NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Data : Dr Ray Lovett #Indigenous health data and the path to healing

 ” The health disadvantages of Indigenous peoples around the world have their roots in colonisation and discrimination and are related to a loss of autonomy over lands and culture.

This history has profoundly affected social determinants of health, such as poverty and marginalisation, and contributed to higher rates of communicable and non-communicable diseases in Indigenous people, and life expectancies that are typically 5 years or more lower than in non-Indigenous populations. 

Despite persistent health inequities, Indigenous peoples are determining the path to healing their communities.”

Download the research HERE  Ray Lovett ANU

” There has been major progress in the reduction of smoking rates, cardiovascular deaths and vaccine coverage among Indigenous people, but these achievements get overshadowed by the bad news stories.”

Dr Ray Lovett from the ANU Research School of Population Health said studies and media reports often portrayed Indigenous health as only a problem and overemphasised negative findings, rather than highlighting progress (Pictured above at the recent #NACCHOagm2017

View NACCHO TV Interview with Dr Lovett at #NACCHOagm2017


There has been major progress in the reduction of smoking rates, cardiovascular deaths and vaccine coverage among Indigenous people, but these achievements get overshadowed by the bad news stories.

Major gaps in data are impeding the ability of Indigenous communities to gain a clear picture of their health and access to services, an Indigenous health expert from The Australian National University (ANU) has found.

Dr Lovett is part of an international research collaboration from Australia, New Zealand and Canada that has proposed a new way to ensure Indigenous people maintain control of their health data.

The research and proposed governance processes for use of routinely collected Indigenous health data are published in The Lancet .

“The landscape of health data is changing with increasing access to diverse sources, including health system encounters, health payment claims and disease registries,” Dr Lovett said.

“The value of these routinely collected data is enhanced if they can be linked securely and anonymously at the level of the individual to create reliable health records.”

In Australia, the Federal Government has responsibility for primary health care through Medicare and Indigenous identity can be registered when enrolling for coverage.

“The problem is that enrolment in Medicare is incomplete, as is Indigenous self-identification,” Dr Lovett said.

He said Medicare data was not linked with other administrative and registry data at the national level to investigate the health and care of Indigenous people.

No national agreements on the governance of Indigenous health data exist in Australia, New Zealand or Canada.

ANU conducted the research with the Laurentian University and Institute for Clinical Evaluation Sciences and The Chiefs of Ontario in Canada, The University of Waikato in New Zealand and Bond University in Queensland.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @IndigMaraProjct : 10 Indigenous runners #RunSweatInspire to finish the #NewYorkMarathon

 “I’m hoping to show other Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders that anything is possible when you put in the hard work

I joined a walking to running program and this is a great example of what you can achieve out of something as small as that.

Growing up I wasn’t a sport person but it’s not all about sport, it’s about a holistic view and making a change for the better, I want people to think ‘if Cara can do it than so can I’.”

Queanbeyan mother Cara Smith has just completed a remarkable journey at the New York marathon on Sunday (see her Story Part 2 below )

“The running the New York Marathon  has given me a lot of discipline.

The main reason why I joined the squad was to be a positive role model for my family and for my community. People see me doing this and hopefully it gets them on the right; if you put in hard work you get rewarded for it.”

Speaking from Central Park New York Roy Tilmouth said the IMF running project had inspired him to be a positive role model for his community in Alice Springs.(see story Part 1 Below )

Update 9.00 am good news all 10 completed #NYM

Background news coverage Part 1 of 2

GROUP of indigenous Australians planning to participate in this weekend’s New York City marathon say the terror attack in Manhattan will not deter them from the race.Indigenous Marathon Foundation director Rob de Castella said the squad never considered pulling out.

“Absolutely not – I refuse to change my way of life and my aspirations and dreams based on what some radical, rat bag people do because once you start doing that, then terrorism wins,” he said.

The IMF project turns indigenous Australians from beginners to marathon runners within six months in an effort to promote healthy lifestyle choices, resilience and success.

“Most of them have done no running and they’ve gone from struggling to run three kilometers or five kilometers to six months later running 42 kilometers non-stop,” he said.

Participants also have to complete an education component, which this year featured an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and First Aid course.

De Castella said the runners, many from remote and regional areas, have experienced profound transformations as a result of the program.

“They realize that they’re so much stronger than what they were,” he said. “They want to make life better for their community because they are exposed to so much dysfunction and suicide, loss, suffering, abuse and alcoholism and they want it to stop.

“They realize that it has to start with them so this experience transforms them and makes them realize they are strong and that they have the capacity to drive change and address those issues they want stopped,” he said.

Twelve indigenous Australians will run in the world-famous New York City marathon, thanks to de Castella’s mentoring program. In the lead up to the marathon, the participants had to complete several challenges, including a 30-kilometere run in Alice Springs.

Speaking to News Corp Australia in Central Park before a practice run, Roy Tilmouth said the IMF running project had inspired him to be a positive role model for his community in Alice Springs.

“The running has given me a lot of discipline,” he said.

“The main reason why I joined the squad was to be a positive role model for my family and for my community. People see me doing this and hopefully it gets them on the right; if you put in hard work you get rewarded for it.”

Another mentee of De Castella, Layne Brown, said that his daughter had inspired him to prove something to himself.

“I’ve lost 20 kilos on this journey and I’m trying to live a better way than I have in the past,” he said.

“I stuffed a lot of things up and I want to be a better person and keep working towards that and running has been my vehicle for that over last six months”.

For Perth’s Luke Reidy, the running project offered an avenue to tackle his depression.

“I had a few deaths in the family and got depressed and I just want to highlight how physical exercise can also help with mental exercise,” he said.

Mr Reidy said he was humbled by the amount of people who had followed his progress and given their support throughout the process.

“The amount of people that watch your journey that you don’t know and they come up to you – it’s really humbling.”

Queanbeyan mother Cara Smith will complete a remarkable journey at the New York marathon on Sunday. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Smith has been part of a gruelling six-month training program under the tutelage of Australian marathon legend Rob de Castella as part of the Indigenous Marathon Foundation.

The 30-year-old was one of 12 people selected from more than 150 applicants after sharing her story with de Castella of wanting to fight a long family history of diabetes and obesity.

Smith has braved 4am training sessions in the the Canberra winter said she has herself through it to be part of something special and inspire her one-year-old son.

Smith said she was couldn’t wait to arrive in New York and soak up the atmosphere ahead of one of the biggest challenges of her life.

“I’ve been looking forward to this all year, I’m super excited and really nervous too so it’s a good mix but I just want to get started,” Smith said.

“I don’t know what to expect but I just want to soak up atmosphere and I can’t wait see my son’s face when I show him the New York marathon medal and talk to him about it one day.”

There will be unprecedented security at the event following the recent terrorist attack in New York which claimed six lives.

Smith prepared with five training camps which included a 30km effort in Alice Springs last month, the longest the group have run in preparation for the 42km epic.

“The final 12km will be pure willpower, I have a strong purpose and that is my son and setting up a healthy active lifestyle for him to aspire to,” Smith said.

“I want to set an example and I’ve done the training so I’m confident I’ll get there, I know it’s going to be tough but I’m really looking forward to the challenge.

“I want to see what the infamous wall throws at me, I’m really pumped for the final hurdle and I just hope the body and mind will hold up.”

De Castella said Smith’s sense of purpose is what will carry her the final 12km when her body is screaming to stop.

“In the marathon you always get to a point when you ask yourself ‘why am I doing this’ and it’s really important to have a really strong answer to that question,” de Castella said.

“The marathon doesn’t start until 30 km and that’s as far as they’ve ever run so they just have to get themselves to starting line and then it’s about hitting the wall and pushing through soreness and fatigue and blisters and exhaustion and pain.

“The only reason you keep going because is the reason of why you’re doing it and Cara’s reason is she wants to be a great model for her child and a leader for the community.

“These are everyday people, mums and dads and single parents, they’re not elite athletes, not high-flying academics and doctors and lawyers, they’re just everyday people that have basically had a gutful of all of the struggles and the problems in life and they just want to be part of a change going forward.”

Smith hopes her performance will inspire those in the indigenous community who are looking to make positive changes in their lives.

“I’m hoping to show other aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders that anything is possible when you put in the hard work,” Smith said.

“I joined a walking to running program and this is a great example of what you can achieve out of something as small as that.

“Growing up I wasn’t a sport person but it’s not all about sport, it’s about a holistic view and making a change for the better, I want people to think ‘if Cara can do it than so can I’.”

Press release from Federal Government



NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Pat Anderson AO 17 th Vincent Lingiari Lecture ” Our Hope for the Future: Voice. Treaty. Truth “


” When delegates from the Dialogues assembled at Uluru in May this year, the exhaustive deliberations and informed participation through the Regional Dialogues led to a broad consensus, as articulated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart which was adopted by the Convention.

Specifically, Australia’s First Peoples overwhelmingly rejected any purely symbolic changes to the Constitution, such as through a ‘statement of recognition’.

……..Dialogue participants and the Uluru Convention showed significant agreement.

There was overwhelming consensus around three proposals.

First, for a constitutionally established representative body that would give First Nations a Voice directly to the Federal Parliament.

Second, for the establishment of a Makarrata Commission to supervise the making of Treaties with us.

Third, for a process of local and regional Truth-telling which could form the basis for genuine reconciliation.”

Ms Pat Anderson AO  delivered the 17th Annual Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture at Charles Darwin University on Wednesday, 16 August.Full Text and video below

The lecture commemorated the historic walk-off from Wave Hill Station by Indigenous stockmen and their families, planting the seeds for Aboriginal land rights in Australia.

For her lecture titled: “Our Hope for the Future:  Voice. Treaty. Truth” Ms Anderson reflected on her personal history and experience as an advocate for social justice during the last half-century of struggle for the recognition of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Chair of the Lowitja Institute and co-chair of the former Prime Minister’s Referendum Council, former Chair of NACCHO and CEO of Danila Dilba ACCHO and AMSANT ,  Ms Anderson is a campaigner for advancing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in education, health, early childhood development, and violence against women and children. She is an Aboriginal advocate for social justice and winner of the 2016 Human Rights Medal.

Watch NACCHO TV Video of full speech

Or full speech transcript download in 16 Page PDF or read below


Ms Pat Anderson AO delivered the 17th Annual Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture at Charles Darwin University on Wednesday, 16 August, which commemorated the historic walk-off from Wave Hill Station by Indigenous stockmen and their families, planting the seeds for Aboriginal land rights in Australia.

Good evening everyone,

I acknowledge and pay respects to the Larrakia people, traditional custodians of the land on which we are meeting tonight.

I want to thank Charles Darwin University for asking me to deliver this Lecture. This is huge honour for me. It’s always hard presenting in your home town.

I was feeling a bit anxious about that because you all know everything about me.

I would like to acknowledge Wendy Ludwick who I think put my name forward for this honour.

We are here to honour the memory of Vincent Lingiari and his leadership in the 1966 Wave Hill strike.

I will return to that story, and to the place of the Gurindji in the contemporary struggle for the rights of Australia’s First Peoples shortly.

But first, I’d like to share another story with you, a personal story.

This story is from the 1950s, a decade before the Wave Hill Walk Off, and is set at Parap Camp a few miles from here (in the suburb now called Stuart Park), where I and my sisters grew up with our mum and dad.

For those who don’t know the history, Parap Camp was home to many Aboriginal and some Torres Strait Islander families in those harsh post-War years.

Many of those families had a Stolen Generations heritage, with the parents of Parap camp families having grown up in the nearby Kahlin Compound. Kids were rounded up from all over the Territory.

My mother was one of those, taken as a young girl sometime in the 1930s by white men on horseback from her Alyawarre family north east of Alice Springs.

She was brought here to the Compound, fifteen hundred kilometres away.

After growing up at Kahlin, she was sent to work as a young teenager on a farm on the other side of the Darwin harbour, near Belyuen.

Later, she met my dad, a Swedish merchant seaman who had jumped ship in Fremantle, and made his way to Darwin.

They married and settled at Parap Camp.

My story is from when I was about 9 or 10 years old, when I was in Grade 3 or 4 – like almost all children from Parap Camp, I and my sisters attended school without fail.

School attendance was non-negotiable in those days – we all just went.

Every year the class would have a Christmas Party at the end of the final term, and the idea was that all the kids would bring food from home for the party.

I was excited because I knew my mum made the best sponge cakes ever: great high, fluffy things.

I pictured myself taking one of these cakes into school – I was a bit vain, and wanted to show off what a great cook mum was.

But when I asked her to make the cake, she flatly refused.

No matter what I said, how I nagged at her, she just said no.

Finally, in frustration, I just burst out: “But why mum? Why won’t you make one of your cakes and let me take it to the school party?”.

She hesitated for a moment.

And then she said quietly: “I don’t like white people eating my food”.

I knew immediately from the way she said it that not only was this the end of the argument, but also that she was telling me something more.

I can still see her face and hear her voice.

I haven’t forgotten this: although I didn’t understand how at the time, it was clearly important.

And so I had to trudge off to my Christmas party with a packet of store bought biscuits, while all the other kids brought scones, cakes and biscuits baked by their mothers – none of which, I might add, were as good as what my mum could have made.

This sounds like an ordinary domestic, family event.

And it is.

But like so many stories that are part of every Aboriginal family in this country, there is a lot packed into this little scenario.

For a start, how did my mum get to be so good a cook?

I see now that her skill with cooking was something she had learnt from the white women she worked for as domestic, unpaid labour.

Her ability to cook a beautiful sponge cake was a direct consequence of the policy of assimilation by which all Australian governments aimed to eradicate us as distinct cultural groups.

At the same time, there were other skills that were withheld from her and so many other Stolen Generations.

Most importantly, growing up in Kahlin Compound she was never taught to read or write.

Despite the rhetoric about Aboriginal children being taken away to improve their chances in life, literacy was one skill that the administration clearly thought was of no use to a young Aboriginal woman.

That much is clear from our history.

However, on a personal level, much about my mother’s motivations in the story about the cake remains curious to me.

Did she not want white people to eat her food as an act of defiance?

Was it a reluctance – or a refusal – to place herself in a situation of being judged by them?

Was it her own brand of passive resistance?

I don’t know.

However, I do know it was a profound moment in our relationship as she revealed something of herself to me.

This moment has stayed with me over all these years.

And I believe this little incident points to the great gulf in experience between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australia.

It points towards an experience carried by so many of our families: the experience of having been treated unjustly, but of that injustice not being acknowledged.

This experience has been analysed by Jill Stauffer in her 2015 book, Ethical loneliness: the injustice of not being heard1.

Stauffer describes the profound isolation and loneliness that arises as a consequence of such an experience.

Calling it ‘ethical loneliness’ she says that it is a condition undergone by persons who have been unjustly treated … who emerge from that injustice only to find that the surrounding world will not listen to or cannot properly hear their testimony. … ethical loneliness is the experience of having been abandoned by humanity, compounded by the experience of not being heard.

There is something of this ethical loneliness in my mother’s experience, and even in the story of the cake she would not make.

I believe that experience is common to many if not all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

It stems from the complex, often damaged and damaging relationship between our First Nations and those who colonised this place from 1788 onwards.

Much of that damage remains embedded in the relationship between black and white Australia.

This nation has never properly dealt with that damage.

It has never properly acknowledged it, and acted upon that acknowledgement.

I believe we now, in 2017, all of us over the age of 18, this generation, have an historic opportunity to do that, to begin the process of repair, to re-set that relationship on a foundation of equality, justice and truth.

That opportunity is presented by the prospect of genuine and substantive reform to the Australian Constitution, and that is the topic I want to talk to you about this evening.

I would like to take you on the journey that I have been recently on as a member of the Referendum Council, which was tasked with making recommendations to the Federal Government on constitutional reform.

I would like to share with you our experience of the unique regional Dialogues with First Peoples and communities, and what we heard in them, culminating in the National Convention of First peoples at Uluru in May this year, and the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

And most importantly I want to describe the three essential demands to come from this process, which I summarise with these three words:




Before we trace that journey from the world of the Parap Camp in the 1950s, to where we stand today in 2017, I would like to acknowledge the importance of the Wave Hill Walk Off in 1966 in our history.

Mr Lingiari and the other Gurindji men and women first walked off their jobs on the Wave Hill station to demand fair pay and conditions, but ended up sitting down at Wattie Creek and demanding the return of their traditional lands.

They were demanding proper acknowledgment of the injustice done to them, and proper restitution of the harms done.

In doing so, they began the modern land rights movement.

But they were also re-asserting the struggle for self-determination, as summed up so elegantly by Mr Lingiari himself when he said:

“We want to live on our land, our way”

In those nine words, he captured the essence of what have been and continue to be the central demands of our First Nations since 1788.

First, recognition of our sovereignty, never ceded, of the land, of Country.

Second, acceptance of our right to continue in our unique and diverse cultures.

The Gurindji and Mr Lingiari powerfully re-asserted those demands, just as our First Nations have done since the beginning of the colonisation of Australia, and just as we have continued to do since.

This year, 2017, is a year of anniversaries of events which built upon and extended the rights of First Peoples as so clearly stated by the Gurindji.

It is

• 50 years since the 1967 Referendum;

• 25 years since the Mabo decision overturned the lie of ‘terra nullius’ in 1992; and

• 20 years since the Bringing Them Home Report in 1997.

It is also, crucially, 10 years since the Intervention was unleashed on our communities here in the Northern Territory.

The Intervention was the counter-revolution, the attempt to turn back the clock to the times before the Gurindji and Wave Hill, and the 1967 Referendum, and all the other achievements.

The Intervention was the attempt to take us back to the world of Parap Camp in the 1950s, when the powers of the nation-state reached into every aspect of how we lived our lives.

Now, ten years on, it is clear how profoundly and utterly the Intervention and the thinking behind it has failed.

It continues, however, to create much heartache and pain.

As John Lawrence in his recent Castan Centre Address3 has stated, tem years on, the Northern Territory gaols more people per capita than any country in the world.

The overwhelming majority of those incarcerated are Aboriginal.

The number of children being removed from their families is soaring: it rose by an average of 16% per year between 2011 and 2015.

This frightening increase is entirely due to the removal of Aboriginal children from their families4.

Family violence is out of control.

These figures – which many of you will know – are profoundly disturbing.

They demonstrate the tsunami of anger, frustration, despair and sadness that is engulfing our communities and families.

These type of figures are echoed across the country.

They reflect the kind of Intervention-thinking that has informed policy making over the last ten years, based on the idea that the nation-state knows best what is good for us.

Let us remember that the Intervention was trumpeted by its instigators as necessary to protect Aboriginal women and children.

It marked a shift in policy-making not just here but across the country.

Intervention-thinking sees self-determination as a failed idea, and blames us for the situation in which we find ourselves.

It believes that we do not have anything to offer, that we are at best ‘risks’ to be managed.

It ignores or condones or covers up the abuse of young people in detention, or our lack of housing or access to education.

I say again: it has utterly failed.

We can see this through the statistics, but more importantly through visiting many of our communities and listening to the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over these last few months.

I’ve been working in this field all of my adult life, and I can say honestly say that I have never seen things so bad.

This has to change.

We now sit in 2017 at what I believe is a critical junction in our history, not just for the First Nations of this country, but for the nation-state as a whole.

Six weeks ago, the Referendum Council of which I was Co-Chair handed a report to the Prime Minister, recommending what constitutional change should look like if it is to be acceptable to our First Peoples.

The report documents what we were told in a series of regional dialogues with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities across the country.

Going out and talking to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was our first priority under our terms of reference.

These twelve regional Dialogues were held from Thursday Island to Hobart, from Perth, to Ross River outside Alice Springs, to Sydney and Melbourne. People from across the regions came to these centres.

We also held a one-day information session in Canberra.

Each Dialogue was attended by around one hundred people, including Traditional Owners, representatives of local organisations, and individuals.

Each was held over three days to allow full consideration of a number of proposals for Constitutional reform. It was the same format and same agenda for each Dialogue. We needed a methodology which could, in some way, be empirically measured.

The reforms that each Dialogue considered had been inherited by the Referendum Council from the work of the Expert Panel on the Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution (co-chaired by Patrick Dodson and Mark Leibler) and the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (co-chaired by Senators Ken Wyatt and Nova Peris).

They were:

• first, a statement acknowledging us as the First Australians, either inside or outside the Constitution;

• second, amending or deleting that part of the Constitution which empowers the Commonwealth to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;

• third, inserting a guarantee against racial discrimination into the Constitution; and

• fourth, deleting that part of the Constitution which contemplates the possibility of a state government excluding some Australians from voting on the basis of their race.

The Dialogues also considered a fifth option, that of a First Peoples’ Voice to be heard by Parliament, and the right to be consulted on legislation and policies that affects us.

The Dialogue process was unprecedented in Australia’s history: never before have we as First Nations sat down across the nation in such an intensive, structured manner to deliberate on constitutional matters.

It was a passionate process.

Delegates grappled with the technical and legal implications of these proposals, as well as with their political viability.

There were disagreements, there were even arguments: how could it be otherwise when 1,200 people from all the diversity of our Nations were brought together to talk about matters so closely connected with the experiences and history of their families, clans and communities?

But there was also an extraordinary level of agreement on some matters.

When delegates from the Dialogues assembled at Uluru in May this year, the exhaustive deliberations and informed participation through the Regional Dialogues led to a broad consensus, as articulated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart which was adopted by the Convention.

Specifically, Australia’s First Peoples overwhelmingly rejected any purely symbolic changes to the Constitution, such as through a ‘statement of recognition’.

There were two reasons behind the rejection of this narrow model of Constitutional recognition.

First, there was a concern that formal recognition in the Constitution might interfere with sovereignty – and all Dialogues were steadfast in asserting the fact that we as First Nations had never ceded our sovereignty.

In re-asserting the fact of sovereignty, the delegates echoed the conclusions of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples five years ago, which stated that5:

The … occupation of the country … proceeded on the fiction of terra nullius. It follows that ultimately the basis of settlement in Australia is and always has been the exertion of force by and on behalf of the British Crown. No-one asked permission to settle. No-one consented, no-one ceded. Sovereignty was not passed from the Aboriginal peoples by any actions of legal significance voluntarily taken by or on behalf of them.

Second, and more simply, participants in the Dialogues and at Uluru simply did not trust the likely process for drafting a constitutional statement of recognition

The concern was that by the time the lawyers were through with it, such a statement would end up being so bland as to be incompatible with the duty to recognise the difficult truths of Australia’s past.

Instead, our mob wanted substantive change, structural reform, for their communities on the ground.

And if it didn’t fit that criteria, they weren’t interested.

And this is where Dialogue participants and the Uluru Convention showed significant agreement.

There was overwhelming consensus around three proposals.

First, for a constitutionally established representative body that would give First Nations a Voice directly to the Federal Parliament.

Second, for the establishment of a Makarrata Commission to supervise the making of Treaties with us.

Third, for a process of local and regional Truth-telling which could form the basis for genuine reconciliation.

These three things – Voice – Treaty – Truth – were the key consensus demands that arose from the Dialogues, were captured in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and form the core of the Referendum Council’s report.

I’d now like to turn to each of these three crucial concepts and unpack them, give you my view why they are important, what they might mean, and how they might provide a pathway out of our current situation.

These are not abstract notions, or intellectual constructs.

Changing the Constitution, many of us believe, is the only place left for us to go.

We have sat on the Committees, we have set up our own organisations, we have changed national policy agendas, but we still haven’t been able to achieve the substantive change demanded by our communities.

As Marcia Langton said at Garma recently, we have been Royal Commission-ed out, we have been committee-ed out, and we have been panel-ed out.

We still have to rely on other people’s good will.

And that is not good enough anymore.

We need more than that.

We need once and for all for our sovereignty to be recognised and our voices to be heard.

The recommendation for substantive constitutional change was for the establishment of a “representative body that gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament”.

We believed – following the consensus at Uluru – that this is the only constitutional reform which would accord with the wishes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Why is this important?

Establishing such a body in the Constitution has both substantive and symbolic value.

Symbolically, it recognises the unique place of First Peoples in Australian history and in contemporary Australian society.

It formally acknowledges our place here.

In asking Australians to vote ‘yes’ to such a proposal we would be asking us all to reflect on who we are, on what values and principles we hold dearest.

It would establish a significant national narrative about working together – about a genuine two-way conversation.

But such a body will also provide substantive benefits.

A constitutionally entrenched Voice to Parliament could address Australia’s poor history of consultation with our Peoples by government.

All too often we have been excluded from the key decisions that are made about our lives.

The Intervention itself is a key example, designed over three days6, in some offices in Canberra by people who took little account of the evidence, had no understanding of the realities of our lives and most significantly didn’t talk to any of us.

(No wonder it has failed!)

The Voice to Parliament would ensure we have input at the highest level into the policy-making that affects us.

It could also play a valuable monitoring role.

Properly resourced, it could hold Government to account, regularly reviewing and reporting on the implementation of recommendations from the host of inquiries and reports from the Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody onwards.

It could also monitor the use of the Constitution’s ‘race power’ or attempts to suspend racial discrimination legislation so that measures like the Intervention could be properly scrutinised before their implementation.

Embedding the establishment of the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution is vital because the body’s existence would not then be at the whim of whichever government was in power in Canberra.

You know, every time there is a change of government, or a new Minister, or even a Head of Department, we all have to troop down to Canberra yet again and justify our existence. Pretty much, start all over again.

The Voice to Parliament would be a permanent and enduring feature of the nation’s body-politic.

It could only be abolished by going back to you, the people, in a new referendum.

To date, all our national organisations have disappeared with the stroke of a Minister’s pen.

We would be, at last, in the main building, not in the demountable out the back.

Of course, the details of how to establish such a body would need to be carefully negotiated with Parliament once its establishment was agreed through Referendum.

My vision – and that of many people we spoke to during the dialogues and at Uluru – is for a body that include representation from all the diversity of First Nations across Australia.

It would be a place for dialogue, a meeting place for us and with us.

And in my opinion, it is this diversity that would enrich the body-politic.

After 65,000 years or more on this continent, with all our different languages, histories and cultures, I think we would have something powerful and unique to offer the nation-state through such a body.

Let me turn to second proposal to come from the Dialogues and from Uluru: Treaty.

Australia is one of the few liberal democracies around the world which still does not have a treaty or treaties or some other kind of formal acknowledgement or arrangement with its Indigenous minorities.

It is something we have demanded since at least the mid-nineteenth century.

Despite the hard-won gains, such as through the Land Rights Act following the Gurindji Walk Off, and the Native Title Act sparked by Eddie Mabo, there is unfinished business that we need to resolve.

We used the word ‘Makaratta’ to describe this process of agreement or Treaty-making.

Makaratta is the process that guides the Yolngu Nation in North East Arnhem Land through difficult disputes, and its workings have been recently described by Galarrwuy Yunupingu in this way7:

… each party, led by their elders, must speak carefully and calmly about the dispute. They must put the facts on the table and air their grievances … The leaders must always seek a full understanding of the dispute: what lies behind it; who is responsible; what each party wants, and all things that are normal to peacemaking efforts. When that understanding is arrived at, then a settlement can be agreed upon.

Following the Uluru Statement, this means the establishment of a ‘Makarrata Commission’ to set up a national Framework and principles for negotiating treaties, and a possible a national settlement document.

A Treaty is a pathway to the recognition of sovereignty and to the achievement of self-determination.

It is an agreement between equals.

Such treaties could be regional or State-wide, and it would be the Makarrata Commission’s job to provide a national framework for, and supervise, these two-way processes.

Critically, treaties are inseparable from the third demand from the Dialogues and Uluru: Truth.

You cannot make a lasting and effective agreement unless you have a shared, truthful understanding of the nature of the dispute, of the history, of how we got to where we stand.

The true story of colonisation must be told, must be heard, must be acknowledged.

Because, this is still not the case.

This is difficult and painful territory – for us as well as for mainstream Australia.

It can be hard to hear.

As Jill Stauffer says in her book ‘Ethical Loneliness’ that I quoted from at the beginning of tonight:

Responding well to others, especially survivors of wrongdoing, may require that we open ourselves to hearing something other than what we expect or want to hear

But hearing this history is necessary before we can come to some true reconciliation, some genuine healing for both sides..

I was reminded of this just last month when I read media stories about an online digital map of more than 150 massacres developed by Professor Lyndall Ryan at the University of Newcastle8.

Through meticulous examination of the records, the map seeks to provide the evidence for those who still question whether massacres happened.

Professor Ryan has started documenting these facts for the eastern coast of Australia but plans to extend this to the rest of the country.

This is important work.

But I question how it is that we have had to wait until 2017 for this?

Why is this not part of the national conversation?

Our communities know about the massacres.

Our families know about the children being forcibly removed from their families.

But it seems that there is a need for many in mainstream Australia to pretend that all this didn’t happen, that it’s all just part of a ‘black armband’ view of history, made up to make you feel guilty.

One of the most moving episodes in the regional dialogues for me personally came at Ross River near Alice Springs.

There the Elders spoke of the distress they felt at the recent placement of a statue of the explorer John McDouall Stuart in Alice Springs to mark the the 150th anniversary of his attempt to reach the Top End from Adelaide.

The statue was shown holding a gun.

The Elders felt legitimately that this showed a painful lack of respect, given the fact that Stuart’s journey led directly to a series of massacres in the region as control of the land was wrested from the traditional owners.

Let me be clear: this process of truth–telling is not about guilt.

Guilt is a debilitating emotion that stops us moving forward or doing anything.

What I’m talking about is respect and acknowledgment.

As one participant in the Regional Dialogues in Broome said:

[We are] people who worked as stockmen for no pay, who have survived a history full of massacres and pain. We deserve respect.

And of course, this is not just the history of our First Peoples – it is the history of all of us, of all of Australia, and we need to own it.

Then we can move forward together.

The Dialogues opted for the development of a ‘Declaration of Recognition’ to be passed by all Australian Parliaments.

This declaration – outside the Constitution – would be free to articulate that difficult shared history.

It could provide a unifying statement about the three waves of people who make up the Australian story:

• our ancient First Peoples (65,000 years or more),

• those people who came in 1788 and after,

• the peoples who have come from out of Europe and Asia and who continue to try to come us today, often fleeing persecution and seeking a better life.

Three waves of people.

So, this where we stand now in 2017.

The unprecedented process of deliberation by Australia’s First peoples, through the regional Dialogues and at Uluru, led to the formulation of three clear demands:




Some commentators and others have expressed concern that these are new proposals, the examination of which will need yet more new processes to consider.

I respectfully disagree.

None of these issues are new.

We have been talking about these things for a long time.

Other commentators believe that these are impractical, left-field proposals.

Again, I respectfully disagree.

I believe these changes are challenging but achievable, and are proportionate to the level of distress, anger and powerlessness being felt in our communities.

In the international landscape of recognising Indigenous peoples, what we are asking for is modest, conservative even.

Many of our First Nation communities and families are plagued by a myriad of challenges including poverty, suicide, youth detention, family breakdown, and all kinds of health problems.

Worse, in my view, than any of this, is that too many of us feel hopeless.

To reverse this and to take our rightful place in this country, we need to create new places, new ways by which we can speak and get things done to deal with our complicated 21st century lives.

At the same time we will strongly and even fiercely guard who we are and our right to be different.

We need to create a future when we, and our children and grandchildren, are recognised as having something powerful and unique to offer this nation.

This needs to happen now, and not just for us as First Nations.

This is about the social and emotional wellbeing of the country as a whole.

It is a time of reflection, a time for all Australians to consider what kind of a society we are today, what are our values and our principles.

Surely, we are not the same people as we were in 1901 when the Constitution was drawn up.

Eventually we will have to sit down together, black and white in this nation, and deal with this.

For the truth is that this is our place.

We, the First Nations, are not going anywhere.

They can put it off for another ten years, twenty years fifty years.

But eventually you will have to sit down with as respectful equals and sort out this relationship.

But right now, we have an opportunity, a roadmap for doing that.

Simply this:




And I want to add:


Hear us. Acknowledge us.

Thank you all for coming.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Racism : #UN #HRC36 told Australia must abandon racially discriminatory remote work for the dole program

Thank you Mr President,

Australia is denying access to basic rights to equality, income and work for people in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, through a racially discriminatory social security policy.

Australia should work with Aboriginal organisations and leaders to replace this discriminatory Program with an Aboriginal-led model that treats people with respect, protects their human rights and provides opportunities for economic and community development “

36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council 20 September see in full part 2 below

The program discriminates on the basis of race, with around 83 per cent of people in the program being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This is a racially discriminatory program that was imposed on remote communities by the Government and it’s having devastating consequences in those communities,”

John Paterson, a CEO of the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT, told the Council that the Government’s program requires people looking for work in remote communities to work up to 760 hours more per year for the same basic payment as people in non-Indigenous majority urban areas.

Picture above Remote work-for-the-dole scheme ‘devastating Indigenous communities’

The Australian Government is denying access to basic rights to equality, work and income for people in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, through its racially discriminatory remote work for the dole program.

In a joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council overnight, the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT and Human Rights Law Centre urged the Council to abandon its racially discriminatory ‘Community Development Program’ and replace it with an Aboriginal-led model.

Adrianne Walters, a Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said that the program is also denying basic work rights to many people in remote communities.

“Some people are required to do work that they should be employed to do. Instead, they receive a basic social security payment that is nearly half of the minimum wage in Australia. People should be paid an award wage and afforded workplace rights and protections to do that work.” said Ms Walters.

The statement to the Council calls for the Federal Government to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on a model that treats people with respect, protects their human rights and provides opportunities for economic and community development.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities want to take up the reins and drive job creation and community development. Communities need a program that sees people employed on decent pay and conditions, to work on projects the community needs. It’s time for Government to work with us,” said Mr Paterson.

The Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT has developed an alternative model for fair work and strong communities, called the Remote Development and Employment Scheme, which was launched in Canberra two weeks ago with broad community support.

“The new Scheme will see new opportunities for jobs and community development and get rid of pointless administration. Critically, the Scheme provides incentives to encourage people into work, training and other activities, rather than punishing people already struggling to make ends meet,” said Mr Paterson.

The Human Rights Law Centre has endorsed the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT’s proposed model.

“Aboriginal organisations have brought a detailed policy solution to the Government’s front door. The Scheme would create jobs and strengthen communities, rather than strangling opportunities as the Government’s program is doing,” said Ms Walters.

Part 2 36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Items 3 and 5

Human Rights Law Centre statement, in association with Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory, Australia

Thank you Mr President,

Australia is denying access to basic rights to equality, income and work for people in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, through a racially discriminatory social security policy.

The Council has received the report of the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous peoples’ rights following her mission to Australia in 2017. This statement addresses one area of concern in the Special Rapporteur’s report.

The Australian Government’s remote ‘Community Development Program’ requires people looking for work in remote communities to work up to 760 more hours per year for the same basic social security payment as people in non-Indigenous majority urban areas.

The program discriminates on the basis of race, with around 83 per cent of people covered by the program being Indigenous.

High rates of financial penalty are leaving families without money for the basic necessities for survival.

In addition, the program denies basic work rights. People are required to do work activities that they should be employed, paid an award wage and afforded workplace rights to do. Instead, they receive a basic social security payment that is nearly half of the minimum wage in Australia.

The program undermines self-determination and was imposed on Aboriginal communities with very little consultation.

Australia should work with Aboriginal organisations and leaders to replace this discriminatory Program with an Aboriginal-led model that treats people with respect, protects their human rights and provides opportunities for economic and community development.

Mr President,

Australia is a candidate for a seat on the Human Rights Council for 2018. We call on the Council and its members to urge Australia to respect rights to self-determination and non-discrimination, and to abandon its racially discriminatory remote social security program and replace it with an Aboriginal-led model.

Part 3 Fair work and strong communities

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT Proposal for a Remote Development and Employment Scheme

NACCHO is one of the many organisations that has endorsed this scheme

See full Story here

Download the brochure and full list of organisations endorsing


All Australians expect to be treated with respect and to receive a fair wage for work. But the Australian Government is denying these basic rights to people in remote communities through its remote work for the Dole program – the “Community Development Programme”.

Around 84 per cent of those subject to this program are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Most people in remote communities have to do more work than people in non-remote non Indigenous majority areas for the same basic social security payment.

In some cases, up to 760 hours more per year.

There is less flexibility and people are paid far below the national minimum wage.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also being penalised more because of the onerous compliance conditions.

In many cases, people are receiving a basic social security payment for work they should be employed to do.

The Government’s program is strangling genuine job opportunities in remote communities.

The Government’s remote Work for the Dole program is racially discriminatory and must be abandoned. Better outcomes will be achieved if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are given the opportunity to determine their own priorities and gain greater control over their own lives.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Obesity : Download #TippingtheScales Report Leading health orgs set out 8 urgent actions for Federal Government

“Sixty-three per cent of Australian adults and 27 per cent of our children are overweight or obese.

This is not surprising when you look at our environment – our kids are bombarded with advertising for junk food, high-sugar drinks are cheaper than water, and sugar and saturated fat are hiding in so-called ‘healthy’ foods. Making a healthy choice has never been more difficult.

The annual cost of overweight and obesity in Australia in 2011-12 was estimated to be $8.6 billion in direct and indirect costs such as GP services, hospital care, absenteeism and government subsidies.1 “

 OPC Executive Manager Jane Martin 

Download the report HERE  tipping-the-scales

Read over 30 + NACCHO Obesity articles published last 5 years

Read over 30+ NACCHO Nutrition and Healthy foods published last 5 years

Thirty-four leading community, public health, medical and academic groups have today united for the first time to call for urgent Federal Government action to address Australia’s serious obesity problem.

In the ground-breaking new action plan, Tipping the Scales, the agencies identify eight clear, practical, evidence-based actions the Australian Federal Government must take to reduce the enormous strain excess weight and poor diets are having on the nation’s physical and economic health.

Led by the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) and Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE), Tipping the Scales draws on national and international recommendations to highlight where action is required. Areas include:

  1. Time-based restrictions on TV junk food advertising to kids
  2. Set clear food reformulation targets
  3. Make the Health Star Rating mandatory by July 2019
  4. Develop a national active transport strategy
  5. Fund weight-related public education campaigns
  6. Introduce a 20% health levy on sugary drinks
  7. Establish a national obesity taskforce
  8. Develop and monitor national diet, physical activity and weight guidelines.

OPC Executive Manager Jane Martin said the eight definitive policy actions in Tipping the Scales addressed the elements of Australia’s environment which set individuals and families up for unhealthy lifestyles, rather than just focusing on treating the poor health outcomes associated with obesity.

Watch video HERE : How does junk food marketing influence kids

“Sixty-three per cent of Australian adults and 27 per cent of our children are overweight or obese. This is not surprising when you look at our environment – our kids are bombarded with advertising for junk food, high-sugar drinks are cheaper than water, and sugar and saturated fat are hiding in so-called ‘healthy’ foods. Making a healthy choice has never been more difficult,” Ms Martin said.

“The annual cost of overweight and obesity in Australia in 2011-12 was estimated to be $8.6 billion in direct and indirect costs such as GP services, hospital care, absenteeism and government subsidies.1 But Australia still has no strategy to tackle our obesity problem. It just doesn’t make sense.

“Without action, the costs of obesity and poor diet to society will only continue to spiral upwards. The policies we have set out to tackle obesity therefore aim to not only reduce morbidity and mortality, but also improve wellbeing, bring vital benefits to the economy and set Australians up for a healthier future.”

Professor of Epidemiology and Equity in Public Health at Deakin University, Anna Peeters, said the 34 groups behind the report were refusing to let governments simply sit back and watch as growing numbers of Australians developed life-threatening weight and diet-related health problems.

“For too long we have been sitting and waiting for obesity to somehow fix itself. In the obesogenic environment in which we live, this is not going to happen. In fact, if current trends continue, there will be approximately 1.75 million deaths in people over the age of 20 years caused by diseases linked to overweight and obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, cancer heart disease, between 2011-20501,” Professor Peeters said.

“Obesity poses such an immense threat to Australia’s physical and economic health that it needs its own, standalone prevention strategy if progress is to be made. There are policies which have been proven to work in other parts of the world and have the potential to work here, but they need to be implemented as part of a comprehensive approach by governments. And they need to be implemented now.

“More than thirty leading organisations have agreed on eight priorities needed to tackle obesity in Australia. We would like to work with the Federal Government to tackle this urgent issue and integrate these actions as part of a long-term coordinated approach.”

In addition to the costs to society, the burden of obesity is felt acutely by individuals and their families.

As a Professor of Women’s Health at Monash University and a physician, Professor Helena Teede sees mothers struggle daily with trying to achieve and sustain healthy lifestyles for themselves and their families, while having to deal with the adverse impact of unhealthy weight, especially during pregnancy.

“As a mother’s weight before pregnancy increases, so does the substantive health risk to both the mother and baby. Excess weight gain during pregnancy further adds to these risks and is a key driver of infertility, long-term obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, while for the child, their risk of becoming overweight or obese and developing chronic diseases in later life greatly increases,” Professor Teede said.

“The women I see are generally desperate for help to improve their lifestyle and that of their families. They want to set themselves and their families up for healthy, long lives.

“Currently, there is a lot of blame placed on individuals with unhealthy diets and lifestyles seen as being due to individual and family discipline. Women from all backgrounds and walks of life struggle with little or no support to achieve this. It is vital that we as a community progress beyond placing all responsibility on the individual and work towards creating a policy context and a society that supports healthy choices and tips the scales towards obesity prevention to give Australian families a healthy start to life.”

The calls to action outlined in Tipping the Scales are endorsed by the following organisations: Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (which includes the Heart Foundation, Cancer Council Australia, Kidney Health Australia, Diabetes Australia and the Stroke Foundation), Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC), Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA), Australian & New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS), Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine, Baker Heart & Diabetes Institute, CHOICE, Consumers Health Forum of Australia, Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE), Institute For Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Monash Centre for Health, Research and Implementation (MCHRI), LiveLighter, Menzies School of Health Research, The University of Melbourne’s Melbourne School of Population & Global Health, Melbourne Children’s (which includes The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne), the National Rural Health Alliance Inc, Nutrition Australia, Obesity Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, Obesity Surgery Society of Australia & New Zealand, Parents’ Voice, Public Health Association of Australia and Sugar By Half.

Download the Tipping the Scales action plan and snapshot at

1. Obesity Australia. Obesity: Its impact on Australia and a case for action. No time to Weight 2. Sydney, 2015.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #RUOKDay : Download @RACGP Report underlines crucial role of GPs in #mentalhealthcare

“With a shortage of psychologists and other mental health professionals in rural and remote areas, the role of rural doctors in providing mental healthcare is already absolutely critical, and is becoming more so.

“Feedback from many rural and remote doctors backs up the findings in today’s RACGP report — namely, that there is a significant mental healthcare load in general practice.

“And this area of general practice care is growing.

“Many rural doctors already undertake additional upskilling in advanced mental healthcare.”

President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), Dr Ewen McPhee

Download a PDF Copy of report


Read over 150 Aboriginal Mental Health Articles published over the past 5 years by NACCHO

A major report released today on general practice care in Australia shows that the most frequent visits to GPs are for psychological care, demonstrating that the sector plays a critical role in helping patients with their mental health as well as physical health.

The report, General Practice: Health of the Nation, is the first of what will be an annual insight into the state of general practice in Australia, published by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

Dr Ewen McPhee continued

“And under the National Rural Generalist Pathway that the Federal Government is progressing, medical graduates training as Rural Generalist doctors will be able to undertake advanced mental healthcare as a key element of their training, alongside other advanced skills.

“Earlier this year, we also welcomed an announcement by the Federal Government that, from November, it will increase access for rural and remote Australians to Medicare-rebated psychological care delivered by video consultations.

“Under the change, psychologists will be able to deliver up to 7 of the currently available 10 face-to-face sessions accessed through a General Practitioner. The rebates for these sessions have previously only been available if provided by a GP.

“This change will help to significantly improve access to tele-psychology services for many rural and remote Australians and the Government deserves full credit for implementing it.”

RDAA has supported concerns raised by the RACGP, however, that despite the fact that over 85% of the Australian population visits their GP each year, the general practice sector receives only 5% of the total annual health budget.

“This should be sending significant warning bells to governments” Dr McPhee said.

“Given the reliance that Australians have on general practice for their primary care — and the ability of investment in general practice to generate significant budget savings by reducing hospital admissions — it is clear that additional investment in general practice needs to be made, sooner rather than later.”

Consumers Health Forum MEDIA RELEASE :

The finding that psychological issues are a leading reason patients see GPs highlights the importance of the GPs’ role as the first base for health concerns in the community.

The Health of the Nation report released by the Royal Australian College of GPs today reveals mental health issues like depression and anxiety are among the most common ailments reported by 61 per cent of GPs.

“That is a disturbingly high figure.  It is also the issue causing GPs most concern for the future,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

The next most commonly mentioned as emerging issues by GPs are obesity and diabetes.  The prevalence of these conditions, all of which raise complex challenges for the most skilled GP, underlines the need for a well-coordinated and integrated health system in the community.

“The Consumers Health Forum recognises the GP as the pivotal figure in primary health care who needs more support through such measures as the Government’s Health Care Homes, initiating more integrated care of those with chronic and complex conditions.

“At a recent Consumers Roundtable meeting with Health Minister, Greg Hunt, we set out priorities for a National Health Plan to strengthen Australia’s primary health system, making it more consumer-centred, prevention-oriented and integrated with hospital and social care.

“We also called for more investment in health systems research, shaped by consumer and community priorities, to stimulate services that reflect advances in health sciences and knowledge.

Too often Australians, particularly those with chronic illness, are confounded by our fragmented health system.

We have world class health practitioners and hospitals. But these are disconnected so that patients don’t get the comprehensive top-quality care that should be routine.

“Investing in primary health care led by GPs is the way to a better performing and more consumer-responsive health system,” Ms Wells said.



NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Smoking : Survey #Nosmokes How #socialmedia supports positive health behaviour

How does accessing the NoSmokes health campaign support anti-smoking behaviour in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth?

What is this project about?

The aim of this project is to explore how the NoSmokes health campaign supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth to deal with smoking situations. We will also explore whether accessing NoSmokes supports young people to stay quit or resist starting smoking.

What are the benefits of the project?
This project will help us to understand more about how online technology and social media can be used to support positive health behaviour, particularly in relation to smoking. You may also learn more about your own confidence in dealing with a number of different smoking situations.

What will I have to do?

To participate you must use /view

1.NoSmokes Facebook page.


2. NoSmokes website.


3. NoSmokes YouTube channel.


4. NoSmokes  Instagram page


5.and be 16 years of age or older.

Your participation is voluntary, so you don’t need to take part if you don’t want to. If you choose to take part, you will complete an online questionnaire answering questions about: your experience with smoking; your experience of NoSmokes, your confidence in dealing with different smoking situations. This will take around 20-25 minutes.

If there are any questions in the survey you don’t like, or that you do not feel comfortable answering, then leave that question and move onto the next one. You can complete the survey on your mobile phone or computer. If you change your mind about participating, or are feeling uncomfortable, you can choose to stop the survey at any time by closing the web page or by not pressing the ‘submit’ button. Any data collected before you withdraw will be deleted at the end of the data collection period.

What will happen to my information?

Only the researcher will have access to the individual information provided by participants. Privacy and confidentiality will be assured at all times. The project findings will be used as part of the researcher’s Honours Thesis project, and will be published on the NoSmokes and Ninti One websites. The research may also be presented at conferences and written up for publication.

Only anonymous information will be gathered – you will not be required to provide any identifiable personal information, such as your name or date of birth. No one will know you have taken part in this research from reading the thesis, reports or other publications.

If you are interested in viewing the results of this research, a summary report will be available on the NoSmokes website in December 2017. You can also request a copy of the final thesis by emailing Neeti Rangnath on

Neeti Rangnath
Honours Student
Discipline of Psychology, Faculty of Health
University of Canberra, ACT 2601
Dr Penney Upton
Associate Professor in Health
Centre for Research and Action in Public Health
University of Canberra, ACT 2601
Ph: 02 6201 2638
Data storage
During the project, the anonymous data will be stored securely on a password protected computer, and then stored securely on the University of Canberra network server. The information will be kept for 5 years, after which it will be destroyed according to University of Canberra protocols.

Ethics Committee Clearance
The project has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of Canberra (HREC 17-83).

Queries and Concerns
If you have any questions or concerns about this project you can contact the researchers, whose details are provided at the top of this form. If you are concerned about the conduct of this project please contact

Mr Hendryk Flaegel, Ethics and Compliance Officer at the University of Canberra (p) 02 6201 5220 (e)

There are no anticipated risks associated with participating in this research. However, if completing this questionnaire makes you feel uncomfortable, sad, or angry about your own smoking or the smoking behaviour of someone you know, you are encouraged to visit the following website to find support with smoking-related issues in your state or territory: 

Consent Statement 
I have read and understood the information about the research. I am not aware of any reason that I should not be participating in this research, and I agree to participate in this project. I have had the opportunity to ask questions about my participation in the research. All questions I have asked have been answered to my satisfaction.

Complete consent and start survey here


Aboriginal Health #ThePointNITV and Stolen Generation : Guilty of Being Aboriginal reveals the nation-wide practice of giving #StolenGeneration children criminal records.

NITV news has uncovered the story of how thousands of Stolen Generation children had their lives permanently affected after they were charged and given criminal records – purely for being an Indigenous child taken away from their family.

Featuring both on The Point tonight at 9pm, and in an investigative story online Guilty of Being Aboriginal, NITV unearths forgotten evidence of the widespread practice and reveals that these ‘offences’ still appear on full police records requested by individuals today.

Research by Woor-Dungin volunteer Elizabeth Proctor and Law Professor Bronwyn Naylor from RMIT University reveals that in Victoria, it was a systematic, standard practice up until 1989 for Aboriginal children to get a police record for being an Indigenous child in ‘need of protection’.

This means for decades, Aboriginal and Torres Strait children were given criminal records by the courts after being forcibly taken away from their families.

In particular, the story follows 63-year-old Larry Walsh and his journey of uncovering the truth behind his criminal record from 1956, when he was only two and a half years old. During the course of going through old court documents, Walsh discovered that he had been branded a criminal because he was a ‘stolen child’.

Walsh says that having a police record has affected his life: “They picked on me as a kid, the police, saying I had a criminal record. If they’d left me alone in peace, who knows what my life would have been.”

As well as leading to him being targeted and harassed by local police, Walsh says that this childhood record meant that Magistrates referred to his ‘criminal record from 1956’ on more than one occasion, for example when he went to court for driving without a licence.

“As far as I’m concerned it has been used against me, as part of painting a picture of me as a very bad person. I’ve been telling people about this for years but nobody believed me. How many other people in my age group, or as young as their 30s, have they done this to?”

The Victorian Children’s Court has published documents stating that there was a “failure of the previous system to distinguish between children [deemed to be] in need of protection and young people who were offending against the criminal law.”

There have been calls for the official removal of the charges from people’s records.

The story airs on The Point tonight, Thursday 24 August, on NITV at 9pm. Visit The Point online or get involved on Twitter and Facebook using #ThePointNITV



NACCHO Aboriginal Dental Health @AUS_Dental : It’s #DentalHealthWeek #SugaryDrinksProperNoGood

” Apunipima is participating in a range of activities over the next fortnight to celebrate Dental Health Week (7-13 August)

Our staff will be talking about the link between sugary drinks and tooth decay, and promoting the messages

#SugaryDrinksProperNoGood and #DrinkMoreWaterYoufla,

part of Apunipima’s Healthy Communities social marketing campaign, which aims to reduce sugary drinks consumption among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Cape York.”

From Apunipima’s Healthy Communities Mob Part 2 below

 ” The National Oral Health Plan outlines guiding principles that will underpin Australia’s oral health system and provides national strategic direction including targeted strategies in six Foundation Areas and across four Priority Populations. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People being a priority population.”

Download plan here

 Watch our interview with Aboriginal dentist Gari Watson on NACCHO TV

Part 1 : National Oral Health Plan identifes Aboriginal People as Priority Population

A proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have good oral health. On average, however, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience poor oral health earlier in their lifespan and in greater severity and prevalence than the rest of the population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also less likely to receive treatment to prevent or address poor oral health, resulting in oral health care in the form of emergency treatment.

  • There is limited representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the oral health workforce and many dental services are not culturally sensitive. For example, strict appointment times and inflexibility regarding ‘failure to attend’ may result in a fee to the consumer.
  • Trends indicate that the high-level dental decay in deciduous (baby) teeth is rising
  • Aboriginal people aged 15 years and over, attending public dental services, experience tooth decay at three times the rate of their Non-Indigenous counterparts and are more than twice as likely to have advanced periodontal (gum) disease
  • Aboriginal people experience complete tooth loss at almost five times the rate of the non-Indigenous population
  • The rate of potentially preventable dental hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is higher than other Australians. Accessibility of services is a key factor contributing to the current gap between the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the rest of the population.
  • More than two in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 15 defer or avoid dental care due to cost. This is compared with one in eight (12.2%) who delayed or did not go to a GP.

Improving the overall oral health of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will require more than a focus on oral health behaviours. Culture, individual and community social and emotional wellbeing, history, demography, social position, economic characteristics, biomedical factors, and the available health services within a person’s community all form part of the complex causal web which determines an individual’s oral health status.

“Reducing sugary drinks will not only protect their teeth but also their wider health.This is yet another justification for the introduction of a health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages as a preventive public health measure”

This Dental Health Week Michael Moore, CEO of the ( PHAA)  Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and other members of the Rethink Sugary Drink Alliance are urging Australians to reduce their consumption of sugary drinks.

Read over 25 NACCHO dental articles

Read over 25 NACCHO Nutrition  Articles

Read over 10 NACCHO Articles Sugar Tax

Dental Health Week Website

Dept of Health Dental Website

Part 2  #SugaryDrinksProperNoGood – It’s Dental Health Week!

Apunipima staff will run activities with children and young people as well as hold health information stalls in Weipa, Napranum and Mapoon to promote the campaign messages in Dental Health Week

‘The team will run a workshop for Western Cape College secondary students alongside Dr Matt More, Head of Dental Services for Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service in Weipa,’ Apunipima Health Promotion Officer Kiarah Cuthbert said.

‘We will be talking to young people about the amount of sugar in popular drinks, such as soft drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks and the impact of that sugar on your teeth and overall health.’

‘From there, we will head to Mapoon to spend time at the primary school yarning with kids about the sugar in drinks. We will also invite the kids to take part in a local art competition with the winner’s work used to promote the #DrinkMoreWaterYoufla message in Mapoon.’

‘Apunipima staff will then hold a health information stall at Napranum store and run an after school activity at Napranum PCYC, where young people will also have the chance to take part in a local art competition to promote the #DrinkMoreWaterYoufla message.

These activities will be supported by Napranum Tackling Indigenous Smoking Health Worker, Ernest Madua who will also be yarning with people about what smoking can do to your teeth and mouth.’

Apunipima Child Health Nurse Robyn Lythall, Chronic Disease Health Worker Georgia Gibson and Dietitian Jarrah Marsh gave kids from Nola’s Daycare and George Bowen Memorial Kindergarten Apunipima ‘Drink More Water Youfla’ water bottles last week which will really save the staff lugging big containers of water!

The bottles are plastic, easily stored in the fridge and will have the children’s photos on them so the kids know which one is theirs!

Big esso (thank you) to the Apunipima teams that helped with this!

The few remaining water bottles are being kept for children receiving their four year old health checks and their immunisations to help them get healthy habits for school.

Staff are encouraging kids coming in for health checks and shots to fill their bottles from the watercooler at the Hopevale Primary Health Care Centre on their way out.

The Healthy Communities Project Team (Cara Laws, Tiffany Williams, Kiarah Cuthbert and Kani Thompson) would like to thank Hopevale staff for sharing the water bottles, which are merchandise from our Sugary Drinks Proper No Good – Drink More Water Youfla campaign.

Picture: Childcare worker Auntie Irene Bambie and Georgia Gibson

Acid, sugar in sugary drinks pose serious threat to teeth

Part 3 Australians urged to choose tap water this Dental Health Week

Many Australians know that sugary drinks are not a healthy dietary choice, but they may not realise the serious damage they cause to teeth.

In line with the theme of Dental Health Week (7–13 August 2017) – Oral Health for Busy Lives, the health and community organisations behind Rethink Sugary Drink are calling on Australians to think of their teeth before reaching for a sugary drink when out and about.

Chair of the Australian Dental Association’s Oral Health Committee, Professor David Manton, said sugary drinks contained sugar and acid that weakens tooth enamel and can lead to tooth decay.

“Dental decay is caused by sugars, especially the type found in sugary drinks. These drinks are often acidic as well. Sugary drinks increase the risk of decay and weaken the tooth enamel, so it’s best to avoid them,” Prof Manton said.

“The best advice is to stick to tap water. Carry a water bottle with you to avoid having to buy energy drinks, soft drinks, sports drinks and other sugary drinks when you’re on the go. You’ll be doing your bank balance a favour too.”

Chair of the Public Health Committee at Cancer Council Australia, Craig Sinclair, said knowing the oral health impacts associated with sugary drinks further highlighted the need for a health levy on these beverages in Australia.

“Australians, and our young people in particular, are drinking huge volumes of sports drinks, energy drinks, soft drinks and frozen drinks on a regular basis – some are downing as much as 1.5 litres a day,” Mr Sinclair said.

“While regular consumption is associated with increased energy intake, weight gain and obesity, it also heightens the risk of tooth decay.

“We know through economic modelling that a 20 per cent health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages could reduce consumption in Australia and prevent thousands of cases of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke over 25 years, while generating $400-$500m each year.

“This extra revenue could be used for public education campaigns and initiatives to prevent chronic disease, reduce dental caries and address childhood obesity.

“While a health levy is not the only solution for reducing sugary drink consumption, if coupled with a range of strategies it could have a significant impact on the amount Australians are drinking and minimise their impact.”

The Rethink Sugary Drink alliance recommends the following actions in addition to a health levy to tackle sugary drink consumption:

  • A public education campaign supported by Australian governments to highlight the health impacts of regular sugary drink consumption
  • Restrictions by Australian governments to reduce children’s exposure to marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages, including through schools and children’s sports, events and activities
  • Comprehensive mandatory restrictions by state governments on the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages (and increased availability of free water) in schools, government institutions, children’s sports and places frequented by children
  • Development of policies by state and local governments to reduce the availability of sugar-sweetened beverages in workplaces, government institutions, health care settings, sport and recreation facilities and other public places.

Protect your teeth from sugary drinks with these tips:

  • Follow the Australian dietary guidelines: Focus on drinking plenty of tap water (it has no acid, no sugar and no kilojoules), limiting sugary foods and drinks and choosing healthy snacks (e.g. fruits and vegetables).
  • Find out how much sugar is in your favourite drink using the nutrition information panel on your drink or on the Rethink Sugary Drink website – it might surprise you
  • Carry a water bottle and fill up at the tap, so you don’t have to buy a drink if you’re thirsty.
  • Be aware of sugar disguised as a ‘healthy’ ingredient such as honey or rice syrup. It might sound wholesome but these are still sugars and can still cause decay if consumed frequently.
  • If you do drink sugary drinks, use a straw so your teeth are less exposed to the sugar and acid.
  • Take a drink of water, preferably tap water that has been fluoridated, after a sugary or acidic drink to help rinse out your mouth and dilute the sugars.
  • Do not sip a sugary or acidic drink slowly or over a long duration. Doing so exposes your teeth to sugar and acid attacks for longer.

For more information, visit

About Rethink Sugary Drink: Rethink Sugary Drink is a partnership between the Apunipima, Australian Dental Association, Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ Association, Cancer Council Australia, Dental Health Services Victoria, Dental Hygienists Association of Australia, Diabetes Australia, Healthier Workplace WA, Heart Foundation, Kidney Health Australia, LiveLighter, The Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation, Nutrition Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, Stroke Foundation, Parents’ Voice, the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the YMCA to raise awareness of the amount of sugar in sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage Australians to reduce their consumption. Visit for more information.

Part 4  : Sugary drinks erode more than tooth enamel poor oral health brings knock-on effects

This Dental Health Week the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and other members of the Rethink Sugary Drink Alliance are urging Australians to reduce their consumption of sugary drinks. “Reducing sugary drinks will not only protect their teeth but also their wider health”, said Michael Moore, CEO of the PHAA. “This is yet another justification for the introduction of a health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages as a preventive public health measure”, he added.

Australia is in the top ten of countries with the highest level of soft drink consumption. Around a third of Australians regularly consume sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) such as soft drinks, flavoured waters and energy drinks. These drinks are widely recognised by dental experts as a major contributor to tooth decay and erosion.

Mr Moore said, “It’s well known that sugary drinks are linked to dental health problems which can lead to significant amounts of discomfort and disability in themselves. However poor oral health is also associated with major chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and respiratory disease. Additionally, there are often compounding health effects between these types of comorbidities. Sugary drinks also strongly contribute to weight gain and obesity, so they negatively impact on health in multiple ways”.

Mr Moore continued, “At the individual-health level, it’s very important people avoid consuming these drinks on a regular basis, while at the population-health level it’s time we introduce a health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages to reduce the harms they cause.”

“Research shows that a health levy on these drinks will effectively reduce their consumption, especially if implemented as part of a wider approach to address poor nutrition and diet-related disease. What is needed is a national nutrition policy, restrictions on the marketing of sugary drinks toward children, limiting their availability in schools and at events attended by children and young people and public education campaigns about the adverse health impacts of SSBs. These could easily be funded by the revenue generated by the levy”.

The theme of 2017 Dental Health Week is ‘Anywhere Anytime – Oral Health for Busy Lives’, which recognises that many Australians feel they don’t have time to properly care for their oral health due to their busy schedules. However, avoiding sugary foods and beverages which damage teeth is a simple preventive measure people can take and can be encouraged by governments.

“Along with maintaining proper oral health care, one of the easiest things people can do to protect their teeth and in turn their broader health, is to avoid sugar-laden drinks and to favour drinking tap water,” Mr Moore concluded.


NACCHO NEWS ALERT: COAG Health Ministers Council Communique acknowledge the importance #ACCHO’s advancing Aboriginal health


  Included in this NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert

  1. All issues 11 included in  Communique highlighting ACCHO health
  2. Health Ministers approve Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy
  3. Transcript Health Minister Hunt Press Conference

” The Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, attended the COAG Health Council discussed the Commonwealth’s current work on Indigenous health priorities.

In particular this included the development of the 2018 iteration of the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 that will incorporate strategies and actions to address the social determinants and cultural determinants of health.

Ministers also considered progress on other key Indigenous health issues including building workforce capability, cultural safety and environmental health, where jurisdictions can work together more closely with the Commonwealth to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Ministers acknowledged the importance of collaboration and the need to coordinate activities across governments to support a culturally safe and comprehensive health system.

Ministers also acknowledge the importance of community controlled organisations in advancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. ”

1.Development of the next iteration of the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023 COAG Health Council 

Read over 50 NACCHO NATSIHP Articles published over past 50 years


The federal, state and territory Health Ministers met in Brisbane on August 4 at the COAG Health Council to discuss a range of national health issues.

The meeting was chaired by the Victorian Minister for Health, the Hon Jill Hennessy MP.

Health Ministers welcomed the New South Wales Minister for Mental Health, the Hon Tanya Davies MP, the Victorian Minister for Mental Health, the Hon Martin Foley MP, the ACT Minister for Mental Health Mr Shane Rattenbury and the Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP who participated in a joint discussion with Health Ministers about mental health issues.

Major items discussed by Health Ministers today included:

2.Andrew Forrest and the Eliminate Cancer Initiative

Mr Andrew Forrest joined the meeting to address Health Ministers in his capacity as Chairman of the Minderoo Foundation to discuss the Eliminate Cancer Initiative. The Minderoo Foundation is one of Autralia’s largest and most active philanthropic groups. It has established the Eliminate Cancer Initiatve (the Initiative), a global initiative dedicated to making cancer non-lethal with some of the world’s leading global medicine and anti-cancer leaders.

The Initiative is a united effort to convert cancer into a non-lethal disease through global collaboration of scientific, medical and academic institutes, commercially sustained through the support of the philanthropic, business and government sectors worldwide.

Australia has a critical role to play in this highly ambitious and thoroughly worthwhile goal.

3.Family violence and primary care

Today, Health Ministers discussed the significant health impacts on those people experiencing family violence.

Health Ministers acknowledged that health-care providers, particularly those in a primary care setting, are in a unique position to create a safe and confidential environment to enable the disclosure of violence, while offering appropriate support and referrals to other practitioners and services.

Recognising the importance of national leadership in this area, Ministers agreed to develop a plan to address barriers to primary care practitioners identifying and responding to patients experiencing family violence.

Ministers also agreed to work with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners to develop and implement a national training package.

Further advice will be sought from Primary Health Networks on existing family violence services, including Commonwealth, State and NGO service providers in their regions, with a view to developing an improved whole-of-system responses to the complex needs of clients who disclose family violence

4.Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan

Health Ministers endorsed the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan 2017-2022 and its Implementation Plan.

The Fifth Plan is focused on improvements across eight targeted priority areas:

1. Achieving integrated regional planning and service delivery

2. Effective suicide prevention

3. Coordinated treatment and supports for people with severe and complex mental illness

4. Improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide prevention

5. Improving the physical health of people living with mental illness and reducing early mortality

6. Reducing stigma and discrimination

7. Making safety and quality central to mental health service delivery

8. Ensuring that the enablers of effective system performance and system improvement are in place

The Fifth Plan also responds to calls for a national approach to address suicide prevention and will be used to guide other sectors and to support health agencies to interact with other portfolios to drive action in this priority area.

Ongoing collaboration and engagement across the sector and with consumers and carers is required to successfully implement the Fifth Plan and achieve meaningful reform to improve the lives of people living with mental illness including the needs of children and young people.

Health Ministers also agreed that mental health workforce issues would be considered by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council.

5.The National Psychosocial Supports Program

Health Ministers agreed to establish a time-limited working group to progress the Commonwealth’s National Psychosocial Supports program. This will have the objective of developing bilateral agreements to support access to essential psychosocial supports for persons with severe mental illness resulting in psychosocial disability who are not eligible for the NDIS.

Those bilateral agreements will take into account existing funding being allocated for this purpose by states and territories.

6.Strengthened penalties and prohibition orders under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law

Health Ministers agreed to proceed with amendments to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law) to strengthen penalties for offences committed by people who hold themselves out to be a registered health practitioner, including those who use reserved professional titles or carry out restricted practices when not registered.

Ministers also agreed to proceed with an amendment to introduce a custodial sentence with a maximum term of up to three years for these offences.

These important reforms will be fast tracked to strengthen public protection under the National Law. Preparation will now commence on a draft amendment bill to be brought forward to Ministers for approval, with a view to this being introduced to the Queensland Parliament in 2018. The Western Australian Parliament is also expected to consider legislative changes to the Western Australian National Law.

7.Amendment to mandatory reporting provisions for treating health practitioner

Health Ministers agree that protecting the public from harm is of paramount importance as is supporting practitioners to seek health and in particular mental health treatment as soon as possible.

Health Ministers agreed that doctors should be able to seek treatment for health issues with confidentiality whilst also preserving the requirement for patient safety.

A nationally consistent approach to mandatory reporting provisions will provide confidence to health practitioners that they can feel able to seek treatment for their own health conditions anywhere in Australia.

Agree for AHMAC to recommend a nationally consistent approach to mandatory reporting, following discussion paper and consultation with consumer and practitioner groups, with a proposal to be considered by COAG Health Council at their November 2017 meeting, to allow the amendment to be progressed as part of Tranche 1A package of amendments and related guidelines.

8.National Digital Health Strategy and Australian Digital Health Agency Forward Work Plan 2018–2022

Health Ministers approved the National Digital Health Strategy and the Australian Digital Health Agency Work Plan for 2018-2022.

Download Strategy and work plan here  

The Strategy has identified the priority areas that form the basis of Australia’s vision for digital health.

This Strategy will build on Australia’s existing leadership in digital health care and support consumers and clinicians to put the consumer at the centre of their health care and provide choice, control and transparency.

Expanding the public reporting of patient safety and quality measures

Health Ministers supported Queensland and other interested jurisdictions to collaboratively identify options in relation to aligning patient safety and quality reporting standards across public and private hospitals nationally.

Ministers agreed that the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) would undertake work with other interested jurisdictions to identify options in relation to aligning public reporting standards of quality healthcare and patient safety across public and private hospitals nationally.

The work be incorporated into the national work being progressed on Australia’s health system performance information and reporting frameworks.


9.National human biomonitoring program

Health Ministers noted that human biomonitoring data can play a key role in identifying chemicals which potentially cause adverse health effects and action that may need to be taken to protect public health.

Health Ministers agreed that a National Human Biomonitoring Program could be beneficial in assisting with the understanding of chemical exposures in the Australian population.

Accordingly, Ministers agreed that the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council will explore this matter in more detail by undertaking a feasibility assessment of a National Human Biomonitoring Program.

Clarification of roles, responsibilities and relationships for national bodies established under the National Health Reform Agreement

States and territories expressed significant concern that the proposed Direction to IHPA will result in the Commonwealth retrospectively not funding activity that has been already delivered by states and territories but not yet funded by the Commonwealth.

States and territories were concerned that this could reduce services to patients going forward as anticipated funding from the Commonwealth will be less than currently expected.

The Commonwealth does not agree with the concerns of the states and territories and will seek independent advice from the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) to ensure hospital service activity for 2015-2016 has been calculated correctly. The Commonwealth committed to work constructively and cooperatively with all jurisdictions to better understand the drivers of increased hospital services in funding agreements.

10.Legitimate and unavoidable costs of providing public hospital services in Western Australia

Health Ministers discussed a paper by Western Australia on legitimate and unavoidable costs of providing public hospital services in Western Australia, particularly in regional and remote areas, and recognised that those matters create a cumulative disadvantage to that state. Health Ministers acknowledged that Western Australia will continue to work with the Commonwealth Government and the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority to resolve those matters.


Health Ministers unanimously confirmed the importance of vaccination and rejected campaigns against vaccination.

All Health Ministers expressed their acknowledgement of the outgoing Chair, the Hon Ms Jill Hennessy and welcomed the incoming Chair Ms Meegan Fitzharris MLA from the Australian Capital Territory.

Health Ministers approve Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy

Digital information is the bedrock of high quality healthcare.

The benefits for patients are signicant and compelling: hospital admissions avoided, fewer adverse drug events, reduced duplication of tests, better coordination of care for people with chronic and complex conditions, and better informed treatment decisions. Digital health can help save and improve lives.

To support the uptake of digital health services, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council today approved Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy (2018-2022).

Download Strategy and work plan here  

In a communique issued after their council meeting in Brisbane August 4 , the Health Ministers noted:

“The Strategy has identified the priority areas that form the basis of Australia’s vision for digital health. It will build on Australia’s existing leadership in digital health care and support consumers and clinicians to put the consumer at the centre of their health care and provide choice, control, and transparency.”

Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) CEO Tim Kelsey welcomed COAG approval for the new Strategy.

“Australians are right to be proud of their health services – they are among the best, most accessible, and efficient in the world.

Today we face new health challenges and rapidly rising demand for services. It is imperative that we work together to harness the power of technology and foster innovation to support high quality, sustainable health and care for all, today and into the future,” he said.

The Strategy – Safe, seamless, and secure: evolving health and care to meet the needs of modern Australia – identifies seven key priorities for digital health in Australia including delivery of a My Health Record for every Australian by 2018 – unless they choose not to have one.

More than 5 million Australians already have a My Health Record, which provides potentially lifesaving access to clinical reports of medications, allergies, laboratory tests, and chronic conditions. Patients and consumers can access their My Health Record at any time online or on their mobile phone.

The Strategy will also enable paper-free secure messaging for all clinicians and will set new standards to allow real-time sharing of patient information between hospitals and other care professionals.

Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Dr Michael Gannon has welcomed the Strategy’s focus on safe and secure exchange of clinical information, as it will empower doctors to deliver improved patient care.

“Doctors need access to secure digital records. Having to wade through paperwork and chase individuals and organisations for information is

archaic. The AMA has worked closely with the ADHA on the development of the new strategy and looks forward to close collaboration on its implementation,” Dr Gannon said.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) President Dr Bastian Seidel said that the RACGP is working closely and collaboratively with the ADHA and other stakeholders to ensure that patients, GPs, and other health professionals have access to the best possible data.

“The Strategy will help facilitate the sharing of high-quality commonly understood information which can be used with confidence by GPs and other health professionals. It will also help ensure this patient information remains confidential and secure and is available whenever and wherever it is needed,” Dr Seidel said.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia National President George Tambassis said that technology would increasingly play an important role in supporting sustainable healthcare delivery.

“The Guild is committed to helping build the digital health capabilities of community pharmacies and advance the efficiency, quality, and delivery of healthcare to improve health outcomes for all Australians.

“We are working with the ADHA to ensure that community pharmacy dispensing and medicine-related services are fully integrated into the My Health Record – and are committed to supporting implementation of the National Digital Health Strategy as a whole,” George Tambassis said.

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) President Dr Shane Jackson said that the Strategy would support more effective medicationmanagement, which would improve outcomes for patients and improve the efficiency of health services.

“There is significant potential for pharmacists to use digital health records as a tool to communicate with other health professionals, particularly during transitions of care,” Dr Jackson said.

The Strategy will prioritise development of new digital services to support newborn children, the elderly, and people living with chronic disease. It will also support wider use of telehealth to improve access to services, especially in remote and rural Australia and set standards for better information sharing in medical emergencies – between the ambulance, the hospital, and the GP.

Consumers Health Forum (CHF) Leanne Wells CEO said that the Strategy recognises the importance of empowering Australians to be makers and shapers of the health system rather than just the users and choosers.

“We know that when consumers are activated and supported to better self-manage and coordinate their health and care, we get better patient experience, quality care, and better health outcomes.

“Digital health developments, including My Health Record, are ways in which we can support that to happen. It’s why patients should also be encouraged to take greater control of their health information,” Leanne Wells said.

Medical Software Industry Association (MSIA) President Emma Hossack said that the Strategy distils seven key themes that set expectations at a national level.“The strategy recognises the vital role industry plays in providing the smarts and innovation on top of government infrastructure.

This means improved outcomes, research, and productivity. Industry is excited to work with the ADHA to develop the detailed actions to achieve the vision which could lead to Australia benefitting from one of the strongest health software industries in the world,” Emma Hossack said.

Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA) CEO Dr Louise Schaper welcomed the Strategy’s focus on workforce development.

“If our complex health system is to realise the benefits from information and technology, and become more sustainable, we need clinical leaders with a sound understanding of digital health,” Dr Schaper said.

The Strategy was developed by all the governments of Australia in close partnership with patients, carers and the clinical professionals who serve them – together with leaders in industry and science.

The Strategy draws on evidence of clinical and economic benefit from many sources within Australia and overseas, and emphasises the priority of patient confidentiality as new digital services are implemented.

The ADHA has established a Cyber Security Centre to ensure Australian healthcare is at the cutting edge of international data security.

The ADHA, which has responsibility for co-ordinating implementation of the Strategy, will now be consulting with partners across the community to develop a Framework for Action. The framework will be published later this year and will detail implementation plans for the Strategy.

The National Digital Health Strategy Safe, seamless and secure: evolving health and care to meet the needs of modern Australia is available on (

Greg Hunt Press Conference

Topics: COAG Health Council outcomes; The Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan; support for doctors and nurses mental health; hospital funding; same-sex marriage

Today was a huge breakthrough in terms of mental health. The Fifth National Mental Health Plan was approved by the states.

What this is about is enormous progress on suicide prevention. It has actually become the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, so a real focus on suicide prevention.

In particular, the focus on what happens when people are discharged from hospital, the group in Australia that are most likely to take their own lives.

We actually know not just the group, but the very individuals who are most at risk. That’s an enormous step.

The second thing here is, as part of that plan, a focus on eating disorders, and it is a still-hidden issue. In 2017, the hidden issue of eating disorders, of anorexia and bulimia, and the prevalence and the danger of it is still dramatically understated in Australia.

The reality is that this is a silent killer and particularly women can be caught up for years and years, and so there’s a mutual determination, a universal determination to progress on eating disorders, and that will now be a central part of the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.

And also, as part of that, we’ve included, at the Commonwealth’s request today, a real focus on early intervention services for young people under 16. Pat McGorry has referred to it as CATs for Kids, meaning Crisis Assessment Teams, and the opportunity.

And this is a really important step because, for many families, when they have a crisis, there’s nowhere to turn. This is a way through. So those are all enormous steps forward.

The other mental health area where we’ve made big, big progress is on allowing doctors to seek routine mental health treatment.

There’s an agreement by all of the states and territories to work with the Commonwealth on giving doctors a pathway so as they can seek routine mental health treatment without being reported to the professional bodies.

What has led to the increased focus on eating disorders? Has there been an uptick in the number of suicides resulting from that, or has there been an uptick in the number of cases?

No, this has been silently moving along. It’s a personal focus. There are those that I have known, and then when we looked the numbers shortly after coming in, and dealt with organisations such as the Butterfly Foundation, they explained that it’s been a high level issue with the worst rate of loss of life amongst any mental health condition.

And so that’s a combination both of suicide, but also of loss of life due to physical collapse. And so it’s what I would regard as a personal priority from my own experience with others, but then the advocacy of groups like Butterfly Foundation has finally landed. It should’ve happened earlier, but it’s happening on our watch now.

That would be my next question, is that I’m sure advocacy groups will say this is great that it’s happened, but it’s taken the Government so long. Why is it that you’re focussing on it now as opposed to…?

I guess, I’ve only just become Minister. So from day one, this is one of the things I’ve wanted to do, and I’m really, personally, deeply pleased that we’ve made this enormous progress.

So I would say this, I can’t speak for the past, it is overdue, but on our watch collectively we’ve taken a huge step forward today.

Then the last thing is I’ve seen some reports that Queensland and Victoria may have been upset that some of their statistical anomalies were referred to what’s called IHPA (Independent Hospital Pricing Authority).

The reason why is that some of their figures simply didn’t pass the pub test.

The independent authority will assess them, but when you have 4000 per cent growth in one year in some services, 3300 per cent growth in some years in other services, then it would be negligent and irresponsible not to review them.

It may be the case that there was a more than 40-fold increase in some services, but the only sensible thing for the Commonwealth to do is to review it.

But our funding goes up each year every year at a faster rate than the states’ funding, and it’s gone up by $7.7 billion dollars since the current health agreement with the states was struck.

Is that, sorry, relating to private health insurance, or is that something separate?

No, that’s just in relation to, a couple of the states lodged claims for massive growth in individual items.

Thank you. So was there a directive given today regarding private health policies to the states? Was that something that was discussed or something that …?

Our paper was noted, and the states will respond. So we’ve invited the states to respond, they’ll respond individually.

And regarding that mental health plan, besides their new focus on eating disorders, how is it different from previous mental health plans?

So, a much greater focus on suicide prevention, a much greater focus on eating disorders, and a much greater focus on care for young children under 16.

Is that something that you can give more specific details about? You’re saying there’s a much greater focus, but is there any specific information about what that would mean?

As part of the good faith, the Commonwealth, I’ve written to the head of what’s called the Medical Benefits Schedule Review, so the Medicare item review, Professor Bruce Robinson and asked him and their team to consider, for the first time, specific additional treatment, an additional treatment item and what would be appropriate for eating disorders.