NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Vital role of First Nations midwives

Image in feature tile is of a participant of a new, dedicated, midwifery service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums-to-be, established by Townsville Hospital and Health Service in partnership with Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services (TAIHS). Image source: Townsville Bulletin.

Vital role of First Nations midwives

First Nations midwives play a vital role in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children, according to Pamela McCalman (midwife and PhD Candidate at La Trobe University), Professor Catherine Chamberlain (Professor of Indigenous Health Equity at The University of Melbourne) and Machellee Kosiak, who is affiliated with Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Charitable Fund.

Reporting on results from the Birthing in our Community study, they write that “in addition to western midwifery training, First Nations midwives draw on cultural and community knowledge systems” and “foster a sense of cultural safety and trust in maternity services for First Nations women”. While Australia is one of the safest places in the world to give birth, First Nations women are three times more likely to die in childbirth than other Australian women and First Nations infants are almost twice as likely to die in the first month of life, with preterm birth the biggest cause of mortality.

Ensuring First Nations children are born healthy and strong is the second Closing the Gap target – a critical foundation for “everyone enjoying long and healthy lives”. A much needed step to guarantee this is to increase First Nations health workers, particularly midwives and nurses. The article goes on to discuss the health impacts of colonisation, the vital role of First Nations nurses and midwives and the need to increasing their number.

To read the Croakey Health Media article First Nations midwives’ leadership and care are central for improving outcomes click here.

Midwife Mel Briggs, wearing “Sister Scrubs” to identify herself as Indigenous, Yuin woman Hayley Williams and baby Jaari. Photo: Janie Barrett. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

AMA emergency pharmacy trial meeting

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid has called an emergency virtual meeting tonight to discuss the North Queensland Scope of Practice Pilot. The North Queensland pharmacy trial, as it has been called, will allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense autonomously. It will allow chemists in 37 local government areas to diagnose and treat 23 conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart failure and asthma without consulting a GP.

The Queensland Government says a recent two-year Queensland urinary tract infection (UTI) pharmacy prescribing trial was a success, but the AMA strongly disagree, saying the trial lacked transparency. With no meaningful data available about the UTI trial, which was open to non-pregnant women aged 18 to 65, AMA Queensland surveyed 1,300 doctors and found approximately one in five treated patients for serious complications which were either missed or misdiagnosed by pharmacists in the trial. The complications ranged from antibiotic allergies to ectopic pregnancies to cervical cancer.

The AMA and AMA Queensland believe the trial places an unacceptable risk on patient health and safety and will exacerbate workforce shortages and hospital pressures; widen the health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; fragment healthcare and exacerbate emergency department ramping and hospital logjam; and is a major conflict of interest for pharmacists.

To view the AMA Queensland article AMA calls emergency Town Hall meeting click here. You can also view NACCHO’s Media Statement NACCHO and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector oppose the proposed Queensland Community Pharmacy Trial on the NACCHO website here.

Image source: AMA News website.

The new addiction of vaping

Vaping is a multi-billion-dollar global industry that is rapidly growing in popularity amongst teenagers and young adults. Vaping was hailed as the new way to quit smoking but there are serious concerns the product is now causing nicotine addiction in teenagers. On Monday next week Four Corners investigates the explosion in vaping amongst teenagers and the booming black market which is thriving in Australia due to a failure to police the rules. Reporter Grace Tobin tracks down some of the suppliers who are illegally selling nicotine vapes either online or under the counter in stores.

To view the ABC Four Corners media release Vape Haze: The new addiction of vaping in full click here.

According to a Talking About the Smokes survey 21% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke have tried vapes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had tried vaping were younger; living in non-remote areas or more advantaged areas; people who smoke daily and wanting to quit, having made a quit attempt/used NRT in the past year.

You can find more information on Tackling Indigenous Smoking webpage Facts about vaping (e-cigarettes) webpage here.

Image source: ABC News website.

Mental health surf program for youth

Biripi and Bundjalung siblings Amber Hamer and James Mercy are working to raise awareness about the importance of mental health through surfing. Surfing has been part of their lives from their earliest days in Coffs Harbour, NSW. “We went straight from the hospital when I was born ,Mum and Dad took me straight to the beach, because Dad was dying for a surf. I guess that started my lifelong affinity with the water,” Ms Hamer said.

Their late father Eric Mercy was a well-known surfer and beloved member of the local community who took his own life. Now, the brother and sister duo are continuing their father’s legacy by teaching youth about mental health and well-being on Gumbaynggirr Country. Five years ago they started hosting regular surfing camps to help young people learn about the healing beauty of the ocean. Their project is called Naru, the Gumbaynggirr word for water.

To view the SBS NITV article The surfing program teaching youth about culture and mental health click here.

Equity and emergency care

Equity and emergency care was the theme for day two of the 21st International Conference on Emergency Medicine on 17 June 2022. One of the speakers, Professor Greg Phillips, spoke about improving outcomes for First Nations people, how to address systemic racism and decolonise healthcare by blending Aboriginal and Western health paradigms with better representation and rewritten health curricula. He highlighted the importance of separating intent from affect, saying white fragility and recognition of privilege in healthcare is a pressing issue that involves a lot of listening and a lot of unlearning, especially for clinicians.

Ways to keep mums-to-be healthy

Dr Karen Best leads SAHMRI research in Adelaide, SA that targets optimal nutrition for women and kids. Dr Best, a Senior Fellow in the Women & Kids theme at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), designs and manages clinical trial research to understand the best nutrition for pregnant women.

Food eaten during pregnancy keeps the mother healthy and supports the growth and development of the baby. However, certain components of food – nutrients- are important for more subtle aspects of health. Karen’s recent research has focused on a type of fat called omega-3, which is found in oily fish, walnuts and other foods. “We found a dietary supplement of omega-3 in women who had low levels could reduce their risk of preterm birth,” Karen explains.

Preterm birth can result in developmental problems for babies and is often distressing for families. Required support and healthcare are costly. Even just a small improvement in that rate could translate into better outcomes for the children and families involved, and lowered expense for the healthcare system. SAHMRI’s Women & Kids theme is also researching optimal levels of iodine in pregnancy. Iodine is a naturally occurring mineral important for developing the brain and nervous system. “In this study, we’re looking at levels of iodine in pregnant women and how that is linked with developmental measures we assess once the baby reaches age two,” Karen explains.

To read The Lead article Discovering the best ways to keep mums-to-be healthy in full click here.

Photo: Emma by Jess Naera Creative. Image source: Australian Birth Stories.

Community First Development Fellow’s Oration

At Community First Development, ‘research success’ is research that is requested, led and delivered by First Nations’ people and communities. It is undertaken through deep listening and strives to achieve the outcomes that communities have set out to achieve. The First Nations Research and Evaluation Fellow is a pathway for First Nations’ academics to explore, design and deliver evaluation and research projects driven and led by First Nations’ people and communities.

Community First Development launched the inaugural Fellowship in 2020. As part of the Fellowship Murran/Iwaidja woman, Donna Stephens, our first Fellow, took a lead role in a participatory action research project with 11 communities across Australia. The final report has been published, and findings have been presented at numerous events. At this year’s oration Donna will speak on Participation and Community Development: Reflections on Change Organisations.

You can download an the invitation to the event here and register for the live webcast this Friday, 25 June 2022 by clicking here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: racism in perinatal health services

Image in feature tile is of Stacey Foster-Rampant with her baby boy, Tyler, at a Malabar Community Midwifery Link Service clinic. Photo: Louise Kennerley. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Racism in perinatal health services

After nine months, imagine giving birth to a beautiful, healthy baby. As tired as you are, you adapt to your new sleep-deprived routine, feeding your newborn at any time of the day and night as needed. But then child protection services arrive with the police, and a court order, to take your baby from your arms and place them in the care of a stranger. Sadly, this is the case for too many First Nations women in Australia.

Issues relating to the removal of First Nations infants from their families by contemporary child protection systems can be traced to perinatal health services. Tracey Stephens, a Kurnai woman and registered midwife, sees racism towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women across mainstream healthcare settings on a regular basis. “Stereotypically in mainstream midwifery there’s this strong sense that all Aboriginal women are going to smoke cannabis and drink alcohol and are drug addicts. However, this isn’t the case.” she says. “Far too much of my time is spent trying to educate others and address unconscious bias and racism amongst the healthcare workforce.

To read the article Separated at birth: Racism and unconscious bias in perinatal health services by Research Fellow, Health and Social Care Unit, Monash University in full click here.

Image source: Monash University Lens webpage.

SA to start Voice to Parliament journey

South Australian Attorney-General Kyam Maher wants to begin talks on a state version of the First Nations Voice to Parliament ahead of a launch of the body next year. It would provide advice to Parliament about decisions affecting the lives of First Nations people. Mr Maher — SA’s first Aboriginal Attorney General and Aboriginal Affairs Minister — said South Australian Labor made a commitment to adopt the Statement from Uluru after the 2019 federal election.

He said he believed the state should not have to wait for the federal government to act. “At its core, it’s about Aboriginal people having more a say in decisions that affect their own lives,” Mr Maher said. “I find that pretty hard to argue against.”

To view the ABC News story Consultation to start on SA Indigenous Voice to Parliament ahead of 2023 launch in full click here.

Kyam Maher is the only Indigenous person elected to parliament in South Australia at a state or federal level. Photo: Ethan Rix, ABC News.

First Nations more likely to die in childbirth

While Australia is one of the safest places in the world to give birth, First Nations women are three times more likely to die in childbirth than other Australian women and First Nations infants are almost twice as likely to die in the first month of life with preterm birth the biggest cause of mortality.

The causes of these gaps in life expectancy are complex and stem from colonisation, including:

  • racism and lack of cultural safety in hospitals and from healthcare providers
  • pregnant First Nations women avoiding antenatal care for fear of child protection services taking their children. This is a legacy of the “stolen generations” with continuing high rates of child removals
  • closures of regional and remote birthing services requiring more First Nations women to leave home and travel long distances to give birth, often alone. Some women opt to give birth without a midwife, which can have significant issues for mother and baby.

Ensuring First Nations children are born healthy and strong is the second Closing the Gap target – a critical foundation for “everyone enjoying long and healthy lives”. A much needed step to guarantee this is to increase First Nations health workers, particularly midwives and nurses.

To view The Conversation article First Nations mothers are more likely to die during childbirth. More First Nations midwives could close this gap in full click here.

Geraldine at the Gudang Dalba Hostel, Darwin NT. Image source: ABC News.

Mental health restraint concerns

Patients in Victoria’s mental health hospitals are being restrained at higher rates and for longer than the national average, a new report has found. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being secluded and restrained at higher rates, which the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) said is concerning.

“Many Aboriginal people have complex trauma,” a spokesman for VACCHO said. “We are concerned with this data and would like to know more on the reasons that drive this over-representation. A model of care that is focused on healing, social and emotional wellbeing and cultural safety is what works for Aboriginal people.”

To view the 7 News article Restraint concerns in Vic Mental health in full click here.

Image source: The University of Melbourne Pursuit webpage.

Approaches for non-Aboriginal health professionals

SA’s outstanding young leaders were recently celebrated through the 40 Under 40 Awards. Annabelle Wilson, Associate Professor of Implementation Science at Flinders University, SA was included in the list. 38-year-old Professor Wilson is a dietician and PhD with a clear focus on Indigenous health. “Through my research and leadership, I have disrupted and challenged current thinking about how non-Aboriginal health professionals work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, specifically in nutrition and dietetics,” Annabelle says.

“My research has impacted health professional practice by identifying and translating approaches that non-Aboriginal health professionals can use when working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including reflexivity and awareness of one’s own attitudes and biases.” Annabelle’s work led her to develop models of practice, which were adopted in mentoring and training courses for health professionals. “In the next few years I plan to continue and extend the work I have been doing. In particular, I have applied for funding to lead transformation in nutrition and dietetics related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.”

To view the InDaily and CityMag article SA’s top young business leaders click here.

Associate Professor Annabelle Wilson. Image source: citymag.indaily.com.au.

Indigenous Health Division is recruiting

Do you want to make a real contribution to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes? Do you have a unique set of skills and experiences to contribute to this challenging undertaking? The Indigenous Health Division of the Department of Health has multiple roles for you across both the APS5 and APS6 levels.

The Department of Health is seeking experienced and committed people to develop relationships, policies and programs that improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. You will help to shape the development and implementation of the Australian Government’s healthcare commitments to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Applications close on Monday 27 June 2022. Further detail on the roles is available on the APSJobs and the Department of Health’s website or by using this link.

Remote PHC Manuals project June update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are being provided to keep health services and other organisations up-to-date as RPHCM moves through the review process. It is now almost two years into the manuals updating project and activities are continuing to meet planned timelines (despite some COVID impacts that have tightened deadlines for reviews).

All protocols will be finalised for publication on Thursday 20 June 2022. After this date, there will be no further changes to the manuals as they move into the final editing and publication stage. The new editions are planned for release (online and hardcopy) in November 2022. The project team will meet with key stakeholders shortly to discuss major changes and prepare health services to use the new editions.

You can view the RPHCM Project Update June 2022 flyer here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Take Heart: Deadly Heart screening

A virtual screening of the Take Heart: Deadly Heart – A Journey to an RHD Free Future followed by a Q&A panel session will take place from 11:00 AM–12:00 PM AEST on Wednesday 29 June 2022.

A guest speaker for the Q&A panel session is a senior Noongar woman, Vicki Wade, who has over 40 years of experience in healthcare. Vicki is a co-producer of Take Heart: Deadly Heart. She has guided the production process in a culturally appropriate way and employed a series of yarning circles throughout the pre-production phase. Vicki is well respected for the work she has done to close the gap. She sits on the National Close the Gap steering committee and is a previous board member of the Congress of Aboriginal Nurses and Midwives.

The screening is an opportunity to see the work that is being done across Australia, in regional and remote communities, to eliminate Rheumatic Heart Disease. Attendance is free but registration is essential. To register click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Lessons for mainstream health services

Image in feature tile from Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation website.

Lessons for mainstream health services

The longevity and success of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health (ACCH) sector has some valuable lessons for mainstream health services, according to a panel of Indigenous health experts at the recent Giant Steps conference. In a recent article, written for Croakey Health Media, Jennifer Doggett reviewed the key points raised by the panel discussion: “One of the success stories of Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been the achievements of the ACCH sector in preventing the spread of infection among Indigenous communities.

The conference panel included Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO who reminded participants that ACCHOs have been part of Australia’s health landscape since before the introduction of Medibank (the precursor to Medicare) in 1975. She stressed the innovative model of primary healthcare developed by the ACCHOs and their focus on prevention and social justice, all later adopted by World Health Organization in its Declaration of Alma-Ata in 1978.

Brad Brown described ACCHOs as a “home away from home” and discussed how the community controlled model has deep roots in Aboriginal culture. “Aboriginal people sit around a lot and talk and yarn. We talk about how to do things better, and what our current needs are. Local people talking about their local issues are part of our culture – we know that needs are different place to place and we know how to reframe what we do to meet local priorities. Community control is part of self-determination,” Brown said. As well as providing comprehensive primary healthcare to Indigenous Australians, the panel discussed how the ACCHO model provides some important lessons for the rest of the health system about how to deliver inclusive, community controlled and integrated care.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Lessons from the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector in full click here.

Landmark mural by Aboriginal artists, Ray Thomas, Kulan Barney and Ruby Kulla Kulla, in partnership with world famous street artist Adnate, launched in 2016 to mark the 20th anniversary of VACCHO. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Ingkintja Male Health Service leads way

Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara is an Aboriginal Male Health Service at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress that has taken the lead in providing cultural activities and social and emotional wellbeing services for male health for many years. The ACCHO delivers a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services with an emphasis on preventative health, servicing over 1,000 men every year.

The Ingkintja ‘Men’s Shed’ male-only washing facilities (showers and laundry facilities) and gym enable males, both young and old, to come together and access fitness, comradery and practical life skills. A psychologist and Aboriginal care management worker are available through Ingkintja, allowing therapeutic care on counselling, violence interventions, and cultural and social support to men.

The theme of Men’s Health Week (13–19 June) this year is Building Healthy Environments for Men and Boys. Ingkintja is Congress’ male only service supports men and boys through a range of ways to build healthy environments. The Ingkintja clinic does preventative 715 health checks – a complete check of your physical health and wellbeing to keep men and boys on track to stay well. Having regular health checks helps men and boys stay in control of their health and wellbeing so they can stay strong and well.

For more information about the Ingkintja Male Health Service click here.

Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara is an Aboriginal Male Health Service at the CAAC. Image source: CAAC.

Calls to redirect mental health funds

Indigenous psychologists at the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association-hosted forum held earlier this month, have criticised a state of ‘political limbo’ they claim has led to the funnelling of money into non-Indigenous organisations despite years of calls to redirect efforts to community-led, culturally-appropriate models.

Townsville Elder and professor Gracelyn Smallwood opened up the forum and in a call to action said it was important to do away with bickering to ensure the new Federal government addressed closing the gap targets, “the only programs that are effectively working are programs that are from the bottom-up rather than top-down, which is mostly paternalistic and government controlled.” Concern over white organisations receiving funding for Indigenous services is nothing new, however aunty Gracelyn laments the practice remained too common.

Kabi Kabi and Australian South Sea Islander psychologist Kelleigh Ryan said “The system, it still hears the talk of holistic, it hears the talk of Indigenous led, it hears the talk of First Nations or cultural Integrity but it doesn’t really understand, so then it often chooses what it always knows. So it chooses the people (the system) has a relationship with, instead of the organisations who are doing the work, who have always been doing the work.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Indigenous psychologists’ call to redirect mental health funds to First Nations services in full click here.

Plans to begin Birth Centre construction

On the 21 February 2022, Waminda South Coast Aboriginal Women’s Health and Welfare Corporation (Waminda) hosted the Hon Linda Burney MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians, and the Hon Fiona Phillips MP, Federal Member for Gilmore, where they pledged on behalf of the Labor Government $22 million towards the Birthing Centre and the Birthing On Country program. With the funding now promised to the Community, Waminda and the Minga Gudjaga program (Waminda’s Maternity & Childcare program) are already making plans to begin construction before 2023.

Melanie Briggs, Senior Endorsed Midwife at Waminda said “We hope to secure land soon, and we will be building a purpose built facility, so that our mum’s can birth their babies in this place. The next steps are…Birth Centre Criteria, Risk Assessments, we’re developing a cultural and clinical governance committee to ensure high quality safety [for clients]. We’re also increasing our partnership with our local health district by providing services in the hospital for our women. We’re designing our birth centre. It’s designed by the cultural committee and the women in the community. We’re actually going back out into Community to do more consultations around what the [Birth Centre] needs to be, and what Community want it to be.”

You can access Waminda’s media release Birthing on Country closer to our goal here.

Waminda Birthing On Country program. Image source: IndigenousX.

SMS4Dads supporting fathers

There’s not a lot out there that speaks directly to dads.It’s a simple idea. Dad’s are really busy before and after the birth – there is no way they’ll come to lots of parenting classes… but they do have mobile phones. SMS4dads provides new fathers with information and connections to online services through their mobile phones.

SMS4dads supports men in their role as fathers and increases awareness of their influence on baby’s brain development. SMS4dads helps fathers understand and connect with their baby and partner. It also checks in on their wellbeing and offers professional support if needed.

SMS4dads is FREE.  It provides info related to the age and stage of the baby. It’s the info dad’s need – when they need it, how they need it – straight to their phone. For more information about SMS4dads and to join click here.

Single test could rule out heart attack

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researchers have identified a way of more quickly determining the risk of a heart attack for Indigenous patients, which could fast-track their treatment and ease hospital overcrowding. Results from a single test could be used to safely rule out heart attack for up to one third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with low troponin levels according to QUT research.

Published earlier this week in the Medical Journal of Australia, QUT Associate Professor Jaimi Greenslade from Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation (AusHSI) evaluated data from 110 patients who presented with chest pain to the Cairns Hospital emergency department. The current process to identify heart attack was to test for levels of troponin, a protein released from damaged heart muscles into the blood stream, at the time of patient presentation and again 2-3 hours later.

“There is a growing body of evidence reporting that a single test may be adequate to rule out heart attack for a group of non-Indigenous patients, but limited research has evaluated the use of a single test for Indigenous patients,” said Professor Greenslade.

To view the QUT article Single test could rule out heart attack in Indigenous Australians in full click here.

Mental Health Co-Response program expands

The WA state government  is expecting improved outcomes for people with a mental illness when it introduces a Mental Health Co-Response (MHCR) program into the South West region following the successful roll out of program in Geraldton in August 2021. The “innovative” program is a cross-government response to mental health challenges that sees WA Health, WA Police and the Mental Health Commission in partnership. The CHCR program involves mental health practitioners from WA Country Health Service and police officers co-responding to calls seeking assistance, where mental illness is identified as a likely factor.

By providing specialist intervention and support, the initiative aims to provide a coordinated response for people experiencing mental health crisis, including self-harm, alcohol and other drug-related issues. WA Police Minister Paul Papalia said “This initiative has proven to be effective in the metropolitan area and in the first regional site, Geraldton. It’s good for the community, individuals, families and police. Having Aboriginal mental health workers as part of the co-response team will also ensure a culturally sensitive response to people in the community experiencing a mental health crisis.”

Response teams will be supported by Aboriginal mental health workers, to ensure Aboriginal communities have access to culturally informed support. The program will initially cover Bunbury and immediate surrounds from the end of July 2022.

To read the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail article WA government announce a mental health co response program to South West in full click here.

Ageism and elder abuse linked

SA Health has a new media campaign which aims to raise public awareness of the link between ageism and abuse and mistreatment of older people. The campaign reminds the community that older people have rights – the right to make their own decisions, to work, be safe, and be treated with dignity and respect. It highlights that when others assume an older person cannot do something and exclude them because of their age, it makes them feel invisible and sad.

The 2021 National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study reported that one in six older Australians experienced some form of abuse or mistreatment in the 12 months before the survey, from February to May 2020. In a SA survey of older people, around half said they did not feel valued in their community. Ageism stems from negative views of older people and the ageing process.

The new campaign underscores that ageism can lead to mistreatment, neglect, and other forms of abuse and it urges people to reflect on how they treat the older people in their life. The campaign will feature on digital and social media, radio, in print, and on screens in shopping centres around regional and metropolitan SA for the next six weeks.

For more information click here.

Elder, Kimberleys WA. Image source: Al Jazeera.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Men’s Health, Our Way – Let’s Own It!

Image in feature tile is of Tristan who features in an Australian Government Department of Health Twitter post, saying “It’s best that we all get the 715 check.”

Men’s Health, Our Way – Let’s Own It!

Earlier this morning NACCHO released the following media release to mark Men’s Health Week 2022:

Men’s Health, Our Way – Let’s Own It!

Men’s Health Week 2022: Building Healthy Environments for Men and Boys

In the 2022 Men’s Health Week, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), draws attention to the importance of improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, across Australia.

The Aboriginal community-controlled health sector has made vast changes to outreach, education, and engagement with men, providing a wide range of preventative and early intervention, and culturally sound men’s programs that address critical social and emotional issues that some men face.

Donnella Mills, NACCHO Chair, states, ‘Our goal is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males to live longer, healthier lives and we urge them to visit their local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services more often to discuss their health.’

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men access primary health care services at the lowest rate, compared to other Australians, and health statistics indicate they have the poorest health outcomes in Australia. Research shows there are various barriers for Aboriginal men accessing health services including, societal related issues such as, stigma and gender differences; cultural differences, including language, beliefs, and law; logistical challenges, such as distance and transportation; trust in health services, financial challenges, and individual reasons including, health understanding, previous experiences and illnesses, self-esteem, and confidence, etc.

Ms Mills said, ‘The theme of this year’s National Men’s Health Week, Building Healthy Environments for Men and Boys is about the importance of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services creating a holistic, culturally safe and engaged space for men to discuss and treat their health issues.

‘NACCHO are committed to reducing the rate of hospitalisations, which is almost three times higher than for other Australian men; and reducing suicide rates, which is one of the highest leading causes of death for Aboriginal males in this country.’

Chris Bin Kali, NACCHO Deputy Chair, said, ‘NACCHO works alongside the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector to ensure quality health services reach all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in a culturally appropriate and safe environment. Ongoing support from governments to ensure these services continue, are essential.

‘A great way to check on your overall health is with a 715 Health Check that our health services offer, and I would stress the importance to get them done regularly for our men! The 715 Health Check assesses your overall health with the aim to provide health care matched to your specific needs via early detection, diagnosis, and intervention for common, treatable conditions. It is designed to support the physical, social, and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients of all ages.’

Case study Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services, NSW:

The Yerin Men’s Group sessions are a local group that partner with other Aboriginal health organisations and host a session every month touching upon various issues that support men’s business, sharing knowledge, assistance and guidance amongst each other.

The Glen Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation centre recently joined the Men’s Group session to share their personal stories and assist with information. In March, they invited Yadhaba Aboriginal Health Workers and community Elders to host a day of yarning about mental health and well-being and fishing on Country.

You can access this media release on NACCHO’s website here.

Image source: Australian Nursing & Midwifery Journal.

Apunipima hosts Men’s Health Summit

Apunipima Cape York Health Council (ACYHC) is hosting its annual Cape York Men’s Health Summit in Hope Vale this week. The event will see 120 males from all over Cape York descend on Elim Beach for a week of camping with a focus on men’s health. The theme of the week is ‘growing together as fathers, providers and protectors’ and there will be a range of activities and discussions throughout the week, focusing on men’s business with a host of talented guest speakers presenting over the whole week.

“We’re very excited about the return of the Apunipima Men’s Health Summit in 2022. We haven’t been able to hold a Men’s Summit for the last two years due to Covid, so there’s been a lot of interest in this year’s event. Our male staff are excited to be hosting so many men from across the Cape and providing a space where they can come together to talk about issues that are important to them,” said Apunipima CEO, Debra Malthouse.

Headlining the week will be one of FNQ’s funniest comedians, Sean Choolburra. The very popular former cultural dancer will address the summit with his unique blend of history, cultural knowledge and spiritual wisdom, delivered with loads of energy and plenty of cheek. Also speaking throughout the summit will be BBM Cairns’ National TalkBlack radio host Trevor Tim, former Gold Coast Titans player Davin Crompton and more including academics, athletes, motivational speakers and health industry professionals.

The event runs all week from Monday 13 to Friday 17 June, 2022.

To view the ACYHC’s media release Apunipima Hosts Men’s Health Summit in Hope Vale in full click here.

Elim Beach, 25km east of Hope Vale. Image source: ACYHC.

Life expectancy improvement too slow

The main point of an editorial from the current online issue of the Medical Journal of Australia is that while it is possible to Close the Gap, current efforts are inadequate. Life expectancy for Indigenous people is improving, but closing the gap remains unacceptably slow

Although recent boosts to funding are welcome, much more needs to be done by the Commonwealth to fill service gaps with ACCHOs and by jurisdictional governments on social determinants especially housing, justice and education. In key matters like housing, national leadership would be welcome and it may be time to reintroduce National Partnership Agreements. Despite the editorial comments referencing an NT article, it has national relevance.

You can read the editorial Life expectancy for Indigenous people is improving, but closing the gap remains unacceptably slow in full click here.

Photo: Chloe Geraghty. Image source: Amnesty International Australia website.

Qld mob to have bigger healthcare say

Indigenous Queensland communities are set to have a much bigger say on their own healthcare and housing needs, as well as how their children are educated. The state’s 26 Indigenous councils will soon start deciding how Queensland government services such as health care, housing and education are delivered.

Advisory panels will be appointed in each Indigenous community within two years to advise the government. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford says the move is an important step towards self-determination. “Progressing local solutions and decision-making with Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people is critical for communities to thrive,” he said yesterday. The new Local Decision Making Bodies (LDMBs) will be told how much money the government is investing in each community. Information will include details such as how much is spent on services, the amount of funding for each service contract, who is delivering the contracts, and whether they employ local people.

To view the Northern Beaches Review article Qld Indigenous to be handed more control in full click here.

Image source: Northern Beaches Review.

Funding for eating disorders research

Sydney’s first eating disorders research and translation centre is offering a nationwide grant opportunity to progress prevention, treatments and support in partnership with research, lived experience, clinical and community experts. The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, led by InsideOut Institute at the University of Sydney, has launched the IgnitED Fund to unearth new ideas that have the potential to solve the problem of eating disorders. IgnitED is offering grants of up to $25,000 to develop and test innovative ideas that have potential to improve outcomes for people with eating disorders and their loved ones. It is the Centre’s first funding initiative following the $13 million grant awarded in January to establish the new national centre.

According to the Centre’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Co-Lead, Leilani Darwin, First Nations Australians are believed to experience high rates of eating disorders, disordered eating and food insecurity issues. People with lived experience expertise and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are encouraged to apply for the grants. To view The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health News article National eating disorders centre ignites research fund for new solutions in full click here.

Additional $400m NSW CTG funding

The NSW Government has announced $401 million in additional funding over four years in the 2022-23 Budget, to prioritise Closing the Gap and other projects that improve outcomes for Aboriginal people across the state. Premier Dominic Perrottet said the significant investment reflected the need for a fresh approach to meaningfully shift the dial on Closing the Gap targets.

It’s clear traditional Government-led approaches haven’t worked. This needs to be done hand-in-hand with Aboriginal communities, who know best what changes need to be made to help communities thrive, Mr Perrottet said. That’s why we’ve worked in partnership with Aboriginal stakeholders to co-design a suite of initiatives across all areas of Government to make a greater difference.

To view the media release $400 million to empower Aboriginal communities & deliver outcomes in full click here.

Image source: Canberra Times website.

TB treatment safe during pregnancy

Seven out of 10 pregnant women were cured of their multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and delivered healthy babies after taking a medication that had previously been considered unsafe in pregnancy, a new Curtin and Telethon Kids Institute study has found. Published in JAMA Network Open, the study examined the experiences of 275 pregnant women with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis living in South Africa, Peru, Brazil, Iran and Uganda.

Lead researcher Dr Kefyalew Alene, from the Curtin School of Population Health and Telethon Kids Institute, said the study had found a medication used to treat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, Linezolid, was associated with favourable pregnancy outcomes and high treatment success. “This is the first comprehensive review of treatment outcomes for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in pregnant women, who remain one of the most vulnerable groups among the half a million people living with the disease globally,” Dr Alene said. Dr Alene said the study answered a challenging global issue of when to treat pregnant patients living with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

You can view the full paper Treatment Outcomes Among Pregnant Patients With Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis’ online here and the Curtin University article Study finds TB treatment during pregnancy is safe for mum and baby here.

Image source: SBS NITV website.

HESTA Excellence Awards nominations open

HESTA has opened nominations for the 2022 HESTA Excellence Awards to celebrate exceptional professionals working in disability, allied health, aged care and community services in Australia. With a $60,000 prize pool on offer, the national Awards celebrate professionals from the four sectors who are going above and beyond the everyday high-quality care they provide to achieve outstanding health outcomes for Australians.

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said coming out of the pandemic and adapting to a ‘new normal’ has demonstrated the critical importance of these professionals to protecting and supporting our communities and our economic recovery. “Our world has changed so much these past few years and through it all, these amazing professionals adapted and innovated to continue supporting our communities, our families and our nation to keep us safe and healthy,” Ms Blakey said.

“Each year we’re privileged to find and recognise incredible people and organisations for their exceptional work. I’m very proud of the platform HESTA and these Awards provides to help share their stories and draw attention to the extensive impact these individuals have had on so many lives.” Anyone working in the four sectors – allied health, disability services, aged care or community services – and who are involved in the delivery of exceptional care or service can nominate or be nominated.

Nominations are open for both the Outstanding Organisation and Team Excellence categories. Independent judging panels comprising industry experts will select finalists and choose a winner from each sector and for each category. Nominations will close at midnight on Sunday 14 August 2022. 

For more information or to submit a nomination, visit the HESTA Awards webpage here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated each year on 15 June to highlight one of the worst manifestations of ageism and inequality in our society, elder abuse. Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust such as a family member or friend. The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect. In many parts of the world elder abuse occurs with little recognition or response. It is a global social issue which affects the health, well-being, independence and human rights of millions of older people around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of all in the community.

In Australia the safety of older Aboriginal people and a better understanding of Elder abuse prevention is a clear priority as the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 55 years and over is increasing and is projected to more than double from 59,400 in 2011 to up to 130,800 in 2026. Identifying and measuring Elder abuse in Indigenous settings is challenging. The Australian Institute of Family Studies (2016) reported that mainstream conceptualisation of elder mistreatment requires reconsideration in Indigenous contexts; substantially more work and the collection of quality and consistent data is required to better understand Elder mistreatment amongst Indigenous peoples. There are no precise statistics on the prevalence of Elder abuse in the Aboriginal population in Australia and the strategies which would be effective in preventing this abuse have not been identified.

You can read more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elder abuse in the South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute report What keeps you safe: approaches to promote the safety of older Aboriginal people here. You can also access a range of resources associated with the The Queensland Government’s Together we can stop elder abuse campaign, including the video below here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Health Minister’s to-do list is packed

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

Health Minister’s to-do list is packed

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

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

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

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

Image source: Croaky Health Media.

Labor’s Indigenous affairs agenda

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

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

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

Pat Dodson on the Uluru Statement

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

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

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

Senator Pat Dodson. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Mob in city for medical care risk homelessness

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

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

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

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

Top 3 questions – flu vax and pregnancy

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

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

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

Clinical Yarning program about trust

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

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

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

Jimmy Little’s early death to kidney disease

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

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

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

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

Dixon Patten’s Jimmy Little dedicated graphic for Google. Image source: SBS NITV website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: iSISTAQUIT helps pregnant young mums quit

iSISTAQUIT helps pregnant young mums quit

This World No Tobacco Day (31 May 2022), Southern Cross University’s iSISTAQUIT project is launching a compilation of campaign video clips to raise awareness about the importance of culturally appropriate care in assisting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant women to quit smoking. Tobacco smoking represents the most important preventable risk factor for chronic disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. About 44% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women smoke during pregnancy compared to 12% of their general population counterparts.

The initial six videos to be launched on the YouTube Channel iSISTAQUIT TV will showcase the importance of culturally appropriate care and communication in supporting women to quit smoking. Research has found education and advice on their own are insufficient, and women are needing practical help and support with quitting. iSISTAQUIT has also developed a training package to help equip health professionals to have culturally appropriate conversations with their patients. Currently there are 26 sites nationally that have undertaken the training.

You can view Donnella Mills, NACCHO Chairperson and Chair of Wuchopperen Health Service and the first Aboriginal person to win a Olympic Gold Medal, Nova Peris OAM have both released videos talking about the launch of the iSISTERQUIT films. Both mention how pleased they are that ACCHOs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community women were consulted during the early stages of the development of the iSISTERQUIT films. You can view Ms Mills’ video here and Ms Peris’ video here. You can also access the iSISTERQUIT website here.

Yarrabah community engaged in new wellbeing centre

A new health and wellbeing centre in the Aboriginal community of Yarrabah demonstrates the value of projects that engage the local community not only in building design but in ongoing economic opportunities. When People Oriented Design (POD), with Coburn Architecture, won the bid to design the new Gurriny Yealamucka Health and Wellbeing Centre (GYHWC) at Yarrabah, on the lands of the Gunggandji and Yidinji peoples, the question for co-director Shaneen Fantin was not how to meet what the contract required, but, “How far can we build on what the contract was asking us to do?”

The practice identified opportunities to maximize Indigenous economic benefits at multiple levels, exceeding the requirements for Indigenous employment, training, suppliers and engagement – and all within a tight contractual timeframe. The health centre was delivered without excessive cost blowouts and ahead of its scheduled delivery by the Indigenous-owned company H. C. Building and Construction. This was no small feat, particularly with the impact of COVID affecting building supply chains, construction programs and labour continuity.

According to Suzanne Andrew, chief executive of Gurriny Yealamucka Community Control Health Services, “Local input is not just about designing the building, it’s also about ensuring financial return to the community.” At Yarrabah, “there was a good vibe in the community around this building” because the community was aware that it was being undertaken by an Indigenous company – “giving jobs to mob.” H. C. gave back to the community by buying from local shops and sponsoring the local football team. The project also included a significant budget for local artwork.

To view the ArchitectureAU article Indigenizing practice: Maximizing economic benefits in full click here.

Gurriny means “good healing water” in the language of the Gunggandji peoples, and the design references water in the building siting, layout, finishes, external art screen and garden. Photo: Scott Burrows. Image source: ArchitectureAU website.

Deadly Choices exemplar of tobacco control

Marking World No Tobacco Day 2022, Australia’s National Coordinator of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) Program, Professor Tom Calma AO has officially recognised Deadly Choices as a recipient of a World Health Organisation (WHO) award. Representatives of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’s (IUIH) Deadly Choices preventative health arm were on hand to accept the honour, which acknowledges efforts in promoting the dangers of smoking among Indigenous communities.

Professor Calma said “I would like to congratulate Deadly Choices for their WHO award which has recognised the program as the exemplar of how people should be going about tobacco control. Deadly Choices has won the global award for helping Mob from right across Australia give up smoking. The core work of Deadly Choices focuses on ensuring smoke-free homes and cars through health and education programs like the ‘Deadly Places – Smoke Free Spaces’ initiative in schools and community events, which align perfectly with this year’s World No Tobacco Day theme of ‘protecting the environment’. Ten years ago, smoking rates among Mob were 51%, now they’re down to 39%, but we can’t just focus on smoking cessation, we also need to focus on population health; to give people the right information to make good, healthy choices; to make Deadly Choices.”

World No Tobacco Day is an extremely important day to raise awareness in the community around smoking, to start a conversation and recognise the support that is needed among communities to give up tobacco use. “It’s an outstanding outcome to have our health education and promotional programs acknowledged globally, which reinforces the capacity of Deadly Choices to help close the gap in health and life expectancy outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities from right across the country,” confirmed IUIH CEO Adrian Carson

You can view the IUIH media alert released yesterday here and access further details of the World No Tobacco Day 2021 award winners on the WHO website here.

Image source: IUIH South East QLD Twitter.

Elcho Island Elders celebrate new dialysis nurse

After the plane lands on Elcho Island’s tiny airstrip, Malawa Dhamarrandji’s mood visibly shifts to a sense of calm. The Yolngu Elder insists on walking down the plane’s isle without assistance. It has been years between visits home for Mr Dhamarrandji, who relies on nurse-assisted dialysis in Darwin to stay alive. “Here in my home town, I reckon it’s paradise,” he said. “There’s all the family, it’s all family – all my grandsons, granddaughters, everyone.”

Mr Dhamarrandji and his late brother spent decades advocating for nurse-assisted renal chairs at their island home,the large Arnhem Land community of Galiwin’ku. Now, a renal unit that has been sitting unused in the community for years has been staffed by a nurse from Indigenous-owned health service Purple House. The organisation recently chartered a plane for its Darwin-based patients who wanted to host a ceremony celebrating the unit’s opening. “For the future, children and adults, be careful what you’re eating,” Mr Dhamarrandji said at the ceremony. “Prevent the sickness, prevent the kidney sickness.”

To view the ABC News article Elcho Island Elders celebrate new dialysis nurse and treatment, bringing them home to families in full click here.

Dianne Biritjalawuy Gondarra is among the group that has been pushing for nurse-assisted dialysis. Photo: Felicity James, ABC News.

New ACT suicide prevention service

A new program to help reduce suicide, and the impacts of suicide, within the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community will be delivered by a lead Aboriginal community-controlled organisation service provider, Thirrili Limited. The program, which was an ACT Greens 2020 election commitment, will be delivered in partnership with the local postvention Way Back Support Service at Woden Community Service. Minister for Mental Health Emma Davidson said that Thirrili has been appointed as the service delivery provider through a community-led commissioning process to ensure culturally appropriate support is provided through this service.

To read the ACT Government media release New ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention, intervention, postvention and aftercare program click here.

The ACT Government has committed $1.28 million to the new Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Integrated Suicide Prevention, Intervention, Postvention and Aftercare Service over its first two years. Image source: Canberra Weekly.

Avoiding pre-term baby heartache

Starting life on an even field remains a challenge for Australian First Nations babies. The rate of stillborn and neonatal deaths for Australian First Nations babies is vastly disproportionate to that of non-First Nations babies. Not surprisingly, one of the leading causes of perinatal mortality for Australian First Nations babies is spontaneous preterm birth. Nationally, approximately 14% of babies born to First Nations mothers are preterm, compared with 8% of babies of non-First Nations mothers. The odds of preterm birth are increased when First Nations mothers have limited antenatal care and pre-existing medical conditions such as hypertension or diabetes.

The key to improving outcomes is by providing the best possible pregnancy care and this should not begin following a positive pregnancy test. Providing good health care to women in the preconception period is a vital step in making a difference to better pregnancy outcomes. It offers an important opportunity to address a multitude of factors that can affect the health of generations.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Healthcare key to avoiding pain of pre-term baby heartbreak for First Nations parents in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Charity improves period product access

The Wurrumiyanga Women’s Centre on Bathurst Island in the NT has received a delivery of about 1,000 free period products to help women and girls in the community manage their periods. In remote Indigenous communities like this one, the cost of period products can be a massive barrier for many girls and women in managing their period. It’s not uncommon for packs of pads to retail for $15 or more. This delivery of period products is the 100th pallet of products distributed to remote Indigenous communities across Australia as part of the charity Share the Dignity’s Indigenous Menstrual Health program, in partnership with Libra.

Bathurst Island is part of the Tiwi Islands, located off the coast of the NT mainland. The delivery to the Wurrumiyanga community (Nguiui) coincided with World Menstrual Hygiene Day. Evita Puruntatameri, the Activities Supervisor at Wurrumiyanga Women’s Centre, said the exorbitant cost of pads and tampons is a challenge for many women and girls in the community. “Period products are incredibly expensive here on Tiwi so having support from Share the Dignity allows the women in our community to access products for free and in private,” Evita Puruntatameri said. “It makes such a massive difference to our health by not having to worry about the cost.”

To view the Women’s Agenda article This charity is working to give women better access to period products in remote Indigenous communities in full click here.

Cara Munn, Evita Puruntatameri, Sophia Tipuanantunirri (on ute), and Louise Kelantumama. Image source: Women’s Agenda website.

Significant inequities in paediatric health

Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN) say they want to ensure they provide services that are culturally responsive and inclusive for all of the patients we see. “It’s important to work in partnership with Aboriginal families and communities to foster strong reciprocal relationships that are responsive to the individual needs of Aboriginal people and their communities,” says SCHN Aboriginal Health Outcomes and Equity Manager Natasha Larter. “Significant health inequities still exist in paediatric health care. A recent analysis of SCHN data revealed that Aboriginal children and young people accessing our hospitals and services are twice as likely to die while in our care, present to our ED in higher triage categories. In addition, they are more likely to require admission to ICU than non-Indigenous children and young people.

“Aboriginality is a significant factor in poorer health outcomes, however it is important to understand the multiple factors behind the severity on presentation, and redirect the focus to work with Aboriginal patients, families, communities and organisations to change this. For example, we know that Aboriginal children and young people arrive sicker and often later, perhaps because of historical factors that make them fearful of going to health services.

By working closely with Aboriginal patients, families, communities and organisations, we better understand their social and cultural needs, and be sensitive to their concerns upon presentation to our services. We can provide appropriate support, a respectful service that instils trust in our clinicians and enable timely treatment that contributes to reducing Aboriginal mortality, unplanned representation and need for admission. Reconciliation plays an important part in a positive return in health and wellbeing outcomes across the life course for Aboriginal children and young people.”

To view the SCHN article National Reconciliation Week in full click here.

Image source: WA.gov.au website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO-RACGP National Guide user review

NACCHO-RACGP National Guide user review

NACCHO and RACGP are keen to hear from members of primary healthcare teams to help create a fourth edition of the National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that best meets your needs and supports effective preventive healthcare that is valued by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and communities.

The National Guide is part of a suite of resources developed by NACCHO and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners which aim to support health promoting and disease preventing activities that are valued by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

By having your say in this 7-minute survey, you’ll be helping NACCHO and RACGP to understand how you are using the 3rd edition of the National Guide, what suggestions you have for future content, the format of the 4th edition and ideas that can support implementation. Your feedback will support development of the fourth edition of the National Guide due for publication in the second half of 2023.

If you have any questions about this survey or the NACCHO-RACGP Partnership Project, you can contact RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health using this email.

This anonymous and confidential survey can be completed on your smart phone, tablet or computer and is open from Tuesday 24 May 2022 until midnight Monday 13 June 2022. To complete the survey click here.

Binjilaanii founder Midwife of the Year

Winners of the 2022 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards have been announced. Now in their 16th year, the national awards recognise Australia’s nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers and personal care workers for their contributions to improving health outcomes. Each of the winners received $10,000, courtesy of ME – the bank for you, for professional development or to improve services or processes in the workplace.

Melanie Briggs, Waminda South Coast Women’s Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation, Binjilaanii Maternity Services, Nowra, NSW was awarded Midwife of the Year in recognition of her tireless work to improve First Nations’ maternal and infant health. A descendant of the Dharawal and Gumbaynggirr peoples, Melanie is the Director and Founder of Binjilaanii, the first Aboriginal-led maternity model of care in Australia. She is also a Senior Midwife at Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation.

Briggs said she was honoured to hear she had been named Midwife of the Year. “Being recognised and being an Aboriginal midwife and caring for women on Country is a privilege and I feel incredibly proud,” she said. “My team should be here standing here with me. This award is in recognition of the amazing work our team and organisation do in the community to ensure that our First Nations mums and bubs receive the best start to life.”

Briggs is renowned for her strong advocacy, implementing the Waminda Birthing on Country Model. The model incorporates culture into maternity care to improve outcomes for First Nations women and babies. Her vision is to see Aboriginal women birthing on their homelands, practising traditional lore and continuing cultural connections to Country for their baby and their families. “Practising culture and working with First Nations mothers and supporting women on that journey during pregnancy is so important for us; it is empowering for our women as it brings incredible outcomes — seeing that is the most rewarding part of my job,” she said.

Briggs plans to use the $10,000 prize money to conduct further research and embed cultural practices into the Birthing on Country model of care.

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article HESTA nurses and midwives awards — winners announced in full click here.

Midwife Melanie Briggs holds newborn Talekai during a special cultural ceremony. Photo: Naomi Locke Photography. Image source: ABC News.

Culturally safe stroke screening needed

Professor Ben Freedman, Director of External Affairs at the Heart Research Institute and founder of AF-SCREEN International Collaboration is warning revision of guidelines to screen Aboriginal people for atrial fibrillation (AF), a leading cause of stroke, is needed to help prevent cardiovascular disease in this at-risk population.

Prof Freedman said research shows Indigenous Australians are experiencing catastrophic strokes at a much younger age than other Australians. AF occurs more commonly in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at an earlier age, and when AF is found earlier, the risk of stroke is much higher than for non-Aboriginal people.

“We’re look­ing at intro­duc­ing life-sav­ing screen­ing for Aus­tralians aged over 65 but that’s too late for half of Abo­rig­i­nal suf­fer­ers. We’re call­ing on cul­tur­al­ly-spe­cif­ic screen­ing guide­lines that will pro­tect this at-risk pop­u­la­tion from an ear­li­er age,” Prof Freed­man said.

Yesterday Professor Freedman is travelled to Armidale with a team led by Dr Kylie Gwynn to take part in a combined health screening program at the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service. Dr Gwynne and Professor Freedman and the team will be using a handheld ECG device which they successfully trialled in Aboriginal health services around Australia previously.

To view The National Tribune article Leading Australian heart expert to improve Indigenous health in full click here.

Rapid skin infection test for First Nations kids

A rapid test to detect antibiotic-resistant skin infections in Aboriginal children could be a step closer, thanks to support from the WA Government’s Future Health Research and Innovation Fund (FHRIF). Telethon Kids Institute and The University of WA researcher, Dr Tim Barnett, has been awarded a FHRIF Translation Fellowship to lead a research project to tackle the burden of skin disease in Aboriginal children. It will aim to develop a rapid point-of-care diagnostic test for antibiotic-resistant Strep A and Staph aureus bacteria, which would fast track accurate treatment.

Dr Barnett said untreated skin infections from both Strep A and Staph aureus bacteria cause significant health problems for young Aboriginal people. “Half of all Aboriginal children suffer from the burden of skin infection, which can lead to severe illness including blood infections and autoimmune diseases like Rheumatic Heart Disease,.” he said. “To combat this, we need to be able to identify resistant infections early for alternative antibiotics to be prescribed.”

84% of Aboriginal children are diagnosed with skin sores caused by Strep A and Staph aureus before their first birthday. Dr Barnett said antimicrobial resistance from regular antibiotic use was common in remote Aboriginal communities but can be well-managed if there is a fast diagnosis.

To view the University of WA article Funding for rapid test to detect antibiotic-resistant skin infections in Aboriginal children in full click here.

Dr Tim Barnett, Telethon Kids Institute and The University of Western Australia researcher. Image source: The University of WA website.

Labor’s First Nations health promises

An article Health promises we must hold Anthony Albanese published yesterday has looked at promises Albanese and his party made during the election campaign including a commitment to training “500 new First Nations health workers, increasing access to lifesaving dialysis treatment for those living with chronic kidney disease and expanding efforts to eradicate rheumatic heart disease in remote communities”. The funding promises include:

  • $52.9 million for a First Nations Health Worker Traineeship Program, following a co-design process with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and community-controlled registered training organisations. Traineeships will be rolled out over 4 years, with 100 new trainees starting in the first 2 years of the program, increasing to 150 in the later 2 years;
  • $45 million for better renal services in the city and bush, including $30 million for up to 30 four-chair dialysis units in urban and remote locations across the country, and $15 million for small scale water infrastructure projects that improve access to clean water critical for dialysis; and,
  • $13.5 million to help eradicate rheumatic heart disease, including $12 million to double current federal funding to combat rheumatic heart disease, and $1.5 million to fund portable echo-cardio machines and screening efforts.

To view the Insight article Health promises we must hold Anthony Albanese to click here.

Image source: The New Daily.

Pastor Willie Dumas on COVID-19 vax

In this video developed by the Australian Government Department of Health (DoH), Pastor Willie Dumas from Tweed Heads, NSW, says that the COVID-19 vaccines are here to bring hope and solutions to our lives and invites his mob to yarn with their local healthcare worker and get vaccinated today.

In the video Paster Dumas says “COVID-19 vaccinations bring security and safety. They’re a way to help our Mob and all of humanity. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what COVID is, and what the vaccine is. Which leads to a lot of fear but the vaccines are here to bring hope and solutions to our lives. It’s only our prejudices that can stand in the way. So, yarn with your local healthcare worker – and get vaccinated.”

For further information visit the Australian Government DoH COVID-19 vaccination – Pastor Willie Dumas shares his COVID-19 message (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) webpage here.

Tackling Indigenous Smoking video resources

Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Cairns, Queensland, has developed a Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) video resource package. The videos (including the one below), created by the Apunipima Cape York Health Council TIS Team feature community members from Napranum, Queensland discussing their quit smoking journeys:

You can access the Apunipma Cape York Health Council website here; their TIS webpage here; and their contact details here.

Cultural considerations in SEWB support

Emerging Minds has released a recording of its webinar Cultural considerations in the social and emotional wellbeing support provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. The webinar aims to increase health practitioners’ understanding of the significance of cultural identity when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, and has the following learning outcomes:

  • outline the importance of cultural identity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • describe self-determination when working alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families
  • identify strategies and resources that support the cultural needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families at an individual, family, community and organisational level.

The webinar was facilitated by Dana Shen, Aboriginal Cultural Consultant, with an interdisciplinary panel of experts including  Adele Cox, SNAICC Sector Development Manager, and Tricia Nagel, Psychiatrist and Senior Researcher.

You can access the Emerging Minds website, including a link to the webinar here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Gayaa Dhuwi Australia virtual conference

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia (GDPSA) are extremely excited to announce the first ever Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Conference, which will be held over two days from Tuesday 7- Wednesday 8 June 2022. The theme for the 2022 Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Conference is ‘Keeping Our Spirit Strong’.

The theme #KeepingOurSpiritStrong is an acknowledgment to the achievements of the organisation in building a national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, and suicide prevention, as well as the achievements of the sector and their initiatives contributing to strengthening approaches and access to mental health care. It also draws on the challenges our communities have faced over the past three years with COVID-19 and natural disasters, and our resilience to keeping a strong spirit in times of isolation and worry.

The conference will be an entirely FREE to attend. Registrations will go live within the week, so make sure you save the dates in your calendars and set your reminders so you don’t miss out on this innovative and exciting virtual event! For further information on this event and how you and your organisation can get involved, please contact Ethan French using this email link.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Uluru Statement must be core of party promises

Image in the feature tile is from Social Ventures Australia website, 10 December, 2020.

Uluru Statement must be core of party promises

The Close the Gap 2022 report calls on governments to make “large-scale systemic reforms to truly empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.” This is a call to recognise and support self-determination and leadership. It is no accident that the very first recommendation of the Close the Gap Campaign Report 2022 is for the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and particularly for a Voice to Parliament.

The Uluru Statement is described as a  “a gift to all Australians“by one of its architects, Pat Anderson, the long-term chair of the Lowitja Institute. The Uluru Statement is foundational for change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and well-being. Therefore, it must be core to the promises made by all parties in the lead-up to the federal election and beyond. At this federal election, change that tinkers at the edges is not good enough.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need the system – the health and education systems in particular but, also the Australian political system – to listen and respond to Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. To be free of racism. To hear our Voice. The full implementation of the Uluru Statement, and its call for Voice, Treaty and Truth would be a huge step forward. This would be an opportunity to address the health inequity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

To view The Conversation article The Uluru Statement must be core to promises made by all parties in the lead-up to the federal election in full click here.

Forward-looking health reform plan needed

The major parties could do more to improve access to health care for all Australians with an ambitious, forward-looking overall plan for health reform, the Consumers Health Forum  (CHF) said yesterday. In the CHF’s Scorecard on the major Parties’ health policies, Community health and wellness in the 21st century – none of the three Parties have presented an overarching vision for the health system of the future, nor a plan for the structural changes needed.

CHF CEO Ms Leanne Wells said that health consistently rates among the top issues in people’s minds as we head into the Election. “Overall, the pledges in health have been piecemeal and do not lay down a long-term plan for how our health system needs to adapt to 21st century needs,” said Ms Wells.

To view the CHF media release in full click here.

Image source: University of Wollongong Australia divi webpage.

UN Indigenous rights body to visit Australia

Human rights issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be put under the microscope when the United Nations’ Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples makes its first visit to Australia. First Nations leaders from around the world gathered in New York earlier this month for the 21st session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The forum called on governments, courts, and UN agencies to implement mechanisms to support and protect Indigenous peoples’ lands and lives.

Indigenous human rights lawyer Hannah McGlade said the visit to AUstralia would highlight the human rights issues Aboriginal people were experiencing. “I originally requested the visit on behalf of the Noongar Family Safety and Wellbeing Council five years ago… in the context of the high rate of child removals and the lack of self-determination in government responses,” she said. “Self-determination is recognised in legislation but not given meaningful effect in the actual systems and processes. “We need this addressed now… these are fundamental human rights issues.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Top UN Indigenous rights body makes first flight to Australia for human rights probe in full click here.

United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: Shutterstock. Image source: Daily Sabah.

Cervical cancer screening options expanded

From 1 July 2022 the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP), will expand screening test options, offering self-collection of a vaginal sample as a choice to all people participating in cervical screening. These changes mean that healthcare providers may start to see an increase in the volume of requests from patients to use self-collection as an option for their Cervical Screening Test.

Additional details can be found in the NCSP Program Update here which has been developed to support promotion and awareness of this important program change. Further advice will be provided when relevant education and training resources are available and accessible, to support healthcare provider readiness for the changes and be able to offer patients the option of self-collection for cervical screening.

Should you or your members like further information or have any questions about the upcoming self-collection changes, please feel free to contact the NCSP team here.

To view the Department of Health’s media release in full click here.

Photo: Cancer Institute NSW. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Living with COVID-19 resources for mob

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed a collection of communication materials on living with COVID-19 specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations. The collection includes:

You can access the Department of Health’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Living with COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people webpage here.

Mob and COVID-19, future priorities

A KT & Coffee Webinar, the first for 2022, will be hosted by Yorta Yorta woman, Dr Summer May Finlay and occur on Wednesday 25 May 2022.

he COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of public health responses. Over the past two years we have experienced fast paced investment in research, knowledge translation and mobilisation. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the pandemic also emphasised the impacts and implications of social determinants of health both in responses to, and arising from complications from COVID-19. This KT & Coffee event will facilitate a panel of experts discussing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 responses and impacts, from the science, to policy and research, as well as future priority setting.

Topic experts joining the panel include:

  • Dr Lucas De Toca: First Assistant Secretary, Implementation and Primary Care Response for the National COVID Vaccine Taskforce within the DOH.
  • Dr Mark Wenitong: from the Kabi Kabi group of south Qld, a GP and Public Health medical advisory for the Qld Aboriginal and Islander Health Council.
  • Dr Jason Agostino: GP, epidemiologist and NACCHO Senior Medical Advisor.
  • Dr James Ward: Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man, infectious diseases epidemiologist and national leader in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research.

You can see the panellist and MC full bios and register here.

VIC ACCOs to redesign mental health delivery

A new mental health hub will give Aboriginal groups leadership to redesign how care is delivered to their communities across the Victoria, as part of the Andrews Labor Government’s landmark reform agenda, transforming the way the mental health of Victorians is supported. Yesterday Minister for Mental Health James Merlino launched the new Balit Durn Durn Centre in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO).

The Balit Durn Durn Centre will work in collaboration with health services and ACCOs to undertake research, provide workforce training and development, and share best practice in delivering culturally appropriate and tailored support. Mental healthcare is best driven from within communities that know their needs best and this initiative will support Victorian Aboriginal communities to develop their own informed care pathways that are informed by their connection to language, lore and cultural knowledge.

To view the Victorian Government media release in full click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Lack of safe housing a health concern

The image in the feature tile is of a house in the remote Aboriginal community of Mulan, WA with water leakage. Image source: NITV.

Lack of safe housing a health concern

Access to safe, secure housing is a key determinant of health and life expectancy. Across Australia, residents in remote Aboriginal communities are often left waiting for urgent repairs, while their homes deteriorate to unliveable conditions. A SBS World News report describes how 57-year-old Mulan (WA) resident Veronica Lulu has difficulty walking around her community unassisted. Making it even harder for Veronica is the pool of water surrounding her house that appears to be coming from a broken underground pipe.

Veronica reported the issue to the WA state government which is responsible for maintenance in the remote Aboriginal community of Mulun, but she says that after nearly two years and repeated requests the problem still hasn’t been fixed and the leak has become so bad that the entire house is now encircled by water. Afraid she might fall, Veronica has moved in with a relative next door where the water is slightly less of a problem.

You can view the video of this SBS News segment, which includes footage of NACCHO CEO Pat Turner reiterating that “housing for health is so important to our people” here and a related SBS NITV News article A third of remote Aboriginal houses at ‘unacceptable’ standard published today here.

Veronica Lulu sitting on her walker outside her house, Mulan WA

Veronica Lulu outside the home she cannot get into. Photo: Aaron Fernandes, SBS NITV.

ACCHO assists votes with candidate information

To assist our ocals understand who the candidates are in the upcoming federal election, and what those candidates believe in,  Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC) has  asked every candidate key questions of importance to Yarrabah. Visitors to the GYHSAC have been invited to read through the candidates responses and “make your decision as to who you wish to vote for after you understand what is on offer.”

GYHSAC posed the following questions to the ALP, United Australia Party, Green, Independent and Katter’s Australian Party candidates:

  • How do you plan to improve the telecommunication services in Yarrabah?
  • Overcrowding in housing is an issue in Yarrabah, how do you propose to address this issue?
  • What do you propose to do about the funds lost by Indigenous Australians after the collapse of the ACBF?
  • How do you propose to increase community services in Yarrabah – e.g.: Meals on Wheels?
  • NAPLAN scores were not strong in Yarrabah. How do you propose lifting literacy and numeracy skills in Yarrabah?
  • RHD is a disease of disadvantage and poverty. What do you propose to do about tackling RHD in Yarrabah?
  • Training and employment opportunities are lacking in Yarrabah. What are your plans to address this?

You can access the responses to the above key questions on the GYHSAC website here.

Gurriny Yealamuck Health and Wellbeing Centre & GYHSAC logo

Gurriny Yealamuck Health and Wellbeing Centre (Gurriny).

Independents with First Nations issues focus 

Long-time human rights advocates Megan Krakouer and Gerry Georgatos are fighting to put First Nations issues on the agenda at this Federal election. With more than 500 Indigenous deaths in custody since the end of the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody in 1991, and a huge gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in health, education, housing, employment and other areas, the “social justice independents” are running to represent Western Australia in the Senate.

Ms Krakouer said they have experience working with the most vulnerable and marginalised people across the nation. “We have seen too many brothers and sisters left behind because of racist policies and legislation. We come across a lot of people who are silenced, who are voiceless. We have been failed by one government after another. They make the same promises and they don’t deliver, and that’s reflected in the incarceration rate, in child removals, deaths in custody, homelessness and suicides.

Ms Krakouer said the fact First Nations people make up a small percent of the national population was one factor driving political inaction. “There is no political will to address the suffering and mistreatment of people, particularly when they are in prisons. That is something I can’t accept.” She said she and Mr Georgatos were running as independents so they would be free to “say what needs to be said”.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Meet the independents determined to put First Nations issues front and centre in full click here.

WA Independents Gerry Georgatos & Megan Krakouer.

Gerry Georgatos and Megan Krakouer. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Flu vax questions answered 

Yesterday the Australian Government Department of Health First Assistant Secretary COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Dr Lucas De Toca, who leads the vaccine rollout for COVID-19 for GPs, pharmacies and Aboriginal health services, spoke about flu, “I had my flu shot yesterday, and more and more people are getting their flu shot every day. So, it’s really important that we answer some of your questions about flu vaccination as we approach winter.”

Dr De Tocas continued, “How do we decide what virus strains we put in them, also what the ingredients are. And if you look at a list of ingredients of pretty much anything, it can sound pretty scary, but it doesn’t have to be. And we’re also going to talk about whether the vaccines are safe. So, first of all, virus, and the flu virus is no exception, mutates. And when viruses mutate, new strains, variants, versions come up. And we all know that too well with all the talk about variants with COVID.”

“But flu is a virus that generally mutates on a seasonal basis, and there’s several strains of influenza A and influenza B, the viruses that cause the flu, that cause a flu season in one hemisphere, generally during winter. And then once people who could get infected, get infected and the epidemic stops, then they cause a flu season on the other hemisphere, normally in time for their winter. And when that happens, the virus can mutate, which means that by the time it comes back for the following flu season, it could be different.”

You can view Dr De Toca’s presentation in full below and access a transcript of the presentation on the Australian Government Department of Health website here.

$600m for initiatives aimed at Closing the Gap

The WA Government has committed more than $600 million to strengthen services that deliver positive outcomes for Aboriginal people and communities. The significant State Budget investment supports the WA government’s Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy and Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, targeting initiatives that will improve economic and social opportunities for Aboriginal people.

The funding has been targeted at priority reform areas, which align with the Closing the Gap Implementation Plan; formal partnerships and shared decision making; building the community-controlled sector and transforming government organisations. Initiatives of particular relevance to the health sector include:

  • $7 million to implement an Aboriginal Midwifery Group Practice and Stronglinks to improve the uptake of antenatal care and improve maternity health outcomes for Aboriginal women
  • $3.7 million of additional funding for a pilot program to establish and commence the Aboriginal Health Practitioners (AHP) profession in WA
  • $1.6 million for tympanometers to improve Aboriginal children’s ear health

To read the WA Government’s media statement in full click here.

newborn, AHW & young Aboriginal boy getting hearing checked

Clockwise: Baby Coming You Ready? website; Wirraka Maya Health Service, Port Hedland website; Earbus Foundation of WA website.

NHMRC Indigenous intern program

Sara Lai found her first Indigenous intern experience with NHMRC in 2017–18 so rewarding that she applied again for the 2021–22 program. Sara was in her first year of university in 2017 and is now in her final year. The project that she undertook this time around involved interviewing childcare centres in rural and regional Australia as well as Indigenous communities to determine how the ‘Staying Healthy’ resource is used in remote settings.

Reflecting on her intern experience Ms Lai said, “My research and communication skills have exponentially increased, and I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of a team. I am also now considering pursuing a Master of Public Health in the future as I have seen first-hand how very important primary health promotion is at the community level.” Ms Lai said “I thoroughly believe that to solve the healthcare gaps in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities we need Indigenous problem solvers and I hope to be able to contribute to this.”

To view the NHMRC article To solve the healthcare gaps in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, we need Indigenous problem solvers click here.

Sara Lai, NHMRC Indigenous intern

Sara Lai, 2022–22 NHMRC Indigenous intern. Image source: NHMRC website.

Mum’s experience of racism impacts kids

A University of Adelaide student has submitted a Master thesis: A longitudinal mediation analysis of the effect of Aboriginal Australian mothers’ experiences of racism on children’s socio-emotional well-being. Although it is known that parental experiences of racism are associated with poorer mental health in children, little is known about how racism is intergenerationally transmitted in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons. The thesis explores the effect of Aboriginal mothers’ experiences of racism on children’s socio-emotional well-being mediated by parenting sense of competence.

The conclusion of the thesis is that mothers who experienced racism were at a 28% increased odds of their five-year-old child experiencing socio-emotional problems and this effect was not mediated by sense of parenting competence, despite an effect between parenting competence and children’s socio-emotional well-being. The findings suggest that maternal experiences of racism have a longitudinal effect on their children’s socio-emotional well-being, and this effect is not mediated through the mothers’ sense of parenting competence. These findings highlight the importance of reducing experiences of racism as these have far-reaching effects across generations on socioemotional well-being.

You can view the thesis in full here.

Sasha Houthuysen and her two children. Photo: Amnesty International. Image source: NITV website.

Regional roles led Glenice home

Glenice Smith is a Perth-based Aboriginal Practice Leader for the Department of Communities. She says her regional roles led her home to her Mother’s Country and her Father’s Country. Her trip to Kununurra and current deployment in the Midwest, working in Emergency Services for the Department, provided her with unexpected and amazing opportunities. Glenice was removed from my family on her first birthday in Port Hedland and flown to Perth where she was placed with her foster family in the late 1960s. During her time with the Tropical Cyclone Seroja recovery team in 2021, she was able to work in the Midwest and strengthen her connections with her Mother’s Country and family. Glenice said that being able to reconnect with her biological family this year, has been due to the places her work has taken her.

To view the story published today on the WA Government website in full click here.

Perth-based Aboriginal Practice Leader for the Department of Communities. Image source: WA Government website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Major parties have barely said anything useful

Major parties have barely said anything useful

Scott Morrison’s dismissal of the Uluru Statement from the Heart is “disheartening,” according to the CEO of the peak Aboriginal Health Body. Speaking to NITV’s The Point, Pat Turner said a voice to Parliament would give Aboriginal people the right to practice self-determination. “I think it’s a national shame that the two major parties have barely said anything useful,” she said. “What Labor has said is it’s committed to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which is fine, and to hold a referendum. “Apparently the polls are saying that a majority of Australians support a voice to Parliament, but getting that through a successful referendum is another story.”

Ms Turner also highlighted the issue of Indigenous health, saying billions more needs to be spent to address the ‘gap’ in life expectancy between First Nations people and non-Indigenous populations. A report, commissioned by NACCHO and released on Tuesday identified a $4.4 billion underspend in Indigenous health from state, territory and commonwealth governments. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities have always been underfunded,” she said. “It’s like a patronising, paternalistic regime that thinks ‘oh well, that’s enough from them and they can get on with it’. “Well, we do get on with it but we can’t continue on unless we want to see the health gap widen even more… so what we will be telling all of the jurisdictions is stand up and be counted in terms of fulfilling your responsibilities.”

You read the SBS NITV article Election 2022: Major parties’ approach to Indigenous issues slammed here, view the Pat Turner being interviewed on NITV’s The Point below and read a transcript of the interview here.

Lack of attention to First Nations issues “a disgrace”

Yesterday afternoon NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was interviewed by Fran Kelly on ABC News Afternoon Briefing. Ms Turner addressed the upcoming federal election and the health funding shortfall. In response to the question “Is there enough attention being paid in this election campaign to Indigenous issues?” Ms Turner said “absolutely not, I think it’s a  disgrace the major parties have not given sufficient attention to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues. There are many needs that remain unmet and we launched a report today to show that the gap in health funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is $4.4 billion and that adds to our trove of evidence that we will use to continue to argue with governments how they can make up that $4.4 billion shortfall.”

You can watch a video of interview from 34:20 minutes onwards to 50 minutes here.

Poor public policy without consultation

This month will likely see the NT government pass laws that will see alcohol allowed into a host town camps, living areas and some communities for the first time since 2007. Those areas that were self-declared dry beforehand will not be affected. Under the changes, the management of alcohol will pass from the federal government back to the NT government who are legislating for an opt-in approach to alcohol bans, with many communities and town camps needing to specifically ask to remain dry. A range of bodies including police and peak Aboriginal organisations have questioned the move and called for a pause to changes to allow for proper consultation and avoid what many believe will be a spike in grog-fuelled mayhem in both town and out bush. NT has the highest level of grog harm, alcohol related deaths and alcohol consumption in Australia. The NT government has rejected extending the federal measures with the Chief Minister saying they are racist and they need to go. This is supported by Chansey Paech who is the Minister for Remote Housing and Town Camps.

In a recent interview on ABC Alice Springs NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM she would never speak on behalf of local communities but speaking from the experience of ACCHOs who deal with the fall out of alcohol abuse. Ms Turner said “the NT government needs to ensure full consultation with every Aboriginal community that’s going to be affected by the changes in the alcohol laws that it is proposing. To say that the legislation is racist and was done on that basis is Chansey Paech’s view but doesn’t reflect the reality of opening the gates in the communities where people don’t want the change.” Ms Turner continued on to say that where services exist, and many communities don’t have services, the impact on ACCHOs will be enormous. Ms Turner described the proposed changes to the alcohol laws as “poor public policy without proper consultation and full informed choice.”

You can listen to the ABC Alice Springs radio interview in full by clicking on the image below:

Naamuru Mother and Baby Unit opens

New mums requiring specialist care for a severe mental illness can now have their babies stay with them at NSW’s first public, purpose-built Mother and Baby Unit. The new facility at Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital in Camperdown is the first state-wide facility designed to keep families together when a mother requires hospitalisation for a severe perinatal mental illness. Named ‘Naamuru’, a local Aboriginal dialect word meaning ‘leading the way’, the unit will care for up to 120 NSW residents a year who have infants up to 12 months of age.

The eight-bed unit is staffed by specialist perinatal health professionals who can attend to the mental health needs of the mother, as well as facilitate appropriate care of the baby and promote positive mother-baby interactions. Each bedroom is large enough to accommodate the mother, up to two infants under 12-months of age and a partner or family member. There are also therapeutic spaces, including a 24-hour respite nursery; a mothercraft room; dining and kitchen areas; outdoor courtyards; play areas; and a retreat room.

To view the NSW Health media release in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Prisoners need culturally competent health care

When someone is placed in prison, they are entirely dependent on prison officers and prison health-care providers. Incarcerated people do not get to choose when they see a doctor or mental health practitioner, when they take medicine, or what type of care they receive. They cannot call 000 and be taken to a hospital if they are dangerously ill. In Victoria, if a prisoner is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person, they do not get access to culturally competent care through ACCHOs. In Victoria, prison health care is provided by for-profit private companies contracted by the state government.

Imprisoned peoples’ physical health and/or social and emotional well-being is at the mercy of prison officers and prison health-care providers. Through their practice the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, have seen the differences between how people are treated in the community and how they are treated in prisons and youth prisons. The right to health care continues when people are incarcerated. International law requires “prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community”. This health care should be “free of charge” and “without discrimination”. It also makes clear everyone has the right to the “highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”.

To view the article Victoria’s prison health care system should match community health care in The Conversation full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Eating disorders foundation marks 20 years

From humble beginnings over a kitchen table, to the largest national charity for eating disorders and body image issues, Butterfly Foundation has been changing lives for 20 years.  More than a million Australians live with an eating disorder, with many more suffering body image issues. For two decades, Butterfly’s efforts in advocacy, community education, early intervention, prevention and clinical services has helped to significantly change the conversation and understanding around eating disorders, establishing them as serious and complex mental illnesses, rather than a lifestyle choice. However, Butterfly’s work remains critical, as many misconceptions and stigma prevail.

Today Wednesday 11 May 2022 Butterfly has launched a new campaign celebrating its 20th anniversary and setting the agenda for the next 20 years of treatment and prevention of eating disorders and body image issues in Australia. Butterfly’s big ambitions include:

  • A national parliamentary inquiry into body image
  • Preventing eating disorders from occurring
  • Reducing stigma and increasing help-seeking
  • Improving eating disorder treatment and support services

Butterfly Foundation CEO, Kevin Barrow, said, “Anecdotally speaking, the way we talk about eating disorders is about 10 years behind how we now speak about anxiety and depression. Eating disorders are still misunderstood and grossly under-estimated, with stigma and stereotypes acting as a major barrier to help-seeking. “There is so much more work that needs to be done in the prevention, early intervention, and treatment of eating disorders as well as education for the broader community.”

The Butterfly website includes the video below and a number of articles relating to eating disorders and body image concerns among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Declonising whiteness in preventive health

At the The Preventive Health Conference 2022 which runs from today until Friday 13 May 2022 in Brisbane, some of the world’s leading experts will explore a range of topics including decolonising and disrupting whiteness in preventive health, the priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and investments in prevention. Conference Advisory Committee Chair Associate Professor Louisa Gordon of QIMR Berghofer said Australia needs to spend 5% of total health expenditure on prevention because it will save lives and is far cheaper than spending on treatments.

To view the Public Health Association of Australia media release Risky behaviours, exercise, and gambling among topics to be explored at Preventive Health Conference 2022 in full click here.

Image source: HealthUno.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00PM (AEDT) Thursday 12 May 2022.

This week Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response will be chairing the webinar and will be joined by DoH Dr Nick Simpson, Medical Medical Adviser, Technology Assessment and Access Division.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell