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RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health newsletter

9 August 2018

Message from Chair, Assoc Prof Peter O'Mara

Last month, we recognised NAIDOC Week (8–15 July) in which we celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This year's theme 'Because of her, we can!' highlighted the essential role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played, and continue to play, in community, state and national levels.

During NAIDOC Week, the RACGP announced its endorsement of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The RACGP has long supported the campaign for constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Our support for the Uluru Statement reflects the RACGP’s strong commitment to close the gap in health inequality and our ongoing support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and health. 

The RACGP is continuing its strong partnership National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) working in partnership and advocating for increased awareness of the barriers to quality healthcare that are faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Following the successful launch of the third edition of the National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the National Guide) in March 2018, we have identified further opportunities to continue working in partnership to deliver better quality care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

With the support of the Department of Health, NACCHO and the RACGP will continue to work in partnership throughout 2018–19 to increase awareness and use of the National Guide. This will support mainstream general practices with delivering culturally targeted and responsive healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

For further information of how you and your practice can get involved contact RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health news

2018 Member Meeting

Webinar: 8.00–9.00 pm AEST, Wednesday 15 August

You are invited to join us in celebrating our achievements over the past 12 months and to discuss the future direction of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

Register now to secure your place. Attendance is free.

For more information, please email RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health or call 03 8699 0499.

Call for comments – Audit of the Closing the Gap strategy

RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health is seeking your input into the RACGP’s submission to the Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) audit of the Closing the Gap Strategy.

Closing the Gap is a national strategy established to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. It has established a series of policies and programs to achieve seven national targets across the key areas of health, education and employment.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to the targets in 2007 and signed the National Indigenous Reform Agreement to implement reforms.

Performance audits involve the assessment of the administration of programs, policies, projects or activities, as well as how well administrative support systems operate. The objective of this ANAO audit is to assess the effectiveness of the arrangements for monitoring, evaluating and reporting progress towards Closing the Gap.

We welcome your views on the following topics:

  • Have appropriate data governance arrangements been established for monitoring progress towards Closing the Gap?
  • Have appropriate processes been established for reporting progress towards Closing the Gap?
  • Have effective processes been established to evaluate the impact of Indigenous programs on Closing the Gap?

To provide your comments and feedback, or for more information, please contact aborigialhealth@racgp.org.au by Monday 13 August 2018. 

The new guidelines: Family abuse and violence

Webinar: 12.30–1.30 pm AEST, Tuesday 21 August

RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health will be hosting a complimentary lunchtime webinar session for GPs, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, healthcare workers, practice nurses and practice managers who wish to learn more about the prevention of family abuse and violence in primary healthcare services. 

Presenters include Dr Libby Hindmarsh and Dr Annalyse Crane who discuss how to put Chapter 16 of the National Guide, ‘Family abuse and violence’, into practice.

Register online or contact RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health for more information.

You can help improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patient outcomes

The National Guide is one of the most widely used clinical guidelines in Australia, supporting primary healthcare providers to understand what works in preventive healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

With support from the Department of Health, the RACGP and NACCHO will continue their partnership on a new project to increase awareness of the National Guide and to support mainstream services to enhance healthcare delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Working with the Improvement Foundation, the RACGP and NACCHO will administer a new Australian Primary Care Collaborative (APCC), looking at how to enhance implementation of the National Guide and how mainstream practices can improve delivery of culturally targeted healthcare.

The APCC program has a proven record of accomplishment in supporting health professionals and services to make long-term sustainable improvements, using innovative and exploratory methods to develop, test and implement change. 

Your participation in the program will influence how we deliver health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the future.

Your service or practice will have to commit to some minimum requirements, including one GP and one staff member to actively participate in workshops, webinars and during activity periods.

To find our more or to express interest in participating in the project, please contact RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

Follow us on shareGP

To keep up to date with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health news and opportunities, visit us on shareGP.

Currently on the space, you can catch up on the National Guide podcasts and read the latest media releases.

When visiting the space, please feel free to add your own comments and posts by using the pencil tool in the top right corner, and please ‘follow’ this space by clicking the ‘Follow’ button on the top right of your screen when visiting.

National news and opportunities

My Health Record

My Health Record, Australia’s national electronic health record, is transitioning to an opt-out participation model. For Australians who do not currently have a My Health Record, one will be created for them unless they opt-out between 16 July and 15 October 2018.

Consumers and health professionals are increasingly seeking to be informed about My Health Record and its functionality. The RACGP is working in partnership with the Australian Digital Health Agency to deliver an education and awareness program for general practice.

Face-to-face workshops on My Health Record in general practice are being delivered in every primary health network (PHN) by GP Digital Champions. For those unable to attend a face-to-face workshop, a series of two-part webinars is available. Both activities are RACGP Quality Improvement and Continuing Professional Development (QI&CPD) accredited. Workshop and webinar dates are listed on the RACGP website.

The RACGP has also developed a number of resources to support general practice in the use and understanding of My Health Record. These include My Health Record: A brief guide for general practice and a number of templates for practices participating in the Practice Incentive Program – eHealth Incentive (ePIP). These are also available from the RACGP website.

If you have any queries regarding the My Health Record education program, please contact ehealth@racgp.org.au 

Practice Experience Program – New pilot program to support non-VR registered doctors

The RACGP has launched a new education program to support non-vocationally registered (non-VR) doctors on their pathway to Fellowship.

The Practice Experience Program (PEP) will provide targeted educational support for non-VR doctors, primarily international medical graduates, to help them to prepare for RACGP Fellowship and to deliver quality general practice care to their patients.

The PEP will commence as a pilot for 400 doctors in January 2019. It will be delivered in partnership with the Regional Training Organisations. The pilot is Commonwealth Government supported resulting in a reduced cost to participants.

Applications will close on Monday 27 August 2018.

For more information, please visit the PEP pilot website.

External news and opportunities*

AIDA Conference 2018 – Vision into action

The Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association (AIDA) Conference 2018 will be held in Perth on Wednesday to Friday 26–28 September.

The conference will present sector experts, key decision makers, medical students and doctors who will join in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health-focused academic and scientific program.

Registrations are now open.

National Healthy Skin Guideline: For the prevention, treatment and public health control of impetigo, scabies, crusted scabies and tinea for Indigenous populations and communities in Australia – First edition

Impetigo, scabies, crusted scabies and fungal skin infections are causes of morbidity. They can precede substantial mortality from invasive bacterial infection and autoimmune sequelae in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The National healthy skin guideline is a synthesis of the available evidence for prevention and treatment of these infections. It is designed to help health practitioners diagnose, treat and prevent skin infections.

Developed by The Australian Healthy Skin Consortium: a partnership between Telethon Kids Institute, Menzies School of Health Research, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, James Cook University, The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, and One Disease.

Your guide to Medicare for Indigenous health services

Your guide to Medicare for Indigenous health services has been developed to support staff working in organisations that provide Medicare services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders by providing easy to understand advice about Medicare health services and programs.

Identifying and using these Medicare Benefits Schedule items in the right way will ensure your patients access the most appropriate Medicare services, including for preventive health and the management of chronic disease.

Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice – Second edition released

The second edition of Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice (Working Together) has been released by Telethon Kids Institute.

Originally published in 2014, Working Together was funded by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Telethon Kids Institute/Kulunga Aboriginal Research Development Unit in collaboration with the University of Western Australia.

This second edition is intended for staff and students and all health practitioners working in areas that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait mental health and wellbeing. It includes several new chapters and provides a comprehensive examination of issues and strategies influencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health, and social and emotional wellbeing.

It examines issues across the life course with a greater focus on:

  • children and young people
  • the significant impacts of mental health in the justice system
  • the cultural determinants of social and emotional wellbeing and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

It includes holisitic models of care, as well as interdisciplinary and inter-professional approaches, and working with carers. Working Together can be downloaded from the Telethon for Kids website.

Grant opportunity – Targeted call for research into healthy ageing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has announced a targeted call for research that can provide rigorous, culturally-informed research into improving the health and experiences of ageing in older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Quality evidence generated from this research will allow for better planning, funding and implementation of policies and services. This will achieve and support healthy ageing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

For more information, including application instructions and funding rules, visit the NHMRC website.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survey is underway

The health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people has been improving over the last two decades. The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heath survey (NATSIHS) shows that smoking rates have decreased from nearly one in two people over the age of 15 in 2002 (49%) to less than two in five (39%) in 2014–15.

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people drinking alcohol at levels that cause short-term and lifetime risk has also decreased.

The next National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survey has commenced. Interviewers will visit all states of Australia in urban, regional and remote communities to create a national picture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The survey runs until March 2019 and will collect detailed information about health and health-related actions – it is a key data set for understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. For the first time, this Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survey will include voluntary hearing tests.

The first survey results will be available from late 2019. More information is available on this video or on the ABS website.


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