NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Human Rights : Apunipima Cape York Health Council submission to enquiry

kowanyama

“Apunipima Cape York Health Council is the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) for Cape York. Cape York has a total of 17 remote communities; Apunipima provides comprehensive primary health care services to 11 communities and advocacy services to all 17.

Apunipima recognises the complex interaction of social, emotional, physical, cultural, environmental and historical elements that contribute to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at an individual, family and community levels.

We therefore understand that looking after Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health requires a holistic approach, one which recognises place, history and relationships.

According to our peak body, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO):

Aboriginal health means not just the physical well-being of an individual but refers to the social, emotional and cultural well-being of the whole Community in which each individual is able to achieve their full potential as a human being thereby bringing about the total well-being of their Community.

It is a whole of life view and includes the cyclical concept of life-death-life.”

PICTURE ABOVE :

Ensuring mothers and their babies get the best health care possible is something that the small Aboriginal community of Kowanyama in far north Queensland prides itself on. Late last year the community celebrated the official opening of the refurbished Mums ‘n’ Bubs Family Health Centre with speeches, a traditional smoking ceremony and a barbeque lunch.

CEO Cleveland Fagan said “Investment in health infrastructure in Kowanyama and the Cape is critical to improving the health of residents ”

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Extract from Apunipima’s submission is available for download here

Apunipima Cape York Health Council has been invited to speak at a public hearing into whether Queensland needs a stand –alone Human Rights Act.

Apunipima contributed a submission to inquiry outlining its reason why such an Act would benefit the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Cape York.

Currently Victoria and the ACT are the only two states and territories to have a discrete Human Rights Act. These Acts serve as a lens through which decision makers and community view new and existing legislation.

Apunipima believes a discrete Human Rights Act for Queensland would focus decision-makers minds on the human rights impact of legislation and provide a robust base for the community to challenge or accept government decisions.

If the Act included social, economic and educational rights as well as civil and cultural rights, it would stimulate a new conversation about what we as a society need to provide for the most vulnerable.

Apunipima stands strongly in favour of the state government developing a robust, progressive, reviewable Human Rights Act to create a new culture of rights with our community and legislature.

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Human Rights Act Inquiry

Introduction

Apunipima Cape York Health Council is the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) for Cape York. Cape York has a total of 17 remote communities; Apunipima provides comprehensive primary health care services to 11 communities and advocacy services to all 17.

Apunipima recognises the complex interaction of social, emotional, physical, cultural, environmental and historical elements that contribute to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at an individual, family and community levels. We therefore understand that looking after Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health requires a holistic approach, one which recognises place, history and relationships.

According to our peak body, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO):

Aboriginal health means not just the physical well-being of an individual but refers to the social, emotional and cultural well-being of the whole Community in which each individual is able to achieve their full potential as a human being thereby bringing about the total well-being of their Community.

It is a whole of life view and includes the cyclical concept of life-death-life.

Apunipima aligns itself with the values and standards embodied in international human rights declarations and fora, particularly the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Representatives from Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector peak bodies regularly attend United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues meetings, ensuring that Indigenous

Australians are knowledgeable about, and involved in, the formation and protection of Human Rights and emphasising our belief that human rights matter when it comes to Indigenous self determination. Apunipima believes that it’s imperative for Queensland Legislative Assembly to legislate a Human Rights Act outside of the Queensland constitution.

We believe the Act should contain:

a) Explicit recognition of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s cultural rights, social and economic rights and the right to self – determination as outlined United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

b) The requirement that legislators need to publicly state how their bills comply (or don’t comply) with the Act

c) Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

d) A regular, mandatory, public and perpetual review process

e) The ability for individuals to appeal to the courts if they believe a breach has occurred without having to refer to separate, relevant legislation (individual causes of action)

Benefits from such an Act would include:

a) A new way and new language with which to address the social, cultural and economic determinants which underpin Cape York Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s suffering (from imprisonment, substance abuse, family violence, unemployment, child removal to physical and mental illness and the shorter life spans than other Queenslanders)

b) The empowerment of the public through human rights education, promotion and enculturation

c) The provision of a greater set of checks and balances upon and within the Queensland Parliament which lacks an Upper House

d) The provision of explicit human rights protections for all Queenslanders, especially the most vulnerable

Our organisation believes a Queensland Human Rights Act would advance the cause of the Cape York’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations by requiring decision makers to focus on human rights each and every time a decision is made.

Read full submission here

Apunipima’s submission is available for download here

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