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.

Aboriginal Health Workforce Online Training #CoronaVirus News Alert No 58 : May 12 #OurJobProtectOurMob #KeepOurMobSafe : Empowering Aboriginal Health Workers is the key in battle against COVID-19

“The Aboriginal Health Workforce have important cultural knowledge and key relationships in their communities, so they are critical to helping with public health responses such as contact tracing, public health messaging in community, and supporting quarantine and isolation measures.

Empowering Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners, who have existing community and cultural knowledge, is key to controlling and managing COVID-19 outbreaks in remote Indigenous communities’

Alyson Wright and the Australian National University, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program and MAE team in Research School of Population Health were responsible for the development of these modules and includes epidemiologists, clinicians and public health researchers.

Originally published HERE

Protecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from COVID-19 requires more than just an understanding of the virus itself.

Empowering Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners, who have existing community and cultural knowledge, is key to controlling and managing COVID-19 outbreaks in remote Indigenous communities.

Alyson Wright and a team from RSPH have developed a series of culturally appropriate training in infection control, contract tracing, interview techniques, and the use of personal protective equipment, which are available online.

“We can’t eliminate COVID-19 without a vaccination, but we can reduce the impact of disease by ensuring we have a skilled workforce who can respond quickly to outbreaks and areas of community transmission,” says Wright.

The team have focused on delivering training through online modules due the travel restrictions and border closures associated with COVID-19.

The training modules can be completed for free online at the Australian Government’s Infectious Control Training Platform, and the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW COVID-19 training website.

Hard copies can also be sent to communities on request.

While the training is focused on COVID-19, the skills developed in this training will help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers respond and prevent other outbreaks in future.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program and MAE team in Research School of Population Health were responsible for the development of these modules and includes epidemiologists, clinicians and public health researchers.

Many of the staff are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander epidemiologists or have had experience working in Indigenous Health or in public health in developing countries and low resource settings. This project was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

You can access additional support material for the training modules here and here.

Enquiries about the training or resources can be sent to atsiph.covid19@anu.edu.au.

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus News Alert No 54 : May 5 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : Our frontline Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce can now download resources on how they can protect and care for themselves , their families and our communities.

To assist our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Professionals NATSIHWA has lead a project in collaboration with AIDA, IAHA and CATSINaM to develop a resource toolkit that includes oosters on important contacts, tips and information to help you care for yourself, as well as posters for distribution in your communities.

The toolkit is available now A&TSI Health Professionals Resource Toolkit .

To avoid a second wave we all have to continue to be cautious and vigilant.

As Health Professionals it is important that you keep yourself informed and understand what you need to do in case of an outbreak.

We are facing uncertain times. As we work collectively to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we know that our people are at a higher risk.

Please look after yourselves and each other. “

NATSIHWA Press Release continued below

As the frontline Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce it is important you know how to protect and care for yourself, your families and our communities.

We all need to do things differently. People’s lives are at risk.

Everybody needs to know the signs or symptoms and how to keep each other safe. In particular, care must be taken around the elderly and those with chronic health conditions – they are most at risk.

We have never been in a situation like this before and it is changing all the time. Over the coming weeks your regular roles may change dramatically and you may be faced with additional demands.

You will need to take particular care of your own physical, cultural, spiritual, mental, social and emotional wellbeing.

We have put this pack together to assist and support you in this changing environment.

It includes tips and information to help you care for yourself, as well as, resources for distribution in your communities. To make sure you are getting the most up to date and correct information we will continue to publishing links, resources and information on our websites, social media pages and newsletters.

Stay informed and join NATSIHWA for free! Join here

The official Australian Government website is a good source of information.

They have also developed an online COVID-19 infection control training module and we would encourage you all to do the training .

Another good source of collated information from primary sources is the Indigenous HealthInfoNet COIVD19 portal.

To protect against infection and prevent the virus spreading everyone must practise good hygiene, physical distancing and self-isolation when required. As a general rule the hygiene procedures that you apply in the clinic or your workplace should also be applied at home.

We are working closely together and our operations will continue to run so if you want to have a yarn, need assistance or to raise any concerns, please give us a call. We are here for you and our communities.

We acknowledge and thank you for the work that you do. Please stay safe.

The teams at: NATSIHWA, CATSINaM, AIDA and IAHA.

Contents

Be prepared

  1. Other Routine Precautions in your Clinic or Practice
  2. Establish Staff logs
  3. Disposal of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other waste
  4. Handling of linen

Looking after yourself

  1. Tune into SELF – your OWN health and wellbeing
  2. We need you to be safe for you, and for your families and your communities
  3. Try to eat well, get sleep and exercise if you can.
    You will need this energy to get through this
  4. Feeling confident and supported
  5. Keeping you and your family well and safe
  6. Staying connected to culture and the environment
  7. Reminders for your clinic

Resources to help you keep our communities safe

The toolkit is available now A&TSI Health Professionals Resource Toolkit

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #CulturalSafety : Download National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025 focusing on #Indigenous patient clinical and cultural safety.

When we talk about patient safety it’s important to understand that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this is inextricably linked with cultural safety.
This means that cultural safety is not an ‘add on’ or ‘nice to’. It’s something all registered health practitioners and health regulators need to understand and apply’,

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association CEO, incoming Strategy Group Co-chair Mr Karl Briscoe 

Photo above : Prof Gregory Phillips, Karl Briscoe, Martin Fletcher & Gill Callister launching The National Scheme’s Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health & Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025. Source

February 27 marked the release of a new strategy prioritising cultural safety in the health system brought forward by First Nations health experts, regulators and health organisations.

The National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025 focuses on Indigenous patient clinical and cultural safety.

Download the Strategy 2020-2025

Aboriginal-and-Torres-Strait-Islander-cultural-health-and-safety-strategy-2020-2025 (1)

Presented by Ahpra (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) and National Boards, the strategy was endorsed by 43 organisations, academics and individuals.

With the four objectives of cultural safety, increased participation, greater access and influence, the strategy has already achieved some of its targets, including:

  • Partnering with the National Health Leadership Forum to develop a baseline definition of cultural safety
  • Commissioning a high-quality cultural safety training
  • Recommending and advocating for changes to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

Established by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group, the strategy was led by First Nations organisations and individuals.

The Strategy focuses on achieving patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as the norm and the inextricably linked elements of clinical and cultural safety.
A key feature is that the Strategy was led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and individuals via the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group that represents all signatories to the Strategy (see below).
Inaugural Co-chair of the Strategy Group Prof Gregory Phillips said this work has been a long time in the making and marks an important milestone for addressing health equity.
‘The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group has already instigated and progressed significant reform to help achieve health equity and address racism in the health system.
We are proud of our achievements to date and the launch of the Strategy.
We have much work to do, but together we can have a broad-reaching effect that will help embed cultural safety into the health system across Australia.
This is a significant step in the right direction to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s health, and the national priority of a health system free of racism,’ said Prof Phillips.
Ahpra Chair Ms Gil Callister PSM said ‘self-determination has underpinned this work. The Strategy Group was guided by a caucus of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members to lead this work and reach a clear definition of cultural safety.
As we saw in the recent 10-year Closing the Gap report – our health system must embrace this strategy to fundamentally improve the health of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’
Strategy Group Co-chair and Chair of the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia Ms Julie Brayshaw said ‘cultural safety needs to become the norm in order for patient outcomes to become equal between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians. Without cultural safety, there is no patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.’
CEO of the Dental Council of Australia Ms Narelle Mills said the collaboration of the signatories and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership means the Strategy is an opportunity to demonstrate strength and commitment in this vitally important area.
‘With this Strategy, 43 entities have a clear way forward to support cultural safety, work in a culturally safe way and deliver to clear strategic objectives that seek to embed cultural safety across the registered health workforce, education providers, students and the entities regulating health practitioners’, said Ms Mills.
 The vision
Patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is the norm. We recognise that patient safety includes the inextricably linked elements of clinical and cultural safety, and that this link must be defined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

 

 The objectives
 Cultural Safety A culturally safe health workforce through nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines across all registered health practitioners in Australia.
 Increased participation Increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the registered health workforce and across all levels of the scheme regulating registered practitioners nationally.
 Greater access Greater access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to culturally safe services from registered health practitioners.
 Influence Using the Strategy Group’s leadership and influence to achieve reciprocal goals. This includes developing a nationally consistent baseline definition to be used across the scheme regulating registered practitioners nationally, which has already been achieved in partnership with the National Health Leadership Forum.

As part of the Strategy, some key achievements have already been delivered:

  • partnering with the National Health Leadership Forum (the forum for national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health peak organisations) to develop, consult and finalise a baseline definition of cultural safety for the scheme for regulating health practitioners
  • commissioning high-quality cultural safety training to ensure that the regulation of health practitioners, including the development of standards practitioners must meet and the handling of notifications (concerns about registered health practitioners), is culturally safe
  • recommending and advocating for changes to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to ensure consistency in cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Signatories to the Strategy

The Strategy was developed with the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations and individuals, and is proudly endorsed by:

 

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Accreditation Committee
  • Dental Board of Australia
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia
  • Indigenous Allied Health Australia
  • Ahpra (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency)
  • Medical Board of Australia
  • Australasian Osteopathic Accreditation Council
  • Medical Radiation Practice Accreditation Committee
  • Australian and New Zealand Podiatry Accreditation Council
  • Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia
  • Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association
  • Australian Dental Council
  • National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
  • Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association
  • Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
  • Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association
  • Occupational Therapy Board of Australia
  • Australian Medical Council
  • Optometry Board of Australia
  • Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council
  • Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand
  • Australian Pharmacy Council
  • Osteopathy Board of Australia
  • Australian Physiotherapy Council
  • Paramedicine Board of Australia
  • Australian Psychology Council
  • Pharmacy Board of Australia
  • Chair, Occupational Therapy Council of Australia Ltd
  • Physiotherapy Board of Australia
  • Chinese Medicine Accreditation Committee
  • Podiatry Board of Australia
  • Chinese Medicine Board of Australia
  • Prof Mark Wenitong
  • Chiropractic Board of Australia
  • Prof Noel Hayman
  • Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives
  • Prof Pat Dudgeon (represented by Dr Sabine Hammond)
  • Council of Chiropractic Education Australasia
  • Prof Roianne West, Dean First Peoples Health
  • Councils Presidents Forums (NSW)
  • Psychology Board of Australia


Please note this list includes organisations that have provided endorsement and interim endorsement.

For more information

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Resources Alert : Download @HealthInfoNet Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019 : Continuing to show important positive developments for our mob

In the Overview we strive to provide an accurate and informative summary of the current health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In doing so, we want to acknowledge the importance of adopting a strengths-based approach, and to recognise the increasingly important area of data sovereignty.

To this end, we have reduced our reliance on comparative data in favour of exploring the broad context of the lived experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people and how this may impact their health journey “

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew

The Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status (Overview) aims to provide a comprehensive summary of the most recent indicators of the health and current health status of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Download HERE 

Overview+of+Aboriginal+and+Torres+Strait+Islander+health+status+2019

The annual Overview contains updated information across many health conditions.

It shows there has been a range of positive signs including a decrease in death rates, infant mortality rates and a decline in death rates from avoidable causes as well as a reduction in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke.

It has also been found that fewer mothers are smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy meaning that babies have a better start to life.

The initial sections of the Overview provide information about:

  • the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  • social determinants including education, employment and income
  • the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population
  • measures of population health status including births, mortality and hospitalisation.

The remaining sections are about selected health conditions and risk and protective factors that contribute to the overall health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

These sections include an introduction and evidence of the extent of the condition or risk/protective factor. Information is provided for state and territories and for demographics such as sex and age when it is available and appropriate.

The Overview is a resource relevant for the health workforce, students and others requiring access to up-to-date information about the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This year, the focus will be mainly on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data and presentation is within the framework of the strength based approach and data sovereignty (where information is available).

As a data driven organisation, the HealthInfoNet has a publicly declared commitment to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to advance our understanding of data sovereignty and governance consistent with the principles and aspirations of the Maiam nayri Wingara Data Sovereignty Collective (https://www.maiamnayriwingara.org).

As we have done in previous years, we continue our strong commitment to developing strengths based approaches to assessing and reporting the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

It is difficult to make comparisons between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non- Indigenous Australian populations without consideration of the cultural and social contexts within which people live their lives.

As in past versions, we still provide information on the cultural context and social determinants for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

However, for the selected health topics and risk/protective factors we have removed many of the comparisons between the two populations and focused on the analysis of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data only.

In an attempt to respond to the challenge issued by Professor Craig Ritchie at the 2019 AIATSIS conference to say more about the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ not just the ‘what’ where comparisons are made and if there is evidence available, we have provided a brief explanation for the differences observed.

Accompanying the Overview is a set of PowerPoint slides designed to help lecturers and others provide up-to-date information.

  • In 2019, the estimated Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 847,190.
  • In 2019, NSW had the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the estimated population was 281,107 people, 33% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population).
  • In 2019, NT had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its population, with 32% of the NT population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.
  • In 2016, around 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in major cities.
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is much younger than the non-Indigenous population.

Download the PowerPoint HERE

Overview+of+Aboriginal+and+Torres+Strait+Islander+health+status+2019_+key+facts

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Workforce : @uwanews Five Indigenous women doctors graduate from #WA Uni Dr Tamisha King, Dr Adriane Houghton, Dr Heather Kessaris, Dr Kelly Langford, and Dr Shauna Hill

Five Indigenous women were among 206 students to graduate as doctors at a ceremony held last week in The University of Western Australia’s Winthrop Hall.

Tamisha King, Adriane Houghton, Heather Kessaris and Kelly Langford were awarded a Doctor of Medicine and Shauna Hill was awarded a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.

Dr King, a Karajarri woman from the Kimberley region, completed her Rural Clinical School placement in Kununurra as well as electives in Melbourne and internship preparation in Broome.

Before enrolling in the MD she completed a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Anatomy and Human Biology, and Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing, winning several academic awards. She was also an active member of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA) and WA Medical Students’ Society (WAMSS) Indigenous Representative in 2016. Dr King will start work as an intern at Royal Perth Hospital next month.

Dr Houghton, a Ngarluma Yindjibarndi woman from Port Hedland, completed UWA’s Aboriginal Orientation Course in 2002 through the School of Indigenous Studies and went on to obtain a Bachelor of Science majoring in Geography. After graduating she worked in labs and chemical analysis for Woodside in Karratha for six years before enrolling in the MD.

Dr Houghton completed her Rural Clinical School placement in Port Hedland and was Rural Health West’s first Aboriginal Ambassador. The single mother with two children aged six and 10 will take up an internship at Royal Perth Hospital next month.

Dr Kessaris, an Alawa and Marra woman from the Northern Territory, completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing and Population Health before enrolling in the MD. Also a member of AIDA, she represented UWA and AIDA at the Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors Congress (PRIDoC) in Hawaii this year and was also a WAMSS Indigenous Representative in 2016.

Originally from Cairns in Queensland, Dr Langford graduated with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Anatomy and Human Biology and Economics before enrolling in the MD. In 2017 she completed her Rural Clinical School placement in Broome. Dr Langford is a Badjala woman from Fraser Island and Darraba woman from Starcke, Cape York.

The same year she also received the 2017 national LIMElight Award for Excellence in Indigenous Health Education Student Leadership for her contribution to the understanding of Indigenous health education to her peers, promoting rural and remote health careers and advocating for improvements to the health of Indigenous people in rural and remote communities. Dr Langford will start her internship at Fiona Stanley Hospital next month.

Dr Hill, a Yamatji-Noongar woman who was born and raised in Perth, completed UWA’s Aboriginal Orientation Course in 2002 and went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts majoring in History and Political science and International Relations. She took up a graduate position in Canberra before returning to Perth to work for an Aboriginal organisation and a research officer at UWA’s Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health.

Dr Hill then enrolled in the graduate entry Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, also representing UWA and AIDA at PRIDoC in Hawaii this year. The single mother of three children aged 13, 19 and 20 will take up an internship next month at Royal Perth Hospital.

NACCHO Announcement 2020

After 2,800 Aboriginal Health Alerts over 7 and half years from www.nacchocommunique.com NACCHO media will cease publishing from this site as from 31 December 2019 and resume mid January 2020 with posts from www.naccho.org.au

For historical and research purposes all posts 2012-2019 will remain on www.nacchocommunique.com

Your current email subscription will be automatically transferred to our new Aboriginal Health News Alerts Subscriber service that will offer you the options of Daily , Weekly or Monthly alerts

For further info contact Colin Cowell NACCHO Social Media Media Editor

NACCHO Aboriginal Dental Health and Workforce : @IAHA_National Indigenous health professionals welcome three new female Aboriginal dentists graduates : Increasing to 51 the number of Indigenous dentists practising around Australia.

This is a really significant day. We absolutely need more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people becoming dental and other health professionals.

It makes a big difference in how people interact with and access care if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are involved in delivering it.

In September 2018 there were 48 Indigenous dentists across the whole of Australia: about 0.3 per cent of dentists, whereas Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up about 3 per cent of the population.

Having three Aboriginal women graduate as dentists on one day from one university is something we’d like to see a lot more of.”

Gari Watson, President of IDAA. See Interviews with graduates Part 2 Below

Picture above caption (L-R): Hira Rind, Patricia Elder and Ashlee Bence.

Watch 2017 NACCHO TV  Interview with Gari Watson

“They are such great role models for Indigenous people and will be working to improve oral health, particularly in regional and remote areas of our state,”

Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous Education Professor Jill Milroy said it was wonderful to see three Indigenous women graduate from a highly demanding course.

Hira Rind, Patricia Elder and Ashlee Bence were awarded a Doctor of Dental Medicine, boosting the number of Australia’s Indigenous dentists.

We are delighted for the graduates themselves and their achievement. We’re also excited about what it means in terms of increasing our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.

There is a huge need for accessible, affordable, culturally safe and holistic health care services, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who often face major challenges getting the comprehensive care they need.”

IAHA CEO, Donna Murray  : 

Part 1 Three Aboriginal women recently graduated as dentists from the University of Western Australia.

Indigenous Dentists’ Association of Australia (IDAA) and Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) join in congratulating them on their achievement and welcome them in joining a growing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are succeeding to become and practice as highly skilled practitioners.

Dr Tony Bartone, President of the AMA described the situation on the AMAs 2019 Report Card on Indigenous Health “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults have much higher rates of dental disease than their non-Indigenous counterparts across Australia, which can be largely attributed to the social determinants of health. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also less likely to receive the dental care that they need”.

We expect this is also good news for the Western Australian Government, as improving the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people is a priority in the Western Australian Government’s State Oral Health Plan 2016-2020. The Plan notes and seeks to address the situation where Aboriginal people are less likely to receive treatment they need.

The WA Health Aboriginal Workforce Strategy 2014-24 also recognises the importance of addressing service capacity and workforce, stating “More Aboriginal staff are needed to help
address the significant health issues faced by Aboriginal people”.

As with the dental graduates today, we hope to be congratulating many more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners in the future. Aboriginal and Torres strait islander
communities need better access to comprehensive healthcare. Good oral health is an essential element of health and well being.

Part 2

Three Indigenous women were among 232 students to graduate at a ceremony last week in The University of Western Australia’s Winthrop Hall.

Hira Rind, Patricia Elder and Ashlee Bence were awarded a Doctor of Dental Medicine, boosting the number of Australia’s Indigenous dentists by more than six per cent. Indigenous Allied Health Australia data shows there are currently 48 Indigenous dentists practising around Australia.

Dr Rind, a 29-year-old Yamatji woman originally from Mt Magnet but raised in Perth, began her studies at UWA in the Aboriginal Orientation course in 2008 and graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science in 2013. She went on to work in health and study oral health before enrolling in Dental Medicine.

“I’m planning to work in the North West of WA as part of the rural and remote program,” Dr Rind said.

Originally from Northampton, Dr Elder (29) is a Yindjbardni/Yamatji woman who obtained a Bachelor of Nursing from ECU in 2011 and worked as a registered nurse before commencing dentistry at UWA.

“I’m going to work for the State Government’s Dental Health Service as part of the rural and remote program in Kununurra,” she said.

Dr Bence (30) also worked as an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse in Melbourne before moving to Perth to study dentistry at UWA.

She’s working for Derbarl Yerrigan Aboriginal Service in Perth as well as in private practice.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Workforce News : Indigenous GP Jacinta Power and @jcu medicine graduate is a “  powerful “ force for @TAIHS__ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health

“I really love women’s health.  I get to see the pregnant women, the new babies and then the child.

There’s a spiritual connection there.  Whatever specialty I chose, it was always going to be something that would help my people, it’s definitely my area”

For Indigenous GP Jacinta Power she loves seeing women through their pregnancies, the birth of their babies and watching their children grow

Download full profile

Jacinta Power A4 Profile

The former JCU medical student Fellowed as a General Practitioner through JCU General Practice Training last year and is working with the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Service (TAIHS).

Her goal, to use her skills to better the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Working in the Aboriginal medical service has allowed her to do just that.  A decision validated by a chance meeting with an Aboriginal Elder who helped set up Australia’s first Aboriginal Medical Service in Sydney’s Redfern.

“She came into TAIHS and she just broke down crying to see how far we had come.  From the early days when she was trying to set up the first service to being at TAIHS and to be seen by an Indigenous doctor was amazing.

“To her, that was the goal.  To get to the stage where we could be looking after our own mob.  That was a really special moment.”

Growing up on a farm in rural north Queensland Dr Power always wanted to work in health.  A desire driven by the loss of her brother to cancer as a child.

But as a shy teenager, she lacked the confidence to aim for medicine.  It wasn’t until she read the story of the inspirational African American neurosurgeon, Ben Carson that she felt she too could try for medicine.

Yet she still doubted her own ability.

“I honestly thought I couldn’t do it.  I graduated from a high school in a small rural town.  I think I was the first to go into medicine.”

Despite her misgivings, Dr Power secured a place in the JCU medicine degree, attracted to the program for its focus on rural, remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

“I loved the fact that right from second year you went out into rural towns and learnt from doctors in those areas.  They’re very inspiring, their level of enthusiasm and knowledge is amazing.  It takes a lot to be a doctor in a rural town.  It’s really inspiring for students to learn in those settings.”

Dr Power believes the rural training gives students an edge going into their intern year.

“You learn a lot of skills in rural placements.  You certainly go into that year knowing you have a good set of skills.”

Having completed her GP training in rural and regional north Queensland, Dr Power is now giving back as a Cultural Mentor for current registrars.

“Having a cultural mentor gives registrars a support person.  If you come from a completely different cultural background you might not know certain practices and you might not understand why a patient acts in a particular way.  If they have a person they can ask and debrief with, it provides a more positive experience.”

“Each community is very different and having a cultural mentor in each of those places is definitely necessary.  It creates more support for registrars.”

While Dr Power is enjoying her general practice work, long term she’d like to focus on preventative health, which she sees as key to tackling chronic disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“I chose general practice because you are working in the community. I’d like to take it that step further and get involved outside the clinic as well.  To work on the root causes of the problems and so much of that is good nutrition.”

Eventually she’d like that to include a return to her farming roots and community food production, providing both employment and the foundations of good health.

But for now, she delights in her general practice.  In the mums she helps, the children she treats and the new lives she gets to meet.