NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: GP grants to help expand patient access (2023)

  • GP grants to help expand patient access
  • Funding to narrow the digital divide
  • Alice Springs alcohol restrictions working
  • Australian Immunisation Register enhancements
  • PSA calls for action to improve access for mob
  • Improving health with good sleep
  • Sector Jobs

The image in the feature tile is from an article Strengthening Medicare – General Practice (GP) Grants Program published on thePNH Hunter New England and Central Coast website on 3 April 2023.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

GP grants to help expand patient access

The Australian Government is delivering on a key election commitment to strengthen GP practices across the country. The $220m Strengthening Medicare – General Practice (GP) Grants Program will allow all General Practices and eligible ACCHOs to expand patient access and improve their services.

The GP Grants will support all general practices and eligible ACCHOs across Australia to make investments in innovation, training, equipment, and minor capital works in one or more of the three investment streams below:

  1. Enhance digital health capability
  2. Upgrade infection prevention and control arrangements
  3. Maintain and/or achieve accreditation against the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards for General Practices (5th edition).

Grants will be provided depending on accredited GP practice size, with smaller practices eligible for grants of $25,000 or $35,000 and larger practices eligible for grants of $50,000. GP practices and ACCHOs not currently accredited against the RACGP standards will be eligible for $25,000.

The grants will be delivered through local Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and NACCHO. Over the coming weeks, PHNs and NACCHO will be sending letters directly to general practices inviting participation in the Grants Program.

To view Minister Mark Butler’s media release Strengthening Medicare with $220m in GP Grants in full click here.

Image source: WA Primary Health Alliance website.

Funding to narrow the digital divide

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney and Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland say the Albanese Government has bolstered its commitment to narrowing the digital divide for First Nations Australians by providing an additional $10m in funding to the latest round of the Regional Connectivity Program (RCP).

“This funding will deliver dedicated solutions to improve digital connectivity for First Nations communities in Central Australia. Improvements in digital connectivity will help address low levels of digital inclusion for individuals and communities and, in turn, support improved social inclusion and access to online services including health, education and social support services.”

To view Minister Burney and Minister Rowland’s joint media release Additional funding to drive digital inclusion for First Nations communities in full click here.

Image source: article Bridge the digital divide to promote inclusion published in Capacity on 3 December 2021.

Alice Springs alcohol restrictions working

Chief Minister and Minister for Alcohol Policy, Natasha Fyles, says the NT Government will extend takeaway alcohol restrictions in Alice Springs. Over the past three months we have seen these alcohol restrictions work, and support our community and frontline workers.

Alcohol-related emergency department presentations at Alice Springs Hospital have almost halved, and domestic violence has dropped by a third in the month since the takeaway alcohol restrictions were reintroduced into the Northern Territory town. In January we outlined a number of measures to address anti-social behaviour and crime in Alice Springs, with alcohol restrictions being part of this plan.

To view the Chief Minister of the NT Natasha Fyles’ media release Alice Springs alcohol restrictions working in full click here.

Photo: Xavier Martin. Image source: ABC News.

Australian Immunisation Register enhancements

Enhancements to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) implemented on 15 April 2023 in preparation for the 2023 influenza season include:

COVID-19 and Influenza Immunisation History Statement

Individuals can use a new COVID-19 and Influenza Immunisation History Statement (IHS) from the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

The new IHS only displays COVID-19 and influenza vaccination information (including medical contraindications) on the AIR for an individual. This provides individuals with more privacy as they can use it as evidence for employment purposes, instead of providing their full vaccination history.

Individuals can view and print their COVID-19 and Influenza IHS (PDF version) from the AIR by:

  • accessing their Medicare online account through myGov or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app
  • calling Services Australia on 1800 653 809 to ask for a copy
  • asking their vaccination provider to print a copy.

NOTE: For privacy reasons, anyone aged 14 or older can get their own IHS.

Digital versions of the new IHS will be available in late 2023. Individuals will be able to use and share the new IHS with their digital wallets (Apple/Google).

COVID-19 Vaccination Report (AIR042A)

The AIR042A report is now available for vaccination providers to generate through the AIR site. Updates were made to improve the usability of the AIR042A report. Vaccination providers can extract information from the AIR based on an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination history. This allows providers to choose the:

  • vaccine brand
  • total number of doses an individual has received
  • number of doses received in a specified timeframe
  • For example, an individual has received ‘0’ doses in the last ‘6’ months
  • age or Date of Birth range

Services Australia will publish an eLearning module for the AIR042A report in the coming weeks. This will include more information on how to use the AIR042A report.

It is mandatory under the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015, for vaccination providers to report the administration of COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations to the AIR. Reporting timely, high quality and accurate vaccination information ensures that the AIR contains a complete and reliable dataset. This allows the monitoring of immunisation coverage and administration.

The Department of Health and Aged Care will continue to work with Services Australia to help vaccination providers meet their reporting obligations.

Image source: Australian Government Every Australian online webpage.

PSA calls for action to improve access for mob

From changes to policy, service design and delivery, PSA is calling for action to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to healthcare. There is a staggering gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

The PSA has partnered with NACCHO to deliver several Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led healthcare programs and educational initiatives over the years, including the Integrating Pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to Improve Chronic Disease Management (IPAC) Project and the Deadly pharmacist foundation training course, available here.

While NACCHO is the national leadership body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia, PSA shapes initiatives from a pharmacist-standards, policy and educational perspective. ‘To develop pharmacy-related resources and information, we need to work with the peak bodies operating in the pharmacy world to translate and distil the messages from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into practice,’ said Mike Stephens MPS, Director, Medicines Policy and Programs at NACCHO.

To view the Australian Pharmacist article PSA demands equity of healthcare access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in full click here.

Mike Stephens. Danila Dilba, NT staff. Image sources L-R: Australian Pharmacist and Danila Dilba website.

Improving health with good sleep

The University of Queensland and Beyond Blue have partnered to deliver culturally responsive sleep health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents in Queensland. Project lead Assoicate Professor Yagoot fatitma from UQ’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Healthsaid Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents experience disproportionately high rates of poor sleep – up to twice as high as other young people.

“Improving sleep among young people means they can become more engaged in school, sport, cultural and community activities,” Dr Fatima said. “Poor sleep can be caused by medical conditions like sleep apnoea, restless leg syndrome, home environments or behavioural issues such as an irregular bedtime. Our previous studies have shown that Indigenous adolescents sleep better when they feel connected to their culture which is why this program is important.”

A 10-week Sleep for Strong Souls program will connect with more than one hundred 12 to 18-year-olds through workshops in north and western Queensland communities. The UQ-led program promotes and reinforces healthy sleep behaviours by integrating traditional and western knowledges and was successfully piloted in Mt Isa last year.

To view the First Nation s Telegraph article Improving Indigenous health with a good night’s sleep click here.

Sleep for Strong Souls program team. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.


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