NACCHO Aboriginal Community Control and #Justice Health : @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills full speech at the @_PHAA_   #JusticeHealth2019 Conference #ClosingtheGap #justicereinvestment

” Given ACCHOs commitment to providing services based on community identified needs, it is not surprising, then, to learn that we are starting to address justice inequities by developing innovative partnerships with legal services.

Health justice partnerships are similar to justice reinvestment in that they target disadvantaged population groups and are community led. They differ in that funding is not explicitly linked to correctional budgets and secondly, the primary population groups targeted through these partnerships are those people at risk of poor health.[i]

Health justice partnerships in the ACCHO context address people’s fears and distrust about the justice system, by providing a culturally safe setting in which to have conversations about legal matters.

I believe that the development of collaborative, integrated service models such as Law Yarn can provide innovative and effective solutions for addressing not only the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the justice system, but also the health gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Selected extracts from Donnella Mills Acting Chair of NACCHO keynote speaker 9 April 

See PHAA #JusticeHealth2019 Website

Aboriginal community control and justice health

A justice target has been proposed to focus government efforts towards closing the gap on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ overrepresentation in the justice system.

Discussion of the role of community leadership to address this serious issue must begin with a commitment to self-determination, community control, cultural safety and a holistic response. Aboriginal community controlled health services understand the interplays between intergenerational trauma, the social determinants of health, family violence, institutional racism and contact with the justice system.

As trusted providers within their communities, they deliver services based on community identified needs.

The presentation explores how the principles, values and beliefs underpinning the Aboriginal community controlled health service model provide the foundations for preventing and reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ exposure to the justice system

I would like to acknowledge that the land we meet on today is the traditional lands for the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and that we respect their spiritual relationship with their Country.

I also acknowledge the Gadigal people as the traditional custodians of this place we now call Sydney. Their cultural and heritage beliefs are still as important to the living Gadigal people today.

This is also true for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that are here this morning. We draw on the strength of our lands, our Elders past and on the lived experience of our community members.

For those who don’t know me, I am a proud Torres Strait Islander woman with ancestral and family links to Masig and Nagir.

I thank the Public Health Association of Australia for welcoming me here so warmly. I am delighted to be here today to share ideas with you on a topic that I care so deeply about.

Scene setting

Some of you may be aware that, late last month, a Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap was signed between the Council of Australian Governments and the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Bodies.

The agreement sets out how governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives will work together on targets, implementation and monitoring arrangements for the Close the Gap strategy.

NACCHO and almost 40 other peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bodies negotiated the terms and conditions of this historic agreement on the understanding that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are included and have a real say in the design and delivery of services that impact on them, the outcomes are far better. This understanding informs the premise of my presentation.

I am here to talk to you about how the principles, values and beliefs underpinning the Aboriginal community controlled service model provide the foundations for preventing and reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ exposure to the justice system.

But first, a little bit about NACCHO, for those of you who are unfamiliar with our work.

NACCHO, which stands for the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, is the national peak body representing 145 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations – ACCHOs – across the country, on Aboriginal health and wellbeing issues.

Our members provide about three million episodes of holistic primary health care per year for about 350,000 people.

In very remote areas, our services provide about one million episodes of care in a twelve-month period. Collectively, we employ about 6,000 staff (56 per cent whom are Indigenous), which makes us the single largest employer of Indigenous people in the country.

SLIDE 2: Rates of representation in prisons and youth detention facilities

It is timely to come together and consider justice health issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It is likely that, for the first time, a justice target may be included in the Close the Gap Refresh strategy.

I am heartened to know that, for the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies will guide the finalisation of targets and oversee the strategy’s implementation, monitoring and evaluation. I am hopeful that, for the first time, we can begin to address the issues and see some improvements.

All of you hear today will have read and heard the shocking statistics, the increasing rates of incarceration among Indigenous Australians.

Last month it was reported that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are imprisoned at a rate 14.7 times greater than non-Indigenous men, and for women the rate is even higher, 21.2 times higher than non-Indigenous women.[ii]

Our women represent the fastest growing population group in prisons; their imprisonment rate is up 148% since 1991.[iii]

Imprisoning women affects the whole community. Children may be removed and placed in out-of-home care. Research has found there are links between detainees’ children being placed into out-of-home care and their subsequent progression into youth detention centres and adult correctional facilities.[iv] Communities suffer, and the cycle of intergenerational trauma and disadvantage is perpetuated.

Figures on the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in detention facilities reveal alarmingly high trends of overrepresentation:

  • On an average night in the June quarter 2018, nearly 59% of young people aged 10–17 in detention were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, despite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people making up only 5% of the general population aged 10–17.
  • Indigenous young people aged 10–17 were 26 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people to be in detention on an average night.[v]

A concerning factor is the link between disability and imprisonment. A Senate Inquiry found that about 98% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners also have a cognitive disability.[vi]

People living with physical disabilities such as hearing loss, and people with undiagnosed cognitive or psycho-social disabilities may struggle to negotiate the justice system and their symptoms are likely to be correlated with their offending behaviours, and receive punitive responses rather than treatment and care.

SLIDE 3: Overrepresentation – causal factors

Our experiences of incarceration are not only dehumanising. They contribute to our ongoing disempowerment, intergenerational trauma, social disadvantage, and burden of disease at an individual as well as community level. Indeed, ‘imprisonment compounds individual and community disadvantage.’[vii]

The question – why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are overrepresented in prisons – is complex. It can partly be explained by exploring how structural, geographic, historic, social and cultural factors intersect and impact individuals’ lives.

While people have some agency in how they respond to the circumstances they are born into, they are also constrained by many generations’ experiences of marginalisation, discrimination, poverty and disadvantage. This is particularly relevant and disturbing when one considers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences in navigating the justice system.[viii]

Issues of access and equity also disadvantage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in their dealings with the justice system. Some of these may relate to their geographical location – remote and very remote regions have limited legal services. Given the limited service infrastructure available in remote settings, geography also determines people’s access to community based options.

Some of the other barriers faced by our people relate to the lack of language interpreters and inappropriate modes and technologies of communication. People have different levels of English language literacy and IT capacities. These factors can result in peoples’ experiences of structural discrimination in the justice system and result in miscarriages of justice.[ix]

We have heard of the over-policing of Indigenous Australians and how this impacts on their exposure to the justice system. In his submission to the Senate Inquiry into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences of law enforcement and justice services, Chief Justice Martin referred to ‘systemic discrimination’ through over-policing:

Aboriginal people are much more likely to be questioned by police than non-Aboriginal people. When questioned they are more likely to be arrested rather than proceeded against by summons. If they are arrested, Aboriginal people are much more likely to be remanded in custody than given bail. Aboriginal people are much more likely to plead guilty than go to trial, and if they go to trial, they are much more likely to be convicted. If Aboriginal people are convicted, they are much more likely to be imprisoned … and at the end of their term of imprisonment they are much less likely to get parole … So at every single step in the criminal justice process, Aboriginal people fare worse than non-Aboriginal people.[x]

There are other contributing factors that explain the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system. The inadequate resourcing of Aboriginal community controlled legal services plays a major role in the growing level of unmet need in communities.[xi] As noted by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don’t just need access to more legal services; they need greater access to culturally appropriate legal services. … Cultural competency is essential for effective engagement, communication, delivery of services and the attainment of successful outcomes.[xii]

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences of institutional racism and discrimination, the trauma caused to members of the Stolen Generations and entire families and communities, which continues today with increasing numbers of children being placed in out-of-home care, contribute to the distrust, fear and unwillingness of many people to engage with legal services.

The Senate Inquiry into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences of law enforcement and justice services heard that ‘for Aboriginal people in particular, there is this historical fear of about walking into a legal centre’.[xiii]

Governments’ inertia and lack of commitment to genuinely addressing the issues have contributed to a worsening situation. The National Indigenous Law and Justice Framework 2009-2015 was never funded, attracted no buy in from state and territory governments, and the review findings of the Framework were never made public.

SLIDE 4: Justice reinvestment

Increasing funding for the corrective service sector will not and does not address the issue of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ exposure to the justice system. As Allison and Cunneen note, ‘the solutions to offending are found within communities, not prisons.’[xiv] They are referring to justice reinvestment, a strategy and an approach, whereby correctional funds – a portion of money for prisons – are diverted back into disadvantaged communities.

The concept of justice reinvestment centres on the belief that imprisoning people does not address the causal factors that give rise to their exposure to the justice system. Ignoring the causal factors leads not only to recidivism and repeat incarceration, it also reproduces intergenerational cycles of disadvantage and exposure to the justice system.

Reinvesting the money into community identified and led solutions not only addresses causation; it also strengthens communities. Depending on the project, justice reinvestment may not only help to reduce people’s exposure to the justice system; it may also improve education, health, and employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Allison and Cunneen’s analysis of justice reinvestment projects in Northern Australia shows how the underpinning principles of this approach reaffirm self-determination and strengthen cultural authority and identity. Justice reinvestment projects address the driving factors of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ interactions with the justice system: their historical experiences of colonisation, discrimination, dispossession and disempowerment.[xv]

It is encouraging to note that in its 2016 report of the inquiry into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experience of law enforcement and justice services, the Finance and Public Administration References Committee recommended that the Commonwealth Government support Aboriginal led justice reinvestment projects.[xvi] In December 2017, the Australian Law Reform Commission recommended that Commonwealth, state and territory governments should provide support for:

  • the establishment of an independent justice reinvestment body; and
  • justice reinvestment trials initiated in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.[xvii]

SLIDE 5: Closing the gap on justice outcomes: best practice approach

Emerging out of these inquiries is a growing understanding that closing the gap on justice outcomes must begin with a commitment to self-determination, community control, cultural safety and a holistic response.

Appropriately resourced, culturally safe, community controlled services are essential for addressing these barriers. Best practice approaches for developing solutions to preventable problems of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ exposure to the justice system must begin with enabling their access to trusted services that are governed by principles and practices of self-determination, community control, cultural safety and a holistic response.[xviii]

NACCHO’s member services – the ACCHOs – embody these principles. The cultural safety in which ACCHOs’ services are delivered is a key factor in their success. They provide comprehensive primary care consistent with clients’ needs.

This includes home and site visits; provision of medical, public health and health promotion services; allied health, nursing services; assistance with making appointments and transport; help accessing child care or dealing with the justice system; drug and alcohol services; and providing help with income support.

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health model of care recognises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples require a greater level of holistic care due to the trauma and dispossession of colonisation, dispossession and discrimination, which are linked to our poor health outcomes and over-representation in prisons.

ACCHOs understand the interplays between intergenerational trauma, the social determinants of health, family violence, and institutional racism, and the risks these contributing factors carry in increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ exposure to the criminal justice system. We understand the importance of comprehensive health services that are trauma informed; and providing at risk families with early support. Within the principles, values and beliefs of the Aboriginal community controlled service model lie the groundwork for our communities’ better health outcomes.

SLIDE 6: Health justice partnerships

Given ACCHOs commitment to providing services based on community identified needs, it is not surprising, then, to learn that we are starting to address justice inequities by developing innovative partnerships with legal services.

Health justice partnerships are similar to justice reinvestment in that they target disadvantaged population groups and are community led. They differ in that funding is not explicitly linked to correctional budgets and secondly, the primary population groups targeted through these partnerships are those people at risk of poor health.[xix]

Health justice partnerships in the ACCHO context address people’s fears and distrust about the justice system, by providing a culturally safe setting in which to have conversations about legal matters.

In testimony given to a Senate Inquiry, an ACCHO representative describes how:

We form relationships with the health services and actually provide a legal service, for example, within the Aboriginal medical service. We have a lawyer embedded in the Aboriginal medical service in Mount Druitt so that when the doctor sees the person and they mention they have a housing issue – ‘I’m about to get kicked out of my place’ – they can say, ‘Go and see the lawyer that is in the office next door.’[xx]

ACCHOs are increasingly recognising the benefits of working with legal services to develop options that enable services to be delivered seamlessly, safely, and appropriately for their communities. Lawyers may be trained to work as part of a health care team or alternatively, health care workers may be upskilled to start a non-threatening, informal conversation about legal matters with the clients, which results in referrals to pro bono legal services.

 Case study: Law Yarn

As a lawyer and Chair of the Cairns-based Wuchopperen Health Service, I was aware of the need to provide better legal supports for my community. In conversations with local Elders and LawRight, Wuchopperen entered into a justice health partnership in 2016. LawRight is an independent, not-for-profit, community-based legal organisation which coordinates the provision of pro bono legal services for individuals and community groups.

The aim of the partnership was to improve health outcomes by enhancing access to legal rights and early intervention. Initially, it was decided that, as community member and lawyer employed by LawRight, I would provide the free legal services at Wuchopperen’s premises.

One of the challenges of justice health partnerships is ongoing funding, and in 2017 we were forced to close our doors for several months. We knew the partnership was addressing a real need in our community, so we submitted a funding proposal to the Queensland Government, and received funding of $55,000 to trial ‘Law Yarn’.

Law Yarn is a unique resource that supports good health outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It helps health workers to yarn with members of remote and urban communities about their legal problems and connect them to legal help. A handy how-to guide includes conversation prompts and advice on how to capture the person’s family, financial, tenancy or criminal law legal needs as well as discussing and recording their progress.

Representatives from LawRight, Wuchopperen Health Service, Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service and the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Legal Services came together and created a range of culturally safe resources based on LawRight’s successful Legal Health Check resources.

SLIDE 8: Law Yarn – your law story

SLIDE 9: Four aspects of Law

These symbols have been created to help identify and represent the four aspects of law that have been identified as the most concerning for individuals when presenting with any legal issues. If these four aspects can be discussed, both the Health worker and Lawyer can establish what the individual concerns are and effectively action a response.

Each symbol is surrounded by a series of 10 dots; these dots can be coloured in on both the artwork and the referral form by the Health worker to help establish what areas of law their clients have concerns with.

SLIDE 11: Launch of Law Yarn

Law Yarn was officially launched at Wuchopperen Health Service, Cairns, on 30 May 2018 by the Queensland Attorney General as a Reconciliation Week Event.

The trial has been funded to 30 June 2019 and will be comprehensively evaluated by independent academic researchers who specialise in this field.

Legal and health services throughout Australia have expressed interest in this holistic approach to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. And we are hopeful that the evaluation findings will support the rollout of our model to ACCHOs across Australia.

In conclusion, I believe that the development of collaborative, integrated service models such as Law Yarn can provide innovative and effective solutions for addressing not only the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the justice system, but also the health gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Address the legal problems, and you will have better health outcomes. Justice health partnerships provide a model of integrated service delivery that go to the heart of the social determinants of health, key causal factors contributing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ over-exposure to the justice system.[xxi] With Aboriginal community control at the front and centre of service design, these partnerships are able to deliver both preventive law and preventive health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

SLIDE 12: Thank you

[i] Health Justice Australia. 2017. Integrating services; partnering with community. Submission to national consultation on Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.

[ii] https://www.lawcouncil.asn.au/media/media-releases/recommendations-to-reduce-disproportionate-indigenous-incarceration-must-not-be-ignored

[iii] Law Council of Australia. 2018. The Justice Project, Final Report – Part 1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

[iv]. Law Council of Australia. 2018. The Justice Project, Final Report – Part 1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

[v] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2018. Youth detention population in Australia. AIHW Bulletin 145.

[vi] Ibid., 2010 Senate Inquiry into hearing health in Australia.

[vii] Australian Human Rights Commission. 2009. Social Justice Report, pp. 53-54, cited in Finance and Public Administration References Committee. 2016. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experience of law enforcement and justice services. The Senate: Australian Parliament House.

[viii] Law Council of Australia. 2018. The Justice Project, Final Report – Part 1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

[ix] Finance and Public Administration References Committee. 2016. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experience of law enforcement and justice services. The Senate: Australian Parliament House; Law Council of Australia. 2018.

[x] Finance and Public Administration References Committee. 2016. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experience of law enforcement and justice services. The Senate: Australian Parliament House. Testimony from Chief Justice Martin.

[xi] Finance and Public Administration References Committee. 2016. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experience of law enforcement and justice services. The Senate: Australian Parliament House; Law Council of Australia. 2018. The Justice Project, Final Report – Part 1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

[xii] National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service, Submission No. 109 to ALRC, 60, cited in Law Council of Australia. 2018. The Justice Project, Final Report – Part 1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

[xiii] Finance and Public Administration References Committee. 2016. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experience of law enforcement and justice services. The Senate: Australian Parliament House, p. 31. Testimony from Ms Porteous, NACLC, Committee Hansard, 23 September 2015, p. 28.

[xiv] Allison, Fiona and Chris Cunneen. 2018. Justice Reinvestment in Northern Australia. The Cairns Institute Policy Paper Series, p. 5.

[xv] Allison, Fiona and Chris Cunneen. 2018. Justice Reinvestment in Northern Australia. The Cairns Institute Policy Paper Series, p. 8.

[xvi] Finance and Public Administration References Committee. 2016. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experience of law enforcement and justice services. The Senate: Australian Parliament House.

[xvii] Australian Law Reform Commission. 2017. Pathways to Justice—An Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Final Report No 133, p. 17.

[xviii] Thorburn, Kathryn and Melissa Marshall. 2017. The Yiriman Project in the West Kimberley: an example of justice reinvestment? Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse, Current Initiatives Paper 5; McCausland, Ruth, Elizabeth McEntyre, Eileen Baldry. 2017. Indigenous People, Mental Health, Cognitive Disability and the Criminal Justice System. Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse. Brief 22; AMA Report Card on Indigenous Health 2015. Treating the high rates of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as a symptom of the health gap: an integrated approach to both; Richards, Kelly, Lisa Rosevear and Robyn Gilbert. 2011. Promising interventions for reducing Indigenous juvenile offending Ibid. Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse, Brief 10.

[xix] Health Justice Australia. 2017. Integrating services; partnering with community. Submission to national consultation on Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.

[xx] Finance and Public Administration References Committee. 2016. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experience of law enforcement and justice services. The Senate: Australian Parliament House, p. 31. Testimony from Ms Hitter, Legal Aid NSW, Committee Hansard, 23 September 2015, p.28

[xxi] Ibid., p. 4; Chris Speldewinde and Ian Parsons. 2015. Medical-legal partnerships: connecting services for people living with mental health concerns. 13th National Rural Health Conference, Darwin; Barry Zuckerman, Megan Sandel, Ellen Lawton, Samantha Morton. Medical-legal partnerships: transforming health care. 2008. The Lancet, Vol 372.

Aboriginal Health #Budget2019 2 of 5 CEO Pat Turner NACCHO Press Release and @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills #NACCHOTV Interview : Funding for #IndigenousHealth Absent from Federal Budget

This weeks NACCHO Budget Coverage 

Post 1: NACCHO Intro #AusVotesHealth #Budget2019

Post 2: NACCHO Chair Press Release

Post 3:  Health Peak bodies Press Release summary

Post 4 : Government Press Releases

Post 5 : Opposition responses to Budget 2019 

Read all Budget 2019 Posts 

Part 1 Acting Acting Chair Donnella Mills discusses #Budget2019

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is disappointed at the lack of funding allocated in the 2019-2020 federal budget for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector. 

The gap between the health outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians will continue to persist unless there is a significant commitment to supporting the work of Aboriginal community controlled health organisations,

NACCHO has long called for an increase to the baseline funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to support the sustainable delivery of high quality, comprehensive primary health care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. 

We know that closing the gap will never be achieved until primary health care services are properly funded and our clinics have good infrastructure and are fit for purpose; until our people are living in safe and secure housing; until there are culturally safe and trusted early intervention services available for our children and their families; and until our psychological, social, emotional and spiritual needs are acknowledged and supported.

The physical and mental health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities needs to be a priority for the Australian government. Our communities suffer disproportionately higher rates of suicide, cancer, kidney disease and obesity compared to non-Indigenous Australians,”

We are disappointed that the Federal funding commitment does not match this critical need,” she said.

We call on the all political parties to put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and full funding of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector at the heart of their election commitments. ” 

Pat Turner CEO NACCHO

Read and or DOWNLOAD Full NACCHO Budget Press Release Here

NACCHO Aboriginal #AusVotesHealth and #Budget2019 1 of 5 : @nakarithorpe @NITV Reports  : A cash splash but what’s in it for Indigenous mob like @NACCHOChair @LowitjaInstitut @congressmob @NATSILS_ @NationalFVPLS?

This weeks NACCHO #Budget2019 Coverage

Post 1: NITV Indigenous mob #AusVotesHealth #Budget2019

Post 2: NACCHO Chair Press Release

Post 3:  Health peak bodies Press Release summary

Post 4 : Government Press Releases

Post 5 : Opposition responses to Budget 2019

“The treasurer kept on about how we are geared towards surplus. We need to focus on the most vulnerable and marginalised in our community, but this budget does nothing for my mob.

I don’t need another reminder that colonisation is still living. I don’t need to be reminded of that; we see it every day. I need to be reminded of the Uluru statement from the heart.

It just shows we have a long way to travel toward real equity and real social justice outcomes.”

Chair of NACCHO (the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation) Donnella Mills told the Guardian ( and expressed frustration)  that there’s $12m in the budget for a Captain Cook memorial, but only $15m to address Indigenous youth suicide :

See full NACCHO Press Release and NACCHO TV interviews to be posted later this morning

Post 1: NITV Indigenous mob #AusVotesHealth #Budget2019 Nakita Thorpe NITV

 

For more discussion of Budget 2019, watch NITV’s The Point, 8.30pm tonight on Channel 34.

Originally published Here

Federal treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has handed down his first budget and has described it as being “back in the black” with a budget surplus of $7.1 billion expected to be delivered next financial year, but the treasurer acknowledged “serious challenges” lay ahead.

“The global economy is slowing. Communities are feeling the impacts of flood, fire and drought. Families face cost of living pressures. And every one of us wants to see wages growing faster. But let me be clear: the answer to these challenges is not higher taxes,” he said.

The 2019 Budget sees further tax relief for low to middle-income earners. It also includes a record $100 billion National Infrastructure Plan and a $525 million skills package which the treasurer said will create 80,000 apprenticeships.

However, despite the Coalition’s rhetoric about a “stronger economy”, spending on Indigenous programs and services was lacklustre, with specific expenditure buried deep in the budget papers.

The government said it will invest $160 million for Indigenous health, with $10 million going to the Lowitja Institute, the national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research.

Ms Janine Mohamed, interim CEO fro the institute welcomed the investment and thanked Ken Wyatt, the minister for Indigenous Health.

“The new funding will ensure that the Lowitja Institute continues to deliver public value of more than $3 per every $1 invested, and will enable us to remain as a key component of the national research architecture,” she said.

$35 million will go toward funding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-specific solutions to family violence.

$5 million over four years will also go toward implementing Indigenous suicide prevention, to be led by young Indigenous leaders.

A further $4.5 million will be for Indigenous leadership to create a national plan for culturally appropriate care, and $3 million for a centre of excellence in childhood wellness.

Chief executive of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINAM), Melanie Robinson, said she was disappointed about the lack of expenditure in youth suicide.

“As we know there is a massive issue going on in our communities around suicide and lots of our young people are struggling,” she told NITV. “I thought there would have been more of a commitment … in that space.”

An additional $60 million will be spent upgrading roads in the Tiwi Islands, as part of a $492.3 million Roads of Strategic Importance to the Northern Territory, which was provided for in last year’s federal budget.

The government will also put $276.5 million over five years into supporting Indigenous students as part of its  Closing the Gap refresh. A further $5 million will go to promote school attendance in remote communities.

Another $70.6 million will cover the cost of extinguishing Higher Education Loan Program (Help) debts for teachers after they undertake a four-year placement in very remote locations, as announced in February.

An increase of less than $20 million has gone towards legal assistance, prompting the Law Council of Australia to label the allocation “abysmal”. They say the figure falls well short of the additional $310 million per year needed to provide adequate access to legal justice.

“The Budget may be in surplus but Australia will remain in a significant justice deficit so long as the government fails to deliver adequate funding for Legal Aid Commissions (LACs), Community Legal Centres (CLCs), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) and Family Violence Prevention Legal Services,” said Arthur Moses, the president of the Law Council of Australia.

Mr Moses did however acknowledge that reversing proposed cuts and providing additional funding of $16.7 million over three years for ATSILS was welcome, saying the decision to dissolve the Indigenous Legal Assistance Program and roll funding for ATSILS into a single funding mechanism could threaten the independence of those services.

“ATSILS provides specialised and culturally appropriate legal services for some of the most marginalised people in our community,” he said. “They need to maintain independence to effectively continue their vital work.”

National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Co-Chair, Dr Jackie Huggins, said it was still too early to know the “actual detail” of the impact of the budget on funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and interests.

There are some glimmers of hope, said Ms Huggins, particularly around the Royal Commission into the abuse and neglect of people with a disability, women’s safety and health initiatives and education, but she said Congress still had questions.

“No progress has been made on the economic empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” she said.

Ivan Simon, co-chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Authority, said he was sad and disappointed about the lack of remote housing commitment.

“I didn’t see much in there. I guess the devil is in the detail,” he told NITV News.

Mr Simon said he was concerned about how Indigenous housing service providers will be involved in the rollout of a $315 million social bond into mainstream community housing.

“We find it very difficult to play in that mainstream system,” he said.

Finance Minister Matthias Cormann told NITV News his government considered Indigenous Australians a priority.

“From Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison, it’s been a very strong personal priority of three prime ministers, and of course it’s a priority for Nigel Scullion… We are strongly committed to Closing the Gap and there is increased funding right across the board,” he said.

  • For more discussion of Budget 2019, watch NITV’s The Point, 8.30pm tonight on Channel 34.

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ClosingtheGap “ @NITV ‘The buck will stop with us’: As representatives of 40 Indigenous peak groups meet with #COAG in historic #ClosingtheGap partnership

“ It’s the first time ever that COAG has Aboriginal people as equal partners at the table negotiating how we work over the next decade to Close the Gap for our people

We’re at a crossroads, and we’ve decided to take up our rightful role.

I want our people living in safe, secure housing. I want them to have access to community-controlled health services no matter where they live. I want our people to have the best access to all education services, and I want our people to generally have the same opportunities as other Australians,” Ms Turner said.

I want our people to have full-time jobs. We’ve got to scrap the negative issues that we have deal with every day. We have to take a strengths-based approach and we have to make sure that we are getting our people out of poverty.”

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO  Pat Turner.

 See NACCHO Press Release and CTG Agreement Here

“If we’re stepping up to this level than we have to take on the responsibility and be prepared to work extensively to achieve the outcomes we’re all aspiring to, and if there are changes along the way, then so be it. The buck will stop with us.”

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory chief executive, John Paterson, said the agreement also means Indigenous groups are just as accountable as governments.

“ Labor welcomes the Closing the Gap Partnership Agreement announced by the Coalition Government and the Coalition of Peaks, made up of some 40 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander national and state /territory peaks and other organisations across Australia.

A formal agreement with First Nations organisations and providers to work together to Close the Gap is long overdue.

This announcement comes after years of delay, dysfunction and poor communication due to the failure in leadership of this government. It has been two years since the government announced a ‘refresh’ of the Close the Gap”

For Labor Party response /support see Full Press Release attached

Labor Party CTG Press Release

Representatives of around 40 Indigenous peak bodies, making up a ‘coalition of peaks’ will co-chair a new joint council alongside ministers. Picture Brisbane Yesterday

The Council of Australian Governments has unveiled an historic partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, as they look to refresh the Closing the Gap strategy and turn around a decade of disappointing results.

Our thanks to NITV for this excellent coverage Nakari Thorpe

Original article 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups have sat down with state, territory and Commonwealth ministers, for the first time, to work on Closing the Gap.

Under a ten-year agreement, Indigenous peak bodies will share ownership and accountability to deliver real, substantive change for Indigenous Australians.

The partnership marks an historic turning point for the Closing the Gap strategy, which for the past eleven years has seen dismal results in delivering better outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

Last year, just two of the seven targets were on track to being met.

Representatives of around 40 Indigenous peak bodies, making up a ‘coalition of peaks’ will co-chair a new joint council alongside ministers.

Ms Turner and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion co-convened the first meeting in Brisbane on Wednesday.

The Morrison government is committing $4.6million over three years to fund the coalition’s secretariat work, and additional funding is expected in next Tuesday’s budget for the Closing the Gap refresh framework.

But Ms Turner warns the new coalition is not a substitute for an ‘Indigenous voice to the parliament.’

“Our focus is on the Close the Gap. We in no way are the ‘voice’ – that is a process that still has to be settled by the incoming government at the federal level,” she said.

The framework will undergo Indigenous-led evaluations every three years.

Details of new targets are expected to be revealed in mid-2019 but Indigenous groups have already flagged key areas of concern.

“We’ve got too many people in juvenile justice, we’ve got too many children being removed from their families, we’ve got so much family violence, drug and alcohol abuse.

And all those issues, this Closing the Gap can do something about,” said Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation chief executive, Muriel Bamblett.

Ms Bamblett told NITV she hopes the new agreement will bring about real outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the ground.

“We’re tired of going to the table and saying this is wrong … We know we’ve got the answers.”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ClosingTheGap Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces new #ClosingtheGap Partnership Agreement 2019-2029 with 40 Indigenous peak bodies able to engage and negotiate as equal partners with governments to design and monitor Closing the Gap.

“The Closing the Gap Partnership Agreement will focus all of our efforts to deliver better health, education and employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

It recognises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must play an integral part in making the decisions that affect their lives. This agreement will put Indigenous peoples at the heart of the development and implementation of the next phase of Closing the Gap, embedding shared decision making and accountability at the centre of the way we do business.

In order to effect real change, governments must work collaboratively and in genuine, formal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples because they are the essential agents of change. The change we all want to see will only come if we work together.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new Closing the Gap Partnership Agreement between the Federal Government, states, territories and the National Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks) would ensure decision makers worked closer than ever to deliver real change for Indigenous Australians.

Download the CTG FACT Sheet and Partnership Agreement from Here

CTG Final fact sheet (1)

– Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap 2019-2029[73948]

“The historic Partnership Agreement means that for the first time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, through their peak bodies, will share decision making with governments on Closing the Gap.

Closing the gap is not just about targets and programs. It is about making sure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can share in the decision making about policies and programs that impact on them and have a real say over their own lives.

The Partnership Agreement is a significant step forward in this direction and the Coalition of Peaks is looking forward to working closely with the Council of Australian Governments to honour our shared commitment to closing the gap.”

Patricia Turner (CEO of NACCHO ) on behalf of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations said almost 40 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Bodies across Australia had come together as partners with governments on Closing the Gap. See Also NACCHO Press Release Part 2

PRIME MINISTER

THE HON. SCOTT MORRISON MP

MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS
SEN. THE HON. NIGEL SCULLION
 

PATRICIA TURNER
ON BEHALF OF THE COALITION OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEAK ORGANISATION

PARTNERING WITH INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS TO CLOSE THE GAP

Read all NACCHO COAG Articles Here 

An historic agreement is set to change the way governments and Indigenous Australians work together on Closing the Gap.

The Agreement was developed collaboratively with the Coalition of Peaks, the largest group of Indigenous community controlled organisations, and committed to by all levels of government. It builds on the December 2018 decision by the Council of Australian Governments to  establish a formal partnership on Closing the Gap between governments and Indigenous Australians.

The partnership will include a Joint Council on Closing the Gap, which for the first time will include ministers nominated by jurisdictions, together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives chosen by the Coalition of Peaks.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion will co-chair the first meeting of the Joint Council alongside Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and on behalf of the Coalition of Peaks.

“The Joint Council represents an historic step forward in the practical working relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and governments,” Minister Scullion said.

“This is the first time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives and ministerial leaders have met formally as part of a Joint Council to progress the Closing the Gap agenda and improve the lives of Indigenous Australians no matter where they live.

“To support this historic partnership, we will deliver $4.6 million to the National Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations to ensure the representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are able to engage and negotiate as equal partners with governments to design and monitor Closing the Gap.

“This is a new way of doing business that reflects that the top-down approach established in 2008 while well-intentioned, did not truly seek to partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Australians. We enter this partnership recognising that Canberra cannot change it all and that we need more then lofty goals and bureaucratic targets.

“Finalising the refresh of the Closing the Gap framework and monitoring its implementation over the next ten years is critical to the future and prosperity of all Australians.

“We are committed to working closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians.”

Patricia Turner on behalf of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations said almost 40 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Bodies across Australia had come together as partners with governments on Closing the Gap.

The refreshed Closing the Gap framework and targets will be finalised through the Joint Council by mid-2019, ahead of endorsement by COAG. The Joint Council will meet for the first time on 27 March 2019 in Brisbane.

“Closing the gap is not just about targets and programs. It is about making sure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can share in the decision making about policies and programs that impact on them and have a real say over their own lives.

“The Partnership Agreement is a significant step forward in this direction and the Coalition of Peaks is looking forward to working closely with the Council of Australian Governments to honour our shared commitment to closing the gap.”

Part 2

Download a copy of this NACCHO Press Release

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has welcomed the signing of an historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap between the Commonwealth Government, State and Territory Governments and the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Bodies.

The announcement will be made at the first Joint Council Meeting between the new partners in Brisbane

The Coalition of Peaks is made up of around forty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations that have come together to negotiate with governments and be signatories to the Partnership Agreement.

NACCHO Chief Executive, Pat Turner, said the Agreement means that for the first time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through their peak body representatives, will share decision making with governments on Closing the Gap.

“For some time now, NACCHO, along with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations have been calling for a greater say with governments on efforts to close the unacceptable gaps in life outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader community,” said Ms Turner.

“The Coalition of Peaks believe that shared decision making between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled representatives in the design, implementation and monitoring of Closing the Gap is essential to closing the gap”.

The Partnership Agreement sets out how governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks bodies will work together to agree a refreshed national agreement on Closing the Gap, including any new Closing the Gap targets and implementation and monitoring arrangements.

Ms Turner said the Partnership Agreement also marks the establishment of a new, Joint Council on Closing the Gap that will be co-chaired by a Minister and a representative of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Bodies.

“We look forward to a hardworking and constructive partnership with the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to secure better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples,” said Ms Turner.

The Partnership Agreement can be accessed at After 8.00am : https://www.naccho.org.au/ programmes/coalition-of-peaks/

NACCHO Aboriginal Youth Health : ‘Dark days of old Don Dale’: John Paterson CEO @AMSANTaus and Human rights groups condemn #NT Government and Minister Dale Wakefield’s new youth justice laws

“ The NT government talks proudly about its commitment to Aboriginal-led solutions, to co-design and to collaboration,

So why was this bill kept from those who are part of those solutions and collaborations until the moment it was introduced into the parliament?

The bill went “far beyond” clarifying technical matters,

It does not reflect the royal commission recommendations or the government’s previous policy position to accept and implement those recommendations.

These amendments bring back the draconian treatment of young people and will see children restrained and isolated at the discretion of detention staff.

Far from reducing ambiguity as the minister claims, the amendments reintroduce ambiguity with subjective definitions and powers.

The Chief Executive Officer of AMSANT, John Paterson The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT) today condemned the Labor Government and Minister Wakefield in the strongest possible terms for its behaviour in avoiding debate and scrutiny in order to ram through retrograde changes to the Youth Justice Act for the operation of youth detention.

Read The Guardian Amnesty coverage 

Read full AMSANT Press Releases Part 1 Below

Read over 60 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Don Dale detention articles 

“The Territory Labor Government is creating generational change and safer communities by overhauling the Youth Justice system and putting at-risk young people back on track.

“The safety of youth detention staff and detainees is absolutely paramount. These amendments will help to better manage security risks that puts lives in danger.

“Last year we amended the Youth Justice Act to ensure that force, restraints and isolation could not be used for the purpose of disciplining a young person in detention.

“The new amendments provide clarity by removing ambiguities in the Act to ensure that youth detention staff can better respond to serious and dangerous incidents. Laws often need adjusting to reflect operational realities

Minister for Territory Families, Dale Wakefield Read Full Press release Part 2 Below 

Part 1

Mr Paterson, said “The Minister has been misleading and disingenuous in her speeches and answers to the limited questioning that was allowed in the Legislative Assembly. Despite the Minister’s assertions, these amendments are not mere technical clarifications.

They are substantive changes that erode the small improvements that were made in 2018 in response to the Royal Commission.

They will allow harsh treatment of young people in detention to continue unopposed and unscrutinised.”

WATCH TV NEWS COVERAGE

Mr Paterson said that the Bill passed this afternoon with no scrutiny, is clearly intended to retrospectively make lawful, actions that were unlawful under the law as it existed until today. “We must ask ourselves whether this unseemly and undemocratic haste is intended to defeat legal actions currently on foot by young people who believe their treatment in detention has been unlawful.

Does the government know that unlawful treatment occurred and is now seeking to avoid accountability? It is difficult to draw any other conclusion despite the Minister’s obfuscation in the Assembly” said Mr Paterson.

AMSANT believes that the harsh treatment of young people now permitted under the law will lead to increased tensions and incidents in detention. When the next major incident occurs, the government, not the young people, must be held to account. “Let’s not forget” said Mr Paterson “that a large proportion of young people in detention have significant cognitive disabilities.

The government is condoning the use of restraint, isolation and physical force against young people with disabilities because they do not have the capacity to comply with the demands of the detention environment.

Right now, young people are being restrained in handcuffs and waist shackles to simply walk from one part of Don Dale to another under the control of a guard.”

“AMSANT is disgusted by this behaviour by a government and calls on the Chief Minister to withdraw this legislation prior to it receiving the assent of the Administrator. To do otherwise is to walk away from the Royal Commission recommendations.” said Mr Paterson. Mr Paterson seeks to remind the Chief Minister of his words and apparent distress when he responded to the Royal Commission.

The Chief Minister said in November 2017, “Our youth justice and child protection systems are supposed to make our kids better, not break them, they are supposed to teach them to be part of society, not withdraw”. “This legislation is not consistent with that statement”, Mr Paterson concluded

Protestor at Alice Springs Market yesterday 

1.2 Youth Justice Amendment Bill a return to the bad old days!

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT) Chief Executive Officer, John Paterson, today called on the Chief Minister to halt the progress of the Youth Justice Amendment Bill 2019 through the Legislative Assembly until Aboriginal people and organisations have the chance to have a say.

“The government talks proudly about its commitment to Aboriginal led solutions, to co-design and to collaboration” said Mr Paterson.

“So why was this Bill kept from those who are part of those solutions and collaborations until the moment it was introduced into the Parliament?”

“The Minister has said the Bill simply clarifies technical matters and keeps faith with 2018 amendments.” Mr Paterson said.

“The Bill goes far beyond that. It undoes the positive progress in the 2018 changes which were a start in implementing the Royal Commission recommendations. The government consulted with Aboriginal organisations and other youth advocates and we supported the 2018 amendments.”

Mr Paterson said that this Bill is a u-turn on the progress in 2018. It does not reflect the Royal Commission recommendations or the Government’s previous policy position to accept and implement those recommendations.

“These amendments bring back the draconian treatment of young people and will see children restrained and isolated at the discretion of detention staff. Far from reducing ambiguity as the Minister claims, the amendments reintroduce ambiguity with subjective definitions and powers.”

Mr Paterson also questioned the need for retrospective effect of these amendments. “The only reason for retrospective effect is to legalise actions that were illegal when they were taken.” AMSANT said that the safety of both staff and young people is important and called on the government to work with Aboriginal organisations and other experts to explore the safety concerns and solutions. The government needs to think more carefully about the way forward. “

If the workforce cannot safely deliver a detention system under current laws which give quite considerable powers over the young people, the government needs to look at the skills, training and support of the workforce to ensure that they can. Attacking the human rights of young people is not the solution” Mr Paterson emphasised.

Mr Paterson noted that under the Diagrama Foundation which runs 70% of youth detention in Spain, for example, highly qualified staff with expertise in youth development, trauma and de-escalation work with young people in a therapeutic way that does not involve restraint, force and isolation. “Diagrama facilities rarely experience incidents of the kind seen last year at Don Dale.

Mr McGuire from Diagrama told audiences in Darwin last year that it is at least 10 years since there was a significant incident at a Diagrama facility. And Diagrama experiences a reoffending rate of only 20% across all its residents compared to 80% in the NT.”

Part 2

Passage of Youth Justice Act Amendments to Manage Security

Risks in the Territory’s Youth Detention Centres

March 2019

Today the Territory Labor Government passed amendments to the Youth Justice Act which will clarify and tighten the existing framework for managing safety and security risks within the youth detention centres.

The amendments will provide youth detention centre staff with a clear and unambiguous framework for exercising their powers, and will enable them to have a very clear guideline in their decision making when responding to dangerous and challenging situations.

The amendments include:

  • Clarify the circumstances in which force and restraints may be used, to account for situations where detainees mayact in a way that threatens the safety or security of a detention centre, but not in a way that presents an imminent risk
  • Create a consistent test to determine what is a reasonable use of force and restraints
  • Clarify the meaning of an emergency situation, which is relevant to the general application of all uses of force • Clarify the definition of separation
  • Enable screening and pat down searches of detainees in a broader range of circumstances
  • Include an express power to transfer a detainee from one detention centre to another

The amendments will remove any uncertainty around the operation of existing powers in the legislation, for both youth detention centre staff and detainees.

The amendments will apply retrospectively to the date in which the original provisions of the Act commenced (May 2018). This will remove any doubt about the original intention of these key provisions in the legislation.

NACCHO Deadly Good Members News : Aboriginal Health #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2019 : #MorePowerfulTogether  Our tribute to our 10 Women NACCHO Board of Directors and 71 #ACCHO CEO’s of our majority female workforce

1.National : Donnella Mills – Chair NACCHO and Wuchopperen Health Service   

2.NT: Donna Ah Chee Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

3.NSW: LaVerne Bellear Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service

4.TAS: Raylene Foster Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation

5.NT: Olga Havnen Danila Dilba Health Service

6.VIC: Karen Heap Ballarat & District Aboriginal Co-operative

7.SA: Vicki Holmes Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia

8.WA: Lesley Nelson South West Aboriginal Medical Service

9.ACT: Julie Tongs Winnunga Nimmityjah Health and Community Service

10. QLD: Gail Wason Mulungu Primary Health Care Service

Aboriginal women are the best advocates and leaders for health and wellbeing in their own families and in the broader community.

They are proving to be effective role models, mentors and influencers for the next generation of Aboriginal female leaders.

Recently NACCHO CEO Pat Turner told a women’s leadership summit

As mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters and daughters, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have culturally and historically always played a pivotal role in supporting and caring for families in our communities so working in the health sector was a natural progression.

For over 47 years Indigenous health activists like Dr Naomi Mayers, Coleen Shirley (Mum Shirl) Smith AM MBE, Jill Gallagher AO, Vicki O’Donnell, Pamela Mam, and the late Mary Buckskin have been just some of our leaders who have successfully advocated for community controlled, culturally respectful, needs based approach to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes of our people.

See previous NACCHO #IWD Tribute HERE 

As a result of their leadership and years of commitment as role models they have now paved the way for 10 women to be on the NACCHO board, 71 Indigenous women promoted to CEO’s out of 145 Organisations who employ over 6,000 staff with a majority being Indigenous woman

Our ACCHO network has successfully provided a critical and practical pathway for the education, training and employment for many Indigenous women.But much more needs to be done to develop viable career pathways to graduate more Indigenous women doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.

Last year NACCHO, RANZCOG and other medical college Presidents met with the Minister for Indigenous Health and other ministers in Canberra who are all determined to do everything possible to Close the Gap in health outcomes.

Creating career pathways for Indigenous women in our workforce will be a good starting point to continue supporting the theme ” More powerful together ”

1.National : Donnella Mills – Chair NACCHO and Wuchopperen Health Service QLD 

Donnella is a Torres Strait Islander woman with ancestral and family links to Masig and Nagir in the Torres Strait.

She is a Cairns–based lawyer with LawRight, a Community Legal Centre which coordinates the provision of pro-bono civil legal services to disadvantaged and vulnerable members of the community. Donnella is currently the project lawyer for the Wuchopperen Health Justice Partnership through a partnership with LawRight. This innovative Health Justice Partnership is an exciting model of providing access to justice, where lawyers and health professionals collaborate to provide better health outcomes and access to justice for patients with legal issues.

Donnella said she was “very excited about the opportunity to contribute to working the new Chairperson, the new board and the NACCHO Executive to drive the national health debate, develop community led solution, and to champion why Community-Controlled is the pinnacle model in achieving greater autonomy and self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Utilising a legal lens in which to view health, social justice, human rights, and access to justice, my commitment is to deliver expanded and enhanced innovative health services that are community driven and community led, addressing core systemic social determinant issues that have a direct impact on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

2.NT: Donna Ah Chee CEO Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

Ms Ah Chee is the Chief Executive Officer of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation, the Aboriginal community controlled primary health care service in Alice Springs.

Ms Ah Chee is a Bundgalung woman from the far north coast of New South Wales and has lived in Alice Springs for over 25 years.

She has been actively involved in Aboriginal affairs for many years, especially in the area of Aboriginal adult education and Aboriginal health. In June 2011, Ms Ah Chee moved to Canberra to take up the position of Chief Executive Officer of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation before returning to Congress in July 2012.

Ms Ah Chee convened the Workforce Working Party under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Health Forum, was Chairperson of the Central Australian Regional Indigenous Health Planning Committee, a member of the Northern Territory Child Protection External Monitoring Committee and jointly headed up the Northern Territory Government’s Alcohol Framework Project Team.

She currently sits on the National Drug and Alcohol Committee and at a local level, represents the Congress on the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition.

3.NSW: LaVerne Bellear CEO Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service

LaVerne Bellear a descendant from the Nunukle Tribe of south-eastern Queensland, grew up in the northern part of the Bundjalung Nation (north coast New South Wales).

LaVerne strongly believes that empowering Aboriginal people will create opportunity to make better informed decisions and choices regarding personal management of health care, ultimately resulting in better health outcomes. LaVerne has extensive experience in Aboriginal health, having worked in community health, Aboriginal controlled health services and as the Director, Aboriginal Health, Northern Sydney Local Health District.

Recently, LaVerne has taken up the position of CEO, Aboriginal Medical Service Cooperative at Redfern, New South Wales.

She has been a state representative on a number of working parties and committees concerning Aboriginal health. LaVerne has a Bachelor of Business, a Professional Certificate in Indigenous Research in Training and Practices and is studying a Master of Public Health at The University of New South Wales.

4.TAS: Raylene Foster Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation

Raylene Foster is a palawa women from the Cygnet area. She commenced her career in hospitality, becoming a chef, and then moved into adult teaching within the TAFE institute.

Raylene took on a six-month secondment to Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre in 1995 and stayed; she has now been with the TAC for over 20 years

She’s had varying roles within the TAC, including the Director of the Aboriginal Community School, Workforce Development Officer, Emotional and Social Wellbeing Coordinator and over the past 15 years the Manager of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre in the South, which includes the Aboriginal Health Service.

Raylene has a Graduate Certificate in Administration and an Advanced Diploma in Human Resources, as well as Diploma of Alcohol and Other Drugs and Mental Health and a facilitator in the SMART Recovery program. Raylene is passionate about children’s wellbeing and keeping families connected to break the cycle of institutionalisation, separations and trauma-related illnesses.

Raylene’s Abstract For This Months Rural Health Conference in Hobart 

See Website 

The Aboriginal cultural camp was an initiative that commenced in 2016 for Tasmanian registrars, GPs and members of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. We wanted to go beyond the basic requirements of attendance at cultural training, to offer an immersion in to Aboriginal culture, on Aboriginal country, with mutual benefit for the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.

The camp is held annually at trawtha makuminya, Aboriginal-owned land in the Central Highlands of Tasmania, from a Friday afternoon until a Sunday afternoon. Registrars, General Practitioners, Practice Staff and General Practice Training Tasmania staff and family members attend, in addition to the TAC staff Camp Organisers and Caterers, Cultural and Land Educators, Elders and community members.

The weekend involves an official welcome speech, dance and music, yarning around the campfire, guided walks with discussion about Aboriginal history, the land and stone tools, kayaking, basket weaving, hand stencilling, clap stick making, and a session of “You Can’t Ask That”. There is a medical education session and participants hear from an Aboriginal Health Worker and Aboriginal Enrolled Nurse about the services offered by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.

There is a lot of informal discussion about culture and life stories shared by both the adults and the children.

The feedback given to date, both informally and through the evaluation forms, is overwhelmingly positive. Participants value the beautiful location, the opportunity to spend time with community members outside the clinical setting, the obvious connection to country displayed by the Aboriginal community and the sharing of stories in a cultural exchange.

5.NT: Olga Havnen CEO Danila Dilba Health Service Darwin 

Olga is of Western Arrente descent and grew up in Tennant Creek. Her great-grandfather was Ah Hong, a Chinese cook who worked on the Overland Telegraph Line[2] whose partner was an Aboriginal woman in Alice Springs.

Their daughter Gloria, Havnen’s grandmother, was the first Aboriginal woman to own a house in Alice Springs. Havnen’s father was a Norwegian sailor who jumped ship in Adelaide and her mother, Pegg lived in Tennant Creek. Havnen went to boarding school in TownsvilleQueensland.[3]

Olga Havnen has held positions as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs Co-ordinator for the Australian Red Cross, Senior Policy Officer in the Northern Territory Government’s Indigenous Policy Unit, Indigenous Programs Director with the Fred Hollows Foundation, and Executive Officer with the National Indigenous Working Group.

And was the Coordinator General of Remote Service Provision from 2011 until October 2012, when the Northern Territory Government controversially abolished the position.[4]

She released one report which detailed deficiencies in Northern Territory and Commonwealth Government’s service provision to remote communities in the Northern Territory.[5]

She is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service.[1]

Havnen gave evidence at the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory critical of the outcomes and delivery of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response, commonly referred to as the Intervention stating “the experience of the Intervention was such a debacle you’d never want that repeated, but I do think that there is a role for the federal government in here in the Northern Territory”,

6.VIC: Karen Heap Ballarat & District Aboriginal Co-operative : Chair VACCHO 

Karen Heap, a Yorta Yorta woman, has been the CEO of Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative for 12 years and brings with her a vast amount of knowledge and skillsets procured from extensive experience within the Aboriginal Service Sector.

Karen Heap was recently the winner of the Walda Blow Award ( pictured above )

This award was established by DHHS in partnership with the Victorian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, in memory of Aunty Walda Blow – a proud Yorta

Yorta and Wemba Wemba Elder who lived her life in the pursuit of equality.

Aunty Walda was an early founder of the Dandenong and District Aboriginal Cooperative and worked for over 40 years improving the lives of the Aboriginal community. This award recognises contributions of an Aboriginal person in Victoria to the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

Karen ensures the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people are always front and centre.

Karen has personally committed her support to the Ballarat Community through establishing and continuously advocating for innovative prevention, intervention and reunification programs.

As the inaugural Chairperson of the Alliance, Karen contributions to establishing the identity and achieving multiple outcomes in the Alliance Strategic Plan is celebrated by her peers and recognised by the community service sector and DHHS.

Karen’s leadership in community but particularly for BADAC, has seen new ways of delivering cultural models of care to Aboriginal children, carers and their families, ensuring a holistic service is provided to best meet the needs of each individual and in turn benefit the community.

7.SA: Vicki Holmes Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia

Vicki Holmes is an Aboriginal woman descended from the Tanganekald and Western Aranda clan. Vicki has been with Nunkuwarrin Yunti for 32 years where she has had many roles; her first position was the medical receptionist but she also did whatever was needed including home visits, transport and hospital visits.

In 1986, Vicki became the Health Coordinator and while in this role programs such as women’s health, HIV, diabetes, mental health and social/welfare support expanded and developed. In 2010, Vicki became the CEO of Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia. As CEO of Nunkuwarrin Yunti, she holds positions on the Boards of NACCHO, the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, Research Excellence in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health (REACCH), and First Peoples National Congress.

Her vision for Nunkuwarrin Yunti is around what she calls the four Cs: Community, Communication, Caring, Consistency. Vicki has always been passionate about the social and emotional wellbeing of the Aboriginal community.

8.WA: Lesley Nelson CEO South West Aboriginal Medical Service

SWAMS are united by the drive and passion to provide culturally safe, accessible and holistic health care to the Aboriginal people of the South West. WA

As an organisation, they continue to attract and employ culturally appropriate and professional staff members. SWAMS employs over 70 staff members including specialist Aboriginal Health Practitioners, Dietitians, Nurses, Midwives, Mental Health workers and Social Workers and because of this, we are able to provide a large and diverse range of services to the community.

In addition to this, they strive to create Aboriginal career pathways and opportunities across the sector and maintain a positive percentage of ATSI employees

Last year as preparations got underway for the South West Aboriginal Medical Service’s 20th anniversary, centre chief executive officer Lesley Nelson has reflected on how far indigenous health has advanced in the South West in that time.

Ms Nelson said the centre started small with a handful of staff and a desire to improve Aboriginal health outcomes in the region.

Over the next 20 years, it expanded with clinics in Bunbury, Busselton, Manjimup, Collie and Brunswick.

“We started after local elders held discussions with a number of key groups about developing a culturally appropriate service to address the health-related issues of the South West’s Indigenous population,” she said.

“Since then we’ve gone from strength-to-strength, offering a number of employment opportunities in the sector, training programs and improved health outcomes.”

Ms Nelson said the local service played an important role in the community.

“Being based in a number of country towns ensured locals can access our services conveniently, especially if they lack transport options to the bigger cities,” she said.

“We offer an important service because we intervene and manage issues early on and slowly we are improving the health of the South West Noongar people.

“We are also standing out nationally when it comes to maternal and child health.”

Moving forward, SWAMS are keen to continue growing, participating in more research studies and working collaboratively with other similar services to offer a whole of community approach to improved health.

9.ACT: Julie Tongs Winnunga Nimmityjah Health and Community Service

Julie Tongs OAM has been the Chief Executive Officer of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services since 1998.  Julie has more than 30 years experience working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs and in particular has extensive experience in advising, formulating, implementing and evaluating public health initiatives, programs and policy at a local, regional and national level.

Julie has been a national leader and strong advocate of quality improvement initiatives within the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector.

Julie is the recipient of a number of awards, including the ACT Governor General’s Centenary Medal and the ACT Indigenous Person of the Year. In 2011 Julie received the ACT Local Hero Award within the Australian of the Year Awards 2012, and in 2012 Julie was honoured with the Medal of the Order of Australia.

Julie’s vision is that Winnunga continues to build on its reputation as a national leader in the provision of holistic primary health care services delivered in a culturally appropriate environment that achieves improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Julie is committed to ensuring that Winnunga offers services that are delivered consistent with best practice standards.

10 .QLD: Gail Wason Mulungu Primary Health Care Service

We see the best way to build capacity and capability within our corporation is by encouraging strong leaders, maintaining effective governance, ensuring strong systems, and keeping focused on accountable performance management.

Mulungu help our clients to make informed decisions. We work in health but we also work across education and job opportunities. Our model supports individuals who want to do the best for themselves, their family and their community.’

CEO Gail Wason.

Gail is the Chief Executive Officer of Mulungu Primary Health Care Service in Mareeba. She has over 25 years’ experience in Aboriginal affairs and health, and an unwavering commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of her community.

Gail strives to ensure that the community has access to the full range of high quality, culturally appropriate primary health care services that empowers clients to fully participate in the management of their own health.

She has served as QAIHC’s Far North Queensland Director and Chairperson of QAIHC’s Finance Committee and has worked closely with the Board for many years.

Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre is an Aboriginal community-controlled health organisation working to improve the lives of Indigenous people in and around Mareeba.

The centre was established in 1991 and incorporated under the CATSI Act in 1993.

The rural town of Mareeba—a word from local Aboriginal language meaning ‘meeting of the waters’—is located on the Atherton Tablelands where the Barron River meets Granite Creek. Traditionally Muluridji people inhabited this land.

‘Although the bright lights of Cairns are only 65 kilometres away we feel like a stand-alone, small country town,’ says chair of the Mulungu board of directors (and valued volunteer) Alan Wason. ‘We have a population of 10,000 and our own identity separate from Cairns.’

The town of Mareeba may be a little tucked away but it has much to offer, including Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre—a bright, open, modern building—which employs a large professional staff who work as a team and support each other. Everyone is passionate about providing top quality holistic health care to the community through Mulungu’s programs and services.

Mulungu’s mission is to provide comprehensive primary health care to the community in culturally, socially and emotionally appropriate ways. It’s about handing back power to the people to manage their own health, wellbeing and spiritual needs. So as well as providing clinical health care services Mulungu ‘auspices’ other important primary health care programs, including the Mareeba Children and Families Centre (CFC), Mareeba Parent and Community Engagement (PaCE) Program, and the Mareeba Young and Awesome Project (MY&A).

The MY&A Project tackles the problem of binge drinking in the community. Its aim is to motivate young people (aged 12 to 25) to get involved in constructive activities that they might enjoy—and to get them away from drinking alcohol. This two-year project is funded by the Australian Government.

‘We help our clients to make informed decisions,’ says Gail Wason. ‘We work in health but we also work across education and job opportunities. Our model supports individuals who want to do the best for themselves, their family and their community.’

It’s all about changing and improving lives.

To learn more about Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service visit http://mulungu.org.au.

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI): Minister @KenWyattMP announces $2.8 million national project improving people’s health through better quality control and health data collection at local ACCHO’s Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services  

 ” Improving people’s health through better quality control and health data collection at local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services is the aim of a $2.8 million national project funded by the Federal Government.

Our Government recognises the importance of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS), with data showing they provide over 2.5 million episodes of care each year for more than 350,000 people.

However, to help achieve better health outcomes as our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population grows, we need to support accountability, quality improvement and accurate data reporting.”

Minister Ken Wyatt Press Release Part 1 Below

” This National Framework for Continuous Quality Improvement in Primary Health Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 2018-2023 booklet is designed to provide practical support for all primary healthcare organisations in their efforts to ensure that the health care they provide is high quality, safe, effective, responsive and culturally respectful.”

NACCHO Acting Chair Donnella Mills

” NACCHO is proud of the record of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) in delivering primary health care to our community. We have learnt many lessons over the last 50 years about how to structure, deliver and improve care so that it best meet the needs of our communities across Australia.

This experience is used in the Framework to describe how to do, support and inform culturally respectful continuous quality improvement (CQI) in primary health care.”

Further resources including the Framework are available on our NACCHO website.

Direct link to PDF – https://www.naccho.org.au/wp-content/uploads/NACCHO-CQI-Framework-2019.pdf

Updated CQI pagehttps://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/cqi/

Pat Turner CEO of NACCHO see Press Release Part 2 below

 

Part 1 Ministers Press Release

In 2017, the Department of Health engaged KPMG to develop a national baseline quality audit at the individual service level to identify issues impacting on data quality and reporting and make recommendations for improvement. From February to May last year, 53 ACCHS volunteered to participate in the project.

The final report found that, despite reporting on national Key Performance Indicators and Online Services Report data collections since 2012-13 and 2007-08 respectively, only 30 per cent of the services visited were rated as having effective and mature processes in place to support and measure health data. The remaining 70 per cent were classified as needing support to improve.

The reports found characteristics of mature services include:

* Leadership focussed on a strong culture of Continuous Quality Improvement

* Clear workflows including induction, training and monitoring programs

* Resources and staff dedicated to recording and reporting health care activities

In Stage 2 of this project this year, KPMG will offer all health services not involved in Stage 1 the opportunity to participate, plus follow-up consultations for ACCHS in Stage 1 and the development of online training resources.

KPMG will also convene a national forum on best practice so ACCHS can share successful and effective reporting processes and practices with each other.

Part 2

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has just published the National Framework for Continuous Quality Improvement in Primary Health Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 2018-2023.

Download the full NACCHO Press Release HERE 

al Community Controlled Health Services and Affiliates, health professional organisations and government. The project was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health.

The CQI Framework provides principles and guidance for primary health care organisations in how to do, support and inform culturally respectful CQI.

It is designed to assist Aboriginal health services and private general practices, NACCHO Affiliates and Primary Health Networks, national and state/territory governments in their efforts to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to and receive the highest attainable standard of primary health care wherever and whenever they seek care.

It is relevant to clinicians, board members and practice owners, health promotion, administrative and management staff. Six case studies which illustrate how CQI has been implemented in ACCHSs are included.

NACCHO welcomes further case studies from other health services, general practice and Primary Health Networks.

Further resources including the Framework are available on the NACCHO website.

  1. Direct link to PDF – https://www.naccho.org.au/wp-content/uploads/NACCHO-CQI-Framework-2019.pdf
  2. Updated CQI page – https://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/cqi/

For further information about the CQI Framework please contact: cqi@naccho.org.au

 

.@NACCHOChair Season’s Greetings and a very Happy #ChooseHealth New Year from all the NACCHO mob : Make @DeadlyChoices a #sugarfree 2019 New Year #SugaryDrinksProperNoGood

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 20 December and Re Opens 4 January 2019

2018 has been a year of change, with many new members joining the NACCHO Board.

With change comes opportunity, 2019 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

Ms Donnella Mills Chair NACCHO

Click on our 2018 year in review

If the NACCHO Christmas card isn’t playing, click here to view in a web browser.

”  This campaign is straightforward – sugary drinks are no good for our health.It’s calling on people to drink water instead of sugary drinks.’

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Cape York and throughout all our communities experience a disproportionate burden of chronic disease compared to other Australians.’

‘Regular consumption of sugary drinks is associated with increased energy intake and in turn, weight gain and obesity. It is well established that obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease and some cancers. Consumption of sugary drinks is also associated with poor dental health.

Water is the best drink for everyone – it doesn’t have any sugar and keeps our bodies healthy.’

Apunipima Public Health Advisor Dr Mark Wenitong

WATCH Apunipima Video HERE

“We tell ‘em kids drink more water; stop the sugar. It’s good for all us mob”

Read all 60 + NACCHO articles Health and Nutrition HERE

https://nacchocommunique.com/category/nutrition-healthy-foods/

 ” Let’s be honest, most countries and communities (and especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders ) now face serious health challenges from obesity.

Even more concerning, so do our kids.

While no single mission will be the panacea to a complex problem, using 2017 to set a new healthy goal of giving sugar the kick would be a great start.

Understand sugar, be aware of it, minimise it and see it for what it is – a special treat for a rare occasion.

This New Year’s, make breaking up with sugar your planned resolution.

“Hey sugar – it’s not me, it’s you…”

Alessandro R Demaio  Global Health Doctor; Co-Founded NCDFREE & festival21; Assoc. Researcher, University of Copenhagen and NACCHO supporter ( First Published 2016 see in full below )

We recommend the Government establish obesity prevention as a national priority, with a national taskforce, sustained funding and evaluation of key measures including:

  • Laws to stop exposure of children to unhealthy food and drink marketing on free to air television until 9.30 pm
  • Mandatory healthy food star rating from July 2019 along with stronger food reformulation targets
  • A national activity strategy to promote walking, cycling and public transport use
  • A 20 per cent health levy on sugary drinks

Australia enjoys enviable health outcomes but that is unlikely to last if we continue to experience among the world’s highest levels of obesity.

 CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells

NACCHO Aboriginal #HealthStarRating and #Nutrition @KenWyattMP Free healthy choices food app will dial up good tucker

” Weight gain spikes sharply during the Christmas and New Year holiday period with more than half of the weight we gain during our lifetime explained just by the period between mid-November and mid-January.

Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA

 ” Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

The study used computer modelling to simulate daily activities like food and beverage shopping of the populations of three U.S. cities – Baltimore, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

It found that warning labels in locations that sell sugary drinks, including grocery and corner stores, reduced both obesity and overweight prevalence in the three cities, declines that the authors say were attributable to the reduced caloric intake.

The virtual warning labels contained messaging noting how added sugar contributes to tooth decay, obesity and diabetes.

The findings, which were published online December 14 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, demonstrates how warning labels can result in modest but statistically significant reductions in sugary drink consumption and obesity and overweight prevalence.”

Diabetes Queensland : Warning labels can help reduce sugary drinks consumption and obesity, new study suggests

 

Global recognition is building for the very real health concerns posed by large and increasing quantities of hidden sugar in our diets. This near-ubiquitous additive found in products from pasta sauces to mayonnaise has been in the headlines and in our discussions.

The seemingly innocuous sweet treat raises eyebrows from community groups to policy makers – and change is in the air.

Let’s review some of the sugar-coated headers from 2016 :

  • The global obesity epidemic continued to build while more than two-in-three Australian adults faced overweight or obesity – and almost one in four of our children.
  • Science around sugary drinks further solidified, with consumption now linked to obesitychildhood obesityheart diseasediabetes (type-2), dental caries and even lower fertility.
  • Australians were estimated to consume a staggering 76 litres of sugary drinks each since January alone, and new reports highlighted that as much as 15% of the crippling health costs associated with obesity could result from sugary drinks consumption.
  • Meanwhile around the planet, more countries took sound policy measures to reduce sugar consumption in their citizens. France, Belgium, Hungary, Finland, Chile, the UK, Ireland, South Africa and many parts of the United States implemented, continued or planned the implementation of pricing policies for sugary drinks.

In short, the over-consumption of sugar is now well recognised as a public health challenge everywhere.

With all this in mind and a New Year ahead, it’s time to put big words into local action. With resolutions brewing, here are seven helpful tips to breaking up with sugar in 2017.

1. Understand sugar

When it comes to sugar, things can get pretty confusing. Below, I shed some light on the common misunderstandings, but let’s recheck sugar itself – in simplest terms.

Sugar is a type of refined carbohydrate and a source of calories in our diet. Our body uses sugar and other sources of calories as energy, and any sugar that is not used is eventually stored as fat in our liver or on our bellies.

“Free sugars” are those added to products or concentrated in the products – either by us or by the manufacturer. They don’t include sugars in whole fruits and vegetables, but more on that later. For a range of health reasons, the World Health Organization recommends we get just 5% of our daily calories from free sugars. For a fully grown man or woman, this equates to a recommended limit to sugar consumption of roughly 25 grams – or 6 teaspoons. For women, it’s a little less again.

Consume more than this, and our risk of health problems rises.

2. Quit soft drinks

With 16 teaspoons of sugar in a single bottle serving – that’s more than 64 grams– there’s nothing “soft” about soft drinks. Including all carbonated drinks, flavoured milks and energy drinks with any added sugars, as well as fruit drinks and juices, sugary drinks are a great place to focus your efforts for a healthier 2018. Sugary drinks provide no nutritional value to our diets and yet are a major source of calories.

sugartax

What’s more concerning, evidence suggests that when we drink calories in the form of sugary drinks, our brains don’t recognise these calories in the same way as with foods. They don’t make us feel “full” and could even make us hungrier – so we end up eating (and drinking) more. In this way, liquid calories can be seen as even more troubling than other forms of junk foods. Combine this with studies that suggest the pleasure (and sugar spike) provided by sugary drinks may make them hard to give up – and it’s not difficult to see why many of us are drinking higher amounts, more often and in larger servings. This also makes cutting down harder.

The outcome is that anything up to one-seventh of the entire public cost of obesity in Australia could now result from sugary drinks. In other words, cut out the sugary drinks and you’ll be doing your own health a favour – and the health of our federal and state budgets.

3. Eat fruit, not juice

When it’s wrapped in a peel or a skin, fruit sugars are not a challenge to our health. In fact, the sugars in fruit are nature’s way of encouraging us to eat the fruit to begin with. Fruits like oranges, apples and pears contain important fibres. The “roughage” in our foods, this fibre is healthy in many ways but there are three in particular I will focus on. First, it slows our eating down; it is easy to drink a glass of juice squeezed from 7 apples, but much harder to eat those seven pieces whole. Second, it makes us feel full or satiated. And third, it slows the release of the sugars contained in fruit into our blood streams, thus allowing our bodies to react and use the energy appropriately, reducing our chances of weight gain and possibly even diabetes.

Juice, on the other hand, involves the removal of most of those fibres and even the loss of some of the important vitamins. What we don’t lose though, is the 21 grams or more than five teaspoons of sugar in each glass.

In short, eat fruit as a snack with confidence. But enjoy whole fruit, not juice.

4. Sugar by any other name

High-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, malt sugar and molasses – they all mean one thing: sugar.

As the public awakens to the health challenges posed by sugar, the industry turns to new ways to confuse consumers and make ‘breaking up’ more difficult. One such way is to use the many alternative names for sugar – instead of the ‘s’ word itself. Be on the lookout for:

Evaporated cane juice, golden syrup, malt syrup, sucrose, fruit juice concentrate, dextrose and more…

5. Eat whole foods where possible

Tomato sauce, mayonnaise, salad dressings, gravies, taco sauces, savoury biscuits and breakfast cereals – these are just some of the many foods now often packed with hidden, added sugars.

study found that 74% of packaged foods in an average American supermarket contain added sugars – and there is little evidence to suggest Australia would be dramatically different. Added to food to make it more enjoyable, and moreish, the next tip when avoiding such a ubiquitous additive is to eat whole foods.

It’s hard to hide sugar in plain flour, or a tomato, or frozen peas. Buying and cooking with mostly whole foods – not products – is a great way to ensure you and your family are not consuming added sugars unaware.

6. See beyond (un)healthy claims

Words like “wholesome”, “natural” and “healthy” are clad on many of our favourite ingredients. Sadly, they don’t mean much.

Even products that are full of sugar, like breakfast cereals and energy bars, often carry claims that aim to confuse and seduce us into purchase. Be wary – and be sure to turn the package over and read the ingredients and nutrition labelling where possible (and if time permits).

7. Be okay with sometimes

The final but crucial message in all of this is that eating or drinking sugar is not a sin. Sugar is still a part of our lives and something to enjoy in moderation. The occasional piece of cake, or late night chocolate – despite the popular narrative painted by industry to undermine efforts for true pricing on sugar – these occasional sweet treats are not the driving challenge for obesity. The problem is that sugary drinks, and sugar in our foods, have become every day occurrences.

With this in mind, let’s not demonise sugar but instead let’s see it for what it is. Enjoy some juice or bubbles from time to time but make water the default on an everyday basis. With the average can of cola containing 39 grams or 9 teaspoons of sugar, be OK with sometimes.

Bitter truth

Let’s be honest, We now face serious health challenges from obesity.

Even more concerning, so do our kids.

Learn more about our ACCHO making Deadly Choices

NACCHO pays tribute to Dr Bonita Mabo AO educator, social justice and human rights activist and “one of Australia’s greatest matriarchs of all time ” #BecauseofHerWeCan

 ” We can all take inspiration from Bonita’s courage and determination.”

Ms Donnella Mills summarizing the impact Dr Mabo had on all her family ,friends and the broader Australian community she inspired over her lifetime  

You Download a PDF copy of this Press Release HERE

NACCHO Chair Ms Donnella Mills speaking on behalf of all the 145 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services throughout Australia has extended condolences to the Mabo family for the loss of their mother, sister, aunty, cousin and grandmother Dr Bonita Mabo, South Sea Islander reconciliation activist , who passed away Monday.

“As her Australian South Sea Islander Alliance said in their tribute Dr Bonita’s contribution to social justice and human rights for First Nations People and the Australian South Sea Islander recognition was monumental and relentless. A formidable ‘Woman Tanna’ Aunty Bonita will be greatly missed as Australia has lost one of the greatest matriarchs of all time.” Ms Mills said

“ Dr Mabo as the wife of Eddie Mabo, an Australian hero known for his long fight for Indigenous land rights, but Dr Mabo was more than a supportive partner, she was an educator and an advocate who  was the co-founder of Australia’s first Indigenous community school, the Black Community School in Townsville, where she worked as a teacher’s aide and overseeing the day-to-day operations, including providing continuity and cultural training to all children including 10 of her own.

She was considered to be a stabilising influence at the school at a time when it was considered unacceptable to have discrete curricula and teaching policies for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children “ Ms Mills said.

Only this month Bonita Mabo received one of James Cook University’s highest awards, an Honorary Doctor of Letters, in recognition of her outstanding contribution of 45 years of service to the community and her advocacy for Indigenous Australians and Australian South Sea Islanders.