NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Australians to vote on the Voice within six months

The image in the feature tile is of the Upper House as the legislation on the Indigenous Voice referendum question passed federal parliament, a development that moves the nation closer to a referendum date being determined. Source: AAP / Lukas Coch. 

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is 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.

Australians to vote on the Voice within six months

Australians will officially vote on the Voice to Parliament within the next six months, after the bill to trigger the referendum passed the Senate 52 votes to 19, yesterday. Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said the development brought Australia “one step closer” to acknowledging Indigenous Australians in the Constitution and making a “great country even greater.”

“For too long, Indigenous Australians have been consistently worse off than non-Indigenous Australians…It’s a broken system. And the Voice is our best chance of fixing it, because when we listen to people on the ground and consult with locals, they make better decisions and achieve better outcomes,” Minister Burney said.

In an interview with ABC’s Dan Bouchier on One Plus One – The Elders, NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner talked about the upcoming referendum and encouraged Australians to support the Yes Vote later this year.

To read the SBS News article ‘It’s on’: Senate vote triggers Voice referendum within the next six months click here. You can also watch Pat Turner on ABC’s One Plus One – The Elders here.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney poses for a photo with 40 members of Jawun at Parliament House in Canberra. Source: AAP / Mick Tsikas.

Improving eye health

AH&MRC and the National Expert Group in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health (NEGATSIEH) co-hosted the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference at the end of last month. With a successful turnout, the conference aimed to build on the collective work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector to improve eye health access outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

The conference theme ‘Our Vision in Our Hands: Finding our Voice’ sought to highlight emerging and future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in the sector, as well as resonating the strength and values of the longstanding movement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination in health, and the broader national movement for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament.

NACCHO Acting Director, Programs, Anne-Marie Banfield was the Conference Co-Chair and introduced the newly appointed First Nations Eye Health Alliance (FNEHA) board and facilitated a panel discussion about the aims of the alliance. A key focus of FNEHA is strengthening the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce by providing professional support and networking. Collaboration was another key component of the conference, with over 240 delegates from all states and territories, including representatives from ACCHOs, eye care clinicians, policy makers, researchers, non-government organisations, hospitals, professional peak bodies and government departments from across the country.

Learn more about the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference here.

2023 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference. Source: AH&MRC.

Culturally safe breast cancer screening

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists have a chance to improve cultural safety during breast cancer screenings. BreastScreen Victoria is seeking to commission an Indigenous artist to create an original artwork for a breast cancer screening shawl. The aim of the shawl is to help women feel culturally safe, comfortable, and familiar during the breast cancer screening process. The selected artist will also have their work featured on postcards, posters, as well as shared on social media to raise awareness for breast cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

The brief for the artwork is to reflect women’s business and is intended to represent a story of health and wellbeing, that includes breast screening for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged over 40.

To apply, visit the BreastScreen Victoria website here. Submissions close this week – Thursday 22 June 2023.

Victorian program helping people avoid homelessness forced to close

According to Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV), more than 3,000 Victorian Aboriginal households living in public housing find themselves without culturally safe support to help manage their tenancies in times of crisis. An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander homelessness service providing culturally safe and free social housing support has closed its doors after a successful pilot supporting more than 100 Indigenous people last year. Funded by Homes Victoria, the 12-month pilot program was delivered by the Victorian Public Tenants Association, whose chief executive, Katelyn Butters is urging the government to “reconsider” the pre-budget submission which was unsuccessful.

“We believe this is a substantial missed opportunity to help our First Nations communities’ access and sustain affordable long-term homes,” Ms Butters said.

Over the past 12 months Ms Butters’ team helped provide a safe gateway for First Nations people who had previously felt discriminated against in the housing process. AHV chief executive Darren Smith said AHV is also disappointed the program had been defunded. He said, “There is an urgent need for Aboriginal Victorians to have access to culturally safe tenancy support services to help maintain their public housing tenancies.”

To read the full National Indigenous Times article click here.

Victorian Parliament House. Source: National Indigenous Times.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

Macular Week – 19–25 June 2023

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience three times more vision loss than non-Indigenous people, creating a concerning gap for vision. Macular Week is a chance to show the impact of macular disease, raise awareness, and highlight why funding research to find a cure is so vital.

35% if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have never had an eye exam. The My Macula quiz, available on the Macular Disease Foundation Australia website here, is an accessible tool to determine if you have any risk factors for macula disease.

Learn more about Macular Week here.

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