NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: APO NT calls for urgent COVID-19 action

feature tile text 'urgent support from Commonwealth Government needed in face of NT COVID-19 crisis' & photo of Aboriginal man being tested in Katherine

Note: the image in the feature tile is of COVID-19 testing in Katherine, NT. Image source: The Canberra Times.

APO NT calls for urgent COVID-19 action

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) has called for urgent Commonwealth Government support in the face of a growing emergency in the COVID-19 response in the NT.

“Despite a lot of hard work and good collaboration on the part of government and Aboriginal community sector organisations, the haste towards living with COVID is pushing the health system, Aboriginal community service organisations and the communities they serve to the brink”, APO NT spokesperson, John Paterson said.

“We need urgent direct support from the Commonwealth Government. The multiple outbreaks we are now seeing in remote communities and in our towns have been fuelled by a critical shortage of workforce, testing and logistical capacity that is overwhelming local health services and exhausted staff, leading to rapid, avoidable spread of the virus”.

“Critical shortages in availability of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) is leaving Aboriginal health and community service organisations with insufficient capacity to test their own staff, let alone the needs of the community members they serve. The result is that infected individuals are not being identified and are spreading the virus undetected.”

To read the APO NT media release in full click here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson wearing a covid-19 mask

John Paterson, CEO AMSANT/Chairperson APO NT. Image source: ABC News.

Calls for military help on NT outbreaks

APO NT Spokesman John Paterson said there are not enough health workers on the ground, and local health centre staff are exhausted and at breaking point. NT virus response teams are also struggling to transport and isolate infected people, who are “being left to isolate in overcrowded and inadequate accommodation”.

Mr Paterson said the labour shortage had slowed the remote vaccination rollout in communities with ACCHOs. A surge workforce is urgently needed to deal with the current crisis,” he said while raising concern over “a looming food security crisis” due to supply chain issues. This is the time, when the essential elements of the COVID response are faltering, to enlist the direct support of the Commonwealth and defence force,” he said.

To view The Canberra Times article in full click here.

back of 3 uniformed military staff in PPE walking in remote community

Image source: The Canberra Times.

Useful COVID-19 readiness resources

The Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) and the Queensland Government have produced a number of useful COVID-19 readiness resources. Although some of the information contained in the documents below are Queensland-specific, the information is useful across all jurisdictions.

front of QAIHC COVID-19 Readiness Family Plan document - Aboriginal family at table with paper & pens

NDIS COVID-19 vax access support continues

Minister for the NDIS Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC has announced support for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants to access the COVID-19 vaccination and boosters will continue into 2022.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has a temporary pricing arrangement in place, for eligible providers to support participants to get their two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination.

This support for the first two doses will be extended to the end of March. An additional $75 payment is now available for eligible providers to support participants to get their COVID-19 vaccine booster.

The COVID-19 booster support will be backdated to 8 November, and available to 30 June 2022. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and wellbeing of NDIS participants has been our utmost priority, and this extension ensures eligible participants will continue to be supported to get the COVID-19 vaccination,” Minister Reynolds said.

To view the Minister Reynolds’ media release in full click here and for more information, click on the NDIS coronavirus page here.

vax being drawn from vial

Image source: The Guardian.

Pharmacists embedded into ACCHOs

Consideration for the funding of the Integrating Pharmacists in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to Improve Chronic Disease management (IPAC project) goes before the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) in March 2022.

The public summary document for IPAC is available here and NACCHO would like to invite you to make a submission on behalf of your ACCHO in support of funding for pharmacists in ACCHOs as per the model proposed in the IPAC project.

Submissions can be made on the provided ‘survey’ form on the above link or by direct email. If you require help to interpret public documents or if you have other questions, please contact the NACCHO IPAC team using this email link.

Aboriginal hand reaching for pharmacy supplies from plastic draw

Image source: Danila Dilba Health Service (NT) website.

Tangentyere Youth Development Model

Young people living on Alice Springs Town Camps will be supported through a new multifaceted Youth Development Model designed by Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation.

Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw said Town Campers had identified the need for a program model that supported young people to have safe, healthy lives and make positive choices about their futures. “Culture is key to our youth development model,” Mr Shaw said “We know that practising cultural activities increases the wellness of all Aboriginal people, including young people. Culture is fundamental is each of the four elements of the model and is incorporated into each activity
and program.”

To view the Tangentyere Council’s media release click here and to access the model click here.

NT Minister for Town Camps and Remote Housing Chansey Paech, Tangentyere vice president Benedict Stephens, Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw and Territory Families Minister Kate Worden

NT Minister for Town Camps and Remote Housing Chansey Paech, Tangentyere vice president Benedict Stephens, Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw and Territory Families Minister Kate Worden announcing the Youth Development Model,  Thursday 16 December 2021.

Cervical cancer conference invites abstracts

The NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Cervical Cancer Control is inviting abstract submissions for the Preventing Cervical Cancer 2022 Hybrid Conference (PCC2022), a hybrid face-to-face and virtual event from 23–25 March 2022.

This is a great opportunity to present and discuss your findings with other researchers in the field and contribute towards the elimination of cervical cancer. Abstracts can be submitted for selected presentation as a pre-recorded oral or virtual poster.

The abstract deadline is Friday 28 January 2022 and you can submit an abstract here.

aqua banner text 'preventing cervical cancer 2022 - hybrid conference 23-25 March 2022' photo of 3 women with arms around each other

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 Health News: COVID-19 vaccine access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children ‘key’ to controlling spread

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is  Wednesday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Photograph in feature tile from The North West Hospital and Health Service urging parents to vaccinate kids.

COVID-19 vaccine access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children ‘key’ to controlling spread

Vaccinating five- to 11-year-olds is key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 into First Nations communities because of their younger population profile, a Australia’s peak Indigenous health body says.

The latest federal government data shows that 62.4 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 16 had been fully vaccinated by the end of November. That’s well behind the general population, which is sitting at 88.9 per cent.

While those figures are concerning, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) said there needed to be a focus on the vaccination rates of younger First Nations people.

Epidemiological adviser to NACCHO Jason Agostino welcomed news that five- to 11-year-olds would be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine from January.

“From the Doherty modelling they’ve shown that, if we’re going to lower the number of infections among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, getting vaccination into this age group and as high as possible is really key to controlling spread,” he said.
To view the full article in The Age click here.
For further information on vaccinating children from early next year visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Community of Binjari is grieving after the NT’s harshest COVID-19 lockdown

The remote community of Binjari on the outskirts of Katherine entered lockdown on the evening of November 20.

The lockdown was the strictest in the Northern Territory and lasted until December 2 in Binjari, before transitioning to a standard lockdown with restrictions easing again this week

In December an Aboriginal woman became the first person to die of COVID in the NT.

For months, Billy Maroney had heard warnings of COVID-19 one day reaching a remote Indigenous community in the NT. But when it happened to his home of Binjari near Katherine, he was in shock.

“It’s one of the worst things I’ve ever actually been through,” said Mr Maroney, one of about 300 residents.

“I think everybody else was in for a bit of a shock [that] it could happen like this to a remote community.”

Read the full article in the ABC here.

Gilgandra Local AMS (GLAMS) Opening FEB 2022

Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service (CAHS) secured funding under the Indigenous Australians Health Programme Primary Health Care,  Service Expansion Funding 2021 – 2023 to establish an Aboriginal Medical Service in Gilgandra (Gilgandra is located in Western NSW  – 60 Mins west of Dubbo).

CAHS are looking at the week of February 21st to Friday 25th 2022, to officially open. This will be a very memorable day for the Aboriginal community of Gilgandra, so when you receive your invite, please consider attending.

Safe and Supported: 10-year National Framework for Protecting our Children 2021-2031

Community Services Ministers have today launched Safe and Supported: National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2021 – 2031, Australia’s next 10-year framework to respond to the needs of children and families experiencing vulnerability.

As shown in The Family Matters Report 2021, launched yesterday, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care continues to escalate each year. “This National Framework comes at a critical time. Our children are being removed at an alarming rate, with little hope for reunification and keeping connected to their family, their community, their culture, and their story.

“What we need is transformational reform to turn the tide on child removals. And we are optimistic that this framework has the mechanisms to take action in the right areas by investing in Aboriginal-led solutions,” SNAICC CEO and Family Matters Co-Chair, Catherine Liddle said.

To view the full SNAICC media release click here.

4 young Aboriginal children, 1 girl, 3 boys sitting outside on outdoor rug all looking in one direction making hand signals presumably to a song

Image source: Moriarty Foundation website.

AHCSA Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) regional tobacco control grants aim to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through population health promotion activities to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use.

Cigarette smoking has long been recognised as the largest modifiable risk factor affecting the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. However, the latest research shows that the health effects of smoking amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were previously underestimated, and that smoking causes half (50%) of deaths in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 45 years or older, and over one-third (37%) of all deaths1.

To view the article in full click here.

AHCSA – project to identify ATSI NDIS barriers

The Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) is working in collaboration with NACCHO to provide support for all member services to build capability and capacity to deliver the NDIS for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as part of phase two of the Capacity Building Project funded by the Jobs and Market Fund.

The Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) is working in collaboration with NACCHO to provide support for all member services to build capability and capacity to deliver the NDIS for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as part of phase two of the Capacity Building Project funded by the Jobs and Market Fund.

To read the full article on the AHCSA website click here.

rear view of seat and wheel of a wheelchai

Image source: Pro Bono News website.

Winner of the Bill Armstrong AO Human Rights Award for 2021 is Doyen Radcliffe!

On Human Rights Day, champion of Human Rights, Doyen Radcliffe acknowledged for decades of service to First Nations communities. Doyen, a Yamatji Naaguja Wajarri man from the Midwest Region of Western Australia, has been recognised for his work supporting First Nations’ communities to improve quality of life, health, social and economic wellbeing, and inclusion within Australian society.

Mr Radcliffe has been instrumental in pushing through adversity and challenges to create positive outcomes in human rights for his mob and communities across the Northern Territory (NT) and Western Australia (WA). He is multiplying his efforts and expertise by coaching and training others and generously sharing his knowledge and experience widely to better all First Nations’ communities.

Doyen’s reach and influence expands across the nation as he sits as Director on several community-focused Boards and holds the prestigious position of Director of the Australian Evaluation Society following a period as Vice-President.

Read the full media release here.

Terry Grose, Doyen Radcliffe and Mervyn Eades at the Bill Armstrong AO Human Rights Award 2021 presentation.

 

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.

Sydney Peace Prize

Next year, the Sydney Peace Prize is being awarded to the Uluru Statement From the Heart, for bringing together Australia’s First Nations peoples around a clear and comprehensive agenda; for healing and peace within our Nation and delivering self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, that enables Australia to move into the future united and confident.

As part of Sydney Peace Prize week, you are invited to a workshop to publicly commit (or recommit) your organisation to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The workshop will give you resources and ideas on how to engage your staff, board, supporters, members and partners to call for a referendum on a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament. It will include a panel discussion with the prize winners and a chance to discuss and share with other organisations. We will end the workshop with a public commitment.

You can find out more about the Sydney Peace Prize and this year’s recipients here.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Understanding mob’s vax hesitancy

feature tile text 'understanding covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in Aboriginal communities key to increase vax rates' & pop art image of vax being drawn from vial

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Friday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Photograph in feature tile from Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, The Guardian.

Understanding mob’s vax hesitancy

Understanding COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Aboriginal communities is proving vital in the push to increase vaccination rates. As of 1 December 2021, 57.5% f the Aboriginal population in WA had received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination and 39.4% had received both doses. This is compared to 86.7% of the general population across the state having had one COVID-19 jab and 76.4% having also had their second.

Yamatji Noongar woman Sharon Wood-Kenney, who has been part of a team holding information sessions with Indigenous people in Perth about vaccinations, said many of the sessions were spent discussing why people did not want to get vaccinated. “We run our sessions to myth-bust, to talk about what’s going on, to answer questions — I’m finding a lot of people not really sure about what the facts are about COVID,” she said.

Ms Wood-Kenney said coming from a family that was affected by the Stolen Generation, she understood hesitancy about trusting the Government, but stressed the advice and information were coming from health experts With restrictions on the State border set to be removed when 90% of West Australians are vaccinated, community transmission of the virus is inevitable, according to modelling done by the WA Health Department.

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

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan received his COVID vaccine out the front of his home

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan received his COVID vaccine out the front of his home. Photo: Georgie Hewson, ABC Southern QLD, Image source : ABC News.

Why you need a vaccine booster

If it’s been six months since you got the second COVID vaccine dose, it’s time to book in for your booster shot. This will provide additional protection against COVID, including the new Omicron variant. While the evidence is still emerging, preliminary data suggests a Pfizer booster might give the same protection against Omicron as double-dose vaccination did for the original strain.

When you get your first dose of COVID vaccine, your body produces an immune response against a part of the virus called the spike protein. If you’re exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, your immune system can recognise and fight the virus quickly. The immune response to a single dose of COVID vaccine is generally short-lived. So a second dose is needed to have a stronger and longer-lasting response. Over time, the amount of antibodies in your body decreases – this is referred to as waning immunity.

If the immune response wanes below the level needed for protection against COVID – the “protective threshold” – your immune system may not be able to prevent infection when exposed to the virus.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

COVID-19 Dose One vial, Dose Two vial & Booster vial - ticks on first two doses

Image source: NIH Director’s Blog.

Support for First Nations Voice to Parliament

On International Human Rights Day, the Law Council of Australia has restated its unwavering support for a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Australian Constitution, as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the recommendations of the Referendum Council. “Constitutional recognition is vital to protect the rights and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Law Council of Australia President, Dr Jacoba Brasch QC said.

A First Nations Voice, constitutionally enshrined, is a manifestation of the right to self-determination, which, at a minimum, entails the entitlement of peoples to have control over their destiny and to be treated respectfully. This includes peoples being free to pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

To view the Law Council of Australia’s media release in full click here.

According to research undertaken by the Australian National University support for legal reform on Indigenous issues is not only high, it’s also durable. Public attitudes have shifted to such an extent in the last 40 years, there is little reason to think a constitutionally enshrined Voice wouldn’t pass a referendum if it was held today.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

Image source: The Guardian.

Prof Behrendt wins Human Rights Medal

Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt AO is a Eualeyai and Kamillaroi woman and the Director of Research at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Professor Behrendt holds the UTS inaugural Chair in Indigenous Research. Her contribution to Indigenous education and research has been widely recognised.

In 2009 she was named NAIDOC Person of the Year for her advocacy for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In 2011 she was the NSW State recipient Australian of the Year. This Award noted that Professor Behrendt would “continue to be at the forefront of national discussion for many years”. That prediction has demonstrably come to fruition – whether it be in the fields of Indigenous justice and the law, advocacy, or the visual and performing arts. Her leadership and work have continued to be recognised through many awards. In 2020 Professor Behrendt was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia.

To view the Australian Human Rights Commission media release announcing the three 2021 Human Rights Award winners click here.

Professor Larissa Behrendt

Professor Larissa Behrendt. Image source: Australian of the Year Awards website.

Highest rate of leukaemia virus in world

A new study has found that remote central Australian Aboriginal communities have the highest prevalence of human T-cell leukaemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) in the world. This devastating virus can cause severe disease, including aggressive adult T-cell lymphoma (ATL), HTLV-1 associated myelopathy, and uveitis, an inflammation of the eyes that can, if left untreated, lead to vision loss.

The study published in the PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases found the prevalence of HTLV-1 in adults in central Australia was 36.8%, the highest reported worldwide. Prevalence increased with age suggesting that sexual contact may be the predominant mode of transmission.

To view the article in full click here.

HTLV-1 cell

Image source: Newsweek.

Type 2 diabetes in Aboriginal girls research

Dr Lisa Nicholas from the Adelaide Medical School has been awarded $150,000 over two years to study why Aboriginal girls are more prone to youth-onset obesity and type 2 diabetes than non-Aboriginal girls. She will examine whether the disparity is exacerbated in children of mothers who developed diabetes during pregnancy.

Knowledge gained from the study will help to identify individuals most at risk of these conditions and provide opportunities for earlier intervention strategies. Dr Nicholas was awarded the funding under the 2021 Women’s Health grant which is a new scheme.

To view the University of Adelaide media release in full click here.

Aboriginal hands blood sugar levels finger prick test

Image source: The The Medical Journal of Australia.

Health journal research assistant opportunity

The University of Melbourne are seeking expressions of interest for a short-term casual Level A (Research Assistant) role to support the establishment of a First Nations health and wellbeing journal. Support would include organising stakeholder meetings, taking meeting minutes, following up on actions, coordinating documentation requirements, assisting with referencing, formatting documents, presentations, tables and charts.  The work could be flexible to fit within existing study or work, with an estimate around 7 to 15 hours a week for 6 to 9 months. 

Professor Catherine Chamberlain, Indigenous Health Equity can be contacted by phone 0428 921 271 or by email using this link for any enquiries.

young Aboriginal woman & grandparents of toddler

Image source: indigenous.gov.au.

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.

International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to ‘Equality’ and Article 1 of the UDHR – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

The principles of equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of human rights. Equality is aligned with the 2030 Agenda and with the UN approach set out in the document Shared Framework on Leaving No One Behind: Equality and Non-Discrimination at the Heart of Sustainable Development. This includes addressing and finding solutions for deep-rooted forms of discrimination that have affected the most vulnerable people in societies, including women and girls, Indigenous peoples, people of African descent, LGBTI people, migrants and people with disabilities, among others.

For more information about International Human Rights Day click here.

banner text 'International Human Rights Day 10 December 2021' multiple hands reaching up, different skin tones

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health workforce investment is urgent

4 Marr Mooditj Training AC students working on a dummy on hospital bed

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Friday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Image in feature tile: Marr Mooditj Training Aboriginal Corporation students.

Health workforce investment is urgent

Around the world, news of the Omicron variant of concern has created questions about the implications for an already stretched and burdened health workforce. It is not only the clinical workforce that is feeling the pressure, there is an urgent need to invest in expanding and developing the public health workforce.

A virtual symposium, held this week, hosted by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) and NACCHO, heard of public health worker burnout, the traumas of dealing with the pandemic, of the value and shortage of epidemiologists, and of a lack of adequate data on the workforce.

NACCHO Medical Director, Dr Megan Campbell, stressed the need for training and leadership opportunities for First Nations peoples and recognition of the role of ACCHOs in keeping communities safe. Campbell said the public health workforce had been “absolutely essential’ in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to stay safe during the pandemic and improving the cultural safety and quality of government and mainstream organisation responses as well.”

Campbell went on to say, “We absolutely need to increase the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public health workforce and that’s going to require substantial commitments.” NACCHO wants to ensure the curriculum is appropriate, includes competencies around Indigenous public health practice – not just knowledge – and its development must be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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

KAMS students in class learning child health checks

KAMS students in class learning child health checks. Photo supplied by KAMS. Image source: National Indigenous News.

AMSANT wants borders closed into new year

The CEO of Aboriginal Medical Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) is calling on the NT government to keep the borders closed into the new year. The current plan is to drop the need for any quarantine requirements for double vaccinated travellers from interstate red zones on 20 December 2021.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson said he would prefer a mid-January date, “That would allow us time to increase the vaccination rates, particularly in those low vaccinated local government areas throughout the NT. Monday 17 [January 2022] looks like a good day to open up the borders as that would give the low vaccination regions time to boost their rates. We’d probably be getting very close to that 90 to 95% vaccination rate, if we continue the trend that we’re on.”

To view the full ABC News story click here.

outback highway with orange cones funnelling traffic & road sign 'state border visitor information bay'

The current plan is to let interstate visitors heading into the NT from 20 December 2021. Photo: Mitchell Abram, ABC News.

Homeless women with disability research

Homelessness is having a disastrous impact on women with disabilities, according to new research by the UNSEEN Project. UNSEEN is led by social documentarian Belinda Mason (BLUR Projects), in collaboration with the Women’s Electoral Lobby NSW, and has been designed with women to tell real stories of some of the State’s 15,000 homeless women. It provides a unique platform for women of all ages to share their true experiences.

Artist and Paralympian, Caitlin [pseudonym used for safety reasons], 44, became homeless in February 2020 when floodwater engulfed her home, badly damaging the property and taking with it much of her prized possessions. She said finding suitable temporary accommodation was near impossible. “My home was no longer habitable.”

To read the UNSEEN media release in full click here.

park bench with rolled sleeping bag, sign underneath

Image source: Women’s Agenda website.

Sobering OOHC over-representation data

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, Kate Washington said the Family Matters Report 2021 has revealed sobering data on the the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in out-of-home care. NSW was ranked as poor or very poor across all four building blocks within the report, with the rate of over representation increasing steadily since 2012-13.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in NSW are 9.9 times more likely to be removed from their families by child protection services than non-Indigenous children. The Report has slammed the lack of transparency and accountability within the NSW child protection system and has called for major investment from the NSW Government in community-led solutions.

To view the joint media release by NSW Shadow Ministers Kate Washington and David Harris in full click here.

rear view of small Aboriginal child looking towards run-down house

Image source: SBS NITV website.

New incentives for doctors to go bush

A new scheme aims to attract more health professionals to rural, regional and remote areas. From January 2022, the federal government will wipe the university debt of doctors or nurse practitioners, under a few conditions.

Regional Health Minister David Gillespie said the incentives were on top of current benefits, such as scholarship programs and additional Medicare benefits. “The more remote you go, the more significant the practice incentive payment or the workforce incentive payment is,” Dr Gillespie said. “It is targeted because there is an acute shortage of general practitioners in the outer, regional and remote areas — more so than anywhere else.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

outback road with yellow road sign 'clinic 100km'

Image source: RACGP website.

Culture in nursing and midwifery education

Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives is critical to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, yet efforts over more than 20 years are still to make significant inroads.

However, a small, award-winning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander training provider in Perth, Marr Mooditj, is showing the way amid other hopes for change in nursing and midwifery courses and curriculum showcased at the recent Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) Back To The Fire conference event in WA.

Marr Mooditj’ is one of just three organisations across Australia to provide dedicated healthcare training solely to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  students. Their unique staff motto “Eat the frog” is about how staff make sure they are providing wrap-around support to students from across WA, in a way that goes beyond the time and focus given by most other training organisations. It means that any staff member who runs into a student who needs help is expected to step up.

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

Rural GP awarded for parasitic worm work

Dr Wong has received a RACGP Rural GP award, recognising he has directly contributed to healthcare improvement and positively impacted the local community. “Parasitic worms may not be a popular topic, but it is a serious health issue in the Kimberley region, and anyone can get it,” he said.

“I recognised part of the problem where I work was a lack of community awareness. There are simple steps people can take in terms of prevention and treatment, so I put together posters to help raise awareness across the region, as well as clear guidelines for managing parasites, which have been really useful for patients.”

To view the Kimberley Clinical Protocol Parasitic Worms that Dr Wong helped update click here and to view the RACGP media release about the Rural GP awards 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 Health News: Community-led COVID-19 plan success

feature tile text 'Community-led COVID-19 lockdown plan implemented successfully'

Community-led COVID-19 plan successful

One of the world’s toughest lockdowns has just ended for the small community of Binjari in the NT. People haven’t been able to leave home — for even groceries or exercise — as the territory fights its first significant outbreak.

An ABC News report by Dan Conifer says this action has all been aimed at preventing Indigenous deaths. For months, Indigenous health experts have been preparing for a lockdown like this, fearing the virus could spread quickly in populations with high levels of existing health conditions. NACCHO’s Dr Jason Agostino said “The state of housing is so poor and the level of crowding so high , that to leave someone who has COVID-19 in their home is to condemn the rest of the household to also get it.” Dr Jason Agostino helped develop the Binjari’s lockdown plan that’s guided the response to COVID-19 cases, including hard lockdowns and removing people from hotspots.

“It’s great to see that a plan that was led by the community has been implemented successfully and at the moment we are seeing good results” Dr Agostino said.

To watch the ABC 7.30 Report with Leigh Sales episode, including a transcript click here.

ABC 7.30 report with Leigh Sales, Welcome to Binjari Community photo

Kids should not be brought up in prison

Demonstrators gathered outside Banksia Hill Detention Centre earlier this week to call for an end to child imprisonment, and to support the prospective class action being organised on behalf of current and former detainees of the child prison.

Ramon Vida, 23, did two stints in Banksia Hill at age 16 and 17. He told the rally that it was “terrible to see young fellas, little fellas coming in. They get mistreated, they get locked down. I saw fights. It was pretty violent in there… Too many lockdowns, not much activities. The only help they gave us was the school they built.”

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

Banksia Hill protest

Banksia Hill protest. Photo: Giovanni Torre. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Lowitja Institute Chair steps down 

Lowitja Institute has today paid tribute to internationally respected Aboriginal health leader Pat Anderson AO as she steps down as Lowitja Institute Chair after nearly 20 years. Ms Anderson was instrumental in the organisation’s establishment and its development as Australia’s renowned national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health research institute.

Lowitja Institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said Ms Anderson played a key role in the first efforts nearly three decades ago in Darwin to advance research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “This involved challenging and disrupting Western models of research that was done on and about us, not by and for us — and that was not an easy task,” Dr Mohamed said.

“Pat has been a fearless advocate for justice and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for decades and an outstanding mentor and strong moral compass. She is a trailblazer and ceiling breaker for all women. Like our founding patron and namesake Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue, Pat is a guiding light for all of us at Lowitja Institute, and we are so grateful she will continue to be involved with us as a patron.”

To view the Lowitja Institute media release in full click here.

Patricia Anderson AO

Patricia Anderson AO. Image source: Australian of the Year 2021 website.

National recognition for NT POC testing

Flinders University’s NT Point-of-Care Testing program which has been delivering rapid on-site pathology testing across 90 remote communities since 2008, has been recognised for its efforts in being a joint winner of the Outstanding Engagement for Research Impact award at this year’s Engagement Australia Excellence Awards.

Delivered in collaboration with NT Health and AMSANT, with funding from NT Health, the program performs more than 3,000 pathology tests each month, with the point-of-care testing devices delivering results within 2-10 minutes to guide patient triage, clinical management and diagnose a variety of illnesses, including sepsis and heart attack.

To view the Flinders University News article in full click here.

Taking the cap off soft drink consumption

In spite of health warnings about high consumption of carbonated soft drinks, global consumption has been rising rapidly for more than 50 years. Flinders University psychology researchers are looking to arrest this trend by investigating potential individual responses and ‘mechanisms’ for this increase in soft drink consumption.

One contributing factor is believed to be how people respond differently to daily exposure to soft drink ‘cues’, with soft drinks available around-the-clock 24/7 from supermarkets, convenience stores, vending machines and petrol stations. Young adults in this age group are the core consumers of soft drinks, now a major public health problem with 40-50% of adults in Australia consuming at least one soft drink a week.

The Flinders University research will expand in 2022 to investigate targeted interventions to reduce soft drink consumption. With weight gain, tooth decay, risk of diabetes and even lower academic performance among the pitfalls of excessive soft drink consumption, awareness campaigns and medical interventions are in the pipeline in both developing and advanced economies.

You can view the report The predictive value of evaluative bias, attentional bias, approach bias, and self-regulatory control in soft drink consumption here.

soft drink cans & bottles in a supermarket fridge

Image source: ABC News AM with Sabra Lane.

Far West hospitals under enormous pressure

Walgett Hospital may have to close its beds in February 2022 because it does not have enough staff to manage them. Elderly people are being forced to travel 5,000 kms a month to access dialysis and up to 40 staff have left Broken Hill Hospital in the past two years.

Elizabeth “Betty” Kennedy, a 42-year stalwart of Walgett Hospital’s nursing staff said early in her career there was a suitable ratio of staff to patients, but it had gradually deteriorated to the point where staff routinely work 60-hour weeks or longer. Some women giving birth in Walgett are doing so without a midwife present because they are reluctant to travel to larger facilities and leave their young families behind.

To view the WAtoday article in full click here.

road sign text 'hospital, Kamilaroi Hwy, B76 Walgett'

Image source: The Conversation.

Melbourne Uni teaching coordinator sought

The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health is keen to recruit an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person to a teaching coordinator position within the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health.

This well-supported role is suitable for someone who is interested in developing and coordinating an innovative teaching and learning program that helps to build the next generation of public health professionals to improve Indigenous Health and Health Equity, in alignment with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

This will be integrated with outstanding research/knowledge generation projects and translation into policy and practice to form a coherent program to drive authentic positive health improvements so communities can once again live happy full lives in this abundant land.

You can access a full position description here and for more information you can contact Professor Indigenous Health, Cath Chamberlain by email here or 0428 921 271.

Melbourne Uni log, text 'Melbourne School of Population and Global Health' image of Professor Catherine Chamberlain.

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

Eye Conference Early Bird Rego open

Indigenous Eye Health (IEH) at the University of Melbourne are pleased to announce the 2022 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference, which will take place on Larrakia country in Darwin on Tuesday 24 to Thursday 26 May 2022.

The conference aims to advance the collective work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector towards the shared goal of improving eye health access and outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Delegates will include representatives from ACCHOs and other primary care service providers, eye care clinicians, policy makers, researchers, non-government organisations, hospitals, professional peak bodies and government departments from across the country.

Early bird registration is now open – register here. To receive conference updates and other IEH news, join can also join their mailing list here.

tile text '2022 National ATSI Eye Health Conference 24-26 May 2022, Darwin, NT'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: U AND ME CAN STOP HIV

U AND ME CAN STOP HIV

For the second year in a row NACCHO have joined forces with The University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health to co-host Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) trivia which coincides with World AIDS Day.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to be disproportionately impacted by sexually transmitted diseases and blood borne viruses, including HIV. There is also an ongoing outbreak of infectious syphilis affecting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This higher prevalence of other STIs increases the risk of HIV transmission.

Professor James Ward from University of Queensland Poche Centre for Indigenous Health said “ATSIHAW in its eighth year brings together researchers, health workers, policymakers and the community and gets the conversation going in our community about HIV prevention and the importance of regular testing for HIV. ATSIHAW empowers our community to take a stand on HIV Prevention with the ‘U and me can stop HIV’ campaign with 44 community events hosted by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services during the week of ATSIHAW 2021.”

The theme of World AIDS Day 2021 ‘End inequalities. End AIDS’ focuses on reaching people left behind and drawing attention to the growing inequalities in access to essential HIV services. This message also resonates with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “The theme this year for World AIDS Day is very relevant to us considering the disproportionately high rates of sexually transmissible infections (STIs), blood borne viruses (BBVs) and other communicable diseases driven by a legacy of neglect, disjointed public policy, insufficient or poorly distributed resources that fail to reach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the ground, and lack of genuine co-design or culturally appropriate holistic health services.”

“We have demonstrated that a commitment from the Australian Government Department of Health, in partnership with NACCHO, to provide direct funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) to address the syphilis outbreak has produced some positive outcomes.”

“Over the last five years, the Australian Government’s public health response has built on the strengths of the ACCHS sector. NACCHO, together with members and other partners, has delivered increased rates of testing and treatment for STIs and BBVs. Though this sector-led response has seen some success, more must be done.”

“We thank the Australian Government Department of Health who so far have committed over $30 million over the next 3 years (2021–2024) to support locally developed responses to STI/BBVs.”

“To achieve the goal of eliminating HIV transmission in Australia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we need further investment for the scale up of preventative measures, innovative approaches to increase access to culturally safe testing and treatment pathways and improved stigma reduction programs. More must be done to improve the HIV cascade of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, ensuring access to treatment and supporting people to achieve viral suppression. “U AND ME CAN STOP HIV’, the conversation needs to start now,” said Ms Mills.

Michael Brown, Sexual Health Project Officer, working with the Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Services (CRAICCHS), 170 km north-west of Brisbane, in Wakka Wakka tribal country first discovered he was HIV-positive, when he lived in Cairns in far north Queensland. He is a firm advocate for My Health Record and is encouraging other HIV-positive people to use their record and take control of their health, knowing their privacy is protected.

Mr Brown said, “It has been 40 years since the first HIV diagnosis, and we as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still in need of a culturally appropriate support system in the HIV area. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be a priority if we are going to eradicate HIV in Australia.

“We need funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV peer support and case management programs post the diagnosis of HIV where there is a lived experience of HIV within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

NACCHO will continue to advocate for ongoing funding and work with our partner organisations including our Affiliates, the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO),  National Association of People Living with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), Australasian Society of HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) to address the disproportionate rates of sexually transmitted diseases and blood borne viruses. This is an important step towards Closing the Gap.

To view the NACCHO Media Statement in full click here.

blood testing for HIV

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Ernie on Country with vax message

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the Pilbara is proceeding slowly but a push to translate jab information into Martu and a visit from Ernie Dingo have medical services feeling positive. Among the general population, the Pilbara is the least vaccinated part of WA.

The Pilbara has three Aboriginal medical services, Puntukurnu, Wirrika Maya, and Mawarnkarra, which in March came together to establish the Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA). The alliance is working together with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the WA Country Health Service to get jabs into arms, but PAHA CEO Chris Pickett said it was not an easy task. “People need to remember the logistics of making this happen. We’re talking about people in communities hundreds of kilometres from the nearest hospital,” he said.

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

Min Ken Wyatt, 2 other Aboriginal men & Ernie Dingo holding cardboard Vaxx the Outback campaign, NIAA

Photo: Leslie Dingo, Bush TV. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

AMSANT responds to vax misinformation

Claims on social media that the Australian Army had forced Aboriginal people in the remote NT communities at Binjari and Rockhole to have COVID-19 injections have been strongly rejected by Aboriginal leaders and a peak NT health body. The unsubstantiated claims, which were reported globally caused further stress to the community members – according to AMSANT CEO John Patterson.

To listen to John Patterson speak on the topic click here.

black & white portrait of AMSANT CEO John Paterson

AMSANT CEO, John Paterson. Image source: CAAMA Radio Network Australia website.

AOD support missing piece of puzzle

When it comes to addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal people in criminal justice, out-of-home care, family and domestic violence and homelessness, the missing piece of the puzzle is alcohol and other drug support. AOD treatment is chronically underfunded, but for every dollar spent on treatment services, we see a $7 return to the community.

Many of the leading causes of death and harm for Aboriginal people stem from AOD misuse. Similarly, there is a strong association between suicide and harmful AOD use.

AOD use ultimately stems from the violence and trauma enacted on Aboriginal communities since colonisation. A 2013 report from the National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee found services for Aboriginal people should be culturally secure, have strong community engagement, and support Aboriginal control of solutions. There should also be continued support for the capacity building of ACCHOs to provide AOD services at a local level.

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

Daniel Morrison, Wungening Aboriginal Corporation

Daniel Morrison, Wungening Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Videos to keep mob strong and deadly

The WellMob website is an online library of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific mental health and social and emotional wellbeing resources. These resources include over 250 apps, videos, podcasts, websites and pdfs that provide low intensity mental health interventions and cultural wellbeing content for our diverse communities. The website fills the gap in the online space not serviced by mainstream mental health providers.

The WellMob website team have recently launched a series of short videos to improve awareness about how the WellMob website can keep our diverse mob feeling strong and deadly.

The WellMob: An introduction video describes the WellMob website, a digital library of wellbeing resources made by and for our mob including over 250 apps, podcasts, websites, videos, social media and printable wellbeing materials.

The WellMob: Website tour video shows you how to use the WellMob website. Starting on the landing page, it shows the six main topics and steps through how to find digital wellbeing resources.

The WellMob: Tips for workers video has tips for health workers on how to use digital wellbeing resources found on WellMob.

For further details about the video rollout click here.

Lived experience role in mental health 

The role of lived experience is being embedded within the mental health system and suicide prevention system, with the launch of Australia’s first national guidelines for a lived experience workforce.

The National Mental Health Commission has released the National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines, which contains the principles, values and roles of the lived experience workforce, together with detailed steps for employers to help them plan and embed lived experience into their core business. The guidelines are the result of an extensive consultation and co-design process with almost 800 stakeholders.

To view the media release in full click here.

grey silhouette of head, scrunched colourful paper coming out of head

Image source: Pro Bono News Australia website.

Missing, murdered women and kids inquiry

The Australian Senate has voted to hold an inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children. Yamatji Noongar woman and Green Senator for WA Dorinda Cox called for the inquiry in her first speech to the Senate in October this year.

In a statement, the office of Senator Cox said the inquiry will be the first of its kind in Australia and will investigate “the systemic causes of violence including underlying social, economic, cultural, institutional and historical causes contributing to the ongoing violence and particular vulnerabilities of First Nations women and children.”

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

Senator Cox clapping in park with crowd in background

Senator Cox. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

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 Health News: ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

feature tile text 'NT Chief Minister and ADF slam dangerous vax lies' & image of vax vials & dice with letters f, a, c, t, k, e

Image in feature tile from The Conversation, Photo: Alexander Limbach, Shutterstock.

ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

In a press conference yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner blasted COVID conspiracy theorists, saying he wanted to address “the huge amount of misinformation being spread online over the past few days. There are ridiculous, untrue rumours about the ADF’s involvement. As we all know, they aren’t carrying weapons — they are carrying fresh food for people.” He urged people not to worry about the dangerous lies spreading online.

You can access the ABC News article in full here and view the Chief Minister’s press conference below – his comments mentioned above can be found from 3 min 46 sec to 7 min 13 sec.

The Australian Defence Force has also rejected as lies “wild” social media claims that it’s forcibly vaccinating Indigenous Northern Territorians against COVID-19. The misinformation has been shared and reposted to multiple platforms and there are fears it could threaten efforts to contain an outbreak.

“Defence is aware of social media posts claiming the Australian Defence Force is forcibly vaccinating or detaining members of the Australian community,” a spokesman said in a statement. “These claims are emphatically false.”

To read the Canberra Times article in full click here.

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner has commended the ADF for calling out the outrageous claims by people who are making the wild accusations without being privy to the facts. She said people need to stop confusing our people with all the misinformation on social media and talk to the health staff instead and look at credible sites for good advice.

AMSANT and Amnesty International Australia have also released a joint media release regarding ADF involvement in Katherine, NT which can be viewed here.

CEO protecting mob one vial at a time

A Queensland CEO armed with a syringe, is fighting to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples protected against COVID-19, personally administering the vaccine, one vial at a time. Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, a proud Gubbi Gubbi woman and registered nurse, has remained hands-on in her quest to have all her people from Mt Isa, the North West and Lower Gulf regions of the State fully vaccinated.

Renee is part of an entire First Nation contingent of doctors, nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners injecting vaccines, imparting a greater understanding of the virus, while also allaying personal fears around getting the jab. That process will again be on show in Mt Isa TONIGHT as Gidgee Healing hosts it’s Deadly Night Out push for vaccinations among Australia’s First Nations populations.

When: from 4:00 PM Friday, 26 November 2021

Where: Buchanan Park: Cnr Sutton and George Street, Mount Isa

Who: Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, Current and former Broncos players Jordan Rikki, Ezra Mam, Xavier Willison, Ethan Quai-Ward and Lote Tuqiri; Deadly Choices Ambassadors Steve Renouf and Tallisha Harden

To view the media release about this event in full click here.

Gidgee Healing Mt Isa CEO Renee Blackman

Mob hit back at vax misinformation

They rejected claims made on social media that members of Binjari community were being forcibly removed by ADF personnel or otherwise mistreated by authorities. “We have been treated with a lot of respect and appreciate all the support being given by these support personnel people,” the statement reads. “We are in lockdown because we’re in the biggest fight of our lives. We’re trying to keep safe. We’re trying to do the right thing by the community and Katherine.”

To view the full story in the Katherine Times click here.

COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT

The COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT on 23 November 2021. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Closing culture gaps to help sick kids

A new Curtin University study has found that there is an urgent need to develop and implement strategies to empower Aboriginal families to identify deteriorating health in their child and alert clinicians. The research, published in Pediatric Nursing, explored the perspective of family members of Aboriginal children to see if they could recognise, and respond to, health deterioration in a hospital setting.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Fenella Gill from Curtin’s School of Nursing, said it was hoped the study results would lead to the development of a culturally secure escalation system. “Previous research has indicated that there are higher rates of hospital mortality for Aboriginal children, including due to failures in escalation of care, therefore it is vital to address these barriers,” Associate Professor Gill said.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal mum holding toddler

Image source: Curtin University.

Crucial tool to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B

An educational app designed to improve health literacy around the hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been translated to provide more than 70% of the NT Aboriginal population access in their first language. The Hep B Story App, a crucial tool in the work to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B (CHB), a disease endemic in Aboriginal communities in the NT, was launched yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021.

The NT has an estimated CHB prevalence of three to 12%, meaning the NT has the highest CHB prevalence in Australia at 1.77%. Of those living with CHB, 25% will die from decompensated cirrhosis (liver failure) or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC – liver cancer). Liver cancer is the fastest growing cause of cancer death in Australia and liver disease is the third most important contributor to the gap in life expectancy between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the media release regarding the launch in full click here.

The Hep B Story app is free to download from the Apple and Google Play stores and the Menzies website here.

Cultural competence resources

The University of Sydney’s National Centre for Cultural Competence has produced a selection of articles and book chapters that continue to inform and shape the discourse of cultural competence nationally and internationally. This curated group of resources will be updated as new ideas and publications are encountered.

To access the resources click here.

Image source: The University of Sydney.

National Nurse Practitioner Plan

A new 10-year strategic plan is being developed to help Australia’s highly skilled and respected nurse practitioners, by enhancing the way they work as they deliver essential health care for Australians .

Registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, Nurse Practitioners are focused on improving access to treatment, and dedicated to improving access to treatment, and improving health outcomes of all Australians, particularly at risk populations, including aged care residents, Indigenous Australians and those living in regional, rural and remote areas.

As part of the strategic plan, the Government is commencing consultations for the plan, which aims to address workforce issues and enhance the delivery of patient care. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said “This is the first opportunity for the community, health providers, clinicians, and experts to make a contribution to this new plan, which will be delivered by the middle of next year.”

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal health worker taken child's blood pressure

Image source: Department of Health website.

Suicide prevention grants double

Suicide prevention grants to organisations across the country are being increased to help reduce Australia’s suicide rate towards zero. Through the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program Grant Opportunity, $114 million will be available for national projects that will raise awareness of the impact of suicide and support Australians who are at risk.

Specific vulnerable groups – including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, veterans, men, regional communities, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities – have been identified as the primary focus of the Grant Opportunity as these groups have higher rates of suicide than the general population. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said suicide is a national tragedy, with 3,139 Australians taking their lives in 2020.

To view the full media release 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 Health News: NACCHO CEO nervous about vax gap

feature tile text 'NACCHO CEO nervous as borders reopen but vax rates lag in some communities' & image of sign to community of Mutitjulu, NT

Image in feature tile from Angus Knight. Mutitjulu was listed on the NTG Coronavirus (COVID-19) website on 19 November 2021 as a low vaccinated community.

NACCHO CEO nervous about vax gap

The head of the umbrella organisation for Australia’s Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (NACCHO) says she’s nervous about the country’s reopening because of lagging vaccination rates in some communities.

Pat Turner, the CEO of NACCHO, believes part of the problem is state and territory governments passing the buck to the Commonwealth, and also certain religious groups bringing in misinformation and myths from the US.

To listen to the interview on ABC RN Breakfast in full click here.

Pat Turner with Minister Wyatt in the background

ACCHOs business innovation award winners

The winners of the SA Regional Showcase Awards were announced last Friday evening, 19 November 2021. Two SA ACCHOs, Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation (Yadu Health), Ceduna and Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Incorporated (Nunyara Health), Whyalla won an NBN Business Innovations award for their work with New Future IT and their trainees.

Yadu Health and Nunyara Health chose New Future IT from Darwin to train Indigenous workers to cover their internal IT needs. New Future IT is an Aboriginal-owned and operated company that actively trains and employs young Aboriginal people who are looking for opportunities to work within the field of IT and have tailored their new training pathway specifically for Aboriginal health services.

Chief Technical Officer of Yadu Health and Nunyara Health said the award is amazing recognition of  the great collaboration between the two ACCHOs as well as industry validation that the work that have done holds significant value.

You can view the full InDaily news article here.

photo of Nunyara & Yadu finalist & winner awards

Image supplied by: Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Inc.

AMSANT, ALCs urgent COVID-19 meeting

On Sunday 21 November the Chairmen and CEOs of the Northern, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa Land Councils and AMSANT held an urgent meeting in Darwin to send a strong message about the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the Katherine region, particularly at the Robinson River community in the Gulf and the Binjari and Rockhole communities near Katherine.

Yesterday’s meeting authorised the following statement for attribution to AMSANT and the three Top End Land Councils: “The Land Councils and AMSANT are confident that the NT government is taking all appropriate steps to protect the community members at the Binjari and Rockhole communities and they are satisfied with the earlier responses at Robinson River and Katherine township. The broader community in the Katherine region and beyond should take appropriate steps to make sure that COVID-19 does not spread to any other Aboriginal communities in the Katherine region and beyond. This virus is coming for us Aboriginal people so we need to do the right things to stop it spreading.”

To view the media release in full click here.

poster painting of Aboriginal hand thumbs up sign, top half of image black background, bottom half red, text 'STAY SAFE' at top & 'stay on country, care for family' text at bottom

Image source: NLC website.

Fears for chronic illness epidemic

Health groups have expressed fears the COVID-19 pandemic will move to an epidemic of chronic illness among NSW’s regional Indigenous population. Regular GP appointments were down more than half in some communities during lockdown.

The Rural and Remote Medical Services (RRMS) said 53% of its 5,000 Indigenous clients failed to see a GP face-to-face from September 2020 to September 2021. RRMS CEO Mark Burdack said the decline is entirely due to COVID-19, adding Aboriginal people in smaller remote towns avoided travelling to larger towns because of the risk of infection. “As a result, we project that a significantly larger percentage of Aboriginal people didn’t maintain their chronic disease appointments which is a serious concern,” Mr Burdack said.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman at desk in clinic

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman says it will take about six months to see the real impact of COVID-19. Photo: Arianna Levy, ABC News Central West.

Eye health progress but gaps remain

Significant progress has been made to improve eye care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but service shortfalls and equity gaps remain, according to the 10th annual update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision.

As a result of the work to Close the Gap64 regional stakeholder groups and seven groups at jurisdictional level have been established. ACCHOs, Aboriginal and Torres Islander people and other Indigenous-controlled organisations are also leading eye care activities at regional and state levels.

Eye examinations have increased with a steady increase in the number of cataract surgeries. But while cataract services and eye checks for diabetes have improved, there is still inequity with longer cataract surgery waiting lists for Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people, with waits of up to 50% longer.

To view The University of Melbourne’s article in full click here.

Artwork by respected Wiradjuri / Yorta Yorta artist, Lyn Briggs, originally commissioned for VACCHO’s first eye health program, 1998. Image source: University of Melbourne website.

NCSP guidelines public consultation

Cancer Council Australia has been contracted by the Australian Department of Health to perform an update to The National Cervical Screening Program: Guidelines for the management of screen-detected abnormalities, screening in specific populations and investigation of abnormal vaginal bleeding to support the planned policy change to provide universal access to self-collection.

This update is exclusively focused on the changes associated with providing universal access to self-collection, and as such, changes are only proposed for some sections of the guidelines. These updates are detailed in this public consultation document.

We are now seeking feedback on the update and are open for public consultation from 22 November 2021 to 5 December 2021. Comments  are required no later than 11.59PM (AESDT) Sunday 5 December 2021.

To access the document and provide comment click here.

blue plastic circle with cervix shape & test swab

Image source: Moffitt Cancer Center website.

The power of Indigenous data

Indigenous Postdoctural Fellow, Karyn Ferguson has been researching the health of Yorta Yorta ganas (mothers) and their burrais (children). Ms Ferguson has found health data wasn’t stored in one place, instead, it was spread across numerous organisations at local, state and federal levels. Siloed by different bureaucracies, Ms Ferguson said “it was difficult – to say the least ­– to easily identify and understand population health trends specific to Yorta Yorta people.”

The task of linking together all this data on maternal health and birth outcomes became Ms Ferguson’s PhD research – Gana Burrai, which means ‘mother baby’. A major finding of this research has been the power of the linkage of mother-birth records across the sites. Data linkage has enabled a more accurate understanding of Aboriginal identification in administrative records and uncovered a significant undercount of Aboriginal births in this specific population between the years 2008-2017 inclusive.

To view the University of Melbourne Pursuit article in full click here.

Linking data across different data sets produces a more comprehensive picture of health across Aboriginal communities. Photo: Getty Images. Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

RPHCM project November update

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

Protocols endorsed by the Editorial Committee since the last RPHCM monthly update include:

  • Infant feeding guidelines
  • Anaemia in pregnancy
  • Ear examination
  • Water-related skin infections
  • Joint problems

Secondary reviews will start early in 2022 and RPHCM are seeking secondary reviewers, especially doctors and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners who are users of the manual to check protocols are easy to read and applicable to practice. If you are interested please view the RPHCM website here.

To view the RPHCM November 2021 update 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.

Stillbirth prevention for mob webcast

Stillbirth can have a profound and long-lasting impact for parents, families, communities and care providers. Despite Australia being one of the safest places globally to have a baby, according to Stillbirth Centre for Research Excellence, 2021 for every 1,000 babies born, there are sadly six babies who will be born still. For Aboriginal mob stillbirth occurrences continue to remain disproportionately high.

A webcast is being held from 1:00PM-2:00PM Wednesday 24 November 2021 to introduce the Safer Baby Bundle developed by the Stillbirth Centre for Research Excellence (CEC). The CEC panel will explore the importance of the Aboriginal health worker/practitioner role in preventing stillbirth and how to incorporate culturally safe and responsive care into midwifery, child and family health care and beyond.

To view a flyer for the event click here and to register for the webinar here.

grey rocks, with heart shaped rock with Aboriginal dot painting on top

Image source: The Hippocratic Post.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protecting remote NT communities

Image in feature tile:  remote NT community of Ali Curung. Photo: James Dunlevie, ABC News.

Protecting remote NT communities

The Australian Government has implemented additional measures to protect remote communities during the current COVID-19 outbreak in the NT.

As Minister for Health and Aged Care, I have made a determination under section 477 of the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act 2015 to prevent a person from entering and/or exiting the Robinson River and surrounding homelands, which is aimed at stopping any further spread of COVID-19 in the community.

These measures are based on the medical advice from the acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sonya Bennett. The implementation of these measures will help to contain the current outbreak by ensuring that a person will only enter and/or leave the area if necessary, and for essential purposes.

These measures will help to prevent and contain the current COVID-19 outbreak in the Robinson River, and will assist in preventing the emergence, establishment and spread of the disease to neighbouring remote communities in the Northern Territory.

The Determination was requested by the Northern Territory Government to supplement restrictions they have also implemented and is supported by the Northern Land Council and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT).

The implementation of these measure follows extensive engagement with the Northern Territory Government and consultation with and support from Federal MPs and representatives of the affected communities.

To view Minister Hunts media release in full click here.

As at the end of October 2021 Areyonga residents were 80% double vaccinated. Photo: Steven Schubert, Alice Springs ABC.

Better safe than sorry – for all of us!

AMSANT has called for Territory-wide caution in light of its first Aboriginal COVID-19 cases, including the first on a very remote community. AMSANT CEO John Paterson said “this is potentially our Wilcannia moment—this is our call for maximum vigilance at a clinical and political level—but more importantly a call for maximum care and love for our families and friends.”

“What we need now is for all of us in remote communities, as well as our larger towns and cities, to refocus on the simple issues we have emphasised from the first,” said Mr Paterson. “Stay at home, care for your families, protect your communities. Call the clinic if you are experiencing any health difficulties.

“This applies wherever you are in the Territory, not just Katherine and Robinson River. And do the right thing: get vaccinated as a matter of urgency to protect our Elders and Kids,” said Mr Paterson.

To view the media release in full click here.

Investment in men’s healing pays off

A new report shows clearly that targeted government investment in Aboriginal community-led men’s healing and behaviour change programs delivers better healing outcomes and significant economic savings.

The report Strengthening Spirit and Culture: A Cost Benefit Analysis of Dardi Munwurro’s Men’s Healing Programs explains the findings of an analytical study by Deloitte Access Economics of the impacts of three programs delivered by Dardi Munwurro, a Victorian specialist Aboriginal healing and family violence prevention service.

The groundbreaking study, funded by The Healing Foundation, proves the economic benefits associated with Aboriginal men’s healing. The analysis found that each dollar invested in Dardi Munwurro is estimated to provide a return on investment of 50-190%, noting that this should be viewed as a conservative estimate of benefits as it was not possible to quantify all benefits from the programs.

To view the media release in full click here.

Switching is not quitting

Tobacco use is falling by five million people per year. The reduced number of tobacco users have the industry worried. Don’t fall for their tricks, don’t switch to products promoted by tobacco and related industries.

Improved cervical cancer screening access

The Australian Government has announced that all women under the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) will be able to self-collect their own screening sample from Friday 1 July 2022.

  • From 1 July 2022, current eligibility criteria for access to self-collection under the NCSP Self-collection Policy will be removed.
  • This change means that self-collection will be available to all women and people with a cervix under the NCSP and will no longer be restricted to under-screened or never-screened women.
  • This change is supported by evidence showing that HPV tests performed on self‑collected vaginal samples are as safe and accurate as HPV tests performed by a clinician.

For more detailed information click here. and to access Minister Hunt’s media release click here.

Image source: Menshalena, Getty Images.

Indigenous Governance Award finalists

The Indigenous Governance Awards share and promote success from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations around Australia. There are three categories of Award for outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous-led organisations:

  • Projects or unincorporated initiatives or projects
  • Small to medium incorporated organisations
  • Large incorporated organisations

Reconciliation Australia and the BHP Foundation have proudly partnered to deliver the Indigenous Governance Awards since their inception in 2005. In 2018  the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute (AIGI) became a co-host.

Nine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations and initiatives from around the country have been shortlisted as finalists in the Indigenous Governance Awards 2022. Each finalist organisation or initiative has been selected for its culturally-informed ways of working, driving positive and long-lasting change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Finalists in Category 1 (Outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous-led non-incorporated initiatives or projects) include:

  • South Australian West Coast ACCHO Network (SAWCAN) – Whyalla Norrie, SA; and
  • Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council Human Research Ethics Committee – Sydney, NSW.

For more information about the awards and finalists click here.

DATE CHANGE – ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia

2021 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) Virtual Trivia, co-hosted by UQ and NACCHO is held in the first week of December each year, to coincide with World AIDS Day. This year it is being held at 4:00PM (AEDT) – Friday 3 December 2021. It provides an opportunity to engage our communities, as well as HIV researchers, doctors, health workers and policy-makers.

The University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and  NACCHO will co-host the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) Virtual Trivia for staff of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector and those working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexual health.

To register 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.

Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month

November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month (November) with World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day (COPD) held yesterday, Wednesday 17 November 2021. The Lung Foundation Australia’s goal of these campaigns is to raise awareness of and connection to Lung Foundation’s services and programs, supporting patients to live well with their condition.

The main call to action is to download a resource pack, which will bring consumers into our database and place them on a tailored email journey. The email series covers a range of topics including self-management, exercise, peer support and mental health. The Lung Foundation is encouraging patients to complete the short forms on the following pages which will activate this email journey:

PAH resource pack and COPD resource pack.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Voter ID rules will disenfranchise mob

Image source: Kalgoorlie Miner.

Voter ID rules will disenfranchise mob

NACCHO is deeply concerned by the proposed voter ID changes in the ‘Electoral Legislation Amendment (Voter Integrity) Bill 2021’. We urge all parliamentarians to oppose this unnecessary measure. We do not want to see vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people disenfranchised.

The Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills, speaking from Cairns today said, “Australia has a sorry history in voting eligibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It took until 1962 to secure the right to vote in the first place. It took until 1967 for us to be counted. Today, in 2021, we are at a critical time in our efforts as a nation to act upon the Uluru Statement from the Heart and secure an Indigenous ‘voice’ to Parliament. Yet this proposed Bill sets us back on our journey. I have no doubt that this Bill will discourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from voting.”

There is no case for introducing these measures. NACCHO understands that the Australian Electoral Commission has confirmed that there was almost no voter fraud at the last federal election and that the introduction of voter ID requirements is unnecessary. There were no prosecutions for multiple voting at the last election, so there seems to be no problem to address here. Yet, if the Bill is introduced, significant damage will be done.

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

Senate & House of Reps voting boxes

Image source: The Guardian.

Improving disability support for mob

A group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations across Australia are receiving a total of $1.27 million in grants to improve the delivery of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) support services.
The $22,000 Indigenous Business Support Funding grants have been awarded to 57 organisations.

Awarded for the first time this year, the scheme was administered by NACCHO which represents 143 community controlled health organisations. The grants are being provided as part of the Federal Government’s NDIS Ready project.

Minister for the NDIS Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the funding would strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s participation in the NDIS – as well as increase the number of culturally-appropriate service providers. “We can improve the lifetime wellbeing and quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To view Minister Reynolds’ media release in full click here.

Image source: Synapse website.

First Nations Services Unit for hearing

Hearing Australia has established a First Nations Services Unit to better meet the hearing health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. “With our dedicated First Nations team, we’re making it easier and faster for children, families and communities to get the hearing help they need,” says Mr Kim Terrell, Managing Director, Hearing Australia.

The Unit will bring together the delivery of Hearing Australia’s three Australian Government funded programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: the Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE) program, the Community Service Obligations (CSO) component of the Hearing Services program and the recently established Listen to Learn program.

“This will help us collaborate with our partners to provide more effective, coordinated, and culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia, regardless of their age, location or hearing need,” says Kim.

To view Hearing Australia’s media release in full click here.

Image source: Katherine Times.

School not prison for kids under 14

ACOSS, the AMA along with NSW community, legal, and First Nations justice organisations have condemned the decision of the Meeting of Attorneys General to “support developing a proposal to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 including with regard to any carve outs, timing and discussion of implementation supports” as completely inadequate and failing to improve the lives of children and young people.

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that this proposal would not change the situation for more than 90% of children under 14 in prison. ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie, said: “this is not even a decision, it’s plan to develop a plan that will do nothing to save hundreds of children under 14 from languishing behind bars.”

To view the ACOSS media release in full click here.

Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

Cultural safety education for pharmacists

The Australian Pharmacy Council is exploring how to enhance cultural safety education of Australian pharmacy students. They have produced a podcast with pharmacists, Chastina Heck, a Nywaigi, Mamu, Bidjara woman, in conversation with Associate Professor Faye McMillan AM, a Wiradjuri woman, discussing Indigenous and western perspectives of health, global policies, and the benefits of embedding cultural safety in pharmacy education. A patient, Dr Jane Havelka, also talks about her experience with the health system as a First Nations woman.

For more information click here.

Image source: Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

A third miss school due to menstruation

Did you know, over one-third of young Australian women have missed at least one class in either school or university due to the pain of menstrual cramps and fatigue? And the stats begin to get much worse when Indigenous Australian communities come into play, hindering their chance to live life to the utmost fullest.

Research suggests this is due to the increasingly high cost of hygiene products and the embarrassment some young people feel when they’re on their period. Periods may seem like a physical phenomenon, and while it inherently is, the lack of sanitary items can seriously start to affect one’s mental health as they’re unable to cope with the profound shame and embarrassment they’re made to feel.

Last year, Victoria was the very first state in Australia to offer free sanitary items in all government schools. Commencing in term three in 2019, the $20.7 million initiative saw dispensing machines installed in every school. SA followed closely behind, announcing in February of this year that will also be providing free sanitary products to all female students in year five and above.

To view the full Pop Culture article click here.

Image source: Imperial College London.

Diabetic foot complications webinar

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). has hosted a Diabetic foot complications webinar. This webinar recording brings together experts from the five regions of the Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Sector (SA, NT, northern WA and Far North Queensland) to discuss the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Diabetes-related Foot Complications Program.

To access the webinar click here.

Image source: Diabetes Queensland.

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 Prematurity Day

World Prematurity Day is observed on 17 November each year to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide. Approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year, accounting for about one in 10 of all babies born worldwide.

For information about preterm births in Aboriginal populations click here and for more information about World Prematurity Day click here.