@NACCHOChair Aboriginal Health Press Release #Apology10 #StolenGeneration Reflections from national Aboriginal community controlled health organisations

The Apology Excerpt  – 13 February, 2008

 ” The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.”

1.1 National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Mr John Singer reflects on the momentous day

2.1 Vic: Ten years ago, VACCHO CEO  Ian Hamm welcomed words he had been waiting a lifetime to hear

2.2 Vic Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative (BADAC) commemorates Apology – Ten Years anniversary

2.3 VIC : VAHS community commemorates the 10th Anniversary of the National Apology of the Stolen Generation 

3.NSW:  AHMRC reflects on progress that has been made since the National Apology was delivered by the Prime Minister in 2008

4. WA : Treasurer and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, says his father never recovered from being a Stolen Generations child

5. ACT : For a community to make any kind of good, strong progress, the solutions need to come says Harry Williams

6. NT : Danila Dilba ACCHO staff Darwin came out in force to attend the 10th Anniversary of the Apology Day

7. QLD : Apunipima ACCHO : Coen Well Being Centre FNQ hold their annual acknowledgement of Sorry Day/ Apology Day

7.2 QLD Wuchopperen ACCHO Cairns Helping to Close the Gap

8.Tas : A decade on from the national apology to the Stolen Generations, Aboriginal children in Tasmania continue to be removed at unacceptable rates.

Warning Intro Picture above and The ‘Stolen Generations’ Testimonies’ project website

The ‘Stolen Generations’ Testimonies’ project is an initiative to record on film the personal testimonies of Australia’s Stolen Generations Survivors and share them online.

The Stolen Generations’ Testimonies Foundation hopes the online museum will become a national treasure and a unique and sacred keeping place for Stolen Generations’ Survivors’ Testimonies.

By allowing Australians to listen to the Survivors’ stories with open hearts and without judgment, the foundation hopes more people will be engaged in the healing process.

View HERE

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers should exercise caution when viewing this website as it contains images of deceased persons.The people speaking in this website describe being removed from family and community. They regard themselves as belonging to the Stolen Generations.

1.1 National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Mr John Singer reflects on the momentous day.

“2008 was a time that the Government seriously committed to doing better by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the future, where we committed to Closing the Gap in life expectancy between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

Today we commemorate this significant milestone whilst reflecting on the work that still needs to be done – the truth that still needs to be told and the work that still needs to happen to Close the Gap,”

We also welcome a commitment to convene a national summit on First Nation’s Children to address the very high rates of Indigenous children in out-of-home care, and prevent the emergence of another generation of children living away from family, community and culture,”

Marking the tenth anniversary of the Apology, the Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Mr John Singer reflected on the momentous day.

Download the full NACCHO Press Release

NACCHO media release apology – 13 Feb 18 – FINAL

Still more needs to be done to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live strong, proud and healthy lives, ten years after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued the Apology to the Stolen Generations and more than 20 years after the Bringing Them Home report.

NACCHO knows that closing the gap depends on putting Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal hands so they can guide dealing with the trauma and pain of the past.

“We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need to be in charge of their own development, health and wellbeing. And that is why Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) are so important.”

ACCHOs put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the driving seat of their own health. They consistently demonstrate better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than mainstream health services, at better value for money.

“Forty years on from the first community controlled service in Redfern, there are still regions where there is low access to health services and elevated levels of disease experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Government needs to fund what is working in improving Aboriginal health and provide funding for new ACCHOs in these regions.

“We could also do better if more funding for disease specific initiatives was provided by Government.

“We need to get serious about Closing the Gap and that means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their organisations co-designing policies and service delivery,” Mr Singer said.

NACCHO acknowledges the streamlined funding from the Australian Government, signed on 1 July 2017 and mentioned by the Prime Minister in his recent Closing the Gap Statement to Parliament. The new funding arrangement streamlines the provision of our health service support funding so that we can better represent the needs of ACCHOs in our policy development and advice.

The anniversary of the apology is a day to reflect on the past but also to recommit to a brighter future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

2.1 Vic: Ten years ago, VACCHO CEO  Ian Hamm welcomed words he had been waiting a lifetime to hear.

“For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry,” Kevin Rudd, then prime minister, said in parliament.

The apology on 13 February, 2008, referred to a shameful national chapter in which indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families.

Mr Hamm was among them.

As a three-week-old baby in 1964, he was taken from his Aboriginal family by government officers and adopted into a white community.

Tens of thousands of other indigenous children were removed over successive generations until 1970, under policies aimed at assimilation.

Mr Hamm said Mr Rudd’s historic apology helped changed his own sense of identity.

“My country doesn’t argue about me any more – it gave me peace that my story, like so many others, wasn’t a matter of debate,” he told the BBC.

“I remember writing out my feelings the day after the speech and I called it: ‘Today is the day I wake up.'”

An estimated 20,000 members of the Stolen Generations are alive today. Many have described the apology as a watershed moment.

“It was a day I will never, ever forget in my life because we were being acknowledged as a group of people,” Aunty Lorraine Peeters told the Special Broadcasting Service.

Michael Welsh told the Australian Broadcasting Corp: “It’s made a big difference to me in my life, through my life, where I’ve journeyed.”

A woman watches the Australian government’s apology to indigenous peopleImage copyright Getty Images

A landmark 1997 report, titled, Bringing Them Home, estimated that as many as one in three indigenous children were taken and placed in institutions and foster care, where many suffered abuse and neglect.

A government-funded survivors group, the Healing Foundation, said it had a “profoundly destructive” impact on those removed and their families, many of whom had carried lifelong trauma.

‘Keep going’

Indigenous Australians, who comprise about 3% of the population, continue to to experience high levels of disadvantage.

On Monday, the government released an annual report showing that Australia is failing four of seven measures aimed at improving indigenous lives.

Mr Hamm said that much optimism about addressing inequality had not been fulfilled since the apology. However, he urged Australians not to give up.

“It’s easy to give in to despair and say it’s too hard, but for us, remembering a moment like [the apology] is a boost,” he said.

“It’s a breath of air into our lungs to revive you and keep you going.”

2.2 Vic Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative (BADAC) commemorates Apology – Ten Years anniversary

February 13 2018 marks ten years since the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples.

Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative (BADAC) attended a ceremony this morning to mark the occasion at Child and Family Services (CAFS) in Ballarat.

BADAC CEO Karen Heap acknowledged the deep significance of the day for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in the broader Ballarat area.

‘This is such an important occasion. There are many current members of the regional Ballarat Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community who were either members of the Stolen Generations themselves, or have family members who were affected.

‘The broader community may not be aware that many of the Stolen children who were removed from families all around Victoria and even interstate, were brought here to the Ballarat orphanage.

‘These Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have grown up without knowing their families, their culture, their language or where they belong.’

Ms Heap said that BADAC currently runs programs which help to support members of the Stolen Generations.

‘Many have stayed in Ballarat, and brought up their own families here. The Stolen Generations people are here and part of our community.

‘So thank you CAFS for hosting the event this morning, and thank you to everyone who came to commemorate this occasion. It was so heartening to see so many present, and to stand together, both Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people of Ballarat and district.’

2.3 VIC : VAHS community commemorates the 10th Anniversary of the National Apology of the Stolen Generation 

Today we gathered as a community to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the National Apology of the Stolen Generation Event. We had some amazing guest speakers. Thank you to everyone who shared their journeys, it truly showed great strength.

3.NSW:  AHMRC reflects on progress that has been made since the National Apology was delivered by the Prime Minister in 2008.

On the 10th anniversary of the National Apology, we take time to reflect on progress that has been made since the National Apology was delivered by the Prime Minister in 2008.

The National Apology was a public acknowledgement of the pain and suffering caused by the Australian Government with the effort to build new relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians with the aim of addressing social injustice. This had a profound effect on many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as it was the first public commitment to engaging and working together with Australia’s Indigenous communities.

The Apology was a step in the right direction and since then we have seen the Redfern Statement launched during the 2016 Federal Election, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and services came together to call for better resources and real reconciliation. It was an inspiring display of self-determination and strength for these organisations and services to demand for a say on how the Government’s decisions affect their lives.

“We still have work to do. The Government must ensure the social determinants of health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a priority.” said Stephen Blunden, Acting CEO at the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AHMRC) of NSW.

In reviewing the Closing the Gap initiative, with only one of the seven national targets being on track, we need to do better. We must do better.

As the former Prime Minister mentioned in the National Apology: “A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.”

If we are to make any real and lasting change, we must accept our history, put aside our differences and come together and really listen to the needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

4. WA : Treasurer and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, says his father never recovered from being a Stolen Generations child

West Australian Treasurer and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, who says his father never recovered from being a Stolen Generations child, has warned that well-meaning policy will fail if indigenous Australians are excluded from its design and implementation.

In a speech to mark the 10th anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations, Mr Wyatt said the historic moment in federal parliament was still cause for celebration because it put to bed “that vexed, sometimes cruel, debate about the legitimacy of the Stolen Generations”.

Mr Wyatt — a former army lawyer, graduate of the London School of Economics and cousin of federal Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt — said young indigenous leaders now had opportunities his late father Cedric could only have dreamt of.

“(But) the reality is that when you have policies … designed to remove their identity, designed to disconnect them from family and culture … those impacts will be felt for generations and we are seeing that,” Mr Wyatt said.

He said efforts towards Closing the Gap could not succeed unless Aboriginal people were part of the change.

“Without Aboriginal involvement … we will continue to have the infuriating and frustrating figures that we’ve seen in our jails and children in care,” he said.

Mr Wyatt’s father was born at the Moore River Native Settlement, which gained international notoriety in Phillip Noyce’s 2002 film Rabbit Proof Fence.

“It was a journey that defined him because of what happened to him and his mother, a journey that he was never able to recover from,” Mr Wyatt said yesterday.

“He was a determined guy but he also had a fundamental weakness as a result of that disconnection with his own mother and his own family.”

5. ACT : For a community to make any kind of good, strong progress, the solutions need to come says Harry Williams

Ten years may be a lifetime in politics, but for many indigenous Australians, 2008’s national apology to the stolen generations feels like yesterday.

Harry Williams was just 15 when he stood in the hall of Parliament House in Canberra, and watched then prime minister Kevin Rudd deliver the country’s apology as emotions ran high all around him.

“It was overwhelming”:.

“People were crying, some people were angry – it was overwhelming at the time,” he said.

“I didn’t really understand exactly what was going on, but I did really.”

Now 25, Mr Williams is passionate about educating Australians about indigenous history, and says change in the country’s relationship with its first peoples had to come from within.

“For a community to make any kind of good, strong progress, the solutions need to come

6. NT : Danila Dilba ACCHO staff Darwin came out in force to attend the 10th Anniversary of the Apology Day .

A great day organised by the NT Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation and held at Larrakia Nation.

It was a great turnout to remember a great moment in our history

7. QLD : Apunipima ACCHO : Coen Well Being Centre FNQ hold their annual acknowledgement of Sorry Day/ Apology Day .

The day was held at the centre with other community organisations sharing their acknowledgements of this special event with Elders and community members

7.2 QLD Wuchopperen ACCHO Cairns Helping to Close the Gap

Wuchopperen Health Service Limited Chairperson Donnella Mills said the 2018 Close the Gap statement demonstrates much more needs to be done to achieve health, education and employment parity between Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

Ms Mills said it was time that the government seriously committed to doing better by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, now and into the future, through real partnerships which are community driven and community led.

‘It is very good news that a range of targets, including child mortality, early childhood education and year 12 attainment are on track. The challenge is that other targets, life expectancy, literacy and numeracy, and employment, remain out of reach,’ Ms Mills said.

‘Wuchopperen echoes the call of our peak body, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, for dedicated disease specific funding to be made available to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation where populations are particularly vulnerable.’

‘In this, the tenth year since the Apology, it is timely to recognise that historical trauma, dispossession, government control and loss of culture, are just some of the social determinants which impact on people’s health, and the ability for people to manage their own health. Wuchopperen recognises the complexity of peoples’ lives and the range of factors which impact health, and provide a comprehensive suite of services to address these.’

‘Wuchopperen is looking forward to being part of the conversation regarding the Close the Gap targets which cease in 2018, and contributing our experience and expertise to formulating new, national goals in real partnership with government

‘These goals must be underpinned by the principles of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander self – determination, freedom to plan our lives; control, a voice and decision making powers over our own affairs; and finding solutions to the issues that affect us.’

Closing the Gap: What Wuchopperen Health Service Limited Is Doing

TARGET: Close the gap in life expectancy within a generation (by 2031)

Wuchopperen’s health team consists of a multi-disciplinary team of health workers, doctors, registered nurses, allied health professionals, counsellors, psychologists, wellbeing workers indigenous liaison officers, and visiting specialists.

TARGET: Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade (by 2018)

Wuchopperen’s Child Health service provides health education and support to families to make healthy lifestyles choices for their children by keeping immunisations up to date, scheduling appointments for continuity of care health checks, and 100% implementation of care plans for all our patients to ensure they receive the best possible care.

This allows us to:

  • Identify risk factors through the increased uptake of Child Health Checks and develop appropriate intervention strategies in conjunction with parents and/or carers;
  • Reduce the adverse intermediate health outcomes in relation to children with chronic diseases; and
  • Improve and enhance education and awareness of the importance of immunisation to families.

Wuchopperen also provides a dedicated program for mum’s having their first Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander baby. The Australian Nursing Family Partnership Program is available to first-time mothers of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children who are under 26 weeks in their pregnancy. The Program runs from pregnancy until the child is two. The focus is to provide home visiting program to mothers, babies and significant family members to ensure that the child has the best possible start to life.

Staff support:

  • Safe sleeping using PEPI pods;
  • Implementation of the Circle of Security;
  • Parent group meetings; and
  • Support for fathers to become involved in their child’s life.

TARGET: 95 percent of all Indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education (by 2025) – renewed target

TARGET: Close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school attendance within five years (by 2018)

TARGET: Halve the gap for Indigenous children in reading, writing and numeracy achievements within a decade (by 2018)

Wuchopperen’s Children and Family Centre is an early intervention and prevention program providing a holistic approach to bringing together education, health and family support. The programs are tailored to suit our community to best support our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with children from birth to nine years of age and include:

  • Delivery of play based early childhood activities to nurture developmental pathways and life trajectory of children;
  • Capacity and resiliency support to enable families to support their children and access early childhood education and care; and
  • Delivery of parenting programs and family support services to enable connections and strengthen linkages of families to appropriate support services.

Program in focus

Wuchopperen supports early education in a range of ways including running the HIPPY (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters) Program, a free, family friendly, two year program which helps children achieve at school.

HIPPY benefits pre-Prep children by:

  • Encouraging a love of learning
  • Maximising their chance of enjoying and doing well at school
  • Promoting language and listening skills and developing concentration
  • Building self-esteem and confidence in learning
  • Improving relationships between parents and children.

TARGET: Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade (by 2018).

Wuchopperen currently has 68% staff identifying from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent. Only 31% of Wuchopperen roles are Identified, reflecting the fact that many non-Identified positions are being filled by applicants identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

Placements

Wuchopperen values its relationship with the community and the opportunity for students to gain experience in the workplace is an element of this commitment.

During the 2016-17 financial year Wuchopperen supported eight students to participate in a work placement in a variety of disciplines, including health workers, and fifth year medical students.

8.Tas : A decade on from the national apology to the Stolen Generations, Aboriginal children in Tasmania continue to be removed at unacceptable rates.

Commenting on the most recent statistics about the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Manager Ms Lisa Coulson said in Launceston today,

“Aboriginal children in Tasmania are over 3 times more likely than other children to be the subject of child protection orders, to be removed from their families, and to be placed in out of home care (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Child Protection Australia 2015-16, Tables 4.4 and 5.2). The 1997 Report of the Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal Children from Their Families, the Bringing Them Home report, made 54 recommendations about how to stop that unacceptable situation.

Many of those recommendations found further support in our own Tasmanian study of child protection issues but Tasmanian authorities have ignored all our efforts to stop the trend of removals.

Minister Jacquie Petrusma most recently has ignored our calls for greater Aboriginal community involvement in child protection decisions, flying in the face of changes made in most other Australian States.”

Ms Coulson said that closing the gap in social outcomes and avoiding a repetition of the stolen generations “must have Aboriginal community decision making at its core, but that is exactly what is still lacking in Tasmania. Consistently with the most recent calls for a “refresh” of the COAG targets to close the gap by ensuring greater Aboriginal decision making in governmental processes, we are calling on the Tasmanian government to restore jurisdiction for child safety to the Aboriginal community.

Having destroyed our community structures and taken our children away, governments need to fund these new processes to ensure both a healthier future for our children and more empowered Aboriginal community structures for the future. We are up to the challenge”.

Lisa Coulson
Northern Regional Manager and Children and Families Spokesperson
Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre

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