Aboriginal Health #NAIDOC2017 : New Aboriginal-led collaboration has world-class focus on boosting remote Aboriginal health

“One of the clear innovations that our Centre already offers is acknowledging that the principle of Aboriginal community control is fundamental to research, university and health care partnerships with regional and remote Aboriginal communities,”

Ms Donna Ah Chee Congress CEO said it was satisfying to achieve recognition for the strong health leadership and collaboration that already exists in Central Australia ( see editorial Part 3 below)

  ” The centre’s accreditation this week with the National Health and Medical Research Council proved the “landmark research” by consortium members had “huge potential” to address serious indigenous health issues.

The objective is to evaluate problems and find practical solutions fast, to prevent health problems and give speedy but lasting benefits to patients within community,”

Announcing $222,000 in seed funding, Federal Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt see full story PART 2 from the Australian below

Photo above : Traditional Arrernte owners welcome Ken Wyatt MP to Alice Springs to launch the Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre

An academic health science centre in Central Australia is the first Aboriginal-led collaboration to achieve Federal Government recognition for leadership in health research and delivery of evidence-based health care.

The Federal Minister for Indigenous Health and Aged Care, the Hon Ken Wyatt MP, today announced that the Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre (CAAHSC) was one of only two consortia nationally to be recognised as a Centre for Innovation in Regional Health (CIRH) by Australia’s peak funding body for medical research, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

To be successful in their bid, the 11-member consortium was required to demonstrate competitiveness at the highest international levels across all relevant areas of health research and translation of research findings into health care practice.

With NHMRC recognition, the CAAHSC joins an elite group of Australian academic health science centres that have so far all been based in metropolitan areas including Melbourne,

Sydney and Adelaide. The CAAHSC is also in good company internationally, with long established collaborations including Imperial College Healthcare in the UK and Johns Hopkins Medicine in the USA.

The CAAHSC, whose membership includes Aboriginal community controlled and government-run health services, universities and medical research institutes, was formally established in 2014 to improve collaboration across the sectors in support of health.

Such synergy is vital in order to make an impact in remote central Australia, considering the vast geographical area (over 1 million square kilometres) and the health challenges experienced particularly by Aboriginal residents.

The CAAHSC consortium reflects the importance of Aboriginal leadership in successful research and health improvement in Central Australia.

The Chairperson of CAAHSC is Mr John Paterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, the peak body for the Aboriginal community controlled health services sector in the NT.

With the leadership of CEO Ms Donna Ah Chee, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress was the lead partner on the group’s bid to become a CIRH.

The CAAHSC is a community driven partnership, where Aboriginal people themselves have taken the lead in identifying and defining viable solutions for the health inequities experienced in the Central Australia region.

The CAAHSC partners have a long and successful track record of working together on innovative, evidence-based projects to improve health care policy and practice in the region.

Such projects include a study that examined high rates of self-discharge by Aboriginal patients at the Alice Springs Hospital, which in many cases can lead to poor health outcomes.

This research was used to develop a tool to assess self-discharge risk which is now routinely used in care, and to expand the role of Aboriginal Liaison Officers within the hospital.

Another collaborative project designed to address the rising rates of diabetes in pregnant women involves the establishment of a patient register and birth cohort in the

Northern Territory to improve antenatal care in the Aboriginal population.

CAAHSC Chair, Mr John Paterson agrees, saying the CIRH would serve as a model for other regional and remote areas both nationally and internationally, particularly in its governance, capacity building, and culturally appropriate approaches to translational research.

Mr Paterson said he hoped NHMRC recognition would attract greater numbers of highly skilled researchers and health professionals to work in Central Australia, and that local Aboriginal people would become more engaged in medical education, research and health care delivery.

He also hopes that achieving status as a CIRH will be instrumental in attracting further resources to the region, including government, corporate and philanthropic support.

Mr Paterson said the consortium is now focussed on building a plan across its five priority areas: workforce and capacity building; policy research and evaluation; health services research; health determinants and risk factors; and chronic and communicable disease.

This will include development of research support ‘apprenticeships’ for Aboriginal people and pursuit of long-term financial sustainability.

The partners of the Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre include: Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT); Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute; Charles Darwin University; Centre for Remote Health (A joint centre of Flinders University and Charles Darwin University); Central Australian Aboriginal Congress; Menzies School of Health Research; Central Australia Health Service (Northern Territory Health); CRANAplus; Flinders University; Ngaanyatjarra Health Service and the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and Wellbeing.

1.Chronic Conditions

Chronic diseases are the most important contributor to the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Given their impact on premature mortality, disability and health care utilisation in Central Australia it is unsurprising that chronic disease has become the primary focus for addressing Indigenous Australian health disadvantage.

The Central Australia AHSC has considerable research and translation expertise with those chronic conditions that most impact the Aboriginal Australian population, including diabetes, heart disease, renal disease and depression.

Some of our focus areas are: understanding the developmental origins of adult chronic disease through targeted multi-disciplinary research focused on in-utero, maternal and early life determinants; understanding and preventing the early onset and rapid progression of heart, lung and kidney disease and diabetes within Aboriginal people, and developing and supporting capacity development of the chronic disease workforce within Aboriginal communities and health services.

2.Health Determinants and Risk Factors

In order to support the health of Central Australians, we recognise the importance of transcending boundaries between the biological, social and clinical sciences. The Central Australia AHSC takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding social gradients, their determinants, and pathways by which these determinants contribute to illness, and consequently to forwarding policy responses to reduce health inequalities.

The Central Australia AHSC is interested in exploring the role of stress, intergenerational trauma and other psychosocial factors, as well as uncovering the biological pathways by which social factors impact on cardiometabolic risk, mental illness and other conditions of relevance to Indigenous communities.

3.Health Services Research

As a regional hub servicing a high proportion of Aboriginal people spread across an extensive area, Central Australia serves as an exemplar environment through which to address critical issues of national importance – for instance, targeted and practical research focused on the National Health and Hospital Reform agenda, the ‘Close the Gap’ reforms and the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

Through health services research, the Central Australia AHSC is chiefly interested in developing and equipping primary care and hospital services with the skills, methods and tools by which to improve health care quality, appropriateness and accessibility.

Towards this goal, we are involved in developing, trialling, evaluating and establishing the cost-effectiveness of novel health system approaches to the identification, management and prevention of acute care, chronic disease and mental illness

4.Policy Research and Evaluation

The Central Australia AHSC brings together the expertise of leading clinician researchers, public health specialists and health service decision makers.

The Central Australia AHSC provides the capacity to evaluate the systems that underpin change management in health care through policy, protocol and evaluation research, and to support quality improvement processes through health provider training.

While being locally relevant, our works also informs jurisdictional and national health policy and practice in Aboriginal and remote health and implementation of national health reforms.

5.Workforce and Capacity Building

Central Australia’s health care workforce encompasses health care providers in hospitals, remote Aboriginal communities, and outreach services, including Aboriginal health practitioners, nurses, allied health providers, general practitioners and specialists.

Remoteness and the challenging work environment often translate to high levels of health provider staff turnover.

The Central Australia AHSC’s ongoing focus on professional development and capacity building facilitates health work force sustainability by providing relevant training and support and by attracting new health care providers who are also involved in research.

Workforce and capacity building undertaken by the AHSC partners includes the delivery of education programs (including tailored remote and Indigenous health postgraduate awards for doctors, nurses and allied health practitioners), growing research capacity (supervised formal academic qualifications and informal mentoring), and conducting research to inform workforce recruitment and retention.

Part 2 World-class focus on boosting remote health

Alice Springs mother Nellie Impu is part of a grim health statistic profoundly out of place in a first-world nation: one in five pregnant Aboriginal women in the Northern Territory has diabetes.

Photo : Nellie Impu, left, with Wayne, Wayne Jr and nurse Paula Van Dokkum in Alice Springs. Picture: Chloe Erlich

From the Australian July 5

For pre-existing type 2 diabetes, that’s at a rate 10 times higher than for non-indigenous women; more common gestational diabetes is 1.5 times the rate.

Mrs Impu became part of that statistic almost five years ago when she was pregnant with son Wayne. So the announcement of a new central Australian academic health science centre, led by the Aboriginal community-controlled health service sector and bringing together a consortium of 11 clinical and research groups, is a big deal for her and many women like her.

The diabetes treatment she underwent while carrying Wayne will continue for more than a decade as part of a longitudinal study.

“We know there is a link ­between mums with diabetes in pregnancy and outcomes for their babies as they grow, including ­future possibilities of type 2 diabetes, which work like this can help us track,” said research nurse Paula Van Dokkum, who works with consortium member Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.

Wayne is meeting all his childhood development targets, and his mother said the ongoing association with the centre would help her in “trying to make sure he grows up healthy and strong”.

Announcing $222,000 in seed funding, federal Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said the centre’s accreditation this week with the National Health and Medical Research Council proved the “landmark research” by consortium members had “huge potential” to address serious indigenous health issues.

“The objective is to evaluate problems and find practical solutions fast, to prevent health problems and give speedy but lasting benefits to patients within community,” Mr Wyatt said.

The academic health science centre model, well ­established internationally, brings together health services, universities and medical research institutes to better produce evidence-based care.

The Alice Springs-based enterprise will aim to tackle a ­cancer-causing virus endemic in indigenous central Australia, its only significant instance outside South America and central Africa.

The human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 causes a slow death over 20 years with leukaemia, chronic cough, respiratory problems and respiratory failure. It can be acquired through breast milk in early childhood as well as through blood or sexual contact.

A recent study found HTLV-1 infection rates in a central Australian indigenous community of more than 40 per cent. One result, the inflammatory disease bronch­iectasis, is a leading cause of death for young adults at the Alice Springs hospital.

The program will also address the soaring demand for dialysis in remote communities, with indigenous Australians five times as likely to have end-stage kidney disease than other Australians.

Alice Springs hospital is home to the largest single-standing ­dialysis service in the southern hemisphere, with 360 patients.

Part 3 Alice Springs: the Red Centre of medical innovation

London, Boston, Toronto, Melbourne … and Alice Springs.

Although there may be little in common between these major cities and the heart of Australia’s outback, an announcement this week brings the Red Centre into the company of international players in translational health research, including prestigious institutions such as Imperial College Healthcare in Britain and Johns Hopkins Medicine in the US.

This week, the Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre was given the official seal of approval by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The Central Australia consortium was one of only two centres recognised as a centre of innovation in regional health for its leadership in health research and delivery of evidence-based healthcare.

And now there’s opportunity in the Red Centre to do even more.

It may well be the most remote academic health science centre in the world, and perhaps the only academic health science centre in the world led by Aboriginal people. With such esteemed recognition for this remote, Aboriginal-led, evidence-based healthcare collaboration, it is hoped that public and private support will also follow.

As a model well established abroad and gaining momentum in Australia, academic health science centres are partnerships between health services, universities and medical research institutes whose collaborative work ensures that translational health research leads to evidence-based care and better health outcomes for patients.

For the 11 partners behind the Central Australia partnership, recognition as a centre for innovation in regional health acknowledges the outstanding collaboration that has existed in this region for several years, and particularly the leadership offered by the Aboriginal sector.

Working with the other partners in the consortium, Aboriginal community-controlled health services are taking the lead in identifying and defining viable solutions for the health inequities experienced in the region.

The work of the Central Australia partners is practical and responsive.

Interested in resolving what had become a troubling issue at Alice Springs Hospital, a resident physician researcher initiated a study that found nearly half of all admitted Aboriginal patients had self-discharged from the hospital in the past, with physician, hospital and patient factors contributing to this practice.

The research findings were used to develop a self-discharge risk assessment tool that is now routinely used in hospital care, and to expand the role of Aboriginal liaison officers within the hospital.

Considering the vast and remote geographical area — more than one million square kilometres — and the health challenges experienced particularly by Aboriginal residents who make up about 45 per cent of the region’s population of about 55,000 people, the Central Australia consortium faces unique and significant challenges. In this respect, Alice Springs may be more like Iqaluit in the Canadian Arctic than London or Baltimore.

But in other ways this relatively small academic health science centre may be at an advantage.

With its closely knit network of healthcare providers, medical researchers, medical education providers and public health experts working together, community-driven approaches to identifying issues and developing evidence-based solutions have become a standard approach in Central Australia.

In this setting of high need and limited resources, working collectively is sensible, practical and necessary.

Importantly, there is the possibility to do a lot more.

The consortium hopes such recognition will help to attract top healthcare providers and researchers, to increase educational offerings and to develop local talent, especially Aboriginal people.

The evidence is resounding. A research oasis in the desert, this centre for innovation is fertile ground for investment by government, corporations and philanthropists alike.

Donna Ah Chee is chief executive of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress. John Paterson is chief executive of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : $20 million Streamlined Support for Aboriginal Community Health Services

This is fundamental to the Turnbull Government’s policy of partnership, our commitment to doing things with, not to, the Indigenous community

Under the agreement, NACCHO will receive the funding and will form a collaborative network with its State and Territory counterpart organisations to finance and support local health services.

The agreement provides the network with funding certainty, allowing organisations to plan for the future and improve their effectiveness.”

Federal Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt


NACCHO Ken Wyatt Press Release June 20 2017

Minister Wyatt says a new Network Funding Agreement will streamline the provision of $20 million a year in health service support through the National Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisation (NACCHO).

The unified funding arrangements, signed on Friday, will allow the Commonwealth to work better with Australia’s peak indigenous community health organisation.

Minister Wyatt said the agreement was focussed on outcomes, allowing service funding to be administered through an Aboriginal-controlled agency.

“I have been hearing from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about the kind of care they want, and this agreement will help deliver it,” he said.

“We know that strong, Aboriginal-administered care plays a pivotal role in improving health outcomes, but it can face challenges supplying services on the ground.

“‘This new approach will allow service providers to access the assistance they need to enable them to deliver crucial, quality care to their clients.”

Minister Wyatt said the new network would also ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices were heard clearly at all levels of health administration.

“The aim is to streamline funding and communication, to continue our shared commitment to Closing The Gap,” he said.

Aboriginal Health #NRW2017 : @AHCSA_ and @PAFC @AFL to support new @DeadlyChoices Aboriginal health checks in South Australia


” The Deadly Choices program’s intent is to provide a measurable difference in addressing Aboriginal health issues. 

“Aboriginal people have far higher mortality rates than the average population and die at much younger ages. Despite government intentions to ‘close the gap’, the problem isn’t getting any better,

Chronic disease and preventable health conditions are taking a toll on our communities and we need to find innovative ways to move the dial toward better health outcomes.

We hope, with support from the Port Adelaide Football Club, our Deadly Choices initiative will encourage our young people to take responsibility and stop smoking, stay active and look after their own wellbeing, and that of their families.”

Aboriginal Health Council of SA chairperson John Singer

Port Adelaide has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia Ltd (AHCSA) to deliver Deadly Choices – a program that will build awareness of healthy lifestyle choices and encourage regular health checks.

‘Deadly’ is a common term used to express positivity or excellence within Aboriginal communities, and Deadly Choices is designed to help improve the excellent health choices made by Aboriginal people in South Australia.

Gavin Wanganeen ( right ) won the 1993 Brownlow Medal. Wanganeen is a descendant of the Kokatha Mula people.

The program is based on a successful model used in Queensland since 2009 with the Brisbane Broncos, developed by Adrian Carson and his team and staff at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health.

That program led to a 1300 per cent increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people undergoing health checks.

Deadly Choices provides participants with limited edition merchandise in exchange for taking part in educational programs and undergoing regular health checks.

The merchandise is provided as a ‘money can’t buy’ incentive, with revenue from undergoing health checks used to fund subsequent stages of the program.

Port Adelaide players will support the promotion of the program and encourage participants to take part in the eight-week education program to receive their Deadly Choices footy guernsey.

As part of the program:

  • Education programs will be launched in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY Lands) in collaboration with the Nganampa Health Council in June, in support of Port Adelaide’s WillPOWER program.
  • Curriculum will cover leadership, chronic disease, tobacco cessation, nutrition, physical activity, harmful substances, healthy relationships, access and health checks.
  • Health checks will be provided in the first stage of Deadly Choices by AHCSA-aligned members, which already provided comprehensive primary health care in SA.
  • Long-term partnerships with the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) are being explored to established metropolitan clinics to provide health check services.

Port Adelaide chief executive officer Keith Thomas said the decision to partner with AHCSA is a continuation of Port Adelaide’s commitment to helping forge tangible outcomes for Aboriginal communities in South Australia.

In his CEO Update, Thomas reflected on the fact 70% of Aboriginal deaths are related to chronic disease, while the life expectancy for an Aboriginal person is on average, 10 years less than the wider population.

“We are proud to partner with AHCSA to deliver Deadly Choices across South Australia,” said Mr Thomas.

“The Deadly Choices program perfectly links to the healthy lifestyle messages we promote through WillPOWER and the Aboriginal Power Cup programs.

“We’re very excited to be making a contribution to the health agenda in Aboriginal communities around South Australia.”


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

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

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

From the 15th World Congress of Public Health Melbourne 

Full 4 Page WCPH2017 Demand for Action Download


See full report article 2 below

WCPH2017 Indigenous Press Release Working Group

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

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

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

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

Nothing about us without being led by us

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

Read her full speech here on Croakey OR

Watch Video Here or Live Below


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read her Croakey article in Full HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Article 2 Health in all policies

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

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

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

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

You can access the WFPHA Call for action here:

https://t.co/MunOH2KT3N or

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Human Rights : Nomination open 2017 National Indigenous #HumanRights Awards


 ” The National Indigenous Human Rights Awards recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons who have made significant contribution to the advancement of human rights and social justice for their people.”

The awards were established in 2014, and will held annually. The inaugural awards were held at NSW Parliament House, and were welcomed by the Hon Linda Burney, MP and included key note speakers Dr Yalmay Yunupingu, Ms Gail Mabo, and Mr Anthony Mundine. A number of other distinguished guests such as political representatives, indigenous leaders and others in the fields of human rights and social justice also attended.

The Awards were presented by leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders, and leading Indigenous figures in Indigenous Social Justice and Human Rights. All recipients of the National Human Rights Award will be persons of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage.

To nominate someone for one of the three awards, please go to https://shaoquett.wufoo.com/forms/z4qw7zc1i3yvw6/
For further information, please also check out the Awards Guide at https://www.scribd.com/document/336434563/2017-National-Indigenous-Human-Rights-Awards-Guide



To an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of Human Rights for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. Dr Yunupingu is the first Aboriginal from Arnhem Land to achieve a university degree. In 1986 Dr Yunupingu formed Yothu Yindi in 1986, combining Aboriginal (Yolngu) and non-Aboriginal (balanda) musicians and instrumentation.

In 1990 was appointed as Principal of Yirrkala Community School, Australia’s first Aboriginal Principal. Also in that year he established the Yothu Yindi Foundation to promote Yolngu cultural development, including Garma Festival of Traditional Cultures Dr Yumupingu was named 1992 Australian of the Year for his work in building bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across Australia.


In memory of Eddie Koiki Mabo (1936-1992), this award recognises an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of Social Justice for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Eddie Koiki Mabo was a Torres Straits Islander, most notable in Australian history for his role in campaigning for indigenous land rights.

From 1982 to 1991 Eddie campaigned for the rights of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to have their land rights recognised. Sadly, he died of cancer at the age of 56, five months before the High Court handed down its landmark land rights decision overturning Terra Nullius. He was 56 when he passed away.



To an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of sports among Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Anthony Mundine is an Australian professional boxer and former rugby league player. He is a former, two-time WBA Super Middleweight Champion, a IBO Middleweight Champion, and an interim WBA Light Middleweight Champion boxer and a New South Wales State of Origin representative footballer. Before his move to boxing he was the highest paid player in the NRL.

In 2000 Anthony was named the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Person of the Year in 2000. He has also won the Deadly Award as Male Sportsperson of the Year in 2003, 2006 and 2007 amongst others.

He has a proud history of standing up for Indigenous peoples, telling a journalist from the Canberra Times: “I’m an Aboriginal man that speaks out and if I see something, I speak the truth.”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts : @KenWyattMP humbled by the opportunity to be an Indigenous Health Minister @AIDAAustralia @TheAHCWA


” The health outcomes of Indigenous Australians are of paramount importance to me. I am humbled by the opportunity to be the first Indigenous person to be appointed to the Commonwealth Ministry and to be the Minister responsible for such an important portfolio,”

Article 1 of 3 Below : Ken Wyatt pictured above with the other 3 Aboriginal politicians (right ) and Billy T Tompkins ( left ) doing the traditional welcome

Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt

We are very confident that Mr Wyatt, as an Aboriginal person with a long history working in health before entering politics, will have a better understanding of the issues affecting Aboriginal people’s health and wellbeing.
AHCWA and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) in WA very much look forward to working with Mr Wyatt to ensure ACCHSs continue to deliver culturally appropriate health services across WA.”

Article 2 below : AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox

“We are excited to meet with Minister Wyatt to discuss equitable health and life outcomes for Indigenous Australians and the cultural wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

AIDA is passionate about improving the health outcomes for Indigenous Australians and we are confident that our goal of growing the number of Indigenous doctors to reach population parity will significantly assist in closing the health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Article 3 Australian Indigenous Doctor’s Association ( AIDA)  CEO Mr Craig Dukes

Article 1 full text Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health Appointment

Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, MP has welcomed today’s appointment of Greg Hunt as the new Minister for Health and his own appointment as the Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health.

“It is a great honour and privilege to have been asked by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to serve as Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health,” Mr Wyatt said.

“I am thrilled that the importance of Aged Care has been recognised by the Prime Minister having been elevated to its own Ministry and I am honoured to be serving as the Minister responsible for such an important portfolio.

“Aged Care is a partnership between the consumer, their carers, the providers, the policy makers, the government and the wider community and I look forward to be able to take on this new and crucial role in that partnership.

“Consultation with the sector has been a feature of aged care reform up until now and I will ensure consultation with the sector will continue to be a cornerstone for initiatives in this area.”

In addition to being appointed the Minister for Aged Care, Mr Wyatt will also assume the newly created role of Minister for Indigenous Health.

“The health outcomes of Indigenous Australians are of paramount importance to me. I am humbled by the opportunity to be the first Indigenous person to be appointed to the Commonwealth Ministry and to be the Minister responsible for such an important portfolio,” Mr Wyatt said.

Mr Wyatt paid tribute to the people of his electorate for their support.

“I want to sincerely thank the people of Hasluck for giving me this enormous opportunity, not just as their representative, but to also serve the nation in two crucial portfolios. I am incredibly grateful for their support and humbled by their trust in me as their local representative,” Mr Wyatt said.

“I look forward to working with both Minister Hunt and Assistant Minister Dr David Gillespie.”

Article 2 Full Text The Aboriginal Health Council of WA is hopeful the new Minister for Indigenous Health will make closing the gap a priority.

Ken Wyatt was the first Aboriginal Australian elected to the Lower House and has now made history by being the first Aboriginal person appointed to the Commonwealth ministry.

AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox said the promotion of Mr Wyatt was a good sign that the government was prepared to take Aboriginal health seriously.

“Successive governments have made very slow progress in closing the gap, and the life expectancy for Aboriginal people is still 10 years lower than the general population,” she said.

“We are very confident that Mr Wyatt, as an Aboriginal person with a long history working in health before entering politics, will have a better understanding of the issues affecting Aboriginal people’s health and wellbeing.

“AHCWA and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) in WA very much look forward to working with Mr Wyatt to ensure ACCHSs continue to deliver culturally appropriate health services across WA.”

Ms Nelson-Cox said AHCWA would seek a meeting with Mr Wyatt to bring him up to date on the health needs of Aboriginal people in WA.

“We really hope that Mr Wyatt can make sure that the health of Aboriginal people is made a priority for the decision-makers in Canberra,” she said.

“We hope that this will be a new era of collaboration in the health sector and will result in better decisions and better outcomes for the health of Aboriginal people.”

Article 3 Australian Indigenous Doctor’s Association welcomes the appointment of the first Indigenous Minister

The Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA) is pleased to welcome the appointment of the Hon. Ken Wyatt AM, MP as the Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health.

We would like to recognise the significance of Minister Wyatt’s appointment as the first Indigenous person to be promoted to the ministry and the significance that the Parliament has appointed a Minister for Indigenous Health.

Minister Wyatt said “health outcomes of Indigenous Australians are of paramount importance to me. I am humbled by the opportunity to be the first Indigenous person to be appointed to the Commonwealth Ministry and to be the Minister responsible for such an important portfolio.”

We are excited by Minister Wyatt’s appointment because of his extensive experience as a senior public servant in Indigenous health and we are confident that Minister Wyatt will be able to affect real change in such an important area.”


NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: @AMSANTaus and Redfern #ACCHO welcomes @KenWyattMP appointment


Aboriginal medical services have proved the longevity of Aboriginal people, so we need the bigger spread and more Aboriginal medical services probably in the next 5-10 years.

We probably need another 100 to 150 Aboriginal medical services throughout the whole country, in cities and remote communities as well, so we’ll be pressuring Ken to make available more funds for the establishment of Aboriginal Medical Services.”

Sol Bellear AM, Chair  of the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern

It’s absolutely critical, we need people who understand our health and wellbeing and some of the important illnesses Aboriginal people get that say their non-Aboriginal counterparts don’t,

We have every confidence in Minister Wyatt, he has the experiences, the necessary qualifications, and the contacts and understanding, particularly with his expertise and knowledge having worked in Indigenous health in his past career.

He also knows a lot of leaders around the country and he knows where to get the correct information if he requires it, and we’re certainly willing, ready and able to help him if he requires it and calls upon us.”

AMSANT’S Executive Officer, John Paterson, explained it’s extremely important the minister for Indigenous Health is Indigenous.

The Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory are pleased to have Ken Wyatt as the new Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health, but have called for improvement.

Ken Wyatt was appointed yesterday as the Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health after a cabinet reshuffle brought about by the resignation of Susan Ley.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Mr Wyatt’s previous experience as a bureaucrat within the Indigenous Health area makes him an ideal appointment to role.

Sol Bellear AM, Chair  of the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, acknowledged Minister Wyatt’s long commitment to Indigenous health, but also recognised there is always room for improvement.


VIEW recent NITV NACCHOTV interview with Sol Bellear

These comments from the Indigenous medical community have not been lost on the first ever Indigenous Federal Minister, who has already called for a new approach to addressing the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Mr Wyatt says it will take a whole of government approach to create lasting change.

Mr Wyatt  told the ABC:

“There’s this construct around Aboriginal health that is based on Aboriginal Community-controlled health services and organisations and specific programs that have been funded by the Commonwealth.

But if we’re truly serious, then what we should be doing is saying, ‘alright, how does the health sector, including all the ACCHOs then tackle this issue collectively to make sure that 800 thousand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country have their health conditions improved?… the levels of, and prevalence rates of certain illnesses, tackled in a way that sees a reduction?”

AMSANT Lending a helping hand

AMSANT has been working on creating programs that tackle mental health issues, with a particular focus on intergenerational trauma.

Mr Paterson said he wants to meet with the minister as soon as possible, to present AMSANT’s research and get government support to start implementing the programs.

“We’ve done enough research, now it’s about implementation and action and that’s where we want to encourage governments,” he said.

“We have two experienced psychologists, one Indigenous psychologist, that have been working and looking at all different models overseas and internationally and we believe there are a couple of models that could be implemented in our Aboriginal communities here in our nation,” he said.

“There’s plenty of data and plenty of information, all we require is a willingness of governments and ministers to put the appropriate resources in that area.”

He added that tackling intergenerational trauma in communities could start to change the face of First Nations health entirely.

“You’ll see an increase in children’s attendance at school, their confidence, their general health and wellbeing, and you’ll see people having the confidence to approach issues that they may have been reserved or hesitant about in the past,” The Executive Officer said.

“This underlying trauma and stress that families have experienced because of whatever reasons you know – government policy back in the day, the stolen generation, the removal of kids, you know some families have never ever had some of those experiences treated,” he continued.

“And you can see it being played out now so we really need to focus and invest in some wrap around programs and the right counsellors and psychologists for those families and individuals that are experiencing this intergenerational trauma and stress.

“There is a way forward here and there is a process that can help tackle the underlying issues that many of us still face.”

Paterson said he also wants to talk to Minister Wyatt about ensuring specialist services are available in the NT, that Aboriginal Australians stop dying years earlier than their non-Aboriginal counterparts, and that preventative programs are implemented to tackle chronic diseases.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Cultural learning the key to new ways of improving Aboriginal health


” Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health training strategic plan is to expand our capacity and improve the quality of GP training in Aboriginal health settings.

We aim to develop mutually beneficial relationships by building a culturally diverse health workforce, by raising the awareness about the unique cultural history that Aboriginal people enjoy, particularly in Tasmania.”

Allyson Warrington chief executive of General Practice Training Tasmania

GENERAL Practice Training Tasmania is committed to “Closing the Gap”, through its partnership with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community.


GPTT aims to improve health outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Evidence clearly points out Aboriginal people continue to suffer a greater burden of ill health compared to the rest of the population.

Overall, they experience lower levels of access to health services, are more likely to be hospitalised for most diseases and conditions, to experience disability and reduced quality of life, and to die at younger ages than other Australians.

Aboriginal people also suffer a higher burden of emotional distress and mental illness than that experienced by the wider community.

GPs have a key service delivery role in addressing these issues. One of GPTT’s main aims is to train GP registrars to deliver high-quality, innovative, regionally based training programs that meet the primary healthcare needs of all Australians.

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health training strategic plan is to expand our capacity and improve the quality of GP training in Aboriginal health settings.

We aim to develop mutually beneficial relationships by building a culturally diverse health workforce, by raising the awareness about the unique cultural history that Aboriginal people enjoy, particularly in Tasmania.

Last year we held a Cultural Camp at trawtha makuminya, or Gowan Brae, near Bronte Park.

For two days, GP registrars from across the state enjoyed catering, cultural walks and activities with 10 Aboriginal community members, who ranged in age and experience from elders to young children.

Community members Jason Smith and Nathan Maynard guided the walks and shared information about the traditional fire burning they have been conducting on the property.

They also shared Aboriginal history and culture, showing GP registrars stone tools and the importance of our heritage.

Our GP registrars were treated to a cultural lunch — barbecued mutton-birds and kangaroo patties, with an abundance of salad and fresh fruit. They were taught some of the basic skills of basket weaving and making kelp water carriers. Participants enjoyed wearing ochre and asking lots of questions about the way the original Tasmanian aboriginals lived and survived.

The feedback from our GP registrars was around the strength of their experience and how much they were privileged to learn about the culture of Tasmania’s first people. We will continue to work with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre to deliver this experience.

In the past, GPTT has also been involved with program initiatives, including:

THE delivery of an outreach service for frail, socially isolated, elderly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with chronic diseases.

GP registrars planning and organising their learning, specifically facilitated by the Medical Director from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.

WE have also been involved through registrar and GP support across the Tasmanian Aboriginal Health Service network.

Every year, GP registrars have the opportunity to spend a significant part of their training at the Aboriginal Health Services in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie and persuade future GP registrars to choose these services as part of their GP training.

General Practice Training Tasmania has also contributed funds for the refurbishment of medical facilities and the upgrading of existing clinical rooms at the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, as well as supplying appropriate medical equipment.

General Practice Training Tasmania is committed to both continuing and improving our partnership with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : Largest study of urban Aboriginal health to continue with $2.8 million funding

Search 2016 Conference in Coogee.

“The bulk of the health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians has its origin in childhood and adolescence, but before SEARCH there was little information on the health and wellbeing of urban Aboriginal children and families.

“Working on issues identified by Aboriginal health services as priorities, the SEARCH partners have not only been able to better understand the causes of ill-health and disease among urban Aboriginal children but Aboriginal community controlled health services have been able to use the information to deliver targeted services that are making a real difference to their communities.”

Ms Sandra Bailey, CEO of the AH&MRC ( NACCHO Affiliate )

Australia’s largest and longest-running study of the health and wellbeing of urban Aboriginal children will continue thanks to a five-year $2.8 million funding commitment from the National Health and Medical Research Council. 

“SEARCH is effective because it is an active partnership between Aboriginal health services and researchers, where health services like us set the research priorities and work collaboratively to develop interventions to address the problems identified, 

“I’ve seen the difference in my community at Tharawal, with kids getting the services they need so they don’t fall behind. As an Aboriginal Medical Service, it has also given us crucial data and information that can be used across our entire community.

We know now that the SEARCH partnership model is one that could be rolled out across the country, to give even more Aboriginal communities the information and decision making powers to address local health and social issues”.

Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation CEO, Mr Darryl Wright, said SEARCH was having a real impact, with the data being used by staff at his AMS to provide better services.

The Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEARCH) is a long term research partnership involving 1600 urban Aboriginal children and their families in NSW reports NITV

Study partners include Aboriginal community controlled health services, the Sax Institute, the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) and researchers, who are focused on addressing the knowledge gap around the health of urban Aboriginal kids and families.

The information discovered as a result of the Study is then used to improve programs, services and health outcomes for those involved in the Indigenous healthcare sector.

One of the flagship programs developed as a result of SEARCH is the Hearing EAr health and Language Services (HEALS) program. With Indigenous children experiencing middle ear disease earlier, more often and with more complications than non-Indigenous children, HEALS is designed to address these issues by delivering ear nose and throat (ENT) surgery and speech and language services to kids in need.

If left untreated middle ear disease can lead to hearing loss, speech and language delays, and can hamper the kids’ ability to learn. HEALS has so far delivered more than 7000 speech and language services and ENT procedures to over 800 kids.

At the recent SEARCH annual conference, Aboriginal Medical Service staff and researchers came together to discuss Aboriginal kids’ health issues. A panel discussion heard a number of personal stories from participants about the impact of middle ear disease on their children’s development, and the need to get ear, language and speech problems resolved as quickly as possible to benefit kids’ development and education.

Latoya Terry, a Wiradjuri woman working at the RivMed Aboriginal Medical Service in Wagga Wagga, NSW, has seen the difference the HEALS program has made. “Working at RivMed I’ve seen kids go through the program and improve in their speech therapy and improve in their hearing. At school their grades have improved heaps and they are achieving so much more,” she said.

Tallulah Lett is a Kamilaroi and Bundjalung woman who works at the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation in Campbelltown in south west Sydney. As well as being the practice manager at Tharawal she is the mother to four children, two of whom are part of the SEARCH study – her daughter Marla Rai and son Zayden.

“[In school] my boy has been branded as the naughty one, but he is actually not the naughty one – he’s the one who needs grommets [in his ears] and help with his speech.”

Tallulah told the conference about the challenges her son has faced as a result of middle ear disease. “[In school] my boy has been branded as the naughty one, but he is actually not the naughty one – he’s the one who needs grommets [in his ears] and help with his speech.”

Tallulah also spoke about the important role the HEALS program has had at Tharawal – not just for the kids involved, but also in helping to build essential relationships with the local hospital.

“Having HEALS active in Tharawal has been key to closing the gap between us and the hospital system… since HEALS has come on board we’ve started to develop a referral pathway. There were 184 children in our community that needed ENT surgery – the hospital was shocked by this, but this need has always been part of the community,” she said.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #NTRC : Appalling treatment of youth highlighted at Royal Commission Inquiry


 ” I was regularly stripsearched from the age of 11 and on one occasion was left in a cell overnight with no mattress, sheets or clothes. They turned the aircon on full blast, I was freezing all night … I was actually crying asking for a blanket.

I was left handcuffed in the back of a stifling hot van during a 1400 kilometre prison transfer from Alice Springs to Darwin. On the trip, I was denied bathroom stops “

Dylan Voller now aged 19 giving evidence at the NT Royal Commission into Youth Detention about his 8 years in out of detention centres . See full evidence article 2 below

Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory ( APO NT ) congratulates the Commonwealth and NT Government on calling the Royal Commission Inquiry into Youth Detention and Child Protection.

APO NT has for many years raised with the government the shocking treatment of youth in detention and the long term effects it has on youth

Today Dylan Voller gave evidence at the Royal Commission hearing and broke his silence about his treatment by authorities in Northern Territory youth detention centres.

Finally youth feel confident to tell their stories to Australia knowing they have strong support behind them.

Today’s evidence is moving, this is Dylan’s personal story which shows how troubled his life was and how fragile he is. We congratulate Dylan for having the courage to tell his story as it is good for the public to understand how difficult life is for many youth who have been in and are currently in youth detention

What we witnessed today is a story of how the juvenile justice system in the Northern Territory denied young people in its care the opportunity to enjoy even the most basic aspects of a normal life.

APO NT supports the Royal Commission inquiry to uncover where the systems have failed and make recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices in the Northern Territory to provide a safer future for our children. ”

John Paterson CEO AMSANT (NACCHO Affiliate ) and Spokesperson for APO NT

The Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory—APO NT—is an alliance comprising the Central Land Council (CLC), Northern Land Council (NLC), North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA), Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service (CAALAS) and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT (AMSANT).

The alliance was created to provide a more effective response to key issues of joint interest and concern affecting Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, including providing practical policy solutions to government.

 Support Services thru NACCHO Members and Relationship Australia

Discussing experiences of the child protection system or time spent in youth detention can be difficult. This is especially so for people who experienced abuse and are telling their story for the first time.

If you need support you can call 1800 500 853 – a free helpline answered locally

  • This is a free service and is available 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
  • Support is available to children, young people, their families and others impacted by the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory
  • Experienced and qualified staff can refer you to a range of services including counsellors, therapeutic support, and health professionals.

Please note that calls made from a mobile phone may incur additional costs.

You can also contact the following services directly:

Danila Dilba Health Service

Services include:

  • face to face and telephone counselling,
  • support,
  • mental health support (including suicide prevention),
  • therapeutic group services, outreach, and referrals.
(08) 8942 5400 (Darwin, Palmerston and Malak)Website
Danila Dilba Health Service
Relationships Australia NT

Services include:

  • culturally appropriate support and information on how to engage with the Royal Commission and what to expect from the enquiry process,
  • face to face and telephone counselling by qualified counsellors,
  • support through legal processes,
  • referrals to legal and advocacy services,
  • pre and post counselling support to those directly affected who are giving evidence as well as their families,
  • mentoring by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural advisors, and healing camps on Country.
(08) 8923 4999 (Darwin and Katherine office with outreach to other areas) (08) 8950 4100 (Alice Springs office with outreach to other areas)Website
Relationships Australia Northern Territory
The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

Services include:

  • peer support including social, emotional, cultural, social and therapeutic support with intensive case management to young people at risk
  • support
  • outreach
  • trauma-informed counselling
  • medical support care coordination, and referrals.
(08) 8959 4750 (Alice Springs and surrounding areas)Website
Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, Alice Springs, NT

There are a number of other services available which can provide support wherever you are in the Northern Territory.

If you need support you can call the following services:

Dylan Voller gives evidence at Royal Commission

DYLAN Voller has broken his silence about his treatment by authorities in Northern Territory youth detention centres in shocking admissions at the Royal Commission.

As reported by Megan Pain News Ltd

Mr Voller’s treatment at Darwin’s Don Dale Youth Detention Centre sparked the Northern Territory child detention royal commission after footage of him shackled to a chair in a spit hood and a group of detainees being tear-gassed appeared on ABC’s Four Corners.

Mr Voller, 19, this afternoon told the commission that conditions in detention, which he first entered aged 11, were often miserable. He said detainees were regularly denied access to food, water and toilets as punishment for bad behaviour.

“There was one instance where I was in an isolation placement at Alice Springs detention centre and I was busting to go to the toilet … I had been asking for at least four or five hours,” Mr Voller said.

“They’d just been saying ‘no’.

“I ended up having to defecate into a pillow case because they wouldn’t let me out to go to the toilet.

“Eventually when I got let out the next morning, I was able to chuck that pillow case out.”

The key witness said on other occasions he was forced “to urinate out the door, out the back window, even in just normal rooms because they haven’t been able to come down”.

He said other detainees urinated out “the back window or into water bottles and chucking them out, like drink bottles and chucking them out the next day”.

Mr Voller said when guards allowed him to visit the bathroom they would only give him “five tiny little squares of toilet paper”.

“I’d go to the toilet, they’d only rip off, like, five tiny little squares of toilet paper and say: ‘That’s all you’re getting … make it last’,” Mr Voller said.

“They wouldn’t give us enough toilet paper.

“They done (sic) that quite a bit.”

According to the teen, detainees in Don Dale had to share underwear if they didn’t have enough money to buy their own. He described a prison economy where detainees could earn money through good behaviour and use it to buy items including underwear, deodorant, and CDs.

“The max you could earn was $4.50 a day and they’d take $1.50 off us every day for rent,” Mr Voller said.

“If you don’t buy your own underwear, the only other underwear you have the choice of wearing is the underwear everyone else wears.

“It gets washed, you pick out another pair, it gets washed and it goes through all of the males in Don Dale.”

The court heard Mr Voller was regularly stripsearched from the age of 11 and on one occasion was left in a cell overnight with no mattress, sheets or clothes. “They turned the aircon on full blast, I was freezing all night … I was actually crying asking for a blanket,” he said.

Mr Voller said he was left handcuffed in the back of a stifling hot van during a 1400 kilometre prison transfer from Alice Springs to Darwin. On the trip, he was denied bathroom stops and forced to defecate in his shirt.

“I threatened self-harm … choking myself with seat belts,” Mr Voller said.

He said the guards smoked heavily the whole way which made him vomit.

“I was vomiting, vomiting, I couldn’t get up, I was laying down in the chair and I was trying to break the chair so I could lay down flat,” he said.

Although poised throughout his testimony, Mr Voller’s eyes welled up on the stand, when senior counsel assisting Peter Callaghan SC moved his line of questioning to the topic of family.

“I had one case worker I remember that was saying my family didn’t really care about me and stuff like that,” Mr Voller said through tears.

“For a long time I started believing it, I guess.”

Mr Voller was this morning taken from the Darwin Correctional Centre to the Darwin Supreme Court to speak at the inquiry, which will also hear from Antoinette Carroll, a youth justice advocate who worked with Mr Voller for seven years.

This image from Four Corners screened on ABC shows Dylan Voller in the spit hood.

This image from Four Corners screened on ABC shows Dylan Voller in the spit hood.Source:ABC

The Royal Commission comes after footage screened in July showed Mr Voller and five other youths being tear-gassed and spit hooded at the Don Dale centre. Vision of Mr Voller strapped to a chair wearing a hood while in the notorious detention centre shocked many when they were screened by ABC’s Four Corners.

The court was closed but Mr Voller’s evidence was streamed online after the NT government lost a bid to delay further witnesses. He will not be cross-examined despite making allegations against 31 guards.

Other youths from Don Dale are expected to also give evidence.

According to his lawyer Peter O’Brien, Mr Voller has been eager to voice his version of events since the inquiry was announced on July 28.

Mr Voller was jailed at Holtze prison, Darwin in 2014 for a violent drug-fuelled binge.

“I’m definitely not proud of it, and it’s just humiliating and a lot of mistakes,” he said.

Both Mr O’Brien and Mr Voller’s mother, Joanne, said Mr Voller was concerned about giving evidence while still in custody and feared repercussions from prison guards.

“I have never seen my son so scared in all of his life,” Ms Voller said after visiting her son on Tuesday.

Mr Voller’s family has repeatedly called for his release from prison so he can speak freely before the commission.

He has also previously requested a transfer to Alice Springs prison.

But his mother said prison guards in Darwin have told him that going to Alice Springs would “increase his chances of getting bashed” because of its lack of CCTV cameras.

Mr Voller today told the court he finished school at age 10 and spent the following seven years in and out of care and youth detention.

He said it was during his first year in care he was first introduced to smoking marijuana and encouraged to commit crimes by older boys.

He described small, institutional rooms with painted-over windows.

“It was disgusting: cockroaches, dust, you felt trapped, you couldn’t really talk to anyone else,” Mr Voller said.

“The only bit of the outside world you got was when you were driving to court or yelling out at the top of your lungs to young people next door at the school.”

— With AAP