Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus News Alert No 46 : April 23 #KeepOurMobSafe : #OurJobProtectOurMob : Professor James Ward @researchjames @UQPoche : How are we protecting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from #COVID19 ?

 ” Of course all of this would not be possible if it weren’t for the commitment of COVID-19 Advisory Group members, their workplaces, the absolute commitment of our Co-Chairs Dr Dawn Casey and Dr Lucas De Toca, their respective teams and organisations.

Many people have worked incredibly hard and will continue to do so until the end of this pandemic.

Putting this all into perspective, nobody in our collective has had to deal with something of this scale in our current lived history. We are all scrambling to plan, to scale up our health services responses, to bullet proof our communities, to think about the possibilities, to have a plan A and a Plan B.

The next steps will be to consider the road to recovery — hopefully coming out of this relatively unscathed but with considerable work to ensure we are protected at least until a vaccine is developed and we can reduce worldwide cases.

The road ahead is long, but we are up for the challenge.

Having sad that we are confident we are in a strong place, we have the expertise required around the table. Of course it’s not perfect just yet but we have time on our side even if it is just a little.

You can be assured we have the backs of all of our peoples when we commit to this.    

We are all in this together.” 

James Ward, a Pitjantjatjara and Narungga man who is the Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and Professor within the School of Public Health at the University of Queensland, is a member of the Advisory Group and the only Indigenous member of the CDNA.

Originally published Croakey

Much has been written about the impact the virus SARS COV-2 might have on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

It’s understandable. The omnipresent stream of media and online content, telling the story and in pictures that we face a higher risk from morbidity and mortality during a pandemic and more rapid spread of disease, particularly within discrete communities, has shaken us to our core.

We are not alone with risk. The stories, the numbers, the images from Europe, the USA and all around the globe will be etched in our memories forever.

The emerging stories from other Indigenous peoples internationally shake us further.

The Navajo Nation coronavirus death rate is eclipsing that of states with much larger populations, while the first death of a Yanomami person in the Amazon was a 15 year old, raising concerns for remote and isolated people residing on traditional lands in the Amazon, close to mining companies.

What does this mean for our own population of Indigenous peoples here in Australia?

These stories strengthen our resolve, forcing us to dig deep, enabling us to honour and serve our people, especially our Elders and those most vulnerable within our communities.

COVID-19 has forced us to drop almost everything else we do in our daily lives and focus on developing sensible responses to bullet proof our communities against this virus and, by doing so, protecting our people’s health and continuation of the world’s oldest culture.

The latest Communicable Diseases Intelligence report published (volume 44 for the week ended 12 April 2020) says that of 6,394  cases reported in Australia, only 44  had been reported among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Of these just over half were acquired overseas. No cases have been reported in our population resident in a remote community.

First, some COVID-19 and Indigenous health context

People should read this article with an open mind.

Recent stories about lack of equipment, resources and spaces to isolate in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities need to be told, however the reality is they are frightening many of our community members. You only have to read the online comments posted under such  stories to know the fear that people hold for our people, especially our Elders.

Unnecessary stress or pandemonium is not what we need to be creating for our population at this point in time. Instead we should be affirming what we have put in place by detailing the responses we are working at tirelessly to get us through this pandemic as best as we can. These messages should be firm, clear and consistent and optimistic.

But first let’s put this into perspective.

The Australian health care system in ordinary circumstances is far from perfect, but there are constant shining lights from Aboriginal communities and their health services that guide us in how to prevent and manage disease, by delivering best care and treatment for our peoples.

Reforms are constant, evidence is always developing and technology changes the way we do things. Communities are always working to get the best outcomes in our stretched health care system, but also with such massive odds stacked up against us with social and cultural determinants of health at play here.

Nobody expected that Aboriginal primary health care services would be dealing with a pandemic of this magnitude and in such a short period of onset. Putting it bluntly and into perspective, our communities and our health care system were not prepared to deal with a global pandemic of this magnitude. For many we have started from scratch.

Neither was the rest of the world prepared, as it turns out. Just a few months ago we were all cruising through life, dealing with what we do on a daily basis, fighting a good fight in striving for better health outcomes for our peoples. Today we are fighting an even bigger fight to combat this virus.

Formulating the response

I am the only Aboriginal member of the Communicable Disease Network of Australia, the peak advisory group advising on communicable diseases that has been meeting regularly since January, racking up more than 70 meetings as of last week.

When it became very clear at an early stage that we needed to recruit extra help, the CDNA listened, followed up internally and recruited the very capable Dr Lucas De Toca, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health, Indigenous Health Division, who progressed the development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group within the CDNA.

This advisory group has been meeting since the end of February, initially three times per week, now twice per week.  Convened and off and running within a week, its membership can be found  here. A special mention goes to both the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) for convening the group, and the Department of Health for providing secretarial support and other Government agency membership.

During the past two months, the collective actions of this group have moved mountains that in normal times would not be even remotely imaginable nor possible.

In this article, I want to highlight some of the discussions and outcomes of this group so it is on the public record.

Contributing to the SoNG

The first thing we did was to contribute to the CDNA Series of National Guidelines for Public Health Units on COVID-19 (SoNG) highlighting why Aboriginal people needed to be accorded as a priority population.

A small group of us, were involved in drafting this SoNG: a few friends, Dr Dawn Casey representing NACCHO, Dr De Toca, and Ms Kristy Crooks, a PhD student who has been working with communities on pandemic preparedness.

The COVID-19 SoNG can be found here. It was developed using lessons from the last global pandemic among our peoples, 2009’s H1N1, as well as our collective insights. The first job of the Advisory Group was to refine and sign off on the input into the SoNG.

Developing a management plan

The second thing we completed was a National Management Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities using the National Health Sector Emergency Response plan as a framework to highlight preparedness, actions required and a plan to scale back efforts when we can see light at the end of the tunnel.

With much robust discussion, input into the plan was extracted from committee members using an emerging issues agenda item at each meeting.  The plan can be found here.

Some have criticised the plan for its aspirational nature and the Government for not funding the plan. I want to put this straight.

This plan was developed for communities nationally to help guide the development of local and regional plans. Governments have funded parts of the plan, the rest has been reliant on goodwill of individuals and organisations, some of which are highlighted below.

Many of you will also know that the Aboriginal health sector doesn’t always have the necessary resources to do all the things that we know need to be done. They just get on and do it.

The sector is built on history and legacy. It demonstrates resilience, and in true fashion has been already conducting an enormous amount of work developing communications campaigns, innovative thinking around service delivery, leadership and advocacy, at the same time, demonstrating committed care to their patients.

What they are asking is for flexibility, leniency, understanding and compassion to enable them to do what they need to do to ride out this pandemic.

Planning into action

As a result of the Action Plan, the Advisory Group continues to meet twice weekly to discuss emerging issues that are reported from the ground up, for actioning within Government and for our collective benefit.

Below are major achievements that the Advisory Group has been involved in directly or indirectly.

Minimising remote community exposure

The Government has worked to minimise the exposure of remote and very remote communities to the coronavirus. Access to these communities has been restricted to protect community members from its spread. This has involved the deployment of the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act.

This action complements actions by many State and Territory Governments to close borders in order to control the virus spread. Biosecurity officers are now in place across Australia’s national and jurisdictional borders to protect our health.

Travel to remote communities is restricted to non-essential visitors and all essential service visitors will be required to quarantine for 14 days in line with health guidelines. Recent diagnoses recorded in the Kimberley region means that this will now be more stringently enforced.

Many members of the Advisory Group have in recent days argued for more stringent quarantine restrictions such as supervised quarantine as is occurring in many major cities for returning travellers.

These actions are in line with recent actions taken by many Land Councils to restrict visitors to communities. See Northern and Central Land Councils as examples.

Advisory Group members are working with mining companies located in close proximity to communities to ensure there is minimal risk of transmission between employees of these sites and remote communities. The Minerals Council of Australia has collaborated with the Advisory Group to ensure protocols are consistent with our aspirations and has also worked with its members to provide assistance to communities, especially in providing emergency accommodation that may be needed for isolation and quarantine purposes.

Special considerations for remote communities have been incorporated into the SoNG outlining what is required of communities and health services in the event of first, suspected and confirmed cases in remote communities and or in the event of an outbreak in these communities. Consideration for scaling up of testing among close contacts, medical evacuation isolation, and further restriction of movement will enable an effective response and limit exposure to other community members.

Respiratory clinics and telehealth

The Commonwealth Department of Health has worked on opening Aboriginal community controlled health services GP-led respiratory clinics to provide advice and health care to people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms to reduce pressure on hospitals and the risk of transmission by visits to regular GP clinics.

Sites will include Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in several locations. Further sites will be progressively rolled out.

Many Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services have made plans for increased testing capacity for SARS COV2 within their services, by reorienting clinics. Innovation has been paramount and has included creating separate entrances for people with symptoms like COVID-19, training specialist staff, minimising exposure to other patients and staff by ensuring people with COVID-19 like symptoms only see clinicians by appointment booking system only or via telehealth.

The Australian Government is working with Aboriginal and mainstream primary care services, to expand telehealth (phone and video calls with your health care provider) to allow eligible patients to access both coronavirus and ongoing care when they most need it and protect both patients and health care providers from the risk of infection.

Rapid testing

The Advisory Group is working with the Kirby Institute and others to rapidly establish and increase testing capacity in communities across Australia. The Australian Government is funding the rollout of this capability across the 33 existing platforms and an additional 54 rapid testing machines that can detect COVID -19 in a patient or not in a community setting and within 45 minutes.

These machines can detect COVID-19 from a simple nasopharyngeal swab. There are already 33 machines located in remote Australia previously used to test for other infectious diseases which will be converted to COVID 19 testing. This strategy will greatly enhance the ability to rapidly turn around test results enable contacts to be tested early and ensure swift strategies are put in place to minimise transmission within communities across Australia.

Other initiatives

From this week notifications of COVID-19 identified among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be reported weekly and publicly, and more often to the Advisory Group for discussion to enable responses will be enacted when required. This was a request from the Advisory Group to CDNA.

Mathematical modelling has been commissioned to simulate the impact of particular interventions in communities, to ensure we are providing guidance and advice to Governments on the most impactful way forward, especially related to already introduced and future strategies.

Several groups are banding together (NACCHO the Royal Australian College of GPs) the Lowitja Institute, Australian National University and University of Queensland) to ensure the Aboriginal health sector has access to the most recent evidence to help answer questions for health care workers working in Aboriginal community controlled health services and other primary care. This collaboration is developing a series of rapid evidence reviews to assist in the response.

Infection Control eLearning courses have been developed for workers in the health care sector and made freely available to all with caring responsibilities. Specific resources for Aboriginal Health Workers, Practitioners, and specific settings such as remote communities are being developed. Access the training here

All Aboriginal community controlled health services and other clinics have heightened awareness of coronavirus risk. The Australian Government, working with NACCHO, is providing funding to Aboriginal community controlled health services and local health clinics across 110 communities for preparedness activities.

The Advisory Group continues to monitor the ongoing need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for clinicians working in communities across Australia. Direct input from Advisory Group members ensures Government is aware of and can take action to prioritise supply to areas where it is required.

The Advisory Group meets with the Communicable Diseases Network regularly. Actions from the Advisory Group are taken directly to CDNA, NACCHO and the Department of Health and  Indigenous Australians Agency.

All of these together hopefully will reduce the burden of morbidity and mortality on our population. We have a good flattened curve. We need to maintain this into the longer term to ensure this occurs.

Professor James Ward, a Pitjantjatjara and Narungga man, is the Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and Professor within the School of Public Health at the University of Queensland. He has a long history working in Aboriginal communities, and has various roles in Aboriginal public health policy for both government and non-government organisations.

In 2007 he was appointed as the Inaugural Program Head of the Aboriginal Program at the Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales. In 2012 he moved to Alice Springs to become Deputy Director of the Baker Institutes’ Aboriginal Health Program, after which he joined the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute. In 2016 he completed his PhD focused on epidemiology of sexually transmissible infections in Aboriginal communities. His work has influenced policy and practice significantly over the last five years contributing to national guidelines, and policy and practice.

NACCHO Aboriginal #Sexualhealth #WorldAidsDay #UANDMECANSTOPHIV Community embraces Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 2017 #HIV Awareness Week


 ” With diagnoses and rates of HIV in Aboriginal communities at an all-time high since 1992, this year’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) is more important than ever. Now in its fourth year, the role of ATSIHAW is to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia in HIV prevention.

ATISHAW is an opportunity to promote action, awareness and advocacy at all levels of government and community, to provide much needed resources to address the rising rates of HIV,

Action is required in policy, programming, clinical service delivery; awareness is required across communities and in clinical settings; and advocacy is required at all levels of health service delivery and governments.”

Associate Professor James  Ward


The theme of this year’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week is ‘U and Me Can Stop HIV’ and we know that education and awareness are vitally important in our battle against HIV and STIs,”

We have had a variety of media resources available but until now, only a small number have been culturally appropriate for Indigenous people.

With messages like ‘Looking after our mob starts with looking after ourselves’, these new videos are more likely to cut through, especially to younger Aboriginal people, who are most vulnerable to these infections.”.

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, this week officially released the videos, and an accompanying range of social and print media resources, at the launch of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week.

Three animated education and awareness videos focus on HIV, STIs and PrEP (a daily medication that can prevent HIV), which aim to enhance awareness of HIV prevention. These are housed on the website  www.atsihiv.org.au,

Watch 1 of 3 Videos HERE

ATSIHAW 2017 runs from Monday, 27 November to Sunday, 3 December. The Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, officially launched ATSIHAW on Wednesday, 29 November at a breakfast hosted by Senator Dean Smith, Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of HIV/AIDS, Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmitted Diseases.


Other dignitaries in attendance included : Senator Richard Di Natale, Leader of the Australian Greens; Professor Sharon Lewin, Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections; Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO);

Ms Michelle Tobin, Chair of the Positive Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Network (PATSIN) – a group representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with HIV); as well as other members of the Australian Parliament.

Concerning statistics

Recently released national data shows the rate of HIV diagnoses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is now more than double the rate for the non-Indigenous Australian-born population. This rate has increased by 33 per cent during the last five years, while the rate in the non-Indigenous Australian-born population has decreased by 22 per cent in the same period – creating a new gap in health between the two populations.

Associate Professor James Ward, Head Infectious Diseases Research Aboriginal Health at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), and ATSIHAW committee member, said that this is absolutely unacceptable.

Over the last five years, significant differences have appeared in the HIV epidemic between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and the non-Indigenous Australian-born population. Although men who have sex with men make up the majority of cases in both groups (51 per cent vs 74 per cent), a greater proportion of Indigenous cases are because of injecting drug use (14 per cent vs three per cent) or through heterosexual sex (20 per cent vs. 14 per cent).

Ms Michelle Tobin said that more work is required to ensure there are strategies for all of these groups of people in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities rolled out, and that these have impact.

The other unique issue occurring in Australia is the continuing increase in HIV rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people each year, despite the major advances in HIV testing, diagnostics and treatment. Innovative HIV test-and-treat strategies and large-scale pre-exposure HIV prophylaxis trials (PrEP) trials have successfully engaged the gay community and are resulting in reductions across jurisdictions, but but to date, have had little impact in Aboriginal communities.

“We need to make sure that these strategies have impact on all of the Australian population – not just some”, Associate Professor Ward added.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are generally not benefiting from these advances.”

Community support; an important part of ATSIHAW

The overarching theme of ATSIHAW is ‘U AND ME CAN STOP HIV’. This highlights the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and the role we can all play in preventing new HIV cases and improving the outcomes for people living with HIV.

This year, ATSIHAW is holding over 55 community events across Australia at Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and other community services. The number of ATSIHAW events and strong social media engagement, demonstrates the growing sense of community responsibility for spreading awareness of the importance of HIV prevention.

Alice Springs this week

High-profile ambassadors for ATSIHAW have also been recruited, including Steven Oliver from ABC’s Black Comedy. Steven said that he’s involved in ATSIHAW because he wants to help fight and break down the stigma associated with HIV and those living with it.

Professor Kerry Arabena and Dr Pat Anderson AM are also Ambassadors for ATSIHAW, alongside 30 other community members who are all concerned about HIV in the communities.

New HIV resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

A new set of resources will be launched by the Honourable Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Minister for Indigenous Health, including three animated education and awareness videos focusing on HIV, STIs and PrEP (a daily medication that can prevent HIV), which aim to enhance awareness of HIV prevention. These are housed on the website www.atsihiv.org.au, als

New animated videos voiced by young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the latest weapons in the fight again HIV and sexually transmitted infections in Indigenous communities.

Part 2 Minister’s Press release

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, this week  officially released the videos, and an accompanying range of social and print media resources, at the launch of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week.

The videos have been developed specifically to counter the shame and stigma that can be associated with HIV.

“World Aids Day is on 1 December and it is important we take this opportunity to talk about the rates of HIV diagnosis in our Indigenous communities,” Minister Wyatt said.

“In the past 30, years Australia has made progress in reducing the rates of STIs, however, despite advances in testing and treatment we continue to see Indigenous STI and HIV diagnoses on the rise.”

In 2016, it was estimated that the HIV notification rate for Indigenous people was more than double the rate among non-Indigenous people, with a greater proportion of newly diagnosed HIV infection attributed to heterosexual contact and injecting drug use.

“Working together with Indigenous communities, the States, Territories and local health services, to counter these infections is a key Turnbull Government priority,” said Minister Wyatt.

“This includes $8 million to support a range of programs focussed on delivering culturally appropriate sexual health services, plus a further $8.8 million over three years to target priority areas including testing, education and awareness.

“We are also developing a long-term response to STIs and blood borne viruses in our Indigenous communities, with a proposed strategic approach and action plan due to be received by the Government in December.

“The ‘U and Me Can Stop HIV’ theme of this year’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week is a timely reminder of the need to work together to improve sexual health.”

ATSIHAW is administered by SAHMRI, with funding provided by the Commonwealth Department of Health


Aboriginal Sexual Health #NAIDOC2017@sahmriAU Launches new initiative to prevent the spread of syphilis in remote #Indigenous communities

“ This multifaceted approach to educate young people is well overdue. The resources that have been developed and focus tested with young people will go a very long way in improving outcomes in the community.”

Associate Professor James Ward, Head of Infectious Disease Research – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health at SAHMRI said that education and awareness about syphilis transmission and its consequences is vital if we are to make a difference.

Consider this fact

Since 2011, there has been a sustained outbreak of infectious syphilis occurring in remote areas spanning northern, central and South Australia among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people predominantly aged between 15 and 35 years.

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute’s (SAHMRI) Infection and Immunity Theme has launched  a new multifaceted community education and awareness program in the fight against syphilis in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The campaign, entitled ‘Young, Deadly, Syphilis Free’, will utilise mediums including two television commercials.

TV Commercial 1 View Here

TV Commercial 2 View Here

social media, local radio and a new website to communicate to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live in remote communities the importance of being tested for syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection (STIs) that when left untreated, can have devastating effects.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/youngdeadlysyphilisfree/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/youngdeadlysyphilisfree/

Website: http://youngdeadlyfree.org.au/young-deadly-syphilis-free/

Why is this campaign so important?

This project, funded by the Commonwealth Government Department of Health, has the ultimate objective of increasing testing rates among young Aboriginal people in the affected areas so that rates of syphilis are reduced in these communities.

Since 2011, there has been a sustained outbreak of infectious syphilis occurring in remote areas spanning northern, central and South Australia among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people predominantly aged between 15 and 35 years.

The accrued number of cases is now over 1,400 including four neonatal deaths and several other cases of congenital syphilis notified. Worryingly, syphilis continues to spread into new areas, and this needs to be stopped.

In addition to targeting young people, this campaign will have focus on healthcare services and providers, through the use of supporting resources and education materials, such as videos, posters and animations.

Clinicians will play an important part in the success of this project and they are encouraged to consider talking more broadly about the syphilis outbreak among people of influence in their community to raise awareness.

Furthermore, the project will trial social media ambassadors, who will be young people from remote communities to help spread the campaign and its objectives.

Attached is also the Email signature jpeg which some members may be willing to use to help promote testing

Thank you for sharing


NACCHO Aboriginal #SexyHealth #ATSIHAW : Minister @KenWyattMP launches Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander #HIV Awareness Week


We have to acknowledge that those with HIV in Indigenous communities may experience additional barriers to health care which relate to stigma, shame and racism. To make real progress and combat the spread of HIV we need to work together,

“We need to eliminate discriminatory and stigmatising behaviour wherever, and whenever, we see it so people can seek the treatment they need without the fear of negative consequences.”

Assistant Minister Ken Wyatt announcing funding of $485,000  at ATSIHAW launch with Pat Turner, James Ward , Mark Saunders pictured below


Picture above NACCHO CEO Pat Turner launching the new website  http://www.atsihiv.org.au at Parliament House this Morning


NACCHO Aboriginal #SexyHealth #ATSIHAW : Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander #HIV Awareness Week

Article from Page 12 and 13  NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper out Wednesday 16 November , 24 Page lift out Koori Mail : or download

naccho-newspaper-nov-2016 PDF file size 9 MB


Funding to conduct a survey to better understand why young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at increased risk of blood borne viruses (BBV) and sexually transmissible infections (STI) was announced today.

The Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley, MP and the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ken Wyatt AM, MP announced the funding at the launch of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week.


“While Australia has maintained one of the lowest HIV rates in the world it is still present and we need to do more,” Ms Ley said.

According to the Kirby Institute’s Annual Surveillance Report, the rate of HIV among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2015 is more than two times higher than the Australian-born, non-Indigenous population, with rates nearly three times higher for those aged over 35 years.

“While huge inroads have been made to prevent the spread of HIV, we need to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have timely access to scientific advances in treatment and diagnosis, as well as access to best practice management of HIV that is culturally safe,” Ms Ley said.

“This is why the Australian Government will provide funding of $485,000 to the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute to conduct a second GOANNA Survey to gain a better understanding of why our young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at increased risk of STI.”

The Australian Government remains committed to providing better public health programs that are responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through targeted initiatives including Closing the Gap, the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 and the BBV and STIs Strategy.

aids-video Watch video here

Or check out the new website http://www.atsihiv.org.au



NACCHO Alert : Massive” investment required into Aboriginal injecting drug use rehabilitation and treatment .


Research suggests injecting drug use is on the rise in Indigenous communities.

Injecting drug use is escalating among Indigenous Australians, bringing with it alarming rates of HIV and hepatitis C infection.

The rate of hepatitis C among Aboriginal people is now three times that of non-Indigenous Australians, research to be presented at an alcohol and other drugs conference on Tuesday shows.

The story is pretty grim 

Associate Professor James Ward pictured below at a recent NACCHO Health Summit


And, over the 20 years to 2014, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders accessing needle syringe programs increased from five per cent of the total to 14 per cent.

“The story is pretty grim, to be honest,” Associate Professor James Ward from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute said speaking with the Sydney Morning Herald

“There’s an estimate that one to two per cent of the Australian population have ever injected drugs. Around 10 per cent of Aboriginal people have ever injected drugs,” he told Fairfax Media.

“We’re still getting increasing rates of HIV and hepatitis C.”

“Ice” and other amphetamine-type drugs are the most common injected in Aboriginal communities and the waiting lists for rehabilitation centres around the country are growing.

While the problem was still centred in urban and outer-urban areas, it was encroaching on remote communities too.

Associate Professor Ward, who is presenting his findings at the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD) conference in Perth, said a “massive” investment in rehabilitation and treatment was required.

There was a need to expand the reach of needle and syringe programs, he said. And Aboriginal medical services need to adopt harm minimisation programs as a fixture in their practices.

“We need a massive investment,” Associate Professor Ward said

$630 million for over 800 innovative research projects

The Turnbull Government will invest more than $600 million to support Australia’s world-leading researchers to find the next prevention of disease or cure as it continues to drive innovation in Australia, Minister for Health Sussan Ley announced yesterday

Ms Ley said over 2,000 researchers would share in the $630 million for projects including: obesity prevention; cancer genomics and hereditary diseases; a new medication to help treat severe ice addiction; new treatment for drug-resistant depression; different treatments for PTSD and the impact shift working has on pregnancy outcomes.

“This $630 million investment will enable our world-class and internationally-recognised researchers to develop the new treatments of the 21st century and beyond,” Ms Ley said.

“The grants announced today will play an integral role in finding new approaches to prevention and treatments for ice addiction, post-traumatic symptom disorder, cancer, as well as new research to establish a link between shift work and pregnancy outcomes.

“The projects span the full spectrum of health and medical research – from commercialising new ideas to improving healthcare delivery, to a basic understanding of diseases at genetic or molecular levels.”

Ms Ley said the announcement includes $122 million for cancer research, $50 million for mental health research and $25 million for dementia research, amongst other diseases and conditions. The funding will support 836 projects and the work of approximately 2200 researchers.

“Our research workforce is one of the strongest in the world and I have no doubt that through their expertise, talent and creativity, these researchers will make huge advances in improving human health,” Ms Ley said.

Ms Ley said the establishment of the Medical Research Future Fund had sent a clear message that the Turnbull Government is “absolutely committed” to supporting health and medical research in Australia well into the future.

“The landmark Medical Research Future Fund will identify and coordinate national health priorities, as well as continue to support individual research projects through the National Health and Medical Research Council,” Ms Ley said.

“As a nation, it’s important we have clear national goals and priorities that allow us to deliver the game-changing breakthroughs in medical research and technology that will go on to not only improve our individual lives and but the way we function and prosper as a nation,” Ms Ley said.

“This is best delivered through a co-ordinated approach to investing in research spanning a range of projects and industries and that’s what we want from Australia’s new Medical Research Future Fund.

“While the Turnbull Government is increasing medical research investment, Labor tried to cut over half a billion dollars from it instead.”

National Health and Medical Research Council CEO Professor Anne Kelso said the announcement also included the second largest grant in NHMRC history, worth $25 million over five years.

“Drawing together a national network of more than 80 team members, this potentially transformative project will examine how to use the extraordinary recent advances in human genetics to improve patient care in Australia,” Professor Kelso said.

“The research funded today is at the forefront of our knowledge of health and disease. These grants will support Australia’s best new and established researchers working throughout the health and medical research sector – in universities, institutes, hospitals and primary health care.

“They support discovery and innovation, development and clinical trials of new therapies and public health interventions, and improvements in healthcare delivery.”

The grants were selected by independent panels which drew on the expertise of thousands of researchers to assess applications across 12 different NHMRC schemes.

For specific information relating to individual grants visit the NHMRC website or contact the NHMRC media unit.