NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: SA first state to establish Voice to Parliament

crowd with Aboriginal flags at announcement of SA Indigenous Voice to Parliament

The image in the feature tile is taken from an article South Australia becomes the first state to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament published in the National Indigenous Times on 26 March 2023. Photo: Matt Turner (AAP).

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

SA first state to establish Voice to Parliament

SA has become the first Australian jurisdiction to establish an Indigenous Voice to parliament, with premier Peter Malinauskas declaring it a “momentous” event. The SA government’s legislation passed the House of Assembly and was immediately given assent by Governor Frances Adamson in a public ceremony before a large crowd who had gathered to witness the event outside parliament house in Adelaide on Sunday.

Premier Peter Malinauskas said that “…the way we pay our respects…is not with our words, but in our deeds. And there are no more powerful deeds than SA becoming the first place in our nation to pass a law enshrining an Indigenous voice to our parliament.” The premier also lamented that while “almost all of us” had experienced Australian prosperity, the Bill marked just one a step towards addressing the gross inequalities faced by First Nations people.

“It is an even more remarkable Australian tragedy, that the one group of people that have been left most behind for the last 200 years, are the very people, who for over 65,000 years have provided great care and custodianship to the land we stand on today,” he said. He later wrote on social media: “Put simply, our First Nations people deserve the right to have a say on the issues that affect their lives. They will now have the opportunity to speak directly to decision makers at the highest levels of in this State.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article South Australia becomes the first state to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in full click here.

SA Premier Peter Malinauskas addressing crowd at lectern after the establishment of SA's Voice to Parliament

SA Premier Peter Malinauskas speaks after the establishment of SA’s Voice to Parliament. Photo: Matt Turner (AAP). Image source: National Indigenous Times.

CAAC supports vision loss prevention resources

Anmatyerre artist Curtis Haines sees a lack of hope in his community among people who have low vision or are blind. “I feel bad because I can see,” he said. “I want others to see too, what I see.” Indigenous Australians suffer from low vision or blindness at three times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians. Now, Haines is part of a collaboration between Vision Australia and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) to create artwork and help close the gap.

Ellie Hudson is a vision loss specialist with Vision Australia, working with Congress, which is based in Alice Springs. She said the artworks were an important way of reducing the stigma around poor vision in First Nations people. “People don’t talk up much about eyes,” Ms Hudson said. “We want to say it’s alright, you can talk about it, and you can get help.”

The artworks will feature information on how to maintain eye health, as well as steps to seek help and receive treatment. They will also feature images showcasing connection to country, like hunting and connecting with family — aimed at demonstrating what can still be done if vision loss is prevented, or when treatment is completed.

To view the ABC News story Alice Springs Aboriginal artist develops health promotion material for vision loss prevention in full click here.

Ellie Hudson & Curtis Haines, Vision Australia

Ellie Hudson and Curtis Haines. Photo: Lara Stimpson, ABC Alice Springs.

AMA: ‘crumbling’ health system needs urgent funding

Expectations are growing that the upcoming May federal budget will be a ‘health budget’ after a slew of reports indicating that the Australian health system is “crumbling beyond repair”. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) President, Professor Steve Robson, said the health system requires urgent funding now after being in crisis for years, with cracks starting to show even before the pandemic.

He released AMA’s analysis, delivered in a report Australian Public Hospitals in Logjam, that reveals only three of the 201 Australian public hospitals analysed are delivering care within recommended timeframes. The AMA’s report is not the only one to highlight the dire state of the public health system. Also in February, were two reports: one from the Health Services Union (HSU) by Impact Economics and Policy on the NSW health system, entitled Reform Critical – A Fragmented Health System at Breaking Point; the other from independent public policy think-tank The Grattan Institute.

The HSU report called for a Royal Commission into NSW state’s “chronic misallocation of resources and warped priorities” around health. The Grattan Institute report meanwhile indicated that Australia was “sleepwalking into a sicker future that will condemn millions of Australians to avoidable disease and disability”.

To read the mivision The Ophthalmic Journal article Eyes on Federal Budget to Address ‘Crumbling’ Health System in full click here.

bandaid over cracks in concrete wall / path

Image source: mivision The Ophthalmic Journal.

Mob drastically overrepresented in homeless deaths

New research presented at an inquiry into homelessness services has revealed at least 107 homeless or recently homeless people died in Perth in 2022, with 31% of those who died being Aboriginal people. The people were homeless at the time of their deaths or had recently experienced homelessness. The average age of death was 50 years.

The inquiry also heard that well over half of the public housing tenancies terminated in “no grounds evictions” last year were Aboriginal families. House the Homeless WA campaigners Dr Betsy Buchanan OAM and Jesse Noakes gave evidence at the WA Parliamentary Inquiry into the Financial Administration of Homelessness Services explaining how WA housing policy continues “to trap Aboriginal people in the system and makes Closing the Gap impossible”.

House the Homeless WA presented to the inquiry previously unreported data showing the WA housing crisis has “dramatically worsened” in recent years, and unfairly impacts Aboriginal families at “wildly disproportionate rates”; including that more than 50% of all public housing evictions in WA every year under the McGowan government having been Aboriginal tenancies.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Research reveals Indigenous people drastically overrepresented in Perth homeless deaths and evictions in full click here.

homeless person lying on pavement Perth CBD

Homeless person in the Perth CBD. Photo: Graeme Powell, ABC News.

Inaugural Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance newsletter

Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA) Chair, Richard Ansey, says he is proud to introduce readers to the Inaugural Newsletter for PAHA. Mr Ansey goes on to explain the PAHA is a partnership between the three ACCHOs based in the Pilbara, Mawarnkarra Health Service, Wirraka Maya Health Service and Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service, with the purpose of the PAHA being is to provide strong advocacy and support to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait people, families and communities in the Pilbara Region.

Mr Ansey said the Boards and CEOs of the three ACCHOs have worked closely together over the past few years to secure funding to see their vision become a reality and today the PAHA is an established organisation working at a regional, state and federal level.

The newsletter includes:

  • Chair Report – Richard Ansey
  • CEO Report – Chris Pickett
  • Good News – Culture Care Connect program
  • Member Highlights
  • Prime Minister’s visit to Hedland
  • Global Health Challenge

You can view the APHA Newsletter Issue #01 March 2023 by clicking on this link.

L–R: Robby Chibawe CEO PAMS, Joan Hicks CEO MHS, June Councillor WMHSAC, Minister Mark Butler, Chris Pickett CEO PAHA

L–R: Robby Chibawe CEO PAMS, Joan Hicks CEO MHS, June Councillor WMHSAC, Minister Mark Butler, Chris Pickett CEO PAHA. Image source: PAHA Newsletter Issue #1 March 2023.

Alternative to Custody Program sets women on better path

Selina Newcastle knows what captivity feels, smells and sounds like — what an unairconditioned cell in the Central Australian desert does to a person. Taking in a deep breath of air, the 47-year-old Warlpiri woman and ex-prisoner said: “Freedom, it opens your eyes”. Ms Newcastle shared her story to a crowd of legal experts, politicians and government officials at the launch of the Smarter Justice campaign on Monday this week.

After participating in a six-month Alice Springs based diversion program in 2022, Ms Newcastle is now showing the Territory’s leaders what a new approach to crime can look like. Ms Newcastle is one of 20 women who have completed the Mparntwe/Alice Springs Alternative to Custody Program over the past two years.

“I needed some help because I didn’t want to go back to drinking alcohol again,” she said. “I got so much support when I was there. I could talk to them about my problems and share stories, and I learned how to manage myself and look after myself better. I want to get a job now and keep busy. I feel like I have a second chance at life.”

The above has been extracted from The Weekly Times article Mparntwe, Alice Springs Alternative to Custody Program setting women on better path. You can find out more information about the Alternative to Custody Program here.

Warlpiri woman Selina Newcastle took part in the Mparntwe/Alice Springs Alternative to Custody (ATC) Program

Warlpiri woman Selina Newcastle took part in the Mparntwe/Alice Springs Alternative to Custody (ATC) Program in 2022. Photo: Sierra Haigh. Image source: The Weekly Times.

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