NACCHO Aboriginal Health #CloseTheGap Media Update : Statements from #ClosingTheGap Refesh #COAG Communique Plus Interviews with @KenWyattMP @SenatorDodson and #Ulurustatement #IndigenousVoice @chrissarra

The PM Malcolm Turnbull will urge greater effort to improve indigenous health and education when federal parliament sits today to hear his annual #ClosingTheGap update.

The prime minister and state leaders heard the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders on Friday about new targets, as the 10-year-old Closing the Gap strategy struggled to meet its aims. See Statement Part 1 and 3

The targets would be “refreshed” after consultation, which had been extended to October 31, and Mr Turnbull will made a statement about the program’s most recent outcomes.

“We have made gains, and efforts to date have improved the lives of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but plainly we have not been able to achieve as much success as we would like and we need to work harder,” Mr Turnbull told COAG on Friday. See #COAG Statement part 2

“If COAG is serious about closing the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the general Australian population , they the COAG govts need to get serious  about tackling the higher burden of disease felt by too many Aboriginal Australians.

“The significant portion of the overall disease burden is preventable, but Aboriginal people are not always able access the care they need in a safe and culturally appropriate way. ” said NACCHO Chairperson, Mr John Singer in response . See Part 2.2 Below

Sky News’ David Speers sat down with Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt and Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Affairs Pat Dodson to discuss how effective the #ClosingTheGap process has been See Part 4 Below

One of the Prime Minister’s chief advisers Chris Sarra has revealed the establishment of an Indigenous advisory body is still “very much” on the table in negotiations with the Turnbull Government . Alternative models were being explored to deliver Indigenous Australians a “voice” that does not involve changing the constitution. See Part 5 Below

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt says an indigenous “voice” to the parliament is still being considered by the Turnbull government, but it could be created by legislation rather than be constitutionally enshrined.

Mr Wyatt said he was “optimistic” an indigenous voice would be created as well as a more minimalist version of constitutional recognition than proposed by the Referendum Council. See Part 6 below Government might legislate Indigenous ‘voice’

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd will address the National Press Club today about the 10-year anniversary (February 13 ) of his Stolen Generations apology and he said he didn’t want to see Closing the Gap watered down. Follow #Apology10

Part 1 Statement Special Gathering Statement: Building pathways for future prosperity

The Special Gathering agreed the next phase of the Closing the Gap agenda must be guided by the principles of empowerment and self-determination as articulated in the 2008 Close the Gap Statement of Intent. We demand from government a community led, strength based strategy that enables us to move beyond surviving to thriving.

The best progress over the last ten years has been in areas where the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community has led the design and implementation of programs from the beginning.

We call on Governments to partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to understand how to enact these principles in the implementation of initiatives to improve outcomes.

The Gathering noted there has been no clear statement of who is accountable for the Closing the Gap targets. We call on governments, in partnership with us, to clarify accountabilities between levels of government, communities and the private and non-government sectors.

We offer all governments accountability mechanisms to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have a meaningful role in monitoring progress (e.g. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led Senate Estimates-style processes).

This accountability must be informed by accessible and meaningful data reported by all governments. See Background and Priorities Part 3

Or Download a copy of all Special Leaders Gathering

special-gathering-statement-coag

Part 2 .1 COAG Communique Improving outcomes for Indigenous Australians

This year marks the tenth anniversary of COAG’s pledge to Closing the Gap in outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

First Ministers welcomed a delegation of prominent Indigenous Australians to represent the views of the Special Gathering held ahead of COAG to discuss priorities for the next decade as part of their commitment to work together, and with Indigenous leaders, to refresh this agenda.

A delegation from the Special Gathering presented COAG with a statement setting out the Gathering’s priorities for the refresh. Leaders and the delegation discussed the opportunities that the refresh provides.

Reflecting the breadth of expertise of the Special Gathering participants, the delegates and leaders had a diverse, insightful and constructive conversation. Leaders agreed that the statement would inform future community consultations, undertaken by all governments.

All governments will undertake community consultations on the refresh, ahead of COAG agreeing a new Closing the Gap framework, national and state targets, performance indicators and accountabilities by 31 October 2018.

COAG asked the Ministerial Council on Indigenous Affairs to consider the outcomes of the public consultation processes and potential new Closing the Gap targets before COAG’s next meeting.

Leaders agreed to promote opportunities for Indigenous economic development and workplace participation.

They noted that having a job or being involved in a business activity contributes to economic and social outcomes for Indigenous families and communities. Leaders also recognised that health services and the education of children is critically important.

To demonstrate its commitment in this area, COAG will publish jurisdiction-specific procurement policies, and Indigenous employment and business outcomes annually.

Download full

COAG Communique Friday 9 February

Part 2.2 NACCHO Response COAG funding boost needed to Close the Gap in burden of disease for Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Australians

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) calls on the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to increase its financial commitment particularly in the area of Comprehensive Primary Health to tackle the high burden of disease for Indigenous Australians when it considers the Close the Gap refresh.

Download this Press Release

COAG funding boost needed to Close the Gap NACCHO Media Release

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a burden of disease that is more than twice that of non-Indigenous Australians, contributing to higher mortality rates.

Despite the higher burden of disease and mortality rates, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s use of the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) is around the same as the rest of the population.

“Drastic but achievable action is needed to turn this situation around,” Mr Singer said. “And it starts with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs).”

A boost in disease specific initiatives delivered and designed and implemented through our national network is also urgently needed in areas where Aboriginal people are particularly vulnerable.

We welcome the Recommendations made by the Australian Medical Association for more effort in the areas of ear health and renal disease as having a significant impact on the burden of disease and wellbeing of Indigenous people throughout their life, but this can only be achieved by our NACCHO members and the National, State and Territory affiliates designing and then implementing our strategies.

“We also know that the higher disease burden for Indigenous people is inextricably connected to the social determinants of health,” said Mr Singer.

“The evidence is overwhelming – if you don’t have a safe and secure place to live,
if you don’t have access to nutritious food at reasonable prices and if don’t have access to good education and employment opportunities then we know you will become sick. So, the social determinants can only be achieved though Economic Development” said Mr Singer.

NACCHO has proposed a way forward to Close the Gap in life expectancy in its 2018‑19 Federal Pre-Budget Submission and looks forward to working with the Australian Government and COAG on the implementation of its proposals.

While the gap in disease burden between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians remains significant so too will the life expectancy gap.

Part 3 Special Gathering Statement: Building pathways for future prosperity

Part 3.1 Purpose and Background

This year is the tenth anniversary of Closing the Gap, a national agenda that created targets to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the areas of health, education and employment.

The Prime Minister has acknowledged that six of the seven targets for Closing the Gap are not on track, including the four targets due to expire in 2018. Ahead of the tenth anniversary, COAG have agreed to refresh the Closing the Gap agenda, working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

A Special Gathering of prominent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has occurred to coincide with the first Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting of 2018. Participants have come from across Australia, bringing a range of backgrounds and expertise to the event.

Forty-five participants (up to six from each jurisdiction) were selected by State and Territory governments. The remaining 19 were selected by the Commonwealth. Of these, 10 attendees (one from each state/territory and two from the Commonwealth) will attend the COAG meeting to provide the advice of the gathering directly to First Ministers.

Participants were asked to come together to provide advice on future policy priorities, and how all governments can be held to account for driving change. This will focus the next phase of community consultation and provide COAG with an early exposure to issues that delegates consider important.

Part 3.2 Priorities

The Gathering agreed that existing targets should be retained and critically reviewed, and that the following areas are of highest importance for setting additional future targets as part of this refresh:

  • Families, children and youth
  • Housing
  • Justice, including youth justice
  • Health
  • Economic development
  • Culture and language
  • Education
  • Healing
  • Eliminating racism and systemic discrimination

We call on governments to negotiate specific targets in these areas with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and our representative bodies.

We recognise this is challenging. We remain committed to the process, and we call on all governments to remain committed with us.

Failure to address these key issues will cause distress and not enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to realise the same outcomes and benefits enjoyed by other Australians.

Download special-gathering-statement-coag

Part 4 Failure to collaborate on Closing the Gap ‘disappointing’: Dodson

Watch 20min Interview HERE

As debate continues about the date of Australia Day and where the Aboriginal flag should be flown attention will turn to what’s happening to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tables the latest Close the Gap report on Monday.

It has been ten years since Kevin Rudd issued his apology to the Stolen Generation and commenced the process, but in recent years the results have been disappointing.

Sky News’ David Speers sat down with Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt and Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Affairs Pat Dodson to discuss how effective the process has been

Part 5 Adviser to Malcolm Turnbull reveals Indigenous advisory body still ‘very much’ on table

One of the Prime Minister’s chief advisers has revealed the establishment of an Indigenous advisory body is still “very much” on the table in negotiations with the Turnbull Government.

from ABC TV interview

On the eve of the Prime Minister’s delivery of the tenth Closing the Gap report, Professor Chris Sarra, who was appointed co-chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, revealed to the ABC’s National Wrap that alternative models were being explored to deliver Indigenous Australians a “voice” that does not involve changing the constitution.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull killed hopes for a referendum to establish an Indigenous advisory body in the constitution, arguing the idea was too ambitious and would not win support across the country.

The Federal Government has said it remains committed to finding an alternative idea to recognise Indigenous people in the constitution.

But Professor Sarra, one of Mr Turnbull’s most trusted and influential Indigenous advisers, said other ways of delivering on the Uluru statement were now being explored in talks with the Government.

Professor Sarra was appointed co-chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council last year and is an internationally renowned educator.

“All of us have to understand that the entire statement hasn’t actually been rejected,” he told National Wrap in an interview to be broadcast this evening.

“We had this conversation with the Prime Minister. The notion of putting that proposition to the constitution has been rejected.

“And the Prime Minister had his say, he was upfront about that. And some people share the view that that would’ve encountered monumental failure at a referendum.

“But that doesn’t mean that the essence of seeking a mechanism to ensure voice or seeking agreement making is off the table. That’s still very much on the table.

“And it might manifest in ways that are different to what was talked about at Uluru. But that’s still very much on the table, and we would never let that go.

Professor Sarra, who has been quoted by the Prime Minister for urging him to ensure “Governments ‘do things with Aboriginal people, not do things to them'”, said he believes that Mr Turnbull is now following this mantra in policy making.

The Indigenous leader also said he disagreed that the Closing the Gap strategy was off track.

He said he believed that halfway through, at the five-year mark, it had lost its way but was now getting back on track.

It comes after a non-government review of the Closing the Gap strategy published last week accused the Government of “abandoning” its commitment to the policy.

The Close the Gap campaign gathered in Canberra last Thursday to present the Prime Minister with its report.

“After the initial funding commitments made for the Closing the Gap strategy … the strategy was effectively abandoned with the extensive cuts, over $530 million, made to the Indigenous affairs portfolio in the 2014 federal budget,” the committee’s review said.

But Professor Sarra said he believed the Prime Minister was listening closely to advice and was open to improving the targets through the new refresh process to be settled late this year.

A discussion paper prepared by the Prime Minister’s Department flagged new Close the Gap goals in a number of new areas, including child protection and justice.

Professor Sarra said he supported new goals and was working to persuade the government.

Part 6 Government might legislate Indigenous ‘voice’

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt says an indigenous “voice” to the parliament is still being considered by the Turnbull government, but it could be created by legislation rather than be constitutionally enshrined.

From the Australian

Mr Wyatt said he was “optimistic” an indigenous voice would be created as well as a more minimalist version of constitutional recognition than proposed by the Referendum Council.

Malcolm Turnbull last year rejected the Referendum Council’s proposal for a constitutionally enshrined “voice” that would advise the government on indigenous issues.

“The Aboriginal voice is still a concept that will be talked about outside of the constitution,” Mr Wyatt told Sky News this morning.

“I’m optimistic that will occur, I don’t have a problem with it, having a body that provides advice to government that is outside and framed under legislation is a position of strength.”

Labor senator Pat Dodson said the Opposition would back a legislatively-created indigenous voice but later try and progress it to be protected by the constitution.

“It is a question of how do you then proceed to entrench the notion of the First Peoples of this country having a voice to the parliament as a proposition for referendums,” he told Sky News.

Mr Wyatt said the government was also considering adopting the Referendum Council’s proposal for a Makarrata Commission, which would oversee treaty making and a truth telling process.

“I think the opportunity is still there for things to be on the table for us to talk about, I get no sense that anything else is locked out other than just the enshrined voice,” he said.

Mr Wyatt said the nation’s First Peoples needed to be recognised in the constitution.

“I still believe that we need to be recognised in our birth certificate because if we don’t then that is a glaring gap in the history of this nation,” he said.

“There is a truth that we as a nation’s of people existed on this continent for 60,000 years until settlement occurred and that continuation hasn’t been broken because, it doesn’t matter where we come from, there is still commitment to land.”

Meanwhile, Senator Dodson said the date of Australia Day did not need to change but there should be a stronger recognition of Aboriginal culture.

“There is a real need for us to consider how we go about the celebrations on Australia Day and how are the First Peoples of this nation celebrated on that day,” Senator Dodson said.

“At the moment it is so oppositional that we are not having a discussion it is just an emotional response but we should seriously think about how do we celebrate the First Nations on Australia Day.

“We could do something far more symbolic, like the war memorial, we could have an institutional structure that actually celebrates the fact the First Australians were here.

“We don’t have to play around with the date and argue about whether Cook came or another bloke came, lets do something to enhance and recognise the truth of what we are talking about on Australia Day.”

 

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