NACCHO CEO #HealthElection16 :All political parties should not ignore the real needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

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“I call on all parties

  • for the freeze on Medicare indexation to be lifted because it impacts negatively on the funding of our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHO’s) at the local level;
  • the need for clearly defined guidelines on how the Primary Health Networks would partner with our member ACCHO’s to ensure our peoples’ health care is culturally safe and of high quality and 
  • new thinking and a clear national strategy is needed to redress the social determinants of health.

We want all political parties to articulate how they will address these priorities to make sure we do “Close the Gap” in this generation.”

Pat Turner AO new CEO NACCHO (see bio below ) was among the senior representatives of 55 organisations signing the Redfern Statement.

To make sure the political parties do not ignore the real needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, key peak organisations came together  in a non-partisan way, to remind our political leaders what’s expected of the incoming Government. Co-Chairs of National Congress, Jackie Huggins and Rod Little, led the media event held in Redfern on 9 June.

They were joined by 54 other organisations in an unprecedented show of strength and unity to sign and issue the Redfern Statement.

The Redfern Statement will be given to the new Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition when parliament resumes.

This means that the new Federal government should negotiate with the State/Territory governments and NACCHO, and other key representative organisations to design, implement and evaluate a Social Determinants of Health Strategy.

Pat said that the evidence is available and has been known about for long enough, now it’s time for all Governments to work in a real partnership with key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to change these social determinants to positive outcomes within the next generation of 25 years.

Support for our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services was strong in acknowledging that it is our members who are the best placed to provide the health care our people need and ACCHOs should most definitely be the preferred providers. Calls were made for cuts to funding reflected in former Budget allocations to be restored.

The Government’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, now has an Implementation Plan, without additional funding. To rectify this, the call was made for the Implementation Plan to be properly funded.

It is supported by both the major political parties in Canberra, it is three years old, and still no new funding to do what is needed.

In understanding that suicide is all too common among our people, we also called for the funding of a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Basically, we called on the incoming Government to Close the Gap within the next generation.

Pat Turner’s call for a stand-alone Federal Department for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with all senior executive staff being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, was strongly supported by everyone present.

Ms Turner said that if “Closing the Gap” is so important to the incoming government, they have to fund our community controlled sector properly.

The Australian health budget is 10 per cent of Australia’s GDP. $90 billion dollars is funded for Australians’ health by the Commonwealth Government alone. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sector only get $4 billion of that.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, supported Ms Turner’s comments and said at the moment we as First Nations’ people did not have a relationship with government.

“We need a relationship, whether it’s in the form of a treaty, a compact or formal agreement, whatever title it is given, it’s the substance of a genuine formal relationship between the incoming Government and our own leadership that is missing.

They’ve defunded Congress, the only representative organisation we have. That’s our organisation. They’ve appointed an Indigenous Advisory Council who only represent themselves – and they’ll tell you that.”

“What we need is this relationship between our peoples and government, not with our peoples and government agencies and departments.”

The NACCHO CEO concluded her remarks by saying that despite the regular upheaval of major policy changes, significant budget cuts and changes of Government in the short election cycles at all levels, “we have still managed to see some encouraging improvements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

We want all political parties to articulate how they will address these priorities to make sure we do “Close the Gap” in this generation.”




Background new NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM

Pat Turner AM , the daughter of an Arrernte man and a Gurdanji woman, was born in 1952 and raised in Alice Springs.

Her long association with Canberra began with a temporary position with the Public Service Board, leading to the Social Policy Branch of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) in 1979.

Joining the Australian Public Service (APS) in Alice Springs as a switchboard operator in the Native Affairs Department , she moved to Canberra in 1978, joining the senior executive ranks of the public service in 1985, when she became Director of the DAA in Alice Springs, N.T. (1985-86).

Pat then became First Assistant Secretary, Economic Development Division in the DAA, and in 1989, Deputy Secretary. She worked as Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet during 1991-92, with oversight of the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and with responsibility for the Office of the Status of Women among other matters.

Between 1994 -1998, Pat was CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, which made her the most senior Aboriginal government official in Australia at the Commonwealth level.. After stints in senior positions at the Department of Health and at Centrelink, Pat Turner left the APS and Canberra in 2006, returning to Alice Springs with her mother to live.

There, she has continued to advocate on the behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including taking on what she described as ‘one of the best working experiences of my life’ as Inaugral CEO of National Indigenous Television, NITV, from January 2007 until December 2010.

Other memorable experiences include the period when she was Festival Director of the 5th Festival of Pacific Arts in Townsville, Queensland (1987 -88) and when she held the Chair of Australian Studies at Georgetown University in Washington DC (1998-99).

Ms Turner retired from the APS in 2006, not particularly happy with the state of the organisation she was leaving, but happy about the prospect of spending more time with family and focusing on grass roots projects.

In 2011, she was appointed to the Advisory Council of the Australian National Preventative Health Agency.

In April 2016 2016 she was appointed CEO of NACCHO

Ms Turner holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Canberra where she was awarded the University prize for Development Studies. She was awarded Membership of the Order of Australia (AM), in 1990 for her services to public service.

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper

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Wednesday : NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke plus Members

Thursday : Labor Policy

Friday : Coalition Policy



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