NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health : Read @keenan_mundine’s powerful speech to @UNHumanRights Council calling for Australian Governments to end injustice of Indigenous kids in prison #RaisetheAge Plus #IndigenousX 8 things the government can do right now to end this injustice “

“I have spent more than half of my life behind bars, and I want to make sure this will not be the same future for my children.

Right now, children as young as ten are still being locked away in prisons across Australia.

This year alone, around 600 children under the age of 14 were taken from their families and imprisoned. This injustice must end.

”In joining this Council, the Australian Government promised to uphold human rights and champion Indigenous peoples’ rights. For as long as Indigenous children are 25 times more likely to be sent to prison than non-Indigenous children, these will be hollow promises “

Indigenous advocate, Keenan Mundine, a former youth prisoner and principal consultant of Inside Out Aboriginal Justice Consultancy, has travelled to Geneva to address the UN Human Rights Council about the Turnbull Government’s failure to stop ten year old children being sent to prison.

 ” The justice system is stacked against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids at every stage, from police through to the courts. It is undeniable that racism is a factor, whether it’s institutional or direct.

It is also clear that invasion and past policies of dispossession of land, stolen children and discrimination has led to this shocking statistic, with a direct link proven between contact with the justice system and the entrenched poverty, homelessness, child removal, lack of education, family violence, substance abuse, disability, mental and other health issues.

But there are solutions. Here are 8 things the government can do right now to end this injustice “

Cheryl Axleby Chair of NATSILS From Indigenous X

Two years after the ABC’s Four Corners program exposed horrific abuse of children in the Don Dale prison, pressure is mounting on Australian state and territory governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years.

Mr Mundine told the Council – the world’s peak human rights body of which Australia is now a member – that the Turnbull Government must stop ignoring human rights abuses at home.

“I have travelled from across the world to address this Council because I want my sons to grow up in a country that treats them fairly. This one simple change to our laws, will make a very big difference. Indigenous children in Australia deserve what I was denied – equality and freedom,” said Mr Mundine.

The Turnbull Government called for the Northern Territory Royal Commission into the horrors of Don Dale in 2016, but has failed to deliver a key recommendation for reform – raising the age at which children can be charged, hauled before the courts and sent to prison.

Australia has one of the lowest ages of criminal responsibility in the democratic world. The average age in Europe is 14 years.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, the Human Rights Law Centre, Amnesty International and other medical, Indigenous and human rights organisations have been pushing all Australian governments to commit to raising the age of criminal responsibility.

Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, said in addition to raising the age to 14 years, more support was needed for Indigenous-led programs.

“Australian youth prisons are institutional racism in action. Criminalising the behaviour of young, vulnerable children – who are mostly Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander – creates further disadvantage and traps children in the criminal justice system. It’s time to raise the age to 14 and fund wrap-around Indigenous-led supports that keep kids strong in culture and community,” said Ms Axleby.

When seeking election to the Human Rights Council, the Turnbull Government pledged to put Indigenous rights front and centre and progress the realisation of human rights through the implementation of UN recommendations and resolutions.

In the last five years, the UN has demanded Australia uphold children’s rights and raise the age of criminal responsibility on numerous occasions.

Ruth Barson, a Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said children should be in classrooms not courtrooms.

“No child should be strip searched, hand cuffed, or locked in a prison cell. The Turnbull Government cannot defend human rights on the world stage, while allowing primary school aged children to be sent to prisons at home. Raising the age is a simple reform that would make a world of difference. What we need is for our governments to show some leadership,” said Ms Barson.

Across Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up over 50% of the children locked away in youth prisons. Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia have the highest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth imprisonment rates in the country.

Belinda Lowe, Indigenous Rights Campaigner at Amnesty International, said the criminal justice system is failing kids and it’s failing communities.

“Children thrive best with their families and in their communities. Let’s instead focus on prevention not detention. Let’s raise the age that kids can be put behind bars, and provide early support to children and their families who are facing difficulties in their lives, so children don’t offend in the first place,” said Ms Lowe.

This session of the Human Rights Council session will run until 6 July.

The Human Rights Law Centre will attend every day of the Council session and provide regular updates on the Australian Government’s actions.

Read: Keenan Mundine’s statement

Watch: Keenan Mundine’s statement

Plus Indigenous X post

Cheryl Axleby Chair of NATSILS From Indigenous X

Every single child in prison in the Northern Territory is Indigenous.

This is systemic racism in action.

This damning fact is causing outrage across Australia, two years after we saw the torture and abuse coming out of Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in the nightmarish Four Corners Report. A Royal Commission followed, with hundreds of recommendations to end the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids in prison, yet here we are.

But the Northern Territory is not alone; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are over-imprisoned in every state and territory in Australia, and are locked up at a rate 25 times higher than that of other youth.

We know the reasons why, and it’s not because there are no “bad” non-Indigenous children in the Northern Territory.

The justice system is stacked against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids at every stage, from police through to the courts. It is undeniable that racism is a factor, whether it’s institutional or direct.

It is also clear that invasion and past policies of dispossession of land, stolen children and discrimination has led to this shocking statistic, with a direct link proven between contact with the justice system and the entrenched poverty, homelessness, child removal, lack of education, family violence, substance abuse, disability, mental and other health issues.

But there are solutions. Here are 8 things the government can do right now to end this injustice:

1. Support children, families and communities to stay strong and together

No child belongs in prison.

Prison doesn’t “work” – many kids come out damaged and more likely to go back in. Children need love and support and the care of their communities, so they can be brought up strong in their identity and connection with country.

There is a large cross-over between experiencing child removal, disability, family violence, mental health issues, and the justice system. But families need culturally appropriate wrap-around supports in place to stay strong and together. Policies need to change to stop forced child removals, reduce family violence and help heal the ongoing trauma of the Stolen Generations.

2. Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility

Australia is far behind the rest of the world in locking up very young children – the global median age of criminal responsibility is 14, but the Australia-wide age is 10.

Science shows these young children are not yet able to understand the long-term consequences of their actions, or to control their impulses. It is often the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children who come to the attention of the justice system at a young age.

Once in the system, younger children are more likely to be return to prison. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are hugely over-represented in this age bracket, so raising the age will help to end their over-representation in the system.

The NT Royal Commission recommended for government to raise the age. The UN has repeatedly criticised Australia for locking up kids as young as 10, which is below minimum international standards and recommended age, and a breach of their rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It’s time for all Australian governments to #RaisetheAge to 14.

3. Get children who are not sentenced out of prison

Most kids in prison are not sentenced and may not even have had their trial yet. This goes against international standards and can be incredibly damaging for kids, leading to further contact with the justice system.

This can be due to police and courts not granting children bail, as well as delays in court processes and legal representation. Compliance with and over-policing of bail conditions is a huge issue for Aboriginal children, or not having a “suitable” address to be bailed to, or a guardian available to come to court.

This can be fixed by having better family supports in place so bail isn’t denied due to welfare reasons, amending unfair bail legislation, increased funding and access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, bail support programs, having custody notification services in place and investing in community alternatives to prison.

4. Adequately fund Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled legal and other support services

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Family Violence Legal Prevention Services are the preferred and often only option for legal representation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

These services are community-controlled and culturally safe, and understand the systemic issues that stack the system against Indigenous people. However, these are desperately under-resourced to meet legal need, and despite the reversal of further fundings cuts in 2017, budget papers show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services will face a further $5m cut from 2020.

It’s not just legal services that struggle for funding, but most Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations across health, disability, education, housing and youth justice diversion.

In the Northern Territory, Bushmob had to end its bush camp program – where the government could have been sending kids to learn life skills and reconnect with culture, rather than to prison.

Another example is Balit Ngulu – the only Aboriginal youth specific legal service in Australia – is facing closure this year due to lack of funding. Our communities have the answers but they need Government support.

5. End abusive practices in prisons

Whether it’s Don Dale, Cleveland, Banksia Hill, Bimberi, Parkville, Cobham – children in prisons around Australia are subject to solitary confinement, strip searches, assaults, spit hoods, hog-tying, sedating, deprivation of food, hygiene, exercise and education. These abuses are an indictment on Australia and they are continuing to happen right around the country. This year it was revealed that one young man in Banksia Hill spent over a year in isolation.

Independent oversight is needed so these human rights abuses end and perpetrators are held accountable.

6. Set targets to end the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prison

Decades have gone by without any progress on the rates of overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids in prison.

The Federal Government must set national justice targets on ending rates of imprisonment and violence as part of the Closing the Gap framework so it can measure, track, report and be held accountable for achieving national progress on ending the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prison.

There is currently a refresh of the targets – now is the time to add them in.

7. Improve collection and use of data

It is amazing how much we simply do not know about children being deprived of their liberty, because governments are either not tracking or refuse to be transparent about youth justice data.

Data is necessary to inform smart and effective policy choices, and to fully understand the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids by different age groups, genders, disability, socio-economic groups, LGBTIQ+ identity and geographic locations.

8. Work through COAG to reform State and Territory laws that breach children’s rights

The Australian Government must accept that this is a national shame which demands national leadership.

The solutions are in the recommendations of the avalanche of commissions and inquiries stemming back to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody over 27 years ago.

Most recently, solutions were set out in the Northern Territory Royal Commission Report and the Australian Law Reform Commission’s ‘Pathways to Justice’ Report – neither of which have received an adequate national response.

The Australian Government can set minimum youth justice standards to make sure that all laws are compliant with human rights and do not disproportionately affect Indigenous kids.

NATSILS, as part of Change The Record Coalition, called for these changes last year in response to the NT Royal Commission as part of a National Plan of Action. The Australian Government must hear our voices and adopt our recommendations so that our children are no longer abused in prison, and instead are supported to thrive in their communities.

NACCHO Aboriginal Childrens Health and Protection : Put services in hands of Indigenous @AMSANTaus #ACCHO groups like @CAACongress and Anyinginyi #TennantCreek says Federal #Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion

“Aboriginal health services were out­performing the mainstream system not because there was “anything wrong” with the latter, but because Indigenous organisations were more engaged with people on the ground.

They are completely irrigated with people with cultural competence it’s working, and wherever we invest in services and deal with a large Indigenous demographic, we need to invest in Indigenous organisations,

If I’m in Alice Springs and a log falls on my head, take me to Congress (Central Australian Aboriginal Congress), and if I’m in Tennant Creek to Anyinginyi (Anyinginyi Health), because they are better, more sophisticated, larger, deeper-capacity health systems, Why wouldn’t we be moving, instead of having two health systems, to having a single one?”

Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has called on state and territory governments to hand ­Aboriginal organisations control of services in areas where most ­Indigenous people live.

Adapted from The Australian

Doing so would also benefit non-indigenous Australians through improved service delivery, he said, arguing that in the Northern Territory, Aboriginal-run health services outperform the public health system.

Senator Scullion visited the troubled outback NT town of Tennant Creek yesterday with Social Services Minister Dan Tehan. They met local service providers, including representatives of Aboriginal groups, the police and the education system.

Senator Scullion said there was “no enterprise” that Aboriginal ­organisations could not undertake, and claims to the contrary were tantamount to racism.

Mr Tehan said the message he and Senator Scullion had heard “loud and clear” was that better service co-ordination was the key to resolving the town’s problems.

“The royal commission (into the protection and detention of children in the NT) made it very clear that this isn’t a financial resourcing issue; this is about better co-ordination of services,” he said.

Tennant Creek has been in upheaval since the rape of a toddler in February brought longstanding problems into the spotlight. It later emerged that a series of blunders had prevented child protection services from removing the girl when she was at risk.

NT Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield said her department had since reviewed more than 150 cases involving multiple child protection notifications and uncovered further failings, but no children had been taken into protective custody as a direct result. It emerged recently that 15 Tennant Creek children had been put into care ­between February and June.

“We have now put in place a system where we will be reviewing 50 cases each month,” Ms Wakefield said. “I’m confident that there’s more oversight and more resources in Tennant Creek.”

Territory Families received 1515 child protection notifications from Tennant Creek in the nine months to the end of March and completed 578 investigations. Of those, there were 181 occasions where harm was substantiated, a 10 per cent increase on the previous year.

Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Michael White said stricter alcohol restrictions had helped cut domestic violence by about 20 per cent. He said there was no evidence to support claims the worst offenders had merely moved elsewhere.


NACCHO Commentary ” So, lets reset the Aboriginal Health agenda now! Plus two major launches at the #IndigenousHealthSummit 1. @KenWyattMP Helping reduce kidney transplant barriers 2. Aboriginal Kids – a healthy start to life: Report of the Chief Health Officer 2018


Launch 1 Ken Wyatt and Kidney transplants

We know our First Nations people have substantially higher rates of end-stage kidney disease but are much less likely to receive a kidney transplant.

By identifying the barriers and developing a national framework to address them, this panel can advise on an integrated model of care to change and save lives.

People with kidney failure have two kidney replacement therapy options – dialysis or a kidney transplant.”

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM said Turnbull Government funding of $250,000 would allow the Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) to lead a comprehensive review into the hurdles, service gaps and practical challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients receiving treatment for renal disease.

See full press release Part 3 below

Launch 2 Aboriginal Kids – a healthy start to life: Report of the NSW Chief Health Officer 2018

The Report of the Chief Health Officer 2018 Aboriginal Kids – a healthy start to life was released on 21 June 2018. The Report was developed in collaboration with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council and focuses on key improvements in the health of Aboriginal children in NSW in the first five years of life.

The Report emphasises the importance of services and programs being carried out in partnership with Aboriginal people, their communities, the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector and across government.

Services and programs that have helped to achieve improvements in Aboriginal child health are highlighted throughout the Report.

Further information on the health of Aboriginal children and the NSW population can be found on HealthStats NSW​​.

Download chief-health-officers-report-2018

Part 2 So why do we need to reset? Contribution from NACCHO CEO Pat Turner

It is important to acknowledge how far we have all come together over the last 100 years. The new medical technology now saves countless lives, the testing regimens are first rate, surgical care has been enhanced and our people now have pathways to a multitude of careers and thrive in the health workforce.

Some are even in positions of ‘real power’ to advocate for reforms.

So let’s be clear that Australia has a world-class health system,  but not for all of us! So, let’s focus today on the fact that health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia are still a long way from those of non-Indigenous people.

That is why we need to reset and do it now!

NACCHO is the national peak body representing 144 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in over 304 clinics and health settings. We provide about three million episodes of care each year for about 350,000 people which is provided by almost 6,000 staff. In very remote areas, our services provided about one million episodes of care.

Over 50 per cent of the workforce is Aboriginal and we are working at increasing that.

So, our ACCHOs are universally acknowledged as effective in primary health care despite endless amounts of red tape, data manipulation, dealing with inconsistent funding models, constantly reacting to the medical crisis ‘du jour’ – what is it today Minister? -oh that’s right- STI outbreaks in Northern Australia due to various state government departmental health budget cuts.

Our Aboriginal leadership matrix works in health but is yet to be fully funded or accepted by government in other public service sectors!

Why are the Aboriginal self-determination concepts accepted only by parts of our machinery of federal government rather than as a whole of government planning principle? The Feds pick and choose what they like, what they fund and how they access our Indigenous data!

That’s not to mention the usual buck-passing between commonwealth and state entities which drive us all mad with inconsistent and arbitrary decisions made on behalf of our people. The system is actually designed to work against our best interests.

We don’t need more goodwill and the best of intentions from the government. We require more commitment to the concept of Aboriginal self-determination through meaningful engagement.

This week the PM told the Local Government Association Dinner in Canberra that they are all agreeing on what (they) wanted to achieve and then committing our respective resources to work in coordination to achieve it.

Why can’t they offer that same deal to us? working collaboratively with our local communities is especially vital when you realise that our Aboriginal population will increase to one million people by 2030.

And why is it that our governments are at such a disadvantage when modelling economic or health data for such a small segment of the overall population? I’m as mystified as you to that answer after almost 50 years in Indigenous affairs!

I have lost count of the number of speeches I have given over the years on this subject regarding Aboriginal people’s health to numerous gatherings, meetings, conferences, forums, roundtables and symposiums. I don’t need to refresh my memory like the government needs to do ever election cycle of what is wrong NACCHO just wants to reset the agenda to the solutions we Aboriginal people have developed over the years!

NACCHO wants to help our people live healthier, longer lives, supported by better, more targeted health services across the nation.

Now we are funded by the Australian Government to support improvements in Indigenous health through the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services network and to bring the voices of those services into health policy decisions in Canberra. So they need to listen to us when we say we want to reset the agenda and draw on our collective experience.

NACCHO is independent of, trusted by and offers a strong voice to the federal government for the provision of specific community sector health care needs for Aboriginal people that is controlled by Aboriginal people. This ensures a strong voice in policy work and participation in policy development and legislation advocating and dealing with the issues as they arise or as reforms are discussed.

I coordinate 25 staff who sit on some 80 national committees and bodies. Historically NACCHO has a proud tradition and has developed over the last 20 years a strong coalition of support with other NGO’s already across a diverse range of areas.

We offer an alternative point of view enhanced by years of dedicated experience. Aboriginal perspectives from our governing bodies and staff about culturally appropriate healthcare needs are admired and respected by government.

According to the AIHW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples represented 3.3 per cent of the population or 787,000 people.

The median age of an Aboriginal is 23 years and only one in ten reported speaking one of the 150 Australian Indigenous languages at home.

As many of you would know, the state of Aboriginal health continues to be cause for both national shame and requires national action.

I’m still as frustrated as some of you are that we have not Closed the gap for Indigenous people or had meaningful reconciliation in this nation.

I believe there is no agenda more critical to Australia than enabling Aboriginal people to live good quality lives while enjoying all their rights and fulfilling their responsibilities to themselves, their families and communities.

Aboriginal people should feel safe in their strong cultural knowledge being freely practiced and acknowledged across the country. This should include the daily use of our languages, in connection with our lands and with ready access to resources.

Aboriginal people should feel free from racism, empowered as individuals and have educational opportunities, careers, and health services to meet their needs and overcome inequality, poverty and increase life expectancy.

Now the Australian Government’s 2007 commitment to Close the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous life expectancy within a generation was welcome. But the Close the Gap agenda did not deliver on a fundamental change to the way governments work with Aboriginal people or effect real change to the social determinants of health for our people.

I want to be very clear why we need to reset the agenda as meaningful progress against the closing the gap targets is now stalling and,  in many cases, is going backwards.

I am also concerned that the Government is now shifting the focus to ‘prosperity’ targets, when we don’t even have the basic targets on track.

The figures paint a staggering reality. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare tells us that the mortality gaps are still not closing quickly enough.

No government can preside over widening mortality gaps and maintain goals to improve life expectancy and child mortality rates. On average Indigenous men and women die 15 years earlier than other Australians. Indigenous people suffer chronic diseases that are entirely preventable and have virtually been eliminated in the non-Indigenous population: trachoma, rheumatic heart disease and congenital deaths as a direct result of the current Syphilis outbreak across Australia, are but three examples.

But of course, it’s not all bad news, NACCHO, its Affiliates and our hardworking Member services have had recent success with various national health programs. As you know Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can result in birth defects and behavioural and neurodevelopmental abnormalities including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Smoking rates are declining and NACCHO is working to stop any increase in STI rates arcoss the nation.

Aboriginal culture has many strengths that can provide a positive influence, such as supportive extended family networks, connection to country and language. It is imperative that a person’s health be considered in the context of their social, emotional, spiritual and cultural wellbeing, and that of their community. We know that being able to better manage and control your own affairs is directly linked to improved wellbeing and mental health.

This is where the community-controlled health sector and Aboriginal Health Workers are uniquely placed.

Our Member services build ongoing relationships to give continuity of care so that chronic conditions are managed and preventative health care can be effectively targeted.

So, for any reset to be successful Aboriginal communities need to be properly resourced, and Aboriginal people need to be in control. NACCHO continues to call on the Australian Government to invest in the expansion of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, especially to reach more people living in remote isolated areas.

So, lets reset the agenda now!

Part 3

An expert panel will investigate and identify any barriers faced by First Nations people in need of kidney donations, to help ensure equity of access to lifesaving and life changing transplants.

Minister Wyatt said that, in December 2016, there were 1,987 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians receiving such therapy.

“Of these, 13 per cent had received a kidney transplant, compared with 50 per cent of other Australians, revealing that First Nations people were nine times as likely to be reliant on dialysis,” said Minister Wyatt.

“While the Turnbull Government is funding improvements to dialysis services and renal disease prevention measures in regional and remote communities, our commitment to transplant access is absolute.”

The panel will comprise people with expertise in working in community, clinical settings, research and public policy and will consult widely across First Nations communities and the health and transplantation sectors.

“I have heard many moving stories of the trauma and heartache caused by renal disease, including in my own family,” Minister Wyatt said.

“This review aims to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander transplant rates, reduce the burden of regular dialysis and give more First Nations people the chance to live fulfilling lives on country and in their communities.”

The panel’s work will help inform development of a long-term strategy for organ donation, retrieval and transplantation being undertaken by the Commonwealth, as agreed by the COAG Health Council. It is hoped the strategy will be ready for consideration by COAG in 2019.

Funding for TSANZ for the project is provided under the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP).

The Turnbull Government is investing $3.9 billion in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health over the next four years, with the IAHP providing comprehensive, high-quality and culturally appropriate primary health care services across the nation.

NACCHO Aboriginal children’s health and safety #wehavethesolutions : We share responsibilities to ensure the right of every Aboriginal child to be safe and thrive in family, community and culture


‘ No one is advocating to keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in unsafe situations. On this we are all in agreement.

We share responsibilities to ensure the right of every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child to be safe and thrive in family, community and culture. Their safety is paramount, our children must be kept safe.

However, if a child is removed to ensure their safety, they must have the most appropriate placement with processes, supports and accountabilities in place to ensure their safety while enabling cultural continuity and connection to kin.

It is simplistic, divisive and destructive to link culture with abuse. Any accusation that culture is being used as an excuse to harm children is false.

Any suggestion that a child’s safety would be willingly compromised for the sake of culture is misguided, hurtful and untrue.

Most of our children are living in safe environments with their parents, with strong connections to their culture, because culture and child safety are not mutually exclusive.

From Family Matters press release continued Part 1 Below

In February, Rose’s two-year-old daughter was raped in Tennant Creek. The toddler sustained horrific injuries, requiring surgery and a blood transfusion. She also tested positive for a sexually transmitted disease.

Following the incident, the Northern Territory Children’s Commissioner released an Own Initiative Investigation Report into the incident.

The report states that since 2002, the family had been involved in 35 recorded incidents of domestic violence, eight aggravated assault convictions against the other parent, more than 150 recorded interactions with police, and 52 child protection notifications – which included allegations of domestic and sexual abuse.

All 14 of the recommendations of the report were accepted by the Northern Territory Government, triggering an overhaul of the state’s child protection.

The mother of the toddler who was sexually abused in Tennant Creek speaks out for the first time see Part 2 below, exclusively to NITV’s The Point.

 ” The Prime Minister copped a serve from the NT News this week, which accused him of not caring about the abuse of kids in indigenous communities. The story noted how long it’s been since Turnbull visited the Territory (nine months) and how little he’s said about the rape of a two-year-old girl in her Tennant Creek family home in February.

The criticism for not visiting the Territory was fair. The suggestion Turnbull doesn’t care about the safety of kids was harsh.

The Tennant Creek case was an appalling failure of the NT government’s own agencies, which failed to act despite more than 50 warnings. It was the latest in a long list of failures by the NT Families Department.”

See Part 3 David Speers SkyNews


SNAICC put it simply in its recent submission to the Closing the Gap “refresh”:

“We have a shared responsibility to ensure the right of every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child to be safe and thrive in family, community and culture.”

It has been 10 years since COAG’s Closing the Gap strategy began.

In that time, only three of the seven national targets are reported as being on track and four are due to expire in 2018. COAG is currently undertaking the Closing the Gap ‘refresh’ process.

This process is a unique opportunity to influence the next phase of the CTG agenda, which will form the framework over the next 10 years for all Australian governments to advance outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It will also provide the framework for how government funding is prioritised to meet the targets.

SNAICC’s Key Calls

We have a shared responsibility to ensure the right of every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child to be safe and thrive in family, community and culture. To achieve this:

  • an additional Closing the Gap target should be included to eliminate the overrepresentation of our children in out-of-home care by 2040, with sub-targets that address the underlying causes of child protection intervention; and
  • the current Closing the Gap target on early childhood education should be  strengthened to encompass early childhood development and  expanded to close the gap in outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from birth to 4 years by 2030

Download the SNAICC Submission HERE


10 years of action by Congress ACCHO in Central Australia

Like most Aboriginal males in Central Australia I am sick of going to funerals and seeing our courts, jails, health clinics and hospital filled with brothers and sisters who have been involved in family violence.

It is time that Aboriginal males stood up both morally and culturally, taking positive action and a zero tolerance approach to stop the excessive violence in families, communities and towns, a crisis that is having a devastating effect on community members of all ages and genders, especially the children.

John Liddle Congress ACCHO  Male Health Service Manager

See Media Coverage

 “The key objectives of this Congress ACCHO Stop the Violence workshop was to bring together a mixture of 120 elders and leaders from Central Australian communities, Alice Springs and town camps to address the issue of family violence and to learn about cultural brokerage and conflict resolution.

This gathering follows from the meeting in 2008 where over 400 males acknowledged and said sorry for the ‘hurt, pain, and suffering caused by Aboriginal males to Aboriginal women and families.

During the workshop, the delegates were joined by over 20 stakeholders on day two to stop the violence in Aboriginal communities to review current service delivery and future needs.

As the delegates discovered in the workshops the reasons for the violence are many, whether it is alcohol-related, result of living in high stress environments or the constant disempowerment of Aboriginal males by government policies.

These reasons were identified, expanded on and solution developed as you will see in this workshop report ”

Download the Report Part 1 Stop the Violence workshop Final report BL

Part 1 From Family Matters press release

The issues are complex, and the outcomes are tragic. There are currently ten Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children in the out-of-home care system for every-one non-Indigenous child and the numbers are projected to treble by 2035 if no effective action is taken.

Family Matters is calling for a new approach, one that is robust, transparent and accountable. The current system does not work and in fact exacerbates the existing disadvantages and trauma experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities.

Closing the Gap must aim to eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care by 2040.

To achieve this while keeping children safe will require a dramatic restructure to the investments in early years education and care and early identification, support and intervention services for families. Currently less than $1 in every $5 of child protection funding is spent on support services for children and their families.

There must be a national recognition of the need for investment in strengthening families prior to the emergence of protective issues. We must work to ensure that the drivers of child protection intervention are addressed, rather than continuing with a poorly designed and resourced system that reacts when it’s too late, after families have already reached breaking point and children have been harmed.

If we continue to tear families apart without addressing issues including poverty, disadvantage and trauma that underlie neglect and abuse, then the next generation will be removed in even greater numbers.

We reject the simplistic and uninformed cries to remove children at risk and permanently adopt them to non-Indigenous families, as this ignores the complexity and severity of the underlying causes that have brought us to this point.

This new approach requires not only adequate resourcing but also the transition of power to communities and the Aboriginal community-controlled organisations that service and support them. The process must be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We understand the situation in a way that no one else can; the complex issues, our cultures and our social structures. We have the highest stakes in this matter – the safety and wellbeing of our own children and the effect that their removal has on our families and communities.

Family Matters notes and supports the Labor commitment to holding a major summit on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children within its first 100 days of government, which will involve all those working in frontline services to protect Australia’s children. This must be underpinned by an investment in a National Aboriginal Children’s Strategy that includes child protection in the Close the Gap priorities. It must be overseen by a National Aboriginal Children’s Commissioner supported by jurisdiction-based commissioners that are independent and well-resourced.

Part 2 EXCLUSIVE: Mother of sexually abused Tennant Creek toddler speaks out

As the sun sets on a winter afternoon in an Adelaide suburb, a mother contemplates all that she has been through over the past few months.

For Rose* this city symbolises hope – a new beginning for her and her young family, after the horrific rape of her two-year-old girl in the small Northern Territory town of Tennant Creek.

“I have a nice place here, it’s a nice neighbourhood, and I just want to live here and live with my children and give my children what they need,” Rose told The Point.

In February, Rose’s two-year-old daughter was raped in Tennant Creek. The toddler sustained horrific injuries, requiring surgery and a blood transfusion. She also tested positive for a sexually transmitted disease.

Following the incident, the Northern Territory Children’s Commissioner released an Own Initiative Investigation Report into the incident.

The report states that since 2002, the family had been involved in 35 recorded incidents of domestic violence, eight aggravated assault convictions against the other parent, more than 150 recorded interactions with police, and 52 child protection notifications – which included allegations of domestic and sexual abuse.

All 14 of the recommendations of the report were accepted by the Northern Territory Government, triggering an overhaul of the state’s child protection.

However, Rose told The Point she rejects what has been reported about her in the media, labelling negative statements as assumptions about her and her life.

“Just don’t go talking about my life, and putting my picture up, painting me as a bad mother. I’m not a bad mother, I’m a good mother. I worry about my children and their safety, and I love and care about them,” she said.

We can’t talk about the events of that night for legal reasons, but Rose insists that it wasn’t her fault and that she’s been unfairly portrayed.

“The media’s blaming me, putting my face up, saying that I’m an alcoholic, but I’m not. I’m a social drinker. I look after my children and my family,” Rose said.

“The media said that my house was a party house, but it wasn’t. We didn’t drink there much. It’s just that some people would come past and sit down with their alcohol in my yard because they weren’t allowed to go and drink outside of town.”

Alcohol restrictions in communities such as Tennant Creek came into place in 2007 under the Howard Government with the Northern Territory National Emergency Response.

Also known as the Northern Territory Intervention, it was called after reports of ‘rampant’ child sex abuse and domestic violence.

But as someone with lived experience, Rose sees the alcohol restrictions as more of a problem than a solution. She believes things could have been different for her family if they didn’t exist.

“That’s when they loaded up houses, townhouses with alcoholics,” Rose said.

She said that people used to go out bush to drink, but the restrictions mean people need to drink at a house with a permit.

“They can’t drink outside of town because it’s restricted and they have to have [an] address and have ID to help get alcohol and drink it at the house,” she explained.

“This (her daughter’s rape) could have been avoided if people were allowed to drink everywhere, out of town.”

Tennant Creek

A sign in Tennant Creek outlining alcohol restrictions.

Northern Territory Children’s Commissioner Colleen Gwynne said that alcohol is still a problem in Tennant Creek, but said she would like to see further restrictions, not less.

“All you’ve got to do is take a look since they’ve turned the tap off. Since the alcohol restrictions have come in, there’s less presentations at the hospital, there’s less violence, crime has gone down, it’s a different town,” she said.

“Alcohol is a significant problem in the Northern Territory, and we need to seriously consider further restrictions to other areas of the Northern Territory.”

The report also said that Rose’s children “regularly sought safety and regularly self-placed with different extended family to avoid returning to the care of P1 who was often intoxicated or impacted upon by the effect of family violence”.

But Rose refutes this claim; explaining she and her children waited nine years for housing.

“Me and my children were homeless. And my side, I thought it was better for my children to stay with my family so I can wait for my house in Tennant Creek. If not they’d get me off the list and give the house to another person,” Rose said.

Gerry Georgatos from the National Indigenous Critical Response Service (NICRS) has worked with Rose since the incident occurred, as well as with others in the Tennant Creek community in the past.

He believes that families in the dysfunctional town are not receiving the support they need.

“I can’t say much other than the mother and youngest children now have an opportunity at improved life circumstances. Authentic hope and aspirations [were] denied to them in their impoverished homeland community in Tennant Creek,” Mr Georgatos said.

“The relocation to Adelaide and the support from the NICRS and others supporting the family has been vital. They didn’t have this support availed to them when they needed [it] during the years living in and near Tennant Creek.

“The neglect of this family in [their] time in Tennant Creek is like a writing on the wall explanation of all that’s wrong with Northern Territory governments and institutions forever failing the vulnerable.”

Part 3 David Speers

THE child sexual abuse royal commission was easily Julia Gillard’s most worthy act as prime minister.

It uncovered a culture of abuse, cover-up and complacency. It helped expose paedophiles and led to real change.

Gillard deserves great credit for ­initiating the inquiry, as does Malcolm Turnbull for his government’s response. A national redress scheme for victims has now been agreed, laws are being changed and a national apology will be delivered. None of this has been easy.

But it’s worth remembering this royal commission was limited in its scope. It dealt with child sexual abuse in institutions — churches, schools, the Scouts, sporting clubs and so on.

It did not look at children being sexually abused in the family home. Yet, sadly, this is where most abuse ­occurs. In 70 to 80 per cent of child sex abuse cases, there is a familial ­relationship between the victim and the offender.

In other words, the perpetrator is most often a father, stepfather, uncle, neighbour or family friend.

As Gillard said when announcing the royal commission back in 2012, “any instance of child abuse is a vile and evil thing”.

As Turnbull said in his response on Wednesday, “any abuse of children, in any context, in a family or in an ­institution, is unacceptable”.

They are both right. Any abuse of a child is vile and unacceptable. Yet abuse in the family home appears to be steadily rising.

According to the Productivity Commission, the number of children in out-of-home care grew by more than 50 per cent over the past decade.

The number of indigenous kids placed in care nearly doubled.

These are shocking statistics.

The Commonwealth cannot run state or territory departments, but it can do more to help stop the abuse of kids, both indigenous and non-­indigenous.

One of the big problems when it comes to child abuse in the Territory is the lack of information sharing.

In fact it’s a big problem nationally as well.

Police, schools, GPs, childcare centres and soccer clubs should be able to share information with each other about suspected abuse. They should be able to share this information across state borders. Yet too often privacy laws prevent them doing so.

Another problem is the dog’s breakfast of mandatory reporting rules. Each state and territory has a different set of rules, making it difficult to work out exactly who is ­required to report exactly what signs of abuse.

Despite its focus on institutions, the royal commission made important recommendations to fix this mess more generally.

Along with clearing up what needs to be reported, it called for nationally consistent laws to share information on children s safety and wellbeing. It specifically recommended an information exchange scheme to operate in and across Australian ­jurisdictions.

For all the focus on whether priests should break the seal of confession, this recommendation on information sharing would have a far greater impact in protecting kids, both in the Northern Territory and every other state. Unfortunately, this recommendation is also proving to be one of the most difficult to adopt.

Tennant Creek aerial photograph.

An inter-jurisdictional working group is trying to put this information exchange scheme in place, but a source says there is still a lot more work to be done

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #TopEndFASD18 : “Let’s Make #FASD History” says Top End Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) forum with 6 key messages to be taken into account addressing FASD:

 ” The forum delegates agreed that there was an urgent need for action to prevent FASD in our Top End communities, and across the Northern Territory.

It is essential that our responses do not stigmatise women or Aboriginal people.

It is important that we don’t lay blame, but instead work together, to support our women and young girls.

Everyone is at risk of FASD, so everyone must be informed the harmful effects of drinking while pregnant.

Our men also need to step up and support our mothers, sisters, nieces and partners, to ensure that we give every child the best chance in life.”

A landmark Top End Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) forum* was held in Darwin on 30-31 May 2018

Read over 25 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and FASD articles published over 6 years

“ Territorians want and deserve access to high quality health services,” Ms Fyles said.

Alcohol abuse impacts on individuals, families, businesses and our community in many different ways, including the risk of causing permanent and irreversible damage to a baby if alcohol is consumed during pregnancy.

That’s why reducing alcohol related harm is a key priority of the Territory Labor Government.

Our Government will develop a whole of government framework to prevent FASD with universal and targeted strategies to address FASD “

Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, today welcomed 180 delegates to the inaugural Top End Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Forum in Darwin see Ministers Press Release Part 2 below

#TopEndFASD18  Bringing together Aboriginal leaders, FASD experts, Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, government representatives, medical professionals, and Non-Government organisations. Approximately 180 delegates representing 37 organisations across the Northern Territory.

FASD is often considered to be a ‘hidden’ disability, because more often than not, the physical characteristics of the individual are not easily recognised. Instead, an individual may present with learning and behavioural difficulties, which may present for a range of disorders.

As a result, FASD is not easily identified and individuals can go undiagnosed and receive inadequate treatment and support.

The forum heard from the NT Minister for Health and the Attorney General Natasha Fyles, NT Children’s Commissioner, Colleen Gwynne, Professor Elizabeth Elliott, Dr James Fitzpatrick, NOFASD and FASD Hub.

The forum also heard from Aboriginal community controlled organisations Danila Dilba, Wurli Wurlinjang, Anyinginyi Health Services, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory and the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency.

Over two days, the forum delegates discussed the impacts of FASD on individuals, families and communities and acknowledged that alcohol misuse and its consequences are an issue for all Territorians, particularly our most vulnerable. Delegates also heard the evidence on how the prevalence of FASD impacts many of our services, including health, education and justice. Delegates learnt that trauma runs deep, and healing and making the right connections is crucial.

The delegates raised the following key messages to be taken into account in addressing FASD:

 1.Prevention and raising awareness

FASD is entirely preventable, much of its impacts are also irreversible. The harms caused by alcohol in our communities are not acceptable and we will all work together to develop prevention and intervention strategies that are culturally appropriate and relevant for our 2

people and communities. It is acknowledged that current and proposed alcohol control measures in the NT are a critical component of prevention.

2. Collaborative Approaches

The forum identified an urgent need for Aboriginal organisations, government agencies, NGOs and local communities to work together to develop policies and programs for women, men, children and communities in the Top End communities and to contribute to the development of an NT FASD Strategy. This needs to be Aboriginal community-led by the health, education, justice and child protection sectors.

 3.Access to FASD resources

It was evident that there is a need for more investment in developing culturally appropriate tools and resources for local Aboriginal communities and key stakeholders working on the frontline and also at the strategic level.

4.Assessment and Treatment services

An identified priority need is for the establishment of multi-disciplinary neuro-developmental assessment and treatment services that are strategically linked with existing service settings, including primary health care, education, child protection and the justice system.

5.Support for children and families

Research is needed to better understand how best to support children and families with FASD and other related issues that also often affect families, such as trauma. We refer to the Fitzroy Valley as a best practice model, as many strong women and leaders in the community worked in partnership with FASD experts and research institutes.


The skilling and expansion of the workforce needed for prevention, assessment and treatment of FASD, particularly the community based remote Aboriginal workforce, was identified as an important need.

From this forum, we have heard the experiences about the high levels of despair and sense of disempowerment and hurt of our people and these are sad stories. We were also enlightened by the enthusiasm, dedication, passion and hope from local communities, all professions and services, that want to do more and can do more to make FASD History!

*APO NT will be producing a full report on the outcomes of the FASD Forum over the coming weeks.

Generational Change: Putting the spotlight on Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

30 May 2018

Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, today welcomed 180 delegates to the inaugural Top End Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Forum in Darwin.

“Territorians want and deserve access to high quality health services,” Ms Fyles said.

“Alcohol abuse impacts on individuals, families, businesses and our community in many different ways, including the risk of causing permanent and irreversible damage to a baby if alcohol is consumed during pregnancy.

“That’s why reducing alcohol related harm is a key priority of the Territory Labor Government.

“Our Government will develop a whole of government framework to prevent FASD with universal and targeted strategies to address FASD.

“This strategy was supported by recommendations in the recent Riley Review into Alcohol Policy and Legislation Alcohol Report and is now an important part of the Territory Labor Government’s Alcohol Harm Minimisation Action Plan to deliver sweeping alcohol reforms for generational change.”

The NT Department of Health funded the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APONT) to deliver the 2 day forum.

The themes of the Forum are:

  • Increase knowledge and raise awareness about FASD in Top End communities and the impact of alcohol during pregnancy on the developing baby;
  • Understand the impact of FASD on children, youth and their families
  • Identify the challenges, issues and solutions for governments, service providers and other key stakeholders;
  • Identify culturally appropriate resources, tools and protocols
  • Establish a Top End FASD Network.

Minister Fyles said that Forum provides an important consultation opportunity with the health sector and community to feed into the development of the NT’s FASD Strategy, for release later this year.

“Stories will be shared and ideas and actions generated to inform the Strategy, which in turn will help guide communities and Government to work together in partnerships to prevent FASD,” Ms Fyles said.

“The NT FASD Strategy will promote the screening of alcohol use before and during pregnancy; appropriate multi-disciplinary assessment; early intervention, support and case management; and will develop targeted education campaigns for those who are most at risk from alcohol-related harms.

“This work is supported in our Government’s 10-Year Early Childhood Development Plan to lead cultural change in reducing alcohol consumption and harms in the community.

“Our whole of government approach to respond to FASD will be crucial to preventing this completely preventable lifelong and permanent condition.”


NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Justice #NRW2018 #IHMayDay18 : Queensland Attorney General @YvetteDAth launches #LawYarn a cutting edge health and justice resource at Wuchopperen ACCHO : A unique resource which supports good health outcomes

‘Legal problems with money, housing, court and families will lead to poor health if they are not resolved. Poor health impacts on your capacity to make good decisions and care for your children, for example resulting in engagement with the courts or child protection system.

‘It is no coincidence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – among the most incarcerated people in the world – also have some of the poorest health outcomes in the world.’

Wuchopperen Chairperson, NACCHO Deputy Chairperson and LawRight lawyer Donnella Mills said health and legal needs are often interlinked.

“We know that legal problems with money, housing, families and crime can often lead to poor health outcomes for people if they are not resolved,” Mrs D’Ath said.

The State Government allocated $55,000 to not-for-profit community legal organisation LawRight to develop a legal ‘health check’ project to help identify the potential legal needs of Indigenous people

Law Yarn helps health practitioners yarn with members of the Indigenous community about their legal problems and connect them with legal help.”

At today’s launch in Cairns, Mrs D’Ath said Law Yarn was a free, innovative conversation starter to help Indigenous people identify their legal issues

See Ministers Press Release Part 2


Queensland Attorney General Yvette D’ath has launched the cutting edge health and justice resource ‘Law Yarn’ at Wuchopperen today.

Download the Law Yarn Edition

Lawright Yarn Edition 1

So… what is Law Yarn ?

Law Yarn is a unique resource which supports good health outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Law Yarn helps health workers to yarn with members of remote and urban communities about their legal problems and connect them to legal help.

Legal problems with money, housing, crime and families will lead to poor health if they are not resolved.

Without Law Yarn the problems won’t be identified and will instead be ignored. This turns them into bigger problems

What are the key legal problems faced by the community

Law Yarn uses images of cyclones, mangroves, stars and journeys to help vulnerable communities recognise their legal problems in context and learn where to get help

Law Yarn, an initiative of community legal service LawRight, will see specially trained Wuchopperen health staff yarn with clients about legal issues which might be affecting them, and connect them to the free on-site legal services delivered by LawRight and Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service.

The health staff will use the highly visual, culturally appropriate Law Yarn tool to help clients feel at ease, and identify and discuss legal problems.

Wuchopperen staff are currently being trained to use the resource, with the program being rolled out in the second half of 2018.

Law Yarn will run until the end of June 2019 and will then be evaluated by distinguished legal academics Fiona Allison, Chris Cunneen and Melanie Schwartz.

Part 2: Law Yarn to help improve Indigenous health

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath has launched a legal ‘health check’ for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Cairns, as part of National Reconciliation Week.

Mrs D’Ath said Law Yarn would be trialled at Wuchopperen Health Service Limited, the Cairns-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical service where LawRight and the Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service (QIFVLS) operate weekly legal services.

“Health practitioners will be trained to help a person complete their Law Yarn,” she said.

“The resources use Indigenous symbols by artist Rikki Salam to represent the main legal problems – money, housing, family and crime – to help structure the yarn.

“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.”

Mrs D’Ath said LawRight has worked with Wuchopperen and QIFVLS and consulted with the Health Justice Partnerships Network and Health Justice Australia to make this innovative project happen.

“The trial will undergo independent academic evaluation but other Australian legal and health services have already shown an interest in the resource,” she said.






Aboriginal Health #RHD #WHA71 #RHDACTION #IndigenousWFPHA @END_RHD : Australia a key contributor to global commitment to end deadly #rheumaticheartdisease in Australia @TheAHCWA @ama_media @AMSANTaus @HeartAust @MenziesResearch @NACCHOAustralia @telethonkids

The World Health Organisation resolution for global action to tackle rheumatic heart disease (RHD) will have significant implications for Australia, which has some of the highest rates of the disease in the world

This disease disproportionately affects some of the most vulnerable communities around the world, including our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia.

It’s the most common acquired cardiovascular disease in children and young adults in low resource settings.

More than any other condition, RHD is emblematic of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians”

Institute Director Professor Jonathan Carapetis said the resolution, passed late Friday May 25 , will give RHD the attention required to eliminate what is mostly a preventable disease

Telethon Kids Institute is a founding partner of END RHD, a national alliance against the disease and home to the END RHD Centre of Research Excellence.

Rheumatic fever is caused by an abnormal immune reaction to Strep A infection of the skin and throat and, when left untreated, can lead to rheumatic heart disease – in turn causing disability and premature death. It affects 30 million people worldwide.

The resolution was passed at the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva, attended by delegates from 194 WHO Member States. The commitment aims to consolidate efforts worldwide towards the prevention, control and elimination of RHD.

“This resolution puts RHD front and centre on the global agenda, meaning governments will be compelled to act,” Professor Carapetis said.

“Countries with a high burden of the disease will be required to prioritise the implementation of strategies aimed at prevention and treatment, with countries with a low burden providing support and funding.”

Watch sharing a heart beat

This film will give health messages and information for women with severe rheumatic heart disease. A film about Aboriginal women and the relationship between culture and health and how this influences care

Professor Carapetis said the passing of the resolution on the global stage reflected growing momentum to end RHD in Australia, and followed a February roundtable convened by Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt with END RHD representatives, that resulted in a commitment to develop a roadmap to end the disease in Australia.

See Previous NACCHO RHD posts

NACCHO Aboriginal Heart @RHDAustralia Health :

In 11 languages health messages speak to patients

Professor Carapetis applauded the Australian Government for playing a leading role in drafting the resolution.

“We look forward to working closely with all relevant ministers and departments on the implementation of a comprehensive, research-backed strategy to end the disease in Australia.

“With more than 30 years of research behind us, combined with Indigenous leadership and growing political will at home and internationally, we’ve never been in a stronger position to make ending RHD a reality in Australia.”


END RHD is an alliance of health, research and community organisations seeking to amplify efforts to end RHD in Australia through advocacy and engagement.  The founding partners are the Australian Medical Association (AMA), National Heart Foundation of AustraliaAboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA), National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Menzies School of Health ResearchAboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), and the Telethon Kids Institute (home of the END RHD Centre for Research Excellence).

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #AFL @AlcoholDrugFdn #NRW2018 #WorldNoTobaccoDay : Senator Bridget McKenzie Minister for Sport and Rural Health supports Redtails Pinktails #SayNoMore Drugs, #Smoking and #FamilyViolence #SayYesTo #Education #Employment #Family #Community


 ” Over the weekend Senator Bridget McKenzie had a chat pregame to local Central Australia Redtails before they took on Darwin’s TopEnd Storm curtain raiser to AFL Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous round , a 6 hour broadcast on Channel 7 nationally : The Redtails and PinkTails Right Tracks Program is funded by the Local Drug Action Teams Program ”

See Part 1 Below

Part 2 Say No more to Family Violence all players link up

Part 3 #WorldNoTobaccoDay May 31 launched in the Alice

 ” Tobacco smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia and the Coalition Government is further committing to reduce the burden on communities.

In the lead up World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, today I am pleased to launch the next phase of the Coalition Government’s highly successful campaign Don’t Make Smokes Your Story,”

Watch video launch in the

The Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie was also is in Alice Springs to launch the next phase of the National Tobacco Campaign and said that smoking related illness devastates individuals, families and the wider community : see Part 3 below


Arrernte Males AFL Opening Ceremony

Arrernte women AFL Opening Ceremony

Part 1 The Australian Government and the ADF are excited to welcome an additional 92 Local Drug Action Teams, in to the LDAT program

The Senator with Alcohol and Drug Foundation CEO Dr Erin Lalor and  General Manager of Congress’ Alice Springs Health Services, Tracey Brand in Alice Springs talking about the inspirational Central Australian Local Drug Action Team at Congress and announcing 92 Local Drug Action Teams across Australia building partnerships to prevent and minimise harm of ice alcohol & illicit drugs use by our youth with local action plans


The Local Drug Action Team Program supports community organisations to work in partnership to develop and deliver programs that prevent or minimise harm from alcohol and other drugs (AOD).

Local Drug Action Teams work together, and with the community, to identify the issue they want to tackle, and to develop and implement a plan for action.

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation provides practical resources to assist Local Drug Action Teams to deliver evidence-informed projects and activities. The community grants component of the Local Drug Action Team Program may provide funding to support this work.

Each team will receive an initial $10,000 to develop and finalise a Community Action Plan and then to implement approved projects in your community. Grant funding of up to a maximum of $30k in the first year and up to a maximum of $40k in subsequent years is also available to help deliver approved projects in Community Action Plans. LDAT funding is intended to complement existing funding and in kind support from local partners.

LDATs typically apply for grants of between $10k and $15k to support their projects


See ADF website for Interactive locations of all sites

The power of community action

Community-based action is powerful in preventing and minimising harm from alcohol and other drugs.

Alcohol and other drugs harms are mediated by a number of factors – those that protect against risk, and those that increase risk. For example, factors that protect against alcohol and other drug harms include social connection, education, safe and secure housing, and a sense of belonging to a community. Factors that increase risks of alcohol and other drug harms include high availability of drugs, low levels of social cohesion, unstable housing, and socioeconomic disadvantage. Most of these factors are found at the community level, and must be targeted at this level for change.

Alcohol and other drugs are a community issue, not just an individual issue.

Community action to prevent alcohol and other drug harms is effective because:

  • the solutions and barriers (protective/risk factors) for addressing alcohol and other drugs harm are community-based
  • it creates change that is responsive to local needs
  • it increases community ownership and leads to more sustainable change

Part 2 Say No more to Family Violence all players link up

Such a powerful message told here in Alice Springs today as the Redtails Football Club, Top End Storm football club, link arms with the Melbourne Football Club, Adelaide Football Club for the NO MORE Campaign AU before the AFL Indigenous Round started.

WEBSITE Link up and say ‘No More’


 Watch Channel 7 Coverage of this special statement from all players

Part 3 #WorldNoTobaccoDay May 31 launched in the Alice

Tobacco smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia and the Coalition Government is further committing to reduce the burden on communities.

In the lead up World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, today I am pleased to launch the next phase of the Coalition Government’s highly successful campaign Don’t Make Smokes Your Story,”

Watch the ABC TV Interview HERE

Watch video of launch in the Alice

Successful Tobacco Campaign Continues

Tobacco smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia and the Coalition Government is further committing to reduce the burden on communities.

The Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie was in Alice Springs to launch the next phase of the National Tobacco Campaign and said that smoking related illness devastates individuals, families and the wider community.

“In the lead up World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, today I am pleased to launch the next phase of the Coalition Government’s highly successful campaign Don’t Make Smokes Your Story,” Minister McKenzie said.

“The latest phase of Don’t Make Smokes Your Story continues to focus on Indigenous Australians aged 18–40 years who smoke and those who have recently quit. The campaign also concentrates on pregnant women and their partners with Quit for You, Quit for Two.

“An evaluation of the first two phases of the campaign revealed they had successfully helped to reduce smoking rates.

“More than half of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants who saw the campaign took some action towards quitting smoking — and 8 per cent actually quit.

“These are very promising stats, however, we must continue to support and encourage those Australians who want to quit, but need help.”

The launch of the next phase of the campaign aligns with World No Tobacco Day and this year’s theme is Tobacco and heart disease.

“Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in Australia, killing one person every 12 minutes,” Minister McKenzie said.

“There is a clear link between tobacco and heart and other cardiovascular diseases, including stroke — a staggering 45,392 deaths in Australia can be attributed to cardiovascular disease in 20151.

“Latest estimates show that tobacco use and exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke not only costs the lives of loved ones, but it costs the Australian community $31.5 billion in social — including health — and economic costs.”

“The Coalition Government, along with all states and territories, has made significant efforts to reduce tobacco consumption across the board.

“For example, we know that tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounting for more than 12 per cent of the overall burden of illness.

“The Coalition Government has recently invested $183.7 million continuing to boost the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program to cut smoking and save lives.

“This comprehensive program has helped to cut the rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people smoking and we want to build on this success.

“The Government’s investment in this program highlights our long-term commitment to Closing the Gap in health inequality.”

The ABS report Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People: Smoking Trends, Australia, 1994 to 2014-15, reported a decrease in current (daily and non-daily) smoking rate in those aged 18 years and older from 55 per cent in 1994 to 45 per cent in 2014-15, which shows Indigenous tobacco control is working.

For help to quit smoking, phone the Quitline on 13 7848, visit the Department of Health’s Quitnow website or download the free My Quitbuddy app.

Your doctor or healthcare provider can also help with information and support you may need to quit.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health #WHA71 #IndigenousWFPHA News Alert : Virus afflicting thousands of Indigenous Australians to receive ‘rapid action’, Health Minister @GregHuntMP signals @AMSANTaus

  ” A major new taskforce will focus on Australia’s response to the blood-borne virus HTLV-1, found in Aboriginal communities at 1,000 times the rate of anywhere else in the world.

Key points:

  • Currently no prevention strategy for virus, which is transmitted by unprotected sex, blood contact, breastfeeding
  • Can cause rapidly fatal form of leukaemia, spinal cord inflammation, and is associated with severe lung condition
  • Minister calls for “rapid action for early testing” for the virus

The Federal Government will establish a new $8 million taskforce of doctors, Aboriginal health organisations and all levels of government, focused on HTLV-1, or human T-cell lymphotrophic virus type 1.”

Exclusive by ABC NEWS national Indigenous affairs correspondent Bridget Brennan

There is currently no strategy in Australia to prevent the virus, transmitted by unprotected sex, blood contact and breastfeeding, which can cause a rapidly fatal form of leukemia, and debilitating spinal cord inflammation.

As the ABC revealed last month, research by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute suggests thousands of Indigenous people in Central Australia unknowingly have HTLV-1, which can cause serious disease in 5-10 per cent of carriers.

There is no vaccine, and the test for HTLV-1 is not subsidised in Australia, but the Health Minister Greg Hunt told ABC he wanted “rapid action for early testing” and would ask the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce to investigate.

“If we have a test, we can have treatment and we can also engage with research on a cure, so this can make a profound difference to the health of mothers and babies.”

“This is something we need to address on our time, on our watch, and that’s what we’re doing,”

Ancient virus affecting millions around the globe

The World Health Organisation is also considering its response to HTLV-1, convening a meeting of Australian and international public health experts.

At the agency’s annual World Health Assembly in Geneva, chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy told ABC “preliminary” talks were held to, “understand the epidemiology of HTLV infection and what actions might need to be taken”.

In several communities in the Alice Springs region, 45 per cent of adults have HTLV-1, and the virus is also associated with a severe, and often-fatal, lung condition called bronchiectasis.

Researchers at the Baker Institute are collaborating with five remote Aboriginal communities — which can’t be named for privacy reasons — to understand how widespread the virus is in desert communities.

HTLV-1 is a distant relative of HIV and was detected in 1979 in the United States, and later identified in Indigenous communities in Australia in 1988.

The virus is endemic to populations in Japan, the Caribbean, West Africa and South America.

‘Orphan’ virus urgently needs more research: experts

Since Australia’s rate of HTLV-1 infection was publicised, there had been a renewed push by HTLV-1 researchers around the world to prevent its spread.

Dr Louis M Mansky from the Institute for Molecular Virology at the University of Minnesota told ABC he regarded HTLV-1 as an “orphan” virus and was shocked by the rates of infection in Australia.

“There’s now a great awareness and interest in the Indigenous population of Australia, given how high the prevalence rate is,” he said.

Dr Mansky has led new research on the spread of HTLV-1 from cell to cell.

“It’s a critical part of the virus to be successfully transmitted from an infected individual to a newly infected individual, and that’s been our focus for many years now,” he said.

Dr Mansky said HTLV-1 was currently an “untreatable disease” because there had not been enough research on the retrovirus.

“It’s also quite clear that [patients] feel orphaned by society — that nobody’s really paying attention or really caring,” he said.

“Many people have not heard of HTLV-1 and it’s not had any impact on their lives, but if you do know someone, if you have been affected, it changes your whole outlook on life, quite negatively.”

Mr Hunt said Australia needed the help of other countries, “to understand what has worked”.

NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health News Alert : John Paterson CEO of @AMSANTaus demands #NT Government ‘Reform system’ to stop Indigenous child abuse

The current system is clearly not working and the fragmentation and duplication of family support services is part of the problem, and these are largely delivered by non-Aboriginal organisations, which impairs their ability to work with the most vulnerable Aboriginal families,

The “most urgent system reform” was the establishment of a tripartite forum between the commonwealth and territory governments and the community sector, as recommended in the royal commission into child detention in the NT,

This would enable Aboriginal leaders to “plan in partnership with governments to do what is needed to fix the child protection and out-of-home care systems” and lead to the development of “a more structured intensive family support service system throughout the NT”.

John Paterson, chief executive of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory, yesterday criticised the “many system failures” that led to the attack, which included the fact the child had not been removed despite the family involved having been the subject of 52 notifications to Territory Families since 2002

As published in the Australian

Aboriginal medical providers in the Northern Territory have lashed departmental failings that saw a Tennant Creek toddler sexually abused, saying problems would continue unless family support services were delivered in conjunction with Indigenous-led organisations

Mr Paterson said this approach would require increased funding from both levels of government for prevention services and programs, to counter the fact that the NT government had “directed more than 80 per cent of new funding to the crisis end of the system”.

He said the “wholesale removal of children from vulnerable families is not the answer” but warned the system needed to shift “from statutory responses to better preventative services and programs”.

“We know that children in out-of-home care are more likely not to complete their education, to be unemployed and for women, more likely to have their children removed,” Mr Paterson said. “The issues are long term and systemic, which require long-term predictable funding from both levels of government as well as a commitment to the tripartite forum.”

The Australian can reveal that neither the NT government nor the territory’s Children’s Commissioner has sent Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion the full copy of a report into the matter, which, when delivered to Chief Minister Michael Gunner last week, was heavily redacted to cover up the department’s failings.

This is despite Senator Scullion describing it as “look(ing) like arse-covering of the highest order” and saying he had “asked the NT government for a copy of the full report, without redactions, to see what Michael Gunner is hiding”.

Senator Scullion did not respond to questions yesterday.

The inquiry’s redacted section includes the fact that older siblings of the toddler had also been subjected to attacks and that one of them had been taken away by a known sex offender after being left at home alone.

The toddler and another child have been removed from their parents’ care by authorities and a 24-year-old NT man charged with sexual assault, after the toddler underwent surgery for genital injuries, required a blood transfusion and tested positive for gonorrhoea.