NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Months after floods, mob still homeless

Image in the feature tile of the Lismore floods in March 2022. Image source: Southern Cross University article Lismore floodwater enough to fill half of Sydney Harbour published on 23 May 2022.

Months after floods, mob still homeless

After moving accommodation five times in five months, Nyangbal and Dunghutti woman Teresa Anderson has had enough. The elder’s Cabbage Tree Island home, nestled on a flood plain of cane fields in northern NSW, was deemed uninhabitable after the February floods. She has been homeless since. “I’ve been moved around five times,” she said.  It’s taken a toll on my health. I couldn’t even cope, I couldn’t go to work. It just got me really emotional.” Teresa Anderson was in good health before the floods. But she believes a series of new health issues have been direct result of the grief and stress of being displaced. “Im struggling,” she said.

According to the Jali Local Aboriginal Land Council, today, almost six months after the disaster, about 500 of the 1,296 northern NSW residents that are still homeless are First Nations people.  “That tells me clearly that we’re disproportionate again in relation to the numbers of people that are homeless,” Widjabul man and Jali Land Council chief executive Chris said.

To view the ABC News article Indigenous families still homeless months after the floods, as leaders say First Nations people are being overlooked for rentals in full click here.

After moving five times in five months, Teresa Anderson says she’s had enough. Photo: Emma Rennie, ABC News.

Discrimination a key homelessness factor

WA Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, Dr John Byrne AM, says a lot of discussion is had about how to fix homelessness once it has occurred.  While Dr Byrne says “this discussion is an extremely important one as we do need more affordable housing and shelters for people who cannot access WA’s ever inflating rental market” he believes “it is important to explore one of the major factors that allows homelessness to occur – discrimination.”

Dr Byrne said he’d “like to do this by focusing on three of the major grounds of discrimination: sex, impairment and race, which also relates to three major cohorts within the homeless population.” Systemic race discrimination is also a contributing factor to homelessness.  Aboriginal people make up around 3% of the total population and 28% of the homeless population. This is also a community impacted greatly by systemic discrimination and bias in employment. Aboriginal people are under-represented in decision making roles at work and over-represented in unemployment, this is also exacerbated by over representation of Aboriginal people in our prison system. Prisoners often need to have housing before release on parole and may remain in prison at significant expense to the state due to lack of housing.

To view the WA.gov.au article From the Commissioner – Fix homelessness by addressing discrimination in full click here. A related WA Department of Communities news story Homelessness Week 2022 ends highlighting progress is possible if we work together mentions the success of Booloo Bidee Mia, a supported accommodation service for Perth CBD rough sleepers, and is available here.

Aboriginal people living in Victoria make up 8% of those sleeping rough, despite being only 1% of the population. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS NITV.

AMC mental health reforms criticised

The delivery of mental health services to detainees at Canberra’s Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) – particularly the 24% who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander – is ineffective, the Auditor-General declared in a March report. The ACT Government last week agreed to most of the report’s recommendations – 10 fully, eight in principle, and one noted, to be delivered through a different tool – by the end of 2023.

Aboriginal advocate Julie Tongs, head of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, which runs an autonomous Health and Wellbeing Clinic in the prison, is concerned some of these measures have been tried before and failed. “I feel like I’m in a time warp,” Ms Tongs said. “It’s a challenging environment, but why waste money when money’s short on the ground?”

Nor, she said, was Winnunga consulted; decisions were made without them. “All the buzz about co-design – the decision’s already been made – so how do you co-design around that? What role do we now have to play in that, when we weren’t at the table to discuss any of this?” Government, she says, must have a discussion or a roundtable to sort this out; she is keen to sit down with stakeholders and work out their processes and expectations.

To view the Canberra Weekly article ‘Time warp’: Winnunga critical of mental health reforms at AMC in full click here.

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Photo: Ian Cutmore, ABC News.

Palliative Care Clinic Box launched today

caring@home today launched its Palliative Care Clinic Box which contains a suite of tailored resources to support the provision of palliative care at home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The launch, taking place at the Compass Conference in Darwin, follows an 18-month nationwide consultation process with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, health professionals in specialist and generalist services and relevant peak bodies.

Project Director, Professor Liz Reymond said the resources can support the provision of at home palliative care symptom management. “When care at home is preferred, it can be provided to help connect family, culture, community, Country and the spiritual wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” This project is funded by the Australian Government and is conducted by a consortium involving Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives and Palliative Care Australia (CATSINaM) and is led by the Brisbane South Palliative Care Collaborative.

The caring@home Palliative Care Clinic Box is free and can be ordered from the caring@home website here. You can view the caring@home media release about the launch of its Palliative Care Clinic Box here.

Caleb follows pathway to healthcare job

As part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander career pathway day, Far North Queensland Indigenous students have been given a glimpse into the world of healthcare. Revolving around the opportunities available at Mater Private Hospital in Townsville, students from the region’s high schools attended an information day where they learnt about the healthcare needs of First Nations people and Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander traineeships. Mater Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison officer Beth Hickson said the career day provided students with meaningful pathways they might not have otherwise known about.

One student who has benefited from the program is Caleb Baker, who recently won the school-based apprentice or trainee of the year. Mr Baker is currently working at the Mater Private Hospital while completing his Certificate III in health services assistance. “I was nervous about how I would transition from school to work, but just being acknowledged as someone who can work hard has made me feel really good about it,” he said.

Since he was young, Mr Baker has always wanted to make an impact. He cites empowering fellow Indigenous folk in healthcare as one of his main goals, with sights set on how better healthcare could help close the gap. “Having more Indigenous people in the health industry can help break down those barriers. It would make Indigenous people who are seeking help about their health feel a lot more comfortable, Mr Baker said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Caleb Baker’s life goal help people through healthcare, and it all started with a hospital work placement in full click here.

Mater Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison officer Beth Hickson, Caleb Baker and Seed Foundation engagement officer De’arne French. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Health sector must lead on climate change

Over 300 people, including the Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly, attended the AMA and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) webinar – Climate change and sustainability: leadership and action from Australian doctors earlier this week.

Laureate Professor Nicholas Talley outlined the duty medical professionals have in treating climate change as a global health emergency, and Professor Alexandra Barratt highlighted the carbon footprint of low value care. Eleven medical colleges provided updates on the climate action they are taking, and highlighted specific climate change health impacts related to their specialty.

Professor Robson wrapped up the webinar saying “As President of the AMA, I seek a strong and united coalition for action because I don’t think we have any time to lose. As a profession, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to bequeath a heathy planet to our children and their children. “Climate change will have health effects on a scale that people are barely able to comprehend. We’re already seeing a series of rolling health crises around the world, but these are just the beginning. We’re facing the prospect of literally billions of climate refugees across the planet, it’s a crisis so enormous that it’s almost impossible to grasp.”

You can read The National Tribune article AMA & DEA urge health sector to lead on climate change here and the joint AMA and DEA media release Governments and the healthcare sector must lead on climate change here.

Photo: Adobe Stock. Image source: Healio.

High-tech, low-resource medical training

Port Augusta is embracing its medical practitioners – or kulpi minupa – of the future. The town’s residents are in the midst of hosting an eight-week placement by seven second-year medical students. The aspiring GPs, dubbed “cloud doctors” in the Nukunu dialect, have spent time at the flying doctor service, the hospital and Aboriginal health services to gain an insight into what it would be like working in the country, potentially at Port Augusta.

In what is a new way of medical training, the Adelaide Rural Clinical School linked with the Indigenous community, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the University of Adelaide to launch the Kulpi Minupa Program. Student Tarran Dunn, who was among a group of undergraduates from Adelaide, NSW, Tasmania and elsewhere, said the experience would shape “the rest of our lives and skills in medicine” He said he and his colleagues had spent time with interns and surgical registrars at the hospital as well as gained an insight into Aboriginal health.

Professor Lucie Walters, director of the clinical school, said the scheme was a “high-tech, low-resource” medical training approach. “If we want to create the next generation of rural doctors to work at the flying doctor service and in remote Australia, we need to train them for the environment in which we want them to work,” she said. “The program brings Aboriginal medical students and rurally-based students to Port Augusta where we are piloting the kind of technology that we need to teach them to work in places such as Port Augusta, Cummins, Arkaroola or Roxby Downs.” The students will work at the ACCHO, Pika Wiya Health Service.

To read The Transcontinental Port Augusta article Port Augusta rolls out the welcome mat for second-year university medical students in full click here.

Image source: Pika Wiya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation Facebook page.

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: Transforming First Nations nursing education

The image in the feature tile is of midwives Mel Briggs and Kady Colman wearing Sister Scrubs, a new uniform for First Nations midwives to create awareness about the unacceptably high mortality rate of First Nations women and babies. Image source: NITV Radio website.

Transforming First Nations nursing education

Bold recommendations for transforming nursing and midwifery education will be unveiled in a new report to be launched at the 25th Anniversary National Conference of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM). The report, ‘gettin em n keepin em n growin em’ – Strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and Midwifery Education Reform, will include strategies to privilege Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery knowledges and embed Cultural Safety across all domains of nursing and midwifery education.

“Its recommendations are bold and practical, emphasising who should act and how,” says Professor Roianne West, the CEO of CATSINaM, a descendant of the Kalkadoon and Djunke peoples. Since the release of the first iteration of this report in 2002, Professor West says there has been negligible improvement in the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander registered nurses and midwives. “We are far off the necessary numbers completing tertiary programs to ensure parity is reached in the near future,” she said.

Significantly, the conference will also include a National Apology from the Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery about the role of nursing and midwifery education and research in contributing to the harm and ongoing suffering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives.

To view the CATSINaM media release CATSINaM making news at 25th Anniversary National Conference in full click here.

Image source: Northern Health Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery career pathways webpage.

Improving health research experiences for mob

Yesterday the University of Newcastle launched a new national study Murru Minya that aims to understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s experiences and involvement in health research. The Murru Minya project is led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers with the desire to improve the way all research is conducted with, and for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. You can find more details on the project’s website here.

Dr Michelle Kennedy, Wiradjuri woman and lead researcher said “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the knowledge holders, it is our job to appropriately capture their voices, experiences and directives to improve the conduct of health research into the future”.

The project has launched a short community survey for Aboriginal Community Organisation’s to share their experience of research. Communities can also opt in to hold Yarning Circles with the research team over the next 12 months to share more details and directives for research into the future.

The Murru Minya survey can be accessed here.

Members of Murru Minya research team. Image source: Murru Minya website.

Push to ban junk food adverts aimed at kids

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) have welcomed the push for the Federal Government to ban junk food advertising aimed at children by Independent MP Dr Sophie Scamps. The RACP have been recently advocating for this through the Kids COVID Catch Up campaign which is calling for mandatory regulations to restrict the marketing of unhealthy diets to children and young people.

RACP President and Paediatrician Dr Jacqueline Small says, “The widespread advertising of unhealthy foods and drinks is strongly linked to high child obesity rates. In 2017 to 2018, almost one quarter or Australian children aged 5-17 years were overweight or obese. This is a concerning statistic. The Federal Government must recognise this and take immediate action to establish formal standards to protect children and young people from unhealthy food marketing.”

To view the RACGP media release Physicians support push to ban junk food advertising aimed at children click here.

Last year NACCHO made a submission, available here, to the Department of Health on the National Obesity Prevention Strategy supporting efforts to restrict/ban advertising and marketing of unhealthy food, especially to children.

Image source: Priceless SA website.

GP in training returns to Central Australia

For Dr Ellie Woodward, the first time she experienced the landscape and community of the NT was enough to bring her back. Originally from NZ, Dr Woodward moved across the Tasman Sea in 2012 to study medicine in Sydney. It was during this time she was given the opportunity to travel to the NT or an elective placement with the Royal Darwin Hospital physician outreach service. ‘I was immediately drawn to the incredible country and cultures of the Territory,’ Dr Woodward said. “I came back as soon as I could.”

After working as a registrar in medicine and public health in Darwin, she began her GP training in Alice Springs in 2021. Since then, there has never been a dull moment for the GP in training, who this year is splitting her training between the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and the Alice Springs Centre for Disease Control, in addition to completing dual training on the Australian GP Training (AGPT) and an Extended Skills Post in Public Health with the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine.

All the while she is being enriched by what her surroundings offer. “It’s a privilege to live and work on Arrernte Country, and I’ve been fortunate to engage in two-way learning with patients and colleagues here to learn more about central desert cultures,” Dr Woodward said. “I’ve been hooked by the close-knit community, natural surroundings and unique medicine of Central Australia, and look forward to continuing my practice here after finishing training.”

To view the RACGP newsGP article ‘I came back as soon as I could’: Why this GP in training is staying rural in full click here.

Dr Ellie Woodward is a GP in training and public health registrar at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, Alice Springs Centre for Disease Control. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

COVID casts doubt on trachoma target

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Senator Malandirri McCarthy is having ongoing discussions about the previous government’s target to eliminate trachoma by 2025, as the COVID pandemic continues to impact health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. Senator McCarthy told ABC News that overcoming trachoma is one of her priorities, but she would need to fully appreciate the situation before she could set a timeline. She said she would be talking to experts to see what could be done to eradicate the eye disease, which has been successfully eliminated in countries including Cambodia, Ghana, and Mexico, but not yet in Australia.

“I’m incredibly mindful we’re still in a pandemic with COVID, and I know that many communities across the country were isolated and the ability for trachoma and any other health programs to be carried out was severely limited, if not completely stopped, and we have to recognise that,” McCarthy said. “What I would like to see in my role as Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health is to ensure that we pick it up again and run with it, to get rid of trachoma in our country.”

To view the Insight News article COVID casts doubt on target to stamp out trachoma in full click here.

More severe cases of trachoma are treated with antibiotics or surgery but the best way to prevent the disease is better hygiene. Photo: The University Of Melbourne. Image source: The Guardian.

Wounds conference – First Nations focus

After a temporary move online in 2020 due to COVID-related restrictions, Wounds Australia’s biannual wounds conference is returning to Sydney this September. To be held at the ICC Sydney from 14–17 September 2022, the conference will bring together leading experts and clinicians to share their insights and experience in working with wounds.

Presentations in the program will explore this year’s theme: ‘Time to unite, time to heal, time to innovate’, with a special focus on Indigenous health care, in recognition of the need to close the gap between the quality of wound care provision in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Keynote addresses by James Charles and Lesley Salem will discuss Indigenous healthcare initiatives.

Wounds Australia Chair Hayley Ryan said, “As the peak body for wound prevention, diagnosis, treatment and healing in Australia, we are committed to ensuring that Australians receive the best possible wound care. Our national conference is one part of that commitment, helping our hardworking healthcare professionals stay up to date with technological advances and scientific innovations in the area.”

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article Wounds Australia Conference — keynote speakers announced click here.

ANU cybernetics scholarships for mob

The ANU Master of Applied Cybernetics is the world’s first graduate program focusing on the challenges of ensuring AI systems are safe, sustainable and responsible. Masters students participate in a range of educational experiences and research projects at the School of Cybernetics and beyond to consider: who is building, managing and decommissioning our AI-enabled future?

The the School of Cybernetics sees equity of access to their education programs as important. They believe diversity and inclusivity are a MUST if we are to build the future. People from all walks of life are needed to build that future. A future that is safe, responsible and sustainable for all of humanity. With this in mind, and to increase diversity within the School, new scholarship opportunities, named in honour of Florence Violet McKenzie, Australia’s first female electrical engineer, and the founder of the Women’s Emergency Signalling Corps in the Australian Defence Forces in 1939, are being offered, including a targeted Florence Violet McKenzie Indigenous scholarship opportunity for the 2023 Master of Applied Cybernetics program.

You can access an information sheet on the Florence Violent McKenzie Master of Applied Cybernetics scholarships for Indigenous students here.

Image source: University of Texas website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: International Day of Indigenous Peoples

The image in the feature tile shows bush tucker as part of the connectedness with the land and each other that nourishes body and soul in Indigenous communities. Photo: Paul Miller, AAP. Image source: The Conversation 24 June 2015.

International Day of Indigenous Peoples

The Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge

On 9 August, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (IDWIP) is celebrated globally. This year’s theme is: “The Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge”.

“Indigenous women are the backbone of Indigenous peoples’ communities and play a crucial role in the preservation and transmission of traditional ancestral knowledge. They have an integral collective and community role as carers of natural resources and keepers of scientific knowledge.” The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Indigenous Peoples IDWIP 2022

On IDWIP it is important to note that according to the Law Council of Australia (LCA) despite announcing support for the UN Declaration of Rights on Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in 2009, Australian governments and parliaments are yet to recognise and implement its standards in a formal and comprehensive way (see LCA media release Australian must formally adopt UNDRIP here).

In June this year NACCHO provided a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs into the application of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in Australia. In their submission, NACCHO’s made nine recommendations, including:

  • the Australian Government introduce legislative measures to enact the UNDRIP into Commonwealth law, in line with the UNDRIP Article 38.
  • there be acknowledgement of the key role ACCHOs have played in paving the way for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination
  • the National Agreement on Closing the Gap be acknowledged as a critical precursor for full enactment of the UNDRIP.

You can read NACCHO’s submission in full here.

Image source: World Vision website.

National Stroke Week

This week marks National Stroke Week Monday 8 – Sunday 14 August 2022, an annual campaign run by Australia’s Stroke Foundation. The Stroke Foundation was set up 1983 to conduct research to improve the treatment of diseases impacting the brain and nervous system. When stroke emerged as one of Australia’s top health priorities, the focus of the changed to be exclusively on stroke and in 1996 the National Stroke Foundation was established.

The ambitions that informed early research efforts continue to inform the Foundation’s primary objectives, which are to champion innovative stroke research and treatments; to advocate for widespread access to these innovative treatments; to educate health professionals in delivering best-practice care for stroke sufferers; and, to raise public awareness about preventing and recognising stroke.

National Stroke Week helps the Foundation achieve its primary objectives by providing a platform with which to roll out stroke education and awareness to the general public about identifying and managing the signs of stroke. The focus of this year’s National Stroke Week is to spread the F.A.S.T signs of stroke message among family and friends, so that stroke casualties can receive medical attention early, and thereby continue to enjoy more of life’s precious moments.

For more information about National Stroke Week visit the Stroke Foundation website here.

Black nurses and midwives stories exhibition

A new exhibition charting the activist history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives will for the first time privilege and recognise CATSINaM’s trailblazing women and men, spanning seven decades from the 1950s to the present. CATSINaM CEO, Professor Roianne West, said the “In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses and Midwives Stories National Exhibition” was a “must see” for every Australian nurse and midwife.

“It’s an opportunity to see nursing and midwifery in Australia through the eyes of Australia’s First Nations nurses and midwives,” said Professor West, a descendant of the Kalkadoon and Djunke peoples. “Our nurses and midwives experienced so much adversity in their training and working lives, but they fought every step of the way for justice and equity for those who would follow them. Our Elders and our leaders want our young people to hear these stories.”

Auntie Dr Doseena Fergie OAM, a member of CATSINaM’s Elders Circle, said the exhibition highlighted CATSINaM’s goal since its inception to increase the recruitment and retention of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce. “This exhibition pays tribute to the courage of these trailblazers then, and professional role models since, who actively challenged the health system that ostracised First Australians, and who now advocate for culturally safe health services for Mob. The intimate, private, and heart-wrenching stories told will penetrate the hearts and souls of even the most hardened hearer,” she said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Previewing a “must see” exhibition: In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses and Midwives Stories in full click here.

Gudanji and Garrwa woman Jayvina Raggett recreates a nursing scene from the 1960s for “In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses and Midwives Stories” exhibition. Photo courtesy CATSINaM. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Critical need for allied health workers

A new report has revealed alarming shortages and increasing staff turnover rates of allied health workers across the country, which could put people with disability at risk. The data, released by the peak body for disability, National Disability Services (NDS), is part of its latest Workforce Census Report and found difficulty accessing allied health services was a contributing factor to underutilisation of NDIS funds, particularly for remote areas.

The report also states the data may point to the long-term national neglect of allied health workforce needs, which it finds the NDIS National Workforce Plan is unlikely to effectively address. NDS CEO Laurie Leigh said the report shines a light on the continued disruption the sector has faced over the last financial year, with urgent need for collaboration between industry and government.

“It is clear from the findings in this annual census report that the disability workforce is still feeling the ongoing impact of COVID-19,” she said. “With the Federal Government Job and Skills Summit coming up in a few weeks, now is the time for the government and providers to come together to ensure we are moving forward with the right measures to ensure disability workforces are supported during this turbulent period for the sector. This report also highlights the ongoing issues faced by the disability sector in recruiting the allied health workforce needed, especially to provide services in remote and very remote areas.”

To view The National Tribune article New report shows critical need for allied health workers, as wait lists grow across country in full click here.

Gunyangara Clinic. Image source: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation website.

Indigenous data governance

In 2016, Professor Tahu Kukutai and Emeritus Professor John Taylor from ANU’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research asked, “what does data sovereignty mean for Indigenous peoples, and how is it being used in their pursuit of self-determination?”. These were just two of the questions addressed by 183 Indigenous data users, data scientists, researchers and government and community representatives at the Indigenous Data Governance and Sovereignty Roundtable by the Indigenous Data Network (IDN) in Narrm at the University of Melbourne.

The Roundtable, convened by Professor Marcia Langton, Dr Kristen Smith, Dr Vanessa Russ and Levi-Craig Murray, was an important step in the IDN’s project – Improving Indigenous Research Capabilities: An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Data Commons. Its objective is to build national Indigenous research capabilities, framed by a set of agreed Indigenous governance principles that can leverage existing data assets and link them to new and existing data.

To view The National Tribune article Indigenous data governance for 21st century click here.

Many institutions won’t permit researchers to see these materials without “permission from communities”. Picture: Getty Images. Image source: University of Melbourne online magazine Pursuit.

Australia-first health and wellbeing campus

The McGowan Government is set to begin work on a unique, Australian-first health and wellbeing campus that will focus on culturally appropriate care for the Broome community. The Yinajalan Ngarrungunil (Care for People) Broome Health and Wellbeing Campus will take shape on Dora Street on land owned by Nyamba Buru Yawuru (NBY), the operational company of the Yawuru people – Traditional Owners of the land and waters in and around Rubibi (Broome). The McGowan Government has allocated $8 million to the project’s subdivision consultancy and civil works. Broome business Roadline Civil Contractors will undertake the project, helping to support local jobs. The campus will combine a holistic range of new facilities and services with a focus on enhancing the delivery of collaborative healthcare services in Broome.

To view the media release click here.

Nyamba Buru Yawuru CEO Nini Mills and WA Premier Mark McGowan, centre, with Yawuru staff and government members. Picture: Yawuru Image source: National Indigenous Times.

End of Cashless Debit Card welcome

The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia welcomes the Albanese Government’s introduction into Parliament of legislation to abolish the Cashless Debit Card. ‘The Society has been a leading voice calling for the abolition of the Cashless Debit Card,’ said National President Ms Claire Victory. ‘We have held concerns that this approach has had significant unintended and expensive consequences across Government and the community, including social exclusion and stigmatisation, increased financial hardship, and the erosion of autonomy and dignity. ‘The Society believes the best form of assistance is the type that helps people to feel, and recover, their own dignity, as this empowers them and enables them to forge ahead and change their own destinies and those of their local communities.

To view the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia’s media release Legislation to abolish cashless debit card welcome – St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia click here.

Image source: The Guardian.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Save the Date

(insert text)

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Recognising First Nations health workers

The image in the feature tile is from a post on the the Aboriginal Health Council of SA (AHCSA) Facebook page, 7 August 2022.

Recognising First Nations health workers

Every year on 7 August the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) invites the health sector and all Australians to help celebrate the achievements and evolution of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Health Practitioner workforce.

The Aboriginal Health Council of SA (AHCSA) has explained that “within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community this workforce is renowned as a vital and reliable resource critical to improved health and wellbeing outcomes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners work on the frontline of Australia’s primary health care system. They are rarely part of the fly in fly out workforce, but instead have a lived experience in and deep understanding of the communities they serve. Their combination of clinical, cultural, social and linguistic skills delivers an engagement capability and community reach that sets them apart from others working in the health care system.”

“They act as cultural brokers; health system navigators; and provide a high standard of culturally safe and responsive primary health care. Their ability to respond to the clinical, social and cultural needs and contexts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities positions them as unique among Health Professionals.”

On the National Day of Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners and everyday, thank you to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners for their hard work supporting the community, keeping our mob’s health in our own hands.

You can read the NAATSIHWP media release National Day of Recognition for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners here.

Alarming rise in First Nations suicide

Ashleigh-Sue Chatters was sketching designs for her butterfly tattoo in the weeks before her death. Having struggled with mental illness since her teenage years, the 28-year-old Palawa woman told her mother the delicate insect planned for her upper arm was an ode to her will to live. “To her, the butterfly was a symbol of survival and that she hadn’t given up on herself yet, even though the system had given up on her,” her mother Tara Chatters said. Ashleigh had spent numerous inpatient stints in Victoria’s burdened mental health system. In February she was admitted to Dandenong hospital’s psychiatric unit, in Melbourne. She took her own life there four days later on 25 February.

Tara believes the biggest barrier her daughter faced was systemic racism in the mental health sector that undermined her ability to get culturally appropriate treatment. “She was labelled just another black fella. They thought well, this is just how they are and it’s a waste of time helping her,” Tara says. “They would look at her as an Aboriginal girl and think she was a drug addict even when the test results didn’t show that. I don’t want another Aboriginal girl to die because people just look at her like she’s not worth saving.”

Ashleigh’s death is part of alarming increase in First Nations suicide in Victoria. Thelest datafrom the state coroner revealed 35 Indigenous Victorians took their own life last year, a 75% increase, despite a drop in suicide in the state’s broader population. It is a trend that is also replicated nationally, where the rate of Indigenous suicide has nearly doubled in the past decade.

To read The Guardian article ‘I’m scared someone else will lose their child this way’: the alarming rise in First Nations suicide in full click here.

Ashleigh-Sue’s brother Wade Chatters and mum Tara. Photo: Jackson Gallagher, Guardian Australia.

Remote community cost of living crisis

With grocery bills rapidly increasing due to supply chain issues and rising inflation, all Australians are feeling the pinch. But in remote Aboriginal communities, the situation is even more dire. A social media post of a receipt from the Docker River store in the remote indigenous community of Kaltukatjara, in the NT – where many families already live close to the breadline – showed a 2L bottle of Pura Milk cost $9.20. While supermarket chain Aldi has warned grocery prices will “inevitably” continue to rise after the inflation rate surged to 6.1%, by comparison, at a Sydney Woolworths, the same product this week cost $3.10.

A 2021 AMSANT report showed groceries were 56% more expensive in remote communities than regional supermarkets in the NT due to poor quality roads and long supply chains. Back in December 2021 during the Morrison government’s Food Security inquiry, the then WA Treasurer, Ben Wyatt, said “Improving food security and making affordable, fresh and nutritious foods more available in remote indigenous communities is an important part of improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” According to a Docker River resident “Nothing has been done” to since then to resolve the cost of living crisis.

To view the news.com.au article ‘Disgusting’: Outrage over cost of living crisis in Aboriginal township where 2L of milk costs $9.20 in full click here.

Two litres of Pura milk now costs $9.20 in Kaltukatjara, in the Northern Territory, showing the dire cost of living crisis in the remote indigenous communities. Image source: news.com.au.

Diabetes rate among world’s highest

Selina and Rhonda Bob are waiting for a lifesaving phone call — one that could be years away. Their kidneys are failing, and they hope they won’t have to wait too long on the organ transplant list. Every week, the sisters are bound to a chair for 16 hours as their blood is pumped out of their bodies and filtered through a dialysis machine. The pair were both diagnosed with diabetes – a disease that can damage the kidneys — at a staggeringly young age. And in this isolated pocket of the world, these sisters are not alone in their prognosis.

New research has found that rates of diabetes in Central Australia are amongst the highest ever seen worldwide – and they are getting worse, with more people diagnosed every year at far younger ages than ever seen before. The lead author is Matthew Hare, an endocrinologist at Royal Darwin Hospital and senior research officer at Menzies School of Health Research, said the new research showed a growing diabetes epidemic in remote NT communities, which was “unprecedented in terms of prevalence. Rates of diabetes in these remote communities are increasing such that now 29% of adults in remote Aboriginal communities are living with diabetes, and this is largely type 2 diabetes. The findings of our research were particularly concerning for the Central Australian region where communities are having diabetes prevalence rates up to 40% of adults.”

You can read the ABC News article Diabetes rates in Central Australia among highest in the world, new research shows in full here.

Selina and Rhonda Bob spend 16 hours a week on dialysis, but they are doing everything in their power to live a healthy lifestyle. Photo: Xavier Martin, ABC News.

GP role in primary mental health care

Tim Senior, a GP at Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation and a Senior Lecturer in General Practice and Indigenous Health at Western Sydney School of Medicine is one of nine GPs who have contributed to an article Myth-busting: role of the GP in primary mental health care published in MJA InSight (a newsletter for medical professionals produced by the Medical Journal of Australia) today.

The authors write “In recent years, we GPs have seen a steep increase in mental distress, and the cracks in the system that fail the most vulnerable are familiar to us all. We are well aware of the enormous unmet need for mental health care at this time and we agree with Rosenberg and Hickie, who wrote in InSight+ recently that primary mental health care reform is long overdue. Where we disagree is in our understanding of the problem and in particular, the role of GPs in contributing to the current mental health crisis and its various solutions.

The article authors said “We [GPs] are the best value mental health care in the country using less than 3% of the total mental health budget to see the majority of the patients needing community care. Current underfunding added to rhetoric that alienates and misrepresents GPs seems a counterproductive strategy if we are to provide better mental health outcomes for all Australians.”

To read the article in full click here.

Dr Tim Senior. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

AMSANT CEO – do alcohol bans work?

There’s been furious debate about the future and safety of hundreds of remote communities in the NT after alcohol restrictions imposed under the NT Emergency Response in 2007 were lifted last month. The NT Government says the intervention era bans were racist, and passed legislation in May this year, giving affected communities the ability to choose or “opt in” if they want alcohol bans.

A similar debate is happening in WA where the Director of Liquor Licensing is investigating whether all mid and full-strength alcohol should be banned from takeaway sales in the Pilbara and Kimberley. But do bans like this actually effect change in communities?

In an ABC Radio National broadcast John Paterson – CEO of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT, Marianne Nungarri Skeen – Jaru Woman from Halls Creek region, former health worker and Harold Tracey – Broome Shire President discuss the issue.

To listen to the ABC Radio National broadcast The Roundtable: Are alcohol restrictions in remote communities working? click here.

Signs are supplied to premises that opt into the liquor restriction scheme, which is enforceable by WA Police. Image source: ABC Radio National website.

CATSINaM conference 18–20 August

The Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) is holding its 25th Anniversary National Conference from Thursday 18 to Saturday 20 August 2022.  The 4 event series, Opening, Exhibition, Conference and Gala Dinner celebrating 25 years since the organisation was founded on Gadigal Country in 1997 to the day, will commemorate and honour both individual and collective activism by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner will deliver a keynote address on the first day of the conference on 19 August 2022 and LaVerne Bellear Bundjalung, CEO of Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service will be a guest speaker.

To view a CATSINaM conference flyer click here and click here to access the CATSINaM National Conference website page

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Bumper raise criminal age petition

The image in the feature tile is from a 29 July 2020 Happy Mag article The call to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Australia has been denied.

Bumper raising criminal age petition

More than 200,000 people nationwide have petitioned the Federal Government to take action to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14. Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney met with representatives from Change the Record and other human rights, legal and First Nations-led organisations who handed over the petition on Tuesday this week.

Change the Record co-chair Cheryl Axleby said the petition delivered a clear message from1,000s of Australians who want to see children looked after. “We are calling on every state and territory government to heed the medical, legal and child development experts who have been crystal clear; no child under the age of 14 years old should be arrested, hauled before a court or convicted of a criminal offence.”

A spokesperson for Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the Federal government could take leadership on the matter which has traditionally been managed by state governments. “It’s sad fact that a significant number of children held in detention are Indigenous children and we need to invest in programs to tackle the unacceptably high rate of incarceration of Indigenous Australians.”

To read the National Indigenous Times article AG leaves door open to change as bumper criminal age petition handed to Federal Govt in full click here.

Image source: Amnesty International.

UN urges child detention overhaul

A leading Indigenous international human rights law expert has urged the Federal Government to ratify a key protocol on children’s rights to assist youth in detention. United Nations (UN) Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues expert member Hannah McGlade said while Australia had ratified the Convention, children still did not have the right to appeal human rights violations effectively with international agencies. “Children and youth are people who don’t have a voice,” she said.

“We particularly need to elevate their voices in terms of human rights issues, access to justice, and access to international human rights law mechanisms.” Ms McGlade said minors recently sent to a maximum security adult prison in WA could use the protocol, if ratified, to lodge a complaint. “We have adults in that position, former Banksia Hill detainees now in adult prison, who are talking about killing themselves,” she said. “Indigenous children and youth are particularly denied a voice, we especially need to advocate their rights through the communications process of this system.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article UN Indigenous experts urge Australia to overhaul child detention shame in full click here.

Image source: The West Australian.

Better support for mob with breast cancer

Indigenous Australians affected by breast cancer will benefit from important revisions to a Cancer Australia guide for health workers. Cancer Australia revised its widely-used Breast Cancer Handbook for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners in consultation with Indigenous health experts and leaders.

The Handbook provides information on breast cancer detection, diagnosis, treatment, and support. Following community and health worker feedback, the revised edition includes advice on supporting social and emotional wellbeing, palliative care, and breast cancer in men, and has been a critical resource for many Indigenous health workers, helping to build their knowledge and skills to improve outcomes for breast cancer patients. It also contains information on breast cancer symptoms and encourages breast cancer screening.

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy said “Social support and emotional care for those affected by breast cancer are just as important as physical care during treatment. This evidence-based Handbook gives our dedicated health workers the tools they need to provide culturally appropriate care and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and expertly guide them through their cancer journey.”

The Handbook is available on the Cancer Australia website here.

Artwork by Yorta Yorta, Wemba Wemba, Mutti Mutti and Wiradjuri artist, Alkina Edwards for use on Aboriginal breast screening shawl. Image source: CancerScreen VIC.

QLD mob to lead CTG initiatives

Doomadgee will lead a state-first “closing the gap” pilot to identify how best to roll-out priority programs like health, housing, and early childhood in First Nations communities in Queensland. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford said the best chance to reach the 17 targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap was through community-led decision making.

He said the pilot program in Doomadgee comes ahead of a history-making Path to Treaty launch by the Palaszczuk Government on16  August 2022. “Our approach now places First Nations people at the centre of decision-making,” Mr Crawford said. “We recognise that a shift in how we develop and implement government policies and programs is needed to ensure significant improvements in life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This represents a new way of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – together, in partnership.”

To view the media statement First Nations peoples to lead ‘closing the gap’ initiatives in Queensland released earlier today by QLD Minister for Seniors and Disability Services and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships the Honorable Craig Crawford, click here.

Photo: Allyson Horn, ABC Brisbane.

AHW Georgie supports Ngarrindjeri mob

Georgie Trevorrow is a pillar in the Murray Bridge Ngarrindjeri community that seeks to support the entire community. Georgie was employed as a Community Cultural Development Officer for the Rural City of Murray Bridge (RCMB) for nearly seven years, until Moorundi received funding. When Moorundi received their funding, Georgie transferred from the RCMB and continued her position with the new ability to spread her wings in an Aboriginal organisation. “

Georgie decided at the young age of 19 that she wanted to make a difference within the community and began studying the Aboriginal Primary Healthcare certificate. Her study had to be put on the backburner as Georgie had two children, but it was when her certificate was complete that she saw doors start to open for her “I became an Aboriginal health worker (AHW), and just worked with my community, and I just loved it,” Georgie said. “My background is in health, but it’s so much broader, it’s not just taking your temperature and your blood pressure and going to the doctors.”

To read the Murray Valley Standard article Georgie Trevorrow, singing and supporting the Ngarrindjeri community in full click here.

Georgie Trevorrow in front of Moorundi Ink’s artwork for a children’s book. Photo: Sam Lowe. Image source: The Murray Valley Standard.

Winnunga Newsletter July 2022

The July 2022 edition of the Winnunga Newsletter is out now and available here.

This edition is jam-packed with articles, updates and information including:

  • Our Booris Our Way Press Release
  • From The Warehouse Of Broken Promises
  • Archie Roach – A Great Australian Taken Away – Again
  • Time For a Progress Report On Raising The Age
  • Minister Apologises For Treaty Consultation ‘Hurt’
  • And You Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Worse!

Sector Jobs

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

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

Dental Health Week

Dental Health Week (DHW) is the Australian Dental Association’s (ADA) major annual oral health campaign. It takes place each year in the first full week of August, this year from Monday 1 to Sunday 7 August. The campaign focuses on the importance of taking steps to care for your teeth and gums to help you to keep your teeth and smile for life. The ADA’s main oral health messages and the four key messages of the DHW campaign: brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste; floss; eat a healthy diet; and have regular dentist visits, aim to reinforce the importance of maintaining good oral heal of the to keep your teeth for life.

According to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience poor oral health such as multiple caries and untreated dental disease, and are less likely to have received preventive dental care. The oral health status of Indigenous Australians, like all Australians, is influenced by many factors but in particular a tendency towards unfavourable dental visiting patterns, broadly associated with accessibility, cost and a lack of cultural awareness by some service providers. To view the AIHW report in full click here.

You can find more information about DHW on the ADA website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: On Children’s Day, hear voices of the future

The image in the feature tile is of Brooklyn Goodwin, kutalayna Collective and Pacey Riley, kanamaluka Collective. Both photos were taken by Kata Glover, Digital Communications Officer, Connected Beginnings, lutruwita.

On Children’s Day, hear voices of the future

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (Children’s Day) is celebrated across Australia each year on 4 August. Historically this was the date used to celebrate the birthdays of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were taken from their families at a young age, without knowing their birthday –  they became known as being part of the Stolen Generations.

Now, Children’s Day is a time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities to celebrate the strength and culture of our children. The theme for this year’s Children’s Day is ‘My Dreaming, My Future’ – which askes our kids to reflect on what the Dreaming means to them, their lives, their identity, and the aspirations for the future.

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), the national peak body in Australia representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, actively supports and promotes Children’s Day.

TAC program supports strong beginnings

On National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, NACCHO would like to highlight the innovative work done towards improving the lives of our kids and building better outcomes for them by our affiliate, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), an ACCHO for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.

The Connected Beginnings program aims to improve health, educational, developmental, and social outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-5 years to ensure every child is ready for the transition to school.

The program is delivered under an innovative Collective Impact framework that aims to elevate the Aboriginal community’s voice, support integrated service provision, advocate for culturally safe and appropriate services and facilitate positive actions to improve community outcomes.

TAC Chief Operations Officer and Program Director, Raylene Foster says, “A program like Connected Beginnings is vital to improving the whole ecosystem of service delivery for Aboriginal children.  This place-based program is essential for the successful delivery and utilisation of mainstream programs and child health, social, educational and development needs for Aboriginal children, to be delivered through an Aboriginal lens”.

The success of the Connected Beginnings program at kutalayna (Brighton), has led to the program’s expansion to two new sites in pataway (Burnie) and kanamaluka (George Town and Northern Suburbs Launceston). The expansion is a testament to the great work being carried out at TAC and to their ongoing commitment towards improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Connected Beginnings in pataway will be officially launched in tandem with the celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.

The program is jointly funded by the Department of Health and Aged Care and the Department of Education. TAC is the recipient of both streams of Connected Beginnings funding from the Departments and delivers the program across lutruwita, Tasmania.

  • read the kutalyana Collective media release here
  • read a related National Indigenous Times article here
  • listen to an ABC News radio (Northern Tasmania) interview with Chloe Woolnough from TAC and Project Manager of Connected Beginnings, lutruwita, here.

Background Information

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

The program demonstrates how change can be made within the new Closing the Gap partnership arrangements and how transformation can happen if everyone has a shared vision, trust, and commitment. The success of Connected Beginnings in lutruwita is being celebrated across the country, highlighting how, through Aboriginal community control, meaningful and lasting systems changes are best achieved.

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

katalayna Collective logo, Francis Ketley, katalayna Collective, Leveigh Bernes, kanamaluka Collective, Isabella Romanelli, pataway Collective. Photos: Kate Glover.

COVID vax for kids with comorbidities

The Australian Government has accepted the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommendations for COVID vaccination use in children 6 months to <5 years of age with significant comorbidities and these children will be eligible for a vaccine from Monday 5 September 2022.

The ATAGI have released a statement ATAGI recommendations on COVID-19 vaccine use in children aged 6 months to <5 years which is available on the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care website here.

Of particular note:

  • there are eligibility conditions for the vaccine and most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children WILL NOT be eligible for the vaccine. Only children with immunosuppression, significant comorbidities or a disability that requires significant assistance with daily activities will be eligible
  • the Department of Health and Aged Care is engaging ACCHOs around vaccination for this age group, with webinars with ACCHOs organised for next week to discuss how to support access for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait children, particularly in rural and remote areas.

Occupational therapist at Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS). Image source: WACHS website.

Call for First Nations first responders

When Lismore was hit with its biggest flood in recorded history, national Indigenous newspaper the Koori Mail responded quickly to the needs of the community. The newspaper’s general manager Naomi Moran said she was able to salvage laptops and hard drives, but the building and most of its contents were destroyed. In the wake of the mud and wreckage, Ms Moran said they were forced to face the reality that for the first time in the organisation’s 30-year history, they would not be able to print the next edition, and possibly several after that. “We lost our building, we lost our first floor, we lost everything that the Koori Mail was for the past 30 years,” she said.

Far from calling it a day, the organisation pivoted and became a flood hub responding to the community’s needs for food, supplies, clothing and support. “We came up with a strategy and some ideas around how we, as an Aboriginal organisation – an independent organisation and business in this region – could utilise all of our resources, our contacts in our networks, to support the local community,” she said. In the days, weeks and months that followed, the Koori Mail team helped coordinate food, clothes, counselling and essential items for thousands of flood-affected residents relying on financial support from donations.

To view the ABC News article Success of Koori Mail flood response in Lismore prompts calls for First Nations first responders in full click here.

The Koori Mail’s Naomi Moran says the organisation used all its resources to support the community. Photo: Matt Coble, ABC News.

Pathway to improve services for mob

A new strategy that aims to increase opportunities for ACCOs to deliver culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal children, families and communities has been launched in Fremantle. The 10-year strategy was developed by representatives from 11 ACCOs across the State, Department of Communities and the Department of Finance. It aligns to several Priority Reform Areas and Socio-Economic targets identified within the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and aims to empower Aboriginal children, families and communities to choose their own futures from the foundations provided by ACCOs.

ACCOs hold an important role in delivering culturally secure services to Aboriginal people across WA. They provide a vast range of critical services and support including health, healing, safe homes, housing, education and training, child protection, disability support, justice, and maintaining strong connections to land and culture. As stated by Community Services Minister Simone McGurk: “Aboriginal people across WA have repeatedly told us that to truly change outcomes, Aboriginal communities must lead the way, and that is achieved through community-based and family-led solutions. We are committed to partner with and support ACCOs so that Aboriginal services can serve the unique needs of Aboriginal families alongside Communities ACCOs usually achieve better results, employ a majority of Aboriginal workforce and are the preferred providers by Aboriginal people over mainstream services.”

To read The Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) Strategy 2022 to 2032: Empowering Aboriginal children, families and communities to choose their own futures from secure and sustained foundations provided by ACCOs visit here.

Research shows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled art centres play a significant role in supporting the health and wellbeing of older people and people living with dementia. Image source: Dementia Australia.

New health service for Mapoon

The community of Mapoon is preparing to celebrate the opening of a new purpose-built Primary Health Care (PHC) Centre on 23 August 2022. The Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre will be opened by Apunipima Chairperson and Mapoon Mayor, Aileen Addo, who will cut the ribbon on the new facility in front of elders, community members, the local Health Action Team and local and regional dignitaries who are all invited to come and enjoy the festivities.

“This is fantastic news. We’ve growing in size as a community and there was an increasing need for a PHC Centre to work alongside Queensland Health to match that population growth,” Mrs Addo said. The new facility was made possible thanks to local Traditional Owner group, the Rugapayn Corporation. “We’re extremely grateful to the Rugapayn Corporation for granting us the land to build a much-needed Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon,” she said.

“What we are seeing with the new PHC Centre in Mapoon is exactly what ‘community control’ is all about. The Centre has been designed by community, it will be staffed and run by community and it will ultimately belong to the community,” said Apunipima CEO Debra Malthouse. Currently Apunipima delivers its health services from the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service premises in Mapoon. This arrangement has limited Apunipima’s capacity to increase primary health care services in the community. Community control was always the goal for the community and having a stand-alone centre will give Apunipima the opportunity to respond to community health needs in a way that community want.

To view the Apunipma Cape York Health Council media release Date announced for opening of new Health Care Clinic in Mapoon click here.

Health Worker Daphne De Jersey and Mapoon PHC Manager Debra Jia are excited about the PHC opening and what that means for their growing community. Photos supplied by: Apunipima Cape York Health Council.

Awabakal welcomes babies to Country

“It is important that our babies grow up knowing their identity and connection to country.” That’s the sentiment of Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon after the organisation welcomed the next generation of First Nations children into the community at Newcastle City Hall earlier this week. Following a COVID-enforced hiatus, more than 200 families across Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Raymond Terrace and Maitland are expected to take part in Baby Welcoming Ceremonies this week, which coincide with National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on 4 August.

“We have hosted this event since 2015,” Mrs Gordon said. “So, we’re glad to be back after a couple of years due to COVID-19. Our Baby Welcoming Ceremonies relate to the tradition of introducing newborns to the community where the Elders welcome them to the land. This sense of identity and belonging was denied for many of our people for so long. So, our ceremonies are a reminder to our community that you and your babies belong here – and they are loved. We all want to help them grow to be proud, safe and beautiful First Nations people.”

To read the Newcastle Weekly article Awabakal community welcomes babies to Country in full click here.

Awabakal Ltd hosted one its Baby Welcoming Ceremonies at Newcastle City Hall this week. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: PM’s Voice to Parliament proposal

Image in the feature tile is PM Anthony Albanese with Yothu Yindi Foundation chair Galarrwuy Yunupingu at the Garma festival in the NT. Photo: Carly Earl. Image source: The Guardian, 30 July 2022.

PM’s Voice to Parliament

The PM, Anthony Albanese, acknowledged we have been here before as a nation: at a crossroads, about to decide a path that will affect the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Islander people for generations to come. But for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this time the stakes are so much higher, because the past is littered with the broken promises of politicians.

The PM said as much in his stirring speech at the Garma festival in Arnhem Land on Saturday. Anthony Albanese spoke of “over 200 years of broken promises and betrayals, failures and false starts”. “So many times, the gap between the words of balanda [whitefella] speeches and the deeds of governments has been as wide as this continent,” Albanese told a packed crowd.

In response to comments about addressing urgent, critical matters before any referendum, the lead convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations, Pat Turner, said it was possible to do more than one thing at a time. Turner said the voice and improving the lives of Aboriginal and Islander people was “not an either-or prospect”. “Our members undertake service delivery across Australia to some 500,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait people,” Turner said. “Our members are on country, working in and for our communities, to make a difference in our people’s lives.”

To view The Guardian article Indigenous voice campaigners say ample detail already available in wake of PM’s stirring speech in full click here. You can also view a transcript of PM Anthony Albanese’s speech at Garma on The Voice published in WAtoday here.

Goodbye Archie, who gave voice to many

Songman Archie Roach has been remembered as the voice of generations and a truth-teller whose death is a loss to his community and the world. The Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung), Bundjalung Senior Elder, songman and storyteller died at the age of 66 after a long illness. His sons said Uncle Archie died surrounded by his family and loved ones at Warrnambool Base Hospital in Victoria. His family has granted permission for his name and image to be used so that his legacy will continue to inspire.

Gunditjmara woman Jill Gallagher, CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), said it felt like “a little bit of hope has gone”. “Uncle Archie, through his music, brought that hope, because he told the world … Australia does have a dark history,” she told the ABC. “And he showed the world that Aboriginal people are still here. And we have a story to tell.”

To view the ABC News article Archie Roach remembered as a truth-teller and activist who gave voice to many click here.

Pharmacist guideline for supporting mob

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has launched guidelines for pharmacists supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with medicines management, as part of PSA22. The principles included in the guideline are relevant to all current and future pharmacists, from those just starting their professional journey to those with years of experience working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector.

PSA National President Dr Fei Sim said that the guidelines were a vital part of the pharmacy profession’s effort to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians. “PSA is proud to have worked with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) to develop these guidelines, which will help pharmacists around Australia, in all practice settings, deliver the best care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients,” she said.

Deputy CEO of NACCHO, Dr Dawn Casey, says that the guidelines offer practical and detailed information, as well as some challenging ideas. “All pharmacists have Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander patients as well as colleagues, business partners or family who we interact with, know and work alongside,” she said.

To view The National Tribune article Guideline for pharmacists supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples launched at PSA22 click here and to view the Guideline for Pharmacists Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples with Medicines Management click here.

Image source: Pharmaceutical Society of Australia website.

Ideally placed to help family violence victims

Health systems play a key role in addressing gender-based violence, particularly domestic and sexual violence, but have not been given adequate resources to respond in a way that benefits victims/survivors and children, according to the authors of a Narrative Review published today by the Medical Journal of Australia.

Gender-based violence includes physical, psychological, sexual or economic behaviour causing harm for reasons associated with people’s gender. Women are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence, with Indigenous women and girls facing particularly high risk.

Victims/survivors are more likely to access health services (eg, general practice, sexual health, mental health, emergency care, Aboriginal community-controlled health services and maternity services) than any other professional help. Health practitioners are ideally placed to identify domestic and sexual violence, provide a first line response, and refer on to support services. However, domestic and sexual violence continue to be under-recognised and poorly addressed by health practitioners. It is essential for practitioners to have the skills to ask and respond to domestic and sexual violence, given that victims/survivors who receive positive reactions are more likely to accept help.

To view the Medical Journal of Australia’s media release Transforming health settings to address gender‐based violence in Australia in full click here.

Image source: MamaMia article ‘Indigenous women are the unheard victims of domestic violence. It’s time to break the silence.’ – 26 January 2022.

Mob with disability a double disadvantage

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) began a full national rollout in July 2016 with a fundamental objective to give those with a disability choice and control over their daily lives. Participants can use funds to purchase services that reflect their lifestyle and aspirations. People with disability living in remote communities may receive money for supports, but that doesn’t mean there’s anywhere to purchase them.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with severe disability face many barriers to fully accessing the support offered by the NDIS. This group of people has already experienced long-standing isolation and are particularly vulnerable to being left behind, again. The prevalence of disability among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is twice that experienced by other Australians. It is more complex in terms of more than one disability or health issue occurring together, and it is compressed within a shorter life expectancy.

The latest NDIS quarterly states 9,255 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are participating in the NDIS (roughly 5.4% of the total). Though, being a “participant” means they have been signed up to an insurance policy. It doesn’t necessarily mean the policy has been paid out. And many others aren’t on the scheme at all.

To view the NewsServices.com article Indigenous people with disability have a double disadvantage and the NDIS can’t handle that in full click here. A related article Making everyone count: it is time to improve the visibility of people with disabilitiy in primary care published in the Medical Journal of Australia today is available here.

Willie Prince, a founding member of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Network of Queensland. Image source: Queenslanders with Disability Network.

Complexity of GP role needs respect

General practice is at a tipping point, and besides root-and-branch reform of models of funding, experts say attitudes to general practice need to change, and change now. With rising costs of providing care, increasing burnout rates of doctors and low number pursuing GP training, there are repeated calls across the industry to dump universal bulk billing and fund primary care in a different way. But it’s not just about the money. GPs want wide-ranging changes for the sustainability of their profession.

Dr David King, Senior Lecturer in General Practice at the University of Queensland said “We need to be included in decisions that involve health care, and the nation needs to realise that we’re the foundation of health care in Australia, particularly primary health care.”

Dr Karen Price, President of the Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) went further saying there needs to be a funding model that integrates other services. “We need to look at different models like the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) have done. They’ve got a great model for Aboriginal medical services. We need to look at centres like that in some of the lower socio-economic areas where they can’t afford a gap. We need to look at how that might work with access to physiotherapy and social work and occupational therapy and psychologists in a way that is equitable and supported.

To view the InSight article GPs at “top of the medical hierarchy” crying out for respect in full click here.

Image source: General Practice Training Queensland.

Healing power of the arts

A young woman dying of cancer wanted music to soothe her in the final moments of life. So a harpist went to her bedside at a Brisbane hospital, where she and her family were preparing for the end. “She wanted to be played to the other side,” said Peter Breen who curates the Stairwell Project, a Queensland charity that organises musical performances in hospitals to calm and distract patients and staff.

Stairwell Project is one of many arts organisations featured at this week’s National Rural Health Conference in Brisbane, where hundreds of professionals will gather for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Deadly Weavers founder Felicity Chapman, a Wiradjuri businesswoman who used traditional craft to rehabilitate after a brain aneurysm, will also feature alongside other Indigenous artists.

To view the Health Times article ‘Like Narnia’: the healing power of music 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: Harmful impacts of cannabis use among mob

Image in the feature tile in from the ABC News article Cannabis use and psychosis: what is the link and who is at risk? – 25 April 2018.

Harmful impacts of cannabis use among mob

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre has published a Review of cannabis use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peopleAuthors of the review note that the health effects of cannabis use may not always be seen as a high priority for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, yet the impact of cannabis use on physical and mental health can have significant consequences. The use of high potency cannabis has increased over the last two decades, with a corresponding increased risk to health. In particular, young people and those who started using cannabis whilst young are at increased risk of experiencing harms to mental health. The increase in harms has been matched by a reduction in the perception that cannabis use is harmful. The use of cannabis with other drugs, especially  tobacco is also concerning and should be an important item on the Aboriginal health agenda.

This latest review says that physical harms to health include effects on the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, an increased risk of cancer, and in-utero effects from maternal use. Harms to mental health include an increased risk of psychotic episodes, depression, anxiety and problems with memory and paying attention. While generalising findings about cannabis use for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is problematic due to limited data, high rates of cannabis use have been identified and are a cause for concern. The review highlights protective factors that reduce harms from cannabis use and suggests future directions for collaborative culturally secure approaches in addressing cannabis related harms in communities.

The review is part of a suite of knowledge exchange products that includes an infographic summary of the review, a video (below) and a key factsheet ensuring the information reaches a time poor workforce in multiple ways.

Culturally tailored suicide prevention training

Even one suicide is one too many. For the family, friends and community left behind, it is a devastating and often unexpected loss. But talking about suicide can be deeply painful and complex. This issue can be compounded in Indigenous communities, where cultural sensitivity and awareness are fundamental to breaking down barriers and providing support. The University of Wollongong’s MIND the GaP initiative, based at Shoalhaven Campus, has partnered with the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation (AMS) to develop and provide culturally tailored suicide prevention training to the region’s Aboriginal communities.

Known as Community Linkers, the project aims to reduce suicide by bridging the gap between at-risk community members and professional services. The project is training Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and organisations providing services to Shoalhaven’s Aboriginal communities in how to recognise at-risk behaviour and help those in need to easily and readily access support services.

To view the University of Wollongong Australia article Community Linkers tackle suicide in Shoalhaven’s Indigenous communities in full click here.

Image source: The University of WA website.

Bagot Elder reflects on end of alcohol bans

At 75, Helen Fejo-Frith’s life resembles a series of David versus Goliath battles against rivals, ranging from corporate giants to former prime ministers. She can recall who lives where in Bagot — the urban Darwin Indigenous community she presides over — with her eyes closed, and anyone causing trouble knows not to do it in her sight. But alcohol remains one of her biggest and oldest adversaries. Despite being banned, liquor still finds its way into the grid of streets that make up Bagot, putting neighbours, elders and children in harm’s way.

While alcohol remains banned in Bagot, liquor has begun flowing into other parts of the NT for the first time in at least 15 years, after intervention-era bans ended this month, when federal legislation quietly expired. NT laws have picked up where the intervention left off, except it has given communities the right to choose if they wanted alcohol to return, providing Indigenous leaders with a seat at the policy-making table. Some say prohibition has never worked, and putting policy control back in Indigenous hands will encourage self-determination and healing after a dark, 15-year chapter. Others are bracing for the territory’s sobering rates of alcohol-related harm to rise even further, due to what they say has been a “hasty” transition.

To view the ABC News article After 15 years of prohibition, the Northern Territory’s intervention-era alcohol bans come to an end in full click here.

A related article Indigenous Australians minister to meet NT chief minister over alcohol ban ending published in The Mandarin today can be accessed here.

Helen Fejo-Frith is the president of Bagot community in urban Darwin. Photo: Jesse Thompson, ABC News.

Healing practices critical in mental healthcare

At the recent Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Congress, psychiatrist Dr Loyola McLean presented an eloquent keynote highlighting the importance of embodying First Nations’ healing practices in mental healthcare

McLean, an expert in trauma-informed care and attachment, spoke to an Aboriginal paradigm where, instead of connecting stars to sketch constellations, it was the spaces between that were joined to form the whole, an “ecological matrix” where we sought coherence and understanding. Describing herself as a woman with a “stolen story”, due to family disconnection from kin and Country as a result of Stolen laws and practices, she is still on a journey to reconnect, McLean reflected at length on the power of relationships to shape and heal, with “distrust and disgust” corrosive to connection in ways that could become pathological.

To view the First Nations’ healing practices critical for cultural safety in mental healthcare article in Dr Amy Coopes and Alison Barrett’s report on the RANZCP 2022 Congress – ‘stronger bridges, safer harbours’ click here.

Phot:o Nicole Avagliano on Pexels. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Easing the grief of stillbirth

The Albanese Government is providing a package of $6.8 million in targeted funding to help ease the grief of stillbirth for bereaved women and families. Women and families mourning the death of a baby or infant will receive support through funding of $4.2 million to Red Nose Australia’s Hospital to Home program. A further $2.6 million will be for stillbirth education and awareness initiatives focusing on groups at higher risk of stillbirth, including First Nations women.

More than 2,000 women and families are impacted by stillbirth each year. The Government is delivering Australia’s first National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan, which aims to reduce stillbirth rates in Australia by 20% or more by December 2025. Improving holistic bereavement care and community support following stillbirth, and raising awareness and strengthening education, particularly in communities that have a disproportionately high rate of stillbirth, are priorities under the Plan.

To view the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, The Hon Ged Kearney MP’s media release Helping to ease the grief of stillbirth in full click here.

Image source: The Hippocratic Post.

Increasing hospital access for First Nations peoples

Many First Nations people who present to a hospital emergency department leave before they’ve even seen a doctor. Even if they are seen and admitted to hospital, First Nations people are 2.5 times more likely than non-First Nations people to discharge themselves early against medical advice, research from Federation University shows. Dr Aziz Rahman, Associate Professor of Public Health and Research Advisor from the Institute of Health and Wellbeing, says changes are needed in hospitals so that First Nations people feel welcome, safe, understood and able to access full medical care.

The work is ongoing, with an extensive report on emergency departments published in 2020, based on research at three hospitals in Elizabeth, SA; Alice Springs, NT; and Nowra, NSW. “In my experience working in public health in different national and international contexts, and coming from a developing country [Bangladesh], I did not expect there would be differences in terms of access and treatments for First Nations people in Australia,” Dr Rahman says. “Yet there is a clear difference in health outcomes for First Nations people, such as a 10-year difference in life expectancy, so that was a big surprise to me. Why should that happen when they are accessing the same facilities?”

To read the Federation University article Making hospitals more accessible for First Nations peoples in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

100s of mob denied adequate medical care

A north Queensland community leader says he is aware of hundreds of First Nations people being denied adequate medical care as an inquiry into three deaths in 2019 continues. A coronial inquest which began Monday is examining the deaths of Betty Booth, Shakaya George and Adele Sandy who were alledgedly denied adequate medical care at Doomadgee Hospital in NW Queensland. The three young Indigenous women had severe rheumatic heart disease and died after seeking treatment at the hospital.

In March the ABC’s Four Corners program reported on the circumstances surrounding the deaths and found that Doomadgee Hospital had a track record of failing to follow basic medical procedures and keep up-to-date records of some patients’ medical history. Waanyi, Garawa and Gangalidda lore man Alec Doomadgee said the treatment of the women showed the health system did not care about the wellbeing of First Nations people. “There have been hundreds turned away, and people have died as well,” he said. “Many people have been beaten down by the system and they give up, a lot of our mob walk away from it. “It happens that I have a big mouth and I never give up – for more than two years I have been telling the story. “This is something we need to address and there are a lot of families out there that have not been able to do that.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Claim ‘hundreds’ of Indigenous people denied proper medical care amid Queensland hospital deaths probe in full click here.

Photo: Louie Eroglu ACS, Four Corners. Image source: ABC News.

Urban-regional divide affects children

Australia’s affluence can be seen in its cities: trendy coffee shops litter pristine streets against a backdrop of high-rise buildings from Melbourne to Perth. There’s data to back it up; Australia has the twentieth highest GDP per capita in the world, ahead of Japan, the UK and Canada, and boasts the fifth highest quality of life. Affluence is often harder to come by in regional and rural areas. Remote communities frequently lack the access to the services and amenities that urban Australians enjoy, and are generally less prosperous than their urban contemporaries.

Healthcare is more difficult to access in rural and remote areas due to challenges associated with geographic spread, low population density, limited infrastructure, and the higher costs of delivering healthcare outside of cities which are not accounted for in funding models. People living outside major cities are also 1.4 times more likely to experience family violence.

Indigenous Australians have a history of being not only left behind, but also forcibly excluded. Indigenous Australians are more likely to live in rural and remote areas, accounting for 32% of remote and very remote communities compared to less than 2% of major city populations. Indigenous communities have lower life expectancies, poorer health outcomes, lower wages, and face greater barriers to education and employment opportunities than non-Indigenous Australians due to limited access to public services and widespread discrimination. This must change.

To read the Pro Bono Australia article Affluent but unequal: how the urban-regional divide is affecting Australian children in full click here.

Photo: Ben Collins. Image source: ABC News.

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.

National Pain Week

Chronic pain is arguably Australia, and the world’s, fastest-growing medical condition. 1 in 5 Australians live with chronic pain – including adolescents and children. This includes 1 in 3 people over the age of 65. 1 in 5 GP consultations involve a patient with chronic pain and almost 5% report severe, disabling chronic pain. The prevalence of chronic pain is projected to increase as Australia’s population ages – from around 3.2 million in 2007 to 5 million by 2050.

While there is limited data available on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s experience of chronic pain, lower socio-economic status and restricted access to effective pain management and other medical treatments increases Indigenous communities’ risk of living with chronic painful conditions.

National Pain Week is an annual awareness event coordinated each year by Chronic Pain Australia. For more information you can access the Chronic Pain Australia website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pleas for governments to ‘listen’

Image in feature tile is from The Guardian article NT intervention a ‘debacle’ and second attempt should be made, commission told, 22 June 2017. Photo: David McLain, Getty Images, Aurora Creative.

Please for governments to ‘listen’

The intervention rolled into the NT like an unseasonal storm. That’s how some Territorians who lived through the policy – formally named the emergency response – remember its arrival, 15 years ago. John Daly, a remote community resident from Nauiyu, was the Northern Land Council’s chairman at the time, says “I think it was done in a way that was so hurtful. When you look at the intervention, it was based on a report – this wasn’t the response [the authors] wanted from their report. Ten years after allegations of abuse and violence in the Indigenous community of Mutitjulu sparked the NT intervention, locals say very little has been achieved.

“Why basically ride in there and take away the rights of every traditional owner and Aboriginal person?” In north-east Arnhem Land, Djambarrpuyngu clan cultural leader Lapulung Dhamarrandji remembers residents from Milingimbi fleeing to neighbouring homelands and communities out of fear. “To us, it was like there wasn’t any blue skies around us, it was covered with thick grey clouds – when the intervention came, it was like that,” he said. “The fear inside us all, I mean we are parents just like you people you know.”

To view the ABC News article Residents who lived through the NT intervention plead for governments to ‘listen’, 15 years on in full click here.

Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann said there was a failure to listen deeply and hear residents’ solutions. Photo: Felicity James, ABC News.

PAMS Healthcare Hub built for the desert

Through a series of projects in the arid environment of WA predominantly built for Aboriginal communities, Kaunitz and Yeung Architecture has proposed a different approach to working with the beautiful, yet harsh, desert environment. Designing with, not for, remote Aboriginal communities, Kaunitz and Yeung are changing the narrative of remote regional architecture – creating a new vernacular for Australian desert architecture.

While one of their most recent projects, the award winning Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) Healthcare Hub, may be the most prominent of Kaunitz and Yeung’s work, some of their earlier Western Desert projects were fundamental in breaking the architectural tradition already present in Australia’s desert areas. The work of Kaunitz and Yeung has been iterative. Starting with the Wanarn Health Clinic in 2015 which, in David Kaunitz’s words, “smashed the mould of verandah buildings” then the Punmu and Parnngurr clinics in 2018, each project has learned from the previous and the design has evolved.

To view The Property Tribune article Creating architecture for the Australian desert in full click here.

The new PAMS building has been constructed around an internal courtyard which provide shad in summer and shelter from the harsh sun. Image source: The Property Tribune.

Pharmacy trial puts patients in danger

A small Aboriginal community in Far North Queensland, the town has in effect been selected as one of the sites for a radical and potentially dangerous experiment in patient care. That experiment is the Queensland Government’s plan to allow pharmacists to diagnose, prescribe and dispense up to 150 different S4 drugs across 23 medical conditions.

Dr King, a Yued/Whadjuk Noongar man, explains why he fears the worst. I first learnt that Yarrabah would be a site for the North Queensland pharmacy trial back in March. I found out because a journalist sent me those secret, confidential documents that had originally been leaked to Australian Doctor earlier this year. I did not find out because the community was consulted about what was coming— the local council, the ED next door to us, both knew nothing. I was confused, and I was angry.

The government says this trial will allow pharmacists to compensate for GP workforce shortages in North Queensland. If Yarrabah is on the list, then that is nonsense. We have seven FTE GPs, and even in the most difficult parts of the pandemic, we haven’t had shortages. To slap us with this trial with no consultation about what is happening is ludicrous and offensive. It also shows a deep level of ignorance at the highest level of Queensland Health for what actually goes on within communities from a primary health perspective and the vulnerabilities of our patients.

To view the Australian Doctor article Pharmacy prescribing trial: ‘The lives of my patients are in real danger’ in full click here.

Dr Jason King, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service, Yarrabah, QLD. Image source: Australian Doctor.

Use the NDIS? We want your story

Do you or your family use the NDIS??

We’d like to film your story?!

People from all locations welcome.

Your time will be paid $$.

Please contact Chris Lee by email here or by phoning 02 6246 9352.

Urgent need for more mental health services

More than two in five Australians experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. In 2020–21 more than 3.4 million Australians sought help from a health care professional for their mental health. These sobering statistics are from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing, with in-depth data from more than 5,500 people aged 16 to 85 years old. The study found that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, 21.4% of Australians had experienced a mental health disorder in the previous 12 months, with anxiety the most common disorder. Almost half (47.1%) of those who had a mental health disorder in 2020–21 sought support, an increase since the last study in 2007.

Across their entire lifetime around one in six (16.7%) Australians reported having had suicidal thoughts or behaviour, with females (18.7%) having a higher rate than males (14.5%). 38% of Australians were close to someone who has attempted or died by suicide, a tragedy which impacts family, friends and communities.

You can read the media release Major Mental Health Study Released issued by Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler MP and the Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health, Emma McBride MP in full here.

Other organisations also issued media releases in response to the ABC data:

Image source: High Street Medical Clinic.

Change starting for VIC LGBTQI community

From growing up with his ‘foot in two camps’ – queer and Indigenous, to being the voice of the LGBTQI community in Victoria, Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities Todd Fernando says it’s been an exciting journey. Todd Fernando is the first out queer, Indigenous person to be appointed a commissioner in Australia. For this descendant of Kalarie people from the Wiradjuri nation, growing up with his “foot in two camps” was not an easy task.

“Being a young Wiradjuri person, we were fighting for the recognition of our culture. I had to put my queerness on the back burner and, and really not allow it to overshadow what we were trying to do within the Wiradjuri space,” Fernando said. Fernando grew up in the regional rural town of Condobolin, located on the Lachlan River in central-western NSW. “I was very fortunate to grow up on country and to learn about my culture in a variety of ways with my family. One of the things that I did miss out on was connecting to my culture through my queerness.”

To view the Star Observer article We’re starting to see change, says Todd Fernando Victorian Commissioner for LGBT communities in full click here.

Todd Fernando, Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities at the opening of the Victorian Pride Centre in July 2021. Photo: Gabriel Jia. Image source: Star Observer.

Better anti-racism training needed

Monash researchers have found medical practitioners are promoting ill health through racist practices with Aboriginal health consumers. Monash academic Petah Atkinson published the findings from her PhD research Aboriginal Health Consumers Experiences of an Aboriginal Health Curriculum Framework in The Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Journal with co-authors Professor Karen Adams and Professor Marilyn Baird.

The study found unwanted care included three racism themes: 1) The practitioner perpetuating and being unresponsive to racism; 2) Assimilation; and 3) An inability to consider the impacts of settler colonialism. Desired care included four anti-racist themes: 1) Responsiveness to racism and settler colonialism; 2) Advocating within the settler colonial health system; 3) Engaging with the diversity of Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing; 4) Lifelong learning and reflection.

In settler colonised countries, medical education is situated in colonist informed health systems. This form of colonisation is characterised by overt racism and contributes to the significant health inequities experienced by Indigenous peoples. Curriculum in these countries includes content relating to Indigenous peoples but doesn’t recognise Aboriginal knowledge as valuable nor consider the Indigenous health consumer’s nuanced lived experience of the delivery of medical care.

To view the Monash University article Better anti-racism training needed for medical practitioners in full click here.

Image source: INSIGHT Into Diversity.

Broaden your horizons with AGPT program

General practice is the perfect career choice for any doctor who enjoys diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions and building long term relationships with their patients. With GPs at the frontline of primary healthcare during this recent pandemic, there are more opportunities than ever for a rewarding career in general practice – particularly those who choose to train in rural and remote Australia.

The Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program

Expressions of interest are open for the 2023 Australian General Practice Training (AG{T) Program (AGPT). The AGPT trains medical registrars in general practice. Registrars who achieve their fellowship through the program can work as GPs anywhere in Australia. Explore our pathway to Fellowship for a visual representation of the suggested steps for your journey.

By expressing interest, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) will support you will valuable information through the application process.

You can express your interest by visiting the RACGP website here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

16th National Rural Health Conference

In the lead up to the recent Federal election, the crisis in rural health received considerable media attention. It is well understood that the lack of sufficient health professionals and limited access to healthcare, result in lower life expectancy and higher levels of disease and injury in rural, regional and remote communities compared to metropolitan populations.

“If we are going to make significant inroads into improving access to affordable, high-quality healthcare, we need to bring together the whole rural health sector to learn from others about effective, innovative and tailored, place-based solutions for our rural communities,” said Dr. Gabrielle O’Kane, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance). To this end, the Alliance will host the 16th National Rural Health Conference from 2-4 August 2022 in Brisbane, Queensland.

To read the National Rural Health Alliance media release 16th National Rural Health Conference from 2–4 August 2022 ‘Bridging social distance; rural health innovating and collaborating’ in full click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Eliminating trachoma by 2025 under threat

The image in the feature tile is a photo taken by Michael Amendolia (2014) featured on the Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Eliminating trachoma by 2025 under threat

The new federal minister responsible for Indigenous health has stopped short of backing the previous government’s target to eliminate trachoma by 2025 as the pandemic continues to impact health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. Australia is the most developed country in the world where trachoma — which causes blindness and is linked to poor face hygiene — is still prevalent. New Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy has declared overcoming trachoma is one of her priorities in the job, but said would need to fully appreciate the situation before she could set a timeline. “This is going to be an absolute priority for me and I will be travelling the country to talk to those experts to see what we can do to eradicate this scourge.”

Asked directly whether she backed the 2025 target, Senator McCarthy replied: “I’m having ongoing discussions, I’ve only been in this role a matter of weeks.” In 2009, the Rudd Labor government pledged to eliminate the eye disease by 2020. Since then, Cambodia, Ghana, Mexico and more have achieved the feat. But in Australia, the disease persists. The target was pushed back to 2022, but it is now clear Australia will not meet the commitment. The previous Coalition government announced a new target of 2025 to eliminate all avoidable blindness in Indigenous Australians, including beating trachoma.

To view the ABC News article Goal of eliminating eye disease trachoma by 2025 under threat as pandemic bites in full click here.

The Indigenous Eye Health unit travels to remote communities and teaches face hygiene. Photo: Jack Snape. Image source: ABC News.

Funding for Winnunga’s jail model of care

ACT Government says it is prioritising funding for community sector organisations that provide essential services and programs to Canberrans in crisis. Some the programs and organisations that will receive funding through the 2022–23 ACT Budget include: meeting health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC). The ACT Government will provide $9.40 million dollars over four years to continue a holistic model of health service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees. The funding will support the continuation of the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services’ model of care at the AMC.

To view the ACT Government website page More funding for the ACT community sector in full click here.

AMC cell converted into an Australian-first Indigenous health clinic in 2019. Photo: Jamila Toderas. Image source: The Canberra Times.

First Nations aged care voice boosted

The Federal Government has appointed Yugambeh woman Jody Currie to the National Aged Care Advisory Council. The appointment of Ms Currie, a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ageing and Aged Care Council, is part of efforts to close the gap in design and delivery of aged care programs and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Assistant Indigenous Health Minister Malarndirri McCarthy said First Nation voices were vital in the implementation of aged care reforms.

“For far too long older First Nations people have experienced barriers to accessing aged care services in their homes and communities,” she said. “To address service gaps and improve access to care, we must include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices in the design, discussion and implementation of aged care reforms.” While 27% of non-Indigenous people participate in the aged care system’s key programs, only 17% of Aboriginal Elders participate.

In WA’s south-west, including Perth, the gap is the largest in the country, with only 8.6% of Elders participating in aged care programs. Aboriginal Community Elders Aged Care Partnership for Perth and South-West WA chairman Jim Morrison said there was discrimination in the ability for Aboriginal older people to access culturally appropriate aged care services. “All Stolen Generation people will be (at least) 50 next year, and we will qualify for aged care,” he said. “We want to consider our elder care and look after our older people…and it might be that our elder care centres be healing centres where our Elders can depend on their culture.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Jody Currie gains Federal appointment to tackle ‘discrimination’ in aged care system in full click here.

Image source: Compass (an EAAA project) website.

Shocking treatment of mental health patients

First Nations Victorians are being restrained and secluded at a higher rate than the general population, a shocking new report by the state’s peak mental health advocacy body has revealed. The Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) third Seclusion Report found more than 5% of people admitted to Victorian mental health facilities subjected to seclusion were Indigenous, despite First Nations people making up just 3.5% of total people admitted. The rate of restraint among Indigenous patients was also higher at 4.6%. The findings come one year after the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System found poor mental health and substance use disorders accounted for as much as 14% of the health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

VMIAC CEO Craig Wallace said the new data made it clear why First Nations people might be apprehensive to seek help. “It’s these mental health services and the acute units where people are supposed to go to feel safe,” he said. “And then they’re being harmed by these practices, and traumatised by these practices. That makes people really concerned about seeking help in the future, knowing that these things have happened to them or could happen to them.” Djab Wurrung and Gunditjmara woman and Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) social and emotional wellbeing executive director Sheree Lowe said the figures revealed in the report the tip of the iceberg. “(The figures) indicate that people might have been secluded twice in their stay,” she said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Restraint, seclusion of Indigenous mental health patients in Victoria laid bare in damning report in full click here.

Image source: Melbourne University Pursuit.

SEWB services consultation survey

NACCHO is conducting a consultation survey to better understand the social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) services, support and coordination provided to communities by Affiliates and ACCHOs. The survey has been developed in partnership with Professor Pat Dudgeon from the Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing (TIMHWB) project, led by the University of Western Australia. Responses to this survey will help to build a national picture of what SEWB services and support are currently available, help to map SEWB services nationally, and identify service gaps. This evidence base will inform NACCHO’s advocacy to government for improved support to Affiliates and ACCHOs to deliver SEWB services and inform policy development.

The survey covers the following topics:

  • SEWB services and support
  • SEWB workforce and training
  • barriers to providing SEWB services or support
  • other SEWB activities that your organisation may be involved in.

NACCHO members should have received a link to the survey, and we are keen to hear from all of you! The survey will be open until Sunday 7 August 2022. If you have any questions about the survey, please reach out to Sasha Banjavcic-Booker, Senior Advisor Mental Health Policy and Programs via email or call 0409 919 398.

VACCHO Biannual Statewide Social and Emotional Wellbeing Gathering. Image source: VACCHO website.

headspace Grad Program applications open

Applications for the headspace Graduate Program 2023 have now opened for First Nations Allied Health Graduate roles.

These rewarding positions will be situated in a clinical team at a headspace centre and closely linked to the First Nations Wellbeing & Healing Division at headspace National. You’ll work alongside passionate people and make a real difference to young people, families, and communities. Where you’ll hit the ground running and continue developing your skills and career in youth mental health/social and emotional wellbeing. Find your place at headspace.

These graduate positions are designed to provide social work, occupational therapy and psychology graduates access to a two-year comprehensive youth mental health training and development program with support of cultural supervision.

Further information about this opportunity, including our First Nations information and yarning session, can be accessed at the headspace Graduation program website available here.

Applications close Monday 22 August 2022.

Data shows kids picking up healthy habits

Two-thirds of Indigenous children in Victoria are meeting encouraging levels of key wellbeing indicators, according to a report from a pair of leading health researchers. The results, courtesy of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and Deakin University’s Institute for Health Transformation (IHT) found the vast majority of 9–12 year olds are getting enough sleep, practice a healthy diet with 84% meeting physical activity guidelines.

VACCHO and IHT also found relatively low levels of excess screen time, and a correlation between eating well and higher social and emotional wellbeing. Their Aboriginal Data and Action on Prevention Together report surveyed primary school students in 18 local government areas of the state’s Great South Coast, Goulburn Valley and Ovens Murray regions in 2019.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are the future of the world’s oldest population, and in my 25-plus years working in Aboriginal health there has always been limited data that can inform and assist us with decision making around improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Victoria,” VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher said. “Improving access to affordable healthy food is an important part of improving the holistic health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children – our future.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Encouraging data reveals Indigenous Victorian children picking up healthy eating, excercise habits click here.

The Deadly Koolinga Chef Program involves cooking classes that teach skills in food and nutrition essential to improving Aboriginal health outcomes. Image source: Murdoch University Research Tweet 4 March 2021.

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.

National Homelessness Week

Homelessness Week is held annually across the nation to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness. It’s also a time reflect on the collective action needed by community and all levels of government to help break the cycle of homelessness. In Australia there are over 116,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night. Homelessness Week aims to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness on Australia via national and local community events, including providing information on the importance of housing as a solution and educating communities on how they can make a difference.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples made up 3% of the Australian population in 2016. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples accounted for 20% (23,437 persons) (down from 26% in 2011) of all persons who were homeless on Census night in 2016. For further information about Aboriginal homelessness in Australia click here.

The theme for Homelessness Week 2022 is To end homelessness we need a plan. A range of resources are available on the Homelessness Australia website here including social media tiles, web banners, email signatures, posters and messaging to support your advocacy. One on the website you can also register for the Homelessness Week 2022 launch from 12:00 PM–1:30 PM Monday 1 August 2022.

Image source: The MHS Learning Network.