NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Cultural approach tackles mental health shame

Feature tile 2.11.20 - young Aboriginal children Quinton and Jasalia Williams with face, hair, hands & chest paint, cultural day on country

Cultural approach tackles mental health shame

Small-town living can have its benefits, like knowing your neighbours, but when it comes to accessing help and support, it can be a barrier. Colleen Berry, who lives in the small inland community of Leonora in WA’s Goldfields, said people often felt “shame” in asking for help — and she wanted to do something to change that. So the proud Wongutha woman founded Nyunnga-ku, a community group for the women of Leonora where they can chat, sew, drink cups of tea and speak freely. As more women came to the group, Ms Berry said she realised how many were struggling with mental health and other issues. “Mental health has become something really big in our communities” she said.

To view the full article click here.

Young Aboriginal children Quinton and Jasalia Williams with face, hair, hands & chest paint, cultural day on country

Quinton and Jasalia Williams enjoy a cultrual day on country at the Nyunnga-Ku women’s camp. Image source: ABC News website.

Program aims to improve medication access

Metro North Hospital and Health Service is launching a pharmaceutical program that will allow greater access to medications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients visiting its facilities. The Better Together Medication Access program will ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients have access to any medications needed upon discharge from hospital with no out-of-pocket expense.

Redcliffe Hospital Director of Pharmacy Geoffrey Grima said the program would improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients who have an increased susceptibility to chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. “First Nations Australians have a disease burden 2.3 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians, which means they may require more medications to treat more illnesses,” Grima said. “We know medications can be expensive, and when a number of medications are required to treat various illnesses, this can add up quickly, making the process burdensome for patients.

To read the article in full click here.

Aboriginal hand holding different coloured pills

Image source: Australian Pharmacist website.

New support for NSW people impacted by suicide

The NSW Government is investing $4.54 million in post-suicide care to provide a range of practical and psychological services to NSW residents bereaved or impacted by suicide. Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the state-wide services will range from one-to-one counselling and family therapy, to supporting grieving loved ones to liaise with police, the coroners and media. “It is estimated that up to 135 people can be impacted by a single suicide,” Mrs Taylor said. “We’re building a specialised workforce that can provide both practical and emotional support – from accessing existing services to explaining a suicide death to young children.” $4.2 million will be invested in StandBy Support After Suicide to enable the leading post-suicide support service to expand its footprint and range of services across NSW.

To view the media release  click here.

Aboriginal flay painted on a wall with shadows of two people holding hands

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Become a SOCKSTAR for kidney health

Kidney disease is a deadly disease and there is currently no cure. 1.7 million Australians are affected by the disease and it can have an enormous impact on people’s physical and mental health, family lives and livelihood. There are currently 25,000 Australians living with kidney failure. Dialysis or kidney transplant are needed for them to stay alive. For those on dialysis, they spend an average of 60 hours a month hooked to this life-saving machine, which cleans their blood of toxins. Dialysis can make them feel cold so blankets and warm socks are a must.

Kidney Health Australia has launched a brand new fundraising campaign – the Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal, to take place over the month of November. Participating in the Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal is a great way to show people living with kidney disease that you care. Solo or together with friends, everyone’s effort counts. It is easy to get involved – register as an individual or a team, grab some red socks and get going.

For more information about the Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal click here.

Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal banner - picture of red socks against background of pink and blue kidney vectors & words 'I'm wearing a pair to show I care'

ABS health surveys – have your say

Last year, the Australian government announced a new health study called the Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study (IHMHS). The IHMHS will run over three years from late 2020 to 2023 and comprise surveys of health, nutrition and physical activity, and an optional biomedical survey. Similar to the Australian Health Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2011–13, the IHMHS will provide an opportunity to measure Australia’s health, including providing a picture of the health and wellbeing of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The results will be useful in helping to inform policy, services and programs supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to live healthier lives. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) needs your participation to help them shape the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander components of the IHMHS. The ABS want to talk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to ensure their surveys are done in a culturally appropriate way and reflect the priorities, values and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Sign up here to participate in an upcoming webinars and have your say!

There is also an online survey on the ABS website that can be completed at any time.

The survey closes on Monday 30 November 2020.ABS tile 'help shape the upcoming ATSI Health Survey, two Aboriginal women sitting at outside tableyoutube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_jpsVuTR3w&w=560&h=315

Research centre targets regional Victorian health disadvantage

A new research centre at Federation University will work to reduce the health disadvantage of regional and rural residents. The Health Innovation and Transformation Centre, will develop innovative, multidisciplinary solutions for patients and the general community, spearheaded by the digital, genomic and data revolution. It will focus on areas including aged care, cardiovascular health, digital health interventions, workforce development and patient safety, ensuring the right care, in the right place at the right time.

To view the Federation University’s media release in full click here.

entrance to Federation University Australia - sign on sandstone wall and brick university buildings in background

Image source: magiqsoftware website.

Calls for action on NT mental health neglect

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Northern Territory Branch has called on the NT Government to take a cue from Churchill and ‘action this day’ the rescue of NT Mental Health Service funding from decades of neglect.  ‘Northern Territorians have been short-changed on investment in mental health services for decades now and this becomes starkly apparent when we compare NT funding with that of other states and territories,’ said RANZCP NT Branch Chair, Dr David Chapman.

To view the RANZCP’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal hands holding

Image source: St Vincent de Paul Society website.

Cashless Debit Card to be made permanent

Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services, Linda Burney, says the Government decided to make the Cashless Debit Card permanent, despite the Minister for Families and Social Services Senator Anne Ruston admitting at Senate Estimates that she hadn’t read the long-awaited review of the card. The card is currently being trialed in four sites: Ceduna; the Goldfields and East Kimberley; and Bundaberg-Hervey Bay. As well as this, the Government has also revealed it had set up a formal working group with the big banks and Australia Post to work on making the Cashless Debit Card part of mainstream accounts and point of sale technology – revealing their real plan to roll this technology out more broadly.

To view Linda Burney’s media statement in full click here.

Aboriginal hands holding the cashless debit card

Image source: The Morning Bulletin.

HealthInfoNet has new sexual health portal

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has added a new sexual health portal to its website. Through engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts in the field, topics for the sexual health portal will focus on the aspects of sexual health that impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and their communities. These topics include safe sex, healthy relationships, sexuality, sexually transmitted infections and blood borne viruses, sexual disorders and reproductive health. Funded by the Australian Department of Health, the portal has information about publications, policies, health promotion and practice resources, organisations and workforce information to provide up-to-date relevant information for those working in this important area. 
 
PVC Equity and Indigenous at Edith Cowan University Braden Hill, says of this important topic ‘This is a wonderful addition to HealthInfoNet’s already important work in ensuring the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The focus on sexual health is of vital importance and will enable an evidence informed approach to health care in relation to this sometimes complex area of health’. HealthInfoNet Director Neil Drew says, ‘There is a need for trusted evidence based information that is freely accessible in one place and this portal like our others delivers that’.

To access the new sexual health portal click here.

two pairs of legs sticking out from under a doona

Image source: Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences – University of Queensland website.

older Aboriginal man looking directly at camera with Aboriginal male youth in background - image from Diabetes Australia website

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations People should not pay price for Australia’s economic recovery

First Nations people should not pay price for economic recovery

The Edmund Rice Centre today expressed serious concern at the disregard for the needs of First Nations Peoples and Refugees in the 2020–21 Federal Budget. “It has been said that the Federal Budget is statement on the nation’s priorities. Clearly if that is the case, judging by this Budget, First Nations Peoples, refugees and people seeking asylum – some of the most vulnerable people to the pandemic – are very low priorities for this Government”, Phil Glendenning, Director of the Edmund Rice Centre and President of the Refugee Council of Australia said. Two months ago the Prime Minister signed a new Closing the Gap Agreement committing Federal and State Governments to a long-term program to finally reduce the huge disparities in life expectancy, health, incarceration, education and employment between First Nations peoples and other Australians. “Prime Minister Morrison’s signing of the new Closing the Gap Agreement just two months ago was a welcome step, but in last night’s Budget the Government provided no resources to make it happen”, Mr Glendenning said. 

To view the Edmund Rice Centre media release click here.

Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) CEO, Jill Gallagher agreed, saying a lack of Federal Government support towards Closing the Gap targets was a major omission in a Budget that would provide some hip pocket relief and new jobs for young people but delivered “nothing of substance” for Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ms Gallagher said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg mentioned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders just once in his speech. She described the lack of money for new Closing the Gap measures as “dispiriting”. “There are a number of targets which all levels of Government have committed too but where is the investment?”, she asked.

To view the article about the VACCHO comments click here.

Funding to improve health of First Nations families

A program that is already showing unprecedented success in improving the health and employment outcomes of First Nations families has been awarded $2.5 million in funding through the National Health and Medical Research Council. Led by the team at Charles Darwin University’s Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at the College of Nursing and Midwifery, the project is focused on providing the Best Start to Life for First Nations women, babies and families and has been awarded a Centres of Research Excellence (CRE) grant. Co-director of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre Associate Professor Yvette Roe said the funding would allow the centre to expand and build on a current program that had resulted in a 50% reduction in preterm birth and 600% increase in First Nations employment.

To read the full article click here.

Women and researchers during the Caring for Mum on Country project, Galiwinku, Northern Territory. (L-R)-Yvette Roe, Dhurruurawuy, wurrpa Maypilama, Sarah Ireland, Wagarr and Sue Kildea

Women and researchers during the Caring for Mum on Country project, Galiwinku, Northern Territory. (L-R)-Yvette Roe, Dhurruurawuy, wurrpa Maypilama, Sarah Ireland, Wagarr and Sue Kildea. Image source: Katherine Times.

Palawa man heads mainstream health peak body

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has announced the appointment of Palawa man Scott Willis as its 22nd national president, the first Indigenous president of a mainstream health peak body in Australia. Scott, who commences his two year term on 1 January 2021, said “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health remains a priority area for our profession. We’re going to ensure not only that we are a culturally safe, engaged profession by listening to, learning from and working with First Nations peoples, but we’re going to make physio a known, viable and aspirational professional choice for young Aboriginals coming through the education system. I want them to know they can and should aspire to strong and respected leadership roles in the community.”

To view the APA media release click here.

portrait photo of APA President Scott Willis

APA president-elect Scott Willis. Image source: Australian Physiotherapy Association.

Cashless Debit Card expansion opposed

The Aboriginal Peak Organisation of the Northern Territory (APO NT) have called on all members of parliament to strongly oppose the legislation that would make the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) permanent in the current trial sites and expand it to the NT and Cape York, despite there being no proof that compulsory income management works. APO NT spokesperson John Paterson said, “Support for the bill would directly contradict the recent National Agreement on Closing the Gap that was supported by all levels of government including the Commonwealth. It is not in keeping with the spirit of the agreement and its emphasis on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination.” Mr Paterson added, ”We did not ask for the card, yet 22,000 of us will be affected if the card is imposed on NT income recipients.”

To view the APO NT’s media release click here.

Aboriginal man under tree holding Cashless Debit Card to camera

Image source: Gove Online.

Restricting high-sugar food promotion helps diet

Restricting the promotion and merchandising of unhealthy foods and beverages leads to a reduction in their sales, presenting an opportunity to improve people’s diets, according to a randomised controlled trial of 20 stores in remote regions of Australia. Julie Brimblecombe, of Monash University, Australia, co-joint first author of the study, said: “Price promotions and marketing tactics, such as where products are placed on shelves, are frequently used to stimulate sales. Our novel study is the first to show that limiting these activities can also have an effect on sales, in particular, of unhealthy food and drinks. This strategy has important health implications and is an opportunity to improve diets and reduce associated non-communicable diseases. It also offers a way for supermarkets to position themselves as responsible retailers, which could potentially strengthen customers loyalty without damaging business performance.” 

To read the full article published in The Lancet click here.

hands of Aboriginal person pushing trolley or health foods in outback store

Image source: Adult Learning Australia website.

New research supports self-care

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is set to launch a new policy blueprint that calls for policy reform to improve population health and reduce health service demand through effective self-care. Released by the Mitchell Institute, the document notes a range of environmental, economic and social factors drive self-care capability. It says governments can play a major role in creating environments that either inhibit or enable self-care. The importance of self-care to good health has also been highlighted by COVID-19, according to the Mitchell Institute’s Professor of Health Policy, Rosemary Calder. “Now is the time for a systematic approach, led by a national agenda to enable shared responsibility between government organisations and health care professionals to tackle health inequity and support self-care for all Australians,” she says.

To view the full article click here.

man's hand holding baby's hand both cradled in woman's hand against blurred grass background

Image source: Emerging Minds, Australia website.

Funding for healthy ageing research

Professor Dawn Bessarab from the University of WA’s Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health and her team will lead the Centre for Research Excellence on the Good Spirit Good Life: Better health and wellbeing for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The first Centre for Research Excellence in Australia to explore Indigenous ageing, Professor Bessarab and her team were awarded $2.5 million in NHMRC funding. They will develop their research with and from the perspective of Aboriginal people, to better understand healthy ageing in older Aboriginal people and inform culturally secure and effective service provision.

To view the full article click here.

elderly Aboriginal woman in hospital bed looking up to nurse

Indigenous elder Mildred Numamurdirdi. Image source: The Guardian.

Cost of hygienic products linked to high disease rates

A Senate committee investigating the over-pricing of items in remote Aboriginal communities has heard from Melbourne University Indigenous Eye Health Institute’s senior engagement officer Karl Hampton, who said the price-gouging of items like soap and towels is a key factor to Indigenous youth holding “the heavy burden” of serious trachoma infections.

To view the full Global Citizen article click here.

supermarket shelves showing high cost of soap

Image source: The Guardian Australian edition.

Keeping our sector strong discussion

Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) is hosting a virtual forum from 12.00–1.00 pm (AEDT) Monday 12 October 2020 with the Minister for Indigenous Australians, The Hon Ken Wyatt, AM, MP, to discuss the changes made by Indigenous businesses adapting to survive and thrive in the current climate.

To find out more and register your attendance click here.

Spaces are limited for this opportunity so be sure to register today!

Learning from each other webinar series

The Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis invites you to join them as they bring together First Nations’ thinkers with psychoanalysts and psychotherapists in a series of six webinars in the spirit of Two Way – working together and learning from each other.

All profits will go to CASSE’s Shields for Living, Tools for Life, a dual cultural and therapeutic program, based in the Alice Springs region for ‘at-risk’ youth, providing an alternative to detention and reducing the likelihood of offending or reoffending.

The Two-Way: Learning from each other webinar series will stream 8.00–9.30 pm AEST each Tuesday from 13 October to 17 November 2020.

Click here for the webinar program and registration.

Queenie McKenzie Dreaming Place - Gija country 1995

Queenie McKenzie, Dreaming Place – Gija Country, 1995.
Image source: Australian Psychoanalytical Society,

Range of health scholarships available

The following scholarship programs, aimed at increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander participation in the health workforce and improving access to culturally appropriate health services, are seeking applications.

Indigenous Health Scholarships – Australian Rotary Health administer these scholarships on behalf of the Department of Health, providing a one off grant of $5,000 to assist students with their day to day expenses and provide mentoring support while they undertake a course in a wide range of health related professions. For further information click here.

Nursing Scholarships – the Australian College of Nursing are currently offering nursing scholarship opportunities for study in 2021 with undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships of up to $15,000 per year of full time study being available for eligible courses. Further information is available here. Applications close from 25 October 2020.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme – provides financial assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander undergraduate students for entry level studies that lead or are a direct pathway to registration or practice as a health professional.  Further information is available here. Applications close on 8 November 2020 for studies in 2021.

portrait of Indigenous Health Scholarship 2020 recipient Marlee Paterson, UNSW, Doctor of Medicine.

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2020 recipient Marlee Paterson, UNSW, Doctor of Medicine. Image source: Australian Rotary Health website.

NSW – Taree – Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre

Aboriginal Health Worker – Drug & Alcohol/Sexual Health – Identified x 2 (male and female)

Human Resources Officer x 1

Maintenance Officer x 1

Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre (Biripi ACMC), a community controlled health service providing a wide range of culturally appropriate health and well-being services covering communities across the Mid-Northern NSW Region, is looking to fill a number of vacant positions.

To view the job descriptions for each position click on the name of the position above.

Applications for all positions close 5.00 pm Sunday 18 October 2020.Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre logo silhouette of two black hand overlapping inside yellow circle inside border top half black, bottom half red with words Our Health In Our Hands

VIC – Shepparton – Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd.

PT Case Manager (Re-advertised)

FT Cradle to Kinder Worker

FT Family Preservation Worker 

Kinship Care Case Management

FT Practice Manager

Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd. has a number of vacancies within its Health & Wellbeing, Engagement & Family and Positive Ageing & Disability services areas.

Applications for the Case Manager position close 4.00 pm Tuesday 13 October 2020.

Applications for the Cradle to Kinder Worker, Family Preservation Worker and Kinship Care Case Manager positions close 4.00 pm Wednesday 14 October 2020.

Applications for the Practice Manager position close 4.00 pm Friday 23 October 2020.

NSW – Sydney – The George Institute for Global Health

FT Research Associate (project Manager)

The George Institute for Global Health has a very exciting opportunity for a Research Associate (project Manager) to join its ‘Safe Pathways’ team that will work in partnership with families to focus on developing a discharge planning and delivery model of care that will: address institutionalised racism; facilitate access to ongoing specialist burn care; and enhance communication, coordination and care integration between families, local primary health services and the burns service at Westmead. 

The George Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program cuts across content areas and is conducted within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing, with a focus on social determinants of health, health systems and healthcare delivery, and maintains an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander paradigm of health and healing (physical, emotional, social, cultural and spiritual) and a commitment to making impact through translation that influences policy.

For further details about the position click here. Applications close on 30 October 2020 or sooner if a suitable candidate is found.The George Institute for Global Health banner, words and purple tick with dot in shape of flame

World Evidence-Based Healthcare Day

World Evidence-Based Healthcare Day is a global initiative that raises awareness of the need for better evidence to inform healthcare policy, practice and decision making in order to improve health outcomes globally. It is an opportunity to participate in a debate about global trends and challenges, but also to celebrate the impact of individuals and organisations worldwide, recognising the work of dedicated researchers, policymakers and health professionals in improving health outcomes. World Evidence-Based Health Day is on Tuesday 20 October 2020 and has the 2020 theme is ‘Evidence to Impact’. For further information click here.logo with words World Evidinece-Based Healthcare Day 2020 ebhc 20 October 2020 light blue & navy

White Ribbon Day

Together, we really can end men’s violence against women in our communities and in our workplaces. But it starts with us turning awareness into sustained, collaborative action and it needs to start now. This year White Ribbon Day is on Friday 20 November. White Ribbon Australia are asking you to hold an event – online or as a group (following local COVID-safe guidelines) – to bring your community together as a catalyst for ongoing action. Download a Community Action Kit here to access ideas and resources to bring your community together on White Ribbon Day, get involved on social media, and to kick-start a Community Action Group that will continue to create impact long after the event is over.White Ribbon Australia banner - black bacground words White Ribbon Australia & white ribbon icon

Aboriginal #CoronaVirus News Alert No 43 : April 21 #KeepOurMobSafe : #OurJobProtectOurMob #Rural #Remote The coronavirus supplement is the biggest boost to Indigenous incomes since the 1970’s . It should be made permanent

It would be misguided to think Indigenous Australians need only temporary relief.

The Indigenous economy has been in crisis since 1788. The unemployment rate in places like Palm Island was 60% before the coronavirus hit.

The average duration of unemployment for Indigenous Australians is 73 weeks.

For Australia as a whole, it is 11 weeks.

The unfavourable job market now facing many Australians for the first time has been the normal state of affairs for many Indigenous people.

For this reason, the temporary increase to income support should be made permanent, and the suspended mutual obligation requirements abolished.

Doing so, and normalising some of the anomalies of the current arrangement (such as the exclusion of disability support pensioners, age pensioners, and temporary residents) would provide all Australians with an income floor below which no one could fall.

For Indigenous Australians, it would lock in the biggest reduction in poverty rates since the 1970s.

It would be affordable — it’s only a question of our priorities.

The crisis has reminded us once again how much we depend on each other. We can use it to rebuild a society which is fairer and in which no one is forced to struggle in deep poverty.:” 

This article draws on the Francis Markam author’s contribution to the collection Indigenous Australians and the COVID-19 crisis: Perspectives on public policy, published by the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at the ANU. From the Conversation 

 

On March 23 the government effectively doubled payments to the unemployed, single parents and students, introducing a new unconditional Coronavirus Supplement to go on top of existing allowances such as Newstart, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment, Austudy and Abstudy.

From April 27 single unemployed adults will get around A$557.85 per week in income support, almost double the previous $282.85 per week.

This additional support is time-limited, applying for only six months.

As well as covering the newly unemployed, it’ll extend to existing recipients, meaning it’ll be paid to about 2.3 million Australians.


Read more: Coronavirus supplement: your guide to the Australian payments that will go to the extra million on welfare


At the same time, the onerous requirement for recipients in remote Australia to conduct “work-like activities” or face fines and suspensions, has itself been suspended because work-like activities carry added risk.

The temporary doubling is intended to shield those who find themselves unable to find work at a time when the government has shut down large sections of the economy.

But it will have another (welcome) unintended consequence: it will temporarily cut poverty among Indigenous Australia to new lows.

Most very remote Indigenous Australians live in poverty

Note graphic above added by NACCHO 

The income support system has failed for decades to keep Indigenous people out of poverty. At the time of the 2016 Census, 31% of Indigenous Australia lived below the poverty line of $404 per week.

And while the overall financial situation of Indigenous Australians improved over the decade from 2006 to 2016, in very remote Australia, poverty got worse.

Already alarmingly high in 2006 at 46%, by 2016 the proportion of very remote Indigenous Australians in poverty had climbed to 54%.


Percentage of Indigenous population living in poverty

Indigenous poverty rates using the ‘50% of median disposable equivalised household income’ poverty line. Markham and Biddle, 2018

Since then things have changed, for the worse.

According to Bureau of Statistics survey data, median Indigenous personal incomes fell from $482 per week in 2014-15 to $450 in 2018-19.

In remote Australia the fall was more precipitous.

Over those five years remote median Indigenous personal income fell from $375 per week to $310.


Median Indigenous income, 2014-15, 2019-19

Median gross personal weekly income, Indigenous population aged 15-64. Author’s calculations from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey 2014-15 and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2018-19

The Coronavirus Supplement is set to dramatically change things.

Before the coronavirus outbreak about 27% of the Indigenous population aged 16 years or older were receiving payments that make them eligible for the Supplement.

The proportion who will actually get it be much greater, as many more will become unemployed or underemployed as a result of the crisis.


Read more: Three charts on: the changing status of Indigenous Australians


Indigenous workers are likely to be especially hit hard by the downturn due to discrimination and their more-precarious employment status.

The extra $225 per week is well-targeted at the poorest Indigenous Australians.

According to my estimates, around 38% of Indigenous adults in very remote areas will be eligible.

The biggest boost in 50 years

It is likely to be the most substantial increase in aggregate Indigenous incomes since Indigenous people won rights to equal wages and the full range of social security payments between 1969 and 1977.

In very remote areas, total community incomes are likely to increase by one quarter.

Indeed, so significant is the boost that remote community stores may run out of food as incomes start to catch up with people’s everyday needs, a concern expressed by the minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt.

It should be made permanent

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #AusVotesHealth #VoteACCHO @Greens Leader @RichardDiNatale and @SenatorSiewert launch their #Election2019 platform “ Improving #FirstNations health outcomes in partnership with #FirstNations people : Download Here

” First Nations peoples continue to experience much poorer health and wellbeing than the general Australian population in many key areas of health[1]. These include life expectancy, mortality, hospitalisations, education, employment, child and maternal health, and disabilities[2].

For First Nations peoples, good health is more than the absence of disease or illness; it is a holistic concept that includes physical, social, emotional, cultural, spiritual and ecological wellbeing, for both the individual and the community.

This concept of good health emphasises the connectedness of these factors and recognises how social and cultural determinants can affect health[3].

The Greens will work with First Nations peoples and communities to facilitate and fund community-led approaches in access to health care and social services in a wide range of ways which are outlined below. All of these are included in our broader 2019 election policy platform.’

Picture above NACCHO Library : Senator Rachel Siewert visiting the Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Centre with Senator Richard Di Natale . Prior to entering parliament, Richard was a general practitioner and public health specialist. He worked in Aboriginal health in the Northern Territory.

Download Stakeholder Statement_First Nations Health_FINAL_RELEASED (2)

ONE: IMPROVING ACCESS TO HEALTH SERVICES

Following the introduction of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, over $500 million was cut from First Nations programs, including more than $169 million of cuts to health programs4. This Strategy has resulted in funding uncertainty for organisations and a decrease in the number of organisations working in the communities they are serving.

The Australian Greens will restore this funding and work to ensure that this restoration is led by communities[4].

In addition, we will address specific health issues through broader changes to the health system including:

  • Addressing the proportion of First Nations Australians with long term health conditions which is 1.7 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians. The Greens have a plan to reform Medicare to meet the needs of the millions of Australians living with chronic disease through additional funding for GPs and voluntary enrolment to provide coordinated care6.
  • Working with communities and health professionals to design targets and interventions for diseases, such as rheumatic heart disease, trachoma and chronic otitis media, that are more prevalent in First Nations communities.
  • Helping First Nations peoples who have poor access to high quality food, partake in insufficient physical activity and have high obesity7. The Australian Greens will address these challenges through our new independent preventive health commission8.
  • Investing $15 million per year to close the gap in the rates of new HIV diagnoses between Australian-born non-indigenous peoples and First Nations peoples. This funding will be used to ensure the needs of all First Nations peoples, including brotherboys, sistergirls and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people are met in public health prevention and service provision.
  • Investing in suicide prevention programs that work by providing $500 million for community-based assertive outreach programs, with dedicated funding for First Nations peoples.
  • Increasing the numbers of peer workers by providing $166 million to fund a two-year national peer workforce trial with 1,000 places, with a dedicated number of places for First Nations peer workers.
  • Investing in research which is controlled and led research by First Nations peoples. The Greens provide in principle support for increased funding for First Nations controlled and led research, either through the MRFF or the National Health and Medical Research Council and will be investing more money in research and development.
  • Doubling Commonwealth AOD treatment funding to $800 million over three years to improve treatment outcomes

TWO: IMPROVING HEALTH OUTCOMES BY ADDRESSING AUSTRALIA’S UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Australia’s health inequities are closely related to powerlessness, racism and a slow process of reconciliation alongside limited recognition of human, land and sovereign rights9. The Australian Greens will10:

  • Provide $50 million in funding to First Nations peoples’ organisations to support a path towards treaties.
  • Provide $50 million for the establishment of a body, such as the suggested Makaratta commission, with the function of enabling agreement-making and facilitating a process of local and regional justice and truth telling.
  • Support the establishment of such a ‘voice to Parliament’ enshrined in the Constitution to ensure that First Nations Peoples have a voice in decisions that affect them.
  • Find out more at: https://greens.org.au/sites/default/files/2019-04/Greens%202019%20Policy%20Platform%20-%20World%20Class%20Universal%20Health.pdf

THREE: IMPROVING ACCESS TO SOCIAL SERVICES AND EMPLOYMENT

A person’s health is influenced by their home, school, workplace, community and experiences of social institutions and systems[5]. Household income differences between First Nations and non-Indigenous peoples contributes to almost 14% of the overall health gap, followed by differences in employment and hours worked (12%), and level of school completed (8.7%). The

Australian Greens will address these causes by:

  • Allocating a proportion of the Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) for quality community-controlled and culturally safe integrated early years services[6]. The CCCF provides grants to child care services to help improve access in disadvantaged, regional and remote communities.
  • Funding unlimited free undergraduate university and TAFE. This will make higher education more accessible for all, including First Nations peoples[7][8].
  • Improving access to and the quality of our social safety net by increasing the single rate of Newstart and Youth Allowance by $75 per week[9].
  • Abolishing punitive measures including income management, the Community Development Program and work for the dole[10].
  • Increasing the number of Indigenous Rangers to 5,000 by 2025. The Indigenous Rangers Program has been a resounding success. For every $1 invested, it returns $3 in environmental and socioeconomic benefits[11] .
  • Allocating a proportion of our $200 million Survivor Grant fund to First Nations community-controlled specialist frontline services working with family violence survivors
  • Adopting a housing first policy by setting aside $500 million per year to fund transitional housing and crisis services. We will work with First Nations organisations to ensure access to culturally appropriate crisis housing and long-term housing options for women and children experiencing family violence.

[1] AIHW, Australia’s Health 2018

https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/7c42913d-295f-4bc9-9c24-4e44eff4a04a/aihw-aus-221.pdf.aspx?inline=true  

[2] AIHW, Australia’s Health 2018

https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/7c42913d-295f-4bc9-9c24-4e44eff4a04a/aihw-aus-221.pdf.aspx?inline=true  

[3] AIHW, Australia’s Health 2018 https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/7c42913d-295f-4bc9-9c24-4e44eff4a04a/aihw-aus-221.pdf.aspx?inline=true  4https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-13/budget-2014:-$534-cut-to-indigenous-programs-and-health/5451144 

[4] Find out more at:

[https://greens.org.au/sites/default/files/2018-12/Greens%202019%20Policy%20Platform%20-%20Justice%20for%20First%20Nat​                    i ons%20Peoples.pdf  

 

[5] AIHW, Australia’s Health 2018 https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/7c42913d-295f-4bc9-9c24-4e44eff4a04a/aihw-aus-221.pdf.aspx?inline=true  

[6] Find out more at: https://greens.org.au/sites/default/files/2019-04/Greens%202019%20Policy%20Platform%20-%20Child%20care.pdf  

[7] Find out more at​https://greens.org.au/sites/default/files/2018-12/Greens%202019%20Policy%20Platform%20-%20Free%20TAFE%20and%20Uni_

[8] .pdf  

[9] Find out more at: https://greens.org.au/sites/default/files/2019-04/Greens%202019%20Policy%20Platform-%20World%20Class%20Social%20Servic es.pdf  

[10] Find out more at: https://greens.org.au/sites/default/files/2019-04/Greens%202019%20Policy%20Platform-%20World%20Class%20Social%20Servic es.pdf  

[11] Find out more at:

https://greens.org.au/sites/default/files/2019-04/Greens%202019%20Policy%20Platform-The%20Nature%20Fund.pdf 

 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Food security #IndigenousNCDs : Welfare reform is targeting many remote-living Aboriginal people impoverishing them and resulting in the consumption of unhealthy foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases

What national and average Closing the Gap figures do not tell us is just how badly the estimated 170,000 Indigenous people in remote and very remote Australia are faring. This region where I focus my work covers 86 per cent of the Australian continent.

In the last decade new race-based instruments have been devised to regulate Indigenous people including their forms of expenditure (via income management), forms of working via the Community Development Programme (CDP) and their places of habitation, where they might access basic citizenship services.

All these measures have implications for consumption of market commodities, including food from shops, and of customary non-market goods, including food from the bush.

Owing to deep poverty, many people can only purchase relatively cheap and unhealthy takeaway foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases, like acute heart and kidney disorders, followed by lung cancer from smoking.

With income management Aboriginal people are being coerced to shop at stores according to the government’s rhetoric for their ‘food security’. Before the introduction of this regime many more people were exercising their ‘food sovereignty’ right to harvest far healthier foods from the bush.

Extracts from Jon Altman a research professor in anthropology at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University, Melbourne.

From New Matilda Read and subscribe HERE

A version of this article was first published in the Land Rights News

READ over 5 Articles NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Nutrition 

READ Articles NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Welfare Card 

” NACCHO is strongly opposed to the current cashless debit card trials as well as any proposal to expand. We also note that Aboriginal people are disproportionately affected by the trials and that they are in and proposed for locations where the majority participants are Aboriginal. Whilst it is not the stated intent of the trials, its impact is discriminatory.

NACCHO knows that some Aboriginal people and communities need additional support to better manage their lives and ensure that income support funds are used more effectively.

However, NACCHO is firmly of the view that there are significantly better, more cost efficient, alternative approaches that support improvements in Aboriginal wellbeing and positive decision making.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services would be well placed to develop and implement alternative programs. We firmly believe that addressing the ill health of Aboriginal people, including the impacts of alcohol, drug and gambling related harm, can only be achieved by local Aboriginal people controlling health care delivery.

We know that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a genuine say over our lives, the issues that impact on us and can develop our own responses, there is a corresponding improvement in wellbeing. This point is particularly relevant given that the majority of trial participants are Aboriginal. “

Selected extracts from Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018 

Download HERE 

NACCHO submission on cashless debit card final

As is the case in many countries, Indigenous people in Australia, New Zealand, United States of America and Canada are disproportionately affected by NCDs.

Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer,  smoking related lung disease and mental health conditions are the five main NCDs identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and these are almost uniformly experienced by Indigenous peoples at higher rates than other people.

Indigenous people globally are disproportionately affected by diabetes. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 6 times more likely than the non-Indigenous population to die from diabetes. In Canada, Indigenous peoples are 3-5 times more likely to have diabetes than other citizens.

Indigenous people are also more likely to have Cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease accounts for almost a quarter of the mortality gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. Maori people are 3-4.2 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than other people in New Zealand.

These numbers are not improving, despite national rates of smoking decreasing, and increased social marketing aimed at reducing sugar consumption and increasing physical activity.

Mainstream solutions do little to reduce the burden of NCDs for Indigenous populations. The broader social determinants of health have a huge role to play, and until these are addressed in a meaningful way, Indigenous peoples will continue to experience an inequitable burden.

With colonisation having had a devastating impact on Indigenous peoples, and mainstream solutions unable to significantly reduce the rates of NCDs experienced by Indigenous peoples, a new paradigm is urgently required.

What is required is not more state based solutions but Indigenous led solutions.

Summer May Finlay Croakey 

Welfare reform is targeting many remote-living Aboriginal people impoverishing them and resulting in the consumption of unhealthy foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases

Rome (Canberra) continues to fiddle while Black Australia burns. Professor Jon Altman weighs in on the ongoing disasters of government policy that have a tight grip on remote living Indigenous people.

In the last month I participated in two workshops. I used what I observed on my latest visit to Arnhem Land and what people were telling me to inform what I presented at the workshops.

The first workshop explored issues around excessive consumption by industrialised societies globally and how this is harming human health and destroying the planet. Workshop participants asked how such ‘consumptogenic’ systems might be regulated for the global good? My job was to provide a case study from my research on consumption by Indigenous people in remote Australia.

The second workshop looked at welfare reform in the last decade in remote Indigenous Australia. In this workshop I looked at how welfare reform by the Australian state after the NT Intervention was creatively destroying the economy and lifeways of groups in Arnhem Land who are looking to live on their lands and off its natural resources.

Here I want to share some of what I said.

BROADLY speaking Indigenous policy in remote Australia is looking to do two things.

The first is to Close the Gaps so that Indigenous Australians can one future day have the same socio-economic status as other Australians. In remote Australia this goal is linked to the project to ‘Develop the North’ via a combination of opening Aboriginal communities and lands to more market capitalism and extraction, purportedly for the improvement of disadvantaged Indigenous peoples and land owners.

While remote-living Indigenous people have economic and social justice rights to vastly improved wellbeing, in such scenarios of future economic equality based on market capitalism, the downsides of what I think of as ‘consumptomania’ are never mentioned.

The second aim of policy is the extreme regulation of Indigenous people and their behaviour, when deemed unacceptable. In a punitive manifestation of neoliberal governmentality, the Australian state, and its nominated agents, are looking to morally restructure Indigenous people to transform them into model citizens: hard-working, individualistic, highly educated, nationally mobile at least in pursuit of work (not alcohol), and materially acquisitive.

This paternalistic project of improvement makes no concessions whatsoever to cultural difference, colonial history of neglect, connection to country, discrimination, and so on.

In the last decade new race-based instruments have been devised to regulate Indigenous people including their forms of expenditure (via income management), forms of working via the Community Development Programme (CDP) and their places of habitation, where they might access basic citizenship services.

All these measures have implications for consumption of market commodities, including food from shops, and of customary non-market goods, including food from the bush.

We have all heard the bad news, year after year, report after report, that the government-imposed project of improvement, called ‘Closing the Gap’ and introduced by Kevin Rudd in 2008, is failing.

Using the government’s own statistics, after 10 years only one target, year 12 attainment, might be on track. I say ‘might’ because ‘attainment’ is open to multiple interpretations: is attainment just about attendance or about gaining useful life skills?

What national and average Closing the Gap figures do not tell us is just how badly the estimated 170,000 Indigenous people in remote and very remote Australia are faring. This region where I focus my work covers 86 per cent of the Australian continent.

What we are seeing in this massive part of Australia according to the latest census are the very lowest employment/population ratios of about 30 per cent for Indigenous adults (against 80% for non-Indigenous adults) and the deepest poverty, more than 50 per cent of people in Indigenous households currently live below the poverty line.

This is also paradoxically where Indigenous people have most land and native title rights, a recent estimate suggests that 43 per cent of the continent has some form of indigenous title; and is dotted with maybe 1000 small Indigenous communities with a total population of 100,000 at most.

Native title rights and interests give people an unusual and generally unregulated right to use natural resources for domestic consumption.

This form of consumption might include hunting kangaroos or feral animals like the estimated 100,000 wild buffalo in Arnhem Land.

Such hunting is good for health because the meat is lean and fresh; it is also good for the environment because buffalo eat about 30kg of vegetation a day and are environmentally destructive; and it is good for global cooling because each buffalo emits methane with a carbon equivalent value of about two tonnes per annum.

The legal challenge of gaining native title rights and interests is that claimants must demonstrate continuity of customs and traditions and connection to their claimed country. But in remote Australia, culture and tradition have been identified as a key element of the problem that is exacerbating social dysfunction. (That is unless tradition appears as fine art ‘high culture’ which is imagined to be unrelated to the everyday culture and is a favourite item for consumption by metropolitan elites.)

Hence the project of behavioural modification to eradicate Indigenous cultures that exhibit problematic characteristics, like sharing and a focus on kinship and reciprocity, to be replaced by western culture with its high consumption, individualistic and materially acquisitive characteristics.

Connection to country, at least if it involves living on it, is also deemed highly problematic by the Australian state if one wants to produce western educated, home-owning, properly disciplined neoliberal subjects — terra nulliusis now to be replaced by terra vacua, empty land.

Such empty land would be ripe for resource extraction and capitalist accumulation by dispossession Despite all the talk of mining on Aboriginal land, there are currently very few operating mines on the Indigenous estate. This is imagined as one means to Develop the North, but recent history suggests that the long-term benefits to Aboriginal land owners from such development will be limited.

MUCH of what I describe above in general terms resonates with what I have observed in Arnhem Land where I have visited regularly since the Intervention; and what I hear from Aboriginal people and colleagues working elsewhere in remote Indigenous Australia.

From 2007 to 2012 all communities in Arnhem Land were prescribed under NT Intervention laws. Since 2012, under Stronger Futures laws legislated in force until 2022, the Aboriginal population has continued to be subject to a new hyper-regulatory regime: income management, government-licenced stores, modern slavery-like compulsory work for welfare, enhanced policing, unimaginable levels of electronic and police surveillance, school attendance programs and so on.

The limited availability of mainstream work in this region as elsewhere means that most adults of working age receive their income from the new Community Development Program introduced in 2015. Weekly income is limited to Newstart ($260) for which one must meet a work requirement of five hours a day, five days a week if aged 18-49 years and able-bodied.

Of this paltry income, 50 per cent is quarantined for spending at stores where prices are invariably high, owing to remoteness.

The main aim of such paternalism is to reduce expenditure on tobacco and alcohol which cannot be purchased with the BasicsCard.

Shop managers that I have interviewed tell me that despite steep tax-related price rises (a pack of Winfield blue costs nearly $30) tobacco demand is inelastic and sales have not declined.

Since the year 2000, Noel Pearson has popularised his metaphor ‘welfare poison’. Pearson is referring figuratively to what he sees as the negative impacts of long-term welfare dependence. In Arnhem Land welfare is literally a form of poison because in the name of ‘food security’ people are forced to purchase foods they can afford with low nutritional value from ‘licenced’ stores.

However, paternalistic licencing to allow stores to operate the government-imposed BasicsCard is not undertaken equitably by officials from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

So one sees large, long-standing, community-owned and operated and mainly Indigenous staffed stores being rigorously regulated, managers argue over-regulated. Such stores are highly visible, as are their accounts.

But small private-sector operators (staffed mainly by temporary visa holders and backpackers) that have been established as the regional economy has been prised open to the free market appear under-regulated, even though they are also ‘licenced’ to operate the BasicsCard.

These private sector operators compete very effectively with community-owned enterprises because they only have a focus on commerce: all the profits they make and most of the wages they pay non-local staff leave the region.

Owing to deep poverty, many people can only purchase relatively cheap and unhealthy takeaway foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases, like acute heart and kidney disorders, followed by lung cancer from smoking.

With income management Aboriginal people are being coerced to shop at stores according to the government’s rhetoric for their ‘food security’. Before the introduction of this regime many more people were exercising their ‘food sovereignty’ right to harvest far healthier foods from the bush.

This dramatic transformation has occurred as an unusual form of regional economy that involved a high level of customary activity has been effectively destroyed by the dominant government view that only prioritises engagement in market capitalism — that is largely absent in this region.

On one hand, we now see the most able-bodied hunters required to work for the dole every week day with their energies directed from what they do best.

On the other hand, the greatly enhanced police presence is resulting simultaneously in people being deprived of their basic equipment for hunting — guns and trucks — regularly impounded because they are unregistered or their users unlicenced.

People are being increasingly isolated from their ancestral lands and their hunting grounds.

Excessive policing, growing poverty, dependency and anomie are seeing criminality escalate with expensive fines for minor misdemeanours further impoverishing people and reducing their ability to purchase either more expensive healthy foods or the means to acquire bush foods.

A virtuous production cycle that until the Intervention saw much ‘bush food consumption’ has been disastrously reversed. Today, we see a vicious cycle where people regularly report hunger while living in rich Australia; people’s health status is declining.

Welfare reform and Indigeneity is indeed a toxic mix, poison, in remote regions like Arnhem Land.

I WANT to end with some more general conclusions.

On the regulation of Indigenous expenditure, we see a perverse policy intervention: the Australian government is committing what are sometimes referred to as Type 1 and Type 2 errors.

The former sees the government looking to regulate Indigenous consumption using the expensive instrument of income management that has cost over $1.2 billion to date, despite no evidence that it makes a difference.

The latter sees an absence of the proper regulation of supply in licences stores evident when stores with names like ‘The Good Food Kitchen’ sell cheap unhealthy take-aways.

In my view the racially-targeted and crude attempts to regulate Indigenous expenditure are unacceptable on social justice grounds.

Two principles as articulated by Guy Standing stand out.

‘The security difference principle’ suggests that a policy is only socially just if it improves the [food]security of the most insecure in society. Income management and work for the dole do not do this.

And ‘the paternalism test’ suggests that a policy like income management would only be socially just if it does not impose controls on some groups that are not imposed on the most-free groups in society.

Paternalistic governmentality in remote Australia is imposing tight regulatory frameworks on some people, even though the justifying ideology suggests that markets should be free and unregulated.

Sociologist Loic Wacquant in  Punishing the Poor shows how the carceral state in the USA punishes the poor with criminalisation and imprisonment; the poor there happen to be mainly black.

In Australia, punitive neoliberalism punishes those remote living Aboriginal people who happen to be poor and dependent on the state.

Once again there is a perversity in policy implementation.

Hence in Arnhem Land, people maintain strong vestiges of a hunter-gatherer subjectivity that when combined with deep poverty makes them avid consumers of western commodities that are bad for health (like tobacco that is expensive and fatty, sugary takeaway food that is relatively cheap).

At the same time commodities that might be useful to improve health, like access to guns and trucks essential for modern hunting, are rendered unavailable by a combination of poverty and excessive policing.

Australian democracy that is founded on notions of liberalism needs to be held to account for such travesties.

Long ago in 1859, John Stuart Mill, the doyen of liberals, wrote in  On Liberty: “…despotism is a legitimate form of government in dealing with barbarians, providing the end be their improvement and the means justified by actually effecting that end”.

In illiberal Australia today, authoritarian controls over remote living Indigenous people and their behaviour are again viewed as legitimate by the powerful now neoliberal state, even though there is growing evidence from remote Australia that things are getting worse.

I want to end with some suggested antidotes to the toxic mix that has resulted from welfare reform that is targeting many remote-living Aboriginal people and impoverishing them.

First, in my view despotism for some is never legitimate, so people should be treated equally irrespective of their ethnicity or structural circumstances.

Second, the Community Development Programme is a coercive disaster that is far more effective at breaching and penalising the jobless for not complying with excessive requirements than in creating jobs. CDP is further impoverishing people and should be replaced, especially in places where there are no jobs, with unconditional basic income support.

Third, people need to be empowered to find their own solutions to the complex challenges of appropriate development that accord with their aspirations, norms, values, and lifeways. Devolutionary principles of self-government and community control, not big government and centralised control, are needed.

Fourth, the native title of remote living people should be protected to ensure that they benefit from all their rights and interests. There is no point in legally allocating property rights in natural resources valuable for self-provisioning if people are effectively excluded from access to their ancestral lands and the enjoyment of these resources.

Finally, governments should support what has worked in the past to improve people’s diverse culturally-informed views about wellbeing and sense of worth.

While such an approach might not close some imposed ‘closing the gap’ targets, like employment as measured by standard western metrics, it will likely improve other important goals like reducing child mortality and enhancing life expectancy and overall quality of life.

 

 

Download our submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee : NACCHO is strongly opposed to the current cashless debit card trials as well as any proposal to expand.


 

” NACCHO is strongly opposed to the current cashless debit card trials as well as any proposal to expand. We also note that Aboriginal people are disproportionately affected by the trials and that they are in and proposed for locations where the majority participants are Aboriginal. Whilst it is not the stated intent of the trials, its impact is discriminatory.

NACCHO knows that some Aboriginal people and communities need additional support to better manage their lives and ensure that income support funds are used more effectively.

However, NACCHO is firmly of the view that there are significantly better, more cost efficient, alternative approaches that support improvements in Aboriginal wellbeing and positive decision making.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services would be well placed to develop and implement alternative programs. We firmly believe that addressing the ill health of Aboriginal people, including the impacts of alcohol, drug and gambling related harm, can only be achieved by local Aboriginal people controlling health care delivery.

We know that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a genuine say over our lives, the issues that impact on us and can develop our own responses, there is a corresponding improvement in wellbeing. This point is particularly relevant given that the majority of trial participants are Aboriginal. “

Selected extracts from Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018 

Download HERE or Read in Full Part 1 Below

NACCHO submission on cashless debit card final

For background info from NACCH

See recent NACCHO Cashless Debit Cards posts 

Part 1 Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018

On 21 June 2018, the Senate referred the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018 to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report.

Submissions were sought by 20 July 2018. The reporting date is 14 August 2018.

Committee Secretariat contact:

Committee Secretary
Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: +61 2 6277 3515
Fax: +61 2 6277 5829
community.affairs.sen@aph.gov.au

The following submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee is made by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). NACCHO is the national peak body representing 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) across the country on Aboriginal health and wellbeing issues.

An ACCHO is a primary health care service initiated and operated by the local Aboriginal community to deliver holistic, comprehensive, and culturally appropriate health care to the community which controls it, through a locally elected Board of Governance.

They range from large multi-functional services employing several medical practitioners and providing a wide range of services, to small services which rely on Aboriginal Health Workers and/or nurses to provide the bulk of primary care services, often with a preventive, health education focus. The services form a network, but each is autonomous and independent both of one another and of government.

NACCHO and its members are a living embodiment of the aspirations of Aboriginal communities and their struggle for self-determination. In 1997, the Federal Government funded NACCHO to establish a Secretariat in Canberra which greatly increased the capacity of Aboriginal Peoples involved in ACCHOs to participate in national health policy development.

The integrated primary health care model adopted by ACCHOs is in keeping with the philosophy of Aboriginal community control and the holistic view of health. Addressing the ill health of Aboriginal people can only be achieved by local Aboriginal people controlling health care delivery. Local Aboriginal community control in health is essential to the definition of Aboriginal holistic health and allows Aboriginal communities to determine their own affairs, protocols and procedures.

NACCHO understands that the Bill seeks to amend the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 to: expand the cashless debit card arrangements to a further trial site, the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay area, to run until 30 June 2020; specify the class of trial participants for the area and increase the total number of trial participants overall to 15 000; provide for an exception from the restrictive trade practices provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 for merchants that implement product level blocking systems to identify that a cashless debit card is being used for payment and, if any restricted products are being purchased, decline the transaction; and limit the use of the restricted portion of a payment to prevent the portion being used to obtain cash-like products which could be used to obtain alcohol or gambling.

NACCHO is strongly opposed to the current cashless debit card trials as well as any proposal to expand. We also note that Aboriginal people are disproportionately affected by the trials and that they are in and proposed for locations where the majority participants are Aboriginal. Whilst it is not the stated intent of the trials, its impact is discriminatory.

To assist the Committee in assessing this submission, it has been structured against the following key issues: available evidence on current trials; cost benefit; evaluation; additional services and support; community control and ownership; and expansion.

Available evidence on current trials

NACCHO notes that the recent evaluation of the Cashless Debit Card Trials, notwithstanding the quality of the evaluation, found that:

  • Only 24 per cent of card users reported less alcohol consumption and drug use in their communities, and only 27 per cent of people noting a decrease in gambling.
  • The administration of the card has been confusing and the role of the community panel has not been well implemented: the rules of engaging with the panel and their role is not well understood.
  • Despite the small 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.

NACCHO believes that this is not a strong enough evidence base to warrant the expansion of the trials to other sites.

We also note that the majority of trial participants identify as Aboriginal in the evaluation and believe that this amounts to a discriminatory policy in its application.

Cost benefit

NACCHO notes that no cost benefit analysis has been undertaken, however we understand from Senate Estimates that the cost of delivering the Cashless Debit Card program is in excess of $12,000 per participant at the time the trial had been running for approximately 12 months.

NACCHO is strongly of the view that this funding could be more effectively spent on early intervention and primary health care strategies targeted towards reducing alcohol, drug and gambling related harm.

Notwithstanding our primary view that the trial funding should be redirected, a robust cost benefit analysis should be undertaken prior to any expansion of the trials and this should be made public. The recently released Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report, The Implementation and Performance of the Cashless Debit Card Trial, concludes that “it is difficult to conclude… whether the card was a lower cost welfare quarantining approach”.

We also note that the notion that the trials will be more cost efficient the more participants are involved is not the basis of a cost benefit analysis and should not be used as a justification of any expansion.

Evaluation

NACCHO notes that there has been public criticism of the evaluation of the trials to date undertaken by ORIMA Research, including by the Australian National University. In particular, NACCHO notes that the evaluation did not include data from state governments relating to alcohol related crimes and alcohol related hospital admissions. This data is crucial to building a robust evaluation framework and assessing the trial impact for the current and any future sites.

We note that the ANAO Report also found that the “approach to the monitoring and evaluation of the trial was inadequate”. The ANAO report further found that there was a lack of robustness in the data collection and the evaluation did not make use of administrative data available to measure the impact of the trial.

The lack of robust evaluation framework and corresponding evidence means it is not possible to conclude that there has been a reduction in alcohol and drug related harm as a result of the trial. This view is also supported by the ANAO Report.

NACCHO also recommends that any evaluation should be considered alongside the effectiveness of other community driven and community controlled initiatives and programs to help tackle alcohol and drug related harm in particular communities.

Additional services and support

NACCHO notes that additional prevention and support services were announced as part of the current trials. We believe these services are critical to supporting communities tackle harm caused by alcohol, drugs and gambling. The cashless debit card has not been effective and should not be considered as a stand alone response to community harm and disadvantage.

We further understand that the proposed services in current sites have been slow to implement and, in many cases, would be insufficient to address community dysfunction. Any expansion of the trials should be coupled with a significant package of early intervention and prevention services.

Community control and ownership

NACCHO knows that some Aboriginal people and communities need additional support to better manage their lives and ensure that income support funds are used more effectively. However, NACCHO is firmly of the view that there are significantly better, more cost efficient, alternative approaches that support improvements in Aboriginal wellbeing and positive decision making.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services would be well placed to develop and implement alternative programs. We firmly believe that addressing the ill health of Aboriginal people, including the impacts of alcohol, drug and gambling related harm, can only be achieved by local Aboriginal people controlling health care delivery. We know that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a genuine say over our lives, the issues that impact on us and can develop our own responses, there is a corresponding improvement in wellbeing. This point is particularly relevant given that the majority of trial participants are Aboriginal.

We note that the ANAO ReporProposed expansiont concludes that aspects of the current trial have informed the proposed wider roll out, but that the current trial was not designed to test the scalability and thus has not been evaluated with this in mind.

NACCHO is opposed to the further roll out and expansion of the cashless debit card trials. We believe there is: insufficient evidence of the current trials’ success; a lack of information about the cost of the trials and a cost benefit analysis; insufficient planning and consultations to help inform an expansion; insufficient additional supports and services in current trial sites and that is being funded for the proposed new locations; and that other community driven programs and initiatives should be explored in locations where there is entrenched social harm caused by alcohol, drugs and gambling.

Based on the evidence to date and the findings in the ANAO Report, we believe that the proposed expansion in this Bill is not justified.

NACCHO @TheAHCWA Aboriginal Health and the Cashless Welfare card debate

 

 ” Graphic video footage played recently to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other influential politicians cuts to the core. It is horrific, sickening and gut-wrenching, and would affect any compassionate human being.

But the intent behind the carefully edited emotive video – further pushing a ( Cashless Welfare ) card to supposedly tackle every imaginable social problem in vulnerable communities – is ill-conceived and ideologically driven.

Michelle Nelson-Cox Chair  : Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia press release Opinion piece (part 2 Below )

 

 ” We need to recognise that the best way of dealing with problems is with respect, working together, and focussed on commonly agreed goals. We do not need a new generation of community members under the control of those who want to use punitive measures to coerce and control them. When has this approach ever been shown to work?

We need to ask why we are not doing it differently, treating the very causes of the dislocation and alienation of our communities — facing up to and turning around the hopelessness and despair that beleaguers them.

The Rural Doctors have made it clear when they said: “Those that do have problems will not be helped by measures that feel punitive, such as switching them to a cashless debit card, rather than payments. Tough love is rarely successful in treating substance abuse – particularly when it’s from the Government.”

I support the Rural Doctors and our community organisations working with families dealing with these issues. This is where we have to take this debate.”

Shadow assistant minister for Indigenous affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Senator for Western Australia, Patrick Dodson responds to article portraying the state as a ‘war zone’ .Full article HERE

” Senator Rachel Siewert has criticised a new video campaign showing graphic depictions of violence in Indigenous communities as shock tactics designed to scare the Federal Government into rolling out more cashless welfare cards in remote Western Australia.

Using violent imagery then offering a one-dimensional, paternalistic and previously failed approach to a complex problem shows that Andrew Forrest is more concerned about furthering his ideologies than looking at what works.

“I share concerns about disadvantage and agree we need to be addressing severe disadvantage in communities like Port Hedland. We need a multifaceted approach including addressing alcohol supply, drug and alcohol services, and wrap around services driven by the community.

“I agree we do need to be investing in communities but in approaches that work ‘ Senator Rachel Siewert

Read Senator Rachel Siewert full press release part 4 below

Mining magnate Andrew Forrest and local leaders from the East Kimberley region, last week launched #timetoact an online anti-violence campaign in the nation’s capital. It features a video that shows disturbing scene of violence.”

Watch video HERE

” The concerted push by outgoing WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan that the cashless welfare system should be expanded to somehow protect children from sexual abuse, particularly in the north-west town of Roebourne, is fundamentally flawed.

There has been no conclusive evidence to date that cashless welfare cards play any role in reducing the impact of issues such as illicit drug use or child sexual abuse.

Instead, greater investment is needed in programs that address social determinants and build strong families and communities.

Ultimately, we need to see an increase in community programs and comprehensive support services to help address these complex social issues in Aboriginal communities.

AHCWA does not support simplistic apparent solutions imposed from outside Aboriginal communities. Rather, it advocates for greater investment in community designed and driven programs to build strong families and communities.

Our sector has been delivering positive outcomes in Aboriginal health for more than 40 years, but in that time we have often dealt with the unintended negative consequences of whatever “silver bullet” solution is politically fashionable at the time.

Extracts from Michelle Nelson-Cox Chair  : Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia press release (part 1and 2 below)

 

Elder Ted Carlton with a card

Part 1 : AHCWA rejects Karl O’Callaghan’s call to expand cashless welfare

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia has challenged outgoing Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan to look in his own backyard and adequately police remote communities rather than advocate for greater disempowerment of indigenous Australians.

AHCWA chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox today rejected calls by Mr O’Callaghan, whose contract ends on August 15 after 13 years at the helm of WA Police, for an urgent expansion of the cashless welfare system to combat child sex crimes in regional WA.

“The cashless welfare card is not a panacea to complex social problems,” Ms Nelson-Cox said.

“While AHCWA supports the government’s commitment to improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal people and prevent child sexual abuse, we do not support the ill-conceived idea that cashless welfare cards can turn the tide on the abhorrent abuse of children.

“There has been no conclusive evidence to date that cashless welfare cards play any role in reducing the impact of issues such as illicit drug use or child sexual abuse.

“Instead, greater investment is needed in programs that address social determinants and build strong families and communities.

“Ultimately, we need to see an increase in community programs and comprehensive support services to help address these complex social issues in Aboriginal communities.”

Ms Nelson-Cox said Mr O’Callaghan’s admissions in The West Australian newspaper that his officers could not protect children in remote communities was gravely concerning.

“At what point does the buck stop with police and governments to keep communities safe? Over the past 13 years, how have the high instances of sexual abuse not have been addressed earlier?” she said.

“There is a large police presence in Roebourne, and admissions by Karl O’Callaghan that ‘police were not capable of protecting children in those communities’ and ‘neither the police nor government can guarantee protection of these children’ shows a lack of commitment to work with communities to effectively address these issues.

“The reality is there are a huge number of people very unhappy with the way they have been affected by the cashless welfare system imposed by the Federal Government.

“If anything, this is a failure of policing in the Roebourne area to address these crimes.

“The cashless welfare card does not need to be expanded. The solution does not lie in the disempowerment of Aboriginal people, but rather additional police resources and a greater commitment to stamp out these shocking and abhorrent crimes.”

AHCWA is the peak body for Aboriginal health in WA, with 22 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) currently engaged as members.

Part 2 : AHCWA rejects Karl O’Callaghan’s call to expand cashless welfare

 

Graphic video footage played recentlt to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other influential politicians cuts to the core. It is horrific, sickening and gut-wrenching, and would affect any compassionate human being.

But the intent behind the carefully edited emotive video – further pushing a card to supposedly tackle every imaginable social problem in vulnerable communities – is ill-conceived and ideologically driven.

The concerted push by outgoing WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan that the cashless welfare system should be expanded to somehow protect children from sexual abuse, particularly in the north-west town of Roebourne, is fundamentally flawed.

The belief that the cashless welfare card can prevent child sexual abuse is based on nothing more than a distorted perception that quarantining income will address all social problems in remote Aboriginal communities.

To date, there has been no conclusive evidence that cashless welfare cards play any role in reducing the impact of issues such as illicit drug use or sexual abuse.

In fact, the most comprehensive review of income management in the Northern Territory has proven that this strategy will not work and will likely only create further dependence.

WA communities like Roebourne do not need the next new idea imposed by white people who live elsewhere.

Instead, they need to work with Aboriginal people and support under resourced local initiatives already being worked on.

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) is the peak body for Aboriginal health in WA, with 22 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) currently engaged as members.

AHCWA does not support simplistic apparent solutions imposed from outside Aboriginal communities. Rather, it advocates for greater investment in community designed and driven programs to build strong families and communities.

Our sector has been delivering positive outcomes in Aboriginal health for more than 40 years, but in that time we have often dealt with the unintended negative consequences of whatever “silver bullet” solution is politically fashionable at the time. These days, the cashless welfare card is seen as the quick fix.

The cashless welfare card has been delivered as part of a Cashless Debit Card Trial (CDCT), a program developed to reduce the harm associated with alcohol consumption, illicit drug use and gambling in Ceduna in South Australia and the East Kimberley in WA (Kununurra and Wyndham).

The trial began in early 2016, when participants were issued a debit card which could not be used to buy alcohol, gambling products or to withdraw cash.

The system quarantines 80 per cent of income support payments into a restricted account linked to the card, with the remainder of these payments accessible through a normal, unrestricted bank account.

Remarkably, and perhaps unsurprisingly, an evaluation of the current trial showed that the majority of people using the card, and their families, did not report gambling, using illicit drugs, or consuming alcohol in excess.

To put it simply, this trial has been socially disempowering for a huge number of community members. Strong resistance and opposition has been made clear at public meetings, strikes and petitions.

Admissions by Karl O’Callaghan in the video shown to the PM that “police can’t save them” shows a lack of commitment to work with communities to effectively address these issues.

If anything, his comments reflect a failure of policing in the Roebourne area to address these crimes and protect the town’s most vulnerable people.

We support any commitment to improve the safety and health of Aboriginal people, particularly children, in WA and turn the tide on the appalling abuse of our youngsters, but the answer is not an expansion of the cashless welfare card.

The solution does not lie in the disempowerment of Aboriginal people, which has been an ongoing tactic by governments. Instead it lies in additional police resources and a genuine commitment to work with communities to stamp out these shocking and abhorrent crimes.

We agree it is time to act – it is time for the police to act.

“Using violent imagery then offering a one-dimensional, paternalistic and previously failed approach to a complex problem shows that Andrew Forrest is more concerned about furthering his ideologies than looking at what works,” Senator Siewert said today.

“I share concerns about disadvantage and agree we need to be addressing severe disadvantage in communities like Port Hedland. We need a multifaceted approach including addressing alcohol supply, drug and alcohol services, and wrap around services driven by the community.”

Part 3  :  Graphic video campaign pushing for welfare card slammed as ‘one dimensional’  

Continued from opening                                

Mr Forrest was joined yesterday by Jean O’Reerie, Aboriginal Education Worker from Wyndham in East Kimberley- a Cashless Debit Card trial site, her colleague, local Bianca Crake, and the Mayor of Port Hedland, Mr Camillo Blanko.

Mr Forrest claims that the government’s current system to stop drug and alcohol fuelled violence against children in the Pilbara and East Kimberley region isn’t working.

Linking what he described as horrific child abuse to alcohol and drug use, Mr Forrest is pushing for the Cashless Welfare Card to be introduced into more West Australian communities.

“Elders of communities, mayors of major towns are standing up and saying enough is enough. We need the system to change. What we have had is not enough. It’s delivering our children into hell and they have to be protected,” he told a media conference yesterday.

Mr Forrest yesterday brough elders and civic leaders, from Western Australia and South Australia, to meet personally with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the leader of the opposition Bill Shorten and his deputy leader Tanya Plibersek.

Figures from the West Australian Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan’s department claimed that one in three children are being abused, in a town of 500 children – 158 were sexually assaulted, 36 men face 300 charges of child abuse and in another town six children committed suicide in six months. It was not specified whether the children affected were Indigenous or Non- Indigenous.

Jean O’Reerie an Aboriginal Education Worker from Wyndham in the East Kimberley was emotional as she described the situation in her community.

“We need help, we need the government to intervene and help us out as community leaders. We can’t do it on our own. We need change for our community, our kids are hurting,” she said.

“We, the grassroots people, live with it every day. The hurt, the suffering, and the abuse.”

Part 4 : Trying to scare people into supporting the cashless card a worrying ramp up of Andrew Forrest’s campaign: Senator Rachel Siewert

Andrew Forrest is trying to use similar shock tactics to those of the previous Howard Government to scare people into supporting the cashless welfare card, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said last week

“We are seeing a worrying ramp up of Andrew Forrest’s cashless welfare card campaign that uses children, violence and fear just like the Howard Government did in 2007 over the NT Intervention.

“The Howard Government did this to justify the Northern Territory Intervention to impose income management and the Basics Card, at the time the Little Children are Sacred report was used to scare people into supporting income management.

“The final evaluation of the NT Intervention shows that it met none of its objectives. Ten years on we are still seeing the number of children going into out of home care increasing and appalling disadvantage persists.

Using violent imagery then offering a one-dimensional, paternalistic and previously failed approach to a complex problem shows that Andrew Forrest is more concerned about furthering his ideologies than looking at what works.

“I share concerns about disadvantage and agree we need to be addressing severe disadvantage in communities like Port Hedland. We need a multifaceted approach including addressing alcohol supply, drug and alcohol services, and wrap around services driven by the community.

“I agree we do need to be investing in communities but in approaches that work. The Government invested over $1.2 billion in the NT Intervention which met none of its objectives. We should stop wasting money on income management style approaches and start looking at real solutions that work”.

 

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 Cashless Welfare Card : NACCHO CEO Pat Turner questions lack of evidence

the-card

“The cashless welfare card is unfair, a form of control and reminds Aboriginal people every day that they are treated as second- and third-class citizens in their own land,”

One of the key issues in many of the areas where the card operates, such as in remote areas of South Australia, is the difficulty of accessing fresh produce at reasonable prices.

Where is the evidence that this card increases this access and enables Aboriginal people to get the healthy food they need?

A person’s dignity can also be lost when having to use such a card which can also have detrimental impacts on both their mental and physical health and wellbeing.”

Pat Turner, the chief executive of NACCHO  national peak body on Aboriginal health

From Melissa Davey The Guardian

pat-naccho-ceo2

The welfare card was “unfair” and “a form of control”, Turner said in response to a Guardian Australia report from the South Australian town of Ceduna which found welfare recipients on the card felt disempowered and dictated to.

But Turner, who before being appointed to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (Naccho) was the longest-serving chief executive of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and spent 18 months as Monash Chair of Australian Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, questioned the evidence from the government’s report

The trial of the card, known as the indue card, began in Ceduna in March and in the Western Australian towns of Kununurra and Wyndham in April. Welfare recipients in those towns now receive 80% of their welfare payments into the indue card, which cannot be used to withdraw cash or buy alcohol or gambling products. The remaining 20% can be withdrawn as cash.

The government, including the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the human services minister, Alan Tudge, say the card has so far been a success.

In a report released six months into the card’s trial, anecdotal evidence and early data found poker machine revenue in the Ceduna region between April and August last year was 15.1% lower than for the equivalent period in 2015.

There had also been a strong uptake of financial counselling, the report said, with 300 people seeking counselling since the trial began. Anecdotally, there had been a significant decline in people requesting basic supplies like milk and sugar from the Koonibba Community Shopfront in Ceduna, the report also said.

Most people on welfare in the trial towns are Aboriginal.

Guardian Australia has contacted the Department of Health and Human Services for comment.

The strength of data used in the government’s cashless welfare card progress report has been questioned by Aboriginal elders, health economists and the Greens senator, Rachel Siewert.