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

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

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

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt

Over 100 NACCHO Articles about smoking

REDUCING INDIGENOUS SMOKING TO CLOSE THE GAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Download the Evaluation 265 Page Report Cashless Debit Card trial sites

The Government has agreed to extend the Cashless Debit Card trial sites in Ceduna, South Australia and East Kimberley, Western Australia due to the strong independent evaluation results, released today and in consultation with community leaders.

Download : Initial Conditions Report; Wave 1 Interim Evaluation Report ORIMA Research

Cashless Debit Card Report

The Wave 1 Report of the independent evaluation being undertaken by ORIMA Research concluded that “overall, the [trial] has been effective to date… in particular, the trial has been effective in reducing alcohol consumption, illegal drug use and gambling – establishing a clear ‘proof-of-concept’.”

The Cashless Debit Card aims to reduce the devastating effects of welfare fuelled alcohol, drug and gambling abuse. Over time it is hoped the card will assist people to break the cycle of welfare dependency by stabilising their lives and helping them into employment.

The Report found “most stakeholders felt that excessive alcohol consumption was at a “crisis point” and was having wide-ranging negative impacts on individuals, their families and the community.”

Under the current trial, 80 per cent of welfare payments are placed onto a recipient’s card, with the remaining 20 per cent placed into their regular bank account.

The trial has consisted of 3 parts – a Cashless Debit Card, comprehensive support services to help people break their addictions, and a community leadership group to guide the design and implementation.

The Report outlines key results across the two trial sites including:

  • Alcohol – on average, of trial participants surveyed who reported that they do drink alcohol, 25% of participants and 13% of family members reported drinking alcohol less frequently, whilst 25% of participants reported engaging in binge drinking less frequently.
  • Gambling – on average, of trial participants surveyed who reported they do gamble, 32% of participants and 15% of family members reported gambling less.
  • Drug use – on average, of trial participants surveyed who reported using illegal drugsbefore the trial commenced, 24% reported using illegal drugs less often.

In addition, the evaluation data states a significant proportion (31%) of the participants surveyed indicated they had been better able to care for children and save more money.

Reductions in alcohol consumption, illegal drug use and gambling have been “largely driven by the impact of the debit card quarantining mechanism and not by the additional services provided,” according to the Report.

The Report supports other data from local partners and anecdotal feedback:

The number of pick-ups made by the Kununurra Miriwoong Community Patrol Service for Alcohol in January 2017 was 19 per cent lower than in January 2016.

Monthly poker machine revenue in Ceduna and surrounding local government areas in January 2017 is 12 per cent lower compared to January 2016.

Admissions to the Wyndham Sobering-Up Unit in September 2016 were 49 per cent lower than before the trial began in September 2015.

The senior medical officer in the East Kimberley has reported a “dramatic reduction in alcohol related presentations to the emergency department”

The Ceduna mayor says that “it is the quietest the town has been.”

Retailers in both sites report an increase in white goods, clothes, food and household items purchased since the introduction of the card.

Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, worked with the community leaders on the design and implementation of the trial and believes the results support an extension of the card.

“The card is a not a panacea, but it has led to stark improvements in these communities.

There are very few other initiatives that have had such impact.

“A large part of the success has been the close working relationship with local leaders, whohave co-designed and implemented the trial with us. The South Australian and Western Australian State Governments have also been very supportive.

“There is still a lot of work to do, but if we can continue on this path, then over time we can make these communities safe, healthy and prosperous once again,” Minister Tudge said.

The extension of the card will allow the Government to make fully informed decisions about the future of welfare conditionality. The final evaluation report by ORIMA Research is due mid-2017.

Cashless Debit Card Trial – Overview

The Commonwealth Government is looking at the best possible ways to provide support to people, families and communities in locations where high levels of welfare dependence exist alongside high levels of harm related to drug and alcohol abuse.

The Cashless Debit Card Trial is aimed at finding an effective tool for supporting disadvantaged communities to reduce the consumption and effects of drugs, alcohol and gambling that impact on the health and wellbeing of communities, families and children.

How the cashless debit card works

The cashless debit card looks and operates like a normal bank card, except it cannot be used to buy alcohol or gambling products, or to withdraw cash.

The card can be used anywhere that accepts debit cards. It will work online, for shopping and paying bills. The Indue website lists the approved merchants (link is external) and excluded merchants (link is external) for the trial.

Who will take part in the trial?

Under the trial, all recipients of working age income support payments who live in a trial location will receive a cashless debit card.

The full list of included payments is available on the Guides to Social Security Law website.

People on the Age Pension, a veteran’s payment or who earn a wage can volunteer to take part in the trial. Information on volunteering for the trial is available. Application forms for people who wish to volunteer can be downloaded from the Indue website (link is external).

How will it affect Centrelink payments?

The trial doesn’t change the amount of money a person receives from Centrelink. It only changes the way in which people receive and spend their fortnightly payments:

  • 80 per cent is paid onto the cashless debit card
  • 20 per cent is paid into a person’s regular bank account.

Cashless debit card calculator

To work out how much will be paid onto your cashless debit card, enter your fortnightly payment amount into the following calculator.

Enter amount of fortnightly Centrelink payment Calculate

Money on the card 

Use it for:

  • Groceries
  • Pay bills
  • Buy clothes
  • Travel
  • Online

Anywhere with eftpos except:

  • No grog
  • No gambling
  • No cash

   Note: 100% of lump sum payments will be placed on the card. More information is available on the Guides to Social Security Law website.

More information

For more information, email debitcardtrial@dss.gov.au (link sends e-mail) or call 1800 252 604

This weeks NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts will  include

Wednesday Job alerts Thursday NACCHO Members Good News

How to submit ? Email to Colin Cowell NACCHO Media   4.30 pm  day before publication

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Alcohol : Cashless welfare card in Indigenous communities ‘cuts use of alcohol and drugs says new report

“But what we had before the card, which is just open sort of slather of people buying heaps of alcohol with the money that they get, the amount of damage it was doing, I think that this is definitely an improvement on what we had previously,”

I  would support the card being rolled out across the country.

Yes I do, I think this is a more responsible way of actually delivering support and social services to our people regardless of what colour they are,”

Ian Trust, the executive director of the Wunan Foundation, an Aboriginal development organisation in the East Kimberley in Western Australia, said his support for the card had come at a personal cost. SEE ABC Report Photo: A Kununurra resident in WA’s Kimberley holding a cashless welfare card. (ABC News: Erin Parke)

“Inevitably, people would prefer to have fewer restrictions than more restrictions, particularly if you are an alcoholic, but the evaluation and the data shows that it is having a positive net impact on reducing alcoholism, gambling and illicit substance abuse.

The rights of the community, of the children and of elderly citizens to live in a safe community are equally important as the rights of welfare recipients.”

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said while the card was not a “panacea”, it had led to stark improvements in the trial communities, warranting an extension of the card, despite it not being popular with all welfare recipients. Reported by Sarah Martin in Todays Australian

A cashless welfare card that stops government benefits being spent on drugs and alcohol will be made permanent in two remote communities and looks set to be ­expanded, after trials found it greatly reduced rates of substance abuse and gambling.

The 175-page government commissioned review by Orima Research of the year-long trial.

The evaluation involved interviewing stakeholders, participants and their families.

It found on average a quarter of people using the card who drank said they were not drinking as often.

While just under a third of gamblers said they had curbed that habit.

The Turnbull government will today release the first major independent audit of the cashless welfare system and announce that the card will continue in Ceduna and East Kimberley, subject to six-monthly reviews.

Establishing a clear “proof of concept” in the two predomin­antly indigenous communities also paves the way for the ­Coalition to roll out the welfare spending restrictions further, with townships in regional Western Australia and South Australia believed to be under consideration.

In October, Malcolm Turnbull flagged that an expansion of the welfare card was dependent on the results of the 12-month trial, but praised the scheme’s ­initial success in reducing the amount of taxpayer money being spent on alcohol and illicit drugs.

Under the welfare shake-up, first flagged in Andrew Forrest’s review of the welfare system in 2014, 80 per cent of a person’s benefit is restricted to a Visa debit card that cannot be used for spending on alcohol or gambling products or converted to cash. After year-long trials at the two sites capturing $10 million in welfare payments, the first quantitative assessment of the scheme has found that 24 per cent of card users reported less alcohol consumption and drug use in their communities, with 27 per cent of people noting a drop in gambling.

See full details support and Q and A below from DSS

Binge drinking and the frequency of alcohol consumption by card users was also down by about 25 per cent among those who said they were drinkers ­before the trials began.

Those not on welfare saw even greater benefits, with an average of 41 per cent of non-participant community members across the two trial sites reporting a ­reduction in the drinking of alcohol in their area since the trial started. The report concluded that, overall, the card “has been effective in reducing alcohol consumption, illegal drug use and gambling — establishing a clear ‘proof-of-concept’ and meeting the necessary preconditions for the planned medium-term outcomes in relation to reduced levels of harm related to these behaviours”.

However the audit, undertaken by ORIMA Research, found that despite the community improvements, many people remained unhappy with the welfare restrictions, with about half saying it had made their lives worse, and 46 per cent reporting they had problems with the card.

This view was reversed in the wider community, with 46 per cent of non-participants saying the trial had made life in their community better, and only 18 per cent reporting that it had made life worse.

Many of the reported problems with the card were attributed to user error or “imperfect knowledge and systems” among some merchants. Of the 32,237 declined transactions between April and September last year, 86.2 per cent were because of user error, with more than half found to be because account holders had insufficient funds.

While there was a large amount of anecdotal evidence in favour of the card, there were also reports of a rise in humbugging — where family members are harassed for money — and some reports of an increase in crime linked to the need for cash, including prostitution.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said while the card was not a “panacea”, it had led to stark improvements in the trial communities, warranting an extension of the card, despite it not being popular with all welfare recipients. However, he stressed that no decision had been made to expand the card to new sites, which would require legislation.

“Inevitably, people would prefer to have fewer restrictions than more restrictions, particularly if you are an alcoholic, but the evaluation and the data shows that it is having a positive net impact on reducing alcoholism, gambling and illicit substance abuse,” Mr Tudge said. “The rights of the community, of the children and of elderly citizens to live in a safe community are equally important as the rights of welfare recipients.”

The government has introduced the card only to regions where it has the support of community leaders, allowing the Coalition to secure the backing of Labor for the two trial sites despite opposition from the Greens and the Australian Council of Social Service.

Liberal MP Melissa Price, who represents the vast West Australian regional electorate of Durack, said yesterday she was hopeful the card could be rolled out across the Kimberley, the Pilbara and the Goldfields, estimating that about half of the 52 councils in her electorate had expressed an interest in signing up.

“I know it is not popular with everybody, but we are in government and we need to make these decisions to improve people’s lives; if we don’t make changes, nothing changes,” Ms Price said.

Cashless Debit Card Trial – Overview

The Commonwealth Government is looking at the best possible ways to provide support to people, families and communities in locations where high levels of welfare dependence exist alongside high levels of harm related to drug and alcohol abuse.

The Cashless Debit Card Trial is aimed at finding an effective tool for supporting disadvantaged communities to reduce the consumption and effects of drugs, alcohol and gambling that impact on the health and wellbeing of communities, families and children.

How the cashless debit card works

The cashless debit card looks and operates like a normal bank card, except it cannot be used to buy alcohol or gambling products, or to withdraw cash.

The card can be used anywhere that accepts debit cards. It will work online, for shopping and paying bills. The Indue website lists the approved merchants (link is external) and excluded merchants (link is external) for the trial.

Who will take part in the trial?

Under the trial, all recipients of working age income support payments who live in a trial location will receive a cashless debit card.

The full list of included payments is available on the Guides to Social Security Law website.

People on the Age Pension, a veteran’s payment or who earn a wage can volunteer to take part in the trial. Information on volunteering for the trial is available. Application forms for people who wish to volunteer can be downloaded from the Indue website (link is external).

How will it affect Centrelink payments?

The trial doesn’t change the amount of money a person receives from Centrelink. It only changes the way in which people receive and spend their fortnightly payments:

  • 80 per cent is paid onto the cashless debit card
  • 20 per cent is paid into a person’s regular bank account.

Cashless debit card calculator

To work out how much will be paid onto your cashless debit card, enter your fortnightly payment amount into the following calculator.

Enter amount of fortnightly Centrelink payment Calculate

Money on the card 

Use it for:

  • Groceries
  • Pay bills
  • Buy clothes
  • Travel
  • Online

Anywhere with eftpos except:

  • No grog
  • No gambling
  • No cash

   Note: 100% of lump sum payments will be placed on the card. More information is available on the Guides to Social Security Law website.

More information

For more information, email debitcardtrial@dss.gov.au (link sends e-mail) or call 1800 252 604

This weeks NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts will  include

Wednesday Job alerts Thursday NACCHO Members Good News

How to submit ? Email to Colin Cowell NACCHO Media   4.30 pm  day before publication

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Alcohol : Draft terms of reference for a another comprehensive review of alcohol policy in the #NT

 ” The Northern Territory has the second highest alcohol consumption in the world. Misuse of alcohol has devastating health and social consequences for NT Aboriginal communities.

APO NT believes that addressing alcohol and drug misuse, along with the many health and social consequences of this misuse, can only be achieved through a multi-tiered approach.

APO NT supports evidence based alcohol policy reform, including:

  • Supply reduction measures
  • Harm reduction measures, and
  • Demand reduction measures.

To address alcohol and drug misuse within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the social and structural determinants of mental health must be addressed,

Parliamentary Inquiry into the Harmful use of Alcohol in Aboriginal Communities

On 17 April 2014, APO NT submitted their written evidence to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs on the Inquiry into the harmful use of alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities.

The APO NT submission made 16 recommendations to the committee: SEE INFO Here

Read  NACCHO Alcohol and other drugs 164 Articles over 5 years HERE

RESPONSIBLE ALCOHOL POLICY =

A SAFER COMMUNITY :  NT Government Press Release 10 March 2017

The Health Minister Natasha Fyles today released draft terms of reference for a comprehensive review of alcohol policy in the Northern Territory.

Minister Fyles said the Government was determined to tackle the cost of alcohol abuse on our community and the review will give all Territorians an opportunity to have their voices heard.

“We recognise that, while everyone has the right to enjoy a drink responsibly, alcohol abuse is a significant cause of violence and crime in our community,” Ms Fyles said.

“All Territorians have the right to feel safe, to have their property, homes and businesses secure from damage and theft.

“They also have the right to access health, police and justice services, without having critical resources diverted by the crippling effects of alcohol abuse.

“That’s why Territory Labor has consistently advocated, and implemented, a range of policies to reduce the harm caused by alcohol abuse.

“When last in Government we implemented the Banned Drinker Register (BDR), described by Police as the best tool they had to fight violent crime.

“In Opposition we were clear we would reinstate the BDR and impose a moratorium on new takeaway licences.

“Since coming to Government we have:

  • worked efficiently across agencies to bring back the BDR by September 1
  • imposed a moratorium on new takeaway liquor licences (except in exceptional circumstances) – October 2016
  • strengthened legislation to ensure Sunday trade remains limited – November 2016
  • limited the floor space for take away alcohol stores – December 2016
  • introduced new Guidelines for liquor licensing to allow for public hearings – 2 February 2017

“While some of these policies aren’t popular, their effectiveness is backed by evidence.

“This review is an important chance for the community to have their say and to ensure that all facets of alcohol policy complement our determination to make the Territory safer.

“An expert panel will be commissioned to look at alcohol policies and alcohol legislation, reporting to government on:

  • evidence based policy initiatives required to reduce alcohol fuelled crime
  • ensuring safe and vibrant entertainment precincts
  • the provision of alcohol service and management in remote communities
  • decision-making under the Liquor Act
  • the density of liquor licences (concentration, type, number and location of liquor licences ) and the size of liquor outlets

“Broad public consultation will be undertaken as part of the review, with multiple avenues for interested people, groups and communities to put forward their views.

“I look forward to hearing from not only the loudest and most powerful voices in our community, but also the many women, children, families and communities who all too often bear the cost of alcohol abuse in the Northern Territory.”

The review will start in April with a report and recommendations delivered to government in late September 2017.

The government will then develop a response to the recommendations for the development of the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy and legislative reform agenda.

These will be released publicly along with the Expert Advisory Panel’s final report.

To view the draft terms of references go to: https://health.nt.gov.au/professionals/alcohol-and-other-drugs-health-professionals/alcohol-policies-and-legislation-review

Submissions are now being accepted at:  AODD.DOH@nt.gov.au

NACCHO #IWD2017 Aboriginal Women’s #justjustice :Indigenous, disabled, imprisoned – the forgotten women of #IWD2017

 

” Merri’s story is not uncommon. Studies show that women with physical, sensory, intellectual, or psychosocial disabilities (mental health conditions) experience higher rates of domestic and sexual violence and abuse than other women.

More than 70 per cent of women with disabilities in Australia have experienced sexual violence, and they are 40 per cent more likely to face domestic violence than other women.

Indigenous women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of domestic violence than non-Indigenous women. Indigenous women who have a disability face intersecting forms of discrimination because of their gender, disability, and ethnicity that leave them at even greater risk of experiencing violence — and of being involved in violence and imprisoned

Kriti Sharma is a disability rights researcher for Human Rights Watch

This is our last NACCHO post supporting  International Women’s Day

Further NACCHO reading

Women’s Health ( 275 articles )  or Just Justice  See campaign details below

” In-prison programs fail to address the disadvantage that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners face, such as addiction, intergenerational and historical traumas, grief and loss. Programs have long waiting lists, and exclude those who spend many months on remand or serve short sentences – as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often do.

Instead, evidence shows that prison worsens mental health and wellbeing, damages relationships and families, and generates stigma which reduces employment and housing opportunities .

To prevent post-release deaths, diversion from prison to alcohol and drug rehabilitation is recommended, which has proven more cost-effective and beneficial than prison , International evidence also recommends preparing families for the post-prison release phase. ‘

Dying to be free: Where is the focus on the deaths occurring post-prison release? Article 1 Below

Article from Page 17 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper out Wednesday 16 November , 24 Page lift out Koori Mail : or download

naccho-newspaper-nov-2016 PDF file size 9 MB

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, this week  I think of ‘Merri’, one of the most formidable and resilient women I have ever met.

A 50-year-old Aboriginal woman with a mental health condition, Merri grew up in a remote community in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. When I met her, Merri was in pre-trial detention in an Australian prison.

It was the first time she had been to prison and it was clear she was still reeling from trauma. But she was also defiant.

“Six months ago, I got sick of being bashed so I killed him,” she said. “I spent five years with him [my partner], being bashed. He gave me a freaking [sexually transmitted] disease. Now I have to suffer [in prison].”

I recently traveled through Western Australia, visiting prisons, and I heard story after story of Indigenous women with disabilities whose lives had been cycles of abuse and imprisonment, without effective help.

For many women who need help, support services are simply not available. They may be too far away, hard to find, or not culturally sensitive or accessible to women.

The result is that Australia’s prisons are disproportionately full of Indigenous women with disabilities, who are also more likely to be incarcerated for minor offenses.

For numerous women like Merri in many parts of the country, prisons have become a default accommodation and support option due to a dearth of appropriate community-based services. As with countless women with disabilities, Merri’s disability was not identified until she reached prison. She had not received any support services in the community.

Merri has single-handedly raised her children as well as her grandchildren, but without any support or access to mental health services, life in the community has been a struggle for her.

Strangely — and tragically — prison represented a respite for Merri. With eyes glistening with tears, she told me: “[Prison] is very stressful. But I’m finding it a break from a lot of stress outside.”

Today, on International Women’s Day, the Australian government should commit to making it a priority to meet the needs of women with disabilities who are at risk of violence and abuse.

In 2015, a Senate inquiry into the abuse people with disabilities face in institutional and residential settings revealed the extensive and diverse forms of abuse they face both in institutions and the community. The inquiry recommended that the government set up a Royal Commission to conduct a more comprehensive investigation into the neglect, violence, and abuse faced by people with disabilities across Australia.

The government has been unwilling to do so, citing the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguard Framework as adequate.

While the framework is an important step forward, it would only reach people who are enrolled under the NDIS. Its complaints mechanism would not provide a comprehensive look at the diversity and scale of the violence people with disabilities experience, let alone at the ways in which various intersecting forms of discrimination affect people with disabilities.

The creation of a Royal Commission, on the other hand, could give voice to survivors of violence inside and outside the NDIS. It could direct a commission’s resources at a thorough investigation into the violence people with disabilities face in institutional and residential settings, as well as in the community.

The government urgently needs to hear directly from women like Merri about the challenges they face, and how the government can do better at helping them. Whether or not there is a Royal Commission, the government should consult women with disabilities, including Indigenous women, and their representative organizations to learn how to strengthen support services.

Government services that are gender and culturally appropriate, and accessible to women across the country, can curtail abuse and allow women with disabilities to live safe, independent lives in the community.

Kriti Sharma is a disability rights researcher for Human Rights Watch

 

croakey-new

How you can support #JustJustice

• Download, read and share the 2nd edition – HERE.

Buy a hard copy from Gleebooks in Sydney (ask them to order more copies if they run out of stock).

• Send copies of the book to politicians, policy makers and other opinion leaders.

• Encourage journals and other relevant publications to review #JustJustice.

• Encourage your local library to order a copy, whether the free e-version or a hard copy from Gleebooks.

• Follow Guardian Australia’s project, Breaking the Cycle.

Readers may also be interested in these articles:

NACCHO Aboriginal #prevention Health : #ALPHealthSummit : With $3.3 billion budget savings on the table, Parliament urged to put #preventivehealth on national agenda

prevention-copy

 ” Recently the Federal Government has spoken in favour of investment in preventive health.

 In an address to the National Press Club in February this year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, “in 2017, a new focus on preventive health will give people the right tools and information to live active and healthy lives”.

Health Minister Greg Hunt echoed that sentiment on 20 February announcing the Government was committed to tackling obesity.

Prevention 1st, however, argues the need for a more comprehensive, long-term approach to the problem. Press Release

mathew-cooke

NACCHO was represented at the #ALPHealthSummit by Chair Matthew Cooke pictured above with Stephen Jones MP

Leading health organisations are calling on the Commonwealth to address Australia’s significant under-investment in preventive health and set the national agenda to tackle chronic disease ahead of Labor’s National Health Policy Summit today.

Chronic disease is Australia’s greatest health challenge, yet many chronic diseases are preventable, with one third of cases traced to four modifiable risk factors: poor diet, tobacco use, physical inactivity and risky alcohol consumption.

Adopting preventive health measures would address significant areas flagged as critical by the both major parties, including ensuring universal access to world-class healthcare, preventing and managing chronic disease, reducing emergency department and elective surgery waiting times, and tackling health inequalities faced by Indigenous Australians.

prevention-copy-2

Prevention 1st – a campaign led by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF Australia), and Alzheimer’s Australia – is urging the ALP to adopt the group’s Pre-Budget submission recommendations as part of the party’s key health policy framework.

FARE Chief Executive Michael Thorn says it is up to federal policymakers to address Australia’s healthcare shortfalls and that Labor has the perfect opportunity to reignite its strong track record and lead the way in fixing the country’s deteriorating investment in preventive healthcare.

“Australia’s investment in preventive health is declining, despite chronic disease being the leading cause of illness in Australia. Chronic disease costs Australian taxpayers $27 billion a year and accounts for more than a third of our national health budget. The ALP has both the opportunity and a responsibility as the alternate government to set the national agenda in the preventive healthcare space. Ultimately, however, it falls to the Government of the day to show leadership on this issue,” said Mr Thorn.

Its Pre-Budget submission 2017-18, Prevention 1st identifies a four-point action plan targeting key chronic disease risk factors.

Prevention 1st has called for Australia to phase out the promotion of unhealthy food and beverages, and for long overdue national public education campaigns to raise awareness of the risks associated with alcohol, tobacco, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition. Under the proposal, these measures would be supported by coordinated action across governments and increased expenditure on preventive health.

The costed plan also puts forward budget savings measures, recommending the use of corrective taxes to maximise the health and economic benefits to the community. Taxing products appropriate to their risk of harm will not only encourage healthier food and beverage choices but would generate much needed revenue – around $3.3 billion annually.

With return on investment studies showing that small investments in prevention are cost-effective in both the short and longer terms, and the opportunity to contribute to happier and healthier communities, Consumers Health Forum of Australia Chief Executive Officer Leanne Wells urged both the Australian Government and Opposition to take advantage of the opportunity to stem the tide of chronic disease.

“There is an obvious benefit in adopting forward-thinking on preventive healthcare to reduce pressure on the health budget and the impact of preventable illness and injury on society,” Ms Wells said.

The ALP National Health Policy Summit will be held at Parliament House in Canberra on Friday 3 March.


View the submission

View media release in PDF

NACCHO Aboriginal #Healthmatters : @AustralianLabor National #HealthPolicy Summit Agenda this week and getting evidence into health policy

smoking-nr

Question to the Honourable Nicola Roxon, former Australian Labor Minister for Health and Ageing (2007–2011) : Can you give an example of this more courageous leadership during your time as minister?

A: One example is a cause close to my heart: Australia’s introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products. We are proud to be world leaders in introducing our shocking and ugly plain packs, and even more proud of the lively discussion and action it is generating elsewhere around the world on the future of tobacco control.

Picture above : Lessons learnt : Plain packaging for tobacco products is a great example of implementing good health policy where trusted health organisations worked across political groups, provided expert research and supported the government to take action

What’s planned for this weeks Labor National Health Policy Summit 

According to the Federal Opposition, Labour will build on a legacy as the party of health care reform by hosting a National Health Policy Summit next Friday 3 March in Canberra , led by Leader of the opposition Bill Shorten and Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King :

See interim Full day Agenda below

 “One of the most challenging aspects of the current Government is the complete lack of any vision for health in Australia. Instead of building our health system up and preparing for the future, the tenure of the Abbott/Turnbull Governments has been characterised by cuts and chaos.

Not only does our health system deserve more – it needs more. The government simply isn’t filling this space, so Labor will.”

The National Health Policy Summit will put the people who know best at the centre of health discussions – giving patients, providers, stakeholders and experts a much-needed voice in health reform.

It will give representatives the chance to not only contribute to our health debate, but to challenge the direction of our health system.

Labor has a long history of reforming Australia’s healthcare system for the benefit of all.”

 NACCHO Note : Both NACCHO and Croakey will be covering

croakey-new

See Croakey Coverage

We welcome articles and press releases from all political parties

Interview with the Hon. Nicola Roxon:

Getting evidence into health policy

Editor-in-Chief of Public Health Research & Practice, Don Nutbeam spoke to the Honourable Nicola Roxon, former Australian Labor Minister for Health and Ageing (2007–2011), to gain some insight into the process, and advice on how to engage most productively with government.

Q: Often ministers and policy makers must try to make good policy decisions in areas where evidence is incomplete or contested. What strategies or processes did you employ when trying to make good public health decisions at a federal level when the evidence was insufficient? What were the main challenges involved and how did you overcome them?

A: I think it is very rare for ministers or governments to want to make decisions where evidence is incomplete or contested (provided the contest is real, not fabricated by vested interests). There are so many competing, worthy, evidence based causes – especially in health – that these will usually be given priority. However, in a crowded political agenda, having a worthy cause isn’t always enough to capture the imagination of government. The biggest single mistake I saw when I was Health Minister was repeated over and over again, by decent, hard-working researchers, medicos and advocates – and it was the naive assumption that, because they were working on something good, or had developed a worthy project, the government would therefore act on it.

As a minister, I was able to act on some fabulous ideas, and I’m proud of that. But many good ideas were not acted upon – often because of financial constraints, but also many other reasons played a role.

Just because your idea is good, even worthy, isn’t enough.

Q: So, how does evidence inform policy decisions in the real world?

A: To get real decisions and actions in your area, you must think closely and carefully about who you are putting your evidence to, their needs and priorities, and why your proposal will help them. In a world where most interventions cost money – and, in health, usually a lot of money – simply appealing to their good nature is too simplistic. You need to make it easy for decision makers to see how acting on your idea is worth taking up time, money and political energy.

Knowing what is going on in the decision maker’s portfolio, what is troubling them, what is taking up their time and giving them sleepless nights helps you find a way to fit your issue into their thinking space. Start by putting yourself in the position of the minister you want to take action. Do you know what they are trying to achieve? Have you read any of their speeches or policies or recent interviews? Demonstrating your understanding of their issues and pressures is good manners, but also helps you shape your pitch to their current interests or pressures.

For example, when the Australian Government announced health reform negotiations with the states, a few groups came to us with proposals that could be part of those discussions. Not all were successful, but it showed they were tuned in to opportunities, and ready to make the most of them in a way that might suit government.

Even a scandal or problem can sometimes be a chance to offer a helpful solution. It might help solve the problem, or detract from it! Either way, this might be welcome.

The more in tune you are with the decision maker’s pressures, the more likely you are to be agile and think laterally, to find good opportunities to raise your cause at the right time.

Q: When these opportunities present themselves, what is the best way to communicate?

A: Are you clear on what you would say and how you would say it if you got a brief chance to pitch your idea? A lot of people talk about having an ‘elevator pitch’ – this is the idea of what you would say if you were, by good luck, in an elevator with the decision maker. Could you explain your idea simply? And quickly enough?

The aim is to first capture the imagination of the decision maker – get them to be interested in your idea, impressed with your focus and your offer to help them.

I had too many meetings to recall where people tried to download 20 years of in-depth research in a 10-minute meeting – the minister needs to know it is there, to appreciate your expertise or credibility, but they don’t need to be able to present a paper on it to the next technical meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO)!

Stick to the headline message or your core thesis to support a proposal – then you can leave the detailed summary for an adviser or official to mull over.

What you want from your meeting is to spark enough interest that the minister asks for more work to be done on your issue – not that they decide to write a book on it. Worse, your clear message will be diluted or lost if you try to do too much in a short meeting.

Q: What do you say to the researchers who feel that their work is ignored?

A: I am frustrated that governments are almost universally criticised for not taking action on public health. Sometimes that criticism of governments is fair and well based. We are right to expect courage and leadership from our governments. But, in truth, criticism of governments is also sometimes lazy. It can be easier to criticise a government for not acting on your issues than to ask whether you’ve done all you can to help them take that decision.

From the perspective of a former minister, I want to urge researchers, advocates and clinicians to assess whether they have done all they can to create a fertile environment to encourage government leadership. When they do, governments will provide leadership.

Q: Can you give an example of this more courageous leadership during your time as minister?

A: One example is a cause close to my heart: Australia’s introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products. We are proud to be world leaders in introducing our shocking and ugly plain packs, and even more proud of the lively discussion and action it is generating elsewhere around the world on the future of tobacco control.

I have been very flattered, and often overwhelmed, by the recognition I get from introducing this measure. But the truth that ought to be acknowledged is that there were many people and many factors that made this courageous public health decision a good one for government, and easier than people imagine.

What made us choose this courageous path, when there were so many other competing issues on the table? It offers a good case study about advocacy.

The work of so many researchers, advocates, doctors, past governments, journalists and ordinary Australians moved this seemingly courageous decision into a political ‘sweet spot’. Ultimately, it was a good policy decision that was good politics too.

It was an inexpensive policy with high impact; a policy with lots of supporters and a disliked opponent (the tobacco industry); a highly visible policy that complemented other measures important to the government, but perhaps less ‘sexy’.

On each of these issues, advocates and supporters of the initiative sought to make the necessary links to our broader health reforms, our fresh focus on prevention and our interest in Indigenous health.

And it helped that the public had responded well in the past to tobacco control interventions, showing the huge benefits of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control measures. The research was strong, and the international treaty on tobacco (the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) supportive.

Q: What role would you expect from civil society in this process?

A: The Cancer Council and Heart Foundation in Australia were the rolled-gold best examples of this on plain packaging – they worked across political groups, and had expert research as well as highly responsive media teams. They are trusted voices for consumers and were prepared to use that voice to not just criticise, but to help government act, as well. Their expertise and advice were vital.

Their advice on potential problems was also invaluable to the government. In tobacco control, you need a good working knowledge of international tobacco control developments and global industry tactics. Being carefully prepared for attacks is smart for governments, but just as vital is for other civil society participants to be ready to explain to the media or to parliamentary committees.

Q: What of more contested issues, such as alcohol regulation and tackling obesity in the population?

A: In Australia, it has been harder to garner support for strong interventions on alcohol and obesity. On obesity in particular, the mixed approaches from advocates and researchers about what is needed to be successful have made it more difficult for governments to act decisively. When multifactorial approaches are likely to be needed, this can make the ‘ask’ confusing – governments often want a clear plan, or a clear starting point. In some public health areas, it is often hotly contested where one should start.

With alcohol, at least in Australia, it is sometimes difficult to find the lever. Do we target individuals or the community? Consumers or business? And it can be even more perplexing with food, where mixed messages make the need to improve public awareness of the risks of obesity even more complicated.

The challenge to advocates on these issues and most other public health priorities is to find that lever – the right lever, at the right time for the decision maker you are trying to convince. Be careful, of course, not to weaken the argument by going in too many directions at once.

Developing alliances across consumers, clinicians, advocates and researchers will always be very powerful. The same proposal from multiple groups gives your argument weight and depth. Instead of all asking for something slightly different, if you can agree on one major initiative or a good starting point, it is a very much more convincing request. It automatically lifts it above the 20 other meetings and requests the minister has that day. You can be confident that everyone else asking the minister for something that day will probably not have done that work – so it is a way to make your cause better and more attractive, easier to sit up and take notice.

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What’s planned for the Summit

Labor says the Summit will bring together more than 130 of Australia’s leading thinkers on health to be part of roundtable discussions via a packed program, with two blocks of four concurrent sessions, led by Shadow Ministers and leading health figures.

The event will begin with a welcome from Shadow Health Minister Catherine King and a keynote from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and will end with a panel discussion between chairs to report back on the following policy roundtables (see also the co-chairs, some who are still to be announced).

1.Opportunities and challenges in our health sectors

Protection, prevention and promotion

Public Health Association of Australia CEO Michael Moore
Stephen Jones, Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government Stephen Jones.

  • the preventable chronic disease crisis
  • risk factors
  • protective factors

Primary, secondary and community care

 Sharon Claydon, Chair, Medicare Caucus Committee

  • general practice
  • specialist primary health
  • allied health
  • pathology & imaging
  • pharmacy & medicines
  • dental

 Hospitals

Brian Owler, former President, Australian Medical Association

  • post-2020 public hospital funding
  • reducing emergency department and elective surgery waiting times
  • interaction between public and private hospitals
  • private health insurance
  • improving quality, safety and value in hospitals
  • outpatient clinics

Mental health and suicide prevention

Frank Quinlan, Mental Health Australia and Sue Murray, Suicide Prevention Australia
Julie Collins, Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health

Mental health priorities

  • Mental health reform
  • Measuring outcomes
  • Stigma and awareness
  • Workforce

Suicide reduction priorities

  • Early intervention and prevention
  • Integrated services
  • Research and data collection

2.Where to for health reform?

Ensuring universal access for all Australians

Dr Stephen Duckett, Grattan Institute
Jenny Macklin, Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services

  • access, including out-of-pocket costs and waiting times
  • integration of primary care
  • coordination of primary, secondary and acute care
  • health financing

Designing our health workforce for the future

Professor Mary Chiarella, Sydney University
Tony Zappia, Shadow Assistant Minister for Medicare

  • future health service needs
  • health workforce reform
  • Commonwealth health workforce programs

Tackling health inequality and other whole-of-government challenges

 Professor Sharon Friel, Australian National University
Mark Butler, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy

  • Regional, rural and remote health
  • Indigenous health
  • Other health inequalities
  • Interface with aged care
  • Interface with NDIS
  • Other social policy issues
  • Climate change and health

Innovation across our health system

Professor Christine Bennett AO, School of Medicine, Sydney, The University of Notre Dame Australia and past Chair of Research Australia
Murray Watt, Senate Community Affairs Committee

  • Health, medical and translational research
  • eHealth and digital technologies
  • Safety and quality
  • Precision medicine
  • New technologies
  • Partnerships and collaboration.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders #FASD : Community participation is a key principle in effective health promotion

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 ” Community participation is a key principle in effective health promotion. Gurriny have used a whole-of-community approach by involving the five above mentioned target groups when designing their FASD prevention activities.

Gurriny consulted with women of childbearing age to learn about their views and attitudes towards alcohol, and assed their current knowledge about the harms associated with drinking in pregnancy. It was also important for health professionals to understand what types of alcoholic drinks women of child bearing age were consuming and how much.

For further information about the FASD Prevention and Health Promotion Resources Project please contact Bridie Kenna on 0401 815 228 or bridie.kenna@naccho.org.au

Read 17 Articles about FASD

Menzies School of Health Research have partnered with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) to develop a package of resources to reduce the impacts of FASD on the Aboriginal population.

FASD is a diagnostic term used for a spectrum of conditions caused by fetal alcohol exposure. Each condition and its diagnosis is based on the presentation of characteristic features which are unique to the individual and may be physical, developmental and/or neurobehavioural.

The package of resources is based on the model developed by the Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service (OVAHS). OVAHS is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service located in the far north east region of the Kimberly in Western Australia. OVAHS services Aboriginal people in the remote town of Kununurra and surrounding regions.

The package incorporates FASD education modules targeting five key groups:

  • Pregnant women using New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services (NDMBS) antenatal services, and their partners and families;
  •  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women of childbearing age;
  •  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander grandmothers;
  •  NDMBS staff who provide antenatal care
  •  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

To complement the package of resources, two day capacity building workshops for the 85 New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services (NDMBS) were held in Darwin, Cairns, Melbourne (TAS, VIC and SA sites combined), Perth and Sydney. The aim of the training workshops was to enable NDMBS sites to develop, implement and evaluate community-driven strategies and solutions by:

i. Increasing awareness and understanding of alcohol use during pregnancy, and FASD;

ii. Increasing awareness and understanding of existing FASD health promotion resources;

iii. Increase understanding, skills and capacity to use existing FASD health promotion resources within NDMBS, in line with their capacity, readiness and community circumstances and needs.

Staff from Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service (Gurriny) participated in the Queensland FASD training workshop in April. Since then, Gurriny have thrived in the area of FASD prevention by implementing multiple strategies within their community.

A key component of the FASD training workshop was highlighting the importance of routine screening of women about alcohol use during pregnancy. Assessment of alcohol consumption, combined with education in a supportive environment can assist women to stop or significantly reduce their alcohol use during pregnancy. A number of screening tools were introduced at the workshop including AUDIT-C (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test – Consumption), which Gurriny have now incorporated into their own data recording system. This tool has three short questions that estimate alcohol consumption in a standard, meaningful and non-judgemental manner.

Gurriny now places great emphasis on providing routine screening of women about their alcohol use during all stages of pregnancy and recording results in clinical records at each visit. Health professionals at Gurriny often use brief intervention and motivational interviewing techniques to guide conversations about alcohol and pregnancy.

This is of particular significance when working with pregnant women, as there are multiple opportunities through routine antenatal care to provide support through the stages of change. There is sound evidence that motivational interviewing and brief interventions can decrease alcohol and other drug use in adults. Both practices are listed in the Royal Australian College of General Practice (RACGP) guidelines as an effective strategy for positive behaviour change.

It is estimated that over half of all pregnancies in Australia are unplanned and many Australian women are unknowingly consuming alcohol during pregnancy. Providing women of childbearing age with reliable information about the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and the importance of contraception use if they are not planning a pregnancy are essential strategies in preventing FASD. Staff at Gurriny have pre-conception discussions about healthy pregnancies and FASD prevention with women who cease contraception use and may be planning a pregnancy. Women are provided with reliable information in a supportive environment to help them make informed decisions.

Knowledge transfer strategies are a key component to ensure new information is shared and retained within the service and community. Members from Gurriny’s Child and Maternal Health team have shared the package of resources and new skills gained at the workshop with a number of their colleagues, both clinical and administrative. They have also shared the new information with relevant health professionals from external organisations, including the local hospital. This assists in developing a more consistent approach to FASD prevention and maximises available resources in the community. Gurriny have made links with other health and community services within the Yarrabah community to develop a coordinated, strategic approach to FASD prevention.

Community participation is a key principle in effective health promotion. Gurriny have used a whole-of-community approach by involving the five abovementioned target groups when designing their FASD prevention activities.

Gurriny consulted with women of childbearing age to learn about their views and attitudes towards alcohol, and assed their current knowledge about the harms associated with drinking in pregnancy. It was also important for health professionals to understand what types of alcoholic drinks women of child bearing age were consuming and how much.

Based on the findings, laminated cards were developed which show the number of standard drinks in each serving according to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) alcohol guidelines. These cards are used in both one-on-one and group based education sessions. There is no safe level of alcohol consumption at any stage of pregnancy; this message is emphasised at all opportunities with women of childbearing age.

Raising community awareness is a key strategy in successful health promotion. Gurriny have a strong presence in the Yarrabah community and often attend health and community events to raise awareness of the harms associated with drinking in pregnancy and FASD.

Health staff make use of any opportunity to raise awareness, share information and prompt people to think about making positive changes to their own drinking behaviour, or support others to do so.

Additional awareness raising strategies include showing FASD prevention DVD’s on iPad’s in clinic waiting rooms, demonstrating the concept of the invisible nature of FASD disability by using demonstration FASD dolls in education sessions, and having posters about healthy pregnancies and FASD prevention in clear view throughout the clinic.

Health promotion is most effective when multiple strategies are used which target not only the individual, but the community at large. It is evident Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service is using this approach in order to reach the best possible health outcomes for women, children and families.

For further information about the FASD Prevention and Health Promotion Resources Project please contact Bridie Kenna on 0401 815 228 or bridie.kenna@naccho.org.au

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Drug #Ice :Applications close 8 February for local community drug action teams to tackle ice

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“These Local Drug Action Teams will provide a structure to unite communities so they can work together more effectively, They will drive community action to reduce demand for drugs such as ice and reduce the harm associated with alcohol and other drugs more broadly.

“Stronger prevention action will help individuals and families to avoid the destruction that ice is causing, especially in rural and regional communities.”

Minister for Health, Sussan Ley

A program to help local communities tackle the impact of ice through 220 community-based local action teams across Australia over the next four years was announced just before Xmas by the Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, as part of the National Ice Action Strategy.

She said that local councils, schools, police, youth services, primary health and treatment services, community groups, non-government organisations (NGOs) and community members would be eligible to be members of a Local Drug Action Team.

More info : http://adf.org.au/community/our-programs/local-drug-action-teams/

Funding of $19.2 million has been provided to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (formerly the Australian Drug Foundation) to administer the community-based action teams. Applications for communities wishing to form a local team opened  (23 December 2016) and will close on 8 February 2017.

Ms Ley said development of community-based teams was a direct response to the Government’s National Ice Taskforce’s call for more locally-tailored strategies to address local issues to strengthen prevention activities and reduce demand for drugs such as ice.

There will be ongoing opportunities through 2017 and 2018 for communities who want to form teams but miss out in the first application process. The first group of 40 local community teams will be determined by early 2017.

Interested groups and individuals can find more information on the program on the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s website.

The Local Drug Action Team initiative is part of the Australian Government’s investment of $298 million investment over four years to reduce the impact of drugs and alcohol.

Alcohol and Drug Foundation chief executive officer John Rogerson welcomed the partnership with the Australian Government.

“Building community partnerships to develop locally-based and locally-delivered solutions is the key to reducing alcohol and drug related harm,” he said.

“These community teams will be on the ground in your neighbourhood playing a key role in implementing unique prevention programs that are tailored to their community’s issues.

“They will also give much-needed support to those impacted by ice, other illegal drugs and alcohol.”

Ms Ley has also announced funding for expansion of a program run by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation to tackle illegal drugs by providing education and awareness programs through 1200 local sporting clubs.

The new program is an extension of the Foundation’s successful grass-roots Good Sports program, which encourages cultural change in behaviours and attitudes to drug and alcohol use in sporting clubs. The program has helped more than 7,000 clubs nationwide.

“People aged 20 to 29 years are among the highest users of illicit drugs and many people in this age group are also members of local sporting clubs,” Ms Ley said.

“This program will be an important part of encouraging these young people to talk about drugs, as well as providing information for people who might need help and support.”

For more information on Local Drug Action Teams see www.adf.org.au/ldat

For more information on Good Sports see www.adf.org.au/good-sports

and from Team NACCHO

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For NACCHO Media Contact

Colin Cowell Editor 0401 331 251

Email mailto:nacchonews@naccho.org.au

NACCHO Aboriginal #HealthyFutures : 2017 #Prevention Resolutions and Reconciliation for Federal Govt :

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“We know that where you live greatly impacts on your health.

However, it is also important to acknowledge that such differences are more likely attributable to the socio-economic circumstances and the spread of wealth within these regions rather on the locations themselves.

Four PHAA New Year’s resolutions for governments in 2017:

1. Develop and implement a National Food and Nutrition Plan to provide national guidance and consistency

2. Stop the marketing of ‘junk food’ to children

3. Implement a sugar tax and invest the money generated in to public health initiatives

4. Greater investment in targeted anti-tobacco campaigns

Resolutions  2017  : Michael Moore CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).

 ” Sections of the media writing off the outcome of consultations around constitutional recognition, after the first of 12 discussions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in Hobart just over a week ago, are selling the nation short.

This is the first time Indigenous Australians have been authorised to design and undertake their own nationwide consultation process and it concerns the future of a relationship that has been fraught from the start.”

Reconciliation 2017 : Is it too early to write off Aboriginal reconciliation see article 2 below

Photo above File footage It is not every day that Santa Claus himself visits Ramingining, a remote community 560 kilometres east of Darwin in Arnhem Land. Thanks  Ronnie Garrawurra for your portrayal of the  ” big black man man in red.”

Latest AIHW Healthy Communities data provides for New Year’s resolutions for governments

The latest health data released from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has provided for some important New Year’s resolution for the government to improve the health of all Australians.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @AIHW download 3 reports Alert :

Obesity and smoking rates higher in regional Australia

And NACCHO Healthy Futures report Card

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The data, which has been separated in to local areas including Primary Health Networks (PHN), shows ongoing disproportionate health differences between metropolitan and regional/rural areas.

For example, those living in the Western NSW PHN are 30% more likely to be overweight or obese and more than three times more likely to smoke than those living in Northern Sydney PHN. This puts them at high risk of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Variations in health risk and outcome is evident in differences between metropolitan areas even when there is not much distance between areas. In these cases geographical differences can still be substantial. One example is the overweight and obesity rates between Eastern Melbourne PHN (65.9%) and South Eastern Melbourne PHN (59.3%).

The government must take action to address these health issues which are two of the biggest yet preventable risk factors for chronic disease and premature death.

New Year’s Resolutions for governments

Each year on 1 January millions of Australians make New Year’s resolutions to improve their own health.

“In the lead up to 2017 the PHAA calls on governments to make four New Year’s resolutions to help Australians improve their health wherever they live” continued Mr Moore.

Four New Year’s resolutions for governments in 2017:

1. Develop and implement a National Food and Nutrition Plan to provide national guidance and consistency

2. Stop the marketing of ‘junk food’ to children

3. Implement a sugar tax and invest the money generated in to public health initiatives

4. Greater investment in targeted anti-tobacco campaigns

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health Alert #GetonTrack Report :

The ten things we need to do to improve our health

“The Healthy Communities report comes one week after the launch of the Getting Australia’s Health on Track by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration and the joint policy on food security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

These documents reinforce the need for significant action by government to address preventable illnesses,” added President of the PHAA David Templeman.

“Getting Australia’s Health on Track and the Healthy Communities reports provides us with a guide forward. This is of particular importance in relation to the concerted effort required to improve the health and wellbeing not only of people in rural and remote areas, but particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People,”

“We know what is needed. The time for the government to act is now,” concluded Mr Templeman.

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It’s way too early to write off Aboriginal reconciliation

Sections of the media writing off the outcome of consultations around constitutional recognition, after the first of 12 discussions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in Hobart just over a week ago, are selling the nation short.

This is the first time Indigenous Australians have been authorised to design and undertake their own nationwide consultation process and it concerns the future of a relationship that has been fraught from the start.

The very least we should expect of ourselves as a nation is to respectfully allow that process – 12 dialogues undertaken in cities and regional centres across Australia, culminating in a convention at Uluru next April – to play out.

As The Age‘s Michael Gordon wrote on Saturday, we need to “allow the Indigenous consultation process on recognition to run its course, confident that all options for constitutional change will be seriously canvassed before and at a convention at Uluru in April”.

The task of the Referendum Council is to advise the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader on a way forward that is both acceptable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and likely to be supported by the Australian electorate more broadly via a referendum.

That task necessarily involves respectful consultation with Indigenous Australians, and will inevitably uncover a broad spectrum of views on what meaningful recognition would look like to them.

This approach is entirely consistent with Article 19 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which Australia formally endorsed in 2009. It obliges states to “consult and co-operate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them”.

Free prior and informed consent represents the best practice standard for the involvement of Indigenous peoples in decisions that affect them, and it goes well beyond a mere box-checking exercise. It is the collective right of Indigenous peoples under international law, which serves to safeguard other rights.

To break the concept down into its constituent parts:

• “Free” means free from manipulation, intimidation or coercion

• “Prior” means occurring well in advance of any decision-making, with adequate time for traditional Indigenous decision-making and consensus processes

• “Informed” means that consent is based on fulsome, objective, accurate and easily understandable information. It also means allowing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities to access independent legal advice to reach an informed decision, and

• “Consent’ means communities as a whole, including women, men, young people and different community organisations, have the power to reasonably understand the options and approve or reject a decision. This involves considerations of who has the right to speak for a community, consultation and participation processes, good faith negotiations and properly resourcing communities to have an equal opportunity to have their say.

That the Hobart consultation raised the issue of treaty is neither surprising, nor the recognition death knell commentators are disingenuously suggesting.

And for anyone to suggest that talk of treaty should be somehow muzzled is to deny the nation a process that is of enormous value in and of itself.

As more than one state premier and scores of lawyers and academics have pointed out, constitutional recognition and treaty are ultimately separate issues that will require two separate processes, which are not mutually exclusive.

That said, many people support both objectives, and many people and institutions are working towards them contemporaneously. It is inevitable that both issues will arise in any free, informed discussion about either.

Surely it is not beyond us to let this process play out in good faith, to see if we can indeed find a path forward that is acceptable to our First Peoples and to the rest of us. This also involves consultation with members of the wider community, who are making submissions via the council’s website, and communicating their views through a multiplicity of other channels, including the media.

If such a path is not available to the nation at this time, let us call that at the appropriate time, when people have exercised this rare opportunity.

In the meantime, we must all of us – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – respect each other enough to continue to seek that elusive intersection of perspectives for the benefit of the nation and all Australians.

Mark Leibler AC is senior partner at Arnold Bloch Leibler and co-chairman of the Referendum Council on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

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