NACCHO #closethegap Event Alert Canberra : How Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations #closethegap


“The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services both here in Canberra and at  302 clinics nationally will not agree to turn our backs on the most disadvantaged and disempowered and we call on the Australian Government to honour the principles of health equity as outlined in the Statement of Intent to Close the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes”

Winnunga provides health services through a holistic approach, with all programs developed directly to meet the needs of Winnunga’s clients looking after the physical, psychological and social determinants contributing to wellbeing.”

Julie Tongs, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service. Pictured above with Dr Nadeem Siddiqui: Executive director of Clinical services 

March 17 Close the Gap Day 10th Anniversary event

10.30 am -11.30 AM Morning tea

Everybody welcome

Winnunga Nimmityjah is located at

63 Boolimba Crescent Narrabundah ACT 2604



Presentations from (Biographies attached)

Julie Tongs OAM CEO, Professor Ngiare Brown and Dr Nadeem Siddiqui

How Canberra’s local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation is contributing to Close the Gap 10th Anniversary year

Winnunga Nimmityjah is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) and is the only health service providing holistic primary health and social and emotional wellbeing care to the Canberra and region community.

Recently the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee released a Close the Gap, Progress and Priorities Report

The report is the most comprehensive analysis available on progress in achieving the close the gap targets. It provides a sobering insight into the magnitude of the task facing Australia and provides guidance on where the effort involved in closing the gap should be concentrated.

In this regard the report is unequivocal in its recognition of the fundamental importance of ACCHS.

“That the findings of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Measures Survey (NATSIHMS) are used to better target chronic conditions that are undetected in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. In particular, access to appropriate primary health care services to detect, treat and manage these conditions should be increased. Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services should be the preferred services for this enhanced, targeted response.”

The report provides an evidence backed justification for the need to continue to fund and expand existing ACCHS. It refers to major inquiries into the efficiency and effectiveness of ACCHS. It finds that the “two key advantages of ACCHS are better access and a more culturally appropriate, community-based holistic approach, which in many ways offers, in the long term, a better return on investment of the health dollar.”

The report identifies the most common service gaps in ACCHS as mental health and social and emotional wellbeing. It also found that a concerted effort is needed to ensure ACCHS are properly resourced to address chronic disease and services for mothers and babies.

While there have been measurable improvements in respect of some of the close the gap targets in others there is little or no progress and it is likely the gap will not close in the specified time.

A Government’s commitment to closing the gap in relation to all health related indicators can reasonably be measured by its preparedness to implement the recommendations of the Closing the Gap Campaign Steering Committee.

In this regard Winnunga would welcome an explicit acknowledgement by the Government of the recommendation detailed above about the primary role of ACCHS such as Winnunga Nimmityjah in the delivery of primary health care for the Aboriginal community.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service.”

Our Year In Review

The Winnunga Nimmityjah board and management continues to be engaged in high level decision making processes which impact on Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, and ultimately the community we serve and to Close the Gap

The focus of this continued lobbying also included keeping barriers to accessing mainstream health services on the agenda.

Input into the development of a range of health frameworks and plans was particularly critical, as the ACT and issues within our jurisdiction are often forgotten nationally.

The Federal Government’s intended introduction of substantial changes to Medicare did not impact on our service. However, we will continue to closely monitor any further possible developments

According to CEO Julie Tongs robust data analysis has resulted in the strategic direction of Winnunga being strengthened and further opportunities being explored, particularly around mental health, prison health, social and emotional wellbeing and matters concerning at-risk families. Efforts have also been made towards improving chronic disease management, especially diabetes, improved routine health assessments, screening, and investigating smoking in pregnancy.

“One of the continual challenges is there are many areas of need within Aboriginal health the organisation has identified and would like to expand on.

However, given resourcing restraints these cannot be responded to in a strengthened way until capacity is increased. Partnering and relationship management with institutions such as The Canberra Hospital has provided some very positive outcomes for Winnunga clients (such as visiting medical specialist clinics), and we look forward to continuing to expand services in future years.” Ms Tongs said.


Winnunga is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) which in 2013, reached twenty-five years of continuous service in the Australian Capital Territory.

Winnunga is one of the few ACCHSs to hold multi accreditation from both the Australian General Practice Accreditation Ltd (AGPAL) and the Quality Improvement Council (QIC).

In 2013 Winnunga was selected as an AGPAL awards General Practice of the Year finalist.

Winnunga’s service reach and role in primary health care has always been holistic health care.

Over the twenty-five years Winnunga has operated, Winnunga has become the largest provider of clinical training placements for medical specialists, doctors and allied health staff, outside of the Canberra Hospital.

Winnunga provides a range of health services daily to between 80 and 120 people.

Approximately 4,000 clients are supported each year, with approximately 40,000 occasions of service. Winnunga’s client group is made up of 81% Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander clients along with 19% of clients reporting being from non-Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

Winnunga provides health services through a holistic approach, with all programs developed directly to meet the needs of Winnunga’s clients looking after the physical, psychological and social determinants contributing to wellbeing.

The services we therefore provide are:

1.General practitioner services

We operate an open access clinic 9-5. The GP team comprise of senior and recently fellowed doctors who have interests in public health, diabetes, academia, women’s health, drug and alcohol.

2.Nursing services

The nursing team comprises of a practice nurse lead, chronic disease nurse, drug and alcohol nurse, and mental health nurse.

The nurses play an integral part in developing chronic disease and mental health care plans along with health screens which are then referred to GPs to provide the medical management interventions.

Mental health Services

This team comprises of a psychiatrist, psychiatry registrar, and psychologist. GPs can refer into this team for medication management, mental health diagnosis or just for advice. Psychotherapy and cognitive therapies play an important part when developing mental health care plans and clients are able to access such services within Winnunga with our psychologist.

Antenatal and postnatal services

We have 3 midwifes and an Aboriginal access worker who work along with the GPs in the Antenatal and postnatal clinics as well as Home visits for our more vulnerable clients.

Child health surveillance services

A “Mums and Bubs” group is held which is a social gathering for new mums witheducational sessions and is combined with clinical assessments such as postnatal checks for mother and baby, baby checks including immunisations up to the age of 5 and an opportunity for clients to access GPs and Child and maternal nurses for any other issues.

Women’s health services

This is a GP led clinic that provides general health screening for women, including prenatal advice, pap smears and family planning.


We have two part time dentists along with a dental assistant who provide a 9-5 dental service focussing on preventative, acute dental care and dental hygiene.

Social health services

Winnunga prides itself in providing a culturally safe environment and tackled head on the social determinants that lead to mental and physical illnesses by having a social health team comprising of Aboriginal staff. Gps work closely with this team to delivering holistic care and are partnered with a social health team member for home visits.

Specialist & allied health outreach services.

Winnunga has dedicated services in the following:

Diabetes clinic

This is ran monthly teamed by a GP, chronic disease nurse, podiatrist, dietician and diabetes educator. On a quarterly basis an endocrinologist attends and gives an opportunity for client as well as GP to discuss and manage complex cases.

Obstetrics and gynaecology clinic

An OIbGyn consultant attends monthly to provide training for GPs in procedural interventions such as mirena coil insertions as well as providing an enhanced level of care for our clients.


Clients have the availability of dermatologist to treat and assess skin conditions.


A physiotherapist attends weekly to provide physiotherapy to clients referred by our GPs.


An audiologist is available every week to perform hearing screening for adults and children

Prison service

Access workers attend the local prison (Alexander Maconochie Centre) once a week to review imprisoned clients of Winnunga along with a prison doctor. This is to facilitate the continuity of care upon imprisonment and release back into the community.

Presentations at event from:

Julie Tongs OAM CEO

Julie Tongs OAM has been the Chief Executive Officer of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service since 1998.  Julie has more than 30 years’ experience working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs and in particular has extensive experience in advising, formulating, implementing and evaluating public health initiatives, programs and policy at a local, regional and national level.  Julie has been a national leader and strong advocate of quality improvement initiatives within the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector.

Julie is the recipient of a number of awards, including the ACT Governor General’s Centenary Medal and the ACT Indigenous Person of the Year. In 2011 Julie received the ACT Local Hero Award within the Australian of the Year Awards 2012, and in 2012 Julie was honoured with the Medal of the Order of Australia.

Julie’s vision is that Winnunga continues to build on its reputation as a national leader in the provision of holistic primary health care services delivered in a culturally appropriate environment that achieves improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Julie is committed to ensuring that Winnunga offers services that are delivered consistent with best practice standards.

Professor Ngiare Brown

Professor Ngiare Brown was one of the first Aboriginal medical graduates in Australia. She completed her medical degree at the University of Newcastle in 1992 and graduated with a Masters’ in Public Health and Tropical Medicine from JCU in 2000. Ngiare is a Yuin nation woman from the south coast of NSW and is passionate about Indigenous health and social justice. She was foundation chief executive officer with the Aboriginal Indigenous Doctors Association.  During her career Ngiare has held a variety of positions in education, mentoring, clinical practice and advocacy. Ngiare has also held other positions as an Associate Professor and Director of the Poche Centre of Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney, and a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. She has been Indigenous Health Adviser to the Australian Medical Association and Manager of Preventative Indigenous Health Programs for World Vision Australia. She was the Assistant Director at the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, where she developed a program around child health and human rights within the child health division In 2005 she was named the AMA’s Woman in Medicine for her contributions to the profession. She is committed to early childhood and adolescent wellbeing and has worked over the past two decades to develop an extensive international network in indigenous health. She has made extensive contributions in research process, bioethics, policy, translation and practice within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research. She is proud of her heritage and is committed to making a difference in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through improved health. Ngiare was from 2012 to early 2015 Executive Manager Research and Senior Public Health Medical Officer at the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation where she made a significant contribution to the research and reform agenda.

Dr Nadeem Siddiqui

Dr Nadeem Siddiqui is the Executive director of Clinical services and Principal supervisor as well as being an RACGP examiner. In addition to being a general practitioner he is responsible for the operational running of Winnunga’s medical services, teaching and co-ordinating training for registrars and RMOs. He completed his training in the United Kingdom: qualified as a doctor in 1996 at Cambridge University followed by his postgraduate training in general practice (MRCGP) in 2002

Winnunga CTG Press release 2016 EVENT Draft_Page_1

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NACCHO health news:New clinical web resource helping health practitioners to reduce Indigenous chronic disease


The Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Warren Snowden MP (pictured above) has  launched the Australian Indigenous ClinicallnfoNet – an innovative web resource designed to assist primary health care workers in the prevention and management of chronic disease among Indigenous people.
Photo caption: Launch of the Australian Indigenous ClinicalInfoNet at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service Canberra 25th June 2013. L-R Kirsty Douglas Acting Senior Medical Officer (Winnunga), Kathy Ride (Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet), Julie Tongs (CEO Winnunga) and The Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Warren Snowden MP. Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service (AHS) is an Aboriginal community controlled primary health care service operated by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community of the ACT.
The ClinicallnfoNet will enable doctors, nurses and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers to access quality-assured materials for the prevention, identification and management of five key chronic conditions – cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, chronic respiratory disease and cancer.
Info net


Health practitioners will now be able to freely access evidenced-based clinical guidelines, tools and patient education resources during patient consultations. The ClinicalInfoNet Project Manager, Kathy Ride, said ‘The resource will promote best practice in the prevention, identification and management of the chronic diseases that have major impacts on the health of Indigenous people. The web resource is still in the early stages, but, over time it will continue to develop and expand in terms of functionality and content.’

Previously, these materials were quite difficult to access from different websites, or were only available in hard-copy forms. This precluded real-time access and restricted their use by clinical health professionals.

The ClinicalInfoNet can be accessed via the Internet or through the PrimaryCare Sidebar®, currently available with patient management software Medical Director and Best Practice.

Edith Cowan University’s Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet is responsible for the successful transition of a pilot website to the ClinicalInfoNet, which has been undertaken in partnership with Hewlett-Packard Enterprises and Pen Computer Systems on behalf of the Australian Government’s Department of Health and Ageing.

The HealthInfoNet will encourage the promotion of the ClinicalInfoNet by working with organisations involved the delivery of primary health services to Indigenous people; these include NACCHO (National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation), its affiliates and member Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations, mainstream medical and related services, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.

Professor Neil Thomson, HealthInfoNet Director said ‘I’m delighted we are extending our existing work in Indigenous health to address some of the specific needs of people working at the health “frontline”. The new web resource, which will be a great complement to the HealthInfoNet, acknowledges our contributions over almost 16 years in providing people working in Indigenous health with access to a wide range of information and knowledge. The materials available on the HealthInfoNet already make a major contribution to both the initial training and continuing professional development of people working in Indigenous health, but the new resource will address the real-time needs of people working in clinical areas’.

Addintional info

this free web resource will be for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers working with patients with chronic disease we appreciate your support in informing your members and staff.  Please find more details attached and below.

The Australian Indigenous ClinicalInfoNet (ClinicalInfoNet) will support primary health care workers – including doctors, nurses and Indigenous health workers – by providing online access to relevant, evidence-based, current and culturally appropriate information. It provides quick and easy access to a comprehensive collection of primary health-care support materials that can be used in the prevention, identification and management of chronic diseases in the Indigenous Australian population. All materials on the ClinicalInfoNet are selected for their relevance and quality, and have been approved for inclusion by a team of experts in Indigenous health and chronic disease. The ClinicalInfoNet provides a sophisticated search facility for accessing materials that can be used in ‘real time’ during consultations or for follow-up.

As you are aware, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a burden of disease two-and-a-half times that of other Australians. A large part of the burden (about 80%) is due to chronic diseases. This burden can be reduced by prevention, early identification and improved management of risk factors and disease.

In managing chronic disease, primary health care professionals require access to a range of materials, such as patient education resources, management tools, guidelines and references. Extensive clinical resources are available on the Internet but they are infrequently used by primary health care workers due to lack of awareness, time limitation and poor access. A comprehensive web resource that identifies and brings together existing materials from a wide range of sources is the best solution.

The ClinicalInfoNet brings together resources relating to five key chronic diseases that are major contributors to the burden of disease among Indigenous people:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes mellitus type 2
  • chronic respiratory disease
  • chronic kidney disease
  • cancer.

The resources available on the ClinicalInfoNet are selected for their application to patient management and include:

  • clinical guidelines and reference materials
  • clinical tools
  • patient education resources
  • administrative information.

These resources cover the areas of:

  • prevention
  • management
  • treatment
  • drug therapy.

The ClinicalInfoNet is a free web resource that does not require a login or subscription. It can be accessed directly at or via a search engine. The ClinicalInfoNet can be accessed by GPs and other primary health-care workers through the PrimaryCare Sidebar® which is linked to their patient management system software (currently available through Medical Director and Best Practice). The ClinicalInfoNet link is located in the Resources tab.

As part of its contribution to the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes agreement, the Australian Government committed to address the key barriers for Indigenous people accessing health care through mainstream services. The development of an online resource was seen as an important way of assisting primary health workers improve decision-making processes and inform them of their options relating to chronic disease prevention and management with Indigenous people. The current version of the ClinicalInfoNet has been informed by a pilot web resource that was developed by a consortium of experts. The development was assisted by a Technical Reference Group, which brought together a broad range of experts in Indigenous health, chronic disease management, primary health care, evidence-based management and clinical guidelines.

The web resource is developed and managed by the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (AIH), which has a well established reputation for providing quality, evidence-based material to inform practice and policy through its web resource ( The Technical Reference Group that guides the development of the ClinicalInfoNet comprises representatives from key groups and individuals involved in Indigenous primary health care, all of whom have expertise in chronic disease management. The ClinicalInfoNet is funded by the Australian Department of Health and Ageing.

If you would like more information please let me know.

Photo caption: Launch of the Australian Indigenous ClinicalInfoNet at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service Canberra 25th June 2013. L-R Kirsty Douglas Acting Senior Medical Officer (Winnunga), Kathy Ride (Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet), Julie Tongs (CEO Winnunga) and The Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Warren Snowden MP. Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service (AHS) is an Aboriginal community controlled primary health care service operated by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community of the ACT.

NACCHO ehealth opportunity alert:an initiative to register people to the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR)


NACCHO Affiliates are being informed of this initiative, so they can choose to take up the opportunity to work with the Department and the dedicated workforce to offer Assisted Registration to their member health service patients.

The Department of Health and Aging is currently conducting an initiative to register people to the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) using a dedicated Assisted Registration workforce (Aspen Medical) supplied through McKinsey and Company (National Change and Adoption Partners).

They will concentrate on conducting Assisted Registration activities, until 30 June 2013, in a variety of healthcare settings across the country.

To ensure that this initiative meets the needs of our Sector, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service in Canberra has piloted with Aspen Medical a very successful campaign which has to date registered over 260 Winnunga clients and staff for an eHealth record.

As such, NACCHO Affiliates are being informed of this initiative, so they can choose to take up the opportunity to work with the Department and the dedicated workforce to offer Assisted Registration to their member health service patients.

This will be of significance to health services with larger centralised populations with access to a waiting room area, aged care facility or groups of patients where Aspen staff are able to inform and register patients individually.
The Assisted Registration process offers patients a quick, personalised and well-informed way of applying to register for a national eHealth record.

Previous to this process, consumers seeking to apply to participate in the PCEHR, would either do so on the internet, by post, by phone call or at a Medicare office.

The Assisted Registration process allows patients of a health service to fill in a one page application form, and have their identity verified either using a 100 point documentary ID check, or by being a known customer of the health care service. Patients have the opportunity to ask the trained Aspen staff members about the PCEHR and what it would mean for them.

The experience at Winnunga is that patients are quick to see the benefits of having an eHealth record, and are keen to opt in to the system.

The dedicated Aspen workforce tailor their approach to each setting. All  staff deployed will have undergone cultural competency training, and will work with the Affiliates and the service to understand the local context and needs of their patients. The staff would be happy to sign a client confidentiality agreement. Male and female staff members can be deployed if requested. In fact, where there are vacancies, Aspen are open to employing people recommended by the health service to be Assisted Registration staff.

Using Aspen Medical authorised staff members to assist your patients to register does not alter your connectivity with your patients. PCEHR compliant practice software will flag who has an eHealth record (provided the patient has chosen to allow access to clinicians in your service).

Please note that Aspen Medical is not in a position legally to provide a list of patients who have registered through them to a service, however they are more than willing to provide you with data on registration numbers.

Greg Henschke (Acting NACCHO eHealth Project Manager) will be contacting NACCHO Affiliates, with the aim of identifying services that would be interested in participating in this PCEHR consumer registration program.

This resource is currently available until 30th June 2013 and deployment will be managed nationally through DoHA.

It is important to note that the dedicated workforce are not unlimited and we will need to move quickly to identify where we could best use them for our sector.

As more consumers and healthcare practitioners become registered and use the eHealth record system, benefits of the system will be realised through efficiency in healthcare services and increased access to health information.

To this end, I would strongly encourage you to consider working with the Department and the dedicated workforce to offer Assisted Registration to our sector.

For more information on the PCEHR and Assisted Registration,

contact Greg Henschke (Acting NACCHO eHealth Project Manager,

08 89446651 / 0400448159)

or go to the website .

NACCHO real good news story:Ray Lovett Aboriginal PHD candidate awarded 2013 ANU Alumni Student of The Year


PhD Student Ray Lovett has been awarded the ANU Alumni Student of The Year at the 2013 Alumni Awards.

This year’s awards the first in ANU history recognised the work and achievements of extraordinary alumni and students.

Ray, a Wongaibon man from far west New South Wales, has a passion for Indigenous health and is the first Indigenous PhD candidate at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health (NCEPH) in the College of Medicine, Biology and Environment (CMBE).

Ray has been an active NCEPH student from the outset, providing support and mentoring to his colleagues, particularly those working on Indigenous health. Ray has held numerous positions aimed at advancing the health of Indigenous populations.

In addition to membership of the Indigenous Health Interest Group and Ray has also been involved with the Reconciliation Action Plan sub-committee since its inception, and has been a member of ACT Health’s Human Research Ethics Committee since 2011.

In the same year, Ray was appointed Professional Associate at the Centre for Research and Action in Public Health at the University of Canberra where, amongst other duties, he mentors Indigenous undergraduate students.

Ray is an Indigenous Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and an active member of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Association of the ACT.

In 2012, Ray was part of a research team commissioned by ACT Health to review the need to expand alcohol and other drug rehabilitation services in the ACT. He is frequently approached by ACT Health to provide policy advice, particularly on tobacco, alcohol and other drug use by Indigenous people.

Ray is extensively involved with the local Indigenous community, including as a volunteer working with young Indigenous people at the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service’s Boxing Club, where he has been Club Manager and Coach since 2005. Ray has helped raise over $40,000 for the Club.

In late 2012, Ray was presented with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Award at Congress