NACCHO member news: Apunipima Cape York Health Council welcomes the Close the Gap Report and continued investment into Aboriginal health services.

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Dr Mark Wenitong , Apunipima Cape York Health Council and NACCHO advisor getting “checked out” by daughter Naomi Wenitong

Has been urging Health action to Close the Gap

Today’s release of the Progress and Priorities Report by the Close the Gap Committee shows the investment in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations is contributing to closing the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.


Chair of Apunipima Cape York Health Council Thomas Hudson said, “We welcome the Close the Gap Report and its recommendations for the continued investment into Aboriginal health services.

“The report shows slow but real progress towards achieving the Close the Gap targets and we are proud that by delivering community controlled primary health care services in Cape York and are contributing to those targets through an increase in GP Management Plans, chronic disease programs, educational and prevention programs, Maternal and Child Health services, Men’s Health services, adult health checks, immunisation rates and episodes of care.

“Evidence shows that better health outcomes and significant health gains can be achieved by Aboriginal communities having control of their own health. While there is still a lot of work to do in order to reach the Close the Gap targets, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHO) are front and centre in the fight for health equality. Community owned and community driven health services provide culturally appropriate, responsive care underpinned by self – determination and ground – up solutions.

“Apunipima is committed to strengthening culturally appropriate, family centred, community controlled primary health care across Cape York. We have a family and community centred approach to primary health care and are proud of the fact that over 50 percent of our workforce identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. We believe that employment is integral to the health of individuals, families and communities.

We know that education is the road to employment and that healthy kids have better educational outcomes. By focusing on the health of mums, bubs, toddlers we support school readiness and in turn, school attendance.

Thanks to Close the Gap the infant mortality rate is falling – let’s give that child the best start in life so they can have a healthy, productive future.

“Apunipima supports the key recommendations of the Close the Gap Report and we call on the new government to build on the success of the Close the Gap campaign which is seeing slow but steady gains in a range of health indicators.

NACCHO nutrition alert: Menzies and the Fred Hollows Foundation – Improving nutrition in remote communities

Talking about shelf labels

A new resource package focused on improving nutrition in remote stores in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will help to address the poor state of diets in remote Indigenous populations


With support from The Fred Hollows Foundation, the Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) has developed a Talking about Shelf Labels flipchart and a comprehensive resource manual as part of its Remote Stores Project.

Dietary improvement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is a priority for reducing the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Poor quality diets are a significant risk factor for three of the major causes of premature death – cardiovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Research Fellow with Menzies’ Nutrition Research Team, Dr Susan Colles said a number of remote communities have previously used shelf labels to highlight healthier food and drink choices to help promote good nutrition in remote community stores.

“But there’s been limited support available, for instance there were no tools for developing, implementing, maintaining and evaluating effective shelf label projects,” Dr Colles said.

The Remote Stores Project worked with four communities across Arnhem Land, Cape York, Central Australia and The Torres Straits, to gather information on what sort of shelf label systems currently existed, which were effective and accepted in communities, what sort of tools were necessary and how to work with local people to develop culturally appropriate shelf label projects.

“In each site we collaborated with local people together with store staff, health professionals and other stakeholders to develop and implement shelf label projects and other activities for their stores,” Dr Colles said.

“The findings from this process were used to form a resource package which will assist health and nutrition staff to work with store staff and communities to develop and evaluate a program based on putting better labelling or “shelf talkers” in community stores,” Dr Colles said.

The resource will benefit Indigenous families, remote nutritionists, remote area store staff and health professionals working in communities.

The ‘Talking about Shelf Labels’ resource package can be used when:

· Talking with community leaders, members and stakeholders about shelf labels to help people decide whether they want a shelf label in their store

· Talking about what people might want or expect from a shelf label program

· Helping people decide what their shelf labels might say or look like, and how to provide clear health messages

· Looking for practical training ideas, and for building effective systems for monitoring and maintaining shelf labels

Dr Colles said the resource package also focuses on the promotion of strong partnerships with community store staff. She hopes that people working in remote nutrition and food supply will access the tools andwork in conjunction with communities to promote healthy food choices.

The Remote Stores Project was funded through The Fred Hollows Foundation. Menzies would like to thank all communities, store organisations and stakeholder organisations that participated in this study.

A small number of hard copies of the ‘Talking about shelf labels’ flipchart are available by contacting Karen Black on Ph: 08 8922 6541

The resource manual is available upon request contact: Richmond Hodgson (Media contact) on 08 8922 8438 or 0408 128 099

Background: Menzies School of Health Research are Australia’s only Medical Research Institute dedicated to improving Indigenous health and wellbeing. We have a 27-year history of scientific discovery and public health achievement. Menzies work at the frontline and collaborate broadly, partnering with over 60 Indigenous communities across Northern Australia to create resources, grow local skills, and find enduring solutions to problems that matter.