NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert: @AMAPresident releases its vision for the future – Delivering Better Care for Patients: The AMA 10-Year Framework for Primary Care Reform

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone has released its vision for the future of primary health care and general practice in post-COVID Australia – Delivering Better Care for Patients: The AMA 10-Year Framework for Primary Care Reform.

General practice is the cornerstone of successful primary health care and the foundation of Australia’s world-class healthcare system.

However, despite agreeing with the rhetoric of the importance of properly funded general practice, successive Governments have overseen a rate of investment in general practice that has not matched the increase in the cost of providing high-quality patient care.

The AMA 10-Year Framework identifies immediate funding goals to ease the financial pressures on general practice, and long-term reforms that should be implemented as part of the Federal Government’s 10-year Primary Health Care Plan.”

Download the AMA 10-Year Framework for Primary Care Reform HERE

Read over 50 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and AMA articles published over the past 8 years HERE

“Government spending on GP services is about $391 per person annually, down from $395 in 2017–2018.

The Australian population is growing, ageing, and developing more complex health needs as chronic disease and mental ill-health continue to increase. General practice funding models must change to meet the needs of the community.

COVID-19 has highlighted the under-funding of general practice for decades. Large financial incentives were needed to keep many practices viable.

Teleheath – an innovation that the AMA has long advocated for – was implemented in the midst of the pandemic to assist access and connection of patients with their usual GP at this time of critical challenge.

The AMA is calling for Federal Government spending on general practice services to be increased to at least a mandated 16 per cent of total health spending as part of a range of reforms to support general practice and improve access to GP care for all patients.

The AMA has made four key recommendations:

  • Primary care reforms to build on the existing GP-led model of primary health care, which deliver high-quality, cost-effective outcomes for patients;
  • The Government to work closely with the AMA and medical profession to develop and implement a suitable funding model to enable the transformation of general practice into a medical home;
  • General practice to be adequately funded to reach its full potential and meet the increasingly complex healthcare needs of the community, involving a mandated 16 per cent of total health spending; and
  • Continued investment in long-term strategies to ensure a sustainable medical workforce.

NACCHO welcomes the new AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid and Vice President, Dr Chris Moy.

The election of Dr Khorshid and Dr Moy at the AMA’s National Conference, follows the conclusion of the two-year term of President Dr Tony Bartone and Vice President Dr Chris Zappala.

Dr Khorshid, an orthopaedic surgeon in Perth and a former AMA WA President, said governments should increase medical, health, and aged care expenditure to combat both COVID-19 and help the economy avoid prolonged recession. “State and Federal Governments have rightly funded the response effort to COVID-19,” Dr Khorshid said.

NACCHO Chair and the NACCHO team congratulate Dr Khorshid and Dr Moy on their election. We look forward to working closely with you on Closing the Gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Image credit: ABC News

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus Alert No 86 : #KeepOurMobSafe @VACCHO_org @ahmrc @TheAHCWA #OurJobProtectOurMob Dr @KelvinKongENT says ” If you’re unwell – get tested to help keep our community safe “

1.Dr Kelvin Kong introduction ” Protecting the community from coronavirus (COVID-19) “

2.Testing for coronavirus

3.Where can I get tested?

4.Update Victoria / VACCHO

5.Update NSW/ AHMRC

6.Help stop the spread

7.Download the COVIDSafe app

8. Download COVID-19 mental health poster / graphics from AHCWA

9. If you’re unwell – get tested to help keep our community safe says Dr Kong

“It’s important we detect any cases in our community early by getting tested if you have even minor symptoms. Don’t be afraid of the people who are taking the tests, because they’re going to be in protective gear. It’s to help keep us all safe from the spread.

Testing is available to all members of the community, for free. Aboriginal communities can contact their local Aboriginal Medical Service or Local Area Health District for information on where to access the test in their area.

The type of test you get might vary depending on where you live and where you go to get tested. You might be tested at the hospital, you might be at a GP practice, or it might be in a drive through testing location.

Some members of the community might be worried about getting the test, not knowing what is involved.

The test is relatively straightforward and simple. It’s not painful at all but can be uncomfortable. The common test involves a nasal swab, which is like a big cotton bud. A swab is taken from inside your nose. It might make you want to sneeze, but it’s over before you even realise that they’ve actually started. It’s really very quick,” 

Like many Aboriginal health professionals, Worimi man Dr Kelvin Kong has been exceptionally busy the last few months, helping to keep communities safe from COVID-19.

Dr Kong is a surgeon at the University of Newcastle’s School of Medicine and Public Health, and has leant his voice to support Aboriginal communities across NSW, sharing videos and tips for communities to protect themselves during this time. Section 9 below for full release

Protecting the community from coronavirus (COVID-19)

2.Testing for coronavirus

Testing lets health workers know if people have coronavirus. This helps control and stop the spread of the virus.

Early diagnosis means you can stop spreading the virus to your friends, family, or community. If you have a fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or any other symptoms of respiratory illness, it is important you get tested. Even if you only have one of these symptoms, get tested.

Testing is even more important if you are unwell and:

  • You have recently come back to Australia from overseas. All travellers will be quarantined for 14 days on arrival into Australia;
  • You have been outside of your community and want to go back;
  • You have been close to someone who tested positive for coronavirus in the past 14 days;
  • You are a health care, aged care or residential care worker or staff member with direct patient contact.

3.Where can I get tested?

You can call your doctor or medical service to make an appointment for a test. If you visit your doctor, it is important to call the clinic first and tell them about your symptoms. This will help them prepare for your arrival and protect other people at the clinic.

You can also go to a free COVID-19 clinic without making an appointment. For Melbourne

COVID-19 GP respiratory clinics are health centres that focus on testing people with acute respiratory illness symptoms.

You can find a respiratory clinic near you here, or visit:  www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/what-you-need-to-know-about-coronavirus-covid-19#how-to-get-tested

If you get tested for coronavirus, you need to stay at home and avoid contact with other people at least until your symptoms have gone away. It may take a day or two for your test results to come back.

The COVID-19 Point of Care Testing (POCT) Program helps people in regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia get tested more easily. The goal of this program is to make sure that health care services are no more than a two to three hour drive from a testing location. This allows people to get their test results much more quickly than they would if the test had to be sent to a laboratory in a bigger town.

If you have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, you should call 000 for urgent medical attention.

4.Update Victoria / VACCHO

You can find more information on keeping safe, restrictions etc. at                        http://www.vaccho.org.au/about-us/coronavirus/

As of Wednesday 22 July 11.59pm everyone 12 years old and over, living in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will HAVE to wear a face covering (can be a hospital or home made mask or a scarf) when outside their home to protect them from COVID-19.

There will be a $200 fine for those not wearing one.

There is information on making and wearing masks at https://bit.ly/2CafiiI

Info: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/face-masks-covid-19

There are some reasons not to wear one:

  • those who have a medical reason
  • kids under 12 years of age
  • those who have a professional reason
  • it’s just not practical, like when running

Teachers don’t have to wear a face covering while teaching – but students attending for VCE, VCAL or for onsite supervision will, while everyone will be expected to wear one to and from school.

However you will still be expected to carry your face covering at all times to wear when you can.

Otherwise, if you’re leaving your home for one of the four reasons, you need to cover your face.

Face coverings in regional Victoria are recommended in situations where 1.5 metres distance is not possible – however regional Victorians will have to wear a mask when visiting metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire for one of the permitted reasons.

Wearing a face mask does not apply to:

  • children under 2 years of age
  • people with breathing difficulties
  • people who have physical conditions that make it difficult to wear one.

Remember, if you’re sick you should stay at home unless you need medical care.

You can find more information on keeping safe, restrictions etc. at http://www.vaccho.org.au/about-us/coronavirus/

5.Update NSW/ AHMRC

More info HERE

Batemans Bay Soldiers Club cluster: Six more have COVID-19 | Were you there on July 13, 15, 16 or 17?

6.Help stop the spread

To protect our communities, everyone should continue to practise physical distancing and good hygiene. Make sure you stay two big steps away from other people, keep your hands clean, and stay at home and away from other people if you are unwell.

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol based rub and cough or sneeze into your elbow. We are all part of keeping our mob safe and stopping the spread of coronavirus.

7.Download the COVIDSafe app

You should download the COVIDSafe app to help protect your family, friends and the community. The app helps health officials to quickly let people know if they have been close to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The information can’t be shared, even with you. The more people who use the app, the more effective it will be and the faster we can get back to the things we love.

Together, we can keep our mob COVIDSafe. Visit: health.gov.au for more details.

8. Download 4 COVID-19 mental health poster / graphics from AHCWA

Feeling angry 😡 or frustrated during the #COVID_19 lockdown ? Here are a few tips to help you cope.
If you need someone to yarn to, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or find your local Headspace.

Alternatively, you can contact your local ACCHO / Aboriginal Medical Service or GP.

Deadly artwork by Will Bessen provided Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia

4 Downloads

9. If you’re unwell – get tested to help keep our community safe says Dr Kong

Like many Aboriginal health professionals, Worimi man Dr Kelvin Kong has been exceptionally busy the last few months, helping to keep communities safe from COVID-19.

Dr Kong is a surgeon at the University of Newcastle’s School of Medicine and Public Health, and has leant his voice to support Aboriginal communities across NSW, sharing videos and tips for communities to protect themselves during this time.

Over his career, Dr Kong has gained extensive experience working in rural, urban and remote communities and knows first-hand the challenges some communities face in overcoming barriers to health care.

Dr Kong says it’s now more important than ever to keep up with regular appointments, encouraging members of the community to get tested if they have any concerns about COVID19 symptoms.

“It’s important we detect any cases in our community early by getting tested if you have even minor symptoms. Don’t be afraid of the people who are taking the tests, because they’re going to be in protective gear. It’s to help keep us all safe from the spread,” explains Dr Kong.

Testing is available to all members of the community, for free. Aboriginal communities can contact their local Aboriginal Medical Service or Local Area Health District for information on where to access the test in their area.

“The type of test you get might vary depending on where you live and where you go to get tested. You might be tested at the hospital, you might be at a GP practice, or it might be in a drive through testing location,” says Dr Kong.

Dr Kong acknowledges that some members of the community might be worried about getting the test, not knowing what is involved.

“The test is relatively straightforward and simple. It’s not painful at all but can be uncomfortable. The common test involves a nasal swab, which is like a big cotton bud. A swab is taken from inside your nose. It might make you want to sneeze, but it’s over before you even realise that they’ve actually started. It’s really very quick,” Dr Kong explains.

While we are seeing reduced community spread of COVID-19 cases, it’s important to continue testing patients that are unwell, to quickly detect any positive cases and stop the spread in the community, through self isolating.

If you test positive for COVID-19 you will need to self-isolate, and this can be a really difficult thing for many families. For our mob there can be extra barriers,” says Dr Kong.

“Sometimes, it’s really hard because we don’t have the space to actually self-isolate, but when you can, and if you can, it’s important to be in your own room. If you do have to be in the same room as someone, wear a mask.

“If you’re going to be getting food, make sure that you’re getting it alone. Wipe down surfaces, don’t interact with other people. It’s better if people can place food at your door,” says Dr Kong

While the whole community plays a part in maintaining good hygiene and regular hand washing, health workers also play a key role in helping to stop the spread between patients.

It’s really important for health workers to stay safe while they’re treating patients. The most important thing is to make sure you wear the protective equipment provided. Face shields or goggles and masks are a must,” said Dr Kong.

“Regular hand washing and wearing gloves and a gown whenever you’re in patient contact is important. These are all simple things to do, and if you’re just seeing one or two patients, it’s very easy. But when you start seeing lots of patients, you get very tired, very quickly.”

Dr Kong is urging health workers and the community to look after their own health and wellbeing too.

“It’s important to have a break. It’s a stressful time and we all need to look out for each other.”

“If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, or concerned about someone close to you, call the Coronavirus mental health line 1800 512 348.”

For the latest information, including resources for Aboriginal communities and health care workers visit nsw.gov.au.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Racism : Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, Chair of @RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health “ Differences in health outcomes are ‘absolutely’ linked to systemic and institutionalised racism in Australia.”

” I can recount ‘hundreds’ of similar experiences and that ‘every Aboriginal person’ would have comparable stories – Aboriginal ethnicity is the strongest predictor of Discharge Against Medical Advice ( DAMA  )and occurs at a rate eight times that of the non-Indigenous population.

I am trying to encourage health services to take more responsibility by getting them to ‘look at it in a different way’, as i believe it is incumbent upon health professionals, including GPs, to lead the fight against racism.

[I want them] to think what is so toxic about this environment … [where] they know if they walk out that front door they could die and they’d rather do that than stay in here.

Everyone in the health system should be advocating for their patients, but GPs are perfectly placed to do that.

Our patients trust us more than any other doctor that they see and they have an intimate, ongoing relationship with us that they don’t necessarily have with any other health professional.

Creating a safe environment for our patients is exactly our responsibility … it’s just about showing an extra level of care for patients and ensuring that they’re comfortable in order to help make a wider change.’

Associate Professor O’Mara highlighted disproportionately high rates of Discharge Against Medical Advice (DAMA) events experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as one by-product of discrimination in the health system, but said GPs are well-placed to help prevent such episodes from occurring. Speaking to GPnews

Download the NACCHO RACGP National Guide 

Read over 130 Aboriginal Health and Racism articles published by NACCHO over past 8 years

The 12th Closing the Gap report, released in February this year, laid bare the lack of progress Australia continues to make with regard to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, education and employment outcomes.

Child mortality is twice that of non-Indigenous children, the life expectancy gap remains at about eight years (and equivalent to developing countries like Palestine and Guatemala), and there is a burden of disease 2.3 times greater than that of non-Indigenous Australians.

According to the Coalition of Peaks, which this week released what it called a ground-breaking report into the development of a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, a change in approach is required to ‘truly close the gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians’.

It advocates for more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander involvement across the board, and calls for mainstream service delivery – including the health sector – to be reformed to address systemic racism, promote cultural safety, and to be held ‘much more accountable’.

Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, told newsGP that differences in health outcomes are ‘absolutely’ linked to systemic and institutionalised racism in Australia, as is the subsequent trauma it inevitably produces.

View previous NACCHO TV Interview with Associate Professor Peter O’Mara

 

One of the greatest sources of trauma for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to Associate Professor O’Mara, is their interaction with police and the criminal justice system.

‘The system is against us in so many ways,’ he said.

‘I went up to a town in the Northern Territory many years ago and when I got to the community a young fella had just been taken across to Darwin where he was spending two weeks in incarceration [due to mandatory sentencing laws].

‘What had happened is, he and his mates were playing cricket on the street … and this young fella had the bat, hit a big shot, and smashed a streetlight.

‘Someone has complained and said, “I’m calling the cops”. He waited and did the right thing, he said, “Look, I’m really sorry, it was an accident, we were playing cricket. I’m sure my parents will try and help pay for the light”, but he got locked up for two weeks.

‘Just for something silly like that – they were playing cricket on a dead-end street in Australia.’

Associate Professor O’Mara says instances like that only tell part of the story.

‘[For example], there’s the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to suffer hearing disorders – often as a result of things like chronic suppurative otitis media – and the evidence is there to say that when you have a hearing disorder, you’re more likely to be incarcerated,’ he said.

‘Some of the things that we do as GPs, like working on that trying to improve ear health for children, and particularly for Aboriginal children, can have a direct impact.’

Dr Penny Abbott, Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Custodial Health network, said GPs are at the frontline for people who are in contact with the criminal justice system.

‘The reasons people end up in prison usually include health issues, such as mental health or substance-related problems, and social problems like homelessness and lack of community-based support networks,’ she told newsGP.

‘Addressing these issues before people get to the point of being sent to prison can happen at a primary care level where we are good at treating the whole person in their context.’

Dr Abbott also said once a person is released from prison it is a ‘perfect time’ to consider if an Aboriginal health check, mental health plan, or chronic disease management plan is urgently needed.

‘[GPs] can make a real difference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait patients by being aware of the kinds of health, social and system issues that their patient comes up against when leaving prison – a precarious time where people are at high risk of relapse to drug use, death, hospitalisation, and returning to prison,’ she said.

‘For example, GPs can ensure continuity of healthcare started in prison, manage health issues that weren’t addressed in prison, and look afresh at issues that may be cropping up post-release. Substance-use disorders are of course a big issue to be on top of.’

Aside from the incarcerated person, Associate Professor O’Mara said it is also important to be aware of the vicarious trauma that families can suffer, especially if the family member is assaulted while imprisoned, or worse, dies in custody.

Since the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, imprisoned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died at a lower rate than non-Indigenous prisoners – although there are no reliable statistics that can be used to calculate death rates in police custody.

A key finding of the royal commission was that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people ‘do not die at a greater rate than non-Aboriginal people in custody’, but rather ‘what is overwhelmingly different is the rate at which Aboriginal people come into custody, compared with the rate of the general community’.

Yet, in the subsequent years, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australian prisons has nearly doubled from 14% to 27%. As a result, 437 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in custody in the past 29 years, as opposed to 99 in the 10-year period investigated by the royal commission.

The high incarceration rate means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 15 times more likely to end up in prison than non-Indigenous Australians, and thus more likely to die there as well.

Dr Abbott said deaths in custody are a great burden on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

‘We need to remain vigilant and committed to avoiding people being sent to prison in the first place, as well as providing quality care in prison and after release,’ she said.

‘We also need to continually reflect on the root causes of deaths in custody and over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the social determinants of poor health and inequities, and the systemic racism that our patients continue to experience.

‘There are many things which will help, such as more programs to divert young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from prison, and a larger workforce of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in health and prison health.’

But, as pointed out in the Coalition of Peaks report, institutionalised racism is not restricted to the justice system, and remains a common experience among health professionals and within the health system as well.

Associate Professor O’Mara highlighted disproportionately high rates of Discharge Against Medical Advice (DAMA) events experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as one by-product of discrimination in the health system, but said GPs are well-placed to help prevent such episodes from occurring.

‘This is a great example, unfortunately, of what happens to our people,’ he said.

‘I’ve seen a gentleman in the clinic in the Aboriginal Medical Service who had chest pain, and I thought that he was having a heart attack – a myocardial infarction. So I started treating him for that and called the ambulance, which took him to a local hospital that … within the health services is known to be blatantly racist.

‘This gentleman goes into the emergency department. He’s quite happy to be there and he’s thankful that he’s receiving the treatment, but some things are said in that environment that are so toxic to him that he decides to pull the ECG leads off, take the IV lines out and walk out the front door.

‘That happens all too commonly in this setting and then at that point, the doctors and nurses, the health professionals will wash their hands of it because we say, “We told them not to go, they chose to go, they signed this [DAMA form]”.’

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus Alert No 84 : June 26 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : Dr Mark Wenitong and Summer May Findlay : ” Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations are taking a leading role in COVID‐19 health communication”

ACCHOs, as comprehensive healthcare services whose core business is population‐level health, have the skills, expertise and knowledge to create and execute appropriate COVID‐19 prevention messages.

Part of their success has been the trust that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people place in them primarily because they deliver culturally appropriate service. In a time of crisis, they are best placed to deliver health promotion and crisis communication to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

ACCHOs and their peak bodies, therefore, need to be resourced appropriately to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the best possible information to reduce the risk to themselves, their families and their communities. ” 

Dr Mark Wenitong and Summer May Findlay : Originally published HERE

For research references or Download

ACCHO COVID19 communications

Noting all images and videos below added by NACCHO

Health communication during a health crisis, such as the COVID‐19 pandemic, is vital to reduce the impact on populations. To ensure the communication is effective, audience segmentation is required with specific resources that have been developed for each segment.

In addition, the messages need to be clear, mutual trust between the communicator and the audience needs to be developed and maintained, and resources should focus on cultural values.

The evidence around effective crisis communication indicates that it needs to be timely, clear, concise and appropriate to the target audience. Communication is particularly important for those at higher risk during the crisis, such as people who are immunocompromised, the elderly, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at increased risk from COVID‐19 due to a range of factors associated with higher rates of non‐communicable diseases and a lack of access to health services in remote communities.

Additionally, there are socio‐cultural factors that put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at risk, such as high mobility for family or cultural reasons.

Despite the increased risk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from COVID‐19, there has been little specific communication tailored for them from governments since the pandemic commenced.

This is despite the overwhelming evidence that health promotion messages need to be tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To fill the gap, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) have demonstrated their capacity to deliver scientifically valid, evidence‐based and culturally translated COVID‐19 prevention messages.

The ACCHO sectors’ understanding of population health has led to a strong history of culturally centred health promotion and social marketing materials.

Even before the World Health Assembly declared COVID‐19 a global pandemic (11 March ACCHOs and their peak bodies had developed messages for their communities.

The ACCHO sectors’ communications on COVID‐19 have been produced in addition to their usual service delivery and using existing funding.

NACCHO first communique January 28 : Since then 84 COVID-19 Alerts 

Read over 84 NACCHO COVID-19 News Alert January to June 2020

Effective social marketing campaigns segment a target audience and develop resources that are culturally appropriate. Culturally appropriate resources include target specific language choices, imagery and an understanding of culturally specific behaviour change motivations.

Four examples of ACCHOs that have delivered tailored resources include the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC), Apunipima Cape York Health Council (Apunipima), Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) and National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).

See NACCHO COVID-19 updates and infomation

Each of the examples provided resources that were tailored specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by including Aboriginal vernacular, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and some included Indigenous languages.

Additionally, the material reflected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s kinship structures by promoting self‐isolation and good hygiene as a way of taking care of family and community.

AHMRC Website 

The AH&MRC, the NSW ACCHO peak body, has disseminated existing and new resources promoting COVID‐19 prevention online via their website, Facebook Twitter YouTube and Instagram

Additionally, they created the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service Pandemic Response Tool Kit. The materials were either resources developed by their member services (ACCHOs) or mainstream materials that have been repurposed and contextualised for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Apunipima ACCHO Website

Apunipima, a Cape York ACCHO in Queensland has also been communicating with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about how to protect themselves from COVID‐19 via Facebook and TikTok, and by distributing printed resources.

The first Facebook post (6 March 2020) used simple, evidenced‐based prevention messages about handwashing. Subsequently, they produced infographics and short localised video updates.

 

AHCWA Website

AHCWA, the Western Australian ACCHO peak body, has also developed infographics promoting prevention measures such as hand washing and COVID‐19 symptoms.

AHCWA resources and updates have been published on their website.

 

NACCHO, the national ACCHO peak body has been amplifying communications from ACCHOs and the jurisdictional affiliates, such as the AH&MRC and AHCWA.

They have shared these resources via their website, the NACCHO communique, their Facebook page and Twitter.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ReconciliationWeek News Alert : #NRW2020 Messages from Minister @KenWyattPM and our @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills : Let’s stand as one and continue being strong. We are all #InThisTogether2020 !’

“ This year’s #NRW2020 theme is ‘In this Together’ – reminds us whether in a crisis or reconciliation we are all #InThisTogether2020.

We have shown during these tough times that we can all do our part to stop the spread of a deadly disease and the results speak for themselves.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be impacted by the legacy of colonisation but what continues is our resilience amidst the adversity we face. When we face adversity together, we see stronger outcomes.

If we all can work together and support the journey of reconciliation, every step forward removes disadvantage and creates a more solid foundation for our country towards a better future for all Australians.”

Read and download full NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills Press Release HERE

Plus details of our Chairs and CEO NRW2020 speaking engagements 27 May

“National Reconciliation Week draws our attention each year to the ongoing efforts to walk together with a shared purpose, and to build a stronger future for all Australians.

This year’s theme, In This Together, resonates in new ways in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and reminds us we all share this land and rely on each other to build a better future.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, has asked Australians to think about what reconciliation means to them and what practical steps they can take to build trust, mutual respect and opportunities for Indigenous Australians. Pictured above with NACCHO CEO Pat Turner 

“The week commences 27 May marking the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and concludes with the anniversary of the High Court’s Mabo decision on 3 June – both significant milestones in our shared history that had profound impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

“These moments in our reconciliation journey remind us of the tireless campaigners who sought to bring us closer and the success that can be achieved when Australians come together as one.”

“This year also marks 20 years since Corroboree 2000 and the memorable Walk for Reconciliation across Sydney Harbour Bridge where close to a quarter of a million people demonstrated their commitment to reconciliation. The images from that day are still striking and it’s important we do not lose that enthusiasm.”

“While we are unfortunately not able to celebrate with gatherings this year due to COVID-19, there are many events happening online that people can get involved with.”

“From film screenings and book recommendations to panel discussions and streamed concerts, there are opportunities for people to learn about our history, engage with Indigenous culture and reflect on what it means to be in this together.”

“I also encourage all Australians to take part in the National Acknowledgement of Country. At midday on Wednesday 27th May, join Indigenous Australians across the nation by posting a video of an acknowledgement of the country you are on with the hashtags #InThisTogether2020 and #NRW2020.”

Visit https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/articles/aiatsis-map-indigenous-australia for a guide to the Traditional Owners of the land you are on.

Visit reconciliation.org.au or indigenous.gov.au to find out more.

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus News Alert No 60 : May 13 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob :#Closingthegap: Aboriginal groups say #coronavirus should not delay new targets

” The pandemic should not be used by governments as a reason to delay the new agreement on closing the gap targets, a coalition of more than 50 Aboriginal peak organisations has warned ahead of the next scheduled meeting in June.

The Coalition of Peaks said the “quick and decisive” efforts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations has kept Covid-19 from devastating communities so far, and shows that strong partnerships with governments make a big difference to Aboriginal health and safety.

But the virus has exposed the inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people on many fronts, the lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner, said.

“Covid-19 is a pathogen, but it is also a diagnostic test being run on Australia – and the results are not good,” Turner said. “

Indigenous organisations say their success with Covid-19 shows strong partnerships with governments make a big difference

Originally published in The Guardian

For info Coalition of Peaks website

While Australians over 65 are considered at high risk of suffering the worst effects of Covid-19, in Aboriginal communities, where there is a higher chronic disease burden, anyone over 50 is considered vulnerable.

“Covid-19 doesn’t discriminate so the gap in potential outcomes is a result of the structural inequity that exists in Australia,” Turner said.

“It is not natural occurrence but the direct result of years of neglect, disinvestment and failed policies, developed without our input.”

In March last year, Australian governments signed a historic partnership agreement with the Coalition of Peaks on closing the gap. They have since developed four reform priorities that are yet to be formally adopted.

“This pandemic has shown just how important those reforms are,” Turner said.

The reforms are to have greater Aboriginal involvement in decision making and service delivery at a national, regional and local level. There is also a commitment to making sure government agencies and institutions undertake systemic and structural transformation, and strengthening community-controlled organisations to deliver the services Aboriginal people need.

Scott Morrison has already committed $1.5m for the fourth priority – a data project to support evidence-based policy and decision making by Indigenous communities.

“Our organisations and communities are best placed to respond to this crisis and yet are the same organisations and communities that have borne the brunt of repeated funding cuts and a rollercoaster of policy and administration changes,” she said.

Turner also said the absence of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander national body or voice to parliament, bringing its collective expertise to respond to Covid-19, was “stark” in its absence.

“People have labelled Covid-19 as some sort of great equaliser but, in reality, its impact is not shared equally,” she said.

“The truth is that there can be no equality until we work together to dismantle structural inequity. Collective will is the only real equaliser.”

 

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus News Alert No 59 : May 12 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : Adrian Carson CEO @IUIH_ @DeadlyChoices The importance of health promotion and prevention during the #covid-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights more than ever, the need for a robust, agile and culturally relevant health promotion and prevention strategy, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

While traditional public health promotion[1] has delivered important messaging and education to mainstream Australians, it has failed to reach and have meaning to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  This is due to a range of factors including: use of language and terminology that is foreign, lower health literacy, and stigmatisation through ‘failure’ to change lifestyle choices.[2]

The dispersed geographic spread of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities also presents a challenge in ensuring that key health promotion and prevention messages are delivered through a range of appropriate channels and multi-media formats.

Adrian Carson has over 28 years’ experience in the Indigenous Health sector, working within government and non-government organisations.

As CEO of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health Ltd, he leads the development and integration of health and wellbeing services to Australia’s largest and fastest growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in South East Queensland.

He has served as Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council and on numerous other Aboriginal health organisations.

Originally published HERE 

While many Australians may believe that the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders live in remote and very remote regions, the majority (79%) in fact live in urban areas. [3]

South East Queensland has recorded the largest and equal fastest growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the country.[4]  It is estimated that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population will grow to 133,000 by 2031. [5]

To address the growing population and demand for health services in the region, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) was established in 2009 to assist the four member Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) with regional planning, development and delivery of comprehensive primary health care services.

Deadly Choices was established as the flagship preventative health and community engagement brand of IUIH.  “Deadly” meaning good to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Deadly Choices is a strengths-based approach that uses cultural identity to define what it means to make healthy choices and reinforces our people as leaders and health promoters.[6]

Deadly Choices is considered one of Australia’s most recognizable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brands, with over 30 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations ACCHOS and 16 NRL and AFL clubs nationally already delivering Deadly Choices licensed activities across the country.

Behind the brand is a suite of health education, behaviour change programs and social marketing that have increased the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders taking control of their health by accessing their local health services, completing regular Health Checks, and engaging in physical activity, nutrition, quit smoking and other healthy lifestyle programs – all critical determinants of better health outcomes.

Since 2010-11, Deadly Choices has contributed to:

  • 762% increase in health checks completed in SEQ[7]
  • 33,000 new patients reached
  • 576% increase in GP Management Plans

In 2018-19 alone, there were 38,000 active clients in SEQ and over 23,000 health checks completed.[8]

An external evaluation of Deadly Choices multimedia campaign[9] found very strong campaign recognition (73%), call to action was very high (85% indicated starting some health change after seeing the campaign) and exceptional Net Promoter Score[10] – 59 compared to best industry score of 27.

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and increasing restrictions on group assembly and social distancing necessitated a rethinking of the structure and delivery of Deadly Choices programs and activities.

Building on the recognition and experience with highly engaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on social media[11]Deadly Choices dramatically increased our offerings.

Important COVID-19 awareness, education and prevention messaging was developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences.  Social media platforms (FacebookInstagramTwitter, and TikTok) continued to carry these new messages along with existing physical activity, nutrition, quit smoking and competitions.

During the first week of trialing the increased online presence, Deadly Choices achieved a massive 31,683 reach and 876 reactions to our Facebook post on “We Can Control the Spread of Coronavirus – it’s up to us.”  Similarly, the “Deadly Guide to social distancing” reached 16,293 with 244 reactions.

Live streaming of our DCFit physical activity program and Good Quick Tukka (GQT) cooking program commenced in week two.  Current engagement of the first series sits at over 4,300 views of the DCFit session and over 5,400 views of the GQT program.  In week three, the second series of DCFit sits at over 4,000 views and GQT sits at over 1,800 within one hour of live streaming.

VIEW HERE 

There is appetite within our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for health promotion, prevention and education that is a cultural fit and engages with our people in a positive way.

Deadly Choices is well positioned to ensure that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are informed and up to date, not just about healthy lifestyles, but also prevention and recognition of COVID-19 symptoms.

The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a rapid opportunity to rethink our traditional messaging and methods of health promotion.  This is something which can be shared with mainstream public health promotion.

Further investment and flexibility of funding to allow such innovation by ACCHSs is needed.  This will ensure that appropriate and timely health promotion and prevention messages reach our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

References:

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia – Stories from the Census, 2016; Cat No. 20171.0

Deadly Choices 2020, Deadly Choices ROI & statistics, Deadly Choices website: https://deadlychoices.com.au/licensees/roi-and-statistics/

Hefler, M; Kerrigan, V; Henryks, J; Freeman, B & D. Thomas 2018, ‘Social media and health information sharing among Australian Indigenous people’ in Health Promotion International, 2019; 34; 706-715.

IUIH 2019, IUIH Annual Report 2018-19, IUIH, Brisbane.

Markham, F & N. Biddle 2017, Indigenous Population Change in the 2016 Census, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), Australian National University (ANU), Canberra.

McPhail-Bell, K (2014), Deadly Choices: better ways of doing health promotion, downloaded 8 April 2020, accessible at https://eprints.qut.edu.au/76238/

McPhail-Bell, K; Appo, N; Haymes, A; Bond, C; Brough, M & B. Fredericks (2018), ‘Deadly Choices empowering Indigenous Australians through social networking sites’, in Health Promotion International, 2018; 33; pp 770-780.

Pollinate 2019, Evaluation of Deadly Choices Statewide Campaign, Pollinate, Melbourne.

World Health Organisation 1986, Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, First International Conference on Health Promotion, Ottawa, 21 November 1986


[1] The Ottawa Charter (WHO 1986) defines health promotion as ‘the process of enabling people to increase control over the determinants of health and thereby improve their health’.

[2] McPhail-Bell 2014, Deadly Choices: better ways of doing health promotion, QUT, Brisbane.

[3] Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia – Stories from the Census, 2016; Cat No. 20171.0

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia – Stories from the Census, 2016; Cat No. 20171.0

[5] Markham & Biddle 2017, Indigenous Population Change in the 2016 Census, CAEPR, ANU.

[6] McPhail-Bell, K; Appo, N; Haymes, A; Bond, C; Brough, M & B. Fredericks (2018), ‘Deadly Choices empowering Indigenous Australians through social networking sites’, in Health Promotion International, 2018; 33; pp 770-780.

[7] Deadly Choices 2020, Deadly Choices ROI & statistics, Deadly Choices website: https://deadlychoices.com.au/licensees/roi-and-statistics/

[8] IUIH 2019, IUIH Annual Report, IUIH, Brisbane.

[9] Pollinate 2019, Evaluation of Deadly Choices Statewide Campaign, Pollinate, Melbourne.

[10] Net Promotor Score (NPS) measures customer loyalty to brand

[11] Hefler, et al 2018 found that social media use is higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than the general Australian population.

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus News Alert No 50 : April 30 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob :#COVID-19 : @FPDNAus in partnership with @SydneyHealthLaw and @DisabilityUNSW release 6 key guidelines on providing ethical health care for Indigenous people with disability. 

“First Peoples with disability, who are already experiencing higher levels of disadvantage and are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, are at risk of being triaged out of the health system or being provided with inadequate support.

A lot of Indigenous people with disabilities face race discrimination, disability discrimination or an intersection of both.

And unfortunately we have a situation where people are very reluctant to engage in the health system because they might have well-founded fears around how they might be treated “

With reports from countries such as America finding that marginalised people are missing out on emergency health care, Damian Griffis, CEO of the First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN), told Pro Bono News he feared the same would happen to Aboriginal people

FPDN community COVID-19 Info page

As talks of easing lockdown restrictions begin, experts fear Aboriginal Australians with disability will be overlooked and “triaged out of the health system”.

It has prompted FPDN , in partnership with Sydney Health Law and the Disability Innovation Institute UNSW, to release guidelines on providing ethical health care for Indigenous people with disability.

The points of action put First Peoples with a disability in a position where they can speak to decision-makers and help them provide appropriate responses to the pandemic.

The recommendations include recognising that disability care is a critical health service for Indigenous people and should be funded as such, including Indigenous people in decision-making processes regarding healthcare during the pandemic, helping restore trust in healthcare systems, and providing culturally appropriate services.

Griffis said that while Australian health services were dealing with the pandemic in a fair way, putting into place the recommendations would make sure it stayed that way.

“It looks as though we are on the right track, but nonetheless these principles should inform access to intensive care,” he said.

He also said that with such a big focus on healthcare at the moment, it was a good opportunity to review the entire healthcare experience for Indigenous people with disability, beyond the pandemic.

Find a full list of the recommendations here.

Discussions of easing restrictions, nation-wide, potentially present a higher risk of increasing numbers of outbreaks across the country.

These ethical considerations must be adapted and implemented.

1.All Federal, State and Territory government agencies must remove disability from consideration of resource allocation when it is used as a broad criterion for exclusion from critical care.

2.State and Federal health authorities must commit to including First Peoples with a disability in planning for decision-making regarding healthcare during the pandemic.

3.State and Federal health authorities must commit to identifying areas of strain and work to re-establish strong relationships of trust and confidence with the First Peoples affected. In cases where that cannot be implemented, arrangements should be made to give access to alternative healthcare resources.

4.State and Territory policies on pandemic healthcare must expressly refer to the need to be culturally competent when providing services to First Peoples with a disability.

5.The State and Territory governments must look at how more students can be transitioned into the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healthcare workforce.

6.State and Territory governments must understand this existential threat and take whatever action is necessary to protect Elders as the guardians of First Peoples’ cultures.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #CoronaVirus News Alert No 25 March 31 #KeepOurMobSafe : Concerned health professionals group warns @KenWyattMP urgent measures are needed to help prevent the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on our communities

We are writing as a group of health professionals to urge you to do whatever is necessary to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people/communities to take protective actions regarding COVID-19. As in all measures, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community guidance, involvement in design and decision making is essential.

As healthcare workers, our concern is for all people facing this global pandemic. But our First Nations people are particularly at risk here in Australia.

There are significant urgent actions that need to be taken NOW, to prevent unnecessary deaths.

We are sure you share this concern and we look forward to hearing what you can do in this rapidly deteriorating and highly threatening situation. “

Download a a copy of the letter

Open-letter-to-Minister-Wyatt-Covid-19-and-Aboriginal-communities-29th-March-2020

See NACCHO Corona Virus Home Page

Read all 25 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Coronas Virus Alerts HERE

The Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP Minister for Indigenous Australians

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT 2600. 29th March 2020

Dear Minister Wyatt,

Re: Urgent measures to help prevent the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people/communities

Continued from above

There is an urgent imperative to prevent the spread of COVID-19 into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, which are particularly vulnerable to its impacts. Given the multiple and significant health issues faced by many in isolated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and the lack of intensive/accessible health facilities, the death rates of a COVID-19 outbreak would be very high.

Related critical issues include:

  • the risk posed by non-essential ‘fly in fly out’(FIFO) workforces into remote communities;
  • the need for early release of imprisoned Aboriginal people (those serving time for lesser offences), given incarceration massively increases risk of infection and death;
  • ensuring the ongoing provision of supplies in a reliable and cost-effective manner;
  • access to clear, accurate health information – both in English and in local languages; and
  • provision for health worker support, testing and isolation/quarantine

Clearly there are different situations across the country; there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.

After reaching out to a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations, individuals and health care workers, we strongly advocate for these recommendations with urgency:

1)  Clear protocols must be established to cease non-essential FIFO contact with local workers and community, as well as ensuring adequate hygiene measures are used at every point.

Where the separation of workers is not feasible, we request that either FIFO work should cease, or a local workforce should be given extended paid leave, given the key role this income plays in many communities.

2)  The urgent release of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander minor offenders from custody.

Specifically, this applies to those who are on remand or in custody for minor offences and/or not deemed as a threat to others. This includes women, young people, and those at greatest risk of dying from COVID-19, e.g. the elderly, and people with pre-existing health conditions.

At all costs, we must prevent any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody from COVID 19

These are preventable deaths.

3)  Provision by government of guaranteed supplies of staples to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

This is increasingly becoming necessary, especially given remote locations can have few alternatives and prohibitive costs. The subsidisation of fresh food, particularly fruit and vegetables, may also improve the nutrition, health and resilience of communities.

Currently, there are reports of essential item shortages similar to those noted in metropolitan areas. As examples, a lack of meat, toilet paper, hand sanitiser and basic food items are now common. .

The adequate provision of cleaning supplies is imperative, as many of these communities do not have reliable access to running water in all homes. Ammunition used in hunting is also in short supply in some areas. Various communities are also reporting price gouging, with some locations seeing essentials like milk and toilet paper double their usual cost.

Further, while encouraging isolation from nearby towns would reduce the spread of COVID-19, it is also very difficult to enforce if there is limited access to many essential supplies locally.

4)  The provision of clear, accurate and up-to-date information (preferably “in language”) would help to mitigate the worry, confusion and fear that is currently being reported in some communities.

For example, speaking of ‘avoidance’ can mean many different things in cultural contexts. Further, strong cultural traditions might prevent people from readily embracing safer, recommended hygiene practices. For example, some people may be more concerned about not disrespecting Elders, wanting to attend a funeral and observe Sorry Business, and so on.

Hence, the government needs tobe very clear in its messaging across media platforms about the actual risks involved and the recommended precautions people should take.

Culturally appropriate work with communities and Elders to find new solutions that also ensure they can continue to practice their Law and culture must be an imperative. Noting, there are many existing language centres that could assist with this messaging (ideally for a reasonable fee in this time of economic uncertainty).

5)  Provision for health worker support and training, testing and isolation/quarantine facilities.

Health workers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities or in remote regions need specialist training in this time to ensure they have access to the latest information, as well as Personal Protective Equipment and testing facilities.

Capacity to allow for safe isolation or quarantining is vital in helping control the disease.

We strongly urge the government to work with local community-controlled services to ensure vital services such as dialysis services, mental health services, telehealth services and supplies lines of medication are not reduced during this time.

As healthcare workers, our concern is for all people facing this global pandemic. But our First Nations people are particularly at risk here in Australia.

There are significant urgent actions that need to be taken NOW, to prevent unnecessary deaths.

We are sure you share this concern and we look forward to hearing what you can do in this rapidly deteriorating and highly threatening situation.

Yours sincerely

Dr Margaret Beavis MBBD FRACGP MPH

Dr Anne Noonan MBBS MD MA Sydney SONT (Specialist Outreach Northern Territory)

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker BMed FRANZCO

Dr Dana Slape, Larrakia MBBS (Hons), FACD, Previous AIDA Director

Dr Catherine Keaney BSc MBBS DCH FRACGP

Associate Professor Tilman A Ruff AO MB, BS (Hons), FRACP

Dr Ruth Mitchell, BA, BSc, BMBS, MAICD, FRACS Dr Sue Wareham OAM, MB BS

Lynette Saville RN, OHN,

Dr Helen Feniger MBBS, GDipAppSc(Comp). Dr Ka Sing Chua MBBS FAMAC

Dr Michael Keem BBiomed MD Dr Lucy Desmond B-BMED MD Dr Tom Keaney

Genevieve Christophers BSc RN RM

Dr Bruce McClure MBBS (Hons), FRACGP

Deborah Leighton MA Clinical Neuropsychology Fellow College Clinical Neuropsychologists. Dr Carole Wigg MBBS, MBioeth, DCH, DRCOG

Dr Jane Fyfield MBBS DGM GDipHA MPH Cert 1V Workplace Assessment & Training. Dr Andrew McDonald MBBS DRANZCOG

Dr Barbara Robertson MBBS FANZCA

Jane Phillips BAppSci (Physio) GC Health GC Res Methods APAM Dr Judith Hammond MBBS FRACGP

Professor Eric Morand MBBS PhD FRACP Anne C Hosking GCertNsg , GDipORNsg Dr Richard K Barnes, MBBS, FANZCA

Dr Kate Lardner BPT, MBBS, GDipSurgAnat Dr Peter Shannon MBBS DPM FRANZCP Dr Henry Robert Jennens MBBS BMedSci Dr Maria Bikos BDS (Adel)- Dentist

 

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth and #CoronaVirus News Alert No 19 #KeepOurMobSafe : Intro @JuliaGillard 10 Help/ supports from @beyondblue Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak plus managing your mental health while in self-isolation or quarantine

1.Try to maintain perspective

2.Find a healthy balance in relation to media coverage

3.Access good quality information

4.Try to maintain a practical and calm approach

5.Try not to make assumptions

6.Managing your mental health while in self-isolation or quarantine

7.Children and young people

8.Support for those experiencing financial hardship

9.Health care workers

10.Seek support

See NACCHO Corona Virus Home Page

Read all 18 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Coronas Virus Alerts HERE

“These are uncertain times. There are many unknowns.

As humans, we’re hardwired to crave stability. If you’re feeling worried and unsettled that is perfectly understandable.

I felt that myself during my recent period of self-isolation in London. At an event for young people called WE Day, I spent quite a bit of time with Sophie Trudeau, the First Lady of Canada.

When she became unwell and tested positive for COVID-19, I was concerned about potentially becoming sick a long way from home.

What I found reassuring was that the public health advice that was so clear.  The recommendation to me was to self-isolate for 14 days from the time of contact.

Fortunately, I stayed fit and well in that period and all my London friends and colleagues, as well as visiting Aussie mates, made sure I had food and stayed connected with video conferences, calls and silly messages.

On my return to Australia I will self-isolate for another 14 days, and I know family and friends will help me through.

For me, this experience has reinforced how a significant part of the solution to this pandemic rests with us.

The daily decisions we make now are critical and every single one of us has a part to play.

Our individual acts can have a powerful collective impact, helping protect those most at risk in our community.

Simple things really matter – good hand hygiene, avoiding mass gatherings, keeping a 1.5 metre distance between ourselves and others, and staying home if we’re unwell or if we’ve been in contact with someone who is.

Beyond Blue recognises and understands the feelings of anxiety, distress and concern many people may be experiencing in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and offers the following wellbeing advice.”

Julia Gillard Chair BeyondBlue : Read full Press Release Here

1.Try to maintain perspective

While it is reasonable for people to be concerned about the outbreak of coronavirus, try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts around the world are working hard to contain the virus, treat those affected and develop a vaccine as quickly as possible.

2.Find a healthy balance in relation to media coverage

Being exposed to large volumes of negative information can heighten feelings of anxiety. While it’s important to stay informed, you may find it useful to limit your media intake if it is upsetting you or your family.

3.Access good quality information

It’s important to get accurate information from credible sources such as those listed below. This will also help you maintain perspective and feel more in control.

4.Try to maintain a practical and calm approach

Widespread panic can complicate efforts to manage the outbreak effectively. Do your best to stay calm and follow official advice, particularly around observing good hygiene habits.

The Australian Psychological Society has advice about maintaining positive mental health during the outbreak.

5.Try not to make assumptions

To contribute to a sense of community wellbeing, try to remember that the coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of their nationality or ethnicity and remember that those with the disease have not done anything wrong.

6.Managing your mental health while in self-isolation or quarantine

There are a number of ways to support your mental health during periods of self-isolation or quarantine.

  • Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation to slow the spread of the virus.
  • Remember that your effort is helping others in the community avoid contracting the virus.
  • Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, video conferencing or telephone.
  • Connect with others via the Beyond Blue forums thread: Coping during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.
  • Keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy foods.
  • Try to maintain physical activity.
  • Establish routines as best possible and try to view this period as a new experience that can bring health benefits.
  • For those working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific work hours, taking regular breaks and, if possible, establishing a dedicated work space.
  • Avoid news and social media if you find it distressing.

7.Children and young people

Families and caregivers of children and young people should discuss news of the virus with those in their care in an open and honest way. Try to relate the facts without causing alarm, and in a way that is appropriate for their age and temperament. It is important to listen to any questions they may have, to let them know that they are safe and that it’s normal to feel concerned.

If the media or the news is getting too much for them, encourage them to limit their exposure. This video has some useful tips for talking to young people about scary stuff in the news.

Beyond Blue’s Be You initiative has also developed the following resources to help educators support children and young people’s mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

8.Support for those experiencing financial hardship

As the ongoing spread of the coronavirus continues to affect the global economy, many people in Australia are losing jobs, livelihoods and financial stability. For information and services provided by the Australian government, please visit Services Australia.

If you are experiencing financial hardship, National Debt Helpline offers free financial counselling.

9.Health care workers

Health care workers may feel extra stress during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is a normal response in these unprecedented circumstances. Such feelings are not a sign of weakness and it’s important to acknowledge this. There are practical ways to manage your mental health during this time, including:

  • getting enough rest during work hours and between shifts
  • eating healthy foods and engaging in physical activity
  • keeping in contact with colleagues, family and friends by phone or online
  • being aware of where you can access mental health support at work
  • if you’re a manager, trying to create mentally healthy work structures.

It’s important the general public recognises the pressure that health systems and workers themselves are under and takes steps to support them where possible. Following government advice about ways individuals can help slow the spread of the virus will support the health care workers who are saving lives and keeping people safe.

10.Seek support

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or stressed by news of the outbreak. We encourage people who have experienced mental health issues in the past to:

  • activate your support network
  • acknowledge feelings of distress
  • seek professional support early if you’re having difficulties.

For those already managing mental health issues, continue with your treatment plan and monitor for any new symptoms.

Social contact and maintaining routines can be supportive for our mental health and wellbeing. In circumstances where this is not possible, staying connected with friends and family online or by phone may assist. Beyond Blue also has a dedicated page on its forums about coping during the coronavirus outbreak.

Acknowledge feelings of distress and seek further professional support if required.

Beyond Blue has fact sheets about anxiety and offers other practical advice and resources at beyondblue.org.au.

The Beyond Blue Support Service offers short term counselling and referrals by phone and webchat on 1300 22 4636.