@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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #CloseTheGap Press Release : Download a 10 year Review : The #ClosingTheGap Strategy and 6 Key Recommendations to #reset

The life expectancy gap has in fact started to widen again and the Indigenous child mortality rate is now more than double that of other children.

This is a national shame and demands an urgent tripartite health partnership. This must be high on the agenda at tomorrow’s COAG meeting.”

In a departure from the campaign’s usual report, this year’s review focusses on the decade since the 2008 signing of the Close the Gap Statement of Intent.”

Close the Gap Campaign Co-Chair and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO, said the Close the Gap strategy began in 2008 with great promise but has failed to deliver.

 Read  CTG call for urgent action to address national shame press release Part 2

Download the 40 Page review HERE

CTG 2018_FINAL_WEB

 

“ The Close the Gap refresh being considered by the COAG provides an opportunity to reflect upon and reform current policy settings and institutionalised thinking,

The Close the Gap targets should remain, as should the National Indigenous Reform Agreement framework and associated National Partnership Agreements. They serve to focus the nation and increase our collective accountability.

What we need however is radically different action to achieve the targets

This starts with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their community controlled health organisations and peak representatives having a genuine say over their own health and wellbeing and health policies.

“Increased funding is needed for ACCHOs to expand in regions where there are low access to health services and high levels of disease, and in areas of mental health, disability services and aged care.

ACCHOs have consistently demonstrated that they achieve better results for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, at better value for money.

NACCHO Chairperson, Mr John Singer.

Download NACCHO Press Release

1. NACCHO media release CtG – FINAL

Download NACCHO Press Background Paper

2. NACCHO media release ATTACH CTG – FINAL 10 Years On

Part 1 NACCHO Press Release : Increased support to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations needed to Close the Gap in life expectancy gap

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) calls for urgent and radically different action to Close the Gap.

“The Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) commitment to Close the Gap in 2007 was welcome.

It was a positive step towards mobilising government resources and effort to address the under investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health”, said NACCHO Chairperson, Mr John Singer.

“But ten years on the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians is widening, not closing.

Jurisdictions currently spend $2 per Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander for every $1 for the rest of the population whereas the Commonwealth in the past has spent only $1.21 per Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island person for every $1 spent on the rest of the population. NACCHO calls for the Commonwealth to increase funding to Close the Gap”, said John Singer.

NACCHO is a proud member of the Close the Gap Campaign and stands by its report released today: ‘A ten-year review: the Closing the Gap Strategy and Recommendations for Reset’.

The review found that the Close the Gap strategy has never been fully implemented. Underfunding in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services and infrastructure has persisted – funding is not always based on need, has been cut and in some cases redirected through mainstream providers.

The role of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) in delivering more successful care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than the mainstream service providers is not properly recognised.

A health equality plan was not in place until the release of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan Implementation Plan 2015, and this is unfunded.

And despite the initial investment in remote housing, there has not been a sufficient and properly resourced plan to adequately address the social determinants of health.

The framework underpinning the Close the Gap strategy – a national approach and leadership, increased accountability, clear roles and responsibilities and increased funding through National Partnership Agreements – has unraveled and in some cases been abandoned altogether.

A comprehensive and funded Indigenous health workforce is required to improve the responsiveness of health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples and increase cultural safety.

A boost in disease specific initiatives is urgently needed in areas where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a high burden of disease or are particularly vulnerable, like ear health and renal disease, delivered through ACCHOs.”

“There also needs to be a way in which NACCHO and other Indigenous health leaders can come together with COAG to agree a ‘refreshed approach’ to Close the Gap”, said Mr Singer.

NACCHO has proposed to Government a way forward to Close the Gap in life expectancy and is looking forward to working with the Australian Government on the further development of its proposals.

The only way to close the gap is with the full participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Until Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are fully engaged and have control over their health and wellbeing any ‘refresh’ will be marginal at best, and certainly won’t close the gap

Part 2 CALL FOR URGENT JOINT ACTION TO ADDRESS NATIONAL SHAME

Australian governments must join forces with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to address the national shame of a widening life expectancy gap for our nation’s First Peoples.

“It’s time for each State and Territory government to affirm or reaffirm their commitments made via the Close the Gap Statement of Intent.

“Until now, the scrutiny has rightly been on the Federal Government regarding the need for it to lead the strategy and to coordinate and resource the effort.

But it’s now time for state and territory governments to step up.

“We want to see Premiers, Chief Ministers, Health and Indigenous Affairs Ministers in every jurisdiction providing regular and public accountability on their efforts to address the inequality gaps in their State or Territory.

“No more finger pointing between governments. A reset Closing the Gap Strategy should clearly articulate targets for both levels of government and be underpinned by a new set of agreements that include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their leaders and organisations.”

Last year, the Prime Minister reported that six out of the seven targets were ‘not on track’. Since then, the Federal Government has announced that the COAG agreed

Closing the Gap Strategy would go through a ‘refresh’ process.

Close the Gap Co-Chair and Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Rod Little, said the refresh process is the last chance to get government policy right to achieve the goal of health equality by 2030.

“The Close the Gap Campaign is led by more than 40 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous health and human rights bodies,” Mr Little said.

“No other group can boast this level of leadership, experience and expertise. We stand ready to work together with Federal, State and Territory governments. We have the solutions.

“You must get the engagement on this right. No half measures. No preconceived policies that are imposed, rather than respectfully discussed and collectively decided.”

The Close the Gap Campaign Co-Chairs have warned that, without a recommitment, the closing the gap targets will measure nothing but the collective failure of Australian governments to work together and to stay the course.

“While the approach has all but fallen apart, we know that with the right settings and right approach, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples leading the resetting of the strategy, we can start to meet the challenge of health inequality, and live up to the ideals that all Australians have a fundamental right to health,” the Co-Chairs said.

Part 3 :This review’s major findings are:

1.First, the Close the Gap Statement of Intent (and close the gap approach) has to date only been partially and incoherently implemented via the Closing the Gap Strategy:

An effective health equality plan was not in place until the release of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan Implementation Plan in 2015 – which has never been funded. The complementary National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017-2023 needs an implementation plan and funding as appropriate. There is still yet to be a national plan to address housing and health infrastructure, and social determinants were not connected to health planning until recently and still lack sufficient resources.

The Closing the Gap Strategy focus on child and maternal health and addressing chronic disease and risk factors – such as smoking through the Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program – are welcomed and should be sustained.

However, there was no complementary systematic focus on building primary health service capacity according to need, particularly through the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and truly shifting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health to a preventive footing rather than responding ‘after the event’ to health crisis.

2.Second, the Closing the Gap Strategy – a 25-year program – was effectively abandoned after five-years and so cannot be said to have been anything but partially implemented in itself.

This is because the ‘architecture’ to support the Closing the Gap Strategy (national approach, national leadership, funding agreements) had unraveled by 2014-2015.

3.Third, a refreshed Closing the Gap Strategy requires a reset which re-builds the requisite ‘architecture’ (national approach, national leadership, outcome-orientated funding agreements).

National priorities like addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health inequality have not gone away, are getting worse, and more than ever require a national response.

Without a recommitment to such ‘architecture’, the nation is now in a situation where the closing the gap targets will measure nothing but the collective failure of Australian governments to work together and to stay the course.

4.Fourth, a refreshed Closing the Gap Strategy must be founded on implementing the existing Close the Gap Statement of Intent commitments.

In the past ten years, Australian governments have behaved as if the Close the Gap Statement of Intent was of little relevance to the Closing the Gap Strategy when in fact it should have fundamentally informed it.

It is time to align the two. A refreshed Closing the Gap Strategy must focus on delivering equality of opportunity in relation to health goods and services, especially primary health care, according to need and in relation to health infrastructure (an adequate and capable health workforce, housing, food, water).

This should be in addition to the focus on maternal and infant health, chronic disease and other health needs. The social determinants of health inequality (income, education, racism) also must be addressed at a fundamental level.

5.Fifth, there is a ‘funding myth’ about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health – indeed in many Indigenous Affairs areas – that must be confronted as it impedes progress.

That is the idea of dedicated health expenditure being a waste of taxpayer funds.

Yet, if Australian governments are serious about achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality within a generation, a refreshed Closing the Gap Strategy must include commitments to realistic and equitable levels of investment (indexed according to need).

Higher spending on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health should hardly be a surprise.

Spending on the elderly, for example, is higher than on the young because everyone understands the elderly have greater health needs.

Likewise, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population have, on average, 2.3 times the disease burden of non-Indigenous people.[i] Yet on a per person basis, Australian government health expenditure was $1.38 per Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person for every $1.00 spent per non-Indigenous person in 2013-14.[ii]

So, for the duration of the Closing the Gap Strategy Australian government expenditure was not commensurate with these substantially greater and more complex health needs.

This remains the case. Because non-Indigenous Australians rely significantly on private health insurance and private health providers to meet much of their health needs, in addition to government support, the overall situation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health can be characterised as ‘systemic’ or ‘market failure’.

Private sources will not make up the shortfall. Australian government ‘market intervention’ – increased expenditure directed as indicated in the recommendations below – is required to address this.

The Close the Gap Campaign believes no Australian government can preside over widening mortality and life expectancy gaps and, yet, maintain targets to close these gaps without additional funding. Indeed, the Campaign believes the position of Australian governments is absolutely untenable in that regard.

 

In considering these findings, the Close the Gap Campaign are clear that the Close the Gap Statement of Intent remains a current, powerful and coherent guide to achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality, and to the refreshment of the Closing the Gap Strategy in 2018.

Accordingly, this review recommends that:

Recommendation 1: the ‘refreshed’ Closing the Gap Strategy is co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders and includes community consultations.

This requires a tripartite negotiation process with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, and the Federal and State and Territory governments. Time must be allowed for this process.

Further, Australian governments must be accountable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for its effective implementation.

Recommendation 2: to underpin the Closing the Gap Strategy refresh, Australian governments reinvigorate the ‘architecture’ required for a national approach to addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality.

This architecture includes: a national agreement, Federal leadership, and national funding agreements that require the development of jurisdictional implementation plans and clear accountability for implementation.

This includes by reporting against national and state/territory targets.

Recommendation 3: the Closing the Gap Strategy elements such as maternal and infant health programs and the focus on chronic disease (including the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program) are maintained and expanded in a refreshed Closing the Gap Strategy.

Along with Recommendation 2, a priority focus of the ‘refreshed’ Closing the Gap Strategy is on delivering equality of opportunity in relation to health goods and services and in relation to health infrastructure (housing, food, water).

The social determinants of health inequality (income, education, racism) must also be addressed at a far more fundamental level than before. This includes through the following recommendations:

Recommendation 4: the current Closing the Gap Strategy health targets are maintained, but complemented by targets or reporting on the inputs to those health targets.

These input targets or measures should be agreed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders and Australian governments as a part of the Closing the Gap Strategy refresh process and include:

  • Expenditure, including aggregate amounts and in relation to specific underlying factors as below;
  • Primary health care services, with preference given to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, and a guarantee across all health services of culturally safe care;
  • The identified elements that address institutional racism in the health system;
  • Health workforce, particularly the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people trained and employed at all levels, including senior levels, of the health workforce; and
  • Health enabling infrastructure, particularly housing.

Recommendation 5: the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan Implementation Plan is costed and fully funded by the Federal government, and future iterations are more directly linked to the commitments of the Close the Gap Statement of Intent; and, an implementation plan for the complementary National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017-2023 is developed, costed and implemented by the end of 2018 in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders and communities

This will include:

  1. A five-year national plan to identify and fill health service gaps funded from the 2018-2019 Federal budget onwards and with a service provider preference for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs). This includes provision for the greater development of ACCHS’s satellite and outreach services.
  2. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leadership, Federal, State and Territory agreements clarifying roles, responsibilities and funding commitments at the jurisdictional level.
  3. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leadership, Primary Health Network and Federal agreements clarifying roles, responsibilities and funding commitments at the regional level.

Recommendation 6: an overarching health infrastructure and housing plan to secure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples equality in these areas, to support the attainment of life expectancy and health equality by 2030, is developed, costed and implemented by the end of 2018.

 

 

 

 

[i]      Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Healthy Futures—Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services: Report Card 2016. Cat. no. IHW 171. Canberra: AIHW, p. 40.

[ii]     Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council, 2017, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2017 Report, AHMAC, Canberra, p. 192.

.@NACCHOChair Press Release #InvasionDay #ChangetheDate #AustraliaDay debate : A call to Community leaders

 

 “In the broader context of this debate I believe that Aboriginal people are still more concerned about real solutions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s housing, education, health, employment and cultural maintenance, including our lands.

For our people, the arrival of Captain Cook and then British Settlement of Australia is a day of dispossession, death and disease. We require a new day of significance to include and celebrate our cultural survival, connection to country, family and kinship.

We call on all Community leaders across the states and territories to lead a national inclusive discussion and debate on why we need to change and nominate a new day for modern Australia to truly celebrate our diversity.”

Mr John Singer Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).

Download Press Release HERE

NACCHO-Press-Release-A-call-to-Community-leaders

 ” The Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association AIPA fully acknowledge and understand that January 26 remains a day of mourning and pain for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the need for all of Australia to make important steps towards healing, but that our Governments need to create the space for this to happen.

We are calling for an action to discuss this so that we can have a day that is inclusive for all Australians to celebrate this great nation.

The APS and AIPA have developed 8 self-care tips to help Australians cope if they are affected by the heated debate

Tania Dalton and Professor Pat Dudgeon are co-chairs of AIPA, and Tanja Hirvonen is the association’s executive support officer.

See Part 2 below 8 self-care tips

NACCHO Press Release

Not everyone across our nation celebrates Australia Day. I have no doubt that this year on Australia Day thousands of Aboriginal protestors will once again march, wave placards, burn flags and voice our opinions about Invasion Day.

See events schedule below

Our supporters who wish to change the date are simply dismissed as a group of politically correct, angry, banner waving far-left extremists who hold a minority view about the merits of the national holiday. Rather, they should be acknowledged as holding a different philosophical view about the significance of the day.

Across the nation, 26 January is for most people a day of celebration of 230 years of Australian history; not the 60,000 years of Indigenous culture.

The last year has been difficult for our people, especially after the rejection by the federal government of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. In a couple of weeks we will gather for the ten-year anniversary of the National Apology.

For our people, the arrival of Captain Cook and then British Settlement of Australia is a day of dispossession, death and disease.

We require a new day of significance to include and celebrate our cultural survival, connection to country, family and kinship.

Modern Australia is made up of peoples from many different cultural backgrounds. We should have our national day to show respect and celebrate this cultural diversity.

Oddly enough the current Prime Minister and number one ticket holder for an Australian republic wishes to ‘save the day’ and remains very excited about the anniversary of the First Fleet’s arrival in Sydney Harbour in 1788, not far from his harbourside mansion.

Turnbull will soon rise in the House of Representatives to parrot a few words of an Indigenous language and inform us of what a great job his department and agencies are doing for us in his Close the Gap report!

Remember, he did promise to work WITH us. The pain and suffering of our people is not so easily bought off with a few trinkets and baubles thrown to us.

In the broader context of this debate I believe that Aboriginal people are still more concerned about real solutions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s housing, education, health, employment and cultural maintenance, including our lands.

We call on all Community leaders across the states and territories to lead a national inclusive discussion and debate on why we need to change and nominate a new day for modern Australia to truly celebrate our diversity.

Part 2.

Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association writes:

For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, Australia Day can be a day of mixed emotions. The way people feel and their reasons are dependent on their own stories, so therefore there is no right or wrong in this matter.

For many, the date of the 26th January represents a day on which people’s ways of life was forever changed and some may term this day, Survival Day or Invasion Day.

Others may choose to celebrate that the longest living Indigenous culture has survived for 60,000 years, and others may take pride in their Aboriginal and mixed heritage due to Australia’s vibrant multi-cultural population.

Whoever or however Aboriginal Australians choose to commemorate Australia Day, we wish to remind all that in the spirit of reconciliation, AIPA would like to respect the voices of many, and ask Australians to reflect on how we can create a day all Australians can celebrate.

In discussions about Australia Day over the past month and year, AIPA have been discussing the meaning with other stakeholders of the date and its significance for people in Australia.

When it comes to Australia Day in the media, there is some support for the day to continue, and overwhelming sentiment from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to change the date and not celebrate on this particular date.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are talking about a date that they see as a symbol of their dispossession

Social media commentary has escalated in some areas to levels where it is unreasonable to expect any healthy debate or conversations.

AIPA hopes that we walk towards a shared future as all Australians, by having a national conversation about the Australia Day date.

APS President Anthony Cichello says, “The APS strongly supports celebrating our multicultural Australian society, while considering the views of Indigenous Australians as the original custodians of the land.”

“Psychologists know that words can hurt. It is critical that Australians debate important issues constructively.”

The APS and AIPA have developed self-care tips to help Australians cope if they are affected by the heated debate:

  1. Tune in. Tune into your feelings such as anger and distress. Acknowledge these emotions both to yourself and others. Talk about how you are feeling with someone you trust.
  2. Take a break. If you feel distressed by the public debate and social media posts consider limiting your feeds to stem the flow of divisive posts or log-off social media.
  3. Look after yourself. Help combat tension and fatigue by making time to do things you enjoy. Take care to eat well, stay hydrated, exercise and get good sleep.
  4. Channel your energy. Put your energy into positive actions. If you feel passionately about an issue get informed and get involved.
  5. Support each other. If you see cyber harassment, bullying or racism don’t ignore it. Report it and offer your support.
  6. Connect with others. Connect with your family and friends, this grounds us as community members.
  7. Connect with your community. Strong social and emotional wellbeing maintains our wellbeing through connections to body, mind and emotions, spirituality, land, community, families and culture.
  8. It’s okay not to talk. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about an issue it’s okay not to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Housing and #Socialdeterminants Debate : @NACCHOChair urges Federal Government to invest in remote housing

Closing the Gap in health disadvantage requires action on many fronts.

One of these is to improve living conditions for Indigenous people. Housing facilities needs to improve to raise Indigenous health outcomes.

I have been to many communities where the housing for Indigenous people is actually a driver of poor health and creates a cycle of disadvantage .

 Ministers from South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia have recently expressed concern that the Federal government will not renew the current Commonwealth State funding agreement for Indigenous Housing.

We call on the Federal government to invest in remote Indigenous housing.”

 Mr John Singer, Chairperson of NACCHO see in full Part 1 below

Picture above : The community of Mimili in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands, an Aboriginal local government area in northwest South Australia. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen

Download the NACCHO Press Release HERE

NACCHO URGES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO INVEST IN INDIGENOUS HOUSING 5 2018

 

 ” The Federal Coalition Government of Malcolm Turnbull has turned its back on the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing (NPARH) – leaving Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland facing a funding shortfall totalling hundreds of millions of dollars.

The pre-Christmas decision of Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion leaves some of Australia’s most vulnerable communities with dramatically reduced funding for housing and other essential services – creating an increased risk of marginalisation.

Notably, the decision flies in the face of the Commonwealth’s own review into remote housing and directly contravenes the ‘Closing the Gap’ report which clearly states that safe and appropriate housing is fundamental to achieving the COAG targets.

The Commonwealth had previously committed $776 million over two years to the NPARH but will now only fund the Northern Territory component of the agreement. Mr Scullion is a NT Senator. “

Download the WA QLD and SA press release or read in full Part 2 below

21 Dec Combined WA QLD SA Response to Aboriginal Housing CRISIS

”  Any decision to cut funding by the Turnbull government will contribute to an increase in chronic disease, and inevitably lead to poorer health outcomes, more indigenous deaths and widening of the gap between the general community and indigenous communities.

Safe and healthy housing is fundamental to the wellbeing of all Australians and contributes to providing shelter, privacy, safety and security, supports health and education, and has a significant impact on workforce participation.

Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Nigel Scullion must take immediate steps to ensure the continuation of funding for remote and indigenous housing. Failure to do so will be another example of a government that is out of touch and only concerned with their internal disputes and dysfunction.

Rather than $65 billion in tax cuts for big business and the banks, the Turnbull government should immediately commit to the recommendations in its own report and close the gap by continuing funding of the National Partnership on Remote Housing.”

Download Federal Labor Party press release or read in full part 3 below  

22 Dec Federal Labor Response to Aboriginal Housing CRISIS

We share the concern of state governments, the Close the Gap campaign and the National Congress of First Peoples at the recent cuts by the Australian Government to the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing’

The cut will see funding from the federal government drop from $776 million over two years to just $100 million, with that $100 million going only to the Northern Territory.

Our major concern is that overcrowded housing in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is the primary cause of rheumatic fever in Australia.

Indigenous Australians suffer from this completely preventable disease at 26 times the rate of non- Indigenous Australians. Australia is one of the few countries in the world where rheumatic fever is still a serious problem, and it’s a national disgrace.”

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association Strategic Programs Director Dr Chris Bourke

Full Press Release 22 Dec AHHA Response to Aboriginal Housing CRISIS

 ” Misleading and outrageous statements from Western Australian Labor Housing Minister Peter Tinley as well as South Australian Labor Housing Minister Zoe Bettison are undermining good faith negotiations between the Commonwealth and state governments about the future of remote housing.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said despite claims by the state Labor ministers, and despite the fact that housing still remains a state responsibility (last time we checked) no announcement or decision has been made by the Commonwealth Government to cease funding for remote housing.

“It is complete and utter nonsense to suggest that Commonwealth funding for housing is ceasing. This is a fiction created by certain Labor state ministers who are clearly trying to abrogate their own responsibility to their Indigenous housing tenants and it should be called out “

 Download Minister Nigel Scullion Press Release or read in full Part 4 Below

21 Dec Response from Minister Scullion Aboriginal Housung Crisis

Part 1 NACCHO press release 8 January 2018

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) which represents 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations across Australia today urged the Federal government to invest in remote Indigenous housing.

Mr John Singer, Chairperson of NACCHO said, “the recent review of the current agreement provided to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet highlights the key role of safe and effective housing for Indigenous health.

In fact, it makes this point in its very first sentence,” said John Singer. The review documents progress in the provision of Indigenous housing by the current funding agreement.

It stresses the need for funded long-term maintenance programs to sustain the gains made as well as further investment to address the continued need.

It also proposes ways to better monitor whether new funding is making a difference.

As acknowledged by the Turnbull government last month in their publication My Life, My Lead housing is just one well known and understood social cultural determinant factor along with education, employment, justice and income that impact on a person’s health and wellbeing at each stage of life.

“NACCHO believes that the evidence both in Australia and from international experts such as the UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples is very clear, that a lack of adequate and functional housing as well as overcrowding remains a significant impediment to improving all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. It is critical to fix this situation now,” said John Singer

Background 1 : My Life My Lead – Opportunities for strengthening approaches to the social determinants and cultural determinants of Indigenous health: Report on the national consultations December 2017, 2017 Commonwealth of Australia December 2017.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : @KenWyattMP #MyLifeMyLead Report: Tackling #SocialDeterminants and Strengthening Culture Key to Improving #Indigenous Health

 Background 2 : Housing Issues Background ( PMC Charts above )

SOURCE PMC

Housing is an important mediating factor for health and wellbeing. Functional housing encompasses basic services/facilities, infrastructure and habitability.

These factors combined enable households to carry out healthy living practices including waste removal; maintaining cleanliness through washing people, clothing and bedding; managing environmental risk factors such as electrical safety and temperature in the living environment; controlling air pollution for allergens; and preparing food safely (Bailie et al. 2006; Nganampa Health Council 1987; Department of Family and Community Services 2003).

Children who live in a dwelling that is badly deteriorated have been found to have poorer physical health outcomes and social and emotional wellbeing compared with those growing up in a dwelling in excellent condition (Dockery et al. 2013).

Comparisons between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) show improvements in housing can be expected to translate into gains for Indigenous children’s health, social and learning outcomes (Dockery et al. 2013).

As expected, housing variables are closely associated with socio­ economic status, including: crowding, renting rather than owning, and being in financial stress (see measures 2.01 and 2.08).

Infectious diseases are more common in households with poor housing conditions. For example, trachoma and acute rheumatic fever are present almost exclusively in the Indigenous population in remote areas (see measures 1.06 and 1.16). Domestic infrastructure, along with overcrowding and exposure to tobacco smoke increases the risk of otitis media in children (Jervis-Bardy et al. 2014) (see measures 1.15, 2.01 and 2.03).

Background 3  NPARIH/NPARH

  • The Commonwealth Government provided $5.4 billion over ten years to 2018 through the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing and the National Partnership for Remote Housing. This was a one-off National Partnership Agreement to assist states to undertake their own responsibilities for the delivery of housing to reduce overcrowding and increase housing amenity.
  • Expires 30 June 2018

Part 2 WA SA and QLD Govt : Commonwealth abandons indigenous Australia; axes remote housing deal

  • ​Federal Government’s decision will create a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars
  • States demand Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister reverse decision
  • McGowan Government calls on Federal WA Ministers, Julie Bishop, Christian Porter, Mathias Cormann and Michaelia Cash to exert influence in Turnbull Cabinet

The Federal Coalition Government of Malcolm Turnbull has turned its back on the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing (NPARH) – leaving Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland facing a funding shortfall totalling hundreds of millions of dollars.

The pre-Christmas decision of Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion leaves some of Australia’s most vulnerable communities with dramatically reduced funding for housing and other essential services – creating an increased risk of marginalisation.

Notably, the decision flies in the face of the Commonwealth’s own review into remote housing and directly contravenes the ‘Closing the Gap’ report which clearly states that safe and appropriate housing is fundamental to achieving the COAG targets.

The Commonwealth had previously committed $776 million over two years to the NPARH but will now only fund the Northern Territory component of the agreement. Mr Scullion is a NT Senator.

Housing Minister Peter Tinley has demanded senior figures in the Turnbull Cabinet from WA – notably Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, Attorney-General Christian Porter, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Jobs and Innovation Minister Michaelia Cash and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt, as well as WA’s Nationals Party, stand up for their State and get the decision reversed.

The original 10-year NPARH, brokered by the Federal Labor Rudd government, has seen an average annual Federal Government contribution of about $100 million to WA.

A recent expert panel review commissioned by the Federal Government acknowledged the Federal Government had an ongoing role as a key funding partner with the States and Territory for housing in remote communities.

Comments attributed to Housing Minister Peter Tinley:

“This latest decision, especially the way the Turnbull Government has tried to sneak it through during the festive season, is absolutely appalling and demonstrates its lack of concern for indigenous Australia.

“The Commonwealth has a responsibility to support Australians living in isolated and remote areas. They cannot just walk away from this duty of care.

“This situation is yet another test for those Western Australian MPs with senior positions in the Turnbull Cabinet who are habitually missing in action when it comes to protecting the interests of WA.

“Further, all Western Australian Nationals MPs, both State and Federal, need to stand up for regional WA and send a clear message to their Canberra colleagues that these cuts are unacceptable. WA Nationals leader Mia Davies must outline her position.

“I sincerely hope the Liberals and Nationals will step up their game and get this decision reversed.

“The McGowan Government inherited a financial disaster from the previous Liberal National Government that governed WA so incompetently for eight years.

“Because of that mess, there is no way we can afford to pick up a funding shortfall from the Commonwealth that will equate to hundreds of millions of dollars over the coming years.

“The Commonwealth has a responsibility to help fund essential services in remote communities and in doing so to protect an important element of our national cultural heritage.

“If Turnbull, Scullion and the rest of them fail to fulfil this fundamental duty they will be demonstrating to the entire nation, and to other countries around the globe, exactly how much they value Australia’s First People.”

Part 3 Federal Labour CUTTING REMOTE HOUSING FUNDING UNFAIR AND UNJUSTIFIED

Media reports and comments by the Western Australian Housing Minister Peter Tinley indicate that the Turnbull government is proposing massive cuts to the National Partnership on Remote Housing, which has replaced the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing and the Remote Housing Strategy (2008- 2018).

The reports indicate that the financial commitment by the Commonwealth will be reduced from $776 million to $100 million and will only be available to remote communities in the Northern Territory.

The Turnbull government must immediately clarify these reports and, if true, reconsider this cruel and outrageous cut to housing and homelessness funding in remote and indigenous communities.

In recognition of the serious problems in indigenous housing, $5.4 billion of funding has been invested since 2008 by Commonwealth governments in an attempt to close the gap in indigenous housing.

The Turnbull government’s own remote housing review demonstrated that this long term strategy had delivered over 11,500 more liveable homes in remote Australia, 4000 new houses, and 7500 refurbishments. This has resulted in a significant but necessary decrease in the proportion of overcrowded households.

The report also estimates that an additional 5500 homes are required by 2028 to reduce levels of overcrowding in remote areas to acceptable levels. The report shows that 1,100 properties are required in Queensland, 1,350 in Western Australia, and 300 in South Australia by 2028 to address overcrowding and meet population growth.

“If these reports are true, remote communities in Western Australia will continue to be overcrowded for the decade to come,” Senator Dodson said.

The report debunks the myth that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families cause the majority of damage to remote indigenous housing. The report shows that only nine percent of household damage is caused by tenants, with the majority of damage coming from lack of programmed maintenance and in 25 per cent of cases the cause is poor specifications or faulty workmanship in the original build.

Rather than cutting funding, the Turnbull government’s own report has concluded that capital plans should be set for a minimum five years. This is on the basis that government procurement practices would support small, emerging businesses, and provide greater opportunities for training and employment of local people.

Key recommendations to the government in the report include:

  • That there be a recurrent program funded to maintain existing houses, preserve functionality and increase the life of housing assets.
  • The costs of a remote Indigenous housing program to be shared 50:50 between the Commonwealth and the other jurisdictions.
  • Investment for an additional 5500 houses by 2028 is needed to continue efforts on closing the gap on indigenous disadvantage.
  • Additional recommendations include improved governance structures, increased transparency, the development of the local workforce, and tenancy education programs.

The report also found overcrowding and poor quality housing leads to poor health outcomes and makes it harder to manage chronic disease. In addition, the report indicates that indigenous communities experience high rates of infectious diseases.

As such, any decision to cut funding by the Turnbull government will contribute to an increase in chronic disease, and inevitably lead to poorer health outcomes, more indigenous deaths and widening of the gap between the general community and indigenous communities.

Safe and healthy housing is fundamental to the wellbeing of all Australians and contributes to providing shelter, privacy, safety and security, supports health and education, and has a significant impact on workforce participation.

Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Nigel Scullion must take immediate steps to ensure the continuation of funding for remote and indigenous housing. Failure to do so will beanother example of a government that is out of touch and only concerned with their internal disputes and dysfunction.

Rather than $65 billion in tax cuts for big business and the banks, the Turnbull government should immediately commit to the recommendations in its own report and close the gap by continuing funding of the National Partnership on Remote Housing.

Part 4 Minister Scullion More Labor lies on remote housing

Thursday 21 December 2017
Misleading and outrageous statements from Western Australian Labor Housing Minister Peter Tinley as well as South Australian Labor Housing Minister Zoe Bettison are undermining good faith negotiations between the Commonwealth and state governments about the future of remote housing.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said despite claims by the state Labor ministers, and despite the fact that housing still remains a state responsibility (last time we checked) no announcement or decision has been made by the Commonwealth Government to cease funding for remote housing.

“It is complete and utter nonsense to suggest that Commonwealth funding for housing is ceasing. This is a fiction created by certain Labor state ministers who are clearly trying to abrogate their own responsibility to their Indigenous housing tenants and it should be called out for what this is,” Minister Scullion said today.

“In fact, the Commonwealth commenced discussions with Western Australian Government officials only yesterday about a future funding contribution to remote Indigenous housing – clearly the hapless Peter Tinley is unaware of what his own department is doing.

“It is disappointing that after the first day of discussion, this incompetent Minister has decided to play politics rather than work cooperatively on future funding arrangements.

“The Commonwealth already supports public housing, which is a state and territory responsibility, to the tune of $6 billion per year including $1.5 billion per annum in direct payments to states and around $4.5bn per annum through Commonwealth rent assistance.

“The states should prioritise some of the social housing funding for remote Indigenous residents. Why is there one standard for Indigenous residents and another for non-Indigenous residents?

“The National Partnership on Remote Housing was always scheduled to cease on 30 June 2018. Under the NPARH the Commonwealth paid the states $5.4 billion to reduce overcrowding yet they abjectly failed to achieve this – this is why we are once again in negotiation with the states.

“But the Commonwealth does not believe that the Western Australian Government should not take it’s responsibility for housing in Indigenous communities just like it does for housing of every other citizen in its state.

“Why is there one approach for Indigenous citizens and another for every other community?”

In contrast, the Northern Territory Government has taken responsibility and committed ongoing funding to remote Indigenous housing. That commitment, and the severe overcrowding in the Northern Territory, has meant the Commonwealth has been able to offer longer term funding.

Instead of playing politics with ‘indigenous Australia’, Peter Tinley and Zoe Bettison should take the time to work constructively with the Commonwealth on future funding arrangements.

Background on NPARIH/NPARH

  • The Commonwealth Government provided $5.4 billion over ten years to 2018 through the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing and the National Partnership for Remote Housing. This was a one-off National Partnership Agreement to assist states to undertake their own responsibilities for the delivery of housing to reduce overcrowding and increase housing amenity.

 

.@NACCHOChair Season’s Greetings and a very Happy and #Healthy New Year from all the NACCHO mob

Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year from the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

On behalf of NACCHO, the Board and our staff we wish you a safe, happy and healthy festive season.

Please note : Our Canberra Office Closes  21 December and Re Opens 3 January 2018

2017 has been a year of change, with many new members joining the NACCHO Board.

We have also welcomed a new ACCHO, Moorundi Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service, to our membership.

With change comes opportunity, 2018 will see many new and exciting developments as NACCHO continues to enhance better service for the sector.

We look forward to building strong relationships with you, maintain Aboriginal community control and work together in the new year to improve health and well-being outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

I hope you all have good health, happiness and a safe holiday season

John Singer

Chair NACCHO

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Prison System: New Ground breaking partnership for ACT Government and Winnunga having an ACCHO deliver health and wellbeing services to prison inmates

“ACT Corrective Services recognises that increasing Aboriginal led services within the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) a minimum to maximum security prison is essential to maintaining cultural connection for Aboriginal detainees and improving overall wellbeing and safety.”

Speaking at the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) board meeting ACT Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury announced that Winnunga Aboriginal Health and Community Services (AHCS) will move soon into full service delivery at the AMC

Photo above Minister with some of the new NACCHO Board December 2017 : Pic Oliver Tye

Julie Tongs pictured above with Shane Rattenbury and NACCHO CEO John Singer  

‘Importantly, Winnunga will continue to be a separate independent entity, but will work in partnership with the ACT Government to complement the services already provided by ACT Corrective Services and ACT Health to deliver better outcomes for Indigenous detainees.

It is ground breaking to have an Aboriginal community controlled and managed organisation delivering health and wellbeing services within its own model of care to inmates in prison in this capacity’ Ms Tongs said.

‘Winnunga delivering health and wellbeing services in the AMC and changing the way the system operates is the legacy of Steven Freeman, a young Aboriginal man who tragically died whilst in custody in the AMC in 2016

It is also ground breaking for our sector, so it needs to be given the recognition it deserves’

Julie Tongs, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services (Winnunga AHCS) welcomed the announcement by Minister Shane Rattenbury

Winnunga has commenced enhanced support at the AMC focused on female detainees, and will move to full delivery of standalone health, social and emotional wellbeing services in the AMC in 2018.

The Independent Inquiry into the Treatment in Custody of Steven Freeman highlighted the need for improvements in a range of areas including cultural proficiency to more effectively manage the welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees.

The ACT Government is working to develop a safer environment for all detainees, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees.

Minister Rattenbury welcomed the involvement of Winnunga AHCS in the delivery of health services within its culturally appropriate model of care in the AMC.

To achieve this ACT Corrective Services and Justice Health have been working closely with Winnunga AHCS to enhance their presence in the AMC. Winnunga AHCS has begun delivering social and emotional wellbeing services to female detainees who choose to access Winnunga AHCS in the AMC.

Over time, all detainees will have the option to access Winnunga AHCS services.

Winnunga AHCS will over time deliver services to all inmates in the AMC who choose to access this option, however the services will be implemented through a staged process initially focussed on female detainees. This will help inform system changes as we operationalise the model of care within the AMC.

‘In 2018, we will expand our role to deliver GP and social and emotional wellbeing services to all detainees who choose to access Winnunga AHCS in the AMC, Monday to Friday, between the hours of 9am to 5pm’, Ms Tongs noted.

‘Winnunga does not want to be divisive in the AMC, we will be inclusive.

Obviously, there will be some issues particularly around – strong identity and connection to land, language and culture, and how the impact of colonisation and stolen Generations affects unresolved trauma, grief and loss that will be specific to Aboriginal people, however we will work with all inmates’, said Ms Tongs.

Ms Tongs stated, ‘The priority for us is to ensure in time all Aboriginal people are provided with an Aboriginal health check and care plan…the goal is for Winnunga to provide all services we do outside in the community, to prisoners also on the inside and this is a very good starting point’.

NACCHO tribute and Bellear family thank you : #SolsLastMarch #StateFuneral for Sol Bellear AM ” Remembered as a giant of a man “

 

” Sol was giant of a man who made a giant contribution to self-determination for our people right throughout the land , one who would now take his honoured place amongst his very honoured ancestors.

News of his sudden death last week had sent shockwaves through Aboriginal Australia”.

Pat Turner, Chief Executive of NACCHO : National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation speaking at the State Funeral about her long term friendship and respect for Sol Bellear.  Pictures above Michelle Lovegrove

See full NACCHO Tribute to Sol Bellear AM Press Release

NACCHO tribute to Sol Bellear AM Aboriginal activist

NACCHO was also represented by Current Chair John Singer and Past Chairs Pat Anderson , Matthew Cooke and Justin Mohamed.

 ” We will always be grateful for the many expressions of kindness, love and support we have received following the loss of our father and brother, Sol Bellear, who passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday night, 29 November.

We have been overwhelmed by the numbers of people who have reached out to us in this very difficult time. Sol touched many lives in the movement for Aboriginal rights, the game of rugby league and the community of Redfern that he loved.  Now the people whose lives he touched are comforting us with their memories of him.”

Statement from the family of  Solomon David “Sol” Bellear AM

Sol stood for many things including self-determination, proper treaties with our people, Aboriginal control of our people’s health and legal services, Land Rights and a better understanding of our history.

Although, Sol achieved many great victories, much of this work remained unfinished at the end of his life. We ask all those who loved Sol to please continue his work so that the vision he had for his country and people might one day be fulfilled.

One of Sol’s last wishes was for the Sydney City Council to erect a plaque at Redfern Park to help people remember and reflect on the Redfern Speech delivered on that site by former Prime Minister, Paul Keating.

We will always treasure the time we had with him. He was the most loving and committed Father, Brother, Poppy and Uncle any family could hope for.=

We would like to particularly thank the NSW Premier and the staff from her Department, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Joshua Roxburgh and our brother, Shane Phillips for their generous assistance in organising Sol’s funeral.

 Sol Bellear remembered as giant at state funeral

Aboriginal land rights and health activist Sol Bellear has been remembered as a giant of indigenous advancement at a state funeral on Saturday at Redfern Oval in Sydney, the spiritual home of his beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs.

From the Australian

It was a mark of the man, mourners heard, that after being dropped as a player from the Rabbitohs squad after raising a black-power salute on scoring a try at the ground, he was within a year serving on the rugby league team’s board.

“He carried a great personal weight on his shoulders because he was a strong man,” fellow activist Paul Coe, one of the leaders with whom Bellear founded the Aboriginal tent embassy at the then parliament house in 1972, said.

“He would stand his ground no matter what or no matter who was opposing him.”

Bellear was joined in one final march to the football ground from the nearby Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, an institution which mourners including NSW Governor David Hurley and wife Linda heard was one of his great legacies.

Sols Last March with 3,000 family and friends

The march ended at the park where, exactly 25 years ago tomorrow, Bellear led Paul Keating to the stage to deliver the then prime minister’s famous oration admitting white Australia’s culpability in the poor state of indigenous affairs.(see Picture in Part 1 above )

“He stood proud and he stood tall but he was not egotistical,” Mr Coe said.

“I’ve seen him give money out of his own pocket to people on the streets. This is the kind of man that he was — a kind of man you could admire but not completely understand.

“In those days as young students, trying to work out who and what we were, it was very hard to make ends meet. But he would always give of himself, both time and energy.”

A Bundjalung man from Mullumbimby in northern NSW, Solomon David Bellear, who was 66, leaves partner Naomi and children Tamara and Joseph. He was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1999 for services to the Aboriginal community, in particular in the field of health. His brother Bob, who died a decade ago, was the first Aboriginal judge.

In a letter from grand-daughter Rose read out at the service, Bellear was bid a “merry Christmas in the dreamtime” and the hope he had travelled there safely with his totem, the carpet snake.

Bellear’s achievements were legion. He was the founding chair of the Aboriginal Legal Service, a founding member of the Aboriginal Housing Company, an Aboriginal delegate to the UN General Assembly, player and director at the Rabbitohs, a foundation player with the Redfern All Blacks in the NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout, a manager with the indigenous dreamtime and All Stars rugby league teams, and deputy chair of the former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

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Sol Bellear, whose funeral was held on Saturday. Picture: Dan Himbrechts

Ken Wyatt, federal Minister for Indigenous Health and Aged Care, said on Friday Bellear had “played a key role in establishing medical, housing, land rights and legal services for Aboriginal people and remains a towering figure on the journey towards justice for our people”.

He was remembered as being crucial to the consensus position developed at the Indigenous constitutional convention held in Central Australia in May this year, when disparate ambitions for reform were distilled into the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Singer Emma Donovan opened the funeral with the touchstone Land Rights Song, whose memorable lines “they keep on saying everything’s fine, still they can’t see us cry all the time” seemed particularly apt.

Bellear’s casket was borne from the park by a cortege including members of his beloved Redfern All Blacks, whose members linked arms to sing their team song for him one last time. His casket was draped with a Rabbitohs scarf, the hearse with an Aboriginal flag.

As it set off one final, slow, lap of the oval, fists were raised in a black-power salute

NACCHO tribute to Sol Bellear AM Aboriginal activist : ” Last March for Sol ” and State Funeral details announced

” Sol Bellear leaves an important legacy that must be carried on by the board of NACCHO and all our members if Indigenous Australians are to ever enjoy health services and standards that other Australians take for granted.

Throughout his career he advocated a philosophy of community control, self-reliance and independence, attributes that would be vital for the survival of ACCHO’s over the decades

We would like to record our sincere gratitude and admiration for Sol’s service to our nation and communities, and tender our profound sympathy to his family and community in their bereavement.”

NACCHO Chair John Singer speaking on behalf of all the 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services throughout Australia said he was saddened to hear of the untimely passing of one of the nation’s leading spokespeople on Aboriginal health issues, Mr Sol Bellear AM. ( see our full Press Release below ) Or Download

NACCHO tribute to Sol Bellear AM Aboriginal activist

Last march Sol Bellear AM

Health, justice and land rights Legend Sol Bellear AM will lead his last march at a State Funeral to be held in Redfern on Saturday.

Sol’s family, friends and supporters are invited to gather at Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service on Redfern Street from 10am for a last march to the State Funeral service at Redfern Oval starting at 11am.

WHEN: Saturday 9 December 2017

WHERE:

  • March from 10am outside Aboriginal Medical Service, Redfern Street
  • Service from 11am at Redfern Oval

For any enquiries please email media@alc.org.au or call 02 9689 4444

“ So they took our children away. They forced us from our ancestral lands. They held our wages and savings in trust, and then found better ways to spend the money. We were forced into slavery, denied equal wages and prevented from ever building generational wealth.

That great lie still underpins thinking in Indigenous affairs policy today. So it’s time to do something different, and time to acknowledge that the case for self-determination for Aboriginal people in Australia isn’t just compelling – it’s overwhelming. “

Sol Bellear AM 1951 -2017 : When NACCHO TV recorded over 100 interviews throughout Australia in 2015 Sol was our first interview : VIEW HERE

NACCHO Press Release :

NACCHO tribute to Sol Bellear AM Aboriginal activist

 NACCHO Chair John Singer speaking on behalf of all the 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services throughout Australia said he was saddened to hear of the untimely passing of one of the nation’s leading spokespeople on Aboriginal health issues, Mr Sol Bellear AM

Sol was a respected elder, friend, lifetime Aboriginal activist, a co-founder and Chair of Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern and a recently appointed NACCHO board member.

Sol Bellear a Bundjalung man from Mullumbimby was also the first chair of the Aboriginal Legal Service when it was founded in the early 1970s.

In 1990 Sol became a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), where he served as deputy chair before stepping down in 1994.

Throughout his career he advocated a philosophy of community control, self-reliance and independence, attributes that would be vital for the survival of ACCHO’s over the decades.

Mr. Singer said Sol Bellear was an inspiration to everyone involved with or interested in Aboriginal issues and specifically Indigenous health. He was admired and respected leader who served his community for nearly 50 years.

” Sol was a tireless worker for his people,” Mr Singer said.

“He travelled all over Australia and the world championing the cause of Indigenous Australians as we have had historically some of worst health outcomes in the western world.

“He was a fearless advocate not afraid to take on politicians and bureaucracies.

“And he certainly was a man of great compassion and commitment to improving the health of his Redfern Community and all Indigenous Australians.”

“Sol Bellear leaves an important legacy that must be carried on by the board of NACCHO and all our members if indigenous Australians are to ever enjoy health services and standards that other Australians take for granted,” Mr Singer concluded.

NACCHO Aboriginal #EarHealthforLife @KenWyattMP and @AMAPresident Launch AMA Indigenous Health Report Card 2017:

 

 

” The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is reported to suffer the highest rates of otitis media in the world.  This unacceptably high prevalance has been known for at least 60 years.

The 2017 Report Card on Indigenous Health identifies chronic otitis media as a ‘missing piece of the puzzel for Indigenous disadvantage’ and calls for an end to the preventable scourge on the health of Indigenous Australians.”

Download AMA Indigenous Health Report Card 2017: A National Strategic Approach to Ending Chronic Otitis Media and its Life Long Impacts in Indigenous Communities

2017 Report Card on Indigenous Health

“ This is a disease of poor people in poor countries as well as other indigenous minorities. These unacceptably high rates have been known for at least 60 years,

Chronic otitis media has lifelong impacts for health and wellbeing just like cardiovascular disease or diabetes – its effects are often ‘life sentences’ of disability and are linked to high rates of Indigenous incarceration.”

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chair, Mr. John Singer said Indigenous children experience some of the highest rates of chronic otitis media in the world.

Download NACCHO Press Release

NACCHO Press Release response AMA release Indigenous Report card.doc

NACCHO welcomes the 2017 AMA Report Card on Indigenous Health: A national strategic approach to ending chronic otitis media See Part 2 below

  ” Report Cards can be daunting, they can be challenging, and they can be inspiring – but above all, they are valuable.

They help provide foundations for informed decision making – something I thoroughly endorse.

And in the case of Indigenous health, they highlight issues that many of the more than 27,000 registered doctors, students and advocates who the AMA represents, deal with every day.

So I commend the AMA on its 2017 Report Card on Indigenous Health – the latest in a series of highly authoritative and respected reports on the crucial issue of Aboriginal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.’

The Hon Ken Wyatt launch speech see in full Part 5

Part 1 AMA Background

Otis media is a build up of fluid in the middle ear cavity, which can become infected.  While the condition lasts, mild or moderate hearing loss is experienced.

Otitis media is very common in children and for most non-Indigenous children, is readily treated. But for many Indigenous people, otitis media is not adequately treated.  It persists in chronic forms over months and years.

As this Report Card identifies, the peak prevalence for otitis media in some Indigenous communities is age five months to nine months; with up to one-third of six-month-old infants suffering significant hearing loss.  The effects of long periods of mild or moderate hearing loss at critical developmental stages can be profound.  During the first 12 or so months of life, a person’s brain starts to learn to make sense of the sounds it is hearing.  This is called ‘auditory processing’.  If hearing is lost during this critical period, and even if normal hearing returns later, life-long disabling auditory processing disorders can remain.

Chronic otitis media is a disease in communities with poorer social determinants of health.  It is a disease of the developing world.  It should not be an endemic ‘massive health problem’ in Australia – one of the healthiest and wealthiest countries in the world.  However the chronic otitis media crisis is occurring in too many of our Indigenous communities.

This Report Card calls for a national, systematic approach to closing the gap in the rates of chronic otitis media between Indigenous and non-Indigenous infants and children in Australia, and a response to the lasting, disabling effects and social impacts of chronic otitis media in the Indigenous adult population.

Part 2 NACCHO welcomes the 2017 AMA Report Card on Indigenous Health: A national strategic approach to ending chronic otitis media 

The peak body for Aboriginal controlled medical services today welcomed the release of the AMA’s 2017 Report Card on Indigenous Health and joined its call for a national, systematic approach to closing the gap in the rates of chronic otitis media between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in Australia. This disease has long term disabling effects and social impacts in the Indigenous adult population.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chair, Mr. John Singer said Indigenous children experience some of the highest rates of chronic otitis media in the world.

“This is a disease of poor people in poor countries as well as other indigenous minorities. These unacceptably high rates have been known for at least 60 years,” Mr. Singer said.

Chronic otitis media has lifelong impacts for health and wellbeing just like cardiovascular disease or diabetes – its effects are often ‘life sentences’ of disability and are linked to high rates of Indigenous incarceration.

NACCHO calls on Australian governments to adopt the recommendations of the Report including embedding chronic otitis media and hearing loss in the Closing the Gap Strategy. However in addition to these principles specialist ear disease and hearing services must be provided to all Aboriginal children if this disease is to be tackled.

Like many chronic diseases impacting on the gap in life expectancy, otitis media is linked to poorer social determinants. “If we are serious about improving health outcomes for Indigenous people, governments at all levels must do more to improve education, housing and employment outcomes.” Mr. Singer said.

Indigenous led solutions must be at the center of any approach. Aboriginal people are more likely to access the care and support they need from an Aboriginal controlled organisation. The community controlled sector has the experience, history and expertise in working with Aboriginal communities and are best placed to work with governments on the report recommendations. Our members should be the preferred model for investment in comprehensive primary health care services.

Our members across the country are keen to work with governments on a systematic approach to the prevention, detection, treatment and management of otitis media,” Mr. Singer said.

NACCHO, its Affiliates and members will continue to work with the AMA in the hope that the report will be a catalyst for coordinated, sustainable government action to improve ear health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Part 3 INDIGENOUS EAR HEALTH – AMA CALLS FOR ACTION TO END A ‘LIFE SENTENCE’ OF HARM

AMA Indigenous Health Report Card 2017: A National Strategic Approach to Ending Chronic Otitis Media and its Life Long Impacts in Indigenous Communities

The AMA today issued a challenge to all Australian governments to work with health experts and Indigenous communities to put an end to the scourge of poor ear health – led by chronic otitis media – affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

At the launch of the 2017 AMA Indigenous Health Report Card in Canberra today, AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said the focus on ear health was part of the AMA’s step by step strategy to create awareness in the community and among political leaders of the unique and tragic health problems that have been eradicated in many parts of the world, but which still afflict Indigenous Australians.

The Report Card – A National Strategic Approach to Ending Chronic Otitis Media and its Life Long Impacts in Indigenous Communities – was launched by the Minister for Indigenous Health, The Hon Ken Wyatt AM.

“It is a tragedy that, in 21st century Australia, poor ear health, especially chronic otitis media, is still condemning Indigenous people to a life sentence of hearing problems – even deafness,” Dr Gannon said.

“Chronic otitis media is a disease of poverty, linked to poorer social determinants of health including unhygienic, overcrowded conditions, and an absence of health services.

“It should not be occurring here in Australia, one of the world’s richest nations. It is preventable.

“Otitis media is caused when fluid builds up in the middle ear cavity and becomes infected.

“While the condition lasts, mild or moderate hearing loss is experienced. If left untreated, it can lead to permanent hearing loss.”

Dr Gannon said that, for most non-Indigenous Australian children, otitis media is readily treated.

“The condition in the non-Indigenous population passes within weeks, and without long-term effects.

“But for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, otitis media is not adequately treated. It persists in chronic forms over months and years. At worst, it is there for life.”

Estimates show that an average Indigenous child will endure middle ear infections and associated hearing loss for at least 32 months, from age two to 20 years, compared with just three months for a non-Indigenous child.

Dr Gannon said the AMA wants a national, systematic approach to closing the gap in the rates of chronic otitis media between Indigenous and non-Indigenous infants and children in Australia.

“We urgently need a coordinated national response to the lasting, disabling effects and social impacts of chronic otitis media in the Indigenous adult population,” Dr Gannon said.

“We urge our political leaders at all levels of government to take note of this Report Card and be motivated to act to implement solutions.”

The AMA calls on Australian governments to act on three core recommendations:

Recommendation 1:

That a coordinated national strategic response to chronic otitis media be developed by a National Indigenous Hearing Health Taskforce under Indigenous leadership for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). This should build on and incorporate existing national and State and Territory level responses and include:

  •  a critical analysis of current approaches, and to identify the range of reasons that current chronic otitis media crisis persists;
  •  the development of a COAG Closing the Gap target about new cases of chronic otitis media and hearing loss in Indigenous infants and children under 12 years of age;
  •  a national otitis media surveillance program to monitor prevalence and support a targeted and cost-effective national response;
  •  a significantly increased focus on prevention – both primordial prevention with a focus on the social determinants of the disease, and primary prevention including family and community health literacy about otitis media;
  •  a central, adequately funded and supported role for primary health care and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) in a systematic approach to the prevention, detection, treatment, and management of otitis media; and
  •  access to ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists, particularly within ACCHS and other Indigenous-specific primary health care services, based on need

Recommendation 2:

That the national approach proposed in Recommendation 1 include addressing the wider impacts of otitis media-related developmental impacts and hearing loss, including on a range of areas of Indigenous disadvantage such as through the funding of research as required. This includes:

  •  a national approach to supporting Indigenous students with hearing loss that aims to remove disadvantage that they may face in educational settings;
  •  a national approach to developing hearing loss-responsive communication strategies in all government and non-government agencies providing services to Indigenous people including – but not limited to – health, mental health, justice, and employment services; and
  •  exploring the support role of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to Indigenous people with hearing loss

Recommendation 3:

That attention of governments be re-directed to the recommendations of the AMA’s 2015 Indigenous Health Report Card, which called for an integrated approach to reducing Indigenous imprisonment rates by addressing underlying causal health issues (including otitis media and related hearing loss and developmental impacts), with the expectation of appropriate action. The health issues to be addressed include mental health problems, cognitive disabilities, alcohol and drug problems, hearing loss, and developmental impacts associated with otitis media. 3

Part 4 : Background

  •  Indigenous children experience some of the highest rates of chronic suppuratives otitis media (CSOM) in the world.
  •  Chronic otitis media in infancy and childhood can affect Indigenous peoples’ adult health and wellbeing as much as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, and its effects are significant ‘life sentences’ of disability.
  •  Chronic otitis media has life-long impacts that bring greater risk of a range of adult social problems, not the least of which is incarceration. The association of chronic otitis media-related hearing loss and the high rates of Indigenous imprisonment has been noted for over 25 years now – but with little action evident

The AMA Indigenous Health Report Card 2017 – A National Strategic Approach to Ending Chronic Otitis Media and its Life Long Impacts in Indigenous Communities – is at https://ama.com.au/article/2017-ama-report-card-indigenous-health-national-strategic-approach-ending-chronic-otitis

Part 5 Ken Wyatt Speech

I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet – the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people – and pay my respects to their Elders, past and present.

I thank AMA President Dr Michael Gannon and Associate Professor Kelvin Kong of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons for their words, and acknowledge:

  • AMA Secretary-General Anne Trimmer
  • Representatives from the College,
  • the AMA’s Indigenous Health Taskforce,
  •  the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), and Aboriginal medical centre

My Parliamentary colleagues, and distinguished guests.

Report Cards can be daunting, they can be challenging, and they can be inspiring – but above all, they are valuable.

They help provide foundations for informed decision making – something I thoroughly endorse.

And in the case of Indigenous health, they highlight issues that many of the more than 27,000 registered doctors, students and advocates who the AMA represents, deal with every day.

So I commend the AMA on its 2017 Report Card on Indigenous Health – the latest in a series of highly authoritative and respected reports on the crucial issue of Aboriginal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Over the past 15 years, this annual Report Card has highlighted priority issues such as low birth weight babies, institutionalised inequities and racism, government funding, medical workforce, rheumatic heart disease, and best practice in primary care.

I welcome this year’s Report Card, with its focus on ear health and hearing loss, which can have devastating impacts.

Compounding this is the fact that the most common ear afflictions are almost entirely preventable.

For all the wrong reasons, ear disease is highly prevalent in Indigenous children and repeated episodes can lead to hearing loss and deafness, if not treated early.

The impact of this can have lifelong effects on education, employment and wellbeing.

Nowhere have these consequences been more evident than in my home State of Western Australia, where significant numbers of hearing-impaired Aboriginal people have been unable to secure mining boom jobs, despite their best efforts and support from major companies.

While I agree with Dr Gannon that this Report Card can be ‘a catalyst for government action to improve ear health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’, I would like to point out that the Turnbull Government has much work under way aimed at improving Indigenous ear health.

We are resolutely committed to turning this problem around.

The AMA’s Report Card calls for a national, systematic and strategic approach to address chronic otitis media and its impacts in Indigenous communities, and for this approach to be reflected in the Council of Australian Governments Closing the Gap targets.

I note the AMA recommends that any such national response be developed for COAG by a National Indigenous Hearing Health Taskforce, importantly under Indigenous leadership, and that it should build on and incorporate existing national, State and Territory-level responses.

In March, the COAG Health Council agreed to explore the feasibility of such a national approach to reducing the burden of middle ear disease.

The Queensland Department of Health has leadership of this proposal, and plans to take it to the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council next week, when it is scheduled to consider the matter on 8 December.

Alongside this, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport Inquiry into Hearing Health and Wellbeing of Australia is calling for a national strategy to be developed and additional funding provided.

The recommendations of the committee’s report – titled ‘Still waiting to be heard’ – are currently being given detailed consideration by the Turnbull Government, as are the findings of the Department of Health’s independent examination of Commonwealth ear health initiatives.

The AHMAC work and the ‘Still waiting to be heard’ report will inform the way forward on Indigenous ear health.

It’s also pertinent to note a number of other initiatives that will contribute directly to improved ear health.

The Turnbull Government has committed to incorporating a social determinants and cultural determinants of health approach in the next iteration of the five-year Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, due to be released in 2018.

As Dr Gannon has pointed out, ‘social determinants of health contribute to the development of ear disease …. and act as barriers to treatment and prevention.’

The release of the Cultural Respect Framework 2016–2026, which was endorsed by AHMAC early this year, will underpin the delivery of culturally competent health service delivery.

A culturally competent approach by health professionals is critical to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who, like all Australians, have the right to safe, culturally comfortable care of the highest clinical standard.

Further, COAG is currently working to refresh the Closing the Gap targets, including the health targets.

Initiatives like these demonstrate the commitment of good minds and good people to tackling our nation’s most confronting health issue – Indigenous health.

That commitment is also reflected in Commonwealth funding. To improve ear health, a total of $76.4 million, from 2012–13 to 2021–22, is being provided through the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme, and the National Partnership on Northern Territory Remote Aboriginal Investment.

This funding is increasing access to clinical services, including surgery. It is providing equipment, training health professionals and raising awareness of otitis media symptoms and the need for early treatment.

In the past year, this has resulted in around 47,000 patient contacts in more than 300 locations across Australia.

More than 200 surgeries were provided, and over 1000 health professionals received training in 80 locations.

More than 1000 pieces of diagnostic equipment were available across 170 sites; and clinical guidelines were made available nationally.

As well, under the Australian Hearing Specialist Program for Indigenous Australians, the Australian Government provides hearing services in more than 200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia each year to help overcome distance, culture and language barriers.

Successful initiatives, such as Children’s Health Queensland’s Deadly Ears program, are making a difference. Deadly Ears has helped almost halve the rate of Chronic Otitis Media, working at 11 outreach services in rural and remote areas.

So, clearly, there is a large body of work underway at local, State and national levels – but just as clearly, we must continue our focus, build our partnerships and broaden our approach.

While primary care is fundamental to ear health solutions, we must work together with Aboriginal communities to advance other areas of life which impact on health and wellbeing.

The Turnbull Government understands this, and this is the basis for our whole-of-government policies, including housing, education, employment and health service delivery.

We are focussed on what works, so efficient and successful models of care can be shared and replicated.

We are concentrating on grassroots empowerment, to support local responsibility, and in turn, to grow personal commitment.

Finding ear health solutions is a shared responsibility – for all governments, the medical profession, health workers, and parents and their children.

Reducing ear problems is one of my top Indigenous health priorities, and I’m confident we can start to make real gains in this critical area.

While there is undoubtedly a way to go, evidence-based Report Cards like this will help ensure we are on the right track.

The Turnbull Government is listening.

I commend the AMA for its work, and look forward to continuing our shared dedication to better hearing for Indigenous people.

Thank you.

 

 

NACCHO Press Release : Aboriginal Health and #NTRC Download : The NT Govt. must work with #ACCHO’s in true partnership on Royal Commission recommendations

NT RC

The extent of this over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people compared with all other children and young people compels a special Aboriginal led response.

The Northern Territory Government must now sit down with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to work in true partnership on the implementation of the recommendations.”

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHO) have the greatest coverage across the Territory and work with Aboriginal children, young people and families everyday on child protection and youth justice system prevention and early intervention support.”

NACCHO Chief Executive Officer Ms Pat Turner

Download the Report : The Report of the Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory was tabled in Parliament on 17 November 2017.

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) calls on the Northern Territory and Australian Governments to work with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations on the implementation of recommendations of the Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory released today.

It is clear from the report that the current system of detention in the Northern Territory is failing our children and young people, leaving many more damaged than when they entered. The system of detention is punitive, harsh, and not in keeping with modern rehabilitative standards. We also know that the child protection system in the Northern Territory is letting down children and their families and is inextricably linked to youth justice issues.

Aboriginal children and young people living in the Northern Territory are overwhelmingly impacted with ninety four per cent of children and young people in detention being Aboriginal.

Ms Turner called on the Northern Territory Government to show national leadership in responding to the recommendations, “The Northern Territory Government has a unique opportunity to lead the rest of the nation in developing a children and family centered public health approach to youth justice and child protection, responsive to Aboriginal people needs.”

NACCHO acknowledges the young people and their families who shared their stories of trauma and survival and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations that supported them.

“I particularly want to acknowledge the work of Danilla Dilba, led by Ms Olga Haven, in providing evidence based submissions to the Northern Territory Government and the Royal Commission to inform their considerations,” said Ms Turner.

“Danilla Dilba has also provided immense support to families and young people to share their own stories and experiences throughout this time, as well as ongoing health and wellbeing services to Aboriginal people across the top end.”

It is now time for the Northern Territory Government to take full responsibility and lead a change by working with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations on the implementation of the Royal Commission recommendations

Background briefs

Link to briefing documents:

 

Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into protection and detention systems of the Northern Territory has revealed systemic and shocking failures

Fundamental reform is needed to end approaches that continue to fail children, families and the community

The closure of the current Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, a new Children’s Court, implementation of an early intervention family support program and a Commission for Children and Young People are key elements of a comprehensive reform program aimed at restoring the failed detention and child protection systems in the Northern Territory.

Increasing the age of criminal responsibility to 12, closing the High Security Unit at Don Dale, improving the youth justice system including the approach to bail, only allowing children under 14 to be detained for serious offences and new models of secure detention are also proposed.

The Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry has found shocking and systemic failures occurred over many years and were known and ignored at the highest levels.

Children and young people were subjected to regular, repeated and distressing mistreatment in detention and there was a failure to follow the procedures and requirements of the law in many instances.

The detention system failed to comply with basic binding human rights standards in the treatment of children and young people and the Commission has found that children were denied basic needs, such as water, and that isolation continues to be used punitively and inconsistently with the Youth Justice Act (NT).

The child protection system has failed to provide the support needed to some children in care to assist them to avoid pathways likely to lead into the youth justice system, and the Northern Territory Government has failed to comply with the statutory requirements that all children in out of home care have timely care plans.

“The Northern Territory and Commonwealth Governments were right to commission this Inquiry and what we have found vindicates their decision,” said Commissioner Margaret White AO and Commissioner Mick Gooda.

“These things happened on our watch, in our country, to our children.

“The time for tinkering around the edges and ignoring the conclusions of the myriad of inquiries that have already been conducted must come to an end.

“Only fundamental change and decisive action will break the seemingly inevitable cycle we have found of many children in care continuing to progress into the youth justice system and detention.

“Perpetuating a failed system that hardens young people, does not reduce reoffending and fails to rehabilitate young lives and set them on a new course, is a step backwards.

“The failures we have identified have cost children and families greatly, they have not made communities safer and they are shocking.”

In detention, the Commission has found that:

  •  youth detention centres were not fit for accommodating, let alone rehabilitating, children and young people
  •  children were subject to verbal abuse, physical control and humiliation, including being denied access to basic human needs such as water, food and the use of toilets
  •  children were dared or bribed to carry out degrading and humiliating acts, or to commit acts of violence on each other
  •  youth justice officers restrained children using force to their head and neck areas, ground stabilised children by throwing them forcefully onto the ground, and applied pressure or body weight to their ‘window of safety’, being their torso area, and
  •  isolation has continued to be used inappropriately, punitively and inconsistently with the Youth Justice Act (NT) which has caused suffering to many children and young people and, very likely in some cases, lasting psychological damage.

In child protection, the Commission has found that:

  •  the Northern Territory Government has failed to comply with the statutory requirements that all children in out of home care have timely care plans
  •  there is a major shortage of available foster and kinship care placements
  •  Territory Families and its predecessors failed to provide the support needed to some children in care to assist them to avoid pathways likely to lead into the youth justice system, and
  •  the Office of the Children’s Commissioner is under-resourced to perform its full range of statutory functions in relation to the care and protection of vulnerable children in the Northern Territory.

To address the failed child protection, youth justice and detention systems, the Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry have recommended wide ranging reforms including:

1. Closing the current Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and High Security Unit.

2. Raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12 and only allowing children under 14 years to be detained for serious crimes.

3. Developing a 10 year Generational Strategy for Families and Children to address child protection and prevention of harm to children.

4. Establishing a network of Family Support Centres to provide place-based services to families across the Northern Territory.

5. A paradigm shift in youth justice to increase diversion and therapeutic approaches.

6. Developing a new model of bail and secure detention accommodation.

7. Increasing engagement with and involvement of Aboriginal Organisations in child protection, youth justice and detention

“Our recommendations are based on best practice and the proven experience of other jurisdictions that have experienced the same problems. They have taken bold steps and delivered paradigm change that has improved outcomes for children, families and communities.

“We recognise some of what we are proposing marks a profound shift from past practice in the NT. But it is necessary as what has been relied upon to date has and continues to simply fail the entire community.

“Increasing the age of criminal responsibility to 12, making greater use of diversion, ending detention for children under 14 unless there are exceptional circumstances and changing the model of secure detention are the bold but essential actions that must be taken if communities are to be safer and children protected.

“If no action is taken the financial cost to the Northern Territory will remain unsustainable in the short term, with detention costs rising from $37.3 million in 2016-17 to $113.4 million in 2026-27, according to Deloitte Access Economics.

“Conversely, changing the current approach to youth justice and detention as we recommend is estimated conservatively to deliver savings of $335.5 million by 2027.

“Human costs dwarf financial considerations and if no action is taken these will continue to escalate beyond the already unacceptable levels that are seen in the Northern Territory.

“The tragic conclusion we have drawn is that not only have the systems failed to address challenges faced by children and young people, that have in some cases made the problems worse.

“We now hope that both governments commit to a new course for child protection and detention based on our recommendations and the evidence that supports them,” said Commissioner White and Commissioner Gooda.

1. Key Detention recommendations in summary

The Northern Territory Government close the current Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and within three months report on the program for that closure.

  • Immediately close the High Security Unit at the current Don Dale Youth Detention Centre.
  • Prohibit the use of tear gas, and continue to prohibit the use of spithoods and the restraint chair.
  • Prohibit force or restraint being used for the purposes of maintaining the ‘good order’ of a youth detention centre or to ‘discipline’ a detainee.
  • Prohibit isolation for the purposes of behaviour management or punishment, and that isolation be permitted only in certain circumstances, such as to protect the safety of another person or restore order but only after all reasonable behavioural or therapeutic options have been attempted.
  • Prohibit extendable periods in isolation beyond 24 hours.
  • Investigate alternatives to strip searches, such as body scanners, pat down searches or metal detectors.
  • Retain CCTV footage for at least 12 months.
  • Introduce video and sound recording, in the form of body-worn video cameras, in youth detention centres.
  • No child under the age of 14 years be ordered to serve detention unless they have been convicted of a serious and violent crime against a person, present a serious risk to the community, and the sentence is approved by the President of the proposed Children’s Court.
  • The powers of the Commission for Children and Young People to be expanded to allow free and unfettered access to detention facilities, children and young people in detention, people who work with them and documents and records in the possession of the department.
  • Ensure that an initial health risk assessment of any young person in detention take place within 24 hours of admission.
  • Implement monthly medical checks for those in secure detention and provide specialist drug and alcohol treatment to detainees after release if needed.
  • The Commonwealth enable the payment of Medicare benefits for medical services provided to children and young people in detention in the Northern Territory, and ensure that supply of pharmaceuticals to children and young people in detention in the Northern Territory is provided under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
  • Design, develop and construct a new model of secure accommodation.
  • Ensure that the selection criteria for a youth justice officer include demonstrated experience working with vulnerable young people, that youth justice officers be required to obtain a Certificate IV in Youth Justice in the first 12 months of their employment, and they be required to participate in induction training before commencing work in youth detention centres.
  • Develop an integrated, evidence-based throughcare service to deliver adequate planning for release of young people from detention.
  • Appoint a female youth justice officer in each youth detention centre as a ‘Girl’s Officer’, who is responsible for monitoring female detainees’ access to education, training, recreation, health and facilities.
  • Ensure that staff members working in education in youth detention are appropriately qualified to conduct special education.
  • Tutors proficient in major Aboriginal languages deliver at least once a week a literacy program in Aboriginal language.
  • Transfers over long distances to or between detention centres should be conducted by air transport. If transfers occur by road, sufficient breaks (including toilet breaks) should be given and drinking water must always be available to the detainee.
  • Only transfer detainees to an adult facility with the approval of a Judge.

2: Key Child Protection recommendations in summary

The Northern Territory Government:

o commit to a public health approach to child protection and the prevention of harm to children

o establish consultation procedures with the sector, organisations and communities

o carry out prevalence, needs, service mapping and service referral studies (the studies) to gather information about the needs of children, families and subpopulations, and what services are currently available to meet those needs

o create and maintain a Services Register containing information about the services available in communities

o establish an early support research unit, which would implement a research agenda relating to risk factors, service needs and evaluated outcomes, and

o develop and implement an outcomes and evaluation framework.

Develop a 10-year Generational Strategy for Children and Families.

Establish a network of no fewer than 20 Family Support Centres, their location to be based on information gathered in the studies and specified in the Generational Strategy for Children and Families, to:

o provide services to and support families and children

o help families understand the child protection system

o act as Recognised Entities, and

o act as an entry point in a dual pathway model.

Amend legislation to enable organisations that are qualified and meet relevant criteria to participate and advise in child protection matters and be heard relation to a proceeding about a child.

Only use residential care as a therapeutic placement option for children with complex behavioural needs or disabilities, in accordance with therapeutic care criteria.

Phase out the current model of purchased home-based care over a 24 month period.

Develop a strategy to address the current backlog of overdue investigations.

Develop and implement a campaign in conjunction with Foster Carers Association NT, current carers and other relevant organisations to recognise the contribution of existing foster and kinship carers, draw attention to the current shortage of carers and encourage people in the Northern Territory, particularly in remote areas, to apply to become carers

Review the financial support provided to carers in the Northern Territory.

Work with Aboriginal organisations to implement a joint program dedicated to increasing the number of Aboriginal foster and kinship carers, using community awareness and individualised community engagement.

Ensure that quality respite care is available to foster and kinship carers.

Improve access for children and young people in out of home care to effective rehabilitation and counselling services including the prevention and treatment of substance abuse.

Ensure that all young people between aged 15 and 18 have leaving care plans in compliance with the relevant legislation.

Develop a new accommodation service model which meets the specific needs of young people leaving out of home care to live independently. The service should be responsible for finding and securing acceptable accommodation for all young people who have left care and be available to those young people until they are 25 years old.

Undertake further research in the Northern Territory to understand the characteristics and needs of children and young people who have been in both out of home care and detention.

Ensure that child protection caseworkers

o have regular face-to-face contact with any child in detention who is also under care and protection orders

o monitor the wellbeing of children in detention and ensure that their needs are being met, and

o be involved in transition planning for a child in detention from the time of their entry into detention, in consultation with detention staff, key stakeholders and the child.

Establish a Crossover Unit employing specialised case managers employing with training in supporting children in child protection and youth detention contexts, who are to provide flexible and dynamic support personalised to children in the crossover group who experience both out of home care and detention.

Establish a Commission for Children and Young People, with jurisdiction for all children and young people in the Northern Territory.

3. Key youth justice recommendations in summary

Raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years.

Within the police, establish a specialist, highly trained Youth Division similar to New Zealand Police Youth Aid.

Expand the role of Aboriginal Community Police Officer to include the position of Youth Diversion Officer.

Ensure all police officers involved in youth diversion or youth engagement be encouraged to hold or gain specialist qualifications in youth justice and receive ongoing professional development in youth justice.

Amend the law so that a child or young person must not be interviewed by police until they have sought and obtained legal advice and assistance, or after exercising their right to silence.

Amend legislation to remove the restriction on police consideration of diversion.

Ensure that all police cells are made suitable for detaining children.

Ensure that appropriate facilities are available in Alice Springs for girls or young women who need to be held on remand.

Introduce a custody notification scheme requiring police to notify a lawyer from an appropriate legal service as soon as a child or young person is brought into custody.

Amend the bail legislation so that a child or young person is not denied bail unless:

(a) charged with a serious offence and a sentence of detention is probable if convicted

(b) they present a serious risk to public safety

(c) there is a serious risk of the youth committing a serious offence while on bail, or

(d) they have previously failed to appear without a reasonable excuse.

Provide bail support services for children and young people in Darwin, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine and Nhulunbuy, together with other such locations as are appropriate, which include the following features:

o accommodation services in small homelike residences, and

o bail support plans developed with a specialist youth worker, covering education, employment, recreation and sporting goals.

Establish a separate court venue in Alice Springs for proceedings under the Youth Justice Act (NT) and Care and Protection of Children Act (NT) as a matter of urgency.

Establish a Children’s Court, which is independent of the Local Court, to hear and determine matters currently within the jurisdiction of the Youth Justice Court and the Family Matters Division of the Local Court.

The new Children’s court will have a President appointed by the Executive Council and who has extra judicial powers and functions modelled on those conferred on the President of the Children’s Court in NSW.

Ensure that all legal practitioners appearing in a youth court be accredited as specialist youth justice lawyers after training in youth justice which includes child and adolescent development, trauma, adolescent mental health, cognitive and communication deficits and Aboriginal cultural competence.