details will be released early next week.

To view the article in full click here.

photo of 9 Aboriginal adults, one holding a baby around table at Miwatj Health indicating they have had a COVID-19 vaccine

All adults in remote communities are eligible for vaccination under phase 1b of the rollout. Photo supplied by: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News website.

COVID-19 radio ads in language

The Australian Government Department of Health has produced a collection of translations of the radio ad, ‘Living the new normal’, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. To access the collection click here.DoH banner text 'Keep Our Mob Safe' Coronavirus (COVID-19) Help Stop the Spread and Stay Healthy' against Aboriginal dot art painting in black, gold, pink, light blue, tan

Health system needs to learn from patient experience

The health system in Australia would benefit significantly by paying more attention to the lessons learned from patient experience, the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) says. This is a key message from the latest edition of the Health Voices ejournal which covers the recent Shifting Gears Australasian summit conference of the CHF.

“The value of learning from experience was given fresh power at the inaugural Australasian summit last month,” the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said. “As the conference heard more than once, health consumers, particularly those with chronic conditions are more likely to have deeper knowledge of their overall care than any one health professional dealing with a single aspect of their care. There is much to learn, including from such community-centred programs as the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation success in countering COVID-19.”

To view the Consumes Health Forum of Australia media release click here.

5 stacked wooden blocks, top two & bottom two with black arrows to left, middle with red arrow to the right

Image source: Australian College of Nursing.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 107 ACCHOs have signed up to deliver COVID-19 vaccines – Pat Turner

107 ACCHOs have signed up to deliver COVID-19 vaccines: Pat Turner on ABC The Drum

Pat Turner AM, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks was on the panel of speakers for the ABC The Drum last evening and spoke on a couple of topics including the First Nation’s success with COVID-19 and the vaccines rollout, COVID-19’s northern exposure to PNG outbreak, the Federal Government launching a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in Canberra today encouraging people to move to regional Australia and the Closing the Gap update amongst others.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Pat said, “Experience from other First Nations in US and Canada shows high vaccine uptake occurs when the rollout is led by First Nations peoples and there is community control. Due to our success in controlling the outbreak we’re in a position which allows our services to have a flexible approach to the vaccine rollout.

“Just as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were on the front foot with controlling COVID-19, we are on the front foot with the vaccine. We have advocated to ensure our communities are among the first to be offered the vaccine. We know the devastation COVID-19 can cause due to the high number of people with chronic conditions like diabetes and the potential rapid spread in crowded housing.

“We have 107 ACCHOs who will participate in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout from 1b in late March. This includes many rural and remote ACCHOs, ensuring all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have access to the vaccine if they choose to, regardless of location.

“We need flexibility in the way the vaccine is delivered in communities, especially in remote and very remote setting. NACCHO has been working with the Australian Government to ensure that, where appropriate, this flexibility exists. While the focus remains on those at highest risk – people over 55 or with chronic medical conditions – ACCHOs can also vaccinate family members and household members of those at high risk. A remote vaccine working group is considering a whole of community strategy – including all non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the community.

“ACCHOs are highly experienced at vaccine roll-out. Five year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the highest coverage of vaccine uptake in the country and in 2020, almost 80% of people over 65 had the Fluvax.

“We have ensured there is targeted monitoring of safety of the vaccine among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the AusVaxSafety program.

“The Australian Government has announced over $14 million in funding to support the roll-out of the vaccine in ACCHO. However, services are yet to receive this funding.

“We know that the best information comes from locally developed communication materials from the ACCHO sector. This was key to the success of the COVID-19 response.

“The communication materials developed by the Government are a good source of factual and up to date information, but we need to support our services to adapt these to local communities needs.

“NACCHO has worked closely with the Government, including the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) to ensure that restrictions on medicine advertising do not stop our sector from doing what they do best – developing and distributing effective health promotion and engagement campaigns for their communities.”

Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Photo: Erin Parke. Image source: ABC News website.

National Close the Gap Day 2021

“It will be two years since the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect and we are seeing a radical change across the country.

“The new formal partnership agreements between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled representatives are being strengthened or set up in every state and territory to share decision making on Closing the Gap.

“The Priority Reforms in the National Agreement need to be embedded into the way governments work – in their policy development, program and funding guidelines and decision making. Our purpose together is to share decisions on how to improve the life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

To watch the full episode of ABC The Drum click here.

General Practices join the Phase 1B COVID-19 vaccine rollout

More than 1,000 general practices will join the COVID-19 vaccination program from next week further strengthening the Commonwealths capacity, and ensuring an efficient and equitable distribution of vaccines across the country.

Services will come online from 22 March and progressively increase in number to more than 4,000 by the end of April – as part of Phase 1B of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine program.
This staged scale up will align with the supply of the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine, and as more vaccine becomes available more services will come online.

Over 100 Aboriginal Health Services and 130 Commonwealth operated GP-led Respiratory Clinics, who have been instrumental partners in the COVID-19 response to date will also be progressively added as additional vaccine providers.

This rollout for Phase 1B complements the significant vaccination program underway to protect our most vulnerable citizens in Phase 1A, with approximately 200,000 vaccinated by the end of Tuesday.

Australians eligible for Phase 1B will be able to find a vaccination provider through the new national vaccination information and location service, at the Department of Health website.

This will enable people to locate their nearest general practice providing General Practice Respiratory Clinic vaccinations and link through to their online booking system or phone number to make the appointment.

To read the full media release by the Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health and Aged Care click here.

ATAGI statement in response to European decisions about the Astra Zeneca vaccine

Australia’s regulatory body for vaccines Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) issued a statement to not suspend Astra Zeneca vaccine yesterday.

The benefits far outweigh any unfounded links.

Read the ATAGI statement here.

gloved hand administering vaccine to upper arm

Image: SBS website.

Could we mix and match different COVID-19 vaccines?

The COVID vaccine rollout is now underway in Australia and around the world. It’s incredible we’ve been able to develop and produce safe and effective vaccines so quickly — but the current crop of vaccines might not protect us forever. Fortunately, researchers are already developing and testing booster shots. So what are booster shots, and when might we need them?

The first time you give someone a dose of vaccine against a particular infection, it’s called a prime. You’re getting your immune response ready to roll.

Each time you give another dose against that same infection, it’s called a boost. You’re building on immunity you already have from the first dose.

To read the full article in the Conversation click here.

Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities

Interesting research paper released in the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin: Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities: an analysis of reach, shares, and likes. By Hefler M, Kerrigan V, Grunseit A, Freeman B, Kite J, Thomas DP (2020).

To view the journal articles click here.

Therapeutic Goods adverse events following immunisation

This instrument specifies certain therapeutic goods information relating to adverse events following immunisation that may be released to specified bodies and persons for the purpose of ensuring meaningful and effective participation in meetings on vaccine safety to support the safety, quality and safe use of vaccines in Australia.

To view the information click here.

medical tray of COVID-19 vaccine syringes

Image source: Surf Coast Times.

National Anti-Racism Framework plan launched

Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan has launched a plan to establish a National Anti-Racism Framework and has called on the Federal Government to support and implement it. Commissioner Tan released a concept paper detailing key components that need to be included in the Framework and will soon commence a series of roundtables with peak anti-racism organisations to progress the plan.

The plan was launched ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, also known in Australia as Harmony Day, which occurs this Sunday. Commissioner Tan said: “Racism is an economic, social and national security threat to Australia, and we need to treat it as such. Too many Australians are regularly the targets of racism. “It is time we dealt with the scourge of racism in the same way we deal with the scourge of domestic violence, or the scourge of child abuse. On those issues we have longstanding national frameworks, signed onto by all governments with three-year action plans.

To read the media release by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Concept Paper for a National Anti-Racism Framework click here.

Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021: Policy Brief

Since 2010, the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee has developed an annual report on action that needs to be taken to achieve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We often repeat our recommendations, and we remain steadfast and persistent in the expectation that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing will be respected and understood. The time for governments to deliver has long passed.

The Leadership and Legacy Through Crises: Keeping our Mob safe report presents solutions and showcases the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities, youth and organisations throughout critical health crises in 2020.

The report features strengths-based examples in addressing the most complex of challenges. These include climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increasing need for social and emotional wellbeing services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as a result of these events, and pre-existing effects of colonisation and inter-generational trauma.

Read the Close the Gap policy brief here.

Effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an entirely preventable permanent disability. FASD includes a range of physical and neurological impairments, occurring due to brain damage caused by exposing a fetus to alcohol during pregnancy. As a spectrum disorder, FASD manifests in a range of ways, and conditions can range from very mild to severe.

Senate Community Affairs References Committee report on effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Tabled 17 March 2021.

The committee received a wealth of information and evidence throughout the inquiry and thanks all those who participated, especially those with lived experience who had the courage to share their experiences and knowledge with the committee. As a result, the committee has made 32 recommendations, which aim at significantly improving the prevention, diagnosis, and management of FASD.

Effective approaches to prevention and diagnosis of FASD, strategies for optimising life outcomes for people with FASD and supporting carers, and the prevalence and management of FASD, including in vulnerable populations, in the education system, and in the criminal justice system.

To read the full report released by the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, click here.

Aboriginal woman holding pregnant belly with hand on top and hand below

Image source: UNSW Sydney National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre.

Hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Identifying hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Indigenous children in their first four years would change lives forever, says Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong.

Describing himself as a proud Worimi man, Dr Kong said early intervention – such as checking children’s ears at every opportunity – would contribute to closing the gap in education, employment and health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

Read the full article here.

Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong

COVID-19 crisis in PNG amid vaccine rollout concerns in Australia

Australia has announced emergency COVID-19 support for Papua New Guinea (PNG) in response to fears of a “looming catastrophe” that could devastate the nation and its healthcare system and that also threatens communities in the Torres Strait and Far North Queensland.

Amid dire warnings from PNG and Australian health experts, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced today that Australia would urgently supply 8,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from Australia’s stock to start vaccinating PNG’s essential health workforce.

Torres Strait Regional Council Mayor Philemon Mosby told ABC radio today that it could be “catastrophic” for local communities if the emergency wasn’t handled properly; however, others are hopeful the crisis can be averted, including National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO Pat Turner.

“Our people are very much aware in the Torres Strait about the dangers of COVID and they’ll be taking every precaution,” Turner told ABC TV’s The Drum, saying she had “every confidence that Queensland Health will be able to manage this and control the movement of people, with the cooperation of the Torres Strait Island leadership”.

Read the full story released in Croakey here.

safe effective free vaccines Department of Health banner orange tick in white circle, blue background, circles with vector image of different people's heads, text ' safe effective free

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Do you work with or employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers or Practitioners?

Diabetes is a significant health issue facing Indigenous Australians.  The delivery of culturally safe health services, including by appropriately skilled Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners, is vital to efforts to reduce the present and future burden of diabetes.

Marathon Health are currently looking at diabetes-specific educational opportunities for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners.  We want to know where they get the information they need to enable them to provide diabetes care.

Your participation in this brief survey is entirely voluntary and your time is greatly appreciated.  The results will be used to inform current availability of diabetes-related education and to identify opportunities in this area.

Please click the link to the survey to get started here.

 

Community-led action – the key to Close the Gap – AHHA 

The 2021 Close the Gap Campaign report, released today, highlights the importance of strength- based, community-led approaches to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

‘While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to show resilience in the face of poorer health outcomes, the effectiveness of strength-based, community-led action could not be clearer,’ says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association spokesperson, Dr Chris Bourke.

‘The case studies in this year’s report showcase the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations throughout some of the biggest challenges of 2020, from bushfires to pandemics.

‘Community Controlled Organisations and Health Services successfully kept Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and the rate of COVID-19 cases in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was six times lower than the rest of the population. These community-led organisations will have a significant role to play in rolling out the COVID vaccine this year.

‘In July 2020, the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, signed by all Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks, signified a new way forward with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in control at the decision-making table for the first time.

‘The recommendations in this year’s report call for structural reform, self-determination and ongoing investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led initiatives.
‘This year’s report solidifies the importance of the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations, to deliver culturally safe care and localised solutions,’ says Dr Bourke.

AHHA is a member of the Close the Gap campaign, an Indigenous-led movement calling for action on health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Close the Gap Campaign report is available online.

Aboriginal painting by Adam Hill white hand reaching down to middle of page with words Close the Gap and black hand reaching up to the words

Close the Gap campaign poster by Adam Hill. Image source: ResearchGate.

First Nations women left behind in cervical cancer elimination

Australia is tracking to become one of the first countries to eliminate cervical cancer, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women will miss out unless we act urgently to change this, according to a new study from The Australian National University (ANU) and Cancer Council New South Wales (CCNSW). Lead researchers, Associate Professor Lisa Whop (ANU) and Dr Megan Smith (CCNSW) and colleagues are calling for inequities to be addressed.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common sexually transmitted infection and is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer and 90 per cent of anal cancers and genital warts. To reach elimination, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a strategy with three targets to be met by every country by 2030.

Read the full media release by Australian National University here.

vector image of microscope over female reproductive organs

Image source: MedPage Today website.

Closing the Gap vital to ensure health equity – AMA

The disparities between the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians continue to fall by the wayside and closing the gap is vital to
ensure health equity in this country, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today.

On National Close the Gap Day, the AMA encourages all Australians to take meaningful action in support of achieving health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
by 2032.

The AMA has actively called on the Government to address health inequities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, that stem from the social and cultural
determinants of health.

“Closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people is everyone’s business: it is a national issue in which every individual,
organisation and group in Australia can play a role,” Dr Khorshid said.

“Every person’s health is shaped by the social, economic, cultural, and environmental conditions in which they live.

“Addressing the social and cultural determinants of health is vital if we want to see vast improvements in the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This is a national priority.

Read the AMA media release here.

Images: mivision The Opthalmic Journal website and AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan released

feature tile text 'Australian Government releasesCOVID-19 Vaccination Program Implementation Plan: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People', photo of purple gloved hands injecting person's arm

First Nations COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan released

The Australian Government has released its COVID-19 Vaccination Program – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Implementation Plan. This Implementation Plan is for the COVID-19 vaccination program for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over 18 years of age. This plan has been developed in consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, and with state and territory governments.

To view the plan click here.cover of Australian Government Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccination Program Implementation Plan: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Sydney hospital goes from worst to best

It’s one of the busiest and most esteemed emergency rooms in the country, but for decades some of the most vulnerable have slipped through the cracks. Located in the heart of Sydney’s nightlife district, St Vincent’s Hospital has saved thousands of lives — but it was considered the worst in the state when it came to caring for certain patients. “A high number of Aboriginal people were coming in through our emergency department and were leaving us, not completing their treatment,” said Pauline Deweerd, director of Aboriginal health at the hospital.

Some months, as many as one in three patients left the hospital before receiving the vital care they needed. “It was because of past bad experiences, they didn’t like waiting, and they didn’t like the way we treated them,” Ms Deweerd said. It was a persistent, hard to address problem, even for a hospital that has a reputation for providing top-notch emergency medicine.

But in the middle of a global pandemic the hospital found a solution, and doctors are certain the rest of the country can learn from it. “It’s our attempt at closing the gap for our small part of the health world; we not only brought it to the level of the general population, we made it a little better,” Dr Preisz said.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley in scrubs sitting on patient bed at St Vincent's Hospital

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. Photo: Brendan Esposito. Image source: ABC News website.

Former PM urges women to get COVID-19 vaccine

Julia Gillard has had her coronavirus jab, urging everyone – and particularly women – to get vaccinated. The former PM joined Health Minister Greg Hunt and Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy to be among the first to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination at a Melbourne clinic on Sunday 7 March 2021. “Me being here today is a visible representation that no matter what side of politics you barrack for, no matter whom you intend to vote for, there is a united message,” Ms Gillard told reporters. “Please get the vaccine. And particularly to Australian women, can I say, please get the vaccine.

She understands that people might feel a little bit anxious, but recommended they get their information from reliable sources, such as the Australian government or from their local health practitioner. “Whether it’s smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, influenza, and now COVID-19, vaccinations can save lives and protect lives,” Mr Hunt said.

AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses from overseas are being given to frontline health and hotel quarantine workers, as well as aged and disability care residents and staff, as part of phase 1a. The AMA said more than 130 respiratory clinics and over 300 Aboriginal community controlled health service sites will support the phase 1b rollout.

To view the full SBS News article click here and to listen to a Julie Gillard urging Australians to get the COVID-19 vaccine click here.

portrait photo of ex-PM Julia Gillard

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Image source: SBS News website.

Umoona Tjutagku frontline staff receive COVID-19 vaccine

“South Australia’s economic and health response to the COVID-19 threat has been world-leading, and we are focused on working with our health experts to deliver a safe and quick roll out of the vaccines,” SA Premier Marshall said. “This is the biggest peacetime operation in our state’s history, and a big plank in our plan to keep South Australia safe and strong. “The roll out is happening right across the State, with our three key hubs in the north, south and centre of Adelaide all operational, and our regional hubs also progressing .”

Minister Wade said the rollout continues to expand into regional areas with 240 doses of the vaccine arriving at Coober Pedy Hospital today.

“Frontline staff of the Coober Pedy Health Service, Umoona Tjutagku Aboriginal Health Service and Umoona Aged Care as well as aged care residents will receive their COVID-19 vaccine over the next four days.  It is an excellent example of cooperation across all sectors of Health and Aged Care in the Eyre and Far North Local Health Network, SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said.

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

two Aboriginal health workers at Umoona Tjutagku Health Service AC checking medicine box

Image source: Umoona Tjutagku Health Service Aboriginal Corporation website.

Over 55s in next phase of COVID-19 vaccine rollout

More GPs and health clinics will be involved in the vaccine rollout every week from March 22, as the mass COVID-19 vaccination program enters its next phase. Federal Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy says phase 1b of the vaccine rollout will include adults based on their vulnerability to getting COVID-19. “[It] will involve the over 80s who are most at risk as a general group, then the over 70s, and those who are immunocompromised. We will have our Indigenous Australians over 55 as well as frontline emergency service and defence workers.”

The staged commencement of general practices will be complemented by GP-led respiratory clinics and Aboriginal community controlled health services. The AMA said more than 130 respiratory clinics and over 300 Aboriginal community controlled health service sites will support the phase 1b rollout.

To view the full SBS News article click here.

Aboriginal woman and man both 50+ years

Image source: AbSec – NSW Child, Family and Community Peak Aboriginal Corporation website.

Professor Langton talks about the COVID-19 vaccine 

Professor Marcia Langton AO has warned of the ongoing dangers of COVID-19, the effectiveness of available vaccines and the importance of getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

You can view the short video and transcript here.

snapshot of Professor Marica Langton AO The Uni of Melbourne video for DoH on COVID-19 importance, standing in park with trees in background

Professor Marcia Langton AO, The University of Melbourne.

Pain treatment and opioid use – have your say!

NACCHO is working on a project to create some support materials for pain management and the use of opioid medicines, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consumers and health professionals to take part in group discussion to understand the important issues so that the materials made can be useful.

If you are a health consumer and experience pain and use opioids or are interested in pain management as a practitioner in your ACCHO we invite you to contribute to this project. NACCHO will provide financial compensation for your participation.

To apply or learn more please contact Fran Vaughan at NACCHO medicines@naccho.org.au.

bottles of tablets & blister packs

Image source: NPS Medicinewise website.

System must be held accountable for deaths in custody

Responding to news that two Indigenous people died in custody in NSW in the past week, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead Nolan Hunter said: “We’re coming up to the 30 year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody (RCIADIC) and it feels as though very little has changed. For example, recommendation 165 called for the screening and removal of hanging points that could be used for self-harm; now nearly 30 years later, we hear of an Indigenous woman who used such a hanging point to tragically take her own life. Here we have two tragic deaths in custody and the Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin claims the system can be accountable, while not making these tragedies public.”

To view Amnesty International’s media quote in full click here. and a related article in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

crosses in row on grass with Aboriginal flag painted on them & words Black Deaths In Custody Cross For Loss

Image source: ABC News website.

World Kidney Day

Kidney disease is a non-communicable disease (NCD) and currently affects around 850 million people worldwide. One in ten adults has chronic kidney disease (CKD). Being diagnosed with kidney disease can be a huge challenge, both for the patient and those people around them. Its diagnosis and management, particularly in advanced stages of kidney disease, impacts severely upon their lives by reducing their, and that of family and friends, ability to participate in everyday activities like work, travel and socialising whilst causing numerous problematic side effects  – e.g. fatigue, pain, depression, cognitive impairment, gastrointestinal problems and sleep problems.

This year World Kidney Day continues to raise awareness of the increasing burden of kidney diseases worldwide and to strive for kidney health for everyone, everywhere. Specifically, the World Kidney Day Steering Committee has declared 2021 the year of “Living Well with Kidney Disease”. This has been done in order to both increase education and awareness about effective symptom management and patient empowerment, with the ultimate goal of encouraging life participation.

When compared to non-Indigenous Australians, Indigenous Australians

  • Are more than twice as likely to live with biomedical markers of chronic kidney disease – representing 1 in 5 Indigenous Australian adults
  • Experience an increased prevalence of significant medical co-morbidities
  • Have a median onset of ESKD around 30 years younger
  • Are almost 4 times as likely to die with CKD as a cause of death
  • Have incidence rates of renal replacement therapy (RRT) 8 – 9 times greater
  • Are less likely to receive dialysis in a home setting (either peritoneal or haemodialysis)
  • Are less likely to receive a kidney transplantation
  • Have worse outcomes from transplantation
  • Are more likely to live in very remote or remote areas which is associated with poorer health outcomes
  • Experience a greater psycho-social impact of their disease

For further information on World Kidney Day Thursday 11 March 2021 click here.

Aboriginal painting titled My Kidney Journey by Inawinytji Williamson, a Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjara Woman and kidney patient

My Kidney Journey by Inawinytji Williamson, a Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjara woman and kidney patient. Image source: World Kidney Day website.

2021 Indigenous Wellbeing Conference

The Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association (ANZMHA) has announced details of its new conference, the 2021 Indigenous Wellbeing Conference to take place in Cairns from 7–8 October 2021.

Its theme will be “Honouring Indigenous Voices & Wisdom: Balancing the System to Close the Gap” and will showcase a high calibre of keynote speakers and presenters, covering four vital topics: (1) Promoting Wellness, (2) Social, Emotional & Cultural Determinants, (3) Community Care & Social Recovery and (4) Service Care & Recovery.

With a vision to “shine light on the key challenges in Indigenous communities and address the past and present issues contributing to inequities in mental health treatment and care,” the conference is set to enlighten, educate, and share the hard truths amongst keynote speakers, presenters and attendees.

For more information about the conference and to register click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations women to celebrate on IWD 2021

Inspirational First Nations women celebrated on

First Nations women to celebrate on IWD 2021

The theme of International Women’s Day 2021 (Monday 8 March) ‘Choose to Challenge’, highlights the power of challenge in any environment, with an emphasis on calling out gender bias and equality. Celebrating all that is ‘girl power’, fierce females, and women who advocate for their people is what this day is all about. First Nations women are pioneers when it comes to advocating for equality — not just standing up against sexism and misogyny, but racism too.

To celebrate IWD 2021, journalist Jennetta Quinn-Bates made a list of First Nations women who are making waves in their chosen industries and professions, and definitely “Choose to Challenge” in their everyday lives and careers. Jennetta said they’re the ones we look to for inspiration to keep us going. The ones who’s pages we head to when there are important matters involving our communities, knowing they’ll be doing their best to use their voices. They’re the ones who aren’t afraid to speak up for the mob, to be proud, and to continue the journey our ancestors started.

To view the article in full click here.

L-R Senator Lidia Thorpe (Sydney Morning Herald), Fallon Gregory (Junkee), Taylah Gray (Canberra Times), Chloe Nunkeri-Lowana Quayle (Junkee).

L-R Senator Lidia Thorpe (Sydney Morning Herald), Fallon Gregory (Junkee), Taylah Gray (Canberra Times), Chloe Nunkeri-Lowana Quayle (Junkee).

Maningrida Health Centre now in Aboriginal hands

NT Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, says Manayingkarirra Primary Health Centre in Maningrida has been handed over to Aboriginal control, as part of the Territory Labor Government’s commitment to local decision making. Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation are now overseeing the delivery of health care services for the community, and surrounding homelands in Central Arnhem Land. Maningrida is one of the Territory’s busiest remote health centres. It carries out 4,000 consultations per month for more than 2,700 residents.

To view the NT Minister for Health’s media release in full click here.

sign outside Manayingkarirra Primary Health Care Centre, Maningrida

Manayingkarirra Primary Health Care Centre, Maningrida. Image source: West Arnhem Regional Council website.

To view a statement from Charlie Gunabarra, Chairperson of Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation regarding the importance of this transition to the Maningrida community click here.

Charlie Gunabarra Chairperson Mala'la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation

Charlie Gunabarra, Chairperson Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: West Arnhem Regional Council website.

Vaccine rollout to support Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) have said that as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have an increased risk of acquiring and developing serious outcomes from communicable diseases due to multiple factors it is critical that the COVID-19 vaccine program is designed and delivered in a manner which is accessible, inclusive and culturally safe. This includes ensuring communications are developed and targeted for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and that information and services are delivered in appropriate languages and formats and within appropriate facilities and locations.

A comprehensive vaccine implementation plan (the Plan) has been developed in consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19, and with state and territory governments. This Plan has been built on principles aligned with the Management Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Populations, including shared decision-making between Governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; community control and cultural safety across the whole-of-population system.

To view the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt’s media release click here.

arm being vaccinated with glove hands

Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom website.

Indigenous groups want bigger role in aged care

The final report from the Aged Care Royal Commission found one major area of concern is the plight of elderly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Indigenous-run service providers say they’re hopeful the government will act on a key recommendation from the report, to give them a more prominent role in running aged care for First Nations people.

You can listen to the segment on the ABC The World Today featuring Features Jody Currie from The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service Brisbane and Jayne Lawrence from Charles Sturt University here.

health care professional laughing with elderly Aboriginal woman, standing, hands held raised

Image source: Industry Skills Advisory Council NT website.

Doctors combat vaccine hesitancy in Aboriginal communities

Indigenous Australians are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and doctors fear vaccine hesitancy could increase the risks. There are more than 14,000 kms between Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and the Navajo Nation in the United States desert, but the regions have much more in common than red sand. Indigenous peoples in North America share many cultural and family values with the First Peoples of Australia and suffer similarly poor health outcomes from colonisation, a connection that has brought the two groups together for generations.

Now, one of the places in the US hit hardest by COVID-19 is playing an important role in helping combat vaccine hesitancy amongst First Nations folks in remote Australia. “The [Northern Territory has] had no direct experience of the devastation this virus causes. We’ve only had images from elsewhere,” said Dr John Boffa, chief medical officer at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress. Indigenous Australians are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 due to the prevalence of underlying health issues such as diabetes, rheumatic heart disease and kidney disease ― a burden they’ve been forced to bear since colonisation. Crowded living conditions can also increase risks.

This time last year Indigenous people over 50 were advised to stay home “to the maximum extent practical” and rural communities were locked down completely. At the start of the pandemic, many Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) didn’t have enough PPE and there were fears a COVID-19 outbreak would rob Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people not only of their lives, but of their elders, language and cultural practices too. The biggest challenge ahead, according to Boffa, is convincing First Nations people it’s safe and still important to get inoculated. His team is planning a Zoom call with Navajo leaders so that local elders and community members can hear about the Americans’ experience with the jab.

To view the article in full click here.

silhouette of Aboriginal woman walking towards Uluru as sun is setting

Image source: Huffpost website.

Suicide prevention inquiry invites submissions

The House of Representatives Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention recently launched an inquiry. The committee will examine the findings of the Productivity Commission Inquiry Report into Mental Health, the Report of the National Suicide Prevention Officer, the Victorian Royal Commission, the National Mental Health Workforce Strategy and other recent strategic reviews of the current mental health system, taking into account the 2019 bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic and the capacity of the mental health workforce to respond to such events. The Committee will also consider other matters not addressed by these recent reviews.

The Committee would welcome your organisation’s views and invites you to make a submission addressing any or all of the Terms of Reference.

Further information about the inquiry is available here. For detailed information on preparing a submission, including information about parliamentary privilege and requests for confidentiality, click here.

Submissions should be submitted to the Committee by 24 March.

face covered with hands, black background, low light

Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom website.

NT Generational Change Impact Report released

Minister for Youth and Children, Lauren Moss, said the Generational Change Impact Report released today marks the halfway point of the NT Government’s multi-targeted reform program. Keeping Territory children and families safe, thriving and connected are the cornerstones of the Report, with data indicating that we are heading in the right direction. Highlights include decreases in the rate of children in care and child protection notifications, including: A 39% decrease in the rate of Aboriginal children substantiated for child abuse and neglect – going from 63.5 per 1,000 children substantiated in the NT in 2016–17 to 38.6 per 1,000 children in 2018–19. The proportion of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care in the NT continues to be well below the Australian rate. In 2018–19, 36.6 per 1,000 Aboriginal children in the NT were in out of home care compared to 54.2 per 1,000 Aboriginal children Australia wide.

To view the Minister Moss’ media release click here.

torso of Aboriginal youth sitting on pavement leaning against a wall

Image source: Katherine Times.

Health literacy and equity research findings

Croakey have published a special edition with the title ‘Equity and health literacy: Using emerging evidence to inform the development of the National Preventive Health Strategy’. The authors note that ‘health literacy’ has multiple definitions that encompass individual, population and environmental health literacy – with the underlying tenet being that it is critical for health and health equity, and is a social determinant of health.

The literature on equity and health literacy is relatively diffuse, often lost across multiple sectors and with limited systematic research that provides clear, actionable processes by which health literacy can drive health equity forward, they say. Hence, emerging evidence is often inaccessible to policymakers and poorly utilised by health practitioners in clinical settings. This special edition aims to address “the knowledge deficit around equity and health literacy”.

This special edition resulted from a partnership between the journal and the NT Primary Health Network, and five guest editors. It led to an “overwhelming” response and 21 papers accepted for publication. “To our knowledge, this special issue is the largest collection of articles dedicated to the topic of equity and health literacy, ever published in an Australasian peer‐reviewed academic journal,” the authors say. “We encourage Minister for Health, Expert Steering Committee, senior bureaucrats and policy staff to actively engage with the content of this special issue and purposively embed key findings into the National Preventive Health Strategy.”

To view Croakey’s special edition click here.

wooden platter of tomatoes

Image source: Croakey.

Fear for pets – barrier to leaving family violence

A woman’s decision to leave a violent and abusive relationship is a complex process. She first needs to consider the risks to her and her children. Paradoxically, taking that step towards safety is also the time of greatest danger of homicide, sexual assault and increased violence. Pets and service animals are also a part of the lives of many families. This means they are an important part of the decision-making process when women consider leaving a violent situation.

The pets may be a critical source of therapeutic support, but they may also be at risk of harm and used to exert control over people (“you leave and you won’t see those animals again”). Animals’ central role in family life means many victim-survivors of family violence are reluctant to leave because they fear their pets will be harmed. To combat this, a family violence motion has been presented in the Victorian parliament that seeks to recognise animal abuse as a form of family violence. If all elements were adopted, it would increase the safety of women and children.

To view the full article in The Conversation click here.

kelpie cross dog asleep on a step

Image source: Warlukurlangu Artists of Yuendumu website.

International Women’s Day 2021

Yesterday (8 March 2021) was International Women’s Day 2021. June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner released a statement saying “Today, my team and I, at the Australian Human Rights Commission, are celebrating the power and potential of all our deadly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls across Australia. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is, ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world’.”

“This theme makes me think about all our women and girls who carry the determination, knowledge and wisdom from an ancient lineage of matriarchs. Our ancestral mothers—who walked this land for millennia—have always shown remarkable leadership in nurturing and growing our societies into the oldest living civilizations on earth. Throughout this span of time our women and peoples have led through and beyond crisis. We know how to survive and thrive.”

“That legacy and all our women and girls’ diverse strengths, expertise and lived experiences are held within the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) Report and Community Guide, which can be accessed here. It is the first report to hear from our women and girls as a collective since 1986. Wiyi Yani U Thangani was brought into being because of your voices. It belongs to you, to all our First Nations women and girls.”

To view June Oscar’s statement in full click here.cover of the AHRC 2020 Yiyi Yani U Thangani Women's Voices Securing our Rights Securing our Future report, puple orange green blue pink Aboriginal dot painting

In another article, University of Queensland academic, Associate Professor Chelsea Watego looked at the absence of Indigenous voices on International Woman’s Day 2021. She said the cancellation of a number of invitations for her sit on panels showed how Indigenous woman is only ever a subset of the category of woman when convenient. To read this article in full click here.

Associate Professor Chelsea Watego standing in front of UQ buildings with grey t-shirt & words 'did you forget whose land you're on?'

University of Queensland academic, Associate Professor Chelsea Watego. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

AHW first in Kimberley to receive COVID-19 vaccine

An Indigenous health worker has become the first resident of northern WA to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as the rollout extends across the state. Nyikina Nyul Nyul woman Emily Hunter has been working on the frontline during the pandemic as a senior nurse at Broome Hospital. After receiving the Pfizer jab, she said she hoped to the be first of many residents in the region to be vaccinated. “I’m quite proud to be the first person in the Kimberley,” she said. “Twelve months ago everyone was terrified about what was going to happen and no one knew anything about COVID-19. I hope others follow suit as well.” To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Photo: Erin Parke. Image source: ABC News website.

SA – Adelaide – CRANAplus – improving remote health

Registered Psychologist/Senior Psychologist x 1 PT or FT – Adelaide

CRANAplus is the peak professional body for health professionals working in remote and isolated areas across Australia. They exist to ensure the delivery of safe, high quality primary healthcare to remote and isolated areas of Australia. CRANplus is an affordable, grassroots, not-for profit, membership based organisation that has provided nearly 40 years of education, support and professional services for the multi-disciplinary remote health workforce. CRANAplus is a values-based organisation, that genuinely embraces diversity, flexibility, and innovation in everything they do.

CRANAplus has a vacancy for a Registered Psychologist/Senior Psychologist (Mental Health & Wellbeing Service) who will be responsible for the development and delivery of high-quality psychological and wellbeing support services to health professionals and their families, across rural and remote communities in Australia.

To view the position description and to apply click here. Applications close Sunday 28 March 2021.CRANAplus improving remote health logo & image of 4-wheel drive in the outback at dusk

National Day of Women Living with HIV

Today (Tuesday 9 March), the National Network of Women Living with HIV (Femfatales), celebrate the 6th National Day of Women Living with HIV. This year’s theme ‘Taking Control of Our Health’, reminds all women, regardless of our HIV status, to focus on our own health and wellbeing. The day is being hosted by the National Association for People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), Australia’s peak non-government organisation representing community-based groups of people living with HIV across Australia. To view the NAPWHA Femfatales media release click here.

During the recent and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have neglected or postponed our sexual and reproductive health checks. Now is the time to resume our crucially important health tests, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, cervical screening tests, breast checks and sexual health screens including a HIV test, said Ms Katherine Leane, Chair of Femfatales. Information about some of the key issues for women living with HIV can be accessed on the National Association for People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) website here.

You can view a special HIV is: Just a Part of Me video release featuring Jane Costello (CEO of Positive Life NSW), Natasha Io (Board Member of Positive Life NSW), and Michelle Tobin (Aboriginal woman of the Yorta Yorta Nation who is also a descendant of the Stolen Generation) here.

slide from HIV is: Just a part of me - Michelle Tobin Yorta Yorta woman sitting on a stool talking to the camera

Michelle Tobin, Aboriginal woman of the Yorta Yorta Nation and descendant of the Stolen Generation.

National Day of Women Living with HIV NAPWHA banner - pink background vector image female doctor and patient

Kidney Health Week – 15–21 March

With 1 in 3 Australians adults at risk of kidney disease, this Kidney Health Week, Kidney Health Australia is calling out to all Australians, particularly those living with diabetes and/or hypertension, to get a Kidney Health Check. Last September Kidney Health Australia launched its early detection campaign, #nofilter, featuring Shane and his family. Shane was diagnosed with kidney disease following detection of high blood pressure. The campaign showed the impact dialysis had on his and his family’s life. Tragically, Shane passed away from a heart attack in December 2020, at just 48 years old.

As a tribute to him, his wife Jodie and five daughters will be featuring in the campaign during Kidney Health Week to carry on the fight in Shane’s name and get the message out about early detection. While the campaign does carry a heartbreaking message about Shane’s battle with kidney disease, it also carries a message of hope – that if caught early enough, Progression of kidney disease can be slowed down or even stopped.

For more information about Kidney Health Week 2021, Monday 15 March to Sunday 21 March click here.Kidney Health Australia logo on dark blue poster, with pop out of light blue & text 'you can lose 90% of your kidney function before symptoms appear.' & outside the kidney-shaped light blue pop out the text 'Don't risk life with #nofilter - Kidney disease prevention start at kidney.org.au/kidneyrisktest'

Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance launch

The Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA) is a partnership between the three Aboriginal Community Health Organisations (ACCHOs) based in the Pilbara region of WA, namely, Mawarnkarra Health Service; Wirraka Maya Health Service; and Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (Member ACCHOs). The priority for PAHA and its Member ACCHOs is to improve the health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities, in the Pilbara region.

The Member ACCHOs met in June 2019 to discuss the re-establishment of a Pilbara Aboriginal Health representative body. It was agreed that PAHA would be established to advocate for and represent the Members ACCHOs. An interim Coordinator was appointed in February 2020 to undertake the actions required to set up PAHA; coordinate PAHA meetings; and carry out the directions of the PAHA Directors. The greatest concerns to PAHA are the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in the Pilbara; the chronic diseases impacting families; providing access to holistic health services; the impact of grief and loss on families; and increasing the level of health services and programs available to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The launch of PAHA will take place on Friday 19 Marchflyer for the PAHA launch with address, timing etc

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: power of male role models confirmed

feature tile text 'power of male role models for Aboriginal children' silhouette of 3 Aboriginal men against sunset

Power of male role models

Almost 10 years ago, the Fathering Project was founded with the aim of delivering resources, programs and events to inspire and equip fathers and father-figures to engage with the children in their lives in a positive manner. Now through a collaboration between a number of researchers, the Fathering Project has asked Noongar men to explain what quop maaman (good men) looks like to them. The outcome was a workshop and video series that will introduce the program to boys and young men on Country with a focus on key Noongar concept and themes.

Professor Collard, a Whadjuk Nyungar Elder and the lead researcher behind the Aboriginal father’s program, said one of the key points in the discussion was that the fathering role model looked different to the Noongar men’s counterparts. He said while the western world may focus on the biological father being one of the primary caregivers, it wasn’t necessarily the same sentiment in the Noongar men’s discussions. The Fathering Project CEO Kati Gapaillard said “the research is profound, showing that increased father involvement in the lives of children creates many positive outcomes.”

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

Aboriginal man with arms around three young children, two boys & a girl

Image source: Mallee District Aboriginal Services website.

Vaccines welcome, still need COVID-safe practices

Expert health and medical science leaders welcome the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, but caution that the vaccines alone are not enough. The COVID-19 vaccination roll-out is a major development for Australia. It will enable people to take action that will help to protect themselves, their families and the wider community from a disease that has killed millions of people and impacted everyone, says the country’s expert body in the health and medical sciences. The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS) is an independent body comprising more than 400 senior researchers and health leaders. It has been active in monitoring and guiding the nation’s pandemic response.

To view the AAHMS media release click here.

Also, you can access a community engagement kit (developed by the Australian Government Department of Health in collaboration with NACCHO) with information on what the Government is doing to deliver COVID-19 vaccines by clicking here and resources about keeping our mob safe here.

image of 3 DoH Aboriginal specific stay covid-19 safe brochures, the first with text 'keep the germs away, keep hands clean' & line drawing of hands being washed

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health website.

Standalone family court system abolished

The passing of legislation earlier this week to merge the Family Court with the Federal Circuit Court will place survivors of domestic and family violence at greater risk according to more than 155 stakeholders in Australia’s family law system who have signed an open letter to the Attorney-General opposing the merge.

The Law Council of Australia, Women’s Legal Services Australia, Community Legal Centres Australia and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) are among the stakeholders who have consistently opposed the Government’s bill to abolish the specialist, stand-alone Family Court out of concern it will harm, not help, Australian families and children.

NATSILS Co-Chair Priscilla Atkins voiced her concerns for First Nations people, saying the merger means the loss of the standalone, specialist, superior Family Court and this will disproportionately impact the most vulnerable including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

To view the National Indigenous Times article click here.

lettering on marble outside Family Court of Australia

Image source: Crikey website.

ACTCOSS supports systemic racism investigation

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has welcomed the appointment of Ms Christine Nixon as chair of the new Oversight Committee to develop a blueprint for change for the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) however said that without an inquiry into systemic racism in Canberra’s prison the injustice experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees engaged with the justice system would not be resolved.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “We are pleased to see that this new Oversight Committee will soon start work to help improve culture and oversee the implementation of recommendations from inquiries and reports, “This oversight group will need to move promptly and comprehensively to rebuild trust. That must include close engagement with the community services sector, particularly Aboriginal community controlled organisations.”

To view the ACTCOSS media release in full click here.

Alexander Moconochie Centre external view building, 3 flag poles & prohibited entry sign

Photo by Karleen Minney. Image source: The Canberra Times.

First Nations’ GP numbers keep growing

The past three years have seen a 55% increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students pursuing a career in medicine. In 2020, there were a total of 404 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – 121 of whom were first year students – enrolled across Australia’s medical schools. That represents 2.7% of all domestic students, and is a substantial increase from 265 in 2014, according to findings from the 2020 General Practice: Health of the Nation report.

Dr Olivia O’Donoghue, RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Censor, believes it is the groundwork laid at a secondary education level to build awareness and encouragement that has helped lead to the increase, ‘There is a greater engagement of universities with high schools to recruit into health-related degrees and improvements in entry pathways to ensure university readiness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – one of the barriers for [this population] undertaking any university degree.’

To view the full RACGP newsGP article click here.

Aboriginal medical student with stethoscope against young Aboriginal woman's chest

James Cook University General Practice Training. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

More pressure on Woolies over NT grog shop

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous community and health leaders have called on Reconciliation Australia to revoke its endorsement of Woolworths’ Reconciliation Action Plan, as it did with Rio Tinto’s in the wake of the mining giant’s destruction of Juukan Gorge.

The signatories include many leading Indigenous health experts, including National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO Pat Turner, Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) CEO Donna Murray, Lowitja Institute chair Pat Anderson, Aboriginal Medical Service Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) CEO John Paterson, Danila Dilba CEO Olga Havnen, and former 60 Minutes journalist Jeff McMullen.

They say Woolworths should, like Rio Tinto, be held accountable for its relentless fight to build what will be one of Australia’s largest alcohol stores near three dry Aboriginal communities in Darwin, despite strong opposition from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and health organisations, “and in the full knowledge that this store will increase alcohol harm”.

To view the full article in Croaky click here.

silhouette of a spirits bottle over a list of the signatories to Reconciliation Australia to ct ties with Woolworths over Darwin bottle shop proposal

Signatories to the letter to Reconciliation Australia. Image source: Croakey.

Loneliness epidemic goes on unnoticed

A report on loneliness, an issue which clouds the lives of many Australians and exposes them to increased risk of depression and other illness, has called for a national plan of action to address the often unrecognised condition. 15% of Australians were considered to be experiencing high levels of loneliness, according to a 2019 survey, yet there remain significant gaps in knowledge and community awareness of the extent and impact, the report finds. That survey finding is reported in the Loneliness Thought Leadership Roundtable Report produced by an expert roundtable established by the Consumers Health Forum in partnership with the Medibank Better Health Foundation. This report builds on the Ending Loneliness Together in Australia White Paper published in late 2020 by the Ending Loneliness Together coalition.

To view the Consumers Health Forum of Australia’s media release in full click here.

young Aboriginal man sitting against wall with head down, arms folded, blue hoodie & jeans

Image source: myDr.com.au.

Youth representatives sought for HealthInfoNet Board 

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet which undertakes knowledge exchange research activities to summarise, synthesise and analyse the available research and other information and make it available to the health sector workforce in ways that are timely, accessible and relevant, is seeking expressions of interest from young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (aged 18–25 years) to join its national Advisory Board. The Advisory Board provides strategic advice and guidance to the HealthInfoNet‘s Director to ensure that it continues to provide support to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector workforce.

Youth representatives will provide important feedback from a young person’s perspective to guide the strategic and operational activities of the HealthInfoNet. The youth representatives will join the Advisory Board of senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts and other health experts from throughout Australia.

For further information click here. BE QUICK as applications close Friday 26 February.Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet logo of goanna & Aboriginal dot painting

Settler colonials face family histories

There is a quiet movement among settler colonials in Australia to critically examine their family histories as a way of re-examining the impact of centuries of dispossession of Indigenous peoples and enabling a shift from celebratory tropes of benign settlement to deep considerations of legitimacy. The myth of great white men and women, bravely opening new worlds and taming the wilderness, including the “savage” Indigenes, is now being challenged by a search for the truth.

Working alongside Aboriginal people, documenting their stories of dispossession and survival, Australian writer and academic, David Denborough,  was challenged by Jane Lester, a Yangkunytjatjara/Antikirinya woman, to find his ancestors. Now, 20 years later, he has written a book about how the relationships between his ancestors and Aboriginal people were marked by colonisation, racism and often inhumane treatment.

Denborough is determined to tell the truth as part of his healing journey and his close relationship with Aboriginal people. He has realised  “there is no sense in moral superiority towards my ancestry because colonial violence in this country has not ended; no place for hopelessness because First Nations resistance has never wavered; and, no time for paralysing shame because invitations to partnerships are still being offered by Aboriginal people … and [there is] so much to be done.”

To view the full article click here.

Tom and Jane Teniswood holding 'Private Forest Reserve' sign on a tree trunk

Tom and Jane Teniswood have returned half of their 220-acre property in Tasmania to the local Aboriginal community. Image source: The Conversation.

Doctor shortage in rural & regional areas

In a recent interview The Hon Mark Coulton MP, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government was asked about RACGP figures suggesting a decline in doctors electing for GP training and choosing specialties instead and whether more incentives need to be in place to fill more GP training roles. Minister Coulton said “what we’ve seen here in the bush is a symptom of a larger problem. And that is as we speak this year, there’s 30% vacancy in funded training places for GPs across Australia. We need to lift the value of general practice as a discipline.

We’re also training generalists, which is proving to be very popular with students coming through. So, doctors that have that broader range of skills, a GP with an emergency skill, obstetric skill, that would be of use when you’re working more remotely by yourself. And so, we’re looking at a whole range of issues going right back to the training through the students, working with the colleges, right through workforce issues and incentives, putting more students from country areas into training.”

To view the full transcript of the interview click here.

overlapped image of health professional torso with stethoscope holding hand of person against red dusty grasslands

Image source: National Rural Health Alliance Partyline website.

Teal Ribbon Day – raising ovarian cancer awareness

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have a different pattern of gynaecological cancer incidence and mortality compared to non-Indigenous women. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with, and 3.8 times more likely to die from cervical cancer, and are also 1.8 times more likely to be diagnosed with, and 2.2 times more likely to die from endometrial cancer. Cancer Australia have produced a handbook for Health Workers and Health Practitioners to help provide information and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with gynaecological cancers which can be accessed here.

Annually on the last Wednesday in February, Ovarian Cancer Australia hold Teal Ribbon Day. This is a day to support Australians affected by ovarian cancer, honour those  lost and raise awareness of this deadly disease to change the story for future generations. To access the Ovarian Cancer Australia website click here.

photo of teal ribbon for Teal Ribbon Day

Image source: Ovarian Cancer Australia website.

NSW – Batemans Bay, Bega & Narooma – Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health & Community Services

Practice Nurses x 1 PT – Batemans Bay

Casual Practice Nurses x 1 or more – Batemans Bay, Bega & Narooma

Katungul is a not for profit organisation providing culturally attuned, integrated health and community services on the Far South Coast of NSW. Katungul provides a broad range of services including: Primary Health Care; Child and Maternal Health; Oral Health; Mental Health; Emotional Health; Alcohol and Drug Services; NDIS and Integrated Team Care (ITC).

The Practice Nurse is responsible for ensuring that high quality health care services are provided to Katungul clients attending the clinic and associated outreach venues. This role includes oversight of all clinical operations based at the branch including risk management, planning, reporting, and management of a multidisciplinary team.

To view position description and to apply click here. Applications close 5:00 PM Tuesday 9 March 2021.Katungul ACCHO logo black duck flying across curved Aboriginal brown yellow black art, inside ochre circle with golden yellow fill, silhouette of man, woman, girl & boy at bottom of the circle, text 'Health Care for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Communities

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO hits the airwaves to comment on government policy impacts

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner speaking on The Drum

NACCHO CEO hits the airwaves

Earlier this week NACCHO CEO Pat Turner spoke to ABC The Drum about COVID-19 and the rollout of vaccines, the Industrial Relations Reform, employment and economy and the anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations.

Pat Turner also spoke to Patricia Karvelas on ABC Radio National Drive about the Closing the Gap report and the anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations Apology.

To view the ABC The Drum program featuring Pat Turner as a panellist click here and to listen to Pat Turner being interviewed on ABC Radio National Drive click here.

portrait of Pat Turner for RN Drive with Patricia Karvelas 13.2.21

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM, RN Drive with Patricia Karvelas. 15 February 2021

 

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner, ABC The Drum, 15 Feb 2021

Danila Dilba to deliver 26,000 vaccines

In the traditional language of the Larrakia people, “Danila Dilba” refers to the dilly bag used to carry bush medicines. It’s also the name of one of Australia’s largest Aboriginal health services, which is about to undertake the biggest challenge it’s ever faced.

“It’s absolutely unprecedented in terms of scale, logistics and, I would say, importance as well,” said Andrew Webster, the head of clinical governance at Danila Dilba. Dr Webster is overseeing the mission to inoculate at least 13,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in Darwin. They are among Australia’s most susceptible to the dangers of COVID-19.

To view The Aboriginal health service tasked with delivering at least 26,000 COVID-19 vaccines article click here.

Danila Dilba registered nurse Taylor Matthews opening medicines fridge

Registered nurse Taylor Matthews says it will be “very tough” to vaccinate all of Danila Dilba’s clients. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 vaccines common questions and answers

The Australian Government will shortly begin rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations. While details are still unfolding, you will be able to find the answers to many of your questions in the COVID-19 vaccines common questions factsheet here.

This Q&A document, together with vaccine-related information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, can be accessed via the Australian Government Department of Health’s website.

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) in collaboration with NACCHO have prepared a community engagement kit that has useful information on what the Government is doing to deliver COVID-19 vaccines.

To support communication with your stakeholders, networks and communities, a suite of resources have been developed, including:

  • newsletter article content
  • social media content
  • a script for videos
  • an editorial example
  • a poster
  • radio and social media advertising content.

Here is a guide that will provide you with the list of resources that are available in the COVID-19 vaccination community engagement kit.

To download the entire kit of resources click here.

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health

The EarTrain Program is here

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have much higher rates of middle ear infection compared to other children. The EarTrain program is a response to these statistics. It is delivered across Australia by TAFE NSW and is funded by the Australian Federal Government. EarTrain is a Closing the Gap initiative available until June 2022.

This program is delivered through an interactive online training platform with an option to register for practical skills workshops. During the practical skills workshops, you will learn to develop audiometry skills and use equipment appropriately. For further information about the EarTrain program click here.

Program eligibility – if you are a primary health care professional providing care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, you are eligible to participate in the EarTrain program. To register to participate click here.EarTrain banner, text deliver by NSW Government TAFE NSW & photo of Aboriginal man, woman & two young girls

Remote GPs urged to update AOD skills

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is encouraging more rural and remote GPs to update their skills using the latest research to support patients with alcohol and other drug (AOD) use problems in their communities. Under the $7.9 million initiative funded by the Federal Government the RACGP is delivering the Alcohol and Other Drugs GP Education Program, which is tailored to meet the needs of GPs in all corners of Australia. The program encourages participation from rural and remote GPs and includes essential skills training to provide an update for GPs wanting to improve their approach to conversations about alcohol and other drug use.

To view the RACGP’s media release here.RACGP banner text Alcohol and Other Drugs GP Education Program Training GPs to help people tackle alcohol & other drug use racgp.org.au/AOD, blue background, pills, beer

Trust in government soars during pandemic

It has become accepted wisdom that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen trust in government rise across countries. But by how much? And why should it matter?

To answer these questions, a representative online survey was conducted in Australia and NZ, with a separate sample for WA, in July 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey discovered a dramatic increase in trust in government. Indeed, 80% of Australians and 83% of New Zealanders agreed government was generally trustworthy, up from 49% and 53% respectively in 2009.

Moreover, this level of trust is far higher than found in studies carried out in several other countries.

To view The Conversation’s article Trust in government soars in Australia and NZ during pandemic in full click here.

NZ PM Jacinta Atdern & PM Scott Morrison standing 1.5m apart, both at lecterns, city in the background

Image source: The Conversation.

24/7 support for remote and rural health workers

Remote and rural health workers make a difference to people’s lives every day, supporting those who may be at their lowest ebb, and keeping the communities in which, they live healthy and safe. But who helps the health workers when the stresses of work, and life, become too much?

The CRANAplus Bush Support Line is a 24/7 telephone service offering free psychological support for this critical workforce, and their families. For decades, the service has been a lifeline for those facing personal or work-related challenges while delivering essential health services beyond Australia’s major cities.

With Australia’s remote and rural communities reeling from the impact of COVID-19 and natural disasters including bushfires, drought and flooding, the provision of easily accessible, meaningful support for health workers has never been more important, says not-for-profit organisation CRANAplus, which provides the Bush Support Line as part of its suite of services for the remote, isolated and rural health workforce.

To view the article 24/7 support service offers a lifeline to remote and rural health workers in full click here.CRANAPlus banner, text Lend you an ear. Give you a hand. Bush Support LIne 1800 805 391 Available to remote and rural health workers and their families, CRANAPlus logo ' text CRANA plu Improving remote health www.crana.org.au

Grants to develop or grow NDIS services

Not-for-profit organisation, Community Business Bureau (CBB) are offering free consultancy services, for up to five organisations to help them develop a new or grow an existing NDIS service. The grant round is currently open, and applications close at 1:00 PM (ACDT) Friday 26 February 2021.

While applications are open to any organisation that provides or wishes to provide NDIS services – CBB are particularly welcoming applications from:

  • Organisations operating or wanting to operate in rural and remote communities in SA, WA, the NT and Queensland.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.

For more information, or to apply click here.

rear view of older Aboriginal woman in wheelchair looking at white clouds against a blue sky

Image source: Power to Persuade website.

Mental health impacted by impaired vision

Dr Peter Sumich, Vice-President of the Australian Society of Ophthalmologists and a cataract and refractive surgeon, spoke to newsGP following the release of new research published in JAMA Ophthalmology. Dr Sumich said ‘There is no doubt – and there’s plenty of research to back it up – that people who have cataracts or low vision have more depression, more social isolation, less independence, more falls and fractures and less ability to drive. Those things all work together to play on your mental health.’

Melbourne Laureate Professor Hugh Taylor, the past president of the International Council of Ophthalmology, the Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne and previous Head of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Melbourne says GPs should assess visual capability as part of their health checks and that it is a mandatory part of the 715 health check for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. Professor Taylor said it is also imperative that clinicians ensure any patient who has diabetes receives regular eye examinations. ‘For non-Indigenous Australians, that should be an eye exam once every two years, and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that needs to be once a year,’ he said.

To view the newsGP article Impaired vision linked to lower mental and physical health in full click here.

Aboriginal woman with poncho in Aboriginal flag colours, walking cane on road with man assisting

Image source: mivision The Ophthalmic Journal website.

Collaboration sought to shape health policy 

The University of Sydney’s Sustainability, Climate and Health Collaboration (SCHC) is seeking collaborations with various partners to shape policies and practices that could promote people’s health and wellbeing under changing environment and climate. One of SCHC’s focused research areas is Indigenous health promotion. A current SCHC student member is Matilde Petersen – Research Assistant and MPhil candidate at School of Public Health. Matilde is involved in projects on climate change and health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and a glossary project on climate change and health to promote multisectoral collaborations.

You can access the University of Sydney’s website here for further information about how to get involved.

Aboriginal man conducting controlled grass burn

Image source: Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation – Russell Ord.

The big issues in outback health provision

In a series of webinars called Outback Conversations, members of The Outback Alliance and key stakeholders from diverse sectors have discussed a range of issues and challenges that have been identified following the first outbreak of COVID-19.

During The Outback Alliance Outback Conversations Webinar #2 – Health Frank Quinlan, Federation Executive, Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and John Paterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance in the NT (AMSANT) explored questions such as: What have been the big issues in health provision? How has the disruption in supply chains, personnel or internet access impacted remote communities? and How do we continue to protect people in the Outback?

To view the webinar click here.

Outback Conversations webinar tile, red dusty outback image, insert image of woman looking at arm of one of 2 boys sitting on the edge of a ute, text Webinar #2 - Health with Frank Quinlan, Federation Executive Royal Flying Doctor Service, John Paterson, CEO - Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT

Image source: The Outback Alliance website.

Vital to combat COVID ‘vaccine hesitancy’

“The rollout of COVID vaccines has been hastened because of the emergency nature of the pandemic, and that’s led to some vaccine hesitancy which is understandable,” Dr Aquino said. “So the Australian government, and pharmaceutical companies need to effectively communicate why these vaccines are safe, and comparable to any vaccine developed outside of the pandemic. “They need to cut through the misinformation from the anti-vaxxer movement to mitigate the growth of that movement. Because the reality is the way these vaccines have been developed for COVID is still scientifically, evidence-based, and they have to go through a stringent regulatory process. Australia is one of the strictest regulators in the world, which is why we haven’t already started rolling out the vaccine like in other countries.”

To view the Illawarra Mercury article It’s vital to combat COVID ‘vaccine hesitancy’, says UOW bioethicist in full click here.

male health professional holding syringe in front of his face

Image source: Illawarra Mercury.

Indigenous Health Research Fund webinars

The Medical Research Future Fund’s (MRFF) Indigenous Health Research Fund (IHRF) was announced in February 2019 to provide $160 million for research to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. An Expert Advisory Panel was appointed in September 2019 to provide advice to the Minister for Health on the strategic priorities for research investment through the IHRF. The Expert Advisory Panel provides their advice on priorities for research investment through the IHRF by developing a Roadmap and Implementation Plan.

The Roadmap is a high level strategic document that includes the aim, vision, goal and priorities for investment for the IHRF. To support the Roadmap, the Implementation Plan outlines the priorities for investment (short, medium and long term), evaluation approaches and measures, supporting activities, and collaborative opportunities. The Roadmap and Implementation Plan are used by the Department of Health to design and implement IHRF investments via Grant Opportunities promoted through GrantConnect.

Consultation has now opened on the Roadmap and Implementation Plan for the IHRF. The Expert Advisory Panel will host two Indigenous Health Research Fund webinars on 23 and 30 March 2021 where you can provide your feedback.

Aboriginal woman in lab coat with microscope and beakers with yellow blue & red liquidr

Image source: Research Professional News Australia & NZ website.

Collingwood’s challenge is everyone’s challenge

As an Aboriginal doctor, cardiologist, and researcher, Burchill said he is often asked for solutions on how to Close the Gap for Aboriginal health outcomes. Since heart disease is one of the major drivers of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, you might think the solution lies in our interventions – heart pills, stents for blocked coronary arteries, pacemakers, and so on. The truth is that we can only close the gap by preventing heart disease in the first place. That begins with us understanding that health starts in the places we share our lives – our homes, schools, workplaces, neighbourhoods, clubs and communities.

If we apply this lens to Collingwood it becomes clear that systemic racism isn’t only a threat to the culture of an organisation but also for the health of those working within it.

To view Associate Professor Luke Burchill’s paper in full click here.

brick wall mural of Adam Goodes

Footballer Adam Goodes experienced one of the most malignant national displays of systemic racism. Image source: The University of Melbourne Pursuit webpage.

Location negotiable across Australia – TAFE NSW

Teacher Audiometry – EarTrain Program (PT casual) – (Targeted) x multiple positions

The TAFE NSW Digital Team is looking for individuals with current industry experience and knowledge in Audiometry and Ear Health Prevention to join their team on a part time casual basis.

EarTrain is an online training program for primary health care professionals to identify and manage otitis media and other hearing conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The program is delivered across Australia by TAFE NSW and is funded by the Australian Government. EarTrain is a Closing the Gap initiative available until June 2022.

To view the position description and to apply click here. Applications close 11:59 PM Monday 22 February 2021.EarTrain program banner, face & shoulders of Aboriginal girl sitting on lounge with headphones & huge smile, text EarTrain & logo - Aboriginal painting of ear, 'Enhance Health Service Delivery'

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month – February 2021

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is held each year in Australia to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is still the deadliest women’s cancer. Every day in Australia, four women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and three will die from the disease. While there is no exact cause for most ovarian cancers, there are factors that may increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer, such as increasing age, hereditary and other factors.

The symptoms of Ovarian cancer may include:

  • increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating
  • abdominal or pelvic (lower stomach) pain
  • feeling full after eating a small amount
  • needing to urinate often or urgently

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech at the Ovarian Cancer Australia Teal Ribbon Parliamentary Breakfast at Parliament house yesterday can be accessed here. and the joint Minister Greg Hunt and Senator Marise Payne’s media release announcing a further $1 million to Ovarian Cancer Australia can be read in full here.

Ovarian Cancer Australia banner: teal ribbon & text 'Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month & Aboriginal red line drawing of female uterus, fallopian tubes & ovaries, inside a white circle surrounded by purple dots against dark cream background

Image sources: Ovarian Cancer Australia; Graphic from Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre Yerin News, Edition 13, February 2019.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mills makes Indigenous hoop dreams a reality

Feature tile text 'NBA star Patty Mills makes hoop dreams a reality with the launch of Australia's first Indigenous Community Basketball League', image of Patty Mills taking a shot at the hoop

Mills makes Indigenous hoop dreams a reality

NBA star, Patty Mills is providing pathways for young Indigenous talent as a way to give back to the game in Australia. Patty Mills hopes the new league he has launched will give more Indigenous children the chance to not only play basketball at high levels but to achieve better educational and health outcomes. Mills said “Basketball as a sport has brought me happiness, joy, education and a real sense of purpose and perspective. It has changed my world and shaped the person I am today. However, not everyone has had the same opportunities as I have, which is why I’m so dedicated to using my platform, my profile and my voice to develop innovative programs like the Indigenous Basketball Association, which will allow my people to really own their story. I have spent over 10 years in the NBA, an organisation that has not only supported and championed me as an athlete, but celebrated my cultural identity as an Australian, an Indigenous man of the land.”

Yesterday NACCHO Chairperson Donnella Mills gave an address at the opening ceremony of the Indigenous Community Basketball League at the Cairns Basketball Stadium. Donnella addressed the teams gathered saying “I don’t know as much about basketball as you all do, but I can share with you a few observations about health and how important sport is in keeping us all fit and healthy. Playing sport is not just good fun. Sport has a huge impact on a person’s daily life and health. Sport improves your heart function; reduces the risk of diabetes; lowers stress; and improves your wellbeing and strength of mind.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people usually fare pretty badly in the statistics and the press tends to focus on what we can’t do rather than what we can do. You are all living-and-breathing examples of what we can achieve and you should all be proud. In fact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people do particularly well in sports statistics. Look at the amazing international career of Patty Mills, it speaks for itself.”

To access the article ‘We’re creating history’: Mills making Indigenous hoop dreams a reality click here, to view the NBA endorses Mills’ Indigenous Basketball Association news item click here, and to read Australian Men’s Health‘s glowing endorsement of Patty Mills’ initiative click here.

Far North Queensland teams sitting in rows on basketball court at opening ceremony of Indigenous Community Basketball League

Far North Queensland teams at the Opening Ceremony of the Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL) on Sunday 7 February 2021.

Bill passed to decriminalise public drunkenness

The Victorian Lower House has passed a bill  to decriminalise public drunkenness, 30 years after it was first recommended by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The Upper House is expected to vote on the bill in coming weeks and if approved being drunk in a public place will no longer be treated as a criminal offence but rather a health issue, with reforms to be implemented over the next two years.

The move was triggered by the death of 55-year-old Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day, who was asleep on a V/Line train before she was arrested and taken to the Castlemaine Police Station in 2017. Ms Day was left unattended in a holding cell where she fell and hit her head at least five times, causing traumatic brain injuries which later ended her life.

Ms Day’s death was a haunting reminder of a strikingly similar tragedy that could have been prevented if public drunkenness offences were repealed decades earlier. On a winter afternoon in 1987, Gunai man Arthur Moffatt, 51, boarded a regional train from Moe to Morwell in eastern Victoria after spending the day enjoying a few drinks with friends. During his trip, Mr Moffatt suffered a diabetic hypoglycaemic attack (low blood sugar levels), which was a mixed reaction to the alcohol in his system and a lack of food, according to a federal inquiry into his death. He then fell unconscious and missed his stop but was soon carried off the train and taken by officers to Warragul Police Station where he died hours later in a cell.

Tanya Day with small girl on indoor play equipment

Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day. Image source: ABC News website.

App tackles women’s health risk factors

Associate Professor Gillian Gould and her all-women team comprising Aboriginal researchers, non-Indigenous researchers and experts have secured a $50,000 grant to support development of the MAMA-EMPOWER App. The app provides tailored support for women to tackle risk factors affecting their health. The funding from the NSW Government’s Investing in Women funding program allows for further development of the system designed to address the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal women during preconception or pregnancy.

Associate Professor Gould is based in Coffs Harbour, where she has established a University of Newcastle-affiliated research hub. Team member and University of Newcastle based Research Manager for the project, Dr Nicole Ryan said, “This funding will help in incorporating feedback from local women to not only make it culturally appropriate but to include evidence-based guidance for the individual person.”

The app provides tailored support to women to tackle four risk factors impacting their health – smoking, alcohol, physical activity, and low fruit and vegetable intake. It will incorporate behavioural change techniques such as goal setting and reminders and has an interface that is easy to connect with.

To view the Coffs Coast News of the Area article click here.

Associate Professor Gillian Gould standing on tree lined path

Associate Professor Gillian Gould. Image source: The University of Newcastle Australia.

Making diabetes care culturally safe

Gulumerridjin Traditional Custodian and Karrajarri man Christopher Lee is taking action to support and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with Diabetes. Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement at Diabetes Australia, Lee was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2014. “I was diagnosed around 2014 out in Toowoomba. I went in for the Deadly Choices check, then they rang me back and said doctor needs to see you. I rock up and he tells me I have Type 2 Diabetes. I had no idea what it was, was it poor lifestyle choice? Was my upbringing wrong?”

Now, seven years on, Lee has a lot more knowledge around Diabetes but has faced ignorance and adversity. “We are genetically predisposed to getting Diabetes,” he said. “I went through four or five different Aboriginal Medical Services in southeast Queensland. In one of them, the doctor said it was my fault, I had made poor lifestyle choices and brought it on myself.”

Researching on the internet and sifting through resources, it wasn’t until Lee got to yarn with a friend did he find confidence. “It wasn’t until I found a brother that we got to sit and yarn. We spoke about his Type 2 Diabetes and what I needed to know,” he said. “A yarning conversation with someone I respected, someone I trusted, and in a language I understood. From that point, I had a basic understanding and through talking with some fantastic health professionals, I’ve built up the trust to ask why this happens.”

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

Diabetes Australia's Indigenous engagement manager Christopher Lee standing on an oval with large green trees in the background, wearing black yellow and red t-shirt

Diabetes Australia’s Indigenous engagement manager Christopher Lee. Image source: NITV website.

1,000s of US marines coming to Darwin

The Australian Department of Defence has confirmed that 2,200 US marines, in batches of 200–500, will arrive in Darwin between now and June this year as part of an annual training rotation. Earlier this year, the use of a Darwin CBD hotel as a quarantine facility for international military arrivals was the subject of significant criticism from health groups, including the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT).

Western NSW Local Health District Board vacancies

The NSW Minister for Health is inviting applications from persons interested in becoming a member of the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) Board

There are a number of vacancies opening up on the board due to the retirement of members. WNSWLHD Board Chair Scott Griffiths explained “The Board is responsible for overseeing an effective governance and risk management framework for the district, setting its strategic directions, ensuring high standards of professional and ethical conduct are maintained, involve providers and the community in decisions that affect them, monitoring the service delivery and financial performance of the district against its targets and holding the chief executive accountable for their performance.”

NCSR release Healthcare Provider portal

The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) has released a Healthcare Provider portal and is integrating the Register with Clinical Information Systems. This new functionality creates a new channel for users to interaction with the Register online at a time convenient for them.

In collaboration with the Department of Health, the NCSR is providing a Communications Toolkit to increase awareness of the Healthcare Provider Portal and integration with Clinical Information Systems. NCSR have worked closely with Best Practice and MedicalDirector to develop an API which will be shared with more vendors throughout the year with the intent to integrate with as many vendors as possible. The Best Practice integration recently went live and NCSR are working with MedicalDirector to finalise the necessary steps to integrate.

The toolkit provides links to supporting collateral to assist in raising awareness of the new ways to access and submit data to the NCSR. The supporting assets include:

  • A media release
  • Social media creatives
  • Awareness raising animations
  • Key messages
  • A Healthcare Provider Portal demonstration video (split into chapters)
  • A promotional PowerPoint resource

To access an overview of the NCSR Communications Toolkit – Healthcare Provider Portal and Clinical Software Integration click here.

orange background, text 'Australian Government, National Cancer Screening Register, Healthcare Provider Portal Logging in and your acc, vector image of female & male health professionals

AMA comment’s on draft National Workforce Strategy

The AMA recently provided feedback to the Department of Health on the Draft National Medical Workforce Strategy. The AMA was broadly supportive of the five priority areas and most actions outlined by the Draft Strategy. If executed well in concert with other major health reforms already underway, the Strategy should provide a solid platform to ensure that the medical workforce sustainably meets the changing health needs of Australian communities.

Some key points of the AMA’s response included support for the development of functional and reciprocal links between tertiary, regional and rural hospitals, Aboriginal health services, universities, medical colleges, and regional training providers, and the integration of prevocational and vocational training pathways within these networks as a priority. This will ensure trainees undertaking generalist training have adequate access to relevant terms in larger urban hospitals.

To view the article regarding the AMA’s comments on the draft click here.

banner, text National Medical WOrkforce Strategy, collage of photos, doctor with stethoscope, group of nurses, older couple, Aboriginal woman and young girl, male doctor, farmer

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Transitioning to PHC community control

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) play a critical role in providing culturally appropriate, accessible primary healthcare (PHC) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. The success of many ACCHSs has led to increased policy support for their growth and development, including the transition of state government administered PHC services to Aboriginal community control in select communities. However, there is minimal published literature available which evaluates such transitions. A research paper reports on an evaluation of the experience of one ACCHS (Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service) of transitioning local PHC services to community control in Yarrabah, Queensland, with a focus on the processes and strategies which were implemented to achieve successful transition.

Achieving successful transition to community control of PHC for Gurriny entailed a lengthy process of substantial, ongoing organisational growth and development. Gurriny’s experience provides a framework for both governments and the ACCHS sector to inform future transitions of PHC services to Aboriginal community control.

To view the research article in full click here.

outside shot of Gurriny Yealamucka Primary Health Care Service

Image source: Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Moving from Safe to Brave Reconciliation report

feature tile text 'Moving from Safe to Brave - 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report' Aboriginal flag & Australian flag blurred by person walking at right hand side of Aboriginal flag & left hand side of Australian flag

Moving from Safe to Brave Reconciliation report

In 2016 The first State of Reconciliation in Australia Report was produced by Reconciliation Australia in 2016 to mark 25 years of a formal reconciliation process in Australia, through both the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and Reconciliation Australia. The 2021 report is the second such report and reflects on where we have come from, where we are today, where we need to get to, and how we can get there.

While we recognise the decades of dedication to the reconciliation process, Australians needs to move from ‘safe’ to ‘brave’ in order to realise the promise of reconciliation, a new report says. The 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report assesses the current status of reconciliation and outlines some practical actions that need to be taken if we are to continue to progress the reconciliation process. Reconciliation Australia, CEO Karen Mundine says the report shows the reconciliation movement is at a tipping point. “While we see greater support for reconciliation from the Australian people than ever before, we must be more determined than ever if we are to achieve the goals of the movement — a just, equitable, and reconciled Australia. There is a far greater awareness of the complexity and magnitude of First Nations cultures and knowledges, and many more Australians now understand and acknowledge the impacts that British colonialism and the modern Australian state have had on First Nations families and communities. Reconciliation must be more than raising awareness and knowledge. The skills and knowledge gained must now motivate us to braver action. Actions must involve truth-telling, and actively addressing issues of inequality, systemic racism and instances where the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are ignored, denied or reduced.

The State of Reconciliation report’s focus of moving from safe to brave is supported by the year’s theme, “More than a word. Reconciliation takes Action” which urges the reconciliation movement towards braver and more impactful action.

To view Reconciliation Australia’s media release in regarding the launch of the report click here, to access a summary report click here and to view the full report click here.
cover of the Reconciliation Australia 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report - Moving From Safe to Brave text against dark red band, top & bottom of cover yellow, pale orange white Aboriginal painting

Plan to slash eyesight-saving surgery wait lists

Extended waiting lists for routine yet potentially eyesight-saving cataract surgery could be slashed under a plan proposed by the eye health and vision care sector in a submission to the 2021–22 Federal Budget. The Vison 2020 Australia submission calls for expanded delivery of public cataract surgery, along with the development and roll out of innovative and sustainable service models and national protocols to support enhanced access to cataract surgery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The submission also proposes improving access to local eye care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by rolling out local case management and supporting community designed and led eye care models.

The full submission can be accessed here and Vision 2020’s media release regarding the submission is available here.

close up of doctor's gloved hands conducting eye surgery

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Health services needed for iSISTAQUIT project

iSISTAQUIT training aims to train health providers in culturally appropriate smoking cessation techniques through self-paced online modules and a range of other resources. The main aim is to make health providers confident in delivering smoking cessation interventions to pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. To achieve this the iSISTAQUIT team is currently actively looking to recruit Aboriginal and mainstream health services in their iSISTAQUIT project. You are invited to consider participating in the iSISTAQUIT project, with an informational webinar on Thursday 11 February at 11:00 am to help you get started.

For further information about the ISISTAQUIT project and webinar click here.

torso of sitting Aboriginal woman in grey sweet pants & white t-shirt breaking a cigarette in half

Image source: The Queensland Times.

Exemption policy impacts across generations

A new book titled Black, White and Exempt: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives under exemption presents the untold story of Aboriginal exemption; a policy imposed by state governments on Aboriginal people during the twentieth century. Exemption certificates promised Aboriginal people access to the benefits of Australian citizenship that Aboriginal status denied them, including access to education, health services, housing and employment. In exchange, exempted individuals were required to relinquish their language, identity and ties to kin.

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Studies CEO, Craig Ritchie said “the traumatic and complex impacts of this policy [including mental illness] across generations is little understood.”

To view the article in full click here.

photo of Aboriginal woman Daisy Smith with her daughter Valma, circa 1950

Daisy Smith with her daughter Valma, circa 1950. Image source: La Trobe University website.

WA ACCO consortium leads homelessness project

There is an over representation of Aboriginal people among those experiencing homelessness. The WA McGowan Government has awarded $6.8 million 5-year contract to Noongar Mia Mia Pty Ltd who will lead an ACCO partnership with Wungening Aboriginal Corporation and Ngalla Maya Aboriginal Corporation to provide culturally appropriate assertive outreach, case management and after-hours support for individuals and families sleeping rough across the Perth metropolitan area. The new service will link people who are sleeping rough with appropriate wraparound support services, including accommodation, employment, health, mental health, financial management, and social support. ACCOs have been recognised as having the cultural authority to deliver effective services within Aboriginal communities.

To view the Government of WA media statement click here.

Two homeless Aboriginal men in front of a makeshift tent in Perth

Two men in front of a tent in Perth. Photograph: Jesse Noakes. Image source: The Guardian.

Darwin Dan Murphy’s fight continues

Medical leaders are pushing ahead in their fight against plans to build a Dan Murphy’s near three Indigenous communities as they call for an urgent meeting with Woolworths’ bosses. Construction on the alcohol megastore in Darwin’s airport precinct is due to start in May after the NT Government gave it the green light in December last year. Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) are demanding a meeting with the Woolworths’ board and chairman.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson says the health service deals with alcohol-related incidents every week, and he fears it will worsen if the store goes ahead, “Spanning from violence, deaths, car accidents, you name it, it’s happening as a result of large consumption of alcohol here in Darwin and surrounding suburbs. Our position is quite clear, we do not want the build of a super liquor outlet store in Darwin…full stop.”

To view the Hot100FM news item click here.

Dan Murphy's mega store internal image

Image source: Hot100FM website.

Cherbourg positive parenting program

Cherbourg parents and care-givers have been invited to take part in a free “positive parenting” program which aims to build on the strengths and resilience of the community. For the past two years Darling Downs Health, via Cherbourg Health Service, has been working with CRAICCHS and the University of Queensland to roll out Indigenous Positive Parenting Programs (Triple P) in the community. The programs are known collectively as “D’arin Djanum”, which means “strong together” in Wakka Wakka.

Clinical psychologist Arvind Ponnapalli, co-ordinator of the project, said it aimed to provide positive support for parents and families. “The D’arin Djanum project rests on the proven fact that ‘strong together’ families can create a strong foundation for children, support their growth and development, guide them through challenges of life, and teach positive cultural values,” Mr Ponnapalli said. “According to a recent independent report by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Triple P is one of only two programs given a ‘very high’ evidence rating in an international review of 26 parenting interventions designed to prevent or reduce the negative impact of adverse childhood experiences.”

To view the full southburnett.com.au article click here.

Clinical Psychologist Arvind Ponnapalli, Cherbourg Qld, in CRAICCHS logo business shirt standing against Aboriginal art

Clinical Psychologist Arvind Ponnapalli, Cherbourg, Queensland. Image source: southburneett.com.au.

Halfway housing for people leaving prison

The Foundation for Indigenous Sustainable Health (an Australian non-for-profit) is set to build a social, justice, training and agricultural enterprise, incorporating halfway housing for Indigenous people leaving prison at Myalup, 90 minutes south of Perth. Designs are out for public comment regarding the proposed $15 million development Myalup Karla Waanginy – meaning ‘meeting place for different people to come together and yarn around the fire’.

FISH and a team of Aboriginal advisers considered all states for the prototype, but chose WA in part because of its standout Indigenous incarceration rate. The site will house 45 residents at a time, each staying six months, but will also support people after they move on into the community. The program will last 18 months with 180 participants at a time. The wellbeing building will operate like a small campus where participants and staff will work and do counselling, art therapy, education, training and medical checks.

To view the full article in WAtoday click here.

artist's impression of WA Myalup Karla Waanginy

Artist’s impression of Myalup Karla Waanginy complex. Image source: WAtoday website.

Bathurst educator wins Dreamtime Award

Kerrie Kennedy, Senior Educator from Goodstart Early Learning Bathurst is the proud winner of the Awabakal Excellence in Education Award at the Dreamtime Awards. In its fourth year the National Dreamtime Awards has grown to be the biggest and best celebration in the country recognising Indigenous excellence in the categories of Sport, Arts, Education, Health and Community.

Kerrie was nominated for her excellence in education in early childhood. Kerrie said winning the award was a huge honour and paid tribute to her own parents for their commitment to her education, “My mum and dad always told us how important our education was and instilled in us the importance of education for all children. I have helped to establish a Bush Kindy Program in Bathurst, making connections within the local Aboriginal Community, and connecting back to Country. I believe the most important learning and development in anyone’s life happens in high quality early learning centres like ours.”

To view the article in full click here.

three girls with teacher on mat in Goodstart Early Learning Bathurst, Aboriginal flags & images in background

Goodstart Early Learning Bathurst. Image source: Toddle website.

COVID-19 Advisory Group communique

The Australian Government’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 (the Taskforce) have released a new communique, advising vaccination will be free and a staged rollout is expected to start in February 2021 for people at high risk of infection such as frontline healthcare workers, with vaccination of other population groups to follow.

The Taskforce noted the overarching Australian Government approach to prioritisation has been guided by medical and technical experts. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) acknowledged that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have an increased risk of getting and developing serious illness from COVID-19 due to multiple factors, including having a high rate of chronic health conditions and a greater chance of living in communities where crowded living conditions exist.

To access the communique click here.

3D painting of creased Aboriginal flag with covid-19 cell image in flames superimposed

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Sport linked to better academic performance

Greater sports participation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is linked with better academic performance, according to new research from the University of SA. Conducted in partnership with the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney, the world-first study found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who played organised sports every year over four years, had numeracy skills which were advanced by seven months, compared to children who did less sport.

The study used data from four successive waves of Australian’s Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children, following 303 students (with a baseline age of 5–6 years old) to assess cumulative sports participation against academic performance in standardised NAPLAN and PAT outcomes. Sports participation has been linked with better cognitive function and memory in many child populations, but this is the first study to confirm the beneficial association between ongoing involvement in sport and academic performance among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Lead researcher, Dr Dot Dumuid, says the study highlights the importance of sports as a strategy to help close the gap* for Australia’s First Nations peoples.

To view the University of SA’s media release click here.

group of Aboriginal boys on red dust landscape - Yuendumu footballer Messiah Brown (centre) is sheperded by Jerome Dickson as Ezekial Egan (stripy shirt) and Riley White try to tackle him

Yuendumu footballer Messiah Brown (centre) is shepherded by Jerome Dickson as Ezekial Egan (stripy shirt) and Riley White try to tackle him. Photograph: Steve Strike. Image source: The Australian.

Suicide data release to aid prevention

Victoria’s Coroners Court will release annual statistics on Indigenous suicide rates to help prevention organisations better target programs to reduce the numbers. A new report has found that suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians are double that among the non-Indigenous population. State Coroner Judge John Cain says the ongoing discrepancy in Indigenous suicide frequencies is worrying.

The Coroners Court established a Koori Engagement Unit two years ago to help tackle the disparity. Unit manager Troy Williamson said the release of a new full-year data in a report to be released each January came in response to requests for more data from Indigenous-led suicide prevention sector and the community. “In 2020, Victoria had one of the country’s highest suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said. “Our communities have requested more public data to put agency back in their hands and guide culturally safe response to Aboriginal health and wellbeing.”

To view The Young Witness article in full click here.

blue sign outside Coroners Court of Victoria, text Coroners Court of Victoria, state government emblem & the word courtrooms

The Coroners Court set up a Koori Engagement Unit to tackle the frequency of Indigenous suicide. Image source: The Young Witness News website.

Indigenous Governance award nominations open 

Dr Joe Tighe from the Australian Human Rights Commission has commented that unless you have the patience of the Dalai Lama (who had the option of going into exile) – work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equity can feel like a very slow, frustrating and painful burn for many advocates. This is one reason why Joe thinks it is so important to recognise and acknowledge successes, the little or big wins, at every opportunity.

When Dr Tighe said that when governments allowed us to dance, these wins sometimes meant a well-deserved night out for an awards ceremony. Acknowledgment of the wins provides a breather and helps to restore some energy. It also reminds governments (again) – that Indigenous health in Indigenous hands is the most effective approach.

Joe encourages you to take the time to nominate the many warriors and success stories for Reconciliation Australia’s Indigenous Governance Awards. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Indigenous organisations to have their governance recognised.

For further information about the Indigenous Governance Awards 2021 and the process for nominations click here.banner text 'Indigenous Governance Awards 2021' right hand side red, yellow, grey Aboriginal irregular dot images - 7 in total

Current tests fail to identify LGA babies

Following a large international study on Hyperglycaemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO), diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) were changed in WA in 2015. The ORCHID Study (Optimisation of Rural Clinical and Haematological Indicators of Diabetes in pregnancy) is a collaboration between the Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA), Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services and WA Country Health Services. It was designed to help simplify screening for GDM in rural and remote WA. The study’s first paper showed it can be difficult to get everyone to do this test, while the second paper showed two-thirds of women with GDM who do the test are missed due to blood glucose sample instability. A further component of the study (funded by Diabetes Research WA) is still collecting data for the revalidation of glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and glycated albumin as an alternative to OGTT for GDM screening at 24–28 weeks gestation.

To view a plain language summary of the research click here.

sleeping Aboriginal baby in orche coloured blanket in bowl with Aboriginal dot painting & Aboriginal colour headband all sitting in dry grass landscape

Image source: Daily Mail Pics Twitter.

2021 State of Telehealth Summit mental health academy COViU Australia's largest online telehealth conference for mental and allied health professionals banner

2021 State of Telehealth Summit

The use of telehealth consultations in mental health has rapidly expanded in recent months. While this accelerating trend has been ignited by the global COVID-19 pandemic, studies suggest that the shift from in-person care to virtual delivery is here for good. As a mental/allied health professional, how prepared are you to effectively deliver telehealth and take advantage of the latest technologies and opportunities in this field of practice?

To help you answer these questions, Mental Health Academy (Australia’s largest CPD provider for mental health professionals) and COVIU (Australia’s leading telehealth platform) have partnered to deliver the largest ever telehealth-focused online conference, the 2021 State of Telehealth Summit.

Join Australia’s largest online telehealth conference for mental and allied health professionals. It’s entirely free. This ground-breaking event brings together 21 subject-matter experts and 10 hours of learning – all accessible from the comfort of your home. As a participant, you’ll be able to join live webinars, watch session recordings (on-demand, 24/7), and much more.

To register click here.

Digital Health Week 2021 Pushing the Boundaries of Health Care banner, grey, two overlapping white triangles, white text, yellow font '2021' & 'of'

Digital Health Week 2021 from 8–11 February 2021 will be hosted by the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne. The 2021 Theme is Pushing the Boundaries of Health Care. Check out the fully-online conference program and speakers here and explore the ePoster gallery here –  showcasing the work of digital health researchers from across the world. Have your say and vote for the 2021 ‘People’s Choice’ ePoster. Two optional digital health and data workshops are on offer, each running for three half-days – Data Science for Clinical Applications and Design of Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS).

To register for the conference click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: HAPEE Ears for Early Years campaign

Emma Donovan with sitting on a mat with her arms around her young daughter

HAPEE Ears for Early Years campaign

One in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience chronic ear disease in Australia. Luke Carroll (Actor and Playschool Presenter) and Emma Donovan (Musician), who are both parents, have joined the Hearing Australia campaign to help promote the importance of HAPEE Ears For Early Years.

Hearing Australia’s ongoing ‘Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears’ or HAPEE, is a result of a $30 million investment by the Australian Government to reduce the long term effects of ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children not yet attending full time school are eligible for a free hearing check, and this service is now available across the country, as the program has expanded to care for more communities in urban, regional and metro areas.

Gumbaynggirr, Dhungatti, Yamatji and Bibbulman woman, Emma Donovan is urging other parents and carers to have their children’s ears checked regularly. Emma’s youngest child’s hearing loss was detected early. Wiradjuri man, acclaimed actor and father, Luke Carroll, has a similar message for parents and carers,
“I think it’s extremely important for kids to get their hearing checked. It helps with their speech and their growth as a young person.

To view Hearing Australia’s press release click here.

Emma Donovan with daughter Jirriga & Luke Carroll with son Enzo

Emma Donovan with daughter Jirriga & Luke Carroll with son Enzo. Image source: Hearing Australia.

Ophthalmologists call for Voice to Parliament

The Fred Hollows Foundation, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), and Australia’s first Aboriginal ophthalmologist Associate Professor Kris Rallah-Baker have joined forces to call for a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution. The call supports From the Heart’s Week of Action to promote the Uluru Statement from the Heart and advocate for a constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Voice to Parliament.

“As a Nation, Australia is far behind other former British colonies in addressing issues that remain as a consequence of the dispossession and occupation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, which began on 26th January 1788 and has not yet ended,” Associate Professor Rallah-Baker said. “These issues affect us all today and are not a dark and distant memory – they affect the very fibre of who we are as a Nation. Without appropriate address we can never truly decolonise and heal the scars that haunt our collective psyche. The Uluru Statement from the Heart lays out a sensible and collaborative pathway required to move forwards and make Australia truly a place of the ‘fair go’.”

To view the full article click here.

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker (Yuggera & Biri-Gubba-Juru/Yuggera man, first Indigenous ophthalmologist). (Fred Hollows Foundation) in scrubs, holding eye medical machine over Aboriginal man lying on hospital bed

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker, a Yuggera & Biri-Gubba-Juru/Yuggera man, became Australia’s first Indigenous ophthalmologist. Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation.

Pharmacists integral to health outcomes

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has called on the Federal Government to implement four strategic measures in its 2021–22 Budget Submission that will enable pharmacists to significantly improve health outcomes for Australians. Among the PSA recommendations for the 2021–22 Federal Budget is a rebate for non-medical health professionals, such as pharmacists, for their attendance at case conferences (this will foster better collaboration and enhanced safe and quality use of medicine outcomes for patients), the establishment of a digital nationally coordinated pharmacovigilance system for primary care and funding of pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

PSA National President Associate Professor Freeman said these recommendations provide an opportunity for the government to take action to reduce medicine-related harm and utilise the skills of pharmacists to improve health outcomes for Australians. “Pharmacists are approachable, knowledgeable and highly trusted within the community and the Australian public want to see the skills of pharmacists put to full use,” he said.

To view the full article click here.

part of flat surface entirely covered with multiple coloured pills

Image source: riverbender.com.

Pharmacists urged to assist with vaccine rollout

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is urging pharmacists to join Australia’s fight against COVID-19 by taking up the Federal Government’s call to assist in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccination program to the community. Community pharmacists will join with other healthcare professionals such as GPs to administer the COVID-19 vaccine for the community from Phase 2 of the Commonwealth’s COVID strategy.

The PSA is encouraging pharmacists to respond to the Government’s Expression of Interest (EOI) to be trained and equipped to assist in vaccinating Australians against the coronavirus. “COVID-19 has dramatically changed our lives and pharmacists have supported our community on the frontline – I am confident community pharmacists will step up to join Australia’s vaccination workforce, just as they have done throughout the coronavirus pandemic,” PSA National President Associate Professor Freeman said.

To view the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s media release click here. and to view the related Minister for Health and Aged Care’s media release click here.

gloved hand with vaccine drawing from a vial

Image source: Pharmacy Magazine.

Find Cancer Early campaign

Published Australian research shows that people living in regional Australia are 20–30%  more likely to die within five years of a cancer diagnosis than people living in metropolitan areas. Previous research in WA shows regional people present at the GP at a later stage because they are less aware of cancer symptoms, more optimistic, more laid back, less willing to seek help and sometimes make excuses for not seeking help, therefore resulting in later stage cancer diagnoses.

Cancer Council WA have launched a new mass media campaign, Regional Champions, through their Find Cancer Early program to highlight some of the lesser known symptoms of cancer to motivate regional West Australians to seek medical advice earlier. Putting off seeing your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker could be costly. 62-year-old Derek Chapman from Donnybrook, one of six regional champions featured in the campaign said “When you’re out here you can’t muck around. Stop making excuses for symptoms.”

The campaign began on Sunday 31 January appearing on regional and Aboriginal television stations across WA as well as regional and Aboriginal radio stations, regional newspapers, Facebook and YouTube.

To view the full article click here.

array of pamphlet, fact sheet & brochure Find Cancer Early symptom checklist resources

Image source: Cancer Council WA website.

First-of-its-kind gambling project

A recently launched first-of-its-kind program will help reduce gambling harm in Indigenous communities across NSW by creating a safe space online. The Talking About Gambling (TAG) project will be community driven and has been designed by experts at NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling Service and The Australian National University (ANU), along with other research partners. According to Dr Megan Whitty, gambling is often referred to as the “hidden addiction” in Indigenous communities. But starting an open and honest discussion can help break down some of the stigma so communities can identify if gambling is a problem, and how it could be addressed.

To read the ANU media release about this project click here.

playing cards in red dust

Image source: ABC News website.

NCSR Cervical Program survey

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Health (DoH) is conducting an independent review of the performance and operation of the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) in relation to the Cervical Program. The scope of the current review does not include the Bowel Program which may be included in a future review.

DoH is seeking your support for this review by completing this survey and forwarding it to your members for their completion. You can access a letter from Andrew Gately, Assistant Secretary, National Cancer Screening Register Branch with further information about the review by clicking here.

PwC is conducting this survey via Qualtrics. Your participation in this survey is voluntary. The survey should take approximately 10–15 minutes to complete.

Please provide your responses by 5 February 2021.

Please follow this link to participate in the NCSR Review Survey.

7 droppers suspended over test tubes, bright pink against navy background

Image source: The University of Sydney website.

Mental illness far higher in bush

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that reside in rural Australia, the risk factors associated with remote living are perpetuated by intergenerational trauma and unaddressed socioeconomic deprivation. As a result, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 12–24 years on average are three times as likely to be hospitalised with a mental health illness than non-Indigenous young people of the same age.

Mental health-related services, where they do exist, predominantly rely on locum professionals that work on a varying, fly-in-fly-out basis. The irregularity of these services contributes to low community participation, voiding citizens of the stable and consistent support required to address mental health issues. In 2016–17, 81 in every 1,000 people in remote areas accessed Medicare-funded mental health services, compared to 495 per 1,000 people in major cities.

To view the Independent Australia article in full click here.

drone photo of outback, sparse green vegetation

Image source: Triple J Hack podcast website.

Poor mental health an incarceration risk

Nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are 18 times more likely to be in custody and 17 times more likely to be on a community based supervision order than non-Indigenous young people. Successive reports over decades have shown troubling rates of incarceration among young Indigenous people.

A Productivity Commission report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing released in December 2020 found that while most Indigenous people had never been in jail, they faced more risk factors that made it more likely, including unemployment, low socioeconomic status and poor mental health.

To view the full article click here. A related article argues that waiting for solutions to youth incarceration is a choice by government to invest in hurting kids and making communities less safe in the meantime – to read this article in The Guardian click here.

silhouette of person in jail, sitting with head in hands

Image source: The Conversation website.

Beyond Blue supports healing and unity 

Beyond Blue supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart and have said they will continue to play our part in supporting Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing by listening to First Nations people, advocating for culturally appropriate policies and services led by them, and encouraging action to address racism and Close the Gap. Beyond Blue says they want to see institutional and intergenerational disadvantage meaningfully addressed.

To view the full article, including a traditional Ngangkari healing story click here.

rear view of heads of two Aboriginal women, one looking sideways at the other, set against blurred background of green street foliage

Image source: Beyond Blue website.

Virtual care survey

What has been your organisation’s experience of virtual care?

With a view to producing a report based on the results, Telstra Health is conducting a survey to understand the different organisational experiences of virtual care, particularly since the pandemic. For example, perhaps you’ve recently increased the number and range of virtual care services provided but you don’t know what to do next to maintain them. No matter your organisation’s situation, the team at Telstra Health wants to hear from you! They will explore how to support Australian healthcare providers with delivering effective and efficient virtual care solutions.

Join the conversation and complete the short survey to help shape the future of virtual care.

Survey closes on Friday 12 February 2021. telstra logo, words Health, Take the Survey against background of fibre web and blank speech bubbles

Telehealth booming

Telehealth consultations with GPs are booming among urban and rural patients since the Government introduced temporary Medicare Benefit Scheme (MBS) support in March last year – and authors of a new report analysing GP visits at 800 practices across Australia argue the MBS changes should be permanent.

Professor Andrew Georgiou and his co-authors found that phone consultations with GPs in NSW and Victoria climbed from zero during 2019 to more than 138,000 per week between January and September 2020. Despite the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the researchers found that people consulted GPs more often from January to September 2020, than they did in the same period in 2019. “We think much of that is because people could access telehealth,” said Georgiou, from Macquarie University’s Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research.

To view the full Croakey article click here.

female health professional & male health professional conducting telehealth consultation

Image source: PHN Murray website.

Indigenous Social Health Atlas of Australia

Since its establishment with funding from the Australian Government in 1999, the Public Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU) has been committed to providing information on a broad range of health and other determinants across the lifespan. Located at Torrens University Australia since November 2015, PHIDU’s emphasis continues to be on the publication of small area statistics for monitoring inequality in health and wellbeing and supporting opportunities to improve population health outcomes.

Since 2008, PHIDU has offered free online access to a comprehensive range of current (and some historical) data at national, jurisdictional, regional and small area levels for Australia. Socioeconomic and geographical variations in health are highlighted in interactive atlases and graphs, and supported by data tables and metadata. This web-based source of data on health and its determinants is unique in Australia, and has been acknowledged internationally by agencies such as the World Health Organization. To access the Indigenous Social Health Atlas of Australia click here.

screenshot of male Aboriginal male population data from PHIDU Indigenous Social Health Atlas of Australia

Image source: Indigenous Social Health Atlas of Australia website.

Support for COVID-19 vaccine ads in language

The Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) in the East Pilbara region services thousands of Martu and Nyiyaparli people who will be among the early recipients of the vaccine when it rolls out in coming weeks. The WA Government, which is working with the Commonwealth on the rollout, said that vulnerable patient cohorts such as people in Aboriginal communities would receive the vaccine early after frontline workers in health care, quarantine facilities, and airports.

To view the article in full click here.

drone photo of the new PAMS clinic in Newman

The new PAMS clinic in Newman services thousands of mainly Martu and Nyiyaparli people. Image source: ABC News website.

VIC – Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd

Rumbalara is one of the largest providers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island health services in Victoria. Rumbalara currently have a number of vacancies within their Health & Wellbeing services area and their Justice & Community services area. Their Health & Wellbeing services provide community members with a full range of services to help address general health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, poor diet and nutritional health, eye health, ear health, contagious diseases, drug and alcohol related issues, mental health and emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Rumbalara’s Justice & Community Services have two vacancies based at its Shepparton office.

Mooroopa
Health Promotion Coordinator x 1 FT
Aboriginal Health Practitioner/Aboriginal Health Worker x 1 FT
Nurse – Lead Chronic Care Coordinator x 1 FT

Shepparton
Aboriginal Family Violence Team Leader x 1 FT
Aboriginal Family Violence Practitioner x 1 FT

To view position descriptions for the jobs based in Mooroopna click here and for those in Shepparton click here.

Applications close Tuesday 9 February 2021.

National Condom Day – Sunday 14 February

The countdown has well and truly begun, with only 12 days until on National Condom Day and NACCHO is running a fun contest to drive awareness around safe sex and condoms.

Watch this video by Her Rules Her Game Kimberly Aboriginal Medical Services Council for some great inspiration, then unleash your creativity and submit a PHOTO/VIDEO showing your best condom hack and/or send us your BEST SLOGAN on using condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Email your entries to nacchonews@naccho.org.au with the subject line “Condom hacks & slogans” by Wednesday 10 February 2021.

You can also upload your creations on your social media pages. Make sure to tag us so we can keep sharing your cool posts.

We have some AMAZING PRIZES from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sporting teams and businesses for the top entries:

  • a signed NRL Indigenous All Stars football. PRICELESS!
  • $200 gift card for Saretta Art & Design
  • $200 gift card for Yilay

    collage Indigenous Allstars football, Yilay Apparel Distributors 4 men's ties, each with a different Aboriginal dot painting design, Aboriginal hand with silver ring feeling texture of Aboriginal sand painting Saretta Art and Design

    Image sources L-R: Bulldogs website; Facebook pages for Yilay Apparel Distributor & Saretta Art & Design.

Come on! Let’s have some fun – but keep it tasteful.

This is an opportunity to share your creativity with your mob!

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations media services trusted sources of health information

microphone in radio broadcasting studio

First Nations media critical to health

The critical importance of First Nations media for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities has been highlighted in submissions to a Senate inquiry into media diversity in Australia. However, the sector is under pressure on multiple fronts, according to a detailed submission by peak body First Nations Media Australia (FNMA), which says operational funding provided by the Federal Government has remained virtually unchanged since 1996 despite numerous reviews urging increased funding for the sector.

The FNMA submission highlights many ways in which First Nations media, including radio, TV, newspapers and online sites, affect the social determinants of health, and says the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the sector’s capacity to deliver timely, relevant information and to address misinformation. “Communities turned to First Nations media services as trusted sources of information, particularly amid conflicting reports shared through social media and other networks,” the submission says.

To view the full Croakey article click here.First Nations Media Australia logo - word plus map of Australia filled with yellow orchre black aqua Aboriginal art circles

Tackling Indigenous Smoking booklet

The Bega Gambirringu Health Service, Kalgoorlie (WA) has created a 20 page booklet to support and educate Aboriginal people and communities about tobacco use. The booklet is filled with colourful infographics and photos and contains a wealth of information about: tobacco history; what’s in a cigarette; how smoking makes you sick; health effects of vaping/e-cigarettes; smoking during pregnancy; second-hand smoke; the financial cost of smoking; benefits of quitting smoking; understanding why you smoke and how to quit. You can access a copy of the booklet here.

cover of Tackling Indigenous Smoking Bega Garnbirringu booklet

Cover of Bega Garnbirringu Health Service’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking booklet.

Game changing heart monitor

With Indigenous Australians 20% more likely to experience heart or circulatory diseases than non-Indigenous people according to the Medical Journal of Australia. The risk is especially evident among younger people, with Indigenous Australians between 30 and 39-years-old over three times as likely to die from heart disease than non-Indigenous Australians.

New devices like the S-Patch Cardio can ease the strain on Aboriginal Medical Services and ACCHOs. S-Patch Cardio, a simple, lightweight, medically proven heart rate diagnostic device is set to be distributed and delivered through a 100% Indigenous-owned company, Supply Aus. Contracts with both Samsung (creators of the S-Patch Cardio) and Sigma Healthcare (a network of independent and franchised pharmacies throughout Australia) will see Supply Aus source and distribute the life-saving device across Australia. Through Sigma, Supply Aus will be able to use National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) members to provide a range of fairly priced health items to Indigenous communities.

To view the article in full click here.red background of graph & white lines of a heart beat

Why birthing on country is important?

NITV Radio have produced a podcast called What is birthing on country and why is it crucial for Aboriginal women? about the role and training of doulas (childbirth companions) in the community as part of the Caring for Mum on Country project.

The podcast features Kerri-Lee Harding from the SBS National Indigenous Television (NITV) Radio program in conversation with Dr Sarah Ireland, midwife and researcher from the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at the Charles Darwin University, in the NT and other experts on the Caring for Mum on Country project.

To listen to the podcast click here.

three Aboriginal mums holding their babies sitting on rocks

Smoking Ceremony, Welcoming Waminda Goodjaga’s on Yuin Country. L–R; Gemmah Floyd, Elizabeth Luland, Patricia De Vries and their babies. Image source: Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation.

Senior Australian of the Year

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM from the NT, has been named the Senior Australian of the year for 2021. Dr Ungunmerr Baumann was recognised for her contribution to children’s education, demonstrating an admirable commitment to making Australia a better place. Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said Dr Ungunmerr Baumann had gone above and beyond in her service to education in the Top End. “Miriam-Rose became the first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher in the NT in 1975, and later served as the principal of the Catholic school in her home community,” Minister Colbeck said. “She is a renowned artist and a strong advocate for visual art to be a part of every child’s education.”

To view the Minister Colbeck’s media release click here.

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM receiving the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year award

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM is the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year recipient. Image source: Salty Dingo.

Criminal justice approaches prioritising health

Dr Jill Guthrie has been given one of Australia’s highest honours for significant service to Indigenous health, including her work on reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contact with the criminal justice system. Dr Guthrie, a descendant of the Wiradjuri people of Western NSW, was one of three academics from The Australian National University (ANU) who have been appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM) in this year’s Australian honours.

Dr Guthrie’s work has led the way in crafting innovative evidence-based approaches to criminal justice that prioritise the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. The epidemiologist recently led a justice reinvestment project in her hometown of Cowra which redirects funds from prisons to holistic initiatives and services to address the causes of offending and keep those at risk of incarceration from coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

To view the full article click here.

image of Dr Jill Guthrie during a panel discussion

Dr Jill Guthrie. Image source: Institute of Public Administration Australia.

Collaboration across health practitioners

As part of delivering holistic healthcare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners work with many other health professionals to protect the public, and especially their communities. In the podcast Collaboration across professions: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners Tash Miles from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) talks to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners and their colleagues about what collaboration across professions looks like and what it means to them, the community, and the potential for the future.

Tash has an insightful discussion with Renee Owen, Program Manager, Aboriginal Health at Barwon Health; Mandy Miller, midwife, Koori Maternity Service, Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative; Dr Ed Poliness, GP, Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative and Damien Rigney, registered nurse and Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Aboriginal Health Council South Australia. Each guest brings a range of perspectives, centred around a strong connection and acknowledgment of the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners in our healthcare system.

To listen to the podcast click here.

Aboriginal mum sitting holding standing young child getting a vaccine by health worker

The North West Hospital and Health Service. Image source: The North West Star.

Lived experience of suicide

The Seedling Group and The Lived Experience Centre, in collaboration with Black Dog Institute have produced a report ‘We are Strong. We are Resilient. But we are Tired’ – voices from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre Yarning Circles. The report aims to present the findings and outcomes from several virtual yarning circles used to explore lived experience and build upon the existing work to better understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lived experience of suicide. Information was gathered to understand: what has helped; how interventions have helped divert a suicide crisis; who was available to help; and what healing has looked like.

To view the report click here.

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal rock art hand stencil and Aboriginal hand against the rockhand

Gundjeihmi hand stencil. Image source: Independent Australia website.

NT alcohol policies reduce ICU admissions

Alcohol misuse is a disproportionately large contributor to morbidity and mortality in the NT. A new study, The effect of alcohol policy on intensive care unit admission patterns in Central Australia: A before–after cross-sectional study, examines the effect of a raft of alcohol legislation reforms that came into effect in the NT in 2018, as part of the NT Government’s Alcohol Harm Minimisation Action Plan. The reforms were based on recommendations from the Riley Review for an integrated alcohol harm reduction framework and included a minimum unit price for alcohol, the introduction of Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspection Officers and a Banned Drinkers Register.

The introduction of alcohol harm limitation policies in Central Australia has had a marked effect on critical health figures, with a 38% relative reduction in Hospital Intensive Care Unit admissions associated with alcohol misuse, as well as a marked reduction in trauma admissions.

To view the media release about the study click here and to access the study click here.

mechanical ventilator for patient in hospital

Image source: Scimex website. 

It’s time to heal

As the state begins to emerge from COVID-19, mental health remains our greatest challenge. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Victoria are three times more likely to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress. Victoria also has the second highest rate of “high to very high” levels of psychological distress in 39% of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Australia Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018). We know there is a strong link between trauma and poor mental health.

Amongst the Stolen Generations, 40% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 plus have poor mental health because of the trauma of removal. This costs us on many levels. Mental health and related conditions have been estimated to be as much as 22% of the health gap (Global Burden of Disease Report 2003). The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic make existing conditions even worse for vulnerable Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the opinion piece in full click here.

painting of Union Jack & Aboriginal flag overlaid with Southern cross stars with cracks throughout painting

Image source: The Standard.

Unchecked misinformation risks vaccine response

A newly formed coalition of health and technology experts is calling on the Australian Parliament to force Big Tech companies to reveal the true extent of COVID-19 misinformation. In a letter sent to the Australian Parliament, the coalition warns unchecked misinformation risks Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. They have called on politicians to introduce a Big Tech ‘Live List’, which details the most popular coronavirus-related material being shared online. The coalition, led by Reset Australia , includes the Immunisation Coalition, the Immunisation Foundation of Australia, Coronavax and the Doherty Institute. “Rampant misinformation on social media is hampering Australia’s COVID-19 efforts and may deter widespread take up of the future vaccine,” said Chris Cooper, executive director of Reset Australia, the local affiliate of the global initiative working to counter digital threats to democracy and society.

To view the Reset Australia media release click here.

drawing of COVID-19 cells & face with cap on head & mask stretched away from the the face with long Pinocchio nose

Image source: Forbes website.

Health scholarships open to regional SA students

Students studying a range of health courses in country SA are being encouraged to apply for scholarships worth up to $20,000. The latest initiative forms part of the SA Health’ 2021 Rural Health Undergraduate Scholarship program. Largely, it seeks to have students working in rural and regional areas of SA and in turn prosper these settings in the long-term.

SA Health’s Rural Support Service executive director Debbie Martin said six undergraduate scholarships. will be available to students who demonstrate a strong commitment to continue their future professional practice in regional areas. “We encourage all year 12 students and new and continuing university students who reside in regional areas to apply for the scholarship,” Ms Martin said. “Scholarship recipients are awarded $5,000 per year for up to four years of their study to help support them while learning.” Successful recipients will be required to work in regional health service settings once graduated, equivalent to the number of years they received funding.

To view the The Times on the Coast article in full click here.

dry SA landscape with sun setting, windmill & sparse vegetation, red dirt

Image source: The Advertiser.

AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarships – last chance

Applications close soon for a scholarship that helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students balance work, study and family life. The AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship provides $10,000 a year to already enrolled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students for the remainder of their degree. Over the past 27 years, the Scholarship has supported 30 Indigenous medical students, including Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon, Professor Kelvin Kong.

The 2020 recipient, Lloyd Diggins, was able to use his scholarship to cut down on his working hours, which were restricting his study time outside of classes and his ability to work on country. Mr Diggins, a Wongi man who grew up on Whadjuk and Wardandi Noongar countries in Western Australia, is a physiotherapist, but decided to retrain as a GP after seeing the needs of remote Aboriginal communities. “The scholarship has also allowed me to learn on country. The way I will think and work as a doctor has been changed by the Elders and local Aboriginal people I’ve been able to care for and learn from.”

To view the AMS media release click here.

Aboriginal medical student holding the strut of a light plane on tarmac in outback

Image source: AMA website.

ICE resource feedback sought

Researchers from the Matilda Centre are seeking feedback on a recently developed resource to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. This research is being done to learn more about the new Cracks in the Ice online resource developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This resource aims to provide trusted and evidence-based information and resources about crystal methamphetamine to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

If you, your mob or community has been impacted by ice, or if you are a health professional in this space, make your voice heard and help make sure this resource meets the needs of the community!

The survey is open to people who are: aged 18 years or more; currently living in NSW, SA or WA; identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. The survey will take approximately 15 to 30 minutes, with participants also having the option to provide further detailed feedback in a telephone interview. All participants will go into the draw to win a grocery only voucher valued at $50.

For further information on how to provide your feedback click here.

hands lighting an ICE pipe

Image source: The Conversation.

Fully funded data analyst course

The Digital Skills Organisation (DSO) is an initiative led by the Department of Education Skills and Employment as part of the Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package. Indigenous-owned business Goanna Education has been selected by the DSO to trial and test innovative solutions to train and drive employment for junior data analysts. Data Analytics is the science of being able to tell an accurate story from a set of data. It involves the use of powerful tech systems to organise, format, and model data in order to glean useful information.

Goanna Education is looking for Indigenous candidates over 18 years of age who are looking to pursue a career in tech. Applicants don’t need any previous experience. For further information about the 21 week course starting on 1 March 2021 click here.text Career Pathway Support, Goanna Education logo, Aboriginal woman & words Become a Data Analyst

VIC – Melbourne – Children’s Ground

Manager People & Culture x 1 PT (Initial Fixed Term) – Melbourne (possible occasional travel to NT)

Children’s Ground operates in Central Australia and across the Top End, with support provided by a Melbourne-based Shared Services team. With the organisation growing, following a review of the People & Culture function this position will be key to ensuring Children’s Ground recruits and retains staff who deliver on its vision and approach. Children’s Ground has a small People & Culture team working with the Director Children’s Ground Operations to implement the overall People & Culture (P&C) Function. The team includes the Recruitment/Human Resources Coordinator in Central Australia, Volunteer Coordinator (voluntary), P&C volunteers and this new position of Manager of People & Culture.

To view the position description click here. Applications close Monday 15 February 2021.children's ground banner - 7 Aboriginal children running towards camera on country