National Indigenous Immunisation Research Workshop

Date Published:
8 Nov 2013
image - Picture1 Perth

National Indigenous Immunisation Workshop 2013: Lessons learnt and future directions, 7th & 8th November, Perth

The Telethon Institute for Child Health Research hosted this very successful national workshop in November at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle, in conjunction with the NHMRC CRE in Immunisation in Under Studied and Special Risk Populations and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.

The workshop brought together vaccine researchers with policymakers, service providers and interested stakeholders to present recent and current work in this field, to discuss research priorities, and to foster collaboration and research translation.

A very big thank you to Dr Tom Snelling and his team for putting together a very productive 2-day workshop.

Tom Snelling can be contacted for enquiries via

See this storify which includes all tweets from the workshop:


Highlights from the workshop

Immunisation training for Aboriginal Health Workers in Western Australia

Congratulations to Lorraine Hansen, Roslyn Yarran, Joanna Clinch, Wendy Skellern and Gail Yarran who are now certified immunisation providers after completing a pilot Aboriginal Health Worker (AHW) immunisation course conducted by WA Health’s Communicable Disease Control Directorate.

AHW immunisation training has been conducted in regional WA, namely in the Wheatbelt and Goldfields regions. The Regional Immunisation Coordinators in these areas are committed to improving vaccination rates among the local Aboriginal community and offer tremendous support to the AHW in their regions.

Aboriginal communities report significantly higher rates of vaccine-preventable disease than non-Aboriginal communities in Western Australia, and a lower 83.1% child immunisation rate compared to the state rate of 91.2%. The Communicable Disease Control Directorate, with support from the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia, designed and implemented the course to encourage more Aboriginal Health Workers to be trained to administer immunisations.

WA Health’s Public Health Physician, Paul Effler explained, “This approach is part of our focus on ‘closing the gap’ in immunisation rates between Aboriginal communities and the general population. Our goal is to raise Aboriginal immunisation rates and contribute to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal communities across the state.”

The five successful Aboriginal Health Workers were awarded their certificates for successful completion of the course in October 2013.


Hunter New England Local Health District Aboriginal Immunisation Program


In 2010, the Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD) in NSW had a 7% gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous immunisation rates for children at 12 months of age. The HNE Aboriginal Health Partnership requested and sanctioned action to close this gap. A part-time Aboriginal Immunisation Officer was employed and a new strategy was developed.

The HNE Population Health (HNEPH) program began a pre-call system of contacting families of children due for immunisation using a purpose-built database.

The Aboriginal Immunisation Officer noticed that often Indigenous identification was not reflective of the community. The LHD implemented a whole-of-health solution to improve identification whereby new mothers are asked whether the newborn would be identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. This data is separately entered into the infant’s file rather than the previous system of defaulting to the mother’s identification.

With advocacy the employment of Aboriginal Immunisation Officers has now become a NSW state-wide project with 16 Aboriginal Immunisation Officers cross NSW. HNELHD now has 2.6 FTE Aboriginal Immunisation Officers and is continuing the pre-call strategy supported by text messaging reminders. It is also facilitating links with local Aboriginal Medical Services and other immunisation providers.

Through this initiative HNEPH has reduced the gap of immunisation coverage between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children by over 2% in a 12-month period.

Employing Aboriginal staff familiar with their communities has facilitated improvements in timely immunisation and identification systems.


Image Galery
Participants -  National Indigenous Immunisation Research Workshop