NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: progressing the Australia Day debate

feature tile, Aboriginal & national flag hanging horizontally, words: Stolen Generations history needed to progress the Australia Day debate

Progressing the Australia Day debate

The Healing Foundation CEO, Fiona Petersen, spoke with Virginia Trioli on ABC Radio Melbourne ‘Mornings’ today about the importance of Stolen Generations history being taught as part of the Australian school curriculum. Fiona said the Healing Foundation encourages school communities to engage with survivors in their local area to learn about not just what happened when they were removed and the follow-on effects of that, but also how they and their families have been overcoming what happened. Fiona agreed that if Stolen Generations history is taught more broadly in schools it is likely to better inform the ongoing conversation about Australia Day.

To view the full transcript of the interview click here.

Aboriginal people with large banner National Day of Mourning 26 January

Image source: Teach Indigenous Knowledge.

COVID-19 patient identification and racism

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is the peak body representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students and doctors in Australia. During the COVID-19 pandemic, AIDA members witnessed incidents of racism related to patient identification. Patient identification is imperative to providing culturally safe health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. In one instance, a patient who identified as Aboriginal was denied testing for COVID-19. The justification for this denial was that priority testing would only be offered to “real Aborigines”. Incidents like these highlight the need to improve the cultural safety of all healthcare workers and that increasing community education about why asking all patients whether they identify as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin is vital.

AIDA advocates for best practice in patient identification to support the development of policies and services related to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Culturally safe practice begins with sensitively, correctly, and regularly asking the identification question at the admission of care. Addressing under-identification includes asking all patients the identity question and recording responses accurately as one of several best practice principles.

To view AIDA’s position paper on patient identification click here.

desktop resource used as a prompt to 'asking the question' "are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?"

Desktop resource to prompt ‘asking the question’. Image source: The University of Melbourne.

Measuring self-reported racism in healthcare

Racism is a fundamental cause of ill health and health inequities globally. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders have identified as a high priority, research on the experiences of discrimination, overall and specifically within healthcare. Regardless of the measure used, there is consistent evidence of high exposure to discrimination in this population. High quality measurement of experiences of discrimination is therefore essential to underpin action to improve health and reduce inequities.

A recent article in the International Journal for Equity in Health, Developing and validating measures of self-reported everyday and healthcare discrimination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults looks at instruments to capture Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences of interpersonal discrimination. The instruments can be used to enable valid measurement of discrimination’s prevalence, in order to identify priority targets for action, quantify discrimination’s contribution to health and health inequities, monitor trends, and evaluate interventions.

To view the paper in full click here.

Image source: The Royal Melbourne Hospital website.

Confronting Australia’s collective racism

In health, ‘bravery’ is something that is typically used about patients. Children (and sometimes adults) are asked to be ‘brave’ when they receive a vaccination. People are often called brave for sharing stories of mental illness to destigmatise it. Sometimes, just seeing a health professional is brave, if the issue is very personal or potentially embarrassing.

However, bravery has now been used about health professionals and policymakers in the 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report: Moving from Safe to Brave. This is the second report (the first being in 2016) outlining where Australia is at with reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. The report is based on interviews with leaders of national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, leaders of relevant non-Indigenous organisations, corporate leaders and Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) partners.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

street march, lady with flag Aboriginal colours, words no room for racism inside yellow map of Aust, against black top and red lower half of flag, young Aboriginal girl with drum

Image source: The Conversation.

Australia slammed for age of criminal responsibility 

Australia was slammed over its treatment and acknowledgment of First Nations people at the United Nations last week. More than 30 nations – including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Mexico – called on Australia to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, in line with the recommendations from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Nolan Hunter, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead, told NITV News that policies around Australia’s age of criminal responsibility were “outdated” and a “legacy of Colonialism”. “What’s more worrying is to allow it to continue and the acceptance of this where kids as young as 10 years old are being thrown in jail,” he said. “The culture of the community in Australia and more so the government is the attitude that there isn’t a problem or to recognise this as a serious issue.”

To view the article in full click here.

black & white spray paint image of Aboriginal child on brick wall with white bars across image representing imprisonment

Photo by Chris Devers. Image source: New Matilda website.

Mobilising a COVID-19 vaccine workforce

The Australian Government is preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout by securing an additional vaccine workforce and working to deliver essential training to everyone who will administer the vaccinations. “Australia’s vaccine roll out will be carried out through hospitals, general practices, state and Commonwealth vaccination clinics, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and pharmacies. This additional vaccination workforce will help support and supplement existing services and assist in outreach in areas such as aged care and remote and Indigenous communities working with existing providers. Through the Australian Government’s plan, a panel of four providers have been appointed, who will be called upon to provide a vaccine workforce to supplement the existing immunisation workforce for specific populations. The providers are Aspen Medical, Healthcare Australia, International SOS, and Sonic Clinical Services.”

To view the media release in full click here, and to read a related article in the Western Advocate click here.

gloved hand placing cotton wool bud on person's upper arm

Image source: startsat60. website.

Biggest mass vaccination program begins

vaccine Coronavirus production line

Image source: European Pharmaceutical Review website.

GPs united on vaccine rollout

Australian GPs stand united to work with the Government on rolling out COVID-19 vaccines across the community and the nation. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) have worked collaboratively with Health Minister Greg Hunt over the past weeks to ensure the vaccine rollout is delivered with patient safety as the first priority.

In a joint media release AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid and RACGP President Dr Karen Price said “This is an important moment for the Australian community. We have gone from no coronavirus vaccine a year ago to several vaccines, with the first expected to be rolled out next month. GPs are ready to help vaccinate and protect the community from COVID-19 as soon as vaccines are fully approved for use in Australia, and available for delivery. Vaccinations are also an important opportunity to discuss other health concerns with GPs. This is particularly important at a time when many people have deferred health care due to the pandemic.”

To view the joint AMA and RACGP media release click here.

vaccine lying on top of a mask on at bench

Image source: AMA website.

General practices sought for rollout

The Australian Government is seeking expressions of interest from all accredited general practices to take part in the planned delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine. “General practices will play a key role in the Australian Government’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, in what will be one of the greatest logistical exercises, public health or otherwise, in Australian history. Providing access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in Australia is a key priority for our Government. General practices will help deliver the vaccine initially to priority groups, starting with people over 70, adults with underlying medical conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in phase 1. Three more phases will follow until the whole country has been offered the vaccine.”

To view Minister Greg Hunt’s media release click here.

doctor's arm taking blood pressure of Aboriginal woman

Image source: Australian GP Alliance website.

Pandemic compounds hardship for PWD

Despite the refrain throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that ‘we are all in this together’, the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (PWD) last week revealed the many hardships encountered by PWD over the past six months. In his closing remarks, Chair Ronald Sackville AO QC said the hearings had shed a “piercing light” on the impact of the pandemic and associated stringent measures to contain it on PWD.

He said the pandemic had exacted a “terrible”, and largely hidden, toll on people with a disability. We have heard people with disability experiencing the sudden loss of essential support services, an absence of clear and consistent information in accessible form essential to their health and wellbeing; an inability to access health care, personal protective equipment and even the basic necessities of life such as food and medication; we’ve heard of isolation from the community, from friends and family and from social networks; exposure to a heightened risk of domestic violence; stress and anxiety associated with exposure to the virus; inadequate measures for the protection of people with disability, and uncertainty about how to survive in the face of disruptions to care and essential services, sometimes leading to worsening mental health.”

To read the Croakey article in full click here.

wheelchair image overlaid on Aboriginal dot painting

Image source: AbSec website.

Kelvin Kong’s pandemic reflections

In a Q&A, ear, nose and throat specialist Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, a Worimi man, based in Newcastle on the country of the Awabakal people, has reflected upon the upheaval and life-changing lessons of the past several months. “I am so thankful that we have not seen the devastation that we have seen in other First Nation populations across the world. COVID-19 is such a travesty to all of us. But it really highlights the inequities we have as health service providers. We are lucky geographically that we were able to shut down communities so quickly. The Aboriginal leadership across the nation needs far more praise in its ability to get the message across. Messages that communities could relate to and believe was, and continues to be, paramount in the response.”

To read a transcript of the interview click here.

image of Associate Professor Kelvin Kong smiling at the camera in scrubs in operating theatre with two health professionals in the background

Dr Kelvin Kong. Image source: University of Newcastle.

First Aboriginal dermatologist

Dana Slape is Australia’s first Aboriginal dermatologist. Her mission is mentoring students who may have never considered a career in medicine, as well as advocating for more Indigenous leadership throughout our healthcare system. “I think there has been a really longstanding narrative in Australia particularly in the healthcare space that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are just sick people, and people that are chronically unwell, that are chronically suffering, but the truth of it is that what we have is a system of unconscious and conscious bias that impacts how people are provided care and how they are able to access all of the things that keep us, as a community, well as individuals but also collectively. So when you have people like me and all of the other people that end up working in senior leadership, in hospitals, in clinics, in places where we access healthcare, it starts to tell a different story. You’re deconstructing those unconscious biases around people being always the patient, and never the care provider.”

“My hope is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specialist numbers increase, because the greater leadership we have that are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at all layers of the health system and tertiary education system, means that we are opening up doors for people so that those people can go on and be the leaders of the future and provide care to the next generation and that’s extremely important, and I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”

To listen to the ABC interview with Dana Slape click here.

photo of Dana Slape against outback grassland setting

Dr Dana Slape. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Smoking kills half of those 45+

A study has found smoking kills one in two older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, and experts are calling for more funding to boost culturally appropriate smoking cessation services. The report from the Australian National University found smoking caused 37% of deaths at any age in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, but that increased to about half of deaths in those aged over 45.

Dr Michelle Bovill, a Wiradjuri woman and an Aboriginal smoking health researcher at the University of Newcastle, found the results were “quite alarming”. “Aboriginal people do want to quit,” she said. “But then people still don’t really know what to do to quit, and we really don’t have enough funding being put into our Aboriginal community controlled health services to provide that support.”

To view the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald click here.

elderly Aboriginal man smoking

Image source: The Conversation.

Pharmacy students inform WRAP toolkit

Delivering effective healthcare requires healthcare professionals to reflect on their own cultural background and their patient’s cultural needs. Culture is a determinant of health and if not considered, negative health outcomes can result. This is of particular importance when working with Aboriginal communities and caring for Aboriginal people whose views have been excluded from healthcare models, funding, and policy. Non-indigenous healthcare professionals, such as pharmacy students, benefit from understanding Aboriginal peoples’ healthcare needs and models of holistic healthcare, as well as reflecting on their own cultures, assumptions, and experiences on placement.

A research article, Pharmacy students’ learnings and reflections to inform the development of the ‘Working Respectfully with Aboriginal Peoples’ (WRAP) Toolkit  explores students’ views to inform the development of a Toolkit to support students’ learning prior to engaging in placements in Aboriginal communities. The study involved collaboration with students, Aboriginal community members, educators experienced in Indigenous health and allied health education.

For further details about the research article click here.

Dr Rallah-Baker checking elderly Aboriginal woman's eyes with torch

Dr Rallah-Baker has called for cultural competency to become standard good practice before health workers are registered. Image source: Michael Amendolia (Fred Hollows Foundation).

SNAICC appoints new CEO

SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children, the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, has announced that Catherine Liddle has been appointed to the position of Chief Executive Officer. Catherine will commence the role on 8 February 2021. An Arrernte/Luritja woman from Central Australia, she comes to SNAICC with a strong background in senior leadership positions with First Nations organisations. “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Catherine to SNAICC,” says Muriel Bamblett, SNAICC Chair. “With her previous leadership roles, combined with her experience on the Coalition of Peaks, Catherine will ensure that SNAICC can continue to strengthen our partnerships with state and federal governments to make sure our children are at the forefront of policies.”

To view SNAICC’s media release click here.

Katherine Liddle standing in front of a tree in bushland holding a twig with leaves, smiling

Catherine Liddle. Image source: radioinfo website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: time to get back on track with diabetes

Back on Track with out diabetes promotion tile & words Back on Track diabetes campaign targets mob who've fallen behind during COVID-19

Time to get back on track with diabetes

Diabetes Australia is prompting people living with the disease to get back on top of their care with a new campaign, funded through the National Diabetes Services Scheme, an Australian Government initiative administered by Diabetes Australia. Titled ‘Back on Track’, the multi-platform campaign is urging those who may have fallen behind with their appointments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, to get in touch with their local medical service. Indigenous people are almost four times as likely to live with diabetes compared with other Australians.

Ngunnawal Elder Violet Sheridan, who is a diabetic, admitted that her management of the disease had dropped off. She said her fear of COVID-19 was so great she was reluctant to go out into the community or to even engage with her health care providers, “I can be a bit naughty; I don’t listen sometimes which I should… I need to get my mind focused again after getting off track,‘ she told NITV News. “I went down to one of the supermarkets, I went in when COVID was raging real bad when it was first here in Canberra and the grocery store was just packed, I panicked, I panicked, panicked, I just left everything.”

Christopher Lee, the manager for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement at Diabetes Australia said they’ve collected data that corresponds with stories like Ms Sheridan’s.

You can access an online copy of the NITV Back on Track news story featuring Ngunnawal Elder Aunty Violet Sheridan by clicking here and to you can view the Diabetes Australia media release regarding the Back on Track launch by clicking here.

Ngunnawal elder Violet Sheridan lives with diabetes and she was scared of contracting COVID-19. (Sarah Collard: NITV News)

Ngunnawal elder Violet Sheridan who lives with diabetes, was scared of contracting COVID-19. Image source: NITV News.

Get a heart check video

The Heart Foundation, Mawarnkarra Health Service, Glenys Collard and Dr Celeste Rodriguez Louro from the University of WA, the WA Centre for Rural Health and consumers have contributed to the production of a short, animated video designed to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to see their local health worker to get a free heart check.

To view the animation click here.

image from Get a heart check animation - Aborigial man with two AMS health workers getting his blood pressure taking

Image source: Heart Foundation.

Schools urged to teach Stolen Generations story

The Healing Foundation is urging all Australian schools to include the story of the Stolen Generations in their curriculum to ensure students have a better understanding of the full history of Australia. As schools prepare for the 2021 year, they are encouraged to incorporate The Healing Foundation’s Stolen Generations Resource Kit for Teachers and Students into their curriculums. The kit provides schools with a free resource that communicates the full history of Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a safe and age-appropriate way.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said Australia’s history dates back more than 60,000 years and is rich with stories of the oldest continuous culture on Earth. “The story of the Stolen Generations provides context and meaning for the struggles and inequities that First Nations peoples have faced since colonisation,” Ms Petersen said. “The traumatic impact of historical child removals continues to affect Stolen Generations survivors and their families today, but until now very little has been taught in schools. “The grief and trauma that resulted from historical child removals is deep, complex and ongoing, and it is compounded when unacknowledged or dismissed for a sanitised version of history.

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

black and white photo of Kahlin Compound, an institution for Indigenous children considered 'half-caste' in 1921

Kahlin Compound and Half Caste Home, Darwin, NT, 1921. Image source: ABC News.

NSW Aboriginal Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy

The NSW Aboriginal Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2020-2025 is designed to support and assists NSW health services in delivering respectful and appropriate mental health services in partnership with Aboriginal services, people and communities. The strategy is the foundation for change that will support a future way of working under the national Agreement for Closing the Gap in Aboriginal Health outcomes.

To view the strategy click here.cover of the NSW Aboriginal Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy 2020–2025

Climate change health impacts

Climate change impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities – and all Australians. The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has recently issued a policy statement titled, Climate change and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health. The paper outlines AIDA’s position in relation to climate change in Australia and the current research around its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

AIDA has invited you to read the paper, share it with your members and colleagues and promote it among your networks.

To view AIDA’s policy statement in full click here.

back of two people in black pants & t-shirts with words 'Climate Justice Now!' holding Aboriginal flag

Image source: Seed website.

Ever-present structural and systemic racism

As years go, 2020 was memorable to say the very least. For First Nations Australians and their allies the COVID-19 pandemic was not been the only stressor. The death of American black man George Floyd on 25 May at the hands of white Minneapolis police officers, and the subsequent resurgence of the #BlackLivesMatter movement highlighted again the ever-present structural and systemic racism across Australia, including in the health system.

Kristy Crooks, an Aboriginal woman of the Euahlayi nation, who has three degrees under her belt and a PhD in progress, works every day to improve the health of First Nations people through her role as Aboriginal Program Manager with Hunter New England Population Health. Ms Crooks said “COVID has further marginalised people who are already disadvantaged, and it’s highlighted the structural barriers, including institutional racism”.

To view the full article in the Medical Journal of Australia click here and to read the opinion piece (First Nations people leading the way in COVID-19 pandemic planning, response and management) by Ms Crooks and her colleagues which focuses on the new community-driven approach to the pandemic click here.

tree trunk superimposed with square divided into black on top, red on bottom & yellow map of Australian with words 'No Room for Racism'

Image source: 3CR Community Radio website.

Health literacy needed to combat fake health news

The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the AMA’s position statement on health literacy as important recognition of the need for strong public support for people to have access to valid health information. “CHF has long argued for more focus on health literacy to ensure people understand their own health and care needs so they have the power to make the best decisions for their health,” the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said. “In the internet era when so much good and bad information floods people’s screens, there is a need for a healthy information culture to overcome fake health news.

“We agree with the AMA that doctors, and health systems, have a vital role to play in improving health literacy by communicating effectively and sensitively with patients, encouraging discussion, and providing information that is understandable and relevant.  We would support the AMA’s call for an Australian Government-funded campaign to counter this misinformation and promote healthy choices, including information about vaccine safety and the health risks associated with alcohol, junk food, tobacco, and other drugs “Health literacy is vital to consumers’ capacity to manage and feel in control of their health care. Right now, up to 60% of Australians appear to lack the capacity to access, understand, appraise and use crucial information to make health-related decisions.

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

4 icons; find with microscope; understand with head & cogs; appraise thumb up & thumb down; apply - running figure with though bubble stethoscope & cross

Image source: IC-Health.

Stroke Foundation award nominations open

Nominations are now open for the 2021 Stroke Foundation Stroke Awards. The Awards celebrate survivors of stroke, carers, health professionals and volunteers who have shown an outstanding commitment to make life better for Australians impacted by stroke.

Do you know someone who deserves to be recognised? Nominate them for the 2021 Stroke Awards by Friday 12 February 2021 by clicking here.

tile of man with Stroke Foundation on his t-shirt jogging along footpath and 4 Stroke foundation awards #strokeawards

2021 Nurses and midwives national awards

HESTA is calling on Australians to show their appreciation and support for the nation’s nurses and midwives by submitting a nomination to the 2021 HESTA Australian Nursing and Midwifery Awards. The Awards recognise nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers and personal care workers for their outstanding work to provide exceptional care, leading the way for improved health outcomes.

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said the COVID-19 pandemic has further demonstrated the immense impact these professionals, who have gone above and beyond to deliver quality patient care during a very difficult time, have in keeping communities healthy and safe. “Our nurses and midwives are the backbone of our community; they deserve to be recognised,” Ms Blakey said.

“Nominating in these Awards is an opportunity to show support for and give thanks to all our nurses and midwives and acknowledge their hard work and achievements.”

To view the media release regarding the awards and details of how to submit a nomination click here. Nominations close on 7 February 2021.

Aboriginal mum & newborn in hospital bed with Aboriginal health professional

Angelena Savage and baby Tyrell and Gumma Gundoo Indigenous Midwifery Group Practice midwife Kat Humphreys. Image source: The Queensland Times.

Housing and infectious diseases study

Housing and crowding are critical to health. Sufficient, well-maintained housing infrastructure can support healthy living practices for hygiene, nutrition and safety. However, when there is insufficient public housing for a growing community and a lack of functioning health hardware, the transmission risk of hygiene related infectious diseases increases. The outcome is that many Indigenous Australians currently living in remote areas experience considerably higher levels of preventable infections, such as boils, scabies, middle ear infections and lung infections, than their non-Indigenous and urban counterparts.

The Pilyii Papulu Purrukaj-ji (Good housing to prevent sickness): A study of housing, crowding and hygiene-related infectious diseases in the Barkly Region, Northern Territory report provides a case study of Tennant Creek and the surrounding Barkly Region in the NT, to highlight the relationship between remote housing, crowding and infectious disease. It was conducted in partnership between The University of Queensland (School of Public Health and Aboriginal Environments Research Centre) and Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation that provides health services within the town and through a mobile clinic.

To view the report in full  click here.

photo of elderly woman and small child walking through dry grasses to tin shed

Photo by Trisha Nururla Frank, 2019.

Support for Aboriginal Health Liaison Workers

Palliative Care Victoria have produced a podcast which provides an example of the support Aboriginal Health Liaison Workers can offer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a life-limiting illness. Suzanne Nelson, a Yorta Yorta woman and Aboriginal Health Liaison Worker, discusses how she supports Aboriginal people who have a life-limiting condition and their families. To listen to the podcast click here.

portrait photo of Suzanne Nelson

Suzanne Nelson. Image source: LinkedIn.

High youth incarceration rates in ACT

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) and Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services have expressed their deep concern over the high rates of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the ACT as detailed in a recently released report. Data from the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services (ROGS) 2021 revealed that the rate of Indigenous youth incarceration in the ACT in 2019–20 was at its highest since 2014–15. Dr Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO, said: “The ROGS data tells us that there is significant overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in detention in the ACT.”

To read the joint ACTCOSS and Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services media release in full click here.

external view of ACT Youth Detention Centre, Bimberi

ACT’s Youth Detention Centre, Bimberi. Image source: Aulich Lawyer & Law Firm blog.

Health magazine seeks contributions

The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA), a peak body working to improve health and wellbeing in rural and remote Australia, is seeking contributions for the next issue of its online magazine, Partyline, to be published in March 2021. The March issue will focus on the long tail of COVID-19 in rural, regional and remote settings as we learn from the past 12 months. The extraordinary disruption of the pandemic has resulted in a swag of changes in the way we live, the way we perceive our own health, in our experiences and engagement with the health system, and in the way we understand the role of public health.

For the March edition NRHA welcomes stories about trends happening in rural health during the pandemic, and both positive and negative changes because of COVID-19. They recommend an article length of 600 words with accompanying photos that visually portray your message. As always, they are also happy to publish poetry or creative prose.

To view the current Partyline issue click here. Contributions to the next issue are due by COB Thursday 11 February 2021.

CSU lecturer in physiotherapy & placement supervisor Kay Skinner with CSU physiotherapy students Emily Barr and Kloe Mannering standing outside an ACCHO with brick walls covered in Aboriginal paintings

CSU lecturer in physiotherapy & placement supervisor Kay Skinner with CSU physiotherapy students Emily Barr and Kloe Mannering. Image source: Partyline.

SEWB programs review

Multiple culturally-oriented programs, services, and frameworks have emerged in recent decades to support the social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) people in Australia. Although there are some common elements, principles, and methods, few attempts have been made to integrate them into a set of guidelines for policy and practice settings.

A Charles Darwin University review, A scoping review about social and emotional wellbeing programs and services targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Australia: understanding the principles guiding promising practice aims to identify key practices adopted by programs and services that align with the principles of the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017–2023.

The review argues the selective application of nationally agreed principles in SEWB programs and services, alongside a paucity of scholarship relating to promising practices in young people-oriented SEWB programs and services, are two areas that need the urgent attention of commissioners and service providers tasked with funding, planning, and implementing SEWB programs and services for Aboriginal people. Embedding robust participatory action research and evaluation approaches into the design of such services and programs will help to build the necessary evidence-base to achieve improved SEWB health outcomes among Aboriginal people, particularly young people with severe and complex mental health needs.

To access the review click here.

artwork 'Wellbeing' by Professor Helen Milroy 2017, used on cover of the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples' Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017–2023 painting of 4 concentric circles, one with Aboriginal figures with linked arms

Image source: ‘Wellbeing’ by Professor Helen Milroy, 2017.

Recognising mental illness patterns

Kylie Henry, a 43-year-old Aboriginal woman from the Wakka Wakka tribe in Cherbourg, Queensland, where she was born and raised, has learned to live with mental illness.

“I’ve always known that I was different from others and couldn’t understand why I was going through so much turmoil in my life. To admit to having a disability was shameful for me and I didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that I had a mental illness, largely because of being discriminated against by my own people along with others. I didn’t want people, especially those from my own community, to tease me because of my disability. I hid it for so many years.”

To view the article in full click here.

portrait shot of Kylie Henry

Kylie Henry. Image source: ABC News website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 one year on, lessons have been learnt?

feature tile 20.1.21 text: COVID-19 one year on, what lessons have been learnt? person in full PPE with graph behind him with increasing graph lines

COVID-19 one year on, lessons learnt

A year ago, Connor Bamford, a Research Fellow, Virology, Queen’s University Belfast, wrote about a mysterious outbreak of pneumonia in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which transpired to be the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of writing, very little was known about the disease and the virus causing it, but Conor Bamford warned of the concern around emerging coronaviruses, citing Sars, Mers and others as important examples. Every day since we continue to learn so much about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, finding new ways to control the pandemic and undoubtedly keep people safer in the decades that will follow.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

Stop the Spread Stay Strong image form SA government Department of Health& AHCSA YouTube video

Image source: SA Government Department of Health YouTube image.

Healing Foundation supports Uluru Statement

As feedback is sought on the second stage of the Indigenous Voice co-design process, The Healing Foundation has reiterated its strong support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said that Stolen Generation survivors and their descendants see all elements of the Uluru Statement – the Constitutional change, the Legislative change, and the Makarrata Commission – as crucial to the process of healing for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“Stolen Generations survivors and the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community know what they need to heal, and they have been telling governments for years,” Ms Petersen said. “The benefits of healing flow to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and, ultimately, to all Australians.”

To view The Healing Foundation’s media release in full click here.

silhouette of pregnant Aboriginal woman with red heart for herself and baby

Intergenerational Trauma Animation screenshot. The Healing Foundation.

New permanent GP clinic for Katherine

Katherine’s only general practice closed late last year, but the town has now secured a new locally delivered service.

Talking to newsGP in November last year, following the closure of the only general practice in Katherine, NT, RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements said ‘It’s very disheartening and disappointing. The impact on this community can’t be underestimated … So we really must see the relevant agencies … look to see what novel solutions there are.’

Now, along with the local community, hospital and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), Dr Clements is welcoming the announcement of a permanent general practice, Katherine Family Medical Practice, opening in April 2021 saying ‘I am very excited for them [the new practice owners]. What they are doing in terms of linking in the ACCHOs, hospital, Northern Territory Primary Health Network [NT PHN] and Territory Government is excellent, and [they have] a good plan in mind’.

To view the full article in newsGP click here.

extract of a road map with a pin in Katherine

Image source: newsGP.

Decade-long syphilis outbreak needs national response

Australia’s peak medical body is calling for a coordinated national response to bring an end to a syphilis outbreak that has spread through the country for 10 years. The sexually transmitted infection is easily treatable but has been moving through parts of Queensland, the NT, WA and SA since January 2011. It has primarily affected young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote and rural areas, particularly Northern Australia.

More than 3,600 people have been diagnosed since the outbreak began, according to federal Department of Health data. “It was fairly clear that there was a very ineffective response to this very significant disease epidemic across four states, and there was a total lack of coordination from the various states and territories in dealing with it,” the Australian Medical Association’s NT president, Dr Robert Parker, said.

In 2017, a group of state and federal government health officials developed a strategic approach to deal with the outbreak. $21.2 million in federal funding was given to Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations to fund extra staff and point-of-care testing until 2021. John Paterson, the CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT), says the funding is due to expire next month. He’s questioned what that will mean for screening and education programs in remote areas, which he says already need more resourcing. “It’s not enough,” he said. “We need a commitment from the Commonwealth Government to ensure we can get the appropriate ongoing funding.”

To view the article in full click here.

health professional's gloved hands holding cotton ball to finger of Aboriginal person after finger prick blood test

Image source: National Indigenous Television (NITV) website.

NT David and Goliath liquor laws battle

A David and Goliath battle is being waged in the NT as health and social welfare organisations and Indigenous leaders battle business behemoths and the Territory Government over the issuance of new liquor laws. In a reversal of previous policy and decisions, including a five-year moratorium on new liquor licences, the NT Government has given the go ahead to a Dan Murphy’s megastore in Darwin, two new Coles outlets in Palmerston, and takeaway alcohol sales in the Tiwi Islands community of Pirlangimpi.

At stake are, on the one hand, huge social costs from the increased availability of alcohol, especially for Indigenous communities, and on the other hand, the commercial interests of large corporations. There is particular concern for what this new Dan Murphy’s will mean for the three dry Aboriginal communities – Bagot, Kulaluk and Minmarama – that are within walking distance of the proposed megastore in Darwin. Indigenous leaders have led the opposition to it, fearing the health and social consequences.

But alcohol harm is not limited to Indigenous communities. The per capita alcohol consumption of the NT is among the highest in the world, estimated at 11.6 litres of pure alcohol per year, compared to the Australian average of 9.5 litres.. Moreover, while alcohol abuse is a serious problem in impoverished Indigenous communities, research shows that more Indigenous people abstain from booze than non-Indigenous people.

Not surprisingly, the per capita costs and harms of alcohol consumption in the NT have long been the highest in the nation. In 2015–16 the health and social costs for the NT were estimated by the Menzies School of Health Research at $1.4 billion a year, or four times the national average; this included $100 million for healthcare, $58 million for road accidents; $272 million for crime; and $171 million for child protection.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

3 empty Jim Beam bottles, one squashed can etc on side of red dirt road

Image source: ABC News website.

What’s app-ening with your lungs?

Learning about healthy lungs has just become a lot easier for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and health practitioners thanks to an expanded interactive app. The app, produced by the Menzies School of Health Research’s (Menzies) Child Health Division, uses interactive images, audio and quizzes to teach people about various conditions affecting the lungs and is available in eight different languages used in northern and central Australia. Originally released in 2020 with a focus on asthma, the app has been expanded to include other common childhood lung conditions such as bronchiolitis, pneumonia and bronchiectasis.

In Australia, the burden of ill health from acute and chronic lung diseases remains high among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Health education that is culturally appropriate is important to reduce language and context barriers to health equity. Menzies senior research fellow and project lead Dr Gabrielle McCallum says that the expanded app is an innovative way to help people access important health information about common lung conditions in their home and at their own pace. “The team evaluated the app with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers and found that knowledge of lung health significantly improved after using the app, particularly how lung conditions are treated,” Dr McCallum said. “Health care professionals also described the app as an innovative and effective method of providing lung education to culturally and linguistically diverse groups.”

To view the Lung Foundation Australia and Menzies School of Health Research media release in full click here.

Aboriginal mother's face looking over the shoulder of her child holding iPhone

Image source: National Indigenous Television (NITV) website.

Monsoon rains increase melioidosis risk

Recent monsoonal rains in the Top End have increased the threat of the potentially deadly disease, Melioidosis. There are between 40 and 90 cases of the soil-borne disease reported in the NT each year with the majority diagnosed across the Wet Season between October and May. Dr Vicki Krause, Director of Disease Control and Environmental Health, Top End Health Service said recent heavy rains and the monsoonal weather expected in the coming weeks increased the risk of the disease. “In past years around 10 per cent of infections have been fatal, even with the best medical care. Last season there were 45 cases of Melioidosis and one death in the NT,” she said.

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

bare feet walking across soil

Image source: NT News.

Time to revamp Medicare for 21st Century

The most exhaustive inquiry into the mechanics of Medicare in its 36 years makes a compelling case for extensive reforms that must be commenced now if Australians are to retain access to best available 21st Century health care, according to the Consumers Health Forum (CHF). The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Taskforce has reviewed more than 5,700 Medicare items and made more than 1,400 recommendations “to strengthen, modernise and protect Australia’s world class health system”.  Its final report states it has identified numerous opportunities to improve health outcomes for all Australians into the future.

“CHF welcomes this deep and detailed report An MBS for the 21st Century and its advocacy of consumer-centred health care,” the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said today. “The 1980s Medicare model is being rapidly overtaken by the huge shifts in health care and the escalation of chronic conditions and this report shows why the Government and providers must change in areas such as remuneration to meet consumer needs and make the most of modern medicine.

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

5 Medicare cards

Image source: Medical Business Services website.

Kimberley women’s antenatal care experiences

The second paper from the Nini Helthiwan Project looking at Kimberley women’s antenatal care experiences Aboriginal women’s experiences of strengths and challenges of antenatal care in the Kimberley: A qualitative study has been published. While the Australian pregnancy care guidelines note the importance of culturally safe care, this is not always assured for Aboriginal women. Studies exploring Aboriginal women’s antenatal care experiences in various locations have identified local strengths and priority areas.

Throughout the Kimberley, 124 Aboriginal women who had accessed antenatal care in 2015–2018 provided qualitative data during the Nini health assessment or standalone interview with an Aboriginal researcher. Most women expressed that overall they had a positive antenatal care experience. Key themes were. The experiences shared by these Kimberley women add to evidence from other parts of Australia, showing a need to improve culturally safe antenatal care for all Aboriginal women. This includes having more local Aboriginal antenatal care providers. There also needs to be more support for the large number of women and their families who need to travel for care.

To view a summary of the project click here. You can access the paper, including a plain language version, via the KAMS research website.

Aboriginal woman;s hands cradling pregnant belly painted with image of baby turtle in the sea

Image source: #LoveBroome.

AMSANT calls Darwin CBD quarantine ‘ludicrous’ 

More than 80 foreign military personnel and their family members staying at a Darwin CBD hotel are being released from quarantine over the next two days, despite concerns from an Aboriginal health group that genomic sequencing on two positive coronavirus cases detected at the hotel last week is yet to be made public. Last Wednesday, a foreign military official and the partner of another official tested positive to COVID-19 at the Darwin Travelodge, where up to 300 foreign military staff and their families were given approval by the NT’s Chief Health Officer to quarantine for 14 days. The decision to allow the cohort to stay at the inner-city hotel, rather than at the government-managed Howard Springs quarantine facility, which is considered Australia’s ‘gold-standard’ for infection control, has previously been labelled as inexplicable..

Earlier this week Associate Professor John Boffa, a spokesperson for the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), said it would be a serious mistake to release any of the foreign military personnel before health authorities know which variant of the virus had been recorded within the Travelodge. Dr Boffa added his voice to the growing chorus of criticism from organisations like Danila Dilba and the NT Branch of the Australian Medical Association regarding military personnel quarantining in a CBD hotel rather than Howard Springs. “It’s ludicrous, it makes no sense that this exemption is given. It’s the position of AMSANT and other leading Aboriginal organisations in the NT that this is not good enough,” he said.

To view the article in full click here.

external view of Travelodge Hotels Darwin, front gate closing, Australian soldier standing guard

Image source: ABC News website.

Ways to contain COVID-19 faster

The level of vaccination uptake will be the most important factor in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new position paper by an international consortium of scientists which compared COVID-19 vaccination strategies. The position paper – authored by scientists and health experts from the University of Sydney’s Centre for Complex Systems and the Faculty of Medicine and Health in collaboration with scientists and epidemiologists from India and Europe – emphasises that, given the limited availability of vaccines at the initial stage of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, effective prioritisation and optimal use of vaccination resources will be crucial to contain the pandemic in the near future. “It is not desirable to expose a significant portion of the population to the pathogen in order to acquire herd immunity,” said lead author, Dr Mahendra Piraveenan, who is a senior lecturer in complex systems in the Faculty of Engineering.

To view the University of Sydney’s media release in full click here.

pink and white mini figures with arrows reaching our from central red figure to demonstrate COVID-19 spreading

Image source: MIT News.

Where are all the public health workers?

Significant gaps in the size, training, structure and credentialing of the public health workforce have been exposed as a result of the demands generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This problem has been highlighted by the need to scale up to levels of activity never previously required by a communicable disease outbreak in Australia. However, the demands on the nation’s public health workforce go beyond the management of a communicable disease outbreak alone. With the heavy and growing burden of preventable Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), workforce shortages are perhaps less urgent but just as real. Government capacity should be adjusted in line with this increasing threat and disease burden.

There is a broad scope of practice in public health, from epidemiologists and biostatisticians, through to contact tracers, community health promoters, transmissible disease experts, health economists, environmental health, nutrition and food safety workers, Aboriginal Health Workers, nurses, physicians, policy analysts, policy makers and more. A clearly agreed definition of those to include and exclude remains difficult. One size will not fit all in terms of training needs, employment options and support. There will also be differing demands depending on the extent of workforce and skills shortages.

Current best estimates suggest that about 80 per cent of the public health workforce is employed by government, academia and the not-for-profit sector. What little data we have suggests that the rate of growth of public health professionals currently in the workforce is very low to zero. Certainly, the growth rate of the public health workforce is behind that of most other health professions, and indeed most other professions generally.

To view the full Croakey article click here.

two small Aboriginal boys in traditional dress, one having heart checked & the other having his ear checked by health professionals

Image source: General Practice Training Queensland.

Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) Report

The recently released Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices): Securing our Rights, Securing our Future 2020 Report holds the voices and stories of over 2,000 First Nations women and girls of all ages, from all across Australia, belonging to hundreds of different ancestral countries. The report carries their incredible strengths, unyielding determination and diverse lived realities. This is not a report for the shelves, it is a landmark report that puts a First Nations female-led plan for change on the table.

To access the report in full click here.cover of 2020 Australia Human Rights Commission Wiyi Yani U Thangani report

Long term Kakadu cancer cluster studies needed 

Aboriginal medical groups are calling on the NT and Federal Governments to fund long term studies into the causes of a cancer cluster and high fetal death rates in the vicinity of the now defunct Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu. A Health Department study into the cancer cluster couldn’t reach any firm conclusions. The groups also want a similar monitoring program extended to other Aboriginal communities near major mines.

An ABC News PM report with Linda Mottram includes comments from John Paterson, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance CEO, Dr Michael Fonda, Public Health Association of Australia, Justin O’Brien, Gunjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation CEO and Dr Hugh Heggie, NT Chief Health Officer.

To listen to the ABC News PM news report click here.

Aboriginal minor leaning on wire fence looking down into open cut mine

Image source: ABC News website.

NT – Darwin – Danila Dilba Health Service

Danila Dilba Health Service (DDHS) is going through a dynamic period of expansion and growth and in order to meet increasing client need, DDHS is looking to fill several vacancies within the operations area. The roles are at the core of DDHS’ services and are critical in ensuring delivery of culturally safe, comprehensive primary health care services.

As part of the DDHS team you’ll contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians and be provided with great learning opportunities, given the chance to grow your skills and progress your career.

You’ll IMPACT the community, helping close the gap in Indigenous healthcare and wellbeing, one helping hand at a time.
You’ll be PROUD, both of the work you do and who you work for.
You’ll work with a TEAM, alongside people who are down to earth and truly dedicated to what we do.
You’ll EXPERIENCE and learn something new every day through the variety of your role.
You’ll embrace the OPPORTUNITY to progress your career – follow your path at Danila Dilba.

Head of ICT x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Darwin

Clinic Team Leader x 1 FT – Bagot Clinic – Darwin

General Practitioner (After Hours) x 1 PT – After-Hours Malak Clinic – Darwin

Medical Receptionist x 1 PT (after hours and weekend) – After-Hours Malak Clinic – Darwin

NDIS Support Worker x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Darwin

Finance and Contract Officer x 1 FT – Darwin

Dentist x 1 PT (Fixed Term) – Palmerston – Darwin

Indigenous Outreach Worker x 1 FT – Rapid Creek Clinic – Darwin

To view position descriptions and to apply click here. Applications close 1 February 2021.Danila Dilba Health Service logo - turtle, snake with two fish brown, black, white & yellow

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Cancer screening saves lives! It helps to keep our communities strong, safe and healthy

Cancer screening saves lives! It helps to keep our communities strong, safe and healthy

It’s really important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to keep taking care of our health, even during a pandemic.

COVID-19 has been on everyone’s mind and the safety of our communities has been a major priority. Cancer screening may have been put off or forgotten during this time.

However, cancer screening really does make a big difference to the health of our community members and families. When cancer is found early, treatment can be a lot more effective.

National screening programs are available in Australia for breast cancerbowel cancer and cervical cancer.

For further information about the campaign click here.

 

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Report: Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Australia 

The consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is a major cause of preventable disease and illness in Australia. This report consolidates the most recently available information on alcohol, tobacco and other drug use in Australia, and includes key trends in the availability, consumption, harms and treatment for vulnerable populations. Further, information on a range of health, social and economic impacts of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use are highlighted.

This release includes data relating to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic up to November 2020.

For other data and information from this period, please see our AIHW COVID-19 resources.

Aboriginal hands holding can of Bundaberg Rum & cigarette

Image source: ABC News website.

The 2021 Antimicrobial Academy -Improve antibiotic use and management of infections in your community

An exciting opportunity exists for 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care professionals to enroll in the inaugural Hot North Antimicrobial Academy 2021. 

The Antimicrobial Academy is a fully subsidised 9-month online program for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners) to build on their understanding and expertise in antibiotic resistance and to support further leadership of antibiotic use in our communities.

Further details available via the HOT NORTH Website, Opportunities Page, Antimicrobial Academy click here

The deadline for the submission have been extended till Sunday 20 December 2020. Please email statewide.ams@health.qld.gov.au or medicines@naccho.org.au or call (07) 3646 1886 for further information.

Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre & Hot North Improving Health Outcomes in the Tropical North Antimicrobial Academy 2021 banner

IHF Young Executive Leaders: Call for 2021 applications now open

Young executive leaders who have proven outstanding merit in healthcare management can have the chance to exchange with peers on capital healthcare issues, as well as to interact with talented thought leaders from all around the world. Through IHF Young Executive Leaders program, participants will build sustainable relationships and expand their network internationally. As a group, they will discuss current trends, challenges and opportunities for the young healthcare leaders of today, creating an environment for vibrant and exciting dialogue.

Through the IHF Young Executive Leaders program, participants will build sustainable relationships and expand their professional network. As a group, they will discuss current trends, challenges and opportunities for the young healthcare leaders of today, creating an environment for vibrant and exciting dialogue.

Through this program, the 2021 cohort will share experiences and work together on a topic related to the 2021 IHF World Hospital Congress which will take place in Barcelona with the overarching theme “PEOPLE ON BOARD: TRANSFORMING HEALTHCARE. Blending Agility, Responsiveness, Resilience.” 

Young executive leaders wishing to join the IHF YEL initiative can submit their applications until 25 January 2021.

For further info click here.

Award for Don Dale youth detention centre in the NT shows Indigenous-led, youth-justice solutions work

Amnesty International Australia welcomed the news that Danila Dilba – which took over the health services at Don Dale youth detention centre in the Northern Territory – has won the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) Justice Without Borders International Award.

“This shows us that our people know what’s best for them, and Indigenous-led solutions like Olga Havnen and her team’s program at Danila Dilba are available to governments around the country,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Advisor, Rodney Dillon said.

“The solutions to youth offending – and actually addressing the over representation of Indigenous people in Australia’s jails – are already there. We just need our State and Territory Governments to listen to the experts, like the IJJO.

“All the evidence shows that diversion, and getting kids out of watchhouses and bail houses is what’s effective on youth crime.

“With the right wrap around services in place, like those Danila Dilba provide, there is simply no reason not to raise the age of criminal responsibility.”

Danila Dilba Health Service logo

 
NSW – Armajun Aboriginal Health Service, Full Time – Glen Innes
 
Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Caseworker (Aboriginal designated position)

Are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent?

Do you already live in the Glen Innes district or looking for a tree change away from the hustle of the city and the pandemic? Are you looking for a cooler climate? Do you want to hike through the Washpool National Park, which offers wilderness walks, camping, and horse riding in stunning World Heritage surrounds? Do you want to learn to fossick for sapphires and topaz?

Do you possess formal qualifications in health, welfare, social work, alcohol and other drugs or related area at a TAFE level (Certificate IV minimum) or above and/or have substantial experience in any of these areas?

Would you like to become part of a great team providing culturally appropriate primary health care services to Aboriginal people and communities living in Glen Innes and surrounding districts?

Glen Innes offers an attractive lifestyle including a well serviced and friendly rural community, laid back living, short commuting times, affordable housing, easy access to NSW north coast beaches and larger regional centres, and terrific recreational and sporting facilities. The Glen Innes district has a deep cultural and spiritual significance for traditional owners, the Ngoorabul people.

Applicants must obtain a job package and address the selection criteria in the position description as well as attach a current resume to their application. 

On-going applications for this position will be accepted.

Job Package: Belinda Butler bbutler@armajun.org.au  0267 219 777 Enquiries: Jenny Ryan jryan@armajun.org.au   0267 219 777  www.armajun.org.au

NSW – OzChild in Blacktown/Campbelltown

Aboriginal Practice Lead

The position will be a part of our Dhiiyaan Mirri (family of stars), OzChild’s Bridging Cultures Unit (BCU) and will support their Functional Family Therapy Child Welfare (FFT-CW), Multi systemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST-CAN) and Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) Teams at Blacktown and Campbelltown. The position will be based a min of 2 days per week at each location, however this can be flexible based on need.

The Aboriginal Practice Lead Position within OzChild will work to ensure that participating First Nation families can benefit from these Evidence Based Models (EBMs), and from time to time other programs that OzChild may deliver in the future. The Aboriginal Practice Lead will also facilitate access and receive support in a timely and culturally responsive manner.

Working with OzChild’s Teams, for the effective delivery of OzChild Services to First Nations Children, Young People and their Families /Kin /Carers, the Aboriginal Practice Lead will contribute from intake through to completion (when required) to the provision of culturally responsive services and a culturally safe working environment through consultation and engagement with OzChild staff, First Nations Peoples, stakeholders and relevant Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

To apply for the position click here.

Cairns, Adelaide or Alice Springs – CRANAplus

Professional Officer, Workforce Development Nursing

A senior position in our Workforce Development programs, driving initiatives to support Nursing across remote and regional Australia.

This position is responsible for professional knowledge contribution, project management, and industry networking to strengthen resources and pipelines encouraging and supporting nurses in rural and / or remote practice.

Be sector aware and reactive to the needs of the remote health workforce.

  • Contribute professional knowledge and experience to a range of projects and priorities engaged by the Office of the Chief Operating Officer, including contribution to the development of consultation papers and position statements.
  • Strategic and operational management of CRANAplus programs, including remote areas nurse (RAN) certification program and RAN standards, fellowship, awards, and scholarships, conference abstract committee, and other programs identified in the annual busines plan.
  • Develop and drive Continuous Professional Development initiatives, including:
    – Author or curate clinical articles or updates for the quarterly CRANAplus Magazine
    – Professional Services guest presenter webinar series
    – Contribute to the development of on-line or e-resources for CRANAplus members and wider community stakeholders
    – Participate in the delivery of professional development workshops, as required, to remote workforces.

To submit your application, please email your resume to kati@crana.org.au, outlining your alignment to the above four criteria. This position will close as of Monday 11 January 2021.

For the position description click here.

 

 

feature tile text 'strong family relationships prove to be perinatal mental health protective factor' & photo of Aboriginal woman's hands above & below pregnant belly

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Perinatal mental health protective factors

feature tile text 'strong family relationships prove to be perinatal mental health protective factor' & photo of Aboriginal woman's hands above & below pregnant belly

Perinatal mental health protective factors

A recent Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) and Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) paper that retrospectively analysed 91 perinatal mental health assessments from the Kimberley region found that almost all of the women had protective factors and these appeared to contribute to them not having anxiety or depression even if they had significant risk factors. The most prominent protective factor was positive relationships with family members.

The study found that for Aboriginal women, it is important that the health professional explores a woman’s whole context; that is, the way she experiences stress and risk and how her protective factors support her. This will help the woman and her health professional best understand and support her mental health and wellbeing. Assessing Aboriginal women’s perinatal mental health by only looking at risk is not enough.

Plain language reports and a link to the paper are available on the KAMS research website which can be accessed by clicking here.

black and white image of adult Aboriginal hand holding sleeping Aboriginal baby's hand

Image source: Centre of Perinatal Excellence website.

AHCWA launches Mappa platform

The Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA), in conjunction with its 23 member Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHSs) and associated communities have initiated the development and launch of the Mappa platform live to all Western Australians.

Mappa is a free-to-use online mapping platform developed to address the lack of clarity at all levels in regards to healthcare services being delivered across rural, remote and metropolitan regions throughout WA. Mappa provided comprehensive, culturally appropriate and reliable information for health services, health professionals, patients, clients and their communities.

Mappa brings three worlds together: the patient/client journey world; the healthcare world; and the technology world. In doing this, the mapping platform seeks to help those who are not technology savvy and/or have English as a second or third language, busy healthcare providers, clinicians, GPs, allied healthcare providers and those who want an easy way to find a place, a community or a healthcare service and to know how long it will take to get there.

Mappa is about ‘getting the right care, in the right place, at the right time‘, while being with family, at home and on country.

To view the article about the Mappa platform in The West Australian – New Directions in Telehealth liftout (page 3) click here.

To access the Live Mappa Link click here.Mappa Mapping Health Services Closer to Home banner with vector of tree and tree roots in a teardrop pointing to a place on a map

NACCHO supports HIV Awareness Week

NACCHO supports the World Aids Day 2020 theme ‘now, more than ever’ saying it is time to close the gap on rates of HIV notifications amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities in Australia. NACCHO believes as per the National Agreement on Closing the Gap that there is a real opportunity to take Aboriginal-led approaches and partnerships to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey said, “Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face unique issues and social determinants that affect health outcomes, including overcrowded housing. We have demonstrated that a partnership and commitment from the Australian Government’s Departments of Health with NACCHO and direct funding for ACCHOs to address the syphilis outbreak has produced some positive outcomes.”

To read NACCHO’s media release click here.banner text U and Me Can STOP HIV with red, aboriginal flag & Torres Strait Islander flag coloured HIV awareness ribbons

8,000 Katherine patients without GP

Katherine’s only general practice closed its doors last month, leaving the 8,000 patients on its books with no other option but to travel three hours to Darwin for a GP consultation. The decision to close was not an easy one for GP and practice owner Dr Peter Spafford – who has been a resident of the NT town for 19 years and owner of Gorge Health for 10 – but he felt he had no other option.
 
A 2018 workforce assessment conducted by the NT Primary Health Network (PHN) recommended the town, with a population of almost 10,000, needed nine GPs to provide a service equal to elsewhere in Australia. The reality on the ground, however, has been just two GPs, four at best. Constant waitlists have meant there’s always been a difficulty in providing full GP services to the community.

The solution, according to RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements, is multifaceted and requires a whole-of-system approach that considers everything from housing security and spousal employment to children’s education and the training environment.

To view the full article click here.

road sign Kathering 90 Alice Springs 1263

Image source: newsGP website.

Making the invisible visible

After more than 12 months of hard work, consultation and collaboration, the RACGP has launched a reconciliation action plan (RAP) as part of its vision of a healthcare system free of racism.
 
Designed to help establish a culturally safe organisation that supports continuous education and learning for staff and members, the RAP has been praised by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within and outside of the college. The plan involves a commitment to improving the knowledge, skills and abilities required to deliver culturally responsive health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which relies on a culturally inclusive and safe environment with strong relationships based on mutual respect.

To view The RACGP Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan October 2020 – September 2022 click here.

To view the related article published in newsGP click here.

Aboriginal woman with Aboriginal face paint looking sideways against a background of blue and white Aboriginal dot and line painting

Image source: newsGP.

World Scabies Program launched

The recently launched World Scabies Program (WSP), headed by Professor Andrew Steer, based on key research by Murdoch Childrens’ Research Institute (MCRI), conducted in partnership with the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) and the Kirby Institute of UNSW Sydney, has shown that scabies prevalence can be reduced by more than 90% with a single community wide treatment.

Scabies is a parasitic infestation of the skin with the parasitic ‘itch mite’ Sarcoptes scabiei. The tiny mite burrows into the upper layers of the skin causing intensely itchy lesions which commonly become infected with bacteria and can lead to more serious conditions such and kidney disease and rheumatic heart disease. In humans, scabies is a particularly significant disease in children, but occurs in both sexes, at all ages, in all ethnic groups, and at all socioeconomic levels. Transmission of the mites from one person to the next is by direct skin to skin contact. Scabies is a significant disease worldwide in humans, wildlife, livestock and domestic animals and is a particularly serious problem in many remote Australia Indigenous communities, where overcrowded living conditions are a major factor contributing to high rates of transmission.

Fiji will be one of the first countries in the world to roll out a nationwide scabies elimination program and will be a model for other countries. Approximately one in every five Fijians is at risk of having scabies at any given time, with children at a higher risk. WSP will scale up this approach to the whole population of Fiji, with an aim to essentially eliminate scabies as a public health problem.

To learn more about the World Scabies Program click here.

scabies mite under a microscope

The scabies mite, Sarcoptes scabiei. Image source: SBS NITV website.

2021 Eye Health Conference abstracts open

Abstract submissions are now open for the 2021 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference (NATSIEHC): The Gap and Beyond. The conference will bring elements from the postponed Close the Gap for Vision National Conference 2020 and, in 2021, will be delivered fully online.

The conference will be held virtually from 20–22 April 2021 with abstracts welcome from all working in, or interested in, improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health. Topics should be relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and efforts to close the gap for vision and ultimately eliminate avoidable vision loss and blindness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. This could include eye care in primary care; eye care stakeholder collaborations; community-led and cultural engagement approaches and initiatives; workforce development; challenges in coordination and case management; improving outcomes and access to services; health system changes and reform.

For more information about abstract submissions click here. The closing date for abstract submissions is Monday 18 January 2021.banner 2021 National ATSI Eye Health Conference The Gap & Beyond 20-22 April 2021

First signs of ear disease at 8 weeks

Telethon Kids Institute researchers have found close to 40% of Aboriginal babies begin to develop middle ear infections between 2–4 months of age in a first of its kind study in metropolitan Perth. By 6–8 months this increased to over 50% of kids according to results published in Deafness and Educational International, clearly demonstrating the urgent need to prioritise early testing and treatment for Aboriginal children suffering debilitating ear infections, also known as otitis media (OM).

Clinical Associate Professor Deborah Lehmann AO, Honorary Emeritus Fellow at the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases, based at Telethon Kids Institute, said 650,000 Australian children are affected by OM each year and Aboriginal children have some of the highest rates in the world. “While our previous research has already shown Aboriginal children are disproportionately impacted by chronic ear disease, most studies have focused on kids in regional and remote areas and information about the true burden of OM in urban areas was very limited,” Professor Lehmann said.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal woman with Telethon Kids Institute logo on shift with Aboriginal man holding Aboriginal baby standing outside of a building

Image source: Telethon Kids Institute.

NACCHO CEO makes Australians who mattered list

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner has made the Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend’s second annual 40 Australians Who Mattered list for her contribution to social justice. Pat’s citation says ‘For decades Pat Turner has being a passionate voice for Aboriginal equality and self-determination, inside and outside governments, particularly in the field of Indigenous health. Her strong leadership was highlighted this year in her role as the lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, which brings together more than 50 Indigenous community peak organisations. In July, Turner stood beside Prime Minister Scott Morrison to launch a new national agreement on Closing the Gap, which is supposed to make Indigenous-run organisations central to programs to reduce disadvantage in communities.

“She’s one of the most experienced public servants in Australia,” says federal Labor frontbencher and Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney. “She’s had an incredibly distinguished career spanning both community and government. She shows a willingness to speak truth to power, she understands how governments work and is absolutely committed to driving a proper partnership with Aboriginal people in relation to Closing the Gap.”

To view the full article click here.

portrait shot of Pat Turner sitting in a chair looking directly at the camera, hand to her cheek

Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Activism against gender-based violence video  

Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-op has contributed to a video telling the story of what a gender equitable future looks like and the need to call out disrespect, sexism and discrimination. The video, produced with funding from Respect Victoria and the City of Ballarat, is part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence global campaign to end gender-based violence. The campaign is book-ended by the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November and International Human Rights Day on 10 December. These days were chosen in order to emphasise that violence against women is a human rights violation. 

To view the article about the video’s launch click here, and to view the video click here.banner with text '16 Days of Activism Respect Women: Call It Out' with vector images of people holding up letters that make up words 'Respect is....'

Dialysis trial focusing on culture

Bluey Roberts had been undergoing dialysis treatment in Adelaide’s major hospitals for the past three years. This year, however, he said things have changed for the better. “It’s more like home here,” Mr Roberts said while overlooking a smoking fireplace at Kanggawodli, a short-term accommodation facility in Adelaide’s north-west for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from across Australia.

Until recently, the site didn’t provide dialysis treatment options — but a trial of on-site facilities has seen immediate results, boosting attendance for vital services. For Bluey, a Ngarrindjeri elder and revered artist whose work features at institutions including the Art Gallery of SA, home is several hours’ drive away. But health difficulties linked to his dialysis needs left him in a challenging spot. “I wasn’t too good when I first came but I’m not too bad now, sort of settled down and got a lot better with my dialysis,” he says.

The six-month SA Health pilot of stationing dialysis machines at Kanggawodli makes it the only treatment location outside of a hospital in a metropolitan setting. Kanggawodli Manager Wade Allan said traditional owners often find hospitals overwhelming and alienating, which results in patients not committing to ongoing treatment.

To view the full article click here.

#swab4mob campaign launch

The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC) has partnered with The National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) and other Aboriginal organisations to launch #swab4mob; a campaign aimed at urging Aboriginal communities to protect their families by getting COVID-19 testing if they feel unwell. While there is currently no available COVID-19 vaccine or cure, it is essential that continued testing rates are maintained to help with community control of the virus and assist with contact tracing.

AH&MRC CEO Robert Skeen stated: “The collective voice of Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal health organisations play an important role to help people maintain COVID-19-safe behaviours and high testing rates while there is no cure or vaccine available for COVID-19. Wash your hands, wear a mask in crowded areas, and if you are feeling unwell, even just a slightly, play your part to protect your Community and get a COVID-19 test.”

To view AH&MRC’s press release about the #swab4mob launch click here and to view the #swab4mob video click here.image from swab4mob video David Follent Chairman NAATSHIHWP

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community-led, wraparound solutions a better way to navigate child protection systems

feature tile - better ways to navigate child protection systems, black and white image of young Aboriginal girl from the back walking down a corridor

Better way to navigate child protection systems

This week the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability is holding a hearing focused on the experiences of First Nations people with disability and their families in contact with child protection systems. Over recent months Health Justice Australia has engaged with the Royal Commission legal team about health justice partnerships and the role this collaborative model can play to support better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

This engagement and Health Justice Australia’s written submission were drafted based on the experiences of practitioners within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led health justice partnerships, and the perspectives of NACCHO.

To view the Health Justice Australia media release click here.

Aboriginal woman and Aboriginal child portrait shot

Image source: AbSec website.

Mental health first aid includes traditional knowledge

A couple on a mission, Joe and Natasha Collard are breaking the stigma around mental health through the Birrdiya Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid workshops. The proud Noongar duo run Birrdiya, an Aboriginal consultancy and advisory services company which provides a range of culturally appropriate services and solutions. The Perth-based organisation delivers Cultural Events Management, Cultural Awareness Training, Traditional Language Workshops and the Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid (AMHFA) Training.

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

Aboriginal woman and Aboriginal child portrait shot

Image source: AbSec website.

portrait shot of Joe and Natasha Collard

Joe and Natasha Collard. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

SWAMS petition for new medical hub

South West Medical Aboriginal Services (SWAMS) is calling on the WA state government to provide funding which would allow them to build a multi-faceted and holistic Health Hub for Aboriginal and Indigenous clients living in the South West. SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson recently travelled to Perth to present a petition, signed by over 1,400 local residents, for funding to Bunbury MLA, Don Punch who has agreed to present it to Parliament.

Lesley Nelson said “SWAMS has outgrown our current facility in Bunbury and even after over 20 years of providing important culturally appropriate health care to the Aboriginal community in the South West and providing huge cost savings to the local public health system, we still do not have a place to call home, instead we spend copious amounts on rental premises.However, despite many applications for funding, completed business cases, visioning documents, environmental analysis and DA Approval being granted, SWAMS is yet to be given a commitment for funding from State or Federal Governments.”

To view the full article in the Bunbury Mail click here.

Bunbury MLA Don Punch with SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson with the petition for WA State Parliament

Bunbury MLA Don Punch with SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson with the petition for the WA State Parliament. Image source: Bunbury Mail.

Children still being separated from family

The rising tide of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children removed from their families continues at an alarming rate, with the majority of those children permanently separated from their parents. The Family Matters Report 2020 reveals that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be removed from family and kin at disproportionate rates – disrupting their connection to community and culture.

Family Matters Chair Sue-Anne Hunter said,  “Our children are 9.7 times more likely to be living away from their families than nonIndigenous children, an over-representation that has increased consistently over the last 10 years. It is time to completely change this broken system that is not working for our kids.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children represent 37% of the total population of all children that have been removed from their parents – a staggering 20,077 children – but represent only 6% of the total population of children in Australia.  Without urgent action, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care is projected to double by 2029.

To view the Family Matters media release click here.

Aboriginal man pushing young Aboriginal child on a tricycle in desert community

Image source: The Conversation.

Growing Stronger Together Award

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) 2020 Growing Stronger Together Award has gone to Dr Justin Hunter, a Wiradjuri man who grew up on Gumbaynggirr country and started his training here. The Growing Strong Together Award recognises an exceptional Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander GP in training.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Awards are for going above and beyond to care for their patients and communities. Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Professor Peter O’Mara said “This year’s recipients are truly exceptional and an inspiration for our profession. Australia needs more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors like Dr Hunter – his hard work and passion have resulted in significant achievements at a very early stage in what I am sure will be a long and successful career.”

To view the full article in Coffs Coast Of the Area News click here.

portrait image Dr Justin Hunter

Dr Justin Hunter. Image source: Coffs Coast Of The Area News.

RACGP’s highest accolade winner

The annual Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) awards are designed to ‘recognise outstanding achievements and exceptional individuals for their contribution to general practice’. Associate Professor Brad Murphy, a GP at Ashfield Country Practice in Bundaberg, Queensland, and founding Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, has been awarded the RACGP’s highest accolade ­– the Rose–Hunt Award.

‘It is the greatest honour to receive the Rose–Hunt Award. It is extremely humbling … to be among so many of the college’s legends and mentors I have had along the way. It is the 10th anniversary of us starting the national faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and I think it’s acknowledgement of the great work the team within the faculty have done,’ Professor Murphy said.

To read the full newsGP article click here.

portrait Associate Professor Brad Murphy

Associate Professor Brad Murphy. Image source: newsGP.

Dan Murphy’s megastore not wanted at any location

Helen Fejo-Frith says the Bagot Aboriginal community does not want a Dan Murphy’s store in Darwin — at any location — and that her feelings about it could not be any stronger. “We don’t want another [alcohol] outlet here, we’ve got enough as it is,” Ms Fejo-Frith said. “The message is as strong as I can put it.”

Ms Fejo-Frith, the Bagot community advisory group president, was one of the most vocal opponents to this initial proposal and feared the potential for harm if the large liquor outlet was within walking distance of her dry community. “For Bagot Road, we didn’t want it on there because we’ve seen so many people getting hit and deaths on that road and because of the alcohol,” Ms Fejo-Frith said.

To view the full article click here.

portrait Helen Fejo-Frith Bagot Aboriginal community

Helen Fejo-Frith. Image source: ABC News website.

Stay In Bed single drops

Naarm-based Wergaia / Wemba Wemba woman, Alice Skye has released her latest single and video “Stay in Bed”. The song was penned after a phone conversation with a friend and the realisation they were both experiencing difficult times of depression. The song’s relatable truths become an anthem of uplifting support to herself and those loved ones around her, reassuring them of the light that exists within and nearby. Alice Skye has a raw musicality, sensitivity and maturity well byong her years.

The single is available on Bad Apples Music, the prolific Indigenous record label founded by Yorta Yorta rapper Briggs. The label aims to use music as a platform for social change and fostering the talent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

To read more about “Stay in Bed” and Alice Skye’s previous work click here.

moody filtered image of singer Alice Skye

Alice Skye. Image source: The Music Preview Guide to SXSW 2020.

New clinical training facility in Charleville

Bringing modern, best practice training for nursing, midwifery, and allied health students will be one of the important outcomes of the new Southern Queensland Rural Health (SQRH) clinical training facility recently opened in Charleville, Queensland. The new facility boasts a fully equipped clinical simulation lab, telehealth studios, clinical consultation rooms as well as videoconferencing equipped training rooms, meeting rooms, staff offices and an outdoor education area and will provide significant long-term health care support to the Charleville community and wider region

SQRH engages with the South West Hospital and Health Service; the Royal Flying Doctor Service Charleville; Charleville and Western Areas Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health; Cunnamulla Aboriginal Corporation for Health; and other community stakeholders to increase the number of students able to access rural and remote health experiences.

To view the full article click here.

photo of the new Southern Rural Health Clinical Training Facility, Charleville

Southern Rural Health Clinical Training Facility, Charleville. Image source: University of Southern Queensland website.

Bush fruit 50 times better than oranges

A Sydney doctor has praised the virtues of an Aussie bush fruit that’s got 50 times more vitamin C than an orange and is better at fighting the flu.

Dr Zac Turner said that during parts of his life, he’d dedicated time to learn about bush medicine from Indigenous Australians. Growing up, he said, he was lucky to live on farms in small rural communities like Bourke, Dubbo and Emerald where both his parents worked on the land as well as in youth support programs. During this time he had his first exposure to local bush medicine from some truly inspiring Aboriginal elders. Learning about these traditional medicines that have been shared and passed along for millennia was one of the key factors in Dr Turner wanting to study biomedical science and eventually medicine.

“We’ve known from tracing back in history that plant medicine has been used for quite some time – that’s more than 20,000 plus years if you factor in Aboriginal Australians. One of the fascinating things about this is that for a lot of us (including many doctors and avid bush enthusiasts) is that Australian bush medicine remains somewhat of a mystery. Indigenous knowledge is passed on through speaking, song and dance and as this practice is becoming more limited, we are at a significant cultural loss.”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal hands holding Kakadu Plums

Kakadu plum harvested by Kimberley Wild Gubinge. Image source: SBS website.

NSW government needs to address mental health needs

In 2019–2020, Aboriginal people in NSW have endured displacement and destruction of their communities due to bushfires, floods, drought, and COVID-19. Aboriginal people experience these traumatic events in addition to the transgenerational trauma that exists from colonisation, loss of land and language and Cultural practices.

The Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) and its Member Services work to address the Social Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) and Mental Health needs of Aboriginal people across NSW. Unfortunately, not all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in NSW have sufficient funding to ensure communities are kept safe and maintain resilience to manage the past, current, and emerging environmental challenges, and disparities. The AH&MRC, on behalf of the NSW ACCHO Sector, is calling for an increase in funding to provide and develop culturally appropriate SEWB and Mental Health services and programs.

To read the AH&MRC’s press release click here.AH&MRC logo

Remote health services COVID-19 response

The Australian Journal of Rural Health has a produced an issues paper called Remote health service vulnerabilities and responses to the COVID‐19 pandemic which looks at how the rapid response to the COVID‐19 pandemic in Australia has highlighted the vulnerabilities of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in terms of the high prevalence of complex chronic disease and socio‐economic factors such as limited housing availability and overcrowding.

The response has also illustrated the capability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Sector, working with the government, to rapidly and effectively mitigate the threat of transmission into these vulnerable remote communities. The pandemic has exposed persistent workforce challenges faced by primary health care services in remote Australia.

Specifically, remote health services have a heavy reliance on short‐term or fly‐in, fly‐out/drive‐in, drive‐out staff, particularly remote area nurses. The easing of travel restrictions across the country brings the increased risk of transmission into remote areas and underscores the need to adequately plan and fund remote primary health care services and ensure the availability of an adequate, appropriately trained local workforce in all remote communities.

To read the issues paper in full click here.

Utju Areyonga Clinic

Utju Health Service, NT. Image source: CAAC website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 vaccine promising but safety is key

feature tile 11.11.20 COVID-19 vaccine promising but safety is key, image of needle going into an arm

COVID-19 vaccine promising but safety is key

Early results of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trial are promising, and highlight the unprecedented levels of cooperation around the world to defeat the virus, AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today. Releasing a new AMA policy statement, Dr Khorshid that winning the trust of the public will be key to the successful rollout of any COVID-19 vaccine in Australia. “Regulators are working hard to streamline approval processes so that any successful vaccines can be distributed as quickly as possible,” Dr Khorshid said.

“Australia has a strong record on vaccine safety, due in great part to the rigour of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in assessing all medications before they are released to the Australian public. While we support the TGA’s efforts to speed up its approval processes in this case, given the scale of the pandemic, it must still apply its usual criteria to assess the safety, quality and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. This is critical to winning public confidence. Instead of making any COVID-19 vaccine compulsory, extensive efforts should be made to foster trust in the community and encourage its voluntary uptake.”

To view the AMA’s statement on vaccination for COVID-19 click here and to view the AMA’s media release relating to the new COVID-19 vaccine click here.

Right Tracks program promotes health

In Central Australia, the Right Tracks program is helping local young people in Alice Springs and surrounding areas to keep their health in check and create positive change. The Aboriginal-led program, originally founded by Ian McAdam and Rob Clarke, and now run in partnership between Central Australian Football League, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress), Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) Goodsports Program is designed to support young people through a targeted intensive support environment using sport as a key hook.

“There’s two parts to our program: one is sport and the other side is about health. During the day, we concentrate on getting our football teams that are lined up with our program to start thinking about doing a lot of health programs with our participants,” says Ian. As part of the program, participants complete a 715 health check with Congress, the local Aboriginal community controlled health service, or their local health clinic in some remote cases.

The annual health check is designed to support the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is free at Aboriginal Medical Services and bulk billing clinics nationally.

For further information click here.

Aboriginal man with Right Tracks Program shirt holding football, standing on football field

Ian McAdam, RIght Tracks Program coordinator. Image source: 33 Creative.

Doing things ‘the Aboriginal way’ crucial

Dr Finlay has taken heart from the “great successes” in the fight to restrict the spread of COVID-19. “The theme of NAIDOC Week is Always Was, Always Will Be … but this is not just about land, it is about doing things in an Aboriginal way,” she said. “We’ve seen particularly with the COVID virus, when things have been done in an Aboriginal way that have been led by Indigenous people, we’ve had massive success.

To view the full article click here.

portrait shot of Dr Summer May Finlay, vice-president for Public Health Association of Australia's ATSI Health

portrait shot of Dr Summer May Finlay, vice-president for Public Health Association of Australia’s ATSI Health. Image source: Illawarra Mercury.

Lifeline supports suicide monitoring system

John Brogden, Chairman, Lifeline Australia, has welcomed the launch of the NSW Government’s state-wide monitoring system as a significant step toward saving lives. “The introduction of a suicide and self-harm monitoring system will greatly improve the way suicide prevention services can respond to suicide risk. Quite simply, access to this information will help us save lives.” Mr Brogden said. “This is a hopeful step, especially for communities who are grappling with rising loss of life. It will give us greater insight into where the immediate and heightened risk is occurring, enabling us to put in place preventative measures that will reduce the risk of harm as soon as it is identified.”

Suicide Prevention Australia, CEO, Nieves Murray has also welcomed the monitoring system “this is a significant moment in suicide prevention for NSW. Organisations working directly with people in crisis will benefit from the NSW Suicide Monitoring and Data Management System as they will better understand why suicides occur and how to prevent them.”

To view Lifeline’s media release click here and to view the Suicide Prevention Australia’s media release click here.

Aboriginal woman sitting on wooden bench in garden, head in hands

Image source: SBS website.

NT liquor legislations ill-conceived

The NT Government has introduced legislation that gives Woolworths the power to circumvent the independent Liquor Commission and build one of the largest bottle shops in the country within walking distance of three dry Aboriginal communities, Bagot, Kulaluk and Minmarama. The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) has expressed deep concerns that landmark NT alcohol reforms will be undermined by ill-conceived liquor legislation.

To view AMSANT’s media release click here.

Aboriginal hands holding can of Bundaberg Rum & cigarette

Image source: ABC News website.

Health sector employee pandemic entitlements extended

On 8 April 2020 the Fair Work Commission issued a decision on pandemic leave for Health Sector Awards, inserting additional measures (known as “Schedule X”) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schedule X was incorporated into the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Award 2020. Unpaid pandemic leave and annual leave at half pay has been extended under this Awardsuntil further order of the Fair Work Commission.

For further information click here.

Sunrise Health Service worker checking heart of patient

Barunga Healthcare worker Desleigh Shields. Image Source: ABC News website.

Medical research priorities 2020–2022

Legislation has been passed detailing the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities for the period 2020-2022. Included among the priorities is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, specifically Indigenous leadership and Indigenous-led priority setting to drive health-related research to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and to close the gap on health mortality and morbidity. To view the legislation click here.

image from a clip about the role of Lowitja Institute, words 'good decisions grow from great research' Aboriginal dot painting

Image source: Lowitja Institute website.

Calls for environmental health research

Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities) recently used the occasion of International One Health Day (4 November) to call for further research and understanding into the complex and interconnected relationships between human, animal, and environmental health. One Health is both an international movement and approach to designing and implementing programs, policies, legislation and research in which multiple disciplines collaborate to achieve better health outcomes for humans, animals and the environment. 

Recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which is believed to have originated as a virus carried by bats, have highlighted the important role that changing interactions between people, animals and the environment can play in the occurrence of new diseases, and the vital need for improved understanding of these relationships.

To view the full article click here.

vet operating on dog, two additional medical staff and 4 Aboriginal children looking on

Image source: Vet Practice website.

Web-app to combat ICE use

The South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) has developed a web-app designed to combat harmful methamphetamine (ice) use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and is asking for help to promote the web-app. The web-app, called We Can Do This is part of a study entitled Novel Interventions to Address Methamphetamine Use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities (NIMAC). To view the study click here and to view SAHMRI’s media release about the web-app click here.

shadow of person smoking drug ICE

Image source: SBS website.

Midwife program incorporates smoking ceremony

Thirty babies have taken part in an Indigenous smoking ceremony on the Gold Coast — the first time the traditional event has been held for infants in the city. The ceremony is part of a new program at Gold Coast University Hospital that aims to dismantle institutional racism and help First Nations families connect with their culture.

It is also leading to better health outcomes for newborns. Bundjalung woman Purdey Cox and her husband David, who are proud parents of six-month-old son Boston, said the smoking ceremony was a special moment for them. “It’s really important for us because you don’t always get to connect with community,” Mrs Cox said.

To view the full article click here.

smiling face of Aboriginal baby being held by mother

Six-month-old Boston Cox at the Gold Coast’s first smoking ceremony for Indigenous babies. Image source: ABC News website.

Healing Our Way podcast for youth

The Healing Foundation has  launched a new podcast series on intergenerational trauma from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective to tell the story of the healing needed for all Australian communities. The podcast touches on sensitive and confronting themes around trauma and gives young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a chance to share their thoughts about intergenerational healing and the concept of truth telling.

In launching the first episode, The Healing Foundation Chairman Professor Steve Larkin said it would provide listeners a chance to hear the real stories and lived experience of Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants as they discuss their journeys and thoughts about how we can continue to heal our communities. “Historical injustice is still a source of intergenerational trauma for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and we see it playing out in families and communities across the country,” Professor Larkin said. “Truth telling has an impact on every aspect of the lives of our Stolen Generations survivors, their families and communities and this podcast will help people to understand the stories and experiences, the real stories of our people.

To view the full article click here.

painting of 10 Aboriginal figures with outline of red heart on chests against landscape

Image source: ABC Education website.

2021 Indigenous Medical Scholarships

Applications are now open for the 2021 AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship, a program that has supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to study medicine since 1994. Previous recipients of the $10,000 a year scholarship have gone on to become prominent leaders in health and medicine, including Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon. “This Scholarship is a tangible step towards growing the Indigenous medical workforce,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today. “At the end of 2019, there were just over 600 Indigenous doctors in the medical workforce, which is about 0.5 per cent of the workforce. This is a slight improvement on previous years, but to reach population parity of 3 per cent, the number should be closer to 3600.”

To view the AMA’s media release, including details of how to apply for the scholarships click here.AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship banner, Aboriginal dot painting top right of image

NSW – Newcastle – The University of Newcastle

The University of Newcastle is seeking to recruit for the following roles within the School of Nursing and Midwifery teaching team:

FT Senior Lecturer in Nursing

FT Lecturer in Nursing

FT Lecturer in Midwifery

For job descriptions click on the title of the role above and for applications click here.  Applications for all three positions close Wednesday 25 November 2020.University of Newcastle logo white on black vector of horse head and external image of the uni

ACT – Canberra – Tjillari Justice Aboriginal Corporation

Family Support Case Worker

Tjillaria Justice Aboriginal is recruiting a Family Support Case Worker (FSCW) to deliver services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families through an intensive case management process. The FSCW will provide information and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to develop strong family relationships through engagement with community service providers and arrange trauma counselling in the community.

For more information about the position  click here. Applications close COB 25 November 2020.Tjillari Justice Aboriginal Corporation logo, vector image of pick lollipo surrounding by coloured dots yellow, red, blue, orange, purpleAustralia-wide – CRANAplus

On-call (after hours) Psychologist – flexible, work from home opportunity

CRANAplus is currently seeking psychologists to join its ‘pool’ of contractors to support on-call rosters available with CRANAplus’ Bush Support Line. The Bush Support Line is a flagship service provided by CRANAplus and offers phone counselling (psychological services) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to Health Professionals and their families across Australia, working in remote or rural communities.

The CRANAplus Bush Support Line service structure allows its on-call psychologists to be located anywhere in Australia. Rosters are forecasted for three-month periods that offers advanced notice and flexibility regarding shifts engaged. There are no minimum or maximum requirements and employees can nominate shifts as they suit.

CRANAplus advocates for, and serves, a diverse Australia, and genuinely encourages applications from CALD backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. To discuss this opportunity or provide your resume contact Katherine Leary via the CRANAplus website. CRANAplus logo & image of 4-wheel drive in outback

older Aboriginal man looking directly at camera with Aboriginal male youth in background - image from Diabetes Australia website

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations People should not pay price for Australia’s economic recovery

First Nations people should not pay price for economic recovery

The Edmund Rice Centre today expressed serious concern at the disregard for the needs of First Nations Peoples and Refugees in the 2020–21 Federal Budget. “It has been said that the Federal Budget is statement on the nation’s priorities. Clearly if that is the case, judging by this Budget, First Nations Peoples, refugees and people seeking asylum – some of the most vulnerable people to the pandemic – are very low priorities for this Government”, Phil Glendenning, Director of the Edmund Rice Centre and President of the Refugee Council of Australia said. Two months ago the Prime Minister signed a new Closing the Gap Agreement committing Federal and State Governments to a long-term program to finally reduce the huge disparities in life expectancy, health, incarceration, education and employment between First Nations peoples and other Australians. “Prime Minister Morrison’s signing of the new Closing the Gap Agreement just two months ago was a welcome step, but in last night’s Budget the Government provided no resources to make it happen”, Mr Glendenning said. 

To view the Edmund Rice Centre media release click here.

Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) CEO, Jill Gallagher agreed, saying a lack of Federal Government support towards Closing the Gap targets was a major omission in a Budget that would provide some hip pocket relief and new jobs for young people but delivered “nothing of substance” for Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ms Gallagher said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg mentioned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders just once in his speech. She described the lack of money for new Closing the Gap measures as “dispiriting”. “There are a number of targets which all levels of Government have committed too but where is the investment?”, she asked.

To view the article about the VACCHO comments click here.

Funding to improve health of First Nations families

A program that is already showing unprecedented success in improving the health and employment outcomes of First Nations families has been awarded $2.5 million in funding through the National Health and Medical Research Council. Led by the team at Charles Darwin University’s Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at the College of Nursing and Midwifery, the project is focused on providing the Best Start to Life for First Nations women, babies and families and has been awarded a Centres of Research Excellence (CRE) grant. Co-director of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre Associate Professor Yvette Roe said the funding would allow the centre to expand and build on a current program that had resulted in a 50% reduction in preterm birth and 600% increase in First Nations employment.

To read the full article click here.

Women and researchers during the Caring for Mum on Country project, Galiwinku, Northern Territory. (L-R)-Yvette Roe, Dhurruurawuy, wurrpa Maypilama, Sarah Ireland, Wagarr and Sue Kildea

Women and researchers during the Caring for Mum on Country project, Galiwinku, Northern Territory. (L-R)-Yvette Roe, Dhurruurawuy, wurrpa Maypilama, Sarah Ireland, Wagarr and Sue Kildea. Image source: Katherine Times.

Palawa man heads mainstream health peak body

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has announced the appointment of Palawa man Scott Willis as its 22nd national president, the first Indigenous president of a mainstream health peak body in Australia. Scott, who commences his two year term on 1 January 2021, said “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health remains a priority area for our profession. We’re going to ensure not only that we are a culturally safe, engaged profession by listening to, learning from and working with First Nations peoples, but we’re going to make physio a known, viable and aspirational professional choice for young Aboriginals coming through the education system. I want them to know they can and should aspire to strong and respected leadership roles in the community.”

To view the APA media release click here.

portrait photo of APA President Scott Willis

APA president-elect Scott Willis. Image source: Australian Physiotherapy Association.

Cashless Debit Card expansion opposed

The Aboriginal Peak Organisation of the Northern Territory (APO NT) have called on all members of parliament to strongly oppose the legislation that would make the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) permanent in the current trial sites and expand it to the NT and Cape York, despite there being no proof that compulsory income management works. APO NT spokesperson John Paterson said, “Support for the bill would directly contradict the recent National Agreement on Closing the Gap that was supported by all levels of government including the Commonwealth. It is not in keeping with the spirit of the agreement and its emphasis on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination.” Mr Paterson added, ”We did not ask for the card, yet 22,000 of us will be affected if the card is imposed on NT income recipients.”

To view the APO NT’s media release click here.

Aboriginal man under tree holding Cashless Debit Card to camera

Image source: Gove Online.

Restricting high-sugar food promotion helps diet

Restricting the promotion and merchandising of unhealthy foods and beverages leads to a reduction in their sales, presenting an opportunity to improve people’s diets, according to a randomised controlled trial of 20 stores in remote regions of Australia. Julie Brimblecombe, of Monash University, Australia, co-joint first author of the study, said: “Price promotions and marketing tactics, such as where products are placed on shelves, are frequently used to stimulate sales. Our novel study is the first to show that limiting these activities can also have an effect on sales, in particular, of unhealthy food and drinks. This strategy has important health implications and is an opportunity to improve diets and reduce associated non-communicable diseases. It also offers a way for supermarkets to position themselves as responsible retailers, which could potentially strengthen customers loyalty without damaging business performance.” 

To read the full article published in The Lancet click here.

hands of Aboriginal person pushing trolley or health foods in outback store

Image source: Adult Learning Australia website.

New research supports self-care

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is set to launch a new policy blueprint that calls for policy reform to improve population health and reduce health service demand through effective self-care. Released by the Mitchell Institute, the document notes a range of environmental, economic and social factors drive self-care capability. It says governments can play a major role in creating environments that either inhibit or enable self-care. The importance of self-care to good health has also been highlighted by COVID-19, according to the Mitchell Institute’s Professor of Health Policy, Rosemary Calder. “Now is the time for a systematic approach, led by a national agenda to enable shared responsibility between government organisations and health care professionals to tackle health inequity and support self-care for all Australians,” she says.

To view the full article click here.

man's hand holding baby's hand both cradled in woman's hand against blurred grass background

Image source: Emerging Minds, Australia website.

Funding for healthy ageing research

Professor Dawn Bessarab from the University of WA’s Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health and her team will lead the Centre for Research Excellence on the Good Spirit Good Life: Better health and wellbeing for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The first Centre for Research Excellence in Australia to explore Indigenous ageing, Professor Bessarab and her team were awarded $2.5 million in NHMRC funding. They will develop their research with and from the perspective of Aboriginal people, to better understand healthy ageing in older Aboriginal people and inform culturally secure and effective service provision.

To view the full article click here.

elderly Aboriginal woman in hospital bed looking up to nurse

Indigenous elder Mildred Numamurdirdi. Image source: The Guardian.

Cost of hygienic products linked to high disease rates

A Senate committee investigating the over-pricing of items in remote Aboriginal communities has heard from Melbourne University Indigenous Eye Health Institute’s senior engagement officer Karl Hampton, who said the price-gouging of items like soap and towels is a key factor to Indigenous youth holding “the heavy burden” of serious trachoma infections.

To view the full Global Citizen article click here.

supermarket shelves showing high cost of soap

Image source: The Guardian Australian edition.

Keeping our sector strong discussion

Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) is hosting a virtual forum from 12.00–1.00 pm (AEDT) Monday 12 October 2020 with the Minister for Indigenous Australians, The Hon Ken Wyatt, AM, MP, to discuss the changes made by Indigenous businesses adapting to survive and thrive in the current climate.

To find out more and register your attendance click here.

Spaces are limited for this opportunity so be sure to register today!

Learning from each other webinar series

The Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis invites you to join them as they bring together First Nations’ thinkers with psychoanalysts and psychotherapists in a series of six webinars in the spirit of Two Way – working together and learning from each other.

All profits will go to CASSE’s Shields for Living, Tools for Life, a dual cultural and therapeutic program, based in the Alice Springs region for ‘at-risk’ youth, providing an alternative to detention and reducing the likelihood of offending or reoffending.

The Two-Way: Learning from each other webinar series will stream 8.00–9.30 pm AEST each Tuesday from 13 October to 17 November 2020.

Click here for the webinar program and registration.

Queenie McKenzie Dreaming Place - Gija country 1995

Queenie McKenzie, Dreaming Place – Gija Country, 1995.
Image source: Australian Psychoanalytical Society,

Range of health scholarships available

The following scholarship programs, aimed at increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander participation in the health workforce and improving access to culturally appropriate health services, are seeking applications.

Indigenous Health Scholarships – Australian Rotary Health administer these scholarships on behalf of the Department of Health, providing a one off grant of $5,000 to assist students with their day to day expenses and provide mentoring support while they undertake a course in a wide range of health related professions. For further information click here.

Nursing Scholarships – the Australian College of Nursing are currently offering nursing scholarship opportunities for study in 2021 with undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships of up to $15,000 per year of full time study being available for eligible courses. Further information is available here. Applications close from 25 October 2020.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme – provides financial assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander undergraduate students for entry level studies that lead or are a direct pathway to registration or practice as a health professional.  Further information is available here. Applications close on 8 November 2020 for studies in 2021.

portrait of Indigenous Health Scholarship 2020 recipient Marlee Paterson, UNSW, Doctor of Medicine.

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2020 recipient Marlee Paterson, UNSW, Doctor of Medicine. Image source: Australian Rotary Health website.

NSW – Taree – Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre

Aboriginal Health Worker – Drug & Alcohol/Sexual Health – Identified x 2 (male and female)

Human Resources Officer x 1

Maintenance Officer x 1

Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre (Biripi ACMC), a community controlled health service providing a wide range of culturally appropriate health and well-being services covering communities across the Mid-Northern NSW Region, is looking to fill a number of vacant positions.

To view the job descriptions for each position click on the name of the position above.

Applications for all positions close 5.00 pm Sunday 18 October 2020.Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre logo silhouette of two black hand overlapping inside yellow circle inside border top half black, bottom half red with words Our Health In Our Hands

VIC – Shepparton – Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd.

PT Case Manager (Re-advertised)

FT Cradle to Kinder Worker

FT Family Preservation Worker 

Kinship Care Case Management

FT Practice Manager

Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd. has a number of vacancies within its Health & Wellbeing, Engagement & Family and Positive Ageing & Disability services areas.

Applications for the Case Manager position close 4.00 pm Tuesday 13 October 2020.

Applications for the Cradle to Kinder Worker, Family Preservation Worker and Kinship Care Case Manager positions close 4.00 pm Wednesday 14 October 2020.

Applications for the Practice Manager position close 4.00 pm Friday 23 October 2020.

NSW – Sydney – The George Institute for Global Health

FT Research Associate (project Manager)

The George Institute for Global Health has a very exciting opportunity for a Research Associate (project Manager) to join its ‘Safe Pathways’ team that will work in partnership with families to focus on developing a discharge planning and delivery model of care that will: address institutionalised racism; facilitate access to ongoing specialist burn care; and enhance communication, coordination and care integration between families, local primary health services and the burns service at Westmead. 

The George Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program cuts across content areas and is conducted within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing, with a focus on social determinants of health, health systems and healthcare delivery, and maintains an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander paradigm of health and healing (physical, emotional, social, cultural and spiritual) and a commitment to making impact through translation that influences policy.

For further details about the position click here. Applications close on 30 October 2020 or sooner if a suitable candidate is found.The George Institute for Global Health banner, words and purple tick with dot in shape of flame

World Evidence-Based Healthcare Day

World Evidence-Based Healthcare Day is a global initiative that raises awareness of the need for better evidence to inform healthcare policy, practice and decision making in order to improve health outcomes globally. It is an opportunity to participate in a debate about global trends and challenges, but also to celebrate the impact of individuals and organisations worldwide, recognising the work of dedicated researchers, policymakers and health professionals in improving health outcomes. World Evidence-Based Health Day is on Tuesday 20 October 2020 and has the 2020 theme is ‘Evidence to Impact’. For further information click here.logo with words World Evidinece-Based Healthcare Day 2020 ebhc 20 October 2020 light blue & navy

White Ribbon Day

Together, we really can end men’s violence against women in our communities and in our workplaces. But it starts with us turning awareness into sustained, collaborative action and it needs to start now. This year White Ribbon Day is on Friday 20 November. White Ribbon Australia are asking you to hold an event – online or as a group (following local COVID-safe guidelines) – to bring your community together as a catalyst for ongoing action. Download a Community Action Kit here to access ideas and resources to bring your community together on White Ribbon Day, get involved on social media, and to kick-start a Community Action Group that will continue to create impact long after the event is over.White Ribbon Australia banner - black bacground words White Ribbon Australia & white ribbon icon

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Resources Alert : NACCHO and @RACGP are pleased to launch the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander #715health assessment templates.

With support from the Department of Health, NACCHO and RACGP established a working group in 2019 to review and update Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander annual health check templates.

Throughout 2020 we will be testing these templates for operability in a range of services.

We are keen to hear your feedback and will be conducting a survey later in the year.

A key recommendation was to update elements to better reflect age-appropriate health needs. This resulted in five new templates that span the life course:

  1. Infants and preschool (birth-5 years)  PDF  RTF
  2. Primary school age (5-12 years) PDF  RTF
  3. Adolescents and young people (12-24 years) PDF  RTF
  4. Adults (25-49 years) PDF  RTF
  5. Older people (50+ years) PDF  RTF

These are example health check templates that include recommended core elements.

The criteria for inclusion can be accessed in our template development information pack.

Adaptation of these templates to local needs and priorities is encouraged, with reference to current Australian preventive health guidelines that are culturally and clinically suitable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander needs.

These templates are not intended to promote a tick box approach to healthcare, but rather to prompt clinicians to consider patient priorities, opportunities for preventive healthcare and common health needs.

As the Partnership Project continues, we are exploring opportunities for integration of health check activities into clinical software.

We are also interested to hear about your experiences of providing health checks via telehealth.

Contact aboriginalhealth@racgp.org.au to understand more or contribute your ideas and experiences.

Understand the purpose of the health check is to:

  • support initial and ongoing engagement in comprehensive primary healthcare in a culturally safe way
  • provide evidence-based health information, risk assessment and other services for primary and secondary disease prevention
  • identify health needs, including patient health goals and priorities
  • support participation in population health programs (eg immunisation, cancer screening), chronic disease management and other primary care services (eg oral health )

Know that a high-quality health check is:

  • a positive experience for the patient that is respectful and culturally safe
  • provided with a patient, not to a patient
  • useful to the patient and includes patient priorities and goals in health assessment and planning
  • supports patient agency
  • provided by the usual healthcare provider in the context of established relationship and trust
  • provided by a multidisciplinary team that includes Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander clinicians
  • evidence-based as per current Australian preventive health guidelines that are generally accepted in primary care practice (eg National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation [NACCHO]–Royal Australian College of General Practitioners [RACGP] National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Central Australian Rural Practitioner’s Association [CARPA] Standard Treatment Manual, etc)
  • provided with enough time (usually 30–60 minutes, with a minimum of 15 minutes with the GP) and often completed over several consultations
  • followed up with care of identified health needs (ie continuity of care).

Make sure your practice is providing health checks that are acceptable and valuable to patients by:

  • identifying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in a welcoming, hospitable manner
  • explaining the purpose and process of the health check and obtaining consent
  • enquiring about patient priorities and goals
  • adapting the health check content to what is relevant and appropriate to the patient
  • asking questions in ways that acknowledge strengths, that are sensitive to individual circumstances and that avoid cultural stereotyping
  • completing the health check and identifying health needs
  • making a plan for follow-up of identified health needs in partnership with the patient
  • making follow-up appointments at the time of the health check, where possible
  • considering checking in with the patient about their experience of the health check, in order to support patient engagement and quality

Potential pitfalls of health checks:

  • A poor health check can lead to non- or dis-engagement in healthcare and has the potential to do harm – establish engagement and trust
  • Health checks can have highly variable content and quality
  • use endorsed high-quality templates
  • Increasing the number of health checks without a focus on quality may undermine benefit for patients – avoid quantity over quality
  • Health checks are not proxy for all preventive healthcare – they are one activity in the range of health promotion and disease-prevention activities in primary care
  • No follow-up will have no or minimal impact on improving health outcomes – follow up identified health needs
  • Cultural stereotyping – acknowledge the health impacts of racism and build a culturally safe practice

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Workforce News Alert : @NATSIHWA CEO @briscoe_karl and @Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher writes: “It is a fundamental right that everyone has the right to access health care that is free from #racism “

” It is a fundamental right that everyone has the right to access health care that is free from racism and the harm that it causes notably the impacts on the health and wellbeing of vulnerable populations. The current Black Lives Matter movement has clearly highlighted that racism is a public health issue.

We recently released a statement, No place for racism in healthcare.

This statement called out racist behaviour in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and made clear there is no place for racism when treating patients.”

Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group’s co chair, Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association. Originally published Croakey 

One of the challenges is that most health professionals do not see themselves as racist. They can take great offence when these words are used, possibly without even considering that perhaps they may be unwittingly contributing to the problem. Yet the health outcomes gap tells the true story – we all have work to do to improve the health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

All health practitioners and parts of the health and education system must do their part to address racism in healthcare. We were heartened by the support we received from organisations and individuals on our statement.

So how should a practitioner regulatory scheme play its part in ensuring culturally safe health care and addressing the gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples?

Two years ago, we posed this question to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts. The beginnings of an answer, they said, was to establish a genuine partnership through which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not only providing advice but are equal partners in shared governance and decision making.

And so, the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group was born.

A major focus of the work of the Strategy Group is to equip all entities within the National Scheme – National Boards, NSW Councils, Ahpra and accreditation authorities –  with the knowledge, awareness and tools to enable culturally safe health care.

We are proud of our early work in developing a national definition of cultural safety for our scheme, which was led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts. The definition reads:

Cultural safety is determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities.

Culturally safe practice is the ongoing critical reflection of health practitioner knowledge, skills, attitudes, practising behaviours and power differentials in delivering safe, accessible and responsive healthcare free of racism.

To ensure culturally safe and respectful practice, health practitioners must:

    • Acknowledge colonisation and systemic racism, social, cultural, behavioural and economic factors which impact individual and community health;
    • Acknowledge and address individual racism, their own biases, assumptions, stereotypes and prejudices and provide care that is holistic, free of bias and racism;
    • Recognise the importance of self-determined decision-making, partnership and collaboration in healthcare which is driven by the individual, family and community;
    • Foster a safe working environment through leadership to support the rights and dignity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and colleagues.

This definition is one of the many strategic actions committed to within the National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020 – 2025, which was developed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group.

The Strategy focuses on achieving patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples as the norm and the inextricably linked elements of clinical and cultural safety.

To counteract unconscious bias and to help ‘unlearn’ the filtered history many of us were taught at school, we have partnered with two Indigenous-led organisations, PricewaterhouseCoopers Indigenous Consulting and the First People’s Health Unit at Griffith University to develop a solid, pedagogically sound and evidence-based cultural safety training program.

Over time, every person working at Ahpra and on a National Board or committee will attend this in-depth training, because we must ensure that our work as a regulator is culturally safe.

However, the implementation of cultural safety is as much about individual practice as it is about changing systemic and institutional responses, whether that be practice standards, policy or legislation.

The National Boards that Ahpra works with to regulate Australia’s registered health practitioners set the national standards that all registered health practitioners must meet to become and remain registered.

The Boards have been integrating cultural safety requirements to these standards, meaning that the community can be clear about what they can expect from their practitioner. It also means that if a practitioner fails to meet this obligation, a Board may take regulatory action.

Strengthening the Indigenous health workforce

In supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the current COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the opportunities to better use our culturally safe and clinically qualified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner workforce. They are one of 16 nationally regulated professions within the National Scheme.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner workforce has lived experience in and a deep understanding of the communities they serve, possessing cultural, intellectual, social and linguistic knowledge and skills that set the workforce apart from other health professions.

These skills underpin community reach and engagement capability, coupled with comprehensive foundations in primary health care, give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners a unique ability and perspectives as health care professionals, cultural brokers and health system navigators.

More needs to be done to enable this workforce to play its part fully. For example, as has been highlighted in an earlier piece at Croakey variances in the Drugs and Poisons Acts of each jurisdiction significantly limits what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners are authorised to do.

To address this, a review of drugs and poisons legislation across Australia could ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners share the same basic rights to supply and administer medications in their communities.

We continue to engage with the community and sector to increase the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples on the Agency Management Committee and National Boards.

Work has commenced to develop a monitoring and reporting framework for notifications and during the pandemic we’ve managed to successfully complete the pilot for the Moong-moong-gak cultural safety training.

Furthermore, responding to COVID-19, we established a surge workforce for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice profession to be most responsive to the healthcare needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members.’

Ensuring access to culturally safe healthcare is a priority for Ahpra and the important role of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice profession is a foundation for improving health outcomes and ensuring culturally safe health care.