NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Our #ACCHO Members Deadly Good News Stories from #WA #VIC #NSW #QLD #NT #TAS

1.NSW : AH&MRC  Meeting Ground farewells CEO Sandra Bailey

2. QLD : Charleville and Western Areas #IAS Health mob rewards students

3. TAS : Flinders Island AAI Tackling Tasmania’s Indigenous Smoking Program

4. NT : Stolen Generations’ oldest living member, Harry Bennett, reflects on his life after 100 years

5.VIC : Clinton get warm welcome from VAHS and VACCHO on his walk Perth to Canberra

6.WA : AHCWA : Successful, WA child health programs highlighted in Indigenous health report

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1.NSW AH&MRC  Meeting Ground farewells CEO Sandra Bailey

The AH&MRC of NSW invited all it’s members to Meeting Ground 2017 – “Renewal, Unity & Strenght”.

Meeting Ground is one of AH&MRC’s ways of engaging our members to provide feedback, identify current and future needs and develop strategies to address these needs

Download the 3 day Program file

A warming Welcome to Country by Aunty Anne Weldon

A thought provoking Chairpersons address responding to a change, self determination is key to Aboriginal Health

Summary Sandra Bailey CEO 1992-2017

Sandra Bailey, a member of the Yorta Yorta nation from southern NSW and Victoria, is stepping down as Chief Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW after 25 years .

AH&MRC, the peak representative organisation and advocate for Aboriginal communities on health and has a membership comprising of nearly 50 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) who deliver culturally appropriate primary health care services to Aboriginal people across NSW.

Sandra’s current role incudes representing members interests through the provision of member services support, effective policy and program development within the sector and building on State and Commonwealth partnerships to ensure appropriate Aboriginal primary health care service delivery to achieve better health outcomes for Aboriginal people. Another significant role includes working in the broader health system with external partners in government and non-government agencies to promote engagement with the AH&MRC and ACCHSs in policy planning and service delivery at state, regional and local levels.

Sandra has held her current position since 1992 and with the support of an Aboriginal community-elected Board of Directors, the AH&MRC has expanded to include support for nearly 50 ACCHSs through various activities delivered through Public Health Units which assists members with clinic services, cancer care, child & maternal health services, chronic disease management, tobacco cessation, drug/alcohol use and harm minimisation; a Business Development Unit supporting members with service and clinical accreditation, governance, IT infrastructure & information management systems; a Social and Emotional Wellbeing Workforce Support Unit assisting AHWs; Research & Data Support; an Aboriginal Health College to provide education and training for current and future sector workers; and auspicing an Aboriginal Ethics Committee that ensures culturally appropriate ethical review of Aboriginal health research projects in NSW.

Sandra was a co-chair of the NSW Aboriginal Health Partnership, which is strengthened by a formal agreement between the NSW Government and the AH&MRC, and has served on a number of Ministerial Advisory Committees and boards. She has also been involved in a number of research projects in Aboriginal health including in the areas of child health and resilience.

In recognition of her service in the Aboriginal health sector, Sandra was awarded the Australian Government Centenary Medal for Contribution to Health in 2003. In 2014 Sandra was again acknowledged for her service to the Aboriginal health sector, receiving the Hall of Fame award at the 2014 NSW Health Aboriginal Health Awards

2. QLD : Charleville and Western Areas #IAS Health mob rewards students

The Charleville and Western Areas Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Community Health  IAS Team has found a new way to get our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young children and youths through the school gates of the Charleville State School, Charleville State High School and St. Mary’s Catholic School with the help and assistance of an incentive program.

Charleville and Western Areas Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Community Health was founded in 1993 and incorporated in April, 1994 and the objects for which the Company was established include all or any of the following, which is in relation to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in the Charleville and Western Areas.

The primary objective for which the Company is established is for the public charitable purpose of the relief of sickness, poverty and disadvantage amongst the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of the Charleville and Western Area.

The IAS Program rewards students with awards for good attendance of 90% or above as well as good behaviour, improvement in academic and respect in the school system towards fellow student and teachers.  The 1st new initiative commenced in February this year and finished at the end of last term at the Charleville State High School.

It has been identified that school attendance was relatively low in the past five years ago, however school attendance has improved thanks to new ideas and strategies with input from all schools as well as parents and community.

The Charleville State Primary School & St Marys will be decided after June Holidays. They reward  system will be 6 monthly.

This 1st presentation was held at the Charleville State High School on 20th April, 2017. The students below have received a Deadly Choices Pack and the other students received a Certificate for 100% attendance for Term 1– Congratulations and well done to the students.

Senior School Presentation

Principal Mr Sampson, Gregory Suhan (IAS Team Member), Dylan Holley Year 12 , Jolene Russell CEC, Latesha Leleca Year 11, and Robert Geebung (IAS Team Member)

Junior School Presentation

Mr Sampson (Principal), David Wakefield Year 8, Jolene Russell CEC, Destiny Holley Year 7, Gregory Suhan (IAS Team Member), Lacy Cavanough Year 7, Robert Geebung (IAS Team Member), and Bailee Melano Year 7

3. TAS : Flinders Island AAI Tackling Tasmania’s Indigenous Smoking Program

FIAAI Tackling  Smoking Team is a statewide program based in Launceston and funded by the Commonwealth Dept of Health and Ageing. The program is part of the Australian campaign to close the gap in Indigenous health by reducing smoking and improving nutrition and physical activity levels.

The Tackling Smoking Team works with organisations, community groups and individuals to provide activities, resources and knowledge that can assist in achieving these goals.  Newsletters can be found in the Resources section of our website.

The Tassie mob are out and about spreading the no smokes message in local schools. They have developed activities that cover different aspects of smoking including activities that focus on peer pressure to smoke, the ingredients of a smoke and how smoking affects the body.

These events promote the prevention of smoking in our target group (11- 12yr olds). Prevention is the key!

The team have had a fantastic response since their first presentation in 2014 with great feedback from teachers including “great presentation” and “very engaging with relevant content!”

The team will continue to spread the word, being nearly booked out for the whole of 2017!

4. NT : Stolen Generations’ oldest living member, Harry Bennett, reflects on his life after 100 years

Harry Bennett has just turned 100 years old but he was not meant to be born at all.


“I was born in Tennant Creek at Old Telegraph Station,” he said.

“My mum and dad had a feeling for one another, you know what I mean? And I’m the result.”

Mr Bennett’s father was white and his mother Aboriginal.

But when his mother got pregnant, his grandmother told her to kill the baby because she did not want her family to be shamed for having a black child.

“They said when you have the baby you kill him … so my parents said alright, instead of going back to Helen Springs they went to Tennant Creek and I’m the result.”

Children buried in sand to hide them from troopers

At the time it was a crime for a white man to be with an Aboriginal woman, so Mr Bennett’s father left to avoid going to jail for seven years.

But his mother faced more obstacles.

She was forced to protect him from police troopers looking for Aboriginal children of mixed descent.

“When the troopers used to come through, my grandma and granddad, along with all the parents, used to bury the children in the loose sands,” said Bernadine Hooker, Mr Bennett’s daughter.

“They had a straw from a bush sticking out and that’s all they had to breathe through.

“[The kids] were terrified actually but it had to be done otherwise the troopers would have taken them there and then,” she said.

This method worked until Mr Bennett was four and he was finally taken away.

He is the oldest living member of the Stolen Generations and now lives in Katherine, about 600km north of Tennant Creek.

‘My mum would have had it worse than me’

“I was told that he was put in an old blitz-truck-type thing … with a lot of other children and they were just taken away from their parents,” Ms Hooker said.

“But he told me about his mum and how she hung onto that truck and how she was dragged for quite a few miles in the dirt and she couldn’t hold on anymore.

“She let go, she was wailing, screaming out for him but that’s as far as he could tell me … he couldn’t tell me anymore. It was too hurtful.”

Harry Bennett never saw his mother again.

“I was worried about my mother. What am I being taken for?” Harry said.

“She would have been worse than me thinking about me and how I was growing up.

“She’d be thinking about me getting bigger and wondering if I was getting tall or fat or what.

“I haven’t seen my mother since that day.”

Deaf from being boxed in ears

He was taken north to a mission in Darwin then down to Pine Creek and ended up at The Bungalow in Alice Springs for children who had been taken away.

“I know my dad was ill-treated there by a certain person,” Ms Hooker said.

“Every time he used to walk past my dad, he’d box his ears for him and my dad ended up going deaf altogether because of this.”

Mr Bennett now has three children, 13 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren.

They have to use a small whiteboard to communicate with him.

‘I don’t think I’m that old’

Although the injustices are from so long ago, Ms Hooker said they still hurt the family.

“It’s affected the whole family … there’s a lot he doesn’t talk about, there’s a lot we’d like to know about,” she said.

“There’s still a lot out there we’d still like to know and the biggest hurt of all is not knowing any of my dad’s side of the family.”

But Mr Bennett is anything but bitter despite a life riddled with tragedy.

“I don’t worry about anything, nothing worries me,” he said.

“When I wake up in the morning it’s another day, just an ordinary day.

“I don’t even think that I’m that old!”

5.VIC : Clinton get warm welcome from VAHS and VACCHO on his walk Perth to Canberra


His destination is Canberra, via the Victorian and NSW coasts and Sydney, where he hopes to confront politicians and policymakers with stories he’s gleaned across the country.

A bitter wind scoured Melbourne’s western plains on Tuesday as Pryor walked from Melton towards the city. His route took him past hobby farms, replica windmills and new estates sprung forth from basalt-studded soil.

Pryor has worn through five pairs of shoes on asphalt and earth roads of every hue.

Sometimes his route has taken him along the ancient songlines that Aboriginal people have always used to navigate their continent, Pryor says. Many of these were turned into roads by Europeans colonisers reliant on Aboriginal guides.

His feet are in great condition now, but he suffered a setback after the first month when the camber of the road caused him to walk in an uneven way, triggering an infection and large swelling in his knee.

Most precious to him were the 16 days he walked through the Gibson Desert (up at 4.30am each day to beat the summer sun), meeting with communities and seeing Uluru for the first time.

Born in Subiaco, in Perth, Pryor grew up “in the community life”, living in Carnarvon, Halls Creek, Kununurra and the Mulan Community, before moving to Perth to live with his father.

Elders and Indigenous communities have welcomed him at every pit stop, and Pryor and his three support crew have been given material and cultural help to continue their journey.

Pryor and his two-car convoy, all supported through crowdfunding, have also been stopped constantly by non-Indigenous locals wanting to say hello, take photos and offer donations.

Each day, the crew eats breakfast and Pryor begins walking. Aside from a lunch stop, he walks until about 8pm at night.

Clinton and his convoy arrived at Melbourne on last Tuesday afternoon to visit VAHS and attend a rally at Parliament House.

With over 5000 kms down and 1000 kms to go, Clinton has walked for justice from Perth to Melbourne. With his ultimate destination being Parliament House in Canberra, he received a warm reception from the Community and a had lovely feed at the Health Service.

Our Board Member, Doreen Lovett welcomed him and presented Clinton with a donation from VAHS to support him on the rest of his journey. They got a photo outside the VAHS hero cabinet in the foyer, which was most fitting 🙌🏾 #WalkForJustice #clintonsWalk @Clintonswalk Clinton’s Walk for Justice thanks to Victorian Naidoc and Aunty Pam Pederson for you words of encouragement and presenting Clinton with a cosy Koorie Flag Hoodie!

Dear PM: My name is Isiah and I am 6 years old. I hope you have a yarn with Clinton.

Expect six-year-old Melbourne boy Isiah Hobba – now dubbed a ‘Gunditjmara warrior’ – to be walking in Clinton Pryor’s footsteps one day.

Clinton is a Wajuk, Balardung, Kija and Yulparitja man whose #WalkforJustice has so far taken him nearly 4,500 kilometres by foot across Australia, through scorching desert heat and bitter morning chill from Perth to Melbourne.

Isiah, whose family are Gunditjmara people from the western districts of Victoria, was so inspired by Clinton’s walk that he handed over his pocket money to buy a new pair of boots to help get him to Canberra.

On Sunday he gave Clinton a letter, wrapped in possum skin, to deliver to the Prime Minister. It says:

“Dear Prime Minister. My name is Isiah and I am 6 years old. I live in Melbourne.

My great grandmother was a part of the Stolen Generations and this still affects my people today. Please don’t close our communities. Our people have a strong connection to the land. I hope you have a chance to meet with Clinton and have a yarn and listen to all the messages he received across Australia.

Isiah last year emptied his money box – $140 of his pocket money – to put on a barbecue for homeless Aboriginal people in inner Melbourne, and then emptied it out again last weeks for the boots he presented to Clinton on the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne.

In return, Clinton co-hosted a public event on Sunday with Democracy in Colour, in honour of Isiah, providing free food for anyone in need.

Watch this interview below with Isiah, his mum Shakara Montalto, who is a Project Officer at the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), and his grandmother Tina Wright.



The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia says a new Federal Government report about the state of indigenous health is encouraging, but evidence that an increased focus is needed in investing in Aboriginal community-controlled health services.

The 2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework, released by the Federal Government on May 30, monitors health outcomes, health system performance and broader health factors across Australia.

AHCWA chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox said the key findings of the report reflected several improvements in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but also found there was overwhelming need for continued progress.

“Improving health outcomes for Aboriginal people requires a focus on community-led programs,” Ms Nelson-Cox said.

“We are pleased to see a number of West Australian community-based programs highlighted in this important report, specifically strategies to improve child and maternal health in regional WA.”

The report cites the success of a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders prevention program run by the Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service in Kununurra that provides education and support to antenatal clients and their families, as well student education sessions.

“The success of the program can be attributed to both community investment and ownership and the willingness of the Aboriginal community to embrace change,” the report states.

Another positive strategy highlighted in the report is the Birth to School Entry project in the Pilbara region, in which the Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation was allocated funding to provide primary prevention activities.

About 400 child health checks and 1000 immunisations are conducted each year in Port Hedland, South Hedland and surrounding communities through the program, which also offers hygiene sessions, ear health education, an alcohol in pregnancy intervention and an outreach service.

“We are proud to support some of the most innovative and effective grassroots health programs in the country,” Ms Nelson-Cox said.

“The success of these projects not only provides better health outcomes for our people living in remote WA, but gives others the motivation to build similar initiatives in their own communities.”

Across the board, the report found that the amount of care delivered through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care services had tripled, increasing from 1.2 million in 1999–2000 to 3.5 million in 2014–15.

In addition, there has been a significant decline in the mortality rate for indigenous children up to the age of four, which dropped 33% between 1998 and 2015.

While the report found significant health improvements in some areas, indigenous Australians are still more prone to disease and chronic illnesses – 2.3 times the rate of non-indigenous Australians in 2011.

It also found the life expectancy of indigenous Australians had improved slightly in recent years but progress is needed to close the gap if the target of 2031 is to be met.

AHCWA is the peak body for Aboriginal health in WA, with 22 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) currently engaged as members.