“Aboriginal health services were outperforming the mainstream system not because there was “anything wrong” with the latter, but because Indigenous organisations were more engaged with people on the ground.
They are completely irrigated with people with cultural competence it’s working, and wherever we invest in services and deal with a large Indigenous demographic, we need to invest in Indigenous organisations,
If I’m in Alice Springs and a log falls on my head, take me to Congress (Central Australian Aboriginal Congress), and if I’m in Tennant Creek to Anyinginyi (Anyinginyi Health), because they are better, more sophisticated, larger, deeper-capacity health systems, Why wouldn’t we be moving, instead of having two health systems, to having a single one?”
Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has called on state and territory governments to hand Aboriginal organisations control of services in areas where most Indigenous people live.
Doing so would also benefit non-indigenous Australians through improved service delivery, he said, arguing that in the Northern Territory, Aboriginal-run health services outperform the public health system.
Senator Scullion visited the troubled outback NT town of Tennant Creek yesterday with Social Services Minister Dan Tehan. They met local service providers, including representatives of Aboriginal groups, the police and the education system.
Senator Scullion said there was “no enterprise” that Aboriginal organisations could not undertake, and claims to the contrary were tantamount to racism.
Mr Tehan said the message he and Senator Scullion had heard “loud and clear” was that better service co-ordination was the key to resolving the town’s problems.
“The royal commission (into the protection and detention of children in the NT) made it very clear that this isn’t a financial resourcing issue; this is about better co-ordination of services,” he said.
Tennant Creek has been in upheaval since the rape of a toddler in February brought longstanding problems into the spotlight. It later emerged that a series of blunders had prevented child protection services from removing the girl when she was at risk.
NT Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield said her department had since reviewed more than 150 cases involving multiple child protection notifications and uncovered further failings, but no children had been taken into protective custody as a direct result. It emerged recently that 15 Tennant Creek children had been put into care between February and June.
“We have now put in place a system where we will be reviewing 50 cases each month,” Ms Wakefield said. “I’m confident that there’s more oversight and more resources in Tennant Creek.”
Territory Families received 1515 child protection notifications from Tennant Creek in the nine months to the end of March and completed 578 investigations. Of those, there were 181 occasions where harm was substantiated, a 10 per cent increase on the previous year.
Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Michael White said stricter alcohol restrictions had helped cut domestic violence by about 20 per cent. He said there was no evidence to support claims the worst offenders had merely moved elsewhere.