NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Testing, vaccinations ramped up in Western NSW

Latisha Carr-McEwan (right) with her children Craig McKellar and Tashayla Eulo as they have COVID-19 tests at the Dubbo West walk-in clinic

Testing, vaccinations ramped up in Western NSW

COVID-19 in Western NSW continues to spread to some of the state’s most remote communities with first cases now confirmed in Narromine, Gilgandra and Broken Hill.

Testing and vaccinations are being ramped up across the region with additional support coming from the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Western NSW Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie, said ADF personnel would be visible in the community from Wednesday. “We’re expecting around 25 personnel here in Dubbo just to assist police in some compliance tasks,” he said.

Mr Moore said the community was anxious with cases now confirmed, and the streets of Bourke were much quieter since the announcement. “There’s hardly any traffic around the town and I think people are slowly following the orders,” he said. “One of our biggest fears was that it would reach our small community, but sadly, now it has.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Image source: ABC News. Feature tile image: Latisha Carr-McEwan (right) with her children Craig McKellar and Tashayla Eulo as they have COVID-19 tests at the Dubbo West walk-in clinic on Monday 16 August, 2021. Photo: Kate Geraghty, SMH. Image source: 9 NEWS.

Regional Health Minister on COVID-19 cases

Minister for Regional Health, Dr David Gillespie MP was interviewed On Radio National Drive yesterday [17 August 2021] by Paul Barclay. Paul Barkley opened the interview saying “More than 450 COVID cases today in NSW, 24 in Victoria, 17 in the ACT, lockdowns extended until next month, numbers expected to continue to rise. I’m sure you’ve been asked this question before, but what more can be done to bring this under control?”

In response Minister Gillespie said ” Well, I think what we’re seeing now is the very nature of the Delta virus. It is incredibly easily transmissible.

The numbers are high, but I think particularly in NSW, the vaccination rate, which is ramping up incredibly over the last couple of days, it took four days to get a million jabs into people’s arms. You know, 1.6 million over seven days. That is going to have a huge effect, because as the community develops in these people, there are less people who are likely to get it, and lower if they do get it. It’s a mild illness and they spread it a lot less.

In Western NSW, it is a worry, because there is crowded accommodation in Dubbo, where the biggest numbers are. The smaller places, they’ve got so many extra vaccines and so much support there now. I think people will get on top of this. It will ramp up incredibly quickly.”

You can read the full transcript of the interview here.

Dubbo residents queue to be tested as Covid-19 cases grow in western NSW. Photo: Belinda Soole – Getty Images. Image source: The Guardian.

Fast-tracked vaccines for Top End

Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, and  Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Selena Uibo, say the vaccine rollout is speeding up in the Top End with a new COVID-19 Vaccine Pop-Up Clinic open in Katherine and more vaccine doses coming online. This comes as a 72 hour lockdown was declared for Greater Darwin and Katherine effective from 12pm, August 16 to slow any potential spread of COVID-19 in our communities. The clinic is operating at the old School Oval on the corner of O’Shea Terrace and Second Street, with parking available via O’Shea Terrace. An additional 1000 COVID-19 vaccine doses will be available over coming days for the Katherine community.

To view the media release in full click here.

The vaccine rollout in East Arnhem Land started in early April. Photo: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News.

Caring for country-caring for self

A pilot program supporting the development of self-esteem, pride and confidence in Aboriginal youth is set to begin, leading to increased employability and job opportunities. Community-based Aboriginal organisation As One Nyitting has been engaged to help deliver the ‘caring for country-caring for self’ program, with a cohort of Aboriginal youth aged between 15 and 24 set to take part, further developing their cultural identity and knowledge.

The program is aimed at youths who are disengaged or at risk of disengaging from education, training and/or employment, with numbers limited to 15 to provide intensive and individual support over the course of the year.

As One Nyitting’s programs are holistic and recognise the valuable role of Elders in supporting young people to learn these skills. Fifteen Elders will also take part in the program, leading through action, providing cultural guidance and assisting in training and mentoring. By learning the skills to care for the country and self, and developing cultural identity, the knowledge and confidence gained from the program will support participants to engage in training and employment.

To view the media release click here.

Young people attending cultural camp at Alice Springs and Uluru. Image source: St George and Sutherland Shire Leader.

Research shows ear health an urgent priority

Principal Audiologist, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services, Hearing Australia, Sam Harkus says for the majority of Australian children who experience it, otitis media or middle ear infection is a painful but relatively short-term condition, happily unlikely to impact children’s long term listening and communication skills development.

However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have a significantly different experience of middle ear disease than non-Indigenous Australian children. They tend to acquire ear disease earlier, as young as six weeks old. It’s often without obvious signs. It’s more prevalent and more likely to become chronic: one in three children will have at least one type of middle ear condition and will experience middle ear disease over 10 times longer than non- Indigenous children. 1 More children experience the severest forms, at rates the World Health Organization call ‘a massive public health problem requiring urgent attention’. 2 Persistent otitis media is not confined to remote communities however, almost half of a group of Aboriginal babies in an ongoing Perth study had developed middle ear infection by the age of six months. 3

When otitis media presents like this, it impacts development and life trajectories. It often persists throughout the critical years when foundational listening and communication skills are learned, important for many reasons including literacy. Three Australian studies now show a link between chronicotitis media in early childhood and delay across a range of developmental domains at school entry. 4, 5

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are starting their formal education years at a disadvantage. Hearing Australia is committed to reduce the rate of hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children by at least half by 2029.

To view the full article click here.

Image source: NITV News.

Redress for Stolen Generations

The Healing Foundation CEO, Fiona Cornforth spoke with Dan Bourchier, ABC News TV Afternoons about Reparations for Stolen Generations survivors in the NT, ACT, and Jervis Bay.

The Prime Minister last week announced redress payments to members of the Stolen Generations, who were taken from the Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, and jurisdictions that were under the control of the Commonwealth Government at the time. It’s prompted renewed calls for redress for Stolen Generations members from Queensland and Western Australia. The Healing Foundation was created out of a recommendation of the 1997 Bringing Them Home Report. The organisation has been a powerful advocate of redress acknowledgement and healing. Chief Executive of the foundation Fiona Cornforth joins me now from Canberra. Good afternoon.

To read the full transcript of the interview click here.

Photo: Rebekah Ison – AAP. Image source: The Guardian.

Literacy inquiry to hear from NACCHO

The House Employment, Education and Training Committee will hear evidence from key peak bodies and other organisations by videoconference as hearings continue for the inquiry into adult literacy and its importance.

Committee Chair, Mr Andrew Laming MP said, ‘the Committee has received a broad range of evidence on the need for improved strategies for supporting people with low English language, literacy, numeracy and digital literacy to improve their skills and to access vital services.’

Mr Laming continued, ‘To help us investigate First Nations literacy challenges, we will hear from the Literacy for Life Foundation, Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation and NACCHO.’

To read the article in full click here.

Literacy for Life Foundation Coordinator Mary Waites helping an adult student learn to read and write. Photo courtesy of Literacy for Life Foundation. Image source: NIAA.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.
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COVID-19 Update for GPs

Join Professor Michael Kidd AM from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM (AEST) Thursday 19 August for the latest in their series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs. At the webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health are welcome.

Professor Kidd will be joined this week by Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health.

Click on this link to view the webinar.

If you unable to view the webinar live, you can view it on -demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.