Our People to Live Stronger & Longer

Preventative Health Conference 2022

Date: 11-13th May 2022

Location: Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, QLD

Hosted by: Public Health Association Australia (PHAA)

Attended by & prepared by: Shelley Du

AH&MRC supported 3 staff from the Public Health Intelligence unit and 8 staff from our member services to attend the Preventative Health Conference 2022. The theme was accelerating action and over the 3 days, delegates were able to hear from keynote speakers, researchers and peers in the sphere of preventative health who brought their invaluable experience and keen insights to share.

Of particular note were Professor Yin Paradies, John Safran and A/Prof Tinashe Dune. Professor Paradies spoke about disrupting whiteness in preventative health and persuaded delegates to re-evaluate their practice and consider how racism is pervasive in health and society (see picture below). Writer John Safran illuminated the challenges of language and policy in e-cigarettes and IQOS heated tobacco sticks and the might of tobacco corporations. A/Prof Dune spoke about the importance of having clinicians and health workers who shared a cultural background with those they were caring for and the importance of supporting and building their workforce.

The 8 staff who were supported to attend from our member services spanned 5 ACCHOs and included Aboriginal health workers, practitioners, nurses, a community development officer and admin staff.

The staff from AH&MRC who were supported the Preventative Health conference found the presentations engaging, relevant to their work and were inspired by the many innovative ways to solve healthcare problems. The staff from member services who attended were surveyed post-conference. There were 2 responses and while they did not find the conference very relevant to their work, they found the exhibitions interesting and wanted more discussions around reconciliation and co-design centred around working with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and clients.

I am grateful to be among the delegates representing AH&MRC and bringing the knowledge I’ve learnt back to my work and to have absorbed the passion of others who work in the broader public health space.

Health Programs – Bourke MAYI Festival

The Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC) approached the Bourke
Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (BACHS) to work in partnership on delivering a community
event that promoted the importance of annual Aboriginal Health checks (also known as 715s’).
Conveniently, BACHS were in the planning phases of convening the first community event since the
COVID-19 outbreak, known as the MAYI festival. The event was a day of remembrance and healing
for community.

MAYI’s meaning derived from the many clan groups that reside in Bourke and close surrounding
areas, originally being that there were 22, and has since been found that there are now around 15
clan groups residing in Bourke. The meaning of MAYI (meaning ‘one’) was introduced by Uncle Phil
Saunders, who opened the event with a warm welcome to the many people that were in
attendance, expressing the importance to the meaning of the event, Uncle Phil Saunders said that
‘’there are many things that make us different, but for this brief moment, we are one, one mob,
standing together on such an important and special day’’.

The AH&MRC sponsored the event and were invited to set up a stall to promote the Your Health, Your
Future (YHYF) program. The Your Health Your Future program seeks to enhance health literacy,
increase awareness and knowledge of annual health checks, and provide further engagement though
health promotional days at a community level in collaboration with member services. The
messaging and engagement with Aboriginal Communities by the AH&MRC serves to be culturally safe,
educational, and effortlessly drawn off the effective mode of health promotion through modelling on
lived experience and understanding the structural theories of Aboriginal perspectives.
The program aims to utilise 2 models of health those of that being the social and health promotion
models. Ultimately the program engages directly with community and works collaboratively with
member services to increase health education through the promotion of the importance of annual

Your Health Your Future promotes the concept of self-determination and encourages Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander People to take care of their health.

Your Health not only centralises around one being, or an individual, it targets Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people as a collective. It encourages individuals to not only be in control of their
health, but to promote the importance of all health, to all people.

Your Future is a key component of taking care of physical, mental, and spiritual health, it promotes
the concept of staying healthy for one and all’s future. Future is dependant of knowledge, kin, and
good health.

The YHYF artwork represents AH&MRC’s commitment to ensuring access to high quality health care services for Aboriginal communities, the colours used show the connection to our land and the importance of this in our health journey. Each element points to the health challenges that our people face and the journey to healing -Aleera Baker, Artist

The AH&MRC engaged community members at the MAYI festival through the promotion of
merchandise, inclusive of shirts, lunch boxes, backpacks, yoga mats, sportswear, football’s, and
umbrellas and fun activities for kids and adults that depicted aspects of good health.
Activities involved in getting the merchandise consisted of completing a video promoting what good
health is, how community take care of there health or simply saying ‘Your Health, Your Future’.
Community was also encouraged to utilize their local Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) if they were
interested in receiving more merchandise, and education was subtly provided about the annual
Aboriginal Health Checks (715s).

Throughout the day, there was great uptake of these videos’, consent was sought, and information
was provided on the futuristic use of the videos captured. Overall, community members were really
encouraging and enthusiastic in participating in the activities. A collated video of communities
yarning about ‘your health, your future’, will be provided to BACHS on completion.
The entire day met the expectation of its meaning through bringing community together as ‘one’,
storytelling, yarning and laughing –
The AH&MRC were so proud to be apart of such a significant event in the Bourke community, and
thank the community for being so welcoming, and participating in the promotion of the importance
of ‘stepping up, for a checkup’ (YHYF).

BHP enables culturally safe vaccination program for Indigenous Australians in New South Wales.

The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) has gratefully received support from BHP to aid in the provision of culturally safe care for Aboriginal communities across New South Wales (NSW) in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At AH&MRC we recognise the importance of reaching into community and providing medical care outside traditional clinical spaces. Therefore, with thanks to BHP, we have purchased a motorhome to allow Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHOs) to hold mobile vaccination clinics in their local communities.

Mobile vaccination clinics offer greater access to vaccines for Aboriginal people by overcoming geographical barriers whilst ensuring cultural safety. Providing this service will help to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and keep communities safe.

BHP’s Vice President NSW Energy Coal Adam Lancey said: “We are proud to support the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW in their important work delivering better health outcomes for Indigenous people in this state, particularly for those in regional areas.”

In the short term, this asset will be used in the Northern Rivers region, where whole communities and ACCHOs clinics have been devastated by the recent flooding. This is a key example of how AH&MRC can use assets, like those acquired thanks to BHP, to meet the immediate needs of Aboriginal communities.

CEO Robert Skeen of AH&MRC states “In 2021, AH&MRC have a created a COVID-19 response team who assist Member Services with COVID-19 vaccination roll-out, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and resources. Our response team is an integral part of our vision and with the help of the valuable partnership of BHP we’re able to provide care to all our mob in every community across the state”.

In the long term, this asset will be used to connect with the Aboriginal people with ACCHOs. This motorhome will bridge this gap and allow for greater access to high quality, comprehensive primary health care services across NSW.

The purchase of the motorhome was made possible thanks to BHP, who, through their generous donation will help Aboriginal communities access culturally safe care throughout NSW.

Official Media Release. 

AH&MRC welcomes the NSW Government’s 2022-23 Budget

This week, Treasurer Matt Kean, delivered the 2022-23 Budget. The Budget included a commitment of $188.6 million in additional funding over four years to support the delivery of Closing the Gap.

This funding will deliver a suite of 28 new government-wide initiatives, developed through the partnership between the NSW Government and NSW CAPO, of which the AH&MRC is a member.  Among these initiatives are:

  • $29.6 million for a number of Aboriginal-specific health initiatives including :
  • $10.1 million to implement and sustain effective cultural models of mental health and wellbeing care for First Nations people in partnership with the community-controlled sector
  • $9.8 million to expand the Building on Aboriginal Communities’ Resilience initiative to a further 12 Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations.
  • $32.3 million to drive local decision-making and support the community-controlled sector.
  • $47.0 million to support strong data and governance to drive the Government’s partnership approach with First Nations communities.
  • $91.1 million to support First Nations languages, culture and survivors of the Stolen Generations and to accelerate the repatriation of First Nations remains.

AH&MRC welcomes the government’s commitment towards empowering First Nations communities. This partnership approach represents a shift in the way that government does business with Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations (ACCOs), one which will ensure better outcomes for Aboriginal communities across New South Wales.

AH&MRC Chief Executive and Co-Chair of NSW CAPO, Robert Skeen, commended Premier Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Ben Franklin for their investment and ongoing commitment to the partnership.

“I would like to thank the Premier and Minister Franklin, on behalf of the NSW ACCHO sector and NSW CAPO. I am excited to continue the Closing the Gap Journey together, as equals, and to see these initiatives delivering outcomes for our Aboriginal communities. The real work begins now” Mr Skeen said.

The government has also increased funding for the health sector more broadly through measures including:

  • $4.5 billion for the NSW Health workforce to ease pressure on existing health workers and support the delivery of quality health care by recruiting 10,148 full-time equivalent staff to hospitals and health services across the State.
  • $2.4 billion over 10 years to increase the regional workforce with strategies to address the future pipeline of healthcare workers.
  • $149.5 million to boost patient travel and accommodation assistance by improving access to timely health care and reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients.

While these additional measures are not Aboriginal-specific, it will be critical that the government accounts for the Aboriginal health workforce,  Aboriginal community-controlled health services and their communities in their rollout.

Download Media Release

AH&MRC Human Research Ethics Committee wins a Indigenous Governance Award.

In its 25th year, the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW Human Research Ethics Committee has received from Reconciliation Australia, an Indigenous Governance Award.

On Wednesday the 8 th of June 2022 at the ICC Sydney, The Indigenous Governance Awards ceremony, hosted by Reconciliation Australia and the BHP Foundation, acknowledged and celebrated outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous led non-incorporated initiatives, projects, or within small to large businesses.

Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council Human Research Ethics Committee (AH&MRC HREC) was nominated for category 1 of the awards and won the award against some amazing finalists within the category.

Kelly Jones, representative of AH&MRC and Research Ethics Coordinator states “This award means a lot for the organisation and team and we’re proud to have annually reviewed over 100 submissions, to ensure that any research about Aboriginal people conducted in NSW is ethically correct.”

AH&MRC HREC was established in 1996 to ensure that research conducted with and about Aboriginal people in NSW is conducted both ethically and culturally. It stood out to the judges because of its long and committed history in a space that is often overlooked.

See Media Release for more information

AH&MRC and CAHS launch joint Basketball Sponsorship with Basketball legend, Tyson Demos

Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service (CAHS) and AH&MRC have launched a  joint sponsorship venture with former Illawarra Hawks NBL player, Tyson Demos. Tyson has achieved so much in his basketball career so far, including his work with the Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL) and his involvement in the Health Deadly Kids project run by Illawarra AMS.

CAHS and AH&MRC’s partnership will see both organisations supporting Tyson Demos and a group of NBL All-stars to compete in Gilgandra Windmill Basketball Carnival located in Gilgandra in Central West NSW. The team will head six hours west of Wollongong, on a 500 kilometers trip, to compete in the Carnival. The team will also participate in community activities, including a youth basketball camp, to raise awareness of important health issues affecting Aboriginal communities.

The Gilgandra Windmill Basketball Carnival has been around for 44 years; Teams travel from as far as Sydney, Newcastle, Lightning Ridge, Bourke, Dubbo, to participate. The competition also attracts local teams, who register in divisions A, B or C, and verse teams from all across the state.  The Carnival, hosted by the Gilgandra Basketball Association, is so successful because it attracts teams with different skills and abilities, as well as men’s and women’s divisions. Players don’t just compete for the winning title and prize money, they’re mostly there to have fun and connect with people. The Carnival attracts players from all walks of life and in recent times, NRL stars such as Blake Ferguson, Solomon Haumono, Brent Naden, Choc Mundine, and David Peachey have taken the floor, along with many former NBL stars. The Carnival will run across three days with Tyson and his team scheduled to play some fierce competitive basketball and represent AH&MRC and CAHS as sponsors.

“The Carnival is so successful because of its grassroots origins. It’s not commercial and it’s run locally, for people to have fun, stay fit and meet new people. I think it’s an incredible initiative” – Phil Naden, CAHS CEO. Phil continued ‘ I’m excited to have AH&MRC onboard to sponsor the team and to raise the profile of this incredible initiative at a state and community level. We hope to get the word out and spread it far and wide across the bush’

While the Carnival is not Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) focused, there will be is strong ATSI representation over the weekend. From an estimated 45-50 teams, and roughly 500 players in total, 50% identify as ATSI.Tyson Demos has ties with the International basketball legend Patty Mills who initiated the Indigenous Business Australia, a professional body with links to the Indigenous Country Basketball League (ICBL).  ICBL basketball is taking off in rural and remote communities and is creating fertile ground to nurture the basketball skills and talents of our next generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

With Tyson as an ambassador for the joint venture, CAHS and AH&MRC are confident that the weekend will help to inspire our Communities, especially young people, to get involved, play their A-game, and have fun. Both organisations look forward to meeting the teams and getting involved over the three days.

Author – Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service

For more information contact the AH&MRC Communications Team at  comms@ahmrc.org.au 

AH&MRC make a trip to Tharawal

On Thursday 29th of October 2020 AH&MRC visited Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS). The visit was planned so that Sector Support and the Public Health and Intelligence Teams could share the projects they’ve been working on and brainstorm how AH&MRC can support Tharawal AMS with their programs and initiatives.

Tharawal AMS’s CEO, Darryl Wright took time out of his busy day to take the AH&MRC team on a tour of the service. He showed the AH&MRC Team the Fruit and Veg Shed where they run the ‘Good Tucker All Round Program’. This Fruit and Vegetable Delivery Program delivers boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living on the Dharawal land in the Campbelltown Local Government Area. The program targets people who have or at risk of having a chronic disease including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Darryl introduced the Team to staff at Tharawal AMS and showed them around the Medical Centre, treatment rooms and Koori Garden, explaining all the healthy lifestyle programs that Tharawal AMS have to offer.

The team witnessed a special moment when Darryl presented a beautiful sculpture to a very hard-working staff member of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health. The staff member had worked on the Poche bus all day making dentures for Tharawal AMS community members.

The AH&MRC team were impressed with the extensive services offered to Tharawal Community members in medical, social and emotional wellbeing, lifestyle and family support. It was a trip that we remember fondly in the years to come.

Author –

Marina Wise, AH&MRC Public Health and Intelligence Unit

CEO Clinical Governance CQI Workshops

In August 2019, the AH&MRC hosted the first of a series of Clinical Governance Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Workshops for our Member Services. Delivered in two phases, the overarching objective of this initiative is to empower Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) to increase revenue through improved clinical governance processes, ensuring fiscal sustainability in the face of an ever-changing funding landscape.

As part of the first phase of this project, two one-day workshops specifically designed for ACCHS CEOs and executive-level staff were hosted by the AH&MRC in Dubbo and Sydney. The AH&MRC engaged an external consultant, Dr Vlad Matic, to develop and deliver these workshops. With extensive experience in the provision of primary and secondary healthcare within rural and remote Aboriginal communities, Dr Vlad worked closely with attendees during these sessions to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges arising across various areas of clinical governance and began to explore customised solutions to meet the individual needs of each ACCHS.

With a total of 12 attendees across eight Member Services, the Dubbo CEO Clinical Governance CQI Workshop offered ACCHSs the opportunity to deep dive into areas of clinical governance most relevant to their communities. Medicare, the role of the GP and the patient journey were key themes of the day and provided the foundation for many of the robust discussions shared by attendees.

The Sydney CEO Clinical Governance CQI Workshop saw 20 attendees from 13 different ACCHSs across NSW gather to engage in a dialogue about how ACCHSs can best demonstrate their value to funders. The role of data and the relationship between data, information, knowledge and wisdom provided the framework for many discussions throughout the day, while the importance of having defined internal processes was another core focus.

If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing. W. Edward Deming

With the second phase of the project now well underway, Dr Vlad has taken the concepts, processes and feedback from the initial CEO Workshops and will utilise these to develop effective, practical and tailored implementation strategies to support ACCHSs to improve their clinical governance practices.

For more information about the Clinical Governance CQI initiative, please don’t hesitate to contact Rosie Edwards REdwards@ahmrc.org.au or Richie Garcia RGarcia@ahmrc.org.au.

Your Health Your Future Ambassador Program shoots and scores

The Your Health Your Future Ambassador Program kicked off with a high-octane bang last week as the Illawarra Hawks challenged the Australian Indigenous All Stars to their first event match against an NBL team. Both teams showed off their sportsmanship by engaging in various health promotion activities with some local primary school students.

All Stars visit Warilla North Public School

On Friday in collaboration with Illawarra AMS, the All Stars visited Warilla North Public School, a local school with a passion for basketball, and challenged the kids to a classic 5-on-5 set up. The points flew thick and fast from both sides, but some tricky manoeuvres and skilful defence saw the kids from Warilla North Public beating the All Stars by just one point.  Congrats to Warilla North, and of course to the All Stars for bringing the challenge and the passion for the game.

All Stars face off against the kids at Warilla North

After the game, the players and coaching staff spoke to the students about the importance of playing sport and being active, and why water is the healthiest drink to choose if they want to grow up and be an All Star! The players and the AH&MRC team distributed Your Health Your Future health promotion items including hats, skipping ropes, bouncy balls and other equipment that can empower kids to get active.

It was a fabulous day all round which illustrated the power of health partnerships where the Warilla North teaching staff, the All Stars, IAMS and the AH&MRC all came together to demonstrate and promote the importance of sport and fitness for children and young people.

All Stars and Illawarra Medical Service hand out Your Health Your Future Resources

On Saturday, the Hawks and the All-Stars held an open training session in Wollongong, where Warilla North students (proudly wearing their new Your Health Your Future hats) got to watch the pros warm-up and shoot hoops in anticipation of the Saturday night pre-season Indigenous challenge. This game gave the Hawks a chance to debut their 2019 squad including new recruits LaMelo Ball and Aaron Brooks, and was also the first time the All Stars had the chance to compete against an NBL team. While the Hawks won the game, the All Stars’ exciting performance against the established Hawks means it surely won’t be the last.

Nina Betts – AH&MRC

How Hitnet can service Aboriginal communities

Hitnet Community Hubs provide connection and access to information for difficult-to-reach and digitally excluded populations across Australia. The Hubs enable people to connect to online services, access and share culturally appropriate health and social information.

Hitnet was first utilised by the AH&MRC as a practical tool for services to use through the Head Lice project, whereby relevant content central to the project was loaded onto the Hub and placed in the local AMS for the community to engage with. The local AMS in question has a range of projects and activities which they are enthusiastic to promote to their community through Hitnet. Another Member Service saw the value of Hitnet and included it in a funding grant application. This specific Member was successful in their application and was able to purchase a Hub for their service.

The AH&MRC engages with our Members and their communities in meaningful ways. Through a range of face-to-face, online, workshops, training and collaborations initiatives, we aim to communicate, educate and promote Aboriginal health. These are proven and effective means to connect with and learn from our Members.

Hitnet fulfils a service need of sharing locally generated content and key public health messages with Members, their staff and the wider community. The Hubs offer an effective method for engaging with the community and sharing important educational material in a timely, culturally safe and innovative way.

Coomealla Health Aboriginal Corporation Hitnet Hub

Each Hitnet Hub is used on average 1,000 times per year, representing purposeful interactions. Hitnet is essentially a one-stop-shop for all health promotion content. The team at Hitnet provide 3 monthly reports which provide reach and engagement metrics for their Hubs. This data can help to assess individual community needs and guide the development of health programs.

The AH&MRC have been able to purchase Hitnet Hubs for Orange Aboriginal Medical Service, Tamworth Aboriginal Medical Service, Pat Dixon Medical Centre, and Coomealla Health Aboriginal Corporation. Hitnet Hubs have enabled Member Services to access culturally appropriate health promotion resources and online services.

Coomealla Health Aboriginal Corporation Hitnet Hub

The Hitnet Hubs are located in Medical Service waiting rooms and provide the perfect opportunistic health education resource, especially for young people. The Hubs have a local channel, providing the perfect medium to advertise local community events and health programs running in the area. The local channel is also an avenue for Members to share success stories and highlight the amazing work that is being done in the community.

Bourke Aboriginal Health Service

Hitnet is an effective way for Members to reach and engage their local communities, especially in remote areas. Through involvement in this project, the AH&MRC has assisted in strengthening the connectedness of the ACCHS sector in the creation and sharing of health promotion content, contributing to improved health, wellbeing and educational outcomes of the Aboriginal community.

Bourke Aboriginal Health Service

For more information on how Hitnet can service your local community please email Julie Gibson, Hitnet CEO and Co-founder – julie@hitnet.com.au or Sam Paulford, Hitnet Operations Manager – samp@hitnet.com.au

Sophie Scobie – AH&MRC