Aboriginal heath services welcome back down on Racial Discrimination Act

Bernard Kelly-Edwards

The peak body for Aboriginal-run health services across Australia today welcomed the Federal Government decision not to proceed with the proposed harmful changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chairperson Justin Mohamed said it was proven that racism can have detrimental effects on the health of Aboriginal people. “We need as strong laws as possible in place to protect against racism,” Mr Mohamed said. “Racism can impact on self- esteem and confidence and ultimately contribute to poor mental and physical health. “We already have a high incidence of mental health issues in our communities and youth suicide rates which are the shame of the nation – five times higher than in non-Aboriginal young people. “We need to do everything in our power to ensure our people – both young and old – develop and maintain self-respect and positive identity. Racism undermines our ability to do this. “Racism should never be tolerated and it is little wonder communities across Australia have reacted so strongly against the watering down of provisions in the Racial Discrimination Act under Section 18C. “I am very pleased that the Federal Government has heard our call and changed their mind on this issue.”