NACCHO #NIHRA #Mabo25 Alert : National Indigenous Human Rights Awards and @Malarndirri19 keynote speech

The National Indigenous Human Rights Awards recognises and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have significantly contributed to the advancement of human rights and social justice .

The 2017 Awards ceremony coincided with the 25th Anniversary of the Mabo decision in the High Court, which significantly established a fundamental truth and basis for justice for Indigenous Australian people.

 ‘” Believing in the impossible is really what leads us to where we get to in life. And if we can, share some of those secrets about believing in the impossible.

We are going to listen to a little bit of a story of one man who believed in the impossible. 

In 1982 Eddie Koiki Mabo, a Meriam man from Murray Island in the Torres Straits, along with Reverend David Passi, Celuia Mapoo Salee, Sam Passi and James Rice – said No.

No, to being an uncomfortable truth.

No to being told that it was impossible to prove they had rights well before European arrival.

It takes a spiritual nature to pursue peace through such conflict.

These courageous people didn’t want to be reassured with numbing advice that all legal options were impossible.

So they dared to challenge the centuries-old doctrine of Terra Nullius – a land that belonged to no one.

It was a decade-long legal battle. ”

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy’s speech at the National Indigenous Human Rights Award’s at Parliament House reminds people to believe in the impossible as the 25th anniversary of Mabo approaches. Full Speech continued below Part 2

Picture above : The winners of two of the three awards, Mervyn Eades (Dr Yunupingu Human Rights Award) [2nd from left], and Gayili Marika Yunupingu, (Eddie Mabo Lifetime Social Justice Achievement Award) [4th from right] with organisers and presenters of the awards. Missing is Professor Chris Sarra, winner of the Anthony Mundine Courage Award, who was unable to attend the evening.
Photo: Geoff Bagnall

Wiradjuri man, Jake Gablonski attended the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards in Canberra.

He says it’s an honour to be surrounded by Indigenous people who have significantly contributed to the advancement of human rights and social justice in Australia

By Jake Gablonski Source:  NITV News

Last night, the 2017 Indigenous Human Rights Awards were held at Parliament House in Canberra.

I was lucky enough to attend.

It was an honour in itself to attend the awards as a representative from the Black Rainbow enterprise. For those of you who don’t know, Black Rainbow is the only Aboriginal support website for the LGBTQI community. Last year, it’s founder, Dameyon Bonson, was awarded the Dr Yunupingu Award for Human Rights for his work and achievements around Indigenous LGBTI Suicide.

What an incredible experience to be surrounded by so many of our mob doing very significant things, creating positive pathways for a fair Australia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

I felt really proud and inspired by each and every Aboriginal representative selected to be involved. I felt a deep sense of connection to country, culture and community, as the nominees, award recipients and guest speakers were presented.

Hosted by journalist and author, Jeff McMullen, he took the opportunity to not only express his support for the Awards, but recognise people who have “given their lives to the struggle”.

For me, the highlight of my night was the presentation of a Commemorative Plaque for the 25th Anniversary of the Mabo decision, which was presented to the Mabo family.

I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Aunty Bonita Mabo, wife of Eddie Mabo, who humbly said she was feeling “extremely surprised to be invited to Canberra for the occasion” and to be “presented with the plaque”.

Mrs Mabo said her daughter Gail, and grandchildren will continue to advocate for the Mabo legacy to live on.

Award Nominees and Winners Profile

National Indigenous Human Rights Awards 2017 in the Mural Hall, Parliament House, Canberra

Award Winners: Mervyn Eades (Dr Yunupingu Human Rights Award) and Gayili Marika Yunupingu, (Eddie Mabo Lifetime Social Justice Achievement Award)

Anthony Mundine Courage Award: Presented by Anthony Mundine

Dr Meg Willis
Joe Williams
Clinton Pryor
Professor Chris Sarra 

Winner: Professor Chris Sarra – For his work around Beating the challenges facing Indigenous Students in school –  Created the “Stronger and Smarter” philosophy  – Encouraging kids to be stronger in their cultural identity, and smarter by attending and excelling at school.

Dr Chris Sarra

Professor Chris Sarra won an award for his work around Beating the challenges facing Indigenous Students in school – Created the “Stronger and Smarter” philosophy

Dr Yunupingu Human Rights Award: Presented by Malarndirri McCarthy – “It’s about believing in the Impossible”

Mr Mark Wenitong
Professor Kerry Arabena
Rachel Perkins
Mervyn Eades 

Winner: Mervyn Eades – For his work as a Human Rights Campaigner, transforming the lives of those in prison through mentoring, education and training. Mervyn accepted this award stating that “we need to lead our own destiny”

National Indigenous Human Rights Awards 2017 in the Mural Hall, Parliament House, Canberra

Senator McCarthy and Merv Eades

Eddie Mabo Social Justice Award: Presented by Gail Mabo  – “Without Country, who are we?”

Dr Kim Isaacs
Noeletta McKenzie
Richard Weston
Gayili Marika Yunupingu

Winner: Gayili Marika Yunupingu – Who has been working extremely hard to  raise awareness around Suicide Prevention and Indigenous social issues right across the Northern Territory including her home community, and wider Australia.

Part 2 : Indigenous elder honoured for work fighting suicide in East Arnhem Land

By Bridget Brennan

Bonita Mabo embraces Gayili Marika Yunupingu
Photo Bonita Mabo embraces Gayili Marika Yunupingu (in red)Geoff Bagnall

An Aboriginal elder credited with single-handedly reducing the shocking rate of suicide in her community says her work is not over yet.

Bonita Mabo, wife of the late land rights pioneer Eddie Mabo, last night presented Gayili Marika Yunupingu with a lifetime achievement award at the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards.

The pair embraced and cried at Parliament House as Ms Yunupingu accepted the accolade.

“The job is not finished,” Ms Yunupingu said.

Twelve years ago Ms Yunupingu began a movement to support young people who felt hopeless and suicidal in East Arnhem Land.

At her community at Melville Bay, she put herself on call — 24 hours a day — responding to calls for help from people considering taking their own lives.

The suicide rate there began falling when she established her program, and she recruited others to volunteer to spend time with people in crisis.

She said her next step would be establishing a healing camp, and working with perpetrators and victims of domestic violence.

“We continue to work with the healing place in our community,” she said.

“I accept this award also on behalf of my community, who has struggled with me to keep our people safe and to keep them walking with us.”

Aboriginal educator and the Prime Minister’s Indigenous advisor, Professor Chris Sarra, was presented with a Courage award for his work over many decades.

Mervyn Eades, who helps ex-prisoners into work in Western Australia, was also recognized.

The awards took on special significance this year, 25 years since the historic Mabo decision.

Eddie Mabo’s daughter, Gail, said her father left a legacy for all Australian people to carry on.

“He was a man who was driven by the passions of his people. Let that be the fight of now,” she said.

She said she was heartened to see a new generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people fighting for land rights.

“I take my hat off to everyone who’s fighting to maintain their connection to country — because without country, who are we?”

Ms Mabo said she still had vivid memories of her father, who never lived to see the High Court decision handed down.

“I’d lie there and watch him, and sometimes I saw him cry, and sometimes I’d see him sing.

“The loss of someone, as we all know, it feels like yesterday.”

If you need to talk to someone, call @LifelineAust 13 11 14; @KidsHelplineAU 1800 551 800; @MensLine_Aus 1300 789 978; @SuicideCallBack 1300 659 467.

Part 3 : Senator Malarndirri McCarthy’s speech at the National Indigenous Human Rights Award’s at Parliament House

Photo: Geoff Bagnall

On 3rd June 1992, the High Court of Australia decided in favour of Eddie Koiki Mabo and his fellow plaintiffs.

Like any family, there is no doubt division in Eddie Mabo’s family and in his clan groups in the islands. Divisions not least of which centred on the authority to make decisions, about everyday life on Murray Island, or about who could hunt where for the food. Or whose role it was to take the lead in ceremonies sacred to their people. It was a pretty normal kind of life.

It is human nature to have conflict.

It takes a spiritual nature to pursue peace through such conflict.

There was friction in the understanding of legal doctrine, and further separation of whose legal advice was the better to follow. Who could interpret the law in such a way as to dare challenge this doctrine?

Eddie Koiki Mabo died six months before that decision came down. The High Court decision came down in June 1992.

The challenge and win in the high court resulted in the Native Title Act.

“It is the uncomfortable truth of black and white Australia. It is the uncomfortable truth that white Australia has a black history, and very much a living present.”

The very Act that Merv (Eades) referred to this evening, at the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards, and Jeff, that we are debating in the Senate.

The debating is all about the amendments to what you have heard this evening in terms of an extraordinary win by a family of Noongars in WA. Their legal right to challenge came about because of Eddie Mabo. Their legal right to say no came about because of Eddie Mabo. So the struggle and discernment that we hear in this parliament, the house of the people need to have, is a deeper understanding of why it is that this Act is before the parliament.

Who does it benefit? What is the change? Who else will benefit? Who will lose? Why are we amending the Act? Does it need amending?

These are the questions that we as political members of the parliament must ask. We may not like to as those questions, and we may not want to ask those questions, but that is why we put our hands up and said we want to represent. And that means taking the good with the bad. It means standing in those uncomfortable moments, in those uncomfortable decisions. But, I do believe he spirit of Gail Mabo’s Dad, is right here in this parliament.

If I could share with you the stories of how even to this point. Since the McGlade decision in February, something has been moving in this parliament, a really strong sense of spirit. Where a piece of legislation, that was rushed through the House of Representatives, one day without warning, didn’t happen. It couldn’t be rushed through.

Labor said no.

Then there were further conversations about what is going on here, why is this happening?

Labor insisted that it went to a Senate Inquiry, which is the appropriate process of examination of any act of Parliament, which is what we are here to do. From the Senate Inquiry came an outcome, over sixty submissions to the inquiry, an inquiry led by an incredibly experienced practitioner of Land Rights in my view, and certainly in the view of those that know him, as you would, Senator Pat Dodson.

“We have to listen to everyone.”

It is incredibly complex because Native Title is complex. It is the uncomfortable truth of black and white Australia. It is the uncomfortable truth that white Australia has a black history, and very much a living present.

When the Inquiry completed its findings, it was Labor that narrowed down to make sure that extinguishment was not a part of any steps forward.

It is Senator Pat Dodson who has advocated vehemently and taken the lead to make sure that extinguishment of the rights of the First Peoples of this country does never happen.

The spirit of Mr Mabo floats through here. I believe, in this parliament at a really important time.

The phone rings in my office, in Linda’s office, Pat’s office and I am sure in many of my colleagues of Labor party offices as much as it does in the Government offices.

The phone should ring, and people should listen because those calls are important calls coming from around the nation. It is bigger than Noongar people. This amendments impact over 120 Indigenous Land Use Agreements, We have to examine those land use agreements, we have to listen to the Native Title applicants and claimants from right across the country. As comfortable as it would be to listen to one group, we know that is not what we are here to do. We have to listen to everyone.

I ask each and every one of you to send your strong spirits and goodwill to those of us in there who are trying to discern the best way forward, not just for one group of people but for all people, that your spirits will help us guide through that process.

Aboriginal Health : Stark Indigenous inequality shows calls for governments to reset agenda: Download new report

The report highlights that the complexities of Indigenous affairs are not intractable, there is a clear way forward for Indigenous rights and the solutions lie with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people ourselves, and not with policy and funding structured around the whim of a minister or life of a government,”

“I call on all Australian governments to implement these recommendations in full and as a matter of urgency. Partner with us and we will realise equality.”

Respected human rights campaigner and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Professor Tom Calma said the Oxfam report provided a valuable perspective on the state of human rights for Indigenous people on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum.

Professor Calma said the report outlined 10 clear steps to move beyond recognition and bring about real change.

Download the report HERE

OXF011-Indigenous-Rights-Report-Email

The failure of successive governments to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is condemning too many Indigenous Australians to stark inequality and entrenched disadvantage, according to an Oxfam report published today.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said the report found funding for Indigenous services was inadequate, misdirected, uncertain and lacking in transparency.

Dr Szoke said new economic analysis by Oxfam had found more than one in five Indigenous households were in Australia’s poorest 10 per cent of households – more than twice the rest of Australia.

Each year we see considerable support amongst Australians for closing the gap. Yet less than one in four Australians polled by Oxfam had some degree of confidence the disadvantages of Indigenous people would be addressed in the next decade.

“Half a century on from the historic 1967 referendum, far too many Indigenous Australians live in circumstances akin to those in developing countries,” Dr Szoke said.

“Many of the fundamental rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have not progressed – at the heart of this injustice is the failure to genuinely include Indigenous people in decision-making.

“At a time when we should be celebrating, our Constitution still fails to recognise our First Peoples, Indigenous children are sent to detention in greater numbers than ever and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples still die 10 to 17 years younger than non-Indigenous Australians.”

Dr Szoke said as an international aid agency, Oxfam’s experience showed listening to and working in partnership with local communities was the key to achieving real change.

“Oxfam’s report is not only evidence of the problems, it also highlights what is working well and makes realistic recommendations which would reset governments’ relationship with indigenous people,” Dr Szoke said.

“These recommendations include funding for an elected Indigenous body, funding preference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service providers and minimum five-year funding agreements.”

Australian governments have failed Indigenous peoples, says Oxfam

From the Guardian

Successive Australian governments have failed to achieve meaningful change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, according to a report by Oxfam that calls for a drastic overhaul of all areas of Indigenous policy and interaction with government.

The report, released on Wednesday, outlines 10 recommendations including changing the native title system to make it easier to both attain and leverage as an economic and cultural asset; reestablishing a national elected representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; changing the funding system to prioritise community-run Indigenous organisations; and implementing every relevant recommendation from every major report into Indigenous affairs in the past 30 years.

The last task alone would keep the federal government in policy reform for several years: the majority of recommendations made by significant Indigenous inquiries, from the 339 recommendations of the 1991 royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody onwards, have never been implemented or have been implemented only in part.

The report comes a week after a UN investigator released a damning preliminary report saying repeated failure to enact UN recommendations on Indigenous issues would damage Australia’s chances of securing a seat on the security council.

Writing in the foreword, former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Prof Tom Calma said the government should implement the recommendations of the Oxfam report with “all possible urgency” to break the cycle of policy renewal and change that had rarely resulted in meaningful change on the ground

“Over the years, the urgent need to respect the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been documented in far too many reports , reviews and inquiries – by royal commissions, parliamentary committees, government agencies, human rights and equal opportunity commissions, respected United Nations bodies, and indeed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ourselves,” Calma said.

“Yet these reports are consistently ignored by successive governments, while too many of my Indigenous brothers and sisters continue to experience the reality of these failures every day in our communities. Sadly, too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples still live shorter, less healthy lives with lower socioeconomic outcomes than non-Indigenous people.”

Australia is only on track to meet one of its seven closing the gap targets. Delivering his closing the gap speech in February, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said “community driven” initiatives would be central to meeting those targets.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : From #WCPH2017 an international spotlight on #Indigenous public health equity

” The Indigenous Working Group will provide an opportunity to bring to the global public health and civil society arena a visible and prominent Indigenous voice that privileges an Indigenous world view and narrative.

We intend to creates a platform for change with the aim to address the health inequities experience by Indigenous peoples worldwide.”

From the 15th World Congress of Public Health Melbourne 

Full 4 Page WCPH2017 Demand for Action Download

WCPH2017-Melbourne-Demand-for-Action

See full report article 2 below

WCPH2017 Indigenous Press Release Working Group

 “I want to see Indigenous people not just at the table but at the head of the table, leading. I don’t want to continue to see the token black. I want our mob designing, implementing and evaluating our business.

No one should be speaking on our behalf. I expect to see Indigenous people’s voices preferenced and prioritised.

We shouldn’t just be consulted on issues affecting us. We should be making the decisions ourselves

And I am proud to announce, on the 50th anniversary of the World Federation of Public Health Associations, that the World Federation of Public Health Associations has endorsed the Indigenous Working Group

Nothing about us without being led by us

Video Former NACCHO Policy officer Summer May Finlay announcing the Indigenous Working group on the last day of #WCPHH2017 , Summer is Yorta Yorta. Social Justice. Public Health. Croakey Contributor. Writer. PhD Candidate

Read her full speech here on Croakey OR

Watch Video Here or Live Below

 

 ” I’ve written here and here  that mainstream health promotion has largely failed Indigenous people and communities.

My aim is not to blame health promotion for poor Indigenous health outcomes, or to blame the many dedicated health promoters working to improve Indigenous health. I acknowledge there are cases where health promotion has positively impacted the health of Indigenous people.

However, the majority of mainstream health promotion has shown little impact upon the burden of disease in Indigenous communities, and generally not enabled Indigenous Australians to take control of their lives.

In Australia, colonisation began with British imperialism to establish British control over land, involving many inhumane strategies that continue to profoundly impact Indigenous health  and cause disadvantage.

Australia’s health system, including health promotion practice and policy, is heavily implicated in these damaging colonising practices, as many have written about .

Consider that while Indigenous Australians were experiencing their first access to appropriate health care through the Aboriginal community controlled health service (ACCHS) movement, the first International Conference on Health Promotion was held in Ottawa in 1986.

At the conference, there were only two people present as ‘Indigenous representation’: an Indigenous consultant from the First Nations Confederacy in Manitoba, Canada; and a participant from Research and Development in Health and Welfare Canada who referenced Indigeneity in their professional background.

This representation, and the conference focus on wealthy countries, is a substantial shift away from the globally inclusive agenda promoted by the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, yet remains largely unacknowledged within the health promotion literature.

Dr Karen McPhail-Bell is a non-Indigenous early career academic and public health professional at the University Centre for Rural Health.

Her interest lies in the operation of power in relation to people’s health, and in strengths-based and reciprocal processes to support of community-controlled and Indigenous-led agendas.

Read her Croakey article in Full HERE

 ” While the Indigenous cultures in the four countries are different in some obvious and critical ways, they also share key commonalities in their colonial heritages and challenges in addressing development needs. 

 Through collaboration and sharing of new thinking and innovative processes Indigenous peoples can address their contemporary needs and aspirations. ”

Michelle Deshong is a global leader in governance. She’s completeing a PhD at James Cook University in Townsville and draws her connection to the Kuku Yulanji Nation.

The World Federation of Public Health Associations has formed its first Indigenous Working Group on its 50th Anniversary.

At the 15th World Congress of Public Health Melbourne conference, 40 Indigenous and non- Indigenous conference delegates of the yarning circle unanimously supported in principle the establishment of the World Federation of Public Health Associations Indigenous Working Group.

The Public Health Association of Australia, on Tuesday 4th April 2017, hosted a yarning circle to talk about establishing an Indigenous Working Group.

The yarning circle was led by Adrian Te Patu, the inaugural Indigenous representative on the World Federation of Public Health Association (WFPHA) Governing Council.

The Yarning Circle was hosted by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation ( VACCHO )

Once supported by the delegates, the formation of the Indigenous Working Group was accepted by acclimation by the world assembly of Public Health Associations.

Under Mr. Te Patu’s leadership, the next steps are to formalise the Indigenous Working Group and develop its vision.

The WFPHA’s function and mandate includes its link into the global health governance mechanisms such as the World Health Organisation.

Contacts

New Zealand :  Adrian Te Patu Email: adriantepatu@gmail.com

Australia  : Summer May Finlay Email: summermayfinlay@gmail.com

Article 2 Health in all policies

At the recently concluded 15th World Congress on Public Health in Melbourne, the partner organisations, together with delegates from over 83 countries articulated their concerns for the public’s health and demanded that world leaders make the public’s health a priority.

They outlined a future vision for a healthier world based on Protection, Prevention and Health Promotion as set out in the World Federation of Public Health Associations’ paper ‘A Global Charter for the Public’s Health’ http://bit.ly/2odN1MO and the UN Sustainable Development Goals http://bit.ly/2d4dcA4 .

The Congress called on governments to enable public health professionals and their organisations to carry out their work to develop further public health functions and quality health systems as global public resources.

They also called on governments to hold all sectors accountable for the health impacts of their policies and actions, consistent with the intent of the social determinants of health and their responsibilities to strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

You can access the WFPHA Call for action here:

https://t.co/MunOH2KT3N or

read the Congress statement as an online book: http://online.fliphtml5.com/eeyoy/adza/

Aboriginal Health and #Justjustice : @UNHumanrights finds Australia’s Aboriginal peoples face “tsunami” of imprisonment.

“It is alarming that, while the country has adopted numerous policies to address the socio-economic disadvantage of Aboriginal peoples and those from the Torres Strait Islands, it has failed to respect their rights to self-determination and to full and effective participation in society.

Government policies have failed to deliver on targets in the areas of health, education and employment and have led to a growing number of people being jailed, and have resulted in an increasing number of children being removed from their homes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.  

High rates of incarceration were described to me as a tsunami affecting indigenous peoples. It is a major human rights concern.

The figures are simply astounding. While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up only 3% of the total population, they constitute 27% of the prison population, and much more in some prisons,”

United Nations human rights expert the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz pictured above meeting the Opposition Aboriginal parliamentarians and below meeting the NT APO lead by John Paterson CEO of NACCHO Affiliate AMSANT

Australia must reduce the “astounding” rates of imprisonment for indigenous peoples and step up the fight against racism, a United Nations human rights expert has concluded, at the end of an official visit.

“The rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth is alarming,” Ms. Tauli-Corpuz said. “I visited Cleveland Youth Detention Centre in Townsville, Queensland, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children constitute 95% of the children detained.

Many have been going from out-of-home care into detention. “Aboriginal children are seven times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be in contact with the child protection system or to be subject to abuse or neglect, Ms. Tauli-Corpuz noted.

“As already recommended by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, I urge Australia to increase the age of criminal responsibility. Children should be detained only as a last resort.

“These children are essentially being punished for being poor and in most cases, prison will only aggravate the cycle of violence, poverty and crime. I found meeting young children, some only 12 years old, in detention the most disturbing element of my visit.

The UN expert expressed criticism of the Government programme known as the Indigenous Advancement Strategy which was initiated by the Government in 2014 and involved a large budget cut in funding for support programmes.

She said: “The implementation of the strategy has been bureaucratic, rigid and has wasted considerable resources on administration. Travelling across the country, I have repeatedly been told about its dire consequences.”

However, Ms. Tauli-Corpuz said: “I want to emphasise that during my visit I have been particularly impressed and inspired by the strength of spirit and commitment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to develop innovative measures to support their own communities.”

She pointed to the number of peak organisations across a range of areas led by indigenous people. “The Government could achieve significant progress in realising the rights of indigenous peoples if it consulted and worked much more closely with these organisations,” she said.

“I have also observed effective community-led initiatives in a range of areas including public health, housing, education, child-protection, conservation and administration of justice, which all have the potential of making immediate significant positive changes in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.”

She called on the government to forge a new relationship with the national representative body for indigenous peoples, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, and restore their funding.

She expressed concern that the Government would not meet targets to close the gap in areas such as life expectancy, infant mortality, education and employment. She called for a comprehensive approach including specific targets for the reduction of detention rates, child removal and violence against women.

“I call on the Government to adopt a participatory approach based on consultation with indigenous peoples and take into account the ‘Redfern statement’, launched by peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait organisations in 2016, as it sets out priority areas for action and recommendations on issues ranging from health, justice, violence prevention, disability, children and families,” the expert concluded.

Ms. Tauli-Corpuz ended her two-week visit to Australia with a press conference in Barton in the Australian Capital Territory where she presented her initial findings and recommendations. She will present a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Philippines), is a human rights activist working on indigenous peoples’ rights

. Her work for more than three decades has been focused on movement building among indigenous peoples and also among women, and she has worked as an educator-trainer on human rights, development and indigenous peoples in various contexts. She is a member of the Kankana-ey, Igorot indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region in the Philippines.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.

Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

See the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples UN Human Rights, country page: Australia

 

Aboriginal Health #WCPH2017 #WorldActivityDay : Snapshot report physical activity programs for Aboriginal people in Australia

 

” This is important as sharing information about program practice is an important part of effective health promotion and can serve to guide future initiatives.

The Ottawa Charter outlines a settings based approach to effective health promotion. We found most programs were delivered in community, followed by school, settings. Both have proven efficacy in achieving health outcomes.

They are likely be particularly effective settings for reaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people given the importance of holistic health promotion and whole-of-community approaches

Capturing current practice can inform future efforts to increase the impact of physical activity programs to improve health and social indicators.

Targeted, culturally relevant programs are essential to reduce levels of disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Rona Macniven, Michelle Elwell, Kathy Ride, Adrian Bauman and Justin Richards Prevention Research Collaboration, Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, & Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet

Picture above : Redfern All Blacks recently won the Women’s Division Ella Sevens Rugby Union tournament in Coffs Harbour beating the Highlanders 36-7

Download

 A snapshot of physical activity programs targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia

 

Picture above :The Knight Riders beat the Shindogs 28-21 in the Men’s Final Ella Sevens Rugby Union tournament in Coffs Harbour

Issue addressed

Participation in physical activity programs can be an effective strategy to reduce chronic disease risk factors and improve broader social outcomes. Health and social outcomes are worse among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders than non-Indigenous Australians, who represent an important group for culturally specific programs.

The extent of current practice in physical activity programs is largely unknown. This study identifies such programs targeting this population group and describes their characteristics.

Aboriginal Health

Almost a third of programs aimed to promote physical activity to achieve broader social benefits such as educational and employment outcomes and reduced rates of crime. Health and sport programs are worthy crime prevention approaches.

There are also recognised relationships between physical activity and fitness level and academic achievement as well as social and mental health benefits specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

However, a cautious approach to alluding to wider social benefits directly arising from individual programs should be taken in the absence of empirical evidence, as well as the direct effects of standalone programs on health.

Yet the documentation of existing program evaluation measures in this snapshot represents a vital first step in reviewing programs collectively and some have demonstrated encouraging evidence of positive educational and employment outcomes.

There is also some evidence of social benefits, such as community cohesion and cultural identity; derived from sport programs in this snapshot, which are important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Such programs might therefore contribute to corresponding ‘Closing the Gap’ policy indicators and should be resourced accordingly.

Methods

Bibliographic and Internet searches and snowball sampling identified eligible programs operating between 2012 and 2015 in Australia (phase 1). Program coordinators were contacted to verify sourced information (phase 2). Descriptive characteristics were documented for each program.

Results

A total of 110 programs were identified across urban, rural and remote locations within all states and territories. Only 11 programs were located through bibliographic sources; the remainder through Internet searches.

The programs aimed to influence physical activity for health or broader social outcomes. Sixty five took place in community settings and most involved multiple sectors such as sport, health and education.

Almost all were free for participants and involved Indigenous stakeholders. The majority received Government funding and had commenced within the last decade. More than 20 programs reached over 1000 people each; 14 reached 0–100 participants. Most included process or impact evaluation indicators, typically reflecting their aims.

Conclusion

This snapshot provides a comprehensive description of current physical activity program provision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. The majority of programs were only identified through the grey literature. Many programs collect evaluation data, yet this is underrepresented in academic literature.

 The Famous AFL “Fitzroy All Stars from Melbourne

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Nutrition : FYI delegates #WCPH2017 Aboriginal traditional foods key role in protecting against #chronicdisease

“We have long understood that native animal and plant foods are highly nutritious.

There is no evidence that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had diabetes or cardiovascular disease whilst maintaining a diet of traditional foods, and it has been shown that reverting to a traditional diet can improve health.

In addition to demonstrating significant health benefits, traditional foods remained an integral part of identity, culture and country for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, while also alleviating food insecurity in remote communities.”

Menzies researcher and lead author Megan Ferguson see research paper in full below

Photo above :  Frank told us how the ‘old people’, which literally means his ancestors, lived under the trees, gathered food and fished in the swamp. He said that during the dry, they used to build a sort of rock stepping-stone bridge to access the island in the swamp where they would gather magpie goose eggs.

Photo above  : With a focus to improve community nutrition, over 2000 bush tucker trees and conventional fruits were planted at the Barunga Community, south of Katherine.

Aboriginal people have been using bush tucker for over 50,000 years, but it was hoped the plantation would lure more children onto a free feed of fruit, instead of a portion of chips. Some of the bush tucker fruits being planted include the Black Plum, Bush Apple, Cocky Apple, Red Bush Apple, and White Currant

 ” The bush tucker diet was high in nutritional density, offering good levels of protein, fibre, and micronutrients. It was low in sugar and glucose, and lower in insulin than similar western foods, and the hunter-gatherer lifestyle meant plenty of physical activity. Some animal foods such as witchetty grubs and green ants were high in fat, but most native land animals were lean, especially when compared with the domesticated animals eaten today.

It was this knowledge of the land that sustained the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory for tens of thousands of years “

Your Complete Guide to Bush Tucker in the Northern Territory

Traditional food trends in remote Northern Territory communities

The majority of Aboriginal people living in remote Northern Territory communities are regularly using traditional foods in their diets according to research from Menzies School of Health Research published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health see below

The paper, Traditional food availability and consumption in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory reports that a nutritious diet including the consumption of traditional foods plays a key role in protecting against chronic disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities.

‘Surveys conducted in remote Northern Territory (NT) communities revealed almost 90% of people consumed a variety of traditional foods each fortnight.

‘In relation to food insecurity we also found that 40% of people obtained traditional food when they would otherwise go without food due to financial hardship or limited access to stores,’ Ms Ferguson said.

The list of traditional food reported during the research is extensive and includes a range of native animal foods including echidna, goanna, mud mussel, long-neck turtle and witchetty grubs and native plant foods including green plum, yam and bush onion.

The 20 remote NT communities surveyed reported that traditional foods were available year round.

‘There is still much to be learnt about the important contribution traditional foods makes to nutrition and health outcomes. We need to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to understand more about contemporary traditional food consumption. This is crucial to informing broader policy that affects where people live, how they are educated, employment and other livelihood opportunities,’ Ms Ferguson said.

The article will be available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1753-6405

Traditional food availability and consumption in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, Australia

Objective: To explore availability, variety and frequency consumption of traditional foods and their role in alleviating food insecurity in remote Aboriginal Australia.

Methods: Availability was assessed through repeated semi-structured interviews and consumption via a survey. Quantitative data were described and qualitative data classified.

Results: Aboriginal and non-Indigenous key informants (n=30 in 2013; n=19 in 2014) from 20 Northern Territory (NT) communities participated in interviews. Aboriginal primary household shoppers (n=73 in 2014) in five of these communities participated in a survey. Traditional foods were reported to be available year-round in all 20 communities. Most participants (89%) reported consuming a variety of traditional foods at least fortnightly and 71% at least weekly. Seventy-six per cent reported being food insecure, with 40% obtaining traditional food during these times.

Conclusions: Traditional food is consumed frequently by Aboriginal people living in remote NT.

Implications for public health: Quantifying dietary contribution of traditional food would complement estimated population dietary intake. It would contribute evidence of nutrition transition and differences in intakes across age groups and inform dietary, environmental and social interventions and policy. Designing and conducting assessment of traditional food intake in conjunction with Aboriginal leaders warrants consideration.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have experienced a rapid nutrition transition since colonisation by Europeans 200 years ago, similar to that experienced by other Indigenous populations globally.1 The traditional food system provided a framework for society and was interwoven with culture, a framework that is now eroded by a food system with no distinct cultural ties or values.2 Early reports of Aboriginal people prior to European contact indicate that they were lean and healthy, attributable to an active lifestyle and a nutrient-dense diet characterised by high protein, polyunsaturated fat, fibre and slowly digested carbohydrates.3 The diet was sourced from a wide range of uncultivated plant foods and wild animals and was influenced by the seasons and geographical location; although there were differences in the food sources by location, there were similarities in the overall nutrient profile.3,4 Since colonisation, this nutritious diet has been systematically replaced by high intakes of refined cereals, added sugars, fatty (domesticated) meats, salt and low intakes of fibre and several micronutrients.5–7

There is no evidence that Aboriginal people maintaining traditional diets had diabetes or cardiovascular disease.4 However, the integration of non-traditional foods into the contemporary diet of Aboriginal Australians has led to an excessive burden of lifestyle-related chronic diseases.3 A nutritious diet, such as that afforded by the consumption of traditional foods, plays a key role in protecting against these conditions. Short-term reversion to a traditional diet has demonstrated significant weight loss, improvement in risk factors of diabetes and cardiovascular disease and improvements in glucose tolerance and other abnormalities related to type 2 diabetes mellitus among a small group of Aboriginal Australians.8,9

High levels and a wide variety of polyunsaturated fatty acids, in the context of overall lower fat content, found in native animal foods are one of the benefits of a traditional diet; reported to reduce the risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases.3,4Traditional foods remain an integral part of the contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander diet strongly linked to identity, culture and country. An analysis of national data collected in 2008 reported that 72% of participants aged over 15 years living in remote communities reported having harvested wild foods in the past 12 months;10 and yet there is a dearth of information on the contribution of traditional foods to the contemporary diet of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.7,11 Most available information is also limited to describing harvesting behaviours and preferences.11 A recent environmental study, for example, in two Australian tropical river catchments reported more than one harvesting trip per fortnight for households in which 42 different animal and plant species were collected over a two-year period. This study also described the food-sharing networks that are likely to play a crucial role in alleviating food insecurity;12 of which 31% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities report to experience.13Some researchers estimate that more than 90% of foods are purchased and traditional foods contribute less than 5% to dietary energy intake,5 others argue that in some contexts the proportion of purchased foods is much lower.14

This variation likely relates to the diverse study contexts, including where people live, with higher intakes of traditional foods suggested to be consumed in small outstations rather than communities and townships.14 Until recently, most estimates of population level dietary intake have been limited to store-purchased food and drinks,5–7 an extremely valuable source of data, though one the authors acknowledge is limited by a lack of information on traditional food intake. The 2011–13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NATSINPAS), which included a 24-hour dietary recall, provided the first set of dietary intake data of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationally, though it did not aim to provide an estimate of traditional food intake.13This paper explores informant interview and self-report data relating to the: i) availability, ii) frequency and iii) variety of traditional food consumption. It also reports on the role of traditional food in alleviating food insecurity. For this study, traditional food included all native and introduced animal and plant foods procured for consumption. It was conducted as part of the SHOP@RIC study.15

Methods

Sample

A survey of contextual factors, defined as factors that may influence food purchases from the community store, was conducted in each of the 20 communities participating in the SHOP@RIC study, in the Northern Territory (NT), Australia.15 This included a rapid appraisal of traditional food availability through an interview with two key informants who had resided in the community for the previous 12 months. The study was not designed to collect comprehensive data on seasonal availability of traditional foods.

The cohort participating in the customer survey of the SHOP@RIC study15 was drawn from five very remote Aboriginal communities in the NT randomly selected from 20 study communities. All five communities had one food store, most had community-based food programs such as school nutrition and aged care meal programs and all were considered to have access to a traditional food supply from their surrounding lands. Households in each of the five communities were randomly selected and an eligible adult (i.e. community resident, plans to reside in the community for 12 months, >18 years, purchases food from the community store, and is the primary shopper) was invited to participate in a series of three surveys; pre-, post- and six-months post intervention. On completion of each survey, a $20 gift of fruit, vegetables and water was provided. The study aimed to include 150 customers in the cohort.

Data collection

The survey of contextual factors was conducted in English by a research team member, either in person or by telephone, at a time convenient to the key informant. Data were collected at two time points. As early as possible in 2014 and 2015, participants were interviewed about events in the previous year, including traditional food hunted or gathered. Initially, contact was made with the Shire/Council Services Manager of each community, who was invited to participate and recommend another suitable local person to complete the interview. The manager was selected due to their overall knowledge of a broad range of factors affecting store purchases, including population movement, community income and provision of essential services. If this manager could not be contacted, contact was made with someone in the community who was already associated with the main project to determine the most suitable people in the community to respond to these questions.

The customer survey was conducted by a research team, which included an Aboriginal community-based researcher trained in the conduct of the study. Interviews were conducted in English, with translation provided by the local researcher where necessary. The third survey (six months post intervention) was conducted from May 2014 to December 2014, in one community every two months in line with the main study design.15 This survey included a measure of frequency and variety consumption of traditional food in the preceding two weeks and questions to elicit information on the role of these foods in alleviation of food insecurity, the results of which are presented in this paper. A short script introduced the set of questions, noting that these included all hunted and gathered foods, which might be referred to by participants as traditional foods or bush foods, and included introduced species. The questions and response options were: How often do you eat traditional foods? (never, 1 day a fortnight, 1 day a week, 2–3 days a week, on most days, everyday). What type of traditional foods have you eaten? In the last 12 months, were there any times that you ran out of food, and couldn’t afford to buy more? (yes, no). If yes, how often did this happen? (once per week, once every 2 weeks, once per month, don’t know). Are there days when you don’t have enough food and feel hungry? (yes, no). What things can you do to get food on these days? Pictorial resources, with examples of foods known to be consumed across Central Australia and the Top End of the NT, grouped into similar food types, served as prompts. This study did not aim to collect data at the species level as nutrient analysis was not planned. These measures were based on a systematic review of the literature and expert consensus, and were pilot tested in line with the development of the overall customer survey.

Data analysis

The data from the contextual factor survey was entered into an Access database and exported to Excel for analysis. One author (CG) collated the data and verified with MF. Traditional food sources recalled being available over the calendar year and/or at different seasonal periods were described. The quantitative data from the customer survey were described, using Stata Version 14.0 (Stata, College Station, Texas, USA). The qualitative data from the customer survey were managed in an Access database and exported to Excel. One author (CB) allocated each individual food to one of eight categories,16 clarifying any difficult classification of foods with JB and MF.

Ethics

The study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the NT Department of Health and Menzies School of Health Research, the Central Australian Human Research Ethics Committee and Deakin University Human Research Ethics Committee. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants.

Results

Participants

At least one interview was conducted in each of the 20 study communities for the years 2013 or 2014. In 2013, 30 participants across 19 of the 20 study communities contributed to the contextual data; the participants held roles in the local council, government welfare agency, store, health centre, aged care facility, school and training and employment program. In 2014, 19 participants across 15 of the 20 study communities contributed to the repeat survey, holding roles in the local council, government welfare agency, store, health centre, community men’s program, research institute and training and employment program or were a community resident not in paid employment. In some cases, mobility from employed roles and from the community prevented repeat interview with the same informants each year.

Seventy-three participants aged 18 years or over, most of whom were female (97%), over the age of 35 years (69%) and not in paid employment (56%) contributed to the third customer survey. The participants differed marginally from the original cohort (92% female, 64% >35 years of age, 62% not in paid employment).

Annual availability of traditional food

Traditional foods were consistently reported for all 20 communities to be available year round. Informants reported hunting activity, with someone from all communities recalling a variety of animal foods that were available over the year or that hunting and fishing occurred. Informants from 15 communities across the Top End and Central Australia reported a variety of plant foods available in the previous 12 months. In four of the five communities where no plant foods were reported, it should be noted that data were only able to be collected for one of the two time points.

The survey did not intend to collect data on environmental or other impacts on the availability of the traditional food supply. It is worth noting that informants from three Top End communities and one customer survey participant from a fourth Top End community reported that goanna were in limited numbers or no longer available due to the impact of cane toads. In two Top End communities it was said that turkey were scarce or no longer available and in one of these communities, that the availability of yams had reduced due to environmental damage caused by introduced animals.

Frequency of traditional food consumption

Most (89%) participants reported consuming traditional foods on at least a fortnightly basis, in the two weeks preceding the survey. Seventy-one per cent of participants reported consuming traditional foods at least weekly.

Variety of traditional foods consumed

The variety of traditional foods reported to be available across 20 communities and consumed by participants in the five communities is reported in Table 1. There were a range of different native animal and plant foods and a smaller number of introduced animal foods recalled.

Table 1. List of the varietya of traditional foods reported to be available in communities and to be consumed in the preceding two weeks by a customer cohort.
Community data set (n=20) Participant data set (n=73)
  1. a: Foods listed as per participant response to an open-ended question which did not specify how to identify foods (e.g. as food category [e.g. seafood], food [e.g. fish] or species [e.g. barramundi]). The adjective ‘bush’ and ‘wild’ was provided at times with some foods (e.g. bush turkey and turkey). Occasionally participants used both local and English language; only the English language name is reported here.
  2. b: Echidna was often referred to as porcupine; buffalo as bullocky; cow as beef, cattle or killer.        c: The term shellfish was not used by participants in the customer cohort.
Animals
Native land animals Bandicoot, carpet snake, duck (diving duck), echidna,b emu, goanna (perentie), goose (magpie goose), honey, honey ant, kangaroo, lizard, possum, turkey, wallaby Black-headed snake, duck, echidna,b emu, goanna, goose, kangaroo, turkey
Introduced land animals Buffalo,b cow,b pig Buffalo,b cow,b pig
Fish or seafood Crab (mud crab), crocodile, crocodile egg, dugong, fish (barramundi, black bream, bream, catfish, fresh- and saltwater fish), shellfish (large creek mussel, long bum, mud mussel, mussel, oyster), prawn, stingray, turtle (long-neck turtle, sea turtle, short-neck turtle), turtle egg, water goanna Crab (mud crab), fish (barramundi, black bream, catfish, red snapper), mangrove worm, shellfishc (cone shell, long bum, mud mussel, oyster, periwinkle), stingray, turtle (long-neck turtle, sea turtle, short-neck turtle), turtle egg, water goanna
Witchetty grub Witchetty grubs Witchetty grub
Sugar bag Sugar bag
Plants
Fruit or berry Apple, banana, berry (blackcurrant, conga berry), cashew tree fruit, fruit (not specified), plum (black plum, green plum and sugar plum), sultana Apple, banana, berry, plum (black plum, green plum), raisin, sultana, tomato
Yam or root vegetables Potato, yam Potato, yam (budgu)
Other plants Bean, onion, tomato Bulb (sandy beach bulb), onion
Seed or nut Cashew tree nut Kora (seed)

The role of traditional food consumption in alleviating food insecurity

Most participants (76%) reported experiencing food insecurity. Of the coping strategies identified, 40% related to obtaining traditional food during times they went without food and 53% were borrowing food or money during these times.

Discussion

This exploratory study demonstrates that traditional food makes an important contribution to the contemporary diet of Aboriginal people living in remote NT communities. In 20 remote communities, traditional foods were reported to be available year round. A high frequency and wide variety of traditional foods were reported to be consumed by participants across five remote communities. In this exploratory study, more animal foods than plant foods were recalled to have been consumed and commonly a few animal foods predominated. Accessing traditional foods was reported to be a means of alleviating food insecurity for almost half the people who experienced food insecurity.

There are limited records of the traditional diet of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people prior to European colonisation. Available reports describe gender roles, with women providing daily sustenance through collecting plant foods and small animals and men hunting large animals on a less regular basis, with the balance of plant and animal foods determined by factors including location and season.3 Studies of Canadian Aboriginal people suggest a high intake of traditional animal foods as part of the contemporary diet.17,18 This study suggests that an understanding of the contribution that animal (native and introduced) and plant foods make to the contemporary diet among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia is warranted.

The frequent self-reported consumption of animal sources of traditional foods, suggests that contemporary population-level dietary assessment using store purchasing data has the potential to over-estimate nutrient deficiencies, particularly of protein, a concern we have previously raised.7,19 In Aboriginal populations elsewhere, it is estimated that traditional foods might contribute anywhere from 10% to 36% of energy and disproportionately to protein and other micronutrients,17,20–23 representing an important dietary contribution. Even weekly or fortnightly consumption of a nutrient-dense food, such as that reported to be consumed in this study, is likely to make an important contribution to the diet.11 Introduced land animal foods, such as buffalos, cattle and pigs, were reported to be hunted and consumed by participants. The contribution of introduced land animals may be influenced by availability and in some areas may be well integrated into the traditional food system.5 In the absence of volume consumption data, it is not possible to draw conclusions on the dietary contribution of introduced land animals. Although these foods contribute to dietary protein intake, the higher quantity of fat and poorer fatty acid profile, compared with native animal foods, is worth noting.3

We have demonstrated that it is possible to measure frequency consumption and to some extent variety of traditional foods consumed – in fact, our impression was that people enjoyed talking about these foods. We acknowledge the limitations of traditional dietary assessment methods, including additional challenges in remote contexts such as the practice of sharing community meals,12,24–27 though also consider that attributes such as the high regard given to traditional food, may aid assessment.24,27,28 Studies have demonstrated how standard tools can be modified to assess individual dietary intake with Aboriginal populations29 and lessons can be learnt from previous dietary survey work in remote Australian Aboriginal communities.15,26

Comprehensive assessment of traditional food consumption would serve a number of purposes. These data would provide an understanding of the different types of traditional foods consumed and the contribution they make to the contemporary diet of Aboriginal people across Australia. This information would assist in developing targeted strategies to ensure sustainable access and increased consumption of traditional foods. This study was not designed to examine differences in consumption of traditional foods across age, gender and other population groups. International studies in Aboriginal populations have found higher intakes of nutrient-poor store foods in young people and higher intakes of traditional foods in older people.17,22,23,30,31 In addition to contributing to improved health through dietary intake, the socio-cultural contribution and opportunity for physical activity that traditional foods provide is important to recognise.21,32,33 The impact that climate change, changes in the natural environment and development policies regarding land and sea use may have on traditional food use and thus health and wellbeing is critical to understand.12,32,34 Although not designed to collect information on environmental and other impacts on traditional food, this study suggests that introduced animals are affecting the availability of small animal and plant foods, at least in the Top End of the NT.

In addition to being nutritionally superior, traditional foods are considered to be a low-monetary form of sustenance, important in a context where people generally have low incomes and where the cost of food is high.12,18,20,35 Similar to our findings, 40% of coastal urban-dwelling Aboriginal people reported increased access of wild resources at times of financial hardship.32 In a small Western Australian outstation, hunting for various types of wild foods has been shown to respond differently to market and economic scarcity.33 The harvest of traditional foods and food sharing networks reduce the reliance on the market economy,10,12 important in a context where high numbers of people report to be food insecure. Others share our opinion that further understanding the role of traditional foods in the diet and in alleviating food insecurity36 is crucial in an environment where few, if any, significant changes are occurring in terms of the high cost of food and prevailing low-income levels.

Data regarding the contribution of traditional foods in the diet and role in livelihoods of Aboriginal people living in remote communities will be important in relation to broader environmental and social policy making. Evidence of the contribution of traditional foods to the contemporary diet of remote Aboriginal people is crucial to informing broader government policy that affects where people live, how they are educated, employment and other livelihood opportunities.10 It has been suggested that the use of traditional foods may be gaining interest nationally and internationally, and in addition to being good for human and environmental health, could provide economic and employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.37 There is a developing interest in sustainability of traditional foods in environmental protection efforts,12 such as working with Aboriginal people to develop adaption strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change on the environment and traditional food supply.32,34 Similarly, traditional food data are used internationally to maintain and improve availability and access to traditional foods as a result of global warming and environmental insults, such as contamination.17,18,21

There are three limitations related to our survey methodology. First, this study relies on self-report data, which is considered to be biased by recall and reporting. To address this, the data were collected through a facilitated recall methodology,38 which improves recall through the use of locally relevant prompts and questions.39 While respondents were asked to recall intake in the preceding two weeks only, it is possible that foods consumed beyond this timeframe were recalled. Second, the individual dietary data was collected from participants in only five remote NT communities; however, these were randomly selected from a larger sample of 20 communities and were spread across the NT. Third, the data were collected based on recall of a two-week period from participants in each community. Normally, frequency consumption data would be collected over a longer period to account for factors such as seasonality, although it has been collected in some studies for shorter periods.17 It was not within the scope of this study to collect longer-term data. The data were, however, collected over a 10-month period from the five communities, two months apart and have been supported by annual availability of traditional foods data from key informants across 20 communities. The key limitation in relation to the semi-structured interviews was that the key informants did not always include an Aboriginal person from each community and so reports of annual availability of traditional foods are likely to be conservative.

Implications

Although focused on availability, frequency and variety, this study provides an important step in improving non-Aboriginal knowledge of the contribution of traditional food in the contemporary diet of Aboriginal Australians living in remote Australia. This study suggests that it is possible to collect data regarding the contribution of traditional foods to diet. These data would complement population-level data collected through community store sales. Data of the nutrient profiles of many traditional foods exists and continues to be built on in Australia. Through a strong collaboration with Aboriginal people, methods for conducting individual dietary assessment of traditional food intake could be developed, which could include methodologies such as repeated 24-hour recall, visual recall40 and food frequency questionnaires, resulting in validated tools for ongoing use in this context. Our limited data, combined with national and international evidence suggest that priorities should include understanding differences across ages, gender, education and employment status and across remote, regional and urban areas in Australia. It is crucial that these processes align with developments in the broader environmental and societal work in this area.

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to community residents who provided data and acknowledge that the ownership of Aboriginal knowledge and cultural heritage is retained by the informant. The authors thank Prof Kylie Ball, Anthony Gunther, Elaine Maypilama and Carrie Turner who contributed to the development of the customer survey, those who assisted with pilot testing the customer survey and Federica Barzi who assisted with analyses. The Stores Healthy Options Project in Remote Indigenous Communities was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (1024285). The contents of the published material are solely the responsibility of the individual authors and do not reflect the views of the NHMRC. Julie Brimblecombe is supported through a National Heart Foundation Fellowship (100085

 

NACCHO Alert : #Indigenous Health to be major feature opening day of #WCPH2017 World Congress on Public Health Program

 

Day 1 : Self-governance and health for Indigenous peoples of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA

See program

 “While the Indigenous cultures in the four countries are different in some obvious and critical ways, they also share key commonalities in their colonial heritages and challenges in addressing development needs. 

 Through collaboration and sharing of new thinking and innovative processes Indigenous peoples can address their contemporary needs and aspirations.

Michelle will draw on case studies that show how investment in cultural based models of government will create diverse and effective Indigenous Nations and communities.  

Michelle Deshong is a global leader in governance. She’s completeing a PhD at James Cook University in Townsville and draws her connection to the Kuku Yulanji Nation. 11.30 in The Plenary.

On behalf of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation I would like to welcome over 2,000 visitors (especially our International visitors) to #WCPH2017

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Sector deliver comprehensive primary health care in 302 sites nationally; have over 45 years of cultural capability, integrity, knowledge, and experience for the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples dating back to early 1970’s with the establishment of our first Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern.

The lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still on average 10 years shorter, we have far higher incidences of chronic diseases such as Diabetes and cancer and our children have less access to good quality education than the average non-Indigenous Australians.

The evidence tells us that Aboriginal people respond best to health care provided by Aboriginal people or controlled by the Aboriginal community.

Only by improving the health of Aboriginal people will we be able to tackle other areas of disadvantage – sick kids can’t get to school and sick adults can’t get to work.

That’s why we are so committed to achieving generational change in the health of Aboriginal people. “

Matthew Cooke Chair NACCHO

Subscribe to our NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts

The First peoples Networking space is hosted by our Victorian Affiliate VACCHO

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

Press Release Program Monday

‘Enemies of the people’: public health in the era of populist politics and media – Martin McKee, past president European Public Health Association

Public health has transformed the world. We have longer and healthier lives. Roads, work, food are all safer. So why are populist politicians and media portraying public health leaders as ‘enemies of the people’ asks Martin McKee.

They are rejecting scientific evidence and replacing it with fake news. Public health has a duty to speak truth to power. It can also help explain the rise of these forces including evidence that declining health was the strongest predictor of the shift in votes to Donald Trump.

But public health is not always on the side of the angels, especially in 1930s Germany.  We are living in dangerous times, with some of the leading countries in the world led by politicians who are both dangerous and grossly incompetent. Yet there is hope. We have been here before. We must ensure that this time public health is on the right side.

Martin McKee is Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He’s speaking at 10.30 in The Plenary. More below.

The poorest 20 per cent of Australians are most likely to be unhealthy – we can change that

“The world is an inherently unfair place—and that has consequences for your health,” says Professor Sharon Friel from ANU.

Beyond simple bugs and broken bones, health problems are also influenced by the circumstances in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age. Australian National University researcher Sharon Friel wants to break these ‘social determinants of health’.

She will share a case study of how national policies can encourage healthy and equitable eating, helping to prevent chronic disease; explain how international trade agreements can have health consequences, and discuss a vision for a fair; sustainable and healthy world.

Sharon has advised the WHO and the Rockefeller Foundation on health equity.

The fifth of Australia’s adult population in the lowest socioeconomic status bracket is also the group most likely to be regular smokers, to do little or no exercise, to be overweight and to have high blood pressure. Could it be due to poorer access to healthy food? Or living in car-dependent outer suburbs that don’t encourage walking?

Sharon Friel is speaking at 11 am in The Plenary. More below

How to eliminate HIV and hepatitis B and C

Blood-borne diseases kill millions of people globally every year. The World Health Organization has set targets to end the HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C epidemics by 2030 and there is a real possibility of achieving these goals.  Margaret Hellard from the Burnet Institute will lead a World Leadership Dialogue exploring what we need to do to end these diseases—and it will take more than drugs.

“It is vitally important that we take a multipronged approach if we are going to end the epidemics of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. We need prevention –  safe sex education and access to pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV transmission, access to clean injecting equipment and opioid substitution therapy.  We need to ensure that the “birth dose” of hepatitis B vaccine is given to all babies globally within 24 hours of birth. We need simple, affordable blood tests.  We need to ensure equity of access to treatment.  Finally, we need research for cures and vaccines.”

1.30 pm, more below.

Creating systems to prevent chronic diseases – Andrew Wilson, Australian Partnership Prevention Centre

Chronic diseases kill more than 38 million people a year and are the leading cause of premature death and disability in Australia. Despite all our efforts to encourage people to live more healthily, we’re getting fatter and sicker. Andrew Wilson will lead the World Leaders Dialogue session ‘Exploring systems approaches to chronic disease prevention’, with presentations and discussion with international and national leaders in health policy and research in new ways to tackle this wicked problem. 4 pm.

Self-governance and health for indigenous peoples of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA

While the Indigenous cultures in the four countries are different in some obvious and critical ways, they also share key commonalities in their colonial heritages and challenges in addressing development needs.  Through collaboration and sharing of new thinking and innovative processes Indigenous peoples can address their contemporary needs and aspirations. Michelle will draw on case studies that show how investment in cultural based models of government will create diverse and effective Indigenous Nations and communities.

Michelle Deshong is a global leader in governance. She’s completeing a PhD at James Cook University in Townsville and draws her connection to the Kuku Yulanji Nation. 11.30 in The Plenary. More below.

Other speakers/topics/stats from day one, Monday, at the World Congress on Public Health

  • Medicine is a social science and politics is nothing more but medicine on a grand scale. What does that mean in 2017? Dr Ilona Kickbusch, Global Health Centre, Geneva, 12 noon, The Plenary
  • What can we learn from past global pandemics to be ready for the next one? – Raina Macintyre, UNSW
  • Sex after 65: Sexual activity and physical tenderness in older adults – Rosanne Freak-Poli, Monash University
  • Are celebrities bad for your health? Stars in food and beverage advertising – Vivica Kraak, Virginia Tech
  • Up, Up and Away with Superhero Foods: Developing nutrition resources for school aged children – Jennifer Tartaglia, Foodbank WA
  • Stopping mothers, children and adolescents dying young (six million preventable young deaths last year), Judy Lewis, University of Connecticut
  • Could Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership be good for public health? Deborah Gleeson, LaTrobe University

The 15th World Congress on Public Health is on from 3 to 7 April at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Smoking : @KenWyattMP announces $35.2 million funding #ACCHO Anti-smoking programs

These health services are all delivering frontline services to prevent young Indigenous people taking up smoking and to encourage existing smokers to quit.

Reducing smoking rates is central to the Government’s efforts to close the gap in life expectancy, but requires a consistent, long-term commitment”

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt

Over 100 NACCHO Articles about smoking

REDUCING INDIGENOUS SMOKING TO CLOSE THE GAP

The Australian Government will provide $35.2 million next financial year to continue anti-smoking programs targeted to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in regional and remote areas.

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, said the Government had approved the continuation of funding to 36 Aboriginal Community ControlledHealth Services and one private health service.

“These health services are all delivering frontline services to prevent young Indigenous people taking up smoking and to encourage existing smokers to quit,”  .

“Reducing smoking rates is central to the Government’s efforts to close the gap in life expectancy, but requires a consistent, long-term commitment.

“Smoking causes the greatest burden of disease, disability, injury and earlydeath among Indigenous people and accounts for 23 per cent of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.”

Under the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Healthcare Agreement, all governments have committed to halving the 2008 adult daily smoking rate among Indigenous Australians, of 44.8 per cent, by 2018.

“The rate of smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is still far higher than among other Australians and is damaging their health in many ways,” Minister Wyatt said.

It’s unlikely now that we will meet the COAG target, but we are making progress.

“It’s important that anti-smoking programs are meaningful for Indigenous people and changes made in recent years have ensured that only programs which are evidence based and effective are receiving grants.”

Continued funding for the 37 health services follows a preliminary evaluation of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program which found that it was operating effectively and using proven approaches to changing smoking behaviour.

Aboriginal Health ” managing two worlds ” : How Katherine Hospital, once Australia’s worst for Indigenous health, became one of the best

 

” Katherine Hospital in the Northern Territory has gone from one of the worst facilities in the country when it comes to Indigenous health care to one of the best.

Their secret: engaging with Indigenous patients and supporting doctors.”

Dr Quilty his high level of specialist training has meant that patients who would have had to be evacuated to Royal Darwin Hospital can now receive treatment in Katherine. Full Story below

Photo above : Gaye is a 50 year-old cancer patient from Mataranka in the NT. Supplied: Simon Quilty

NACCHO support INFO

Aboriginal Patient Journey Mapping Tools Project:

Communicating complexity

The Managing Two Worlds Together project aims to add to existing knowledge of what works well and what needs improvement in the system of care for Aboriginal patients from rural and remote areas of South Australia (and parts of the Northern Territory). It explores their complex patient journey.

The relationship between patients and health care providers is the foundation of care and requires communication across cultures, geography and life experiences. As a staff member in one rural Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service put it: ‘It’s like managing two worlds together, it doesn’t always work’.

Download Stage 3 Study Managing Two World Study Report

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert :

Do we need to close the gap on Aboriginal hospital experiences ?

How Katherine Hospital, once Australia’s worst for Indigenous health, became one of the best

As published ABC NEWS  By Hagar Cohen for Background Briefing

When physician Simon Quilty arrived at the hospital, it was going through a major crisis.

“What had happened in 2010 is that the hospital found itself in a situation where things were falling apart,” he says.

A number of doctors complained to the NT Medical Board about a lack of supervision and the impractical workload. The hospital was on the verge of shutting down.

More than one in four Indigenous patients left Katherine Hospital before completing treatment, often without informing staff, the worst rate in the nation. These “take own leave” cases are complex, but one factor is Indigenous patients’ perception of inadequate treatment.

It’s an issue plaguing the health system nationally: a 2014 Federal Health Department report found that racism contributes to the low rates of access to health services by Aboriginal people.

Similarly, the number of patients who “discharge against medical advice” is recorded and recognised by health departments as a key indicator for the quality of Aboriginal healthcare.

In the NT, 11 per cent of all Indigenous patients discharge themselves against medical advice.

“These people have very complex illnesses,” says Dr Quilty. “Many of them are highly likely, if not treated well, to resolve in significant injury or death. Hospitals in remote locations really need high expertise to deal with the very sick patients that turn up here.

“Thirteen and 15-year-olds are developing type 2 diabetes, they’ve got kidney impairment by the time they’re 22 and they’re on dialysis in their early 30s. It’s a bit terrifying really.”

Back from the brink

The NT Department of Health conducted an investigation into the staffing crisis at the Katherine Hospital. Its findings weren’t released publicly.

Background Briefing can reveal that the final report concluded that there were “significant deficiencies in nearly all the essential dimensions of safe clinical service provision”, adding that the “root cause is that the medical service model is unsustainable and becomes more unsustainable with each passing year”.

Six years ago, a new general manager and a group of new doctors arrived with an ambition to turn things around.

Katherine Hospital

They’ve brought highly trained specialist doctors who are invested in the community, interpreters are used regularly and families of Indigenous patients are consulted on complex treatment plans.

In the past, interpreters were available but rarely used. Families weren’t a part of the consultation process. Many of the doctors were junior, and staff turnover was high.

The new management has made huge inroads in the way the hospital cares for Aboriginal patients.

This year, only 4 per cent of the Indigenous patients “took own leave”, making Katherine one of the best performing hospitals in the nation when it comes to caring for Aboriginal patients.

Systematic use of interpreters

In 2006, when respected Indigenous lawman Peter Limbunya, from the remote community of Kalkarindji, stayed in the hospital for 10 days, he did not have access to an interpreter, despite not speaking English.

At the end of his treatment, Mr Limbunya, who was part of the legendary Wave Hill walk off in the 60s, was flown to a remote airstrip 5 kilometres away from his community.

His family wasn’t told he’d be back that day and nobody was there to meet him. He died of dehydration.

During the inquest into his death, the coroner found that interpreters were not in use at the hospital.

His cousin, lifetime activist and advocate for Aboriginal people Josie Crawshaw, remains outraged. She says her uncle would have known “absolutely nothing” about his treatment and what was going on.

But things have come along way since then. The hospital’s Aboriginal liaison officer, Theresa Haidle, says improving the way doctors communicate is the key to developing Indigenous patients’ trust in their treatment plans.

Regular use of interpreters has been an essential part of Ms Haidle’s work. She says they’ve been key in making sure patients understand their illnesses and treatment options.

“English isn’t their first language. It may not even be their second or third either. If there’s any doubt, we get interpreters in, or even on the phone.”

The systematic use of interpreters is a big change at Katherine Hospital.

Ms Haidle says the hospital has a lot further to go when it comes to providing a culturally safe environment, but overall, the relationship with the Aboriginal community is getting better all the time.

“It’s like a big learning process for everybody,” she says.

“We have to break it down as simple as we can,” she says. “There’s not an Aboriginal word that means cancer, so how do you explain those things?

“I remember one day a lady had this fungus, and there’s no words for those things on women’s bodies, or inside. So I heard the interpreter telling her: ‘You know, like mushrooms growing?’ They got her to stay and get it treated.”

Changing doctors’ attitudes

Pip Tallis, who is training to be a physician at Katherine Hospital, has worked in hospitals in Alice Springs and Darwin, where she says many of her Indigenous patients left before their treatment was complete.

“I found it really hard to understand why,” she says.

“It was frustrating as a doctor, and there was a lot of frustration among the staff and no-one really took the time to understand why people were taking their own leave, or really did anything to change it.

“I think, there was a bit of hands up in the air. ‘Whatever, what can we do about it? It’s their problem.'”

The NT town of Katherine, seen from the air

Dr Tallis says that her perspective has changed since coming to work at Katherine Hospital.

“I’ve spent six months working with the team here and observing how they engage with the patients, and I think that they do significant things to result in people not taking their own leave,” she says.

“Previously I was very inflexible. Now I spend a lot more time appreciating why people take their own leave.

“I’m also picking up the subtle signs on a patient who’s starting to not engage. I’ll sit down with them and explore their issues. And if they say they want to just go for a walk, you just say, ‘Would you like to take some medicine with you just in case you don’t come back?'”

Care plans to lower ‘take own leave’ rates

The introduction of weekly meetings to go over care plans for the Indigenous patients means everyone in the hospital can keep up with what’s happening with individual patients

These meetings are attended by social workers, doctors, nurses and admin staff.

At one such meeting, Dr Tallis mentions Jason, a 30-year-old patient from the remote community of Ngukurr, 330 kilometres south-east of Katherine.

Jason has tuberculosis, and has left the hospital during treatment once before. His family has convinced him to return. Dr Tallis explains at the meeting that Jason doesn’t like the hospital food, and that special food is being provided for him.

“We tried really hard to engage him,” she says. “We even got bacon and eggs for him in the mornings so he doesn’t complain about porridge, he’s got a DVD player, USB drive, he got pizza the other day. So we tried really hard to make it possible.”

But there’s still a cultural divide. At the end of the meeting, Jason explains to another doctor that he thinks “white fella” medicine is too slow.

“I want to go back to bush medicine,” he says. “It’s better and works fast because we learned it from old people.”

More support for staff

The hospital’s general manager, Angela Brannelly, says the 2010 investigation into the staffing crisis recommended major changes to the way the hospital operates, its level of staffing and supervision.

She says supporting the medical staff was one of her first priorities.

“We took it very seriously and made some really serious changes to the way that the medical team was supported here. It was around ensuring that someone’s got their back,” she says.

Dr Quilty, who joined the hospital in 2012, was the first physician to have ever been employed at the hospital. Last year he won the Royal Australian College of Physicians’ medal for clinical service in rural and remote areas.

A dark-skinned doll

His high level of specialist training has meant that patients who would have had to be evacuated to Royal Darwin Hospital can now receive treatment in Katherine. Since 2012, there has been a decrease of 43 per cent in the number of total aeromedical evacuations to Darwin.

Many Indigenous patients who live in remote communities don’t like going to Darwin to receive medical treatment because it’s far from family and the hospital is bigger and less personal.

Gaye, 50, a cancer patient who was transferred to Darwin for chemotherapy says she felt lonely in Darwin. “In Darwin I was always sad and crying a lot,” she says.

No-one in Darwin had realised that Gaye was deaf, which made communication with medical staff virtually impossible. In Katherine her deafness was recognised by the nurses and she was given a hearing aid, which she says made a huge difference to her mental health.

Katherine Hospital now employs two full-time physicians.

Still no Aboriginal doctors

Katherine Hospital employs 24 doctors but none of them are Indigenous.

Ms Brannelly admits the hospital hasn’t done enough to attract Aboriginal doctors.

“That’s good advice for us, and it’s probably where we need to go in that space around seeking out Aboriginal medical officers to come and work for us,” she says.

“I think we have some work to do there, absolutely.”

NACCHO Press Release : Aboriginal Health #18C and #Racism : Proposed changes to #18C will throw Reconciliation out the window

It is so disappointing that after all the talk in Canberra in February and the goodwill that was generated, the Government is sending such a poor message to Aboriginal people about acceptance in our own country,

“Racism and discrimination have well documented negative impacts on mental health. If we fail to deal with the alarming rates of poor Mental Health in Aboriginal people, it will have ongoing detrimental impacts in preventing and managing chronic disease

 Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people take their own lives at a rate five times that of other Australians and infant mortality rates are going backwards “

NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke said just a month after the Prime Minister committed to a new partnership with Aboriginal people through the Redfern Statement, he has put forward measures that would have potentially devastating impacts on the health and well-being of Aboriginal people.

Download a copy of the NACCHO Press Release or read in full below

NACCHO Press Release response to 18c amendments

Download NACCHO full submission to #RDA #18c enquiry here

submission-to-inquiry-into-freedom-of-speech-and-rda-draft

The Kenbi land claim was a hard-fought land rights battle, but it represents so much more than a battle over land. It was a story that epitomised the survival and the resilience of the first Australians, the survival and resilience of the Larakia people“.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Great photo opportunity above for the PM during the 2016 election campaign , but what would be the #healthyfutures for these children with increased racial hate speech ?  

 ” In question time today, I asked Senator Brandis about the watering down of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

What insulting, offensive or humiliating comments does the Prime Minister think people should be able to say to me?

It’s sad that on Harmony Day, a day that celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity, inclusiveness and builds a sense of belonging for everyone, the Government wants to give permission for more racial hate speech

  Being the target of racist, hurtful comments is deeply distressing and causes deep harm “

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy addressing the Senate see video and text below

Along with powerful videos of MPs Linda Burney and Tony Burke addressing Parliament over 18C

“The challenging thing with regard to proposals to change the act is that they are being put forward by those who have never felt vulnerable. These are the people who have never been on the receiving end of racist comments or attacks.

“Our first Australians hold a special place in the Australian community. Our government should be taking action to empower, rather than to disempower them. To be serious about ‘Closing the Gap’, the evidence is clear around racism and all Australian governments should be doing everything in their power to address these issues .”

Members of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) were shocked by the Government’s announcement being made on World Harmony Day the intention to change Section18c of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, according to PHAA CEO Michael Moore.

”  The government’s reforms should, as the Inquiry recommended, address that problem specifically, and not be distracted with an abstract ideological debate, divorced from the social realities.

Section 18C is not needed to protect members of minority groups who are popular in the wider community. It is needed to protect members of unpopular minorities, and also vulnerable minorities, especially our First Peoples, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders.

We support the idea of improving the process for handling section 18C complaints, so that trivial or spurious complaints are terminated quickly.”

Rod Little and Dr Jackie Huggins, Co-chairs, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

As leaders of 10 organisations representing a wide range of culturally diverse communities in Australia, we are profoundly disappointed at today’s announcement by the Federal government of its intention to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

The Government’s planned changes to the Racial Discrimination Act and the Human Rights Commission will weaken the protection of Aboriginal Australians from racial abuse in this country at a time when suicide rates in Indigenous communities are among the worst in the world, the peak body for Aboriginal medical services said today.

NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke said just a month after the Prime Minister committed to a new partnership with Aboriginal people through the Redfern Statement, he has put forward measures that would have potentially devastating impacts on the health and well-being of Aboriginal people.

Mr. Cooke said all Senators must carefully consider the issues and rise above petty point scoring politics to defeat these amendments – which are based on an hysterical media campaign about the merits of the legislation due to a single court case and a recently published cartoon.

“Any changes to section 18C will alienate the very Aboriginal people the government says it is trying to support, and create even deeper divisions in our community,” he said.

“I urge all Senators to respect the voice of the first Australian peoples in this debate, listen to Aboriginal people about what needs to be done to close the gap, and vote down changes to laws that are likely to make it even wider.”

Mr Cooke said it was outrageous that watering down racial hate laws is a priority for the Government when the latest Closing the Gap report showed just one of seven targets are on track, and the Don Dale Royal Commission is shining a light on the treatment of Aboriginal children in detention.

Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people take their own lives at a rate five times that of other Australians and infant mortality rates are going backwards.

“It is so disappointing that after all the talk in Canberra in February and the goodwill that was generated, the Government is sending such a poor message to Aboriginal people about acceptance in our own country,” Mr Cooke said.

“Racism and discrimination have well documented negative impacts on mental health. If we fail to deal with the alarming rates of poor Mental Health in Aboriginal people, it will have ongoing detrimental impacts in preventing and managing chronic disease.

“The Government’s priorities should be on positive measures like the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, which recognises the impacts of racism and discrimination inherent in the health system, and supporting the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector to fix the national crisis in Aboriginal health.”

PHAA urges all MPs and Senators to leave 18c alone

“Members of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) were shocked by the Government’s announcement being made on World Harmony Day the intention to change Section18c of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975,” according to PHAA CEO Michael Moore.

Earlier this week Mr Moore attended a meeting on Aboriginal and Torres Islander Health where the issue of impact of racial discrimination on health was discussed at length. “The challenging thing with regard to proposals to change the act is that they are being put forward by those who have never felt vulnerable. These are the people who have never been on the receiving end of racist comments or attacks”.

“Our first Australians hold a special place in the Australian community. Our government should be taking action to empower, rather than to disempower them. To be serious about ‘Closing the Gap’, the evidence is clear around racism and all Australian governments should be doing everything in their power to address these issues”.

“A similar impact on health will be experienced by anyone who is discriminated against on the grounds of their racial or ethnic background,” said Mr Moore.

“It really is those who are vulnerable, and those who have been subjected to hateful jibes and vilification, who should be the ones making suggestions for change rather than those who are in the dominant group,” added Mr Moore.

“The PHAA calls on all MPs and Senators to leave the Act as it is”.

“People who already feel exposed to inappropriate comments do not need to be made even more vulnerable,” Mr Moore added.

The Report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights “Freedom of Speech in Australia” set the tone. Over ten thousand submissions were made and the Committee did not recommend changes. Of the twenty two recommendations, there was no consensus about a change to Section 18c.

Mr Moore concluded that “MPs and Senators should be taking guidance from the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights that examined the issue rather than kowtowing to a small hump of ultraconservatives who have played political games in order to get the numbers for a proposal that will undermine the health of the most vulnerable groups in Australia”.

Harmony Day 21 March 2017

As leaders of organisations representing a wide range of culturally diverse communities in Australia, we are profoundly disappointed at today’s announcement by the Federal government of its intention to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

If implemented, these proposals will weaken, perhaps emasculate, existing legal protections against racist hate speech. They will give a free pass to ugly and damaging forms of racial vilification which do not satisfy the stringent legal criteria of harassment and intimidation. The publication of virtually any derogatory generalisation about an entire community group would, of itself, be permissible.

To offend, insult or humiliate a person or group because of their race or ethnic background necessarily sends a message that such people, by virtue of who they are, and regardless of how they behave or what they believe, are not members of society in good standing.

This cannot but vitiate the sense of belonging of members of the group and their sense of assurance and security as citizens, and constitutes an assault upon their human dignity. This has nothing to do with a contest of ideas or free speech – which is in any event protected under section 18D – and falls far short of the mutual respect about which we have heard.

Under the government’s proposals vulnerable community groups will now have no peaceful, legal means of redress against these kinds of attacks against their dignity. This would send a signal from government of a more lenient attitude to racism and would damage social cohesion. It is especially ironic that the government has put forward these proposals on Harmony Day.

The proposal to insert a generic “reasonable person” standard into the legislation has superficial appeal, but is unfair and unworkable. The proverbial person in the pub or on the “Bondi tram” does not have the background knowledge and insight into the particularities of a minority group that would be needed to make a fair and informed assessment of what is reasonably likely to “harass or intimidate” members of that group.

Under the existing law, the assessment is made by a reasonable member of the targeted community, that is, by a member of that community who is neither overly sensitive nor overly thick-skinned. This is both more logical and more just.

A generic reasonable person test would also create the possibility that members of a group that happens to be unpopular at any time for any reason would be unfairly treated. Section 18C is not needed to protect members of minority groups who are popular in the wider community. It is needed to protect members of unpopular minorities, and also vulnerable minorities, especially our First Peoples, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders.

We support the idea of improving the process for handling section 18C complaints, so that trivial or spurious complaints are terminated quickly.

We note that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights was unable to reach a consensus, or even a majority opinion, in favour of any of the government’s proposals to amend the substantive law. Its recommendations were all limited to suggested reforms to the complaints-handling process.

This is the sensible way forward. The problems identified by the QUT case and the Bill Leak complaint all related to deficiencies of process. The government’s reforms should, as the Inquiry recommended, address that problem specifically, and not be distracted with an abstract ideological debate, divorced from the social realities.

Rod Little and Dr Jackie Huggins, Co-chairs, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

John Kennedy, President, United Indian Association

George Vellis, Co-ordinator, and George Vardas, Secretary, Australian Hellenic Council NSW

Peter Wertheim AM, Executive Director, Executive Council of Australian Jewry

Patrick Voon, Immediate Past President, Chinese Australian Forum

Tony Pang, Deputy Chair/Secretary, Chinese Australian Services Society

Randa Kattan, CEO, Arab Council Australia

Vache Executive Director, Armenian National Committee of Australia

 

Senator McCarthy:  My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. The Prime Minister has on at least 16 occasions ruled out his government amending section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Today, on Harmony Day, we learned that the Turnbull government is proposing the removal of the words ‘insult’, ‘offend’ and ‘humiliate’ from section 18C. What insulting, offensive or humiliating comments does the Prime Minister think people should be able to say to me?

Senator Brandis: Might I begin by correcting the premise of your question: the Prime Minister has never, not on 16 occasions and not once, said that the government would never reform section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. He did say, as was the case at the time, that it was not a priority for the government.

Nevertheless, I think we all know that events have happened in this country in the recent past, in particular, the treatment of the QUT students, which was disgraceful, and the treatment of the late Bill Leak, which was disgraceful. The report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, to which Labor senators and members of the House of Representatives continue, proposed beneficial law reform. What the Prime Minister and I announced a short while ago was a strengthening of the antivilification provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act.

What you did not mention in your question, which I think is a very important consideration, is the insertion, into section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, of a prohibition against racial harassment. Did you know that in 1991, when the then—

Senator Brandis: If your leader, Senator Wong, would just control herself, I might be able to address your question. You may or may not know that in 1991 the then Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission—

Senator Cameron: On relevance. The question was: ‘What insulting, offensive or humiliating comments does the Prime Minister think that people should be able to say to the senator?’ That was the question, and he has not gone near it. He should actually take off that Harmony Day badge. It is absolutely crazy that he has that on.

The PRESIDENT: On the point of order, the Attorney-General has been giving a detailed response to a detailed question. He is aware of the question.

Senator BRANDIS: In 1991, when the current part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act was recommended, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission actually recommended to the parliament that one of the grounds of racial vilification should be harassment. That was one of the grounds recommended by the predecessor body of the Human Rights Commission. For some unaccountable reason that was not done by the then Labor government.

The PRESIDENT: Senator McCarthy, a supplementary question.

Senator McCarthy:  Minister Wyatt has twice indicated he would cross the floor to vote against changes to section 18C. What consequences will there be for members of the coalition who vote against the Turnbull government’s attempt to water down protections against racism?

Senator Brandis: I am absolutely certain that every member of the coalition will be voting for these changes to strengthen section 18C, every last one of them.

The PRESIDENT:  Senator McCarthy, a final supplementary question.

Senator McCarthy:  When asked why the government had no plans to amend section 18C, the Prime Minister said, ‘We did not take an 18C amendment proposal to the election.’ Why is Prime Minister Turnbull willing to cave in to the Right of his party room on section 18C, while he continues to refuse a free vote on marriage equality, despite the defeat of his proposed plebiscite?

Senator Brandis: Although I am a little loath to dwell on internal politics, may I say that strengthening protections against racial vilification and vindicating freedom of speech are causes that are embraced by all elements of the Liberal Party and the coalition. You may say that section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and the complaint-handling procedures of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act are perfect and incapable of reform. You may say that, but if you do you would be alone because there is no serious person in this country who has followed human rights debate who says that section 18C in its current form, which actually omits to prohibit racial harassment, or the complaint-handling procedures of the Human Rights Commission cannot be improved. Certainly, that is what Professor Gillian Triggs has said, and I agree with her. (Time expired)

 

QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS

Racial Discrimination Act 1975

Senator McCarthy:  The answer was incredibly disappointing, in particular on this day, Harmony Day. As we reflect on Harmony Day, I want to go to some of the answers to me and my questions by Senator Brandis. I want to begin with Senator Brandis’s response in terms of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. I asked, first up, about the fact that Mr Turnbull has said on at least 16 occasions that he had ruled out his government amending section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Senator Brandis said that he had not said that—certainly not that many times. I just want to point out some very important media coverage of the moments when Mr Turnbull denied that it was a distraction for his government. In news.com, on 31 August 2016: ‘The government has no plans to make changes to section 18C’. He said it again on 30 August in The Australian:

It’s filled the op-ed pages of newspapers for years and years but the government has no plans to make any changes to section 18C. We have other more pressing, much more pressing priorities to address.

Then again on 14 November 2016, on ABC 7.30, Mr Turnbull said:

18(C) is talked about constantly on the ABC. It’s talked about constantly in what’s often called the ‘elite media’. I’ve focused overwhelmingly on the economy.

It appears that Prime Minister Turnbull has changed tack. Today is one of the most significant days in Australia and across the world. The purpose behind Harmony Day is to reflect on the diversity of culture across this country, something that unfortunately has been really stained by the Prime Minister’s move to change the Racial Discrimination Act on this day in particular. It is incredibly sad. It really is a watering down of protections against racial vilifications. The irony of it being done on this day! The Attorney-General says he does not believe the Australian people are racist.

Senator Brandis: No, I do not.

Senator McCarthy:  As a white man growing up in Petersham, attending private schools, I am sure you have never been denied access or service in a shop. You have never had taxis drive past, pretending not to see you. You have never received hateful letters and emails because of your race or the colour of your skin. I really wish I could believe there are not any racists in Australia. But certainly my personal experience, and my family’s experience, informs me of the reality that I live in this country. It is deeply unfortunate.

I asked you in my question: what else do you need to say to me and to many other people of different races in this country that you cannot say now? What is it that you are so determined to say that you cannot say to people now?

My predecessor, Senator Nova Peris, had a disgraceful time in this Senate, standing here, being called all sorts of things—in fact, even on her Twitter account today—in terms of what racism she received from the general public. Just to clarify, in case you were thinking I meant it occurred in the Senate; I meant this is where she raised the issue about the racism that was displayed against her by the general public across Australia. It is really important to put this on the record. She stood courageously here to point out from her own personal experiences that racism is very much alive and strong in this country. We as parliamentarians in both the Senate and the House of Representatives must show leadership about the importance of harmony, diversity and cultural respect. That is something that is not happening now today in the Turnbull government.

Being the target of racist, hurtful comments is deeply distressing and causes deep harm. expired)