National #NACCHOYouth19 Conference and Members’ Conference #NACCHOAgm2019 :Because of Them, We Must! Improving health outcomes for 0-to-29-year-olds

For thousands of years, our Elders have shown great resolve thriving on this vast continent and the youth delegates who attended the conference have instilled confidence in us for the continuation of this into the future.

The NACCHO Youth and Members Conference included engaging workshops and enlightening presentations from our members – the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), clinicians, academicians, medical experts and Aboriginal Health Practitioners.”

NACCHO has been commissioned by the Department of Health to produce a ‘Core Services and Outcomes Framework’ by May 2020.

An important project for our sector that will bring together a comprehensive set of core primary health care functions that apply to our services in remote, regional and metropolitan Australia “

NACCHO Acting Chair, Donnella Mills photo 2 above with Minister Greg Hunt  : Photo 1 above Darwin Larrakia-Belyen dancers for the welcome to country

“The biggest thing that we’re all getting from it is that even though they’re really doing some good things in their space, they can actually do more,

More that’s going to not only benefit their communities, but also make things a little bit easier on themselves. I think that’s what these events are all about – being able to come together and share what we’re doing and what we can all gain from it.”

Preston Campbell told NITV  see Part 2

More than 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; youth, health service workers and policy makers gathered at the Darwin Convention Centre from 4 – 7 November to discuss initiatives to improve health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 0-to-29-year-old.

Delegates included Professor Tom Calma , Dr Mark Wenitong from Apunipima ACCHO Cape York and James Ward SAHMRI

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation’s (NACCHO) annual Members’ Conference kicked off with the Youth Conference, attended by 60 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander emerging leaders from the health sector.

The delegates were inspired by a range of speakers in the areas of self-determination, mental health and wellbeing, resilience, and social media. They engaged in discussions around raising the voices of the youth, undertaking genuine leadership roles and getting a seat at the table in decision making and policy development.

Safe-sex superheroes Condoman and Lubelicious – part of the successful sexual health community education and engagement campaign by Queensland Aids Council with our deadly youth delegates.

The NACCHO Youth Conference set the tone for the Members’ Conference with 40 outstanding speakers and panellists.

Some of the key highlights included:

The Government in partnership with NACCHO and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has developed a revised funding model for ACCHOs, investing an additional $90 million over three years under the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP). NACCHO welcomes this new funding that will further support the delivery of culturally appropriate, comprehensive primary healthcare.

See full Minister Greg Hunt Press Release HERE

Presentation by Dr Kelvin Kong, an Aboriginal ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist with great insight around his research on ear issues affecting up to 70% of children in remote communities.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NACCHO and the Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) to a five-year program to champion community control and self-determination; improving cultural competency, eliminating racism in the healthcare system and further developing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.

CEO of NACCHO, Ms Pat Turner AM and Co-Chair of the END RHD alliance along with Professor Jonathan Carapetis AM, presented a sneak peek into the soon-to-be launched RHD Endgame Strategy aimed at eliminating rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Australia by 2031.

They were accompanied by Raychelle and Noeletta McKenzie, who shared their personal experiences of RHD and their work to empower communities as part of RHDAustralia’s Champions4change program.

Hey you mob?! Did you hear that SA took out the Karaoke cup last night – back in its rightful home

Part 2 First Nations youth are at the forefront of this year’s National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Conference

A stellar line-up of inspiring young speakers has focused on mental health at the 2019 National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Youth Conference in Darwin this week.

Themed as ‘healthy youth, healthy future’, about 100 young people from across the country gathered on balmy Larrakia country on Monday to discuss issues important to each of their communities over the next three days.

See Full Report HERE 

Notable speakers included mental health youth worker Brooke Blurton (pictured above with NACCHO Staff Oliver Tye Left and Brendan Dunn Right ) and former NRL champion and mental health advocate Preston Campbell, who shared his own experiences with the young delegates.

“The biggest thing that we’re all getting from it is that even though they’re really doing some good things in their space, they can actually do more,” Mr Campbell told NITV News.

 

“More that’s going to not only benefit their communities, but also make things a little bit easier on themselves. I think that’s what these events are all about – being able to come together and share what we’re doing and what we can all gain from it.”

The attendees are now able to take home the skills, knowledge and inspiration of their peers to their communities to grow themselves and continue their important work

NACCHO Aboriginal Youth Health #ClosingtheGap #HaveYourSayCTG : The #NACCHOYouth19 Conference kicks off today in Darwin with a great line up of inspirational speakers

“Young people make up 54 per cent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and look up to the example set by generations past and present to navigate ever-changing and complex social and health issues.

We are thrilled to announce an illustrious line-up of speakers at the NACCHO Youth Conference and are expecting to host around 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth delegates from across the country.

The conference will provide opportunities to explore and discuss issues of importance to young people, their families and communities, and help shape our youth towards becoming tomorrow’s leader.”

NACCHO Acting Chair, Donnella Mills.

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) will today host its annual National Youth Conference, Members’ Conference and AGM from 4–7 November 2019 at the Darwin Convention Centre, commencing with the Youth Conference on 4 November.

The 2019 theme for the Members’ Conference is Because of Them, We Must! Improving health outcomes for people aged 0-to-29-year-olds. In line with the theme follows the central focus on building resilience for the NACCHO Youth Conference Healthy youth, healthy future.

NACCHO is thrilled to announce some of the featured speakers for the 2019 Youth Conference which include:

Preston Campbell, Former NRL star, community leader and founder of the Preston Campbell Foundation;

Brooke Blurton, Noongar-Yamatji woman, social media influencer and youth advocate;

Jarlyn Spinks and Katy Crawford of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) team for the campaign ‘Her Rules Her Game’ which celebrates the strength of Aboriginal women playing football in the Kimberley region;

Marlee Silva, Gamilaroi-Dunghutti woman and Co-Founder of #tiddas4tiddas, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s empowerment social media initiative;

Brendan Dunn of the Coalition of Peaks Secretariat in Canberra;

Dr.Mangatjay Mcgregor, Yolgnu man from Milingimbi and intern doctor at the Royal Darwin Hospital;

Oliver Tye, Noongar man based on Ngunnawal Country in the ACT and Policy Officer at NACCHO.

Part 2 Closing the Gap / Have your say about youth issues 

Deadline extended to Friday, 8 November 2019.

 

The engagements are now in full swing across Australia and this is generating more interest than we had anticipated in our survey on Closing the Gap.

The Coalition of Peaks has had requests from a number of organisations across Australia seeking, some Coalition of Peak members and some governments for more time to promote and complete the survey.

We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to have their say on what should be included in a new agreement on Closing the Gap so it is agreed to extend the deadline for the survey to Friday, 8 November 2019.

This will help build further understanding and support for the new agreement and will not impact our timeframes for negotiating with government as we were advised at the most recent Partnership Working Group meeting that COAG will not meet until early 2020.

There is a discussion booklet that has background information on Closing the Gap and sets out what will be talked about in the survey.

The survey will take a little bit of time to complete. It would be great if you can answer all the questions, but you can also just focus on the issues that you care about most.

To help you prepare your answers, you can look at a full copy here

The survey is open to everyone and can be accessed here:

https://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/coalition-of-peaks/have-your-say/

NACCHO Aboriginal Prisoner Health #ClosingThe Gap #HaveYourSayCTG : What are the barriers preventing community-controlled health organisations providing care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison ?

“Findings showed that while most participant ACCHOs had delivered services to people in the community upon release from prison, opportunities to deliver primary health care services to individuals in prisons were very limited.

Two key barriers to implementing holistic and culturally appropriate health care in prisons were lack of access to prisoners due to security protocols and prison staff attitudes, and lack of a sustainable funding model.

A reliable funding model underpinned by consistent access to prisoners and access to certain Medicare items could resolve this conundrum, as has been previously proposed.23

To this end, we encourage the Commonwealth of Australia to engage in appropriate discussions to resolve this matter.

Additionally, custodial and prison health providers need to engage in meaningful discussions with ACCHOs to address prisoner access issues. “

Download the Research Paper Here or READ Online

Barriers prevent ACCHOs from getting care to prisoners

Read all the Aboriginal health and Just Justice articles by NACCHO

How likely are you to go to jail? As an Aboriginal adult you are 16 times more likely to be incarcerated. Juveniles in Western Australia are 52 times more likely to be imprisoned than their white peers [15

Closing the Gap / Have your say about the prison system see Part 3 below

Deadline extended to Friday, 8 November 2019.

Part 1 PHAA Press Release

New research has revealed that Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) face barriers to deliver to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners what they do best – holistic primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Researchers interviewed nineteen staff from four ACCHOs close to prisons across three Australian jurisdictions.

They found that while most ACCHOs deliver post release programs, their capacity to deliver health care to prisoners is limited by security protocols that restrict access to prisoners and funding constraints.

The study results are published today in the Public Health Association of Australia’s journal, the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

ACCHOs are universally acknowledged as organisations that are run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, delivering holistic primary health care that’s local and community owned.

The authors make several recommendations including reliable funding for ACCHOs and better and consistent access to prisoners.

State governments are encouraged to address prison access issues while the Federal Government is urged to consider changing the rules that prevent ACCHOs from using Medicare to fund work undertaken in the prison setting.

The health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is poorer than that of other Australians. They are over-represented in Australian jails. Due to the unique cultural, social and historical factors, specific solutions to address health issues are required.

Part 2 Selected extracts

The offender population is one of the most stigmatised and socially excluded groups in society. Epidemiological studies of prisoners consistently find high levels of physical ill health, psychiatric illness and communicable diseases, and engagement in health risk behaviours such as smoking, alcohol consumption, illicit drug use and violence.12

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (hereon ‘Indigenous’) offenders, disadvantage is further compounded by poor social determinants of health.

Since colonisation more than 230 years ago, Indigenous Australians have lower levels of political representation, educational attainment and income when compared to the general Australian population, as well as higher rates of social exclusion, unemployment, trauma and ill‐health, and shorter life expectancy.3 Indigenous Australians frequently experience racism and low levels of access in mainstream health services and the legal system.45 These issues underscore the importance of community controlled primary health care for Indigenous offenders that is contextually relevant, holistic and culturally safe.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) provide culturally appropriate, autonomous primary health care services that are initiated, planned and governed by local Aboriginal Australian communities through an elected board of directors.6

ACCHOs are represented nationally by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (NACCHO), which engages directly with policy makers and funding bodies, links ACCHOs to facilitate health service delivery and research, advises on research, and provides leadership on service delivery principles such as community control.

Community control is vital for culturally appropriate and acceptable health care services in Indigenous communities and enacts articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ensuring self‐reliance, self‐determination, appropriate and acceptable health care.6

Since the establishment of the first ACCHO in inner Sydney in 1971, the network of ACCHOs has grown to 143 across Australia, providing more than three million episodes of care each year for approximately 350,000 people.7

Primary health care services provided by ACCHOs embody the Aboriginal definition of health, which is not just about an individual’s physical wellbeing but also the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the community, and takes a whole‐of‐life perspective that incorporates a cyclical concept of life–death–life.8

ACCHOs provide comprehensive primary health care that includes health education, health promotion, social and emotional wellbeing support and a range of other community development initiatives.9

Limited access to primary health care services for Indigenous peoples is a major barrier to addressing the overall aim of the Australian Government’s ‘Closing the Gap’ framework.10 Data show that, compared to mainstream services, ACCHOs are frequently accessed by Indigenous people.11

A 9% growth in Indigenous community members accessing their local ACCHO was observed between 2012–13 and 2014–15, with a 23% increase in the total number of episodes of care during this time.7 In a study comparing outcomes and indicators between ACCHOs and mainstream services, ACCHOs performed better in terms of best practice care, monitoring clinical performance, increasing engagement of Indigenous community members, and better leadership in training non‐Indigenous staff in Indigenous health matters.12

Barriers to accessing mainstream services extend also to Indigenous Australians in the criminal justice system. In Australia, Indigenous people comprise 28% of the prisoner population, but only 2% of the general population.13 Australian state and territory legislation states that prisoners must be able to access health care when they require it, and that they have the right to the same level of care as in the wider community14 – a right referred to in the international context as the ‘equivalence of care’ principle.15

Incarceration causes a person to be separated from their community.17 A recommendation (168) by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) requires that a person be incarcerated as close to their home community as possible.16 Incarceration can also disrupt continuity of holistic health care provided by an ACCHO,17 if that ACCHO has no means of accessing the prisoner.

Other custodial health and safety recommendations made by the RCIADIC state that Corrective Services departments should review the provision of health services to Indigenous prisoners including the level of involvement of ACCHOs (Recommendation 152c) and the exchange of relevant health information between prison medical staff and ACCHOs (Recommendation 152e).16

Australia’s National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee (NIDAC) asserts that improvements in health services for Indigenous prisoners and juvenile detainees may assist in reducing the overall prisoner numbers.18 Areas noted for improvement included health screening on reception, increasing uptake of recommended treatments, and enhancing prisoner throughcare by facilitating access of Indigenous health and other services to Indigenous prisoners.18

NIDAC highlighted that “the provision of a ‘one health service fits all’ model, as in the case for many corrections systems, creates a disjointed and unsuitable approach” for addressing health needs of Indigenous prisoners.18

In response, NIDAC recommended several strategies for involving ACCHOs to improve the health care of prisoners and their ongoing care post‐release.18 However, there is a dearth of literature on external health care provision to Australia’s prisoners from which to plan coordinated actions and resource allocation. Only a small number of reports are available on health care provided by community‐based organisations in prisons.1920

Health care varies greatly in Australia’s state‐ and territory‐based prisons, with government Departments of Health providing health care services to some through agencies such as the Justice and Forensic Mental Health Network in New South Wales (NSW), and Departments of Justice or contracted private companies providing services to others.21

There is no nationally coordinated approach or body whose role it is to monitor prisoners’ health care needs, and no national strategy for assessing or meeting the specific health needs of Indigenous prisoners.22 Australia’s publicly funded universal health care system – the Medicare Benefits Scheme and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, collectively known as Medicare – is suspended for prisoners during incarceration.

This is because other state‐ and territory‐level government departments become responsible for providing health care to prisoners.23 However, this arrangement has been identified as problematic, with concerns that it reduces resources or opportunities for providing comprehensive health care to prisoners that is equivalent to that available in the community.23

This project was designed by a team of Aboriginal and non‐Aboriginal researchers working at the nexus of the justice and health systems, and with specialisations in Indigenous health research, epidemiology, qualitative research and health services research and evaluation. Three of the team members identified as Indigenous Australians.

The primary aim of the research was to explore prisoner health services and programs provided by a selection of ACCHOs, including the challenges and enablers of delivering these, and implications for further research.

Part 3 Closing the Gap / Have your say about the prison system

Deadline extended to Friday, 8 November 2019.

 

The engagements are now in full swing across Australia and this is generating more interest than we had anticipated in our survey on Closing the Gap.

The Coalition of Peaks has had requests from a number of organisations across Australia seeking, some Coalition of Peak members and some governments for more time to promote and complete the survey.

We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to have their say on what should be included in a new agreement on Closing the Gap so it is agreed to extend the deadline for the survey to Friday, 8 November 2019.

This will help build further understanding and support for the new agreement and will not impact our timeframes for negotiating with government as we were advised at the most recent Partnership Working Group meeting that COAG will not meet until early 2020.

There is a discussion booklet that has background information on Closing the Gap and sets out what will be talked about in the survey.

The survey will take a little bit of time to complete. It would be great if you can answer all the questions, but you can also just focus on the issues that you care about most.

To help you prepare your answers, you can look at a full copy here

The survey is open to everyone and can be accessed here:

https://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/coalition-of-peaks/have-your-say/

Aboriginal #NACCHOYouth19 #MentalHealth #ClosingTheGap #HaveYourSayCTG : According to new @blackdoginst  @MissionAust report 32 % of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people met the criteria for psychological distress, compared to 23.9% for non-Indigenous young people

It is essential that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people have access to culturally and age-appropriate mental health services that are in close proximity to their homes.

The Australian Government should invest in building the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led and controlled health organisations to deliver these services in communities.

Why ? A greater proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents indicated concerns about suicide (40.2% compared with 6% of non-Indigenous respondents).

Relative to non-Indigenous respondents, a greater proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents with psychological distress indicated concerns about gambling (13.8% compared with 4.2%), domestic/family violence (26.3% compared with 16.8%), drugs (20.1% compared with 10.9%), discrimination (26.3% compared with 18.6%) and alcohol (15.2% compared with 8.6%).

See dedicated focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people Part 2 Below

Read Brooke Blurton’s speaker BIO Here 

” Have you seen the brilliant line-up of speakers at the NACCHO Youth Conference, 4 November 2019 at the Darwin Convention Centre? https://www.naccho.org.au/home/naccho-youth-conference-2019/

Are you under 29 years and working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health or related sectors?

If so, register NOW for our free NACCHO Youth Conference. Closing 25 October

Places are filling quick! 👉🏾 http://bit.ly/2qALFkH

Part 1 Press Release : A new joint report by Mission Australia and Black Dog Institute indicates that considerably more young people in Australia are experiencing psychological distress than seven years ago.

Almost one in four young people in 2018 say they are experiencing mental health challenges, with young females twice as likely as males to face this issue.

A higher proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people also met the criteria for psychological distress than their non-Indigenous peers.

The Can we talk? Seven year youth mental health report – 2012-2018 Youth Survey findings of the past seven years – and is co-authored with Black Dog Institute experts – to ascertain and investigate rates of psychological distress experienced by young people in Australia who are aged 15-19.

The report further examines the concerns, general wellbeing and help-seeking behaviours of the close to 27,000 participants of the 2018 Youth Survey aged 15-19, including those who are experiencing psychological distress – highlighting the vital role that friends, parents, services, schools and the internet play as sources of help for young people who are struggling with their mental health.

Key findings include:

  • Close to one in four young people met the criteria for experiencing psychological distress – a substantial increase over the past seven years (rising by 5.5% from 18.7% in 2012 to 24.2% in 2018).
  • In 2018, more than three in ten (31.9%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people met the criteria for psychological distress, compared to 23.9% for non-Indigenous young people.
  • Across seven years, females were twice as likely as males to experience psychological distress. The increase in psychological distress has also been far more marked among females (from 22.5% in 2012 to 30.0% in 2018, compared to a rise from 12.7% to 15.6% for males).
  • Stigma and embarrassment, fear and a lack of support were the three most commonly cited barriers that prevent young people from seeking help.
  • The top issues of personal concern for young Australians experiencing psychological distress were coping with stress, mental health and school or study problems. There was also a notably high level of concern about other issues including body image, suicide, family conflict and bullying/emotional abuse.
  • Almost four times the proportion of young people with psychological distress reported concerns about suicide (35.6% compared with 9.4% of respondents without psychological distress).
  • Young people experiencing psychological distress reported they would go to friend/s, parent/s or guardian/s and the internet as their top three sources of help. This is compared to friend/s, parent/s or guardian/s and a relative/family friend for those without psychological distress.

In response to these findings, Mission Australia’s CEO James Toomey said: “It’s deeply concerning that so many young people are experiencing psychological distress. Youth mental health is a serious national challenge that must be tackled as a priority.

“The sheer volume of young people who are struggling with mental health difficulties shows that there remains urgent need for improved access to timely, accessible and appropriate support. Irrespective of their location, background or gender, young people must have the resources they need to manage their individual mental health journey with access to youth-friendly and evidence-based mental health supports.

“Parents, peers, schools and health professionals are vital sources of support for our young people, so it’s important they are adequately equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to provide effective support when needed. For schools right across Australia, more resourcing is needed to train staff, embed wellbeing personnel and provide evidence-based early intervention and prevention programs.

“In light of these findings, I urge governments to listen to young people’s concerns about mental health and co-design solutions with them.”

With the report confirming that young people experiencing psychological distress are less likely to seek help than those without mental health concerns, Black Dog Institute Director and Chief Scientist, Professor Helen Christensen said: “Global research tells us that over 75% of mental health issues develop before the age of 25, and these can have lifelong consequences.

“We are still in the dark as to why mental health and suicide risk has increased in our current cohort of youth, a finding that is not unique to Australia.

“Adolescence is a critical time in which to intervene, but we also know that young people experiencing psychological distress can be harder to reach. This report shows that young people in distress will seek help directly from the internet. As such, we need to continue to provide online and app-based tools that may be a key part of the solution. We also need to catch the problems upstream by prioritising early intervention and prevention efforts.”

Part 2 Meeting the diversity of young people’s need  : Dedicated focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people

Nearly one third (31.9%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people indicated some form of psychological distress, compared with just under one quarter (23.9%) of non-Indigenous respondents.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people experiencing psychological distress were more likely than their non-Indigenous peers to report feeling as though they had no control over their life and to report lower levels of self-esteem. Further, a greater proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people with psychological distress reported having issues that they did not seek help for, despite thinking they needed to (41.2% compared with 36.2% of non-Indigenous respondents).

Positively the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent and youth health and wellbeing 2018 report found that in 2014–15 over three-quarters of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 15–24 said, they were happy all or most of the time in the previous 4 weeks.

However, around two-thirds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–24 experienced one or more personal stressors in the previous year, the most common being not being able to get a job, and one in three reported being treated unfairly because they were Indigenous.

This report also showed that most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–24 (67%) experienced low to moderate levels of psychological distress in the previous month, while 33% experienced high to very high level.

When responding to the Youth Survey 2018 greater proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents with psychological distress also indicated concerns about gambling, domestic/family violence, drugs, discrimination, alcohol, LGBTIQ issues and suicide than non- Indigenous respondents with psychological distress.

It is important to take into account these often compounding concerns, as research shows that the leading causes of hospitalisation for mental and behavioural disorders among Aboriginal and

Torres Strait Islander people aged 10-24 years were due to substance abuse, schizophrenia, and reactions to severe stress.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have endured and survived a traumatic and deeply challenging colonisation period that affected all aspects of their collective lives, and which continues to challenge communities, families and individuals today.

At the population level, higher rates  of mental health  difficulties among Aboriginal and Torres  Strait Islander people are intertwined with entrenched poverty, substandard and overcrowded housing, health conditions and disabilities, intergenerational un/under-employment, stressors and trauma, racism and discrimination, and at-risk behaviours in response to sometimes desperate situations.80 In particular, the members of the Stolen Generations and their descendants are ‘more likely to have had contact with mental health services,’ with children in their care often challenged by higher rates of emotional and behavioural difficulties.81

In many cases, responding to population mental health challenges means addressing their deeper, structural causes. These should be identified and solutions co-designed and co-implemented under Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-leadership, including community-controlled organisations and health services. The needs of young people should be prioritised as directed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and their representative organisations.

Community-led programs that build on cultural determinants of social and emotional wellbeing and cultural strengths should be supported to help provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people with protective factors against mental health challenges, and particularly against suicide, by supporting a strong sense of ‘social, cultural and emotional wellbeing’ that includes a positive Indigenous/cultural identity. These cultural determinants vary but can include culturally- shaped connections to family, kin, community, and country.

Yet, in many cases, mainstream health and mental health programs fail to incorporate culturally appropriate practices or awareness when working with or treating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing challenges to their wellbeing.

Program funding must be flexible enough to provide for differences, tailor services to meet community and individual needs and to support younger age groups where critical issues arise. It is essential that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people have access to culturally and age-appropriate mental health services that are in close proximity to their homes. The Australian Government should invest in building the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led and controlled health organisations to deliver these services in communities.

Sources of support

Friend/s (63.6%), internet (44.3%) and parent/s or guardian/s (43.5%) were the most commonly cited sources of help for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people with psychological distress. Smaller proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents than non-

Indigenous respondents with psychological distress said they would turn to close personal connections for help, such as friend/s, parent/s or guardian/s, a GP or health professional, school counsellor, brother/sister or a relative/family friend.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have identified challenges in relation to mainstream models of health care offered and their affordability. Aboriginal Controlled Health Organisations have a strong role to play and should be appropriately funded.

Conversely, greater proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents indicated turning to a community agency, social media or a telephone hotline for help. Community agencies therefore need to be funded to provide culturally appropriate support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people experiencing psychological distress.

Suicide prevention

A greater proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents indicated concerns about suicide (40.2% compared with 35.6% of non-Indigenous respondents).

The rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide is a critical public health challenge for Australia. Over the 5 years from 2013 to 2017, one in four Australian children and young people aged 5-17 years who died by suicide were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.86

Designed to complement the mainstream National Suicide Prevention Strategy, the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy87 was developed to respond to this public health challenge. It recognises the need for investment in holistic and integrated approaches that helps individuals, families and communities have hope for, and optimism about, the future.

In addition to mainstream integrated approach interventions, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) highlighted the need for community- led, locally-based and culturally-appropriate ‘upstream’ preventative activities to address community-level challenges associated with suicide.

Further, ATSISPEP underlined the need for programs that build on cultural determinants of social and emotional wellbeing and its protective factors to have a positive impact against complex mental health challenges, including risks of suicide.88

Recognising the intersectionality between mental health, suicide and substance dependence, the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing requires the integration of mental health, alcohol and other drug, and suicide prevention services in communities.89 However, the Strategy needs a focused implementation plan that is properly costed and operationalised if it is to shape the mental health space.

Part 3 National : Closing the Gap / Have your say CTG deadline extended to Friday, 8 November 2019.

 

The engagements are now in full swing across Australia and this is generating more interest than we had anticipated in our survey on Closing the Gap.

The Coalition of Peaks has had requests from a number of organisations across Australia seeking, some Coalition of Peak members and some governments for more time to promote and complete the survey.

We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to have their say on what should be included in a new agreement on Closing the Gap so it is agreed to extend the deadline for the survey to Friday, 8 November 2019.

This will help build further understanding and support for the new agreement and will not impact our timeframes for negotiating with government as we were advised at the most recent Partnership Working Group meeting that COAG will not meet until early 2020.

There is a discussion booklet that has background information on Closing the Gap and sets out what will be talked about in the survey.

The survey will take a little bit of time to complete. It would be great if you can answer all the questions, but you can also just focus on the issues that you care about most.

To help you prepare your answers, you can look at a full copy here

The survey is open to everyone and can be accessed here:

https://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/coalition-of-peaks/have-your-say/

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #FamilyMatters Report 2019 Download : The crisis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being over-represented in the child protection systems continues to escalate at an alarming rate.

“If we do not change our course of action the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care will more than double in the next 10 years.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are seven times more likely to be on a permanent care order until 18 years. They are at serious risk of permanent separation from their families, cultures and communities.

The trauma associated with child removal is intergenerational.

It affects a person’s functioning in the world, has an adverse impact on family relationships and creates vulnerability in families.

Healing is an important part of reclaiming the resilience we need to deal with life’s challenges and address the burden of trauma in our communities,”

Family Matters Co-Chair Richard Weston.

The crisis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being over-represented in the child protection systems continues to escalate at an alarming rate, reveals The Family Matters Report 2019

The report also shows a growing trend towards permanent placement away from their families and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to experience high levels of disadvantage.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 37.3% of the total out-of-home care population, including foster care, but only 5.5% of the total population of children.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are now 10.2 times more likely to be removed from their families than non-Indigenous children.

The decreasing rate of placement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with Indigenous carers dropped from 49.4% to 45% in a year and has declined from 65.3% in 2006.

The Family Matters Report 2019 also reveals poverty and homelessness has a profound impact on children being removed from their home.

Nearly one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are living below the poverty line. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander householders are almost twice as likely to experience rental stress.

“Household income and access to safe and healthy housing have a substantial impact on the capacity of families to provide safe and supportive care for children,” says Family Matters Co-Chair Natalie Lewis.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience disadvantage across a range of early childhood areas, are more likely to be developmentally delayed at the age of five and attend childcare services at half the rate of non-Indigenous children.

“We stress the need for an increased investment in prevention and early intervention to redress the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of- home care. Consistently, more funding is invested in child protection services than support services,” says Ms Lewis.

The Family Matters Report 2019 calls for:

  1. A national comprehensive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s strategy that includes generational targets to eliminate over-representation and address the causes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child
  2. Investment in quality Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled integrated early years services through a specific program with targets to increase coverage in areas of high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and high levels of
  3. Establishing state-based and national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s commissioners to enable improved government accountability and oversight.
  4. An end to legal orders for permanent care and adoption for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, replaced by a focus on supporting their connections to kin, culture and

Family Matters is Australia’s national campaign to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people grow up safe and cared for in family, community and culture. It aims to eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care by 2040.

Family Matters – Strong communities. Strong culture. Stronger children. is led by SNAICC

– National Voice for our Children and a group of eminent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders from across the country. The campaign is supported by a Strategic Alliance of over 150 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous organisations.

Since 2016, the campaign has released an annual Family Matters report that examines how Australia is faring in improving the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Have your say about what is needed to make real change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children  #HaveYourSay about #closingthegapCTG

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know what works best for us.

We need to make sure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth voices are reflected and expertise is recognised in every way at every step on efforts to close the gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.’

‘The Coalition of Peaks is leading the face to face discussions, not governments.

The Peaks are asking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth to tell us what should be included in a new Closing the Gap agreement and we will take this to the negotiating table.’

There is a discussion booklet that has background information on Closing the Gap and sets out what will be talked about in the survey.

The survey will take a little bit of time to complete. It would be great if you can answer all the questions, but you can also just focus on the issues that you care about most.

To help you prepare your answers, you can look at a full copy here

The survey is open to everyone and can be accessed here:

https://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/coalition-of-peaks/have-your-say/

 

 

NACCHO #HaveYourSayCTG about #closingthegap on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth health : #NACCHOYouth19 Registrations Close Oct 20 @RACGP Doctor :Routine health assessments co-created with young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may soon be adopted by general practice.

Part 1 : Research project ‘Developing, implementing, and testing a co-created health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in primary care’

Part 2 : Registrations close 20 October for the NACCHO Youth Conference Darwin 4 November 

Part 3 : If you cannot get to Darwin  you can still have your say about what is needed to make real change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth

‘General practice needs to think more carefully about the issues facing young people as a distinct group. Better understanding has to start with asking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about important health priorities, and then listening carefully to the responses.

Once we have listened to community voices on health priorities and co-created the young person’s health assessment, we intend to conduct a pilot randomised trial of the new health assessment looking at outcomes including social and emotional wellbeing, detection of psychological distress and appropriate management and referrals.” 

Dr Geoffrey Spurling first had the idea for his research project ‘Developing, implementing, and testing a co-created health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in primary care’ during a moving experience not so long ago, when he attended the funeral of a young Aboriginal woman who had committed suicide. See Part 1

The project was originally published in the RACGP News GP

Read all NACCHO Youth Articles HERE 

Part 1 ‘Developing, implementing, and testing a co-created health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in primary care’. Continued from intro above

‘It was a profoundly sad experience,’ Dr Spurling told newsGP.

‘At the same time, community members were telling me that social and emotional wellbeing, especially for young people, was a health priority.

‘I wanted to do what I could with my medical and research skills to understand and help address the social and emotional wellbeing issues facing the community.’

It was here that his research project began to take shape.

Dr Spurling, a GP at Inala Indigenous Health Service and senior lecturer at the University of Queensland, was recently granted funds from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to develop his project, ‘Developing, implementing, and testing a co-created health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in primary care’.

Through collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, this research aims to develop and implement a health check especially tailored for young people in these communities.

Current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medicare health assessments involving adolescents are constructed for 5–14-year-olds and 15–54-year-olds. Dr Spurling believes more focus is needed on the health of young people within the second age group, and a specific health assessment should be implemented.

Following development of the tailored health assessments, Dr Spurling and his team intend to conduct a trial comparing the new health check with the current one available in clinical software, aiming to show better detection and management of social and emotional wellbeing concerns.

‘By creating a youth health assessment together with both young people and clinicians, I hope we can have more relevant conversations about health in general practice within both the specific context of the newly developed young person’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessment, and more broadly in general practice.’

The National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people recommends the Social Emotional Wellbeing (SEW) and HEEADSSS screening tools as part of health assessments for young people.

Investigator Grants is the NHMRC’s largest funding scheme, with a 40% allocation from the Medical Research Endowment Account. The scheme’s objective is to support the research of outstanding investigators at all career stages, providing five-year funding security for high-performing researchers through its salary and research support packages. The 2019 Investigator Grants funding totals $365.8 million.

Part 2 NACCHO Youth Conference Darwin 4 November 

 ” Culturally-appropriate care and safety has a vast role to play in improving the health and wellbeing of our people.

In this respect, I want to make special mention of the proven record of the Aboriginal Community Health Organisations in increasing the health and wellbeing of First Peoples by delivering culturally competent care.

I’m pleased to be here at this conference, which aims to make a difference with a simple but sentinel theme of investing in what works, surely a guiding principle for all that we do

Providing strong pointers for this is a new youth report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Equipped with this information, we can connect the dots – what is working well and where we need to focus our energies, invest our expertise, so our young people can reap the benefits of better health and wellbeing “

Minister Ken Wyatt launching AIHW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Adolescent and Youth Health and Wellbeing 2018 report at NACCHO Conference 31 October attended by over 500 ACCHO delegates including 75 ACCHO Youth delegates Pictured above 

Read Download Report HERE

The central focus of the NACCHO Youth Conference Healthy youth, healthy future is on building resilience. For thousands of years our Ancestors have shown great resolve thriving on this vast continent.

Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who make up 54% of our population, now look to the example set by generations past and present to navigate ever-changing and complex social and health issues.

Healthy youth, healthy future provides us with opportunities to explore and discuss issues of importance to us, our families and communities, and to take further steps toward becoming tomorrow’s leaders.

We hope to see you there!

Registrations CLOSE 20 October 

Registrations are now open for the 2019 NACCHO Youth Conference, which will be held November 4th in Darwin at the Darwin Convention Centre

REGISTER HERE

Part 3 Have your say about what is needed to make real change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth #HaveYourSay about #closingthegapCTG

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know what works best for us.

We need to make sure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth voices are reflected and expertise is recognised in every way at every step on efforts to close the gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.’

‘The Coalition of Peaks is leading the face to face discussions, not governments.

The Peaks are asking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth to tell us what should be included in a new Closing the Gap agreement and we will take this to the negotiating table.’

There is a discussion booklet that has background information on Closing the Gap and sets out what will be talked about in the survey.

The survey will take a little bit of time to complete. It would be great if you can answer all the questions, but you can also just focus on the issues that you care about most.

To help you prepare your answers, you can look at a full copy here

The survey is open to everyone and can be accessed here:

https://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/coalition-of-peaks/have-your-say/

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #UluruStatement #FirstNationsVoice #Treaty #ClosingTheGap : Read full Speech @LindaBurneyMP HC Nugget Coombs Memorial lecture Darwin NT

Tonight it is my intention to speak about four things.

The first being a very consistent theme of mine but also one of the fundamental tenets of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and that is the importance, the art of truth-telling.

I want to secondly focus on some of the policy challenges in my Shadow Portfolio of Indigenous Australians and Families and Social Services.

Thirdly, I want to focus on what I believe to be the defining discussions for the 46th Parliament, and the enshrinement of a First Nations Voice to the Parliament.

And finally, of course, to reflect on the story, values and legacy of Herbert Cole Nugget Coombs and the lessons he leaves us for the way forward for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike.

However, before that, it is important from an Aboriginal worldview for you to be able to place me, and know a little of my story. In doing so I share a little of the Wiradjuri story.

The Hon Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Speaking in Darwin  3 rd October HC Nugget Coombs Memorial lecture 

Picture above : As a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation, Ms Burney was the first Aboriginal person to be elected to the NSW Parliament and the first Aboriginal woman to serve in the Australian House of Representatives.

Linda’s commitment to Indigenous issues spans more than 30 years.

During her state political career she served as minister in a number of senior portfolios including as minister for Community Services and later as Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

The HC Nugget Coombs Memorial Lecture is presented by The Australian National University and Charles Darwin University, and named in honour of Dr Herbert Cole (H. C., better known as “Nugget”) Coombs 1906-1997.

Nugget Coombs was an Australian economist and public servant probably best known for his role as Governor of the Reserve Bank from 1960, and who, in his post-retirement years, made a significant contribution to enhancing the rights of Australia’s Indigenous peoples, especially to land. Coombs was Chancellor of The Australian National University (ANU) from 1968-1976.

Read full Speech HERE

Ballumb ambol Larrakia yindamarra Ngudu-yirra bang marrang.

We gather this evening on the lands of the Larrakia Nation.

In acknowledging the Larrakia let us honour and remind ourselves of your care and custodianship of country.

I do this in my language – that of the Wiradjuri Nation of South West New South Wales.

Larrikia – a country that extends from Cox Peninsula in the west, to Gunn Point in the north, Adelaide River in the east and down to the Manton Dam area in the south.

Like all First Nations the Larrakia’s story is as ancient as it is modern.

Larrikia continue to practice and preserve stories and culture; and continue to care for the land and water around us. Thank you.

I recognise this evening, Richard Fejo, Chair of the Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation.

And I thank you, Bilawara Lee, for your welcome, and for having us on your country.

Welcome to country is a very old and an important ritual: Practiced for thousands of years by First Nations people when they go to other people’s countries, seeking permission, showing respect.

When we acknowledge country, remind ourselves of the three handfuls: The handful of truth; the handful of social justice for First Nations people; and the handful of equality and justice for all.

I am grateful to you all for attending the Nugget Coombs Memorial Lecture this evening. This lecture is presented in a partnership between the Australian National University and Charles Darwin University. I am acutely aware that this lecture is a major public event.

I would like to recognise and thank Professor Brian Schmidt AC, the vice Chancellor of ANU for your invitation to present tonight. I am truly touched.

Can I also recognise Professor Simon Maddocks, the Vice Chancellor of Charles Darwin University.

I wish to acknowledge Council members and staff from both universities.

Some of you I know personally.

A very, very, special recognition of Professor the Hon. Gareth Evens AC QC. Gareth, I know this is one of your final official events as Chancellor and you will receive many accolades. Let me add to them.

Tonight it is my intention to speak about four things.

The first being a very consistent theme of mine but also one of the fundamental tenets of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and that is the importance, the art of truth-telling.

I want to secondly focus on some of the policy challenges in my Shadow Portfolio of Indigenous Australians and Families and Social Services.

Thirdly, I want to focus on what I believe to be the defining discussions for the 46th Parliament, and the enshrinement of a First Nations Voice to the Parliament.

And finally, of course, to reflect on the story, values and legacy of Herbert Cole Nugget Coombs and the lessons he leaves us for the way forward for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike.

However, before that, it is important from an Aboriginal worldview for you to be able to place me, and know a little of my story. In doing so I share a little of the Wiradjuri story.

Wiradjuri territory is shaped like a fan. It sweeps across the catchments of the Lachlan, Macquarie and the Murrumbidgee Rivers. In the language of the Wiradjuri these three rivers are called Galari, Wambuul and Marrambidya. I am of the Marrambidya Wiradjuri.

The Wiradjuri were the first inland nation to experience the brutality of British colonisation and invasion.

The resistance of the mighty Wiradjuri leader Windradyne and his warriors was so strong that martial law was declared in Bathurst in 1823 – two thirds of the Wiradjuri around Bathurst were murdered – around 1,000 people or so – during the four months of martial law. To compound the damage even further, gold was discovered at Bathurst in 1851.

Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu describes the way of life for the Wiradjuri prior to settlers.

He says that it was possible for one to have driven a horse-led sulky though the land because of the way that the Wiradjuri had tended the land.

The wide-spread introduction of hooved animals post-settlement destroyed the top soil and destroyed the fertility of the land.

The shocking practice of poisoning flour and waterholes was first practiced on my people.

Some of the place names in my country tell the story.

Poison Waterhole Creek – near Narrandera.

Murdering Island between Griffith and Darlington Point.

The essence of Aboriginality is connection to country and where you stand in it. It also reminds us of the injustices perpetrated on the First Peoples in the so-called building of our nation. It is the telling of truth.

Nugget Coombs in my mind was one of Australia’s greatest public servants and a truth teller. I do not say this lightly. He served no less than eight Prime Ministers in one way or another: Curtin, Chifley, Menzies, Holt, Gorton, McMahon, Whitlam and Frasier.

I did not know Nugget Coombs personally – so it was important I spoke to people who knew him and worked alongside him in preparing this address.

The man we honour tonight was born at the turn of last century.

My great aunt and uncle Letitia and William Laing who raised me were born around the same time.

They were a brave, non-Aboriginal brother and sister. Neither of whom ever married.

They lived through two world wars and the depression, defining events that shaped our nation and those within it.

It shaped them well.

I know the principles that defined this generation. I am a product of them: pragmatic, frugal, compassionate, respectful, resourceful, humble and appreciative.

Nugget was also born, like me, in a small country town.

He was born in Kalamunda – a derivative of the Noongar words “a home in the forest”. Today it is a semi-rural outer suburb of Perth’s east.

Being born in the country also shapes you, as does the circumstances you were born into.

What I do love about Nugget is he didn’t mind mucking in, in fact assumed great responsibility in the home as a very young person, as I had to.

This too shapes you and is something I can very much relate to from my own experience.

Why do I share these stories? I share them because I think too often we don’t value our own story.

All of our stories make up the rich tapestry of this land.

“Why are you called Nugget?” asked Robin Hughes in a 1992 TV interview.

An 86 year old Herbert Cole Coombs replied:

Well in Western Australia, in the country, Nugget was a kind of generic name for a creature, a person or a dog or a horse you know, which was short in the legs and stocky build…

Nugget Coombs leaves a legacy as an extraordinary public servant – beyond Governor of the Reserve Bank – and an extraordinary advocate for Indigenous Australians, and held dear by us.

Patrick Dodson – who has previously delivered this oration – said of Nugget that he was a man committed to Indigenous self-determination; committed to treaty; and committed to ensuring Indigenous Australians had a choice: of economic participation as well as maintaining connection with country and culture – not one at the expense of the other.

I also spoke to Warren Snowdon who knew and worked with Nugget. Warren said that when you look at the issue of treaty and self-determination – these are not new issues. People like Nugget and Judith Wright have been championing them since the 70s, some four decades ago.

You can see, as a result of both nature and nurture, his interests, values and attitudes – of fairness, justice, equality – both socially as well as economically – which paved the way for his achievements in the advancement of Indigenous Australians.

His academic record in high school is described as unremarkable. This makes me smile when I reflect on my own school report cards.

In a July 1919 report card, he is said to not have done particularly well in his exams but possessed a good deal of ability.

He did love his cricket and Australian Rules football – and he excelled in it.

After graduating from Perth Modern, Nugget became a pupil-teacher at Busselton, which was struggling economically at the time.

He became particularly conscious of the economic challenges facing families through his students, and he developed an interest in regional development – an important experience for his life to come as a senior economist for the nation.

His classrooms for him became economic microcosms of the community – a sample size of the have and the have-nots; children of different occupations, suburbs and wealth – indicators of the wellbeing of the local community, humanised.

He understood the power of education.

He understood that the distribution of wealth was central to ensuring that individuals were able to guarantee a roof over their head, food on the table, or an education for their children – and ultimately, ensuring the peace and wellbeing of a nation.

This is something I could really relate to when I reflect on my own teaching career in the Western suburbs in the early 1980s – such disadvantage and poverty profoundly shaping my worldview.

He studied at the University of Western Australia and then the London School of Economics.

Coombs was appointed the Director for Rationing, and later Post-War Reconstruction, working directly under Ben Chifley.

In June 1944, he advocated for the end of gender discrimination in the workplace in an address to the Council for Women in War Work.

This precipitated not only economic changes, but seismic social progress too.

Nugget Coombs was appointed Governor of the Commonwealth Bank in January 1949, but less than a year later, Robert Menzies became Prime Minister.

Coombs was a Labor appointee, but was to straddle both sides of politics. And he navigated the partisan divide with success and great political dexterity – a critical point I have learnt and done.

In 1960, he was appointed the first governor of the Reserve Bank by a Menzies Government.

He was unable to ignore the troubling truth: the divide and disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

It was not until after his retirement as Reserve Bank Governor that he pursued this seriously and with full attention as a policy legacy.

Perhaps it was his growing up in both urban and regional settings; perhaps it was his ability to understand wealth distribution, and how it could be used to address social challenges; perhaps it was his unique ability to bring both sides together and navigate partisanship – but Coombs was appointed Chair of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs in late 1967 by Prime Minister Harold Holt.

Nugget’s appointment took place before the backdrop of the 1967 Referendum – a campaign that had been a decade in the making.

It followed the path of the activism and agitation that had come before it: the day of mourning protests in 1938; and Charles Perkins and the freedom rides of the mid-1960s.

And it, in turn, blazed a trail for subsequent progress and change – the parallels and echo of history that we can see in this current discussion about the Uluru Statement and a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.

Of course, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Within two months of the Council’s establishment, Holt disappeared.

Nugget was then said to have clashed with Prime Minister William McMahon, who he felt was never sincerely or genuinely committed on Indigenous affairs – especially on land rights.

It was Prime Minister McMahon’s speech on 26 January 1972 – and his refusal to recognise Indigenous land rights – which led to the establishment of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in front of what is today Old Parliament House.

But perhaps one of the more notable examples of his agitation from within was the Yirrkala land dispute.

In late 1968, the Yirrkala People commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory against the Commonwealth and Nabalco Pty Ltd, a bauxite mining company who were granted mining rights by the Commonwealth on traditional lands on the Gove Peninsula.

The Department of the Interior was determined to defend the claim against the Commonwealth in the court.

Coombs however, through the Council for Aboriginal Affairs sought to take heat out of the increasingly politicised court case by urging the Commonwealth to settle the matter out of court.

Coombs had the political aptitude to see the long term political ramifications this would have, not only for Indigenous land rights, but for Indigenous-non-Indigenous relations.

And in April 1971, the court found in favour of the Commonwealth and against the traditional owner plaintiffs.

Meanwhile however, public opinion had turned in favour of the traditional owners. There was now appetite among the mainstream Australian community for some sort of recognition or compensation for traditional land rights.

Labor was elected federally.

And Gough needed Nugget’s gravitas and continuity of institutional memory – especially with Labor having been out of office for 32 years.

He was ahead of his time in every way.

He was able to envision a totally different societal order and system – one which valued the needs of an individual with, and not above, a community; one which valued the needs of a community with, and not above, the environment.

Rather, as former Governor General William Deane said he advocated for:

their right to be different… to conduct their society in accordance with their ways of thinking, educate their children in relation to that and to conduct their own ceremonies.

He believed that Indigenous Australians ought to have the opportunities to participate economically without it being at the expense of their connection to culture and country.

This is so relevant still.

These lessons from Nugget Coombs are no more relevant for us than on the question of the Uluru Statement, constitutional recognition of a First Nations Voice to Parliament and Treaty making.

When the Prime Minister appointed the first Aboriginal person to the portfolio of Indigenous Australians, he sent an important message to the Australian community –

A message that he was prepared to act on the Uluru Statement and make history.

We were all overjoyed – Ken Wyatt is a good and thoroughly decent human being.

The Uluru Statement called for three things:

  • A constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament;
  • Truth telling; and
  • Agreement making – through a Makarrata Commission.

Agreement making is, of course, code for Treaty.Labor embraces the Uluru Statement in its entirety.

The central premise of the Uluru Statement is forward looking.

On the 10th of July, when Ken Wyatt spoke at the Press Club, he set out a path for delivering on the Uluru Statement from the Heart and committed the Government to:

  • Starting a co-design process for a First Nations Voice to Parliament;
  • Establishing a Parliamentary working group – so we could move forward in the spirit of bipartisanship; and
  • Truth-telling.

Fellow travelers, it is five minutes to midnight on this issue.However, just hours after Ken delivered his speech, the Prime Minister backgrounded the media – ruling out a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.

He is now saying – I think – that he would support a referendum to recognise First Australians symbolically, but not enshrine a Voice.

We still don’t know how the co-design process will work.

There is still no Parliamentary Working Group.

And we don’t yet know what the Government plans to do to take the next step on truth telling.

I, along with my Labor colleagues, continue to offer bipartisanship and collaboration.

But we are running out of time – especially if the Government is to deliver on their commitment of a referendum this term.

And there is a real risk the Uluru Statement will fade into the pages of history.

That it will be remembered as a noble moment, but not a turning-point.

It really is five minutes to midnight.

The next federal election is due in the first half of 2022.

And a referendum would most likely take place by the second half of 2021.

Before holding a referendum, there would need to be time for a successful campaign.

This will take months and would need to start in 2020.

Prior to a campaign, time needs to be allowed for co-design of a voice, consultation and agreement on a question. This can’t be unreasonably rushed.

And there must be time to pass an act of parliament to set the referendum question.

It is now the final quarter of 2019 – there are already Christmas decorations in the shops.

Bipartisanship is still on the table – contingent on the broad support of First Nations people.

We will work with the Government, but we will not wait for them.

I say to the Prime Minister very directly: this could be your moment, a great legacy; something to be truly remembered by.

If a proper process of co-design is not started by early next year, Labor will start our consultations with communities across Australia on the way forward.

Because this is what we do – we listen to First Nations people.

That is why we have already stated the principles on which we think a Voice should be based.

  1. It should be democratically elected;
  2. Gender representation should be equal;
  3. Young people should be at the table;
  4. It should be advisory only and non-justiciable – in line with the Uluru Statement
  5. It must be secure and permanent.

Security of the Voice is paramount – that is why the Uluru Statement called for it to be constitutionally enshrined.Because we have seen before how easily the institutional voice of First Nations people has been taken away, by the Government of the day.

We all know what happened to ATSIC.

And in the spirit of bipartisanship – I want to set out a starting point for the co-design process the Government has promised.

This is not a policy prescription.

Ken Wyatt has said the Voice should be multi-layered. He is correct.

Its basis must be regional – a reflection of the great diversity in First Nations peoples and cultures.

As a starting point, the Voice could be based, for example, broadly on the old ATSIC boundaries.

There would need to be adjustments, of course, to accommodate existing organisations.

The regional functions of a Voice should be significant – helping to shape, co-ordinate and influence service delivery, across all levels of government.

These regional bodies could be like a clearing house – providing accountability, direction and co-ordination for service delivery.

They could be an authoritative point for consultation and help ensure the overall investment of public funds into communities gets results.

They would not be responsible for service delivery.

They could fill a gap that currently exists, give communities insight and influence.

The national Voice to Parliament could be elected from regional bodies.

At the national level, the Voice could provide the Parliament with advice on legislation and programs that impact First Nations Australians.

It would be a point of accountability of government effort.

But it could also deliver annual statements of priorities, and respond to requests from the Parliament for advice and direction.

The Voice could also scrutinise the effectiveness of programs from a First Nations perspective, something that is fundamental to practical self-determination.

And it could work in partnership with other organisations, like the Productivity Commission, universities and departments and peak First Nations organisations.

The Voice must remain grounded and accountable to the regional bodies from which it is drawn.

We need to reinvigorate our national process of truth telling.

As our holders of stories pass on, so too do the stories.

Truth telling is most effective when it is local, because that is where the stories are.

Local governments should play a big part. The surviving Local Reconciliation Groups could be renewed.

This week I was on the Eyre Peninsular in South Australia and was told the story of the Waterloo Bay massacre –

And the unveiling one year ago of a monument that tells the story of up to 200 defenceless Aboriginal people being forced off a cliff at gun point.

There was intense debate in the community about this monument – with some wanting to use the word ‘incident’ rather than ‘massacre’.

In the end, the Elliston Council decided, by a single vote, to tell the truth.

This was not easy. It was painful and difficult.

But important for the whole community.

And I am told that the process has been healing.

Without openly talking about the past, and understanding it, it is almost impossible to understand some of the barriers, the intergenerational trauma and how to move forward.

The recognition of Myall Creek massacre in the Gwyder region of News South Wales is another powerful example of the transformative power of truth.

On the 10th of July 1838, a group of Wirrayaraay people were attacked by convicts and settlers when they were preparing a meal –

They were slaughtered and their bodies burned. One boy survived.

But now, the descendants of those who murdered, and the descendants of those who were killed come together each year.

I attended the first year of the commemoration.

It is an incredibly raw, moving and brave acknowledgement that is pulling together the edges of the great tear that has occurred in that community.

Myall Creek was also the first time in Australia that perpetrators were brought to justice – they were hung.

Of course – this is not only a local responsibility.

State and federal governments need to urgently resource truth telling.

Libraries, museums and cultural institutions must be better able to help communities capture the stories that have shaped out nation.

Critical too is a national resting place, and better support for the repatriation of remains to country.

I have stood in a leaky warehouse in Adelaide, which contains a room with literally thousands of remains waiting to be taken home.

Truth telling is difficult.

But it can build for Australia a stronger, collective national pride: we are all custodians of the oldest continuing culture in the world.

It is for everyone.

The Uluru Statement also called for agreement making – for treaty.

And it requires long-term commitment.

And first, communities and governments need to be Treaty-ready.

This the work Mick Dodson and Ursula Raymond are doing here in the Northern Territory – and overseas experience shows that getting ready can take some time.

Ultimately, there will probably be many treaties. Ken Wyatt is correct about this.

The issues dealt with will be diverse – like First Nations are diverse. And agreements with state and territory governments will primarily be where the rubber hits the road.

And Victoria is already leading the way.

But this isn’t only the business of the states.

As Mick Dodson, the NT Treaty Commissioner said earlier this week:

Regarding a treaty, Mr. Wyatt says it’s important for states and territories to take the lead in treaties. I trust he’s not implying that the Commonwealth can wash its hands on treaty-making nationwide — the Federal Parliament must be involved.

In recent years, Labor has reformed our Caucus processes to strengthen the First Nations voice in our decision making.

We have a First Nations Caucus Committee, Chaired by Malarndirri McCarthy – your own Senator here in the Territory.

And I have both the Shadow portfolios of Families and Social Services and Indigenous Australians.

Warren Snowdon and Patrick Dodson are assistant shadow ministers in the portfolio.

I strive to work by these principles: mutual trust, truly listening, self-determination, investing in need, rewarding excellence, collaboration, and developing evidence-based policy.

I also seek to achieve bipartisanship wherever I can – so long as it is not a race to the bottom.

By working in this way, Labor has developed principled and evidenced positions on the future of the Community Development Program, the Cashless Debit Card and Newstart.

At Garma earlier this year, Labor Leader Anthony Albanese said:

I know there are real concerns about the CDP program. It has been punitive and unfair and has caused much hurt in communities…

That is why Labor promised before the recent election to abolish CDP and establish a new program… [and] that it might have some of the same features as the old CDEP…

We remain committed to our proposal.

More than 12 years after the Howard Government’s Northern Territory intervention, it is also clear that broad-based, mandatory income management has not worked.

And on that basis, Labor does not support the Government’s plan to roll out the Cashless Debit Card across the Territory.

A plan which could see the Minister quarantine 100 per cent of social security payments with the stroke of a pen.

The Card should be voluntary, except in certain circumstances, like child protection or family violence – it should be a case management approach.

Unless a community genuinely decides they want the Card, after an informed and proper process of consultation.

Consistent with self-determination, if a community does want to try the Card, we respect and support that.

Labor supports an increase to Newstart – and that matters to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people –

It matters too for regional economies, where so many people who must rely on Newstart live.

The work the peak organisations are doing with governments on closing the gap is really critical, and I support this process.

Labor wants to work with the peaks and the Government to make Closing the Gap meaningful and enduring.

And we look forward to being brought into the process.

The Uluru Statement is a tangible and modest ask.

And consistent with this, I have outlined some ideas today that would be a sound starting point for that discussion

Nebulous concepts like’ multi-layered’, ‘ground-up’ and ‘varied’ simply don’t cut it in the community conversations I have been part of.

People want a proposal to grab hold of, to change, and ultimately to campaign for.

They want it to be a permanent Voice.

This is why I have put forward a proposal with a clear regional basis, an electoral process and gender parity.

This is too important to descend into a political scrabble.

I offer my comments tonight in the spirit of encouragement and bipartisanship, because Labor doesn’t want the glory – we just want it to happen.

Now is the time.

The Government is clearly in search of a big story, of an agenda: and I say, take this one, it’s ready to go.

The Prime Minister has already shown leadership in appointing Ken Wyatt – and it is now Scott Morrison’s responsibility for follow-through.

The stars are aligned, in this moment.

There are advocates within conservative politics, Labor is absolutely on-board with the Uluru Statement; business is ready and willing; states are leading; and eminent legal minds like Justice Murray Gleeson have also lent their support.

Let us continue Nugget Coombs’ life’s work in striving towards justice, equality and fairness through empowering those who yearn for it.

We are standing on the shoulders of giants. Let us get on and do it.

NOTE – I wish to acknowledge the efforts of Daryl Tan in helping me to prepare this paper.

ENDS

Linda Burney MP profile image

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth Download @NMHC National Report 2019 Released today : The Australian Government encourages PHNs to position Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services as preferred providers for mental health and suicide prevention services for our mob

” Working to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a priority area for PHNs.

The PHN Advisory Panel Report recommended that PHN funds for mental health and suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be provided directly to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) as a priority, unless a better arrangement can be demonstrated.

The Senate Inquiry into the accessibility and quality of mental health services in rural and remote Australia also made a similar recommendation.

PHNs should continue to work on formalising partnerships with ACCHS.

The NMHC supports the recommendations made by both these reports and recommends that the Australian Government encourages PHNs to position ACCHS as preferred providers for mental health and suicide prevention services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people “

Extract from Page 14 

Recommendation 16: The Australian Government encourages PHNs to position Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services as preferred providers for mental health and suicide prevention services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The National Mental Health Commission today released its National Report 2019 on Australia’s mental health and suicide prevention system, including recommendations to improve outcomes.

Download the full 97 Page Report HERE 

National_Report_2019

or 9 Page Summary HERE 

National Report 2019 Summary – Accessible PDF

The Commission continues to recommend a whole-of-government approach to mental health and suicide prevention.

This broad approach ensures factors which impact individuals’ mental health and wellbeing such as housing, employment, education and social justice are addressed alongside the delivery of mental health care.

National Mental Health Commission Advisory Board Chair, Lucy Brogden, said we are living in a time when we’re seeing unprecedented investment and interest in making substantial improvements to our mental health system.

“Current national reforms are key, but complex, interrelated and broad in scope, and will take time before their implementation leads to tangible change for consumers and carers,” Mrs Brogden said.

“The National Report indicates while there are significant reforms underway at national, state and local levels, it’s crucial that we maintain momentum and implement these recommendations to ensure sustained change for consumers and carers.”

National Mental Health Commission CEO Christine Morgan said the National Report findings align with what Australians are sharing as part of the Connections Project, which has provided opportunities for the Commission to hear directly from consumers, carers and families, as well as service providers, about their experience of the current mental health system.

“What’s clear is we must remain focused on long term health objectives. Implementation of these targeted recommendations will support this focus,” Ms Morgan said.

The NMHC recommendations require collaboration across the sector.  As part of its ongoing monitoring and report role, the NMHC will work with stakeholders to identify how progress of the recommendations can be measured.

For your nearest ACCHO contact for HELP 

NACCHO Aboriginal Mental Health #RUOKDay @ruokday ? Download #RUOKSTRONGERTOGETHER resources a targeted #MentalHealth #SuicidePrevention campaign to encourage conversation within our communities. Contributions inc Dr Vanessa Lee @joewilliams_tew @ShannanJDodson

Regardless of where we live, or who our mob is, we can all go through tough times, times when we don’t feel great about our lives or ourselves. That’s why it’s important to always be looking out for each other.

If someone you know – a family member, someone from your community, a friend, neighbour or workmate – is doing it tough, they won’t always tell you.
Sometimes it’s up to us to trust our gut instinct and ask someone who may be struggling with life “Are you OK?”.

By asking and listening, we can help those we care about feel more supported and connected, which can help stop them from feeling worse over time.

That’s why this campaign has a simple message: Let’s talk. We are stronger together

“Nationally, Indigenous people die from suicide at twice the rate of non-Indigenous people. This campaign comes at a critical time.

As a community we are Stronger Together. Knowledge is culture, and emotional wellbeing can be learned from family members such as mothers and grandmothers.

These new resources from R U OK? will empower family members, and the wider community, with the tools to look out for each other as well as providing guidance on what to do if someone answers “No, I’m not OK”.”

Dr Vanessa Lee BTD, MPH, PhD Chair R U OK’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group whose counsel has been integral in the development of the campaign

Read over 130 + NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Suicide Prevention articles

Click here to access the STRONGER TOGETHER resources on the RUOK? website

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP)

https://www.atsispep.sis.uwa.edu.au/

 I have struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’m 32 years old and only this year did I have the first psychologist ever ask me about my family history and acknowledge the intergenerational trauma that runs through Indigenous families.

Like many others, I have thought about taking my own life. There were a myriad of factors that led to that point, and a myriad of factors that led to me not following through. But one of the factors was the immense weight of intergenerational trauma that I believe is embedded into my heart, mind and soul and at times feels too heavy a burden to carry.

We can break this cycle of trauma. We need culturally safe Indigenous-designed suicide prevention programs and to destigmatise conversations around mental health. My hope is that, by sharing my own experiences of dealing with this complex subject, other people will be able to see that intergenerational trauma affects all of our mob.

The more we identify and acknowledge it, we’ll be stronger together “

Shannan Dodson is a Yawuru woman and on the RUOK? Indigenous Advisory committee that has launched the Stronger Together campaign targeted at help-givers – those in our communities who can offer help to those who are struggling ;

See full story Part 2 Below or HERE

R U OK? has launched STRONGER TOGETHER, a targeted suicide prevention campaign to encourage conversation within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Developed with the guidance and oversight of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group and 33 Creative, an Aboriginal owned and managed agency, the campaign encourages individuals to engage and offer support to their family and friends who are struggling with life. Positive and culturally appropriate resources have been developed to help individuals feel more confident in starting conversations by asking R U OK?

The STRONGER TOGETHER campaign message comes at a time when reducing rates of  suicide looms as one of the biggest and most important challenges of our generation.

Suicide is one of the most common causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait

Islander people. A 2016 report noted that on average, over 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people end their lives through suicide each year, with the rate of suicide twice as high as that recorded for other Australians [1]. These are not just numbers. They represent lives and loved ones; relatives, friends, elders and extended community members affected by such tragic deaths.

STRONGER TOGETHER includes the release of four community announcement video

The video series showcases real conversations in action between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advocates and role models.

The focus is on individuals talking about their experiences and the positive impact that sharing them had while they were going through a tough time.

“That weekend, I had the most deep and meaningful and beautiful conversations with my Dad that I never had.

My Dad was always a staunch dude and I was always trying to put up a front to, I guess, make my Dad proud. But we sat there, and we cried to each other.

I started to find myself and that’s when I came to the point of realising that, you know, I’m lucky to be alive and I had a second chance to help other people.”

When we talk, we are sharing, and our people have always shared, for thousands of years we’ve shared experiences, shared love. The only way we get out of those tough times is by sharing and talking and I hope this series helps to spread that message.”

Former NRL player and welterweight boxer Joe Williams has lent his voice to the series.

Born in Cowra, Joe is a proud Wiradjuri man. Although forging a successful professional sporting career, Joe has battled with suicidal ideation and bipolar disorder. After a suicide attempt in 2012, a phone call to a friend and then his family’s support encouraged him to seek professional psychiatric help.

Australian sports pioneer Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM has also lent her voice to the series. Marcia Ella-Duncan is an Aboriginal woman from La Perouse, Sydney, with traditional connection to the Walbunga people on the NSW Far South Coast, and kinship connection to the Bidigal, the traditional owners of the Botany Bay area.

“Sometimes, all we can do is listen, all we can do is be there with you. And sometimes that might be all you need. Or sometimes it’s just the first step towards a much longer journey,” said Marcia.

Click here to access the STRONGER TOGETHER resources on the RUOK? website.

If you or someone you know needs support, go to:  ruok.org.au/findhelp

Part 2

Shannan Dodson is a Yawuru woman and on the RUOK? Indigenous Advisory committee that has launched the Stronger Together campaign targeted at help-givers – those in our communities who can offer help to those who are struggling ;

Originally Published the Guardian and IndigenousX

It is unacceptable and a national disgrace that there have been at least 35 suicides of Indigenous people this year – in just 12 weeks – and three were children only 12 years old.

The Kimberley region – where my mob are from – has the highest rate of suicide in the country. If the Kimberley was a country it would have the worst suicide rate in the world.

A recent inquest investigated 13 deaths which occurred in the Kimberley region in less than four years, including five children aged between 10 and 13.

Western Australia’s coroner said the deaths had been shaped by “the crushing effects of intergenerational trauma”.

When we’re talking about Indigenous suicide, we have to talk about intergenerational trauma; the transfer of the impacts of historical trauma and grief to successive generations.

These multiple layers of trauma can have a “cumulative effect and increase the risk of destructive behaviours including suicide”. Many of our communities are, in essence, “not just going about the day, but operating in crisis mode on a daily basis.”

I have struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’m 32 years old and only this year did I have the first psychologist ever ask me about my family history and acknowledge the intergenerational trauma that runs through Indigenous families.

Like many others, I have thought about taking my own life. There were a myriad of factors that led to that point, and a myriad of factors that led to me not following through. But one of the factors was the immense weight of intergenerational trauma that I believe is embedded into my heart, mind and soul and at times feels too heavy a burden to carry.

Indigenous suicide is different. Suicide is a complex issue, there is not one cause, reason, trigger or risk – it can be a web of many indicators. But with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people intergenerational trauma and the flow-on effects of colonisation, dispossession, genocide, cultural destruction and the stolen generations are paramount to understanding high Indigenous suicide rates.

When you think about the fact that most Indigenous families have been affected, in one or more generations, by the forcible removal of one or more children, that speaks volumes. The institutionalisation of our mob has had dire consequences on our sense of being, mental health, connection to family and culture.

Just think about that for a moment. If every Indigenous family has been affected by this, of course trauma is transmitted down through generations and manifests into impacts on children resulting from weakened attachment relationships with caregivers, challenged parenting skills and family functioning, parental physical and mental illness, and disconnection and alienation from the extended family, culture and society.

The high rates of poor physical health, mental health problems, addiction, incarceration, domestic violence, self-harm and suicide in Indigenous communities are directly linked to experiences of trauma. These issues are both results of historical trauma and causes of new instances of trauma which together can lead to a vicious cycle in Indigenous communities.

Our families have been stripped of the coping mechanisms that all people need to thrive and survive. And while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are resilient, we are also human.

Our history does shape us. Let’s start from colonisation. My mob the Yawuru people from Rubibi (Broome) were often brutally dislocated from our lands, and stripped of our livelihood. Our culture was desecrated and we were used for slave labour.

My great-grandmother was taken from her father when she was very young and placed in a mission in Western Australia. My grandmother and aunties then all finished up in the same mission. And two of those aunties spent a considerable time in an orphanage in Broome, although they were not orphans.

In 1907, a telegram from Broome station was sent to Henry Prinsep, the “Chief Protector of Aborigines for Western Australia” in Perth. It reads: “Send cask arsenic exterminate aborigines letter will follow.” This gives a glimpse of the thinking of the time and that of course played out in traumatic and dehumanising ways.

In the late 1940s a magistrate in the court of Broome refused my great-grandmother’s application for a certificate of citizenship under the Native Citizen Rights Act of Western Australia. Part of his reasons for refusing her application was that she had not adopted the manner and habits of civilised life.

My anglo grandfather was imprisoned for breaching the Native Administration Act of Western Australia, in that he was cohabiting with my grandmother. He was jailed for loving my jamuny (grandmother/father’s mother).

My dad lost his parents when he was 10 years old. My grandfather died in tragic circumstances – and then my grandmother, again in tragic circumstances, soon after.

My dad was collected by family in Katherine and taken to Darwin. There was a fear that he would be taken away – Indigenous families knew well the ways of the Native Welfare authorities, and I suspect they were protecting my dad from that fate. Unlike many Indigenous families, he was permitted to stay with them and became a state child in the care of our family.

My family has suffered from ongoing systematic racism and research has shown that racism impacts Aboriginal people in the same way as a traumatic event.

My family and community have suffered premature deaths from suicide, preventable health issues, grief and inextricable trauma.

We can break this cycle of trauma. We need culturally safe Indigenous-designed suicide prevention programs and to destigmatise conversations around mental health. My hope is that, by sharing my own experiences of dealing with this complex subject, other people will be able to see that intergenerational trauma affects all of our mob. The more we identify and acknowledge it, we’ll be stronger together.

NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health #ClosingTheGap : @SNAICC Chair @MbamblettMuriel Over 1200 #SNAICC2019 delegates support a call for a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s strategy

” While many other reforms are needed to support the best futures for our children, getting these things right will set us on the path to Closing the Gap in outcomes, and giving all of our children access to their fundamental rights.

We need your action now” 

SNAICC Chair Muriel Bamblett

With more than 1200 delegates meeting on the land of the Kaurna people in Adelaide, the past three days have been a truly exhilarating experience for us. We have been able to share our knowledge and experiences in raising happy, healthy and confident children in our cultures and communities.

Dusty Feet Mob performed on Day 2 of the 8th SNAICC National Conference, 2-5 Sept. 2019. From Port Augusta, S.A. Dusty Feet Mob are an Aboriginal dance group that builds a connection to culture, language, community and country through dance.

We have heard from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and practitioners who are proving that they are leading change. Where state and territory governments have invested in and committed to self-determination for our communities, we see greater outcomes for our children and families.

Our challenge going forward will be to address the disparities in funding between states, territories and the Commonwealth and varying levels of commitment.

As one voice, we call for urgent action to be taken to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have every opportunity to grow up safe and cared for in their family, community, and culture, and on country.

Our agreement on the Closing the Gap Refresh is to support the Coalition of Peaks, and pursue the three reform priorities for action to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children in the areas of child protection and in the early years.

Our key calls for action are:

1. The establishment of a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Commissioner

We have been inspired by the brilliance and leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO and South Australian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, April Lawrie.

Commissioner Oscar’s commitment to focusing on early intervention and wellbeing was highlighted yesterday. She said,

Just 17% of funding for child protection went to child and family support and prevention services while 83% has been invested in child protection services. This needs to change.”

A National Commissioner for our children must be independent, properly resourced, and have strong powers to investigate the systems that are failing our children.

2. A comprehensive National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Strategy that includes generational targets to eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care

The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children ends next year and has failed to improve outcomes for our children. The soaring rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care are a national crisis. We must start work now so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can co-design with governments a dedicated strategy that focuses on prevention and targets the drivers of child protection intervention.

We heard strong calls from Victoria Tauli-Corpuz’s, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, that Australia must adhere to international standards. The strategy must give effect to the internationally recognised human rights of our children. It must be based on our knowledge of what will work to change outcomes and seek to achieve the four building blocks of the Family Matters Campaign.

3. A dedicated funding program for integrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early years services, and an exemption to the child care ‘Activity Test’ for our families

We need a long term program to invest in integrated community-controlled early education, maternal and child health and family support services, with clear targets to increase coverage in areas of high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and high levels of disadvantage.

There should be an exemption to the Activity Test in the New Child Care Package, because that test limits participation for children in early education and undermines their fundamental rights. This will seriously impact the futures of our children.

4. An end to legal orders for permanent care and adoption for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, replaced by a focus on supporting the permanence of their identity in connection with their kin and culture

We need to stop focusing on permanent legal orders, and invest in programs that support reunification and cultural connection for children in care. Our children need continuity and to know where they are from, and their place in relation to family, mob, community, land and culture.

This too is a significant human rights issue.

While many other reforms are needed to support the best futures for our children, getting these things right will set us on the path to Closing the Gap in outcomes, and giving all of our children access to their fundamental rights. We need your action now