Feature title - Aboriginal hand holding stethoscope painted on brick wall in Aboriginal flag colours

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Wider health system much to learn from the ACCHO sector

Wider health system much to learn from the ACCHO sector

In her recent article Indigenous health leadership and the pandemic, Lowitja Institute CEO, Dr Janine Mohamed says one of the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic is that the wider health system has much to learn from the successes of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHO) sector and Indigenous health leadership.

You can view the full article here.

6 minute Strep A test suitable for remote settings

Found in the throat and on the skin, Strep A infections are often responsible for sore throats and painful skin infections, which can lead to irreversible and potentially deadly heart and kidney damage if left untreated. Researchers from Perth’s Telethon Kids Institute have demonstrated that rapid, molecular point-of-care tests can be used in remote settings to accurately detect the presence of Strep A bacterium in just six minutes. Children at risk of potentially life-threatening Strep A infections no longer have to wait five days for treatment.

For further information on the new Strep A test click here.

2 small Aboriginal children

Source image: Hospital and Healthcare website.

Past has role to play in suicide rates

The ongoing impacts of inter generational trauma, disempowerment and disengagement cannot be overlooked if Indigenous suicide rates are to be reduced according to University of Southern Queensland Associate Professor Raelene Ward. A registered nurse, Dr Ward is a Senior Lecturer at USQ’s College for Indigenous Studies Education and Research School of Nursing, and recently completed her PhD in suicide prevention, specifically exploring Aboriginal understandings of suicides from a social and emotional wellbeing point of view. “It is well known that suicides among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are much more frequent in comparison to other Queenslanders, and I really wanted to get a more comprehensive understanding of suicides from an Aboriginal perspective,” Professor Ward said.

You can view the University of Southern Queensland’s media release here.

back view of teenage girl at dusk sitting on a swing looking out to sea

Image source: The Queensland Times.

NSW Building on Resilience suicide prevention initiative

Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for Indigenous Australians living in NSW, compared to the seventeenth for non-Indigenous Australians in NSW. In response the NSW government launched the Building on Resilience in Aboriginal Communities initiative earlier this month. The initiative,designed to increase access to culturally responsive suicide prevention activities for Aboriginal communities, will be community-run by 12 NSW Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) across eight local health districts, with participation and input from Elders and local communities.

For further information on the initiative click here.

girl leaning on desk with her head in her hands

Image source: Tweed Daily News.

Regular health checks vital during COVID-19

The Healing Foundation is supporting calls from Health Ministers and health organisations for people to maintain their regular health checks during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said that regular health checks are vital for the most vulnerable in the community, which includes Stolen Generations survivors. “Stolen Generations survivors endured trauma and grief as a result of their forced removal from family, community, and culture,” Ms Petersen said. 

You can view the Healing Foundation’s media release here.

Aboriginal teenager having heart check in mobile health truck

Image source: Rural Workforce Agency Victoria.

Mental health support available for rural frontline nurses

Health professionals in drought and bushfire-affected rural communities have access to extra resources to help them deal with the mental health fallout from these events. CRANAplus, the peak professional body for Australia’s remote and isolated health workforce, has received Commonwealth funding to provide a suite of webinars, podcasts, and tailor-made workshops for those working on the frontline, to keep themselves and their communities resilient. Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton said nurses are the lifeblood of rural areas, responding to complex health needs away from major hospitals and needed support to carry out this vital role. “We cannot overstate the important role our remote nursing workforce has in helping their local communities get through these tough times,” Minister Coulton said.

The media release can be viewed here.

Aboriginal lady on dialysis and Aboriginal nurse

Image source: Queensland Health.

COVID-19 telehealth extended by six months

The temporary Medicare rebates for COVID-19 telehealth consultations, originally due to expire on 30 September, are to be extended for a further six months. The AMA proposed the introduction of telehealth items earlier this year as part of a comprehensive strategy to tackle COVID-19, and has worked behind the scenes for them to extended.

To read the AMA’s media release regarding the extension click here.

health professional looking computer screen engaging in teleconference

Image source: National Rural Health Alliance online magazine Partyline.

COVID-19 impact on community sector

A new survey has found the community service sector is approaching crisis point due to COVID-19 with more than a million people excluded from income support and expected cuts to income support for over two million others. The sector is also dealing with the doubling of unemployment and a rise in serious mental health issues, as well as drops in fundraising, drops in JobKeeper amounts, and future funding uncertainty.

To view the Australian Community Sector Survey 2020 report click here.

two Aboriginal hands holding

Image source: AbSec website.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-specific primary health care data

Information on organisations funded by the Australian Government under its Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP) to deliver culturally appropriate primary health care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is available through two data collections—the Online Services Report (OSR); and the national Key Performance Indicators (nKPIs). The latest results from these collections can be found here.

AIHW Aboriginal access to health services map of Australia

Image source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

WA water to be tested for COVID-19

Health Minister Roger Cook, says WA’s wastewater will soon be tested for the COVID-19 virus, with an evaluation program to expand PCR testing to the state’s sewerage network. “The Collaboration on Sewage Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 (ColoSSoS) Project will track and monitor for traces of the COVID-19 virus in WA’s sewerage network. It will be led by the WA Health system – with testing undertaken by PathWest – to provide an opportunity for robust evaluation and review of the role of wastewater surveillance for COVID-19 in WA. The Water Corporation and Water Research Australia are also project partners.”

To read the media release click here.

Aboriginal toddler drinking from the water fountain in the summertime

Image source: Agrifood Technology website.

NT – Alice Springs

Executive Director – Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress has a vacancy on their Executive team for an Executive Director (ED) of Central Australian Academic Health Science Network (CA AHSN). The ED will provide direct strategic and governance support to the board of the CA AHSN and manage the day to day operations of CA AHSN.

To view the position description click here. Applications close Friday, 25 September 2020.

close up image of two Aboriginal hands holding & CAAC logo

Image source: CAAC website.

NSW – Narooma

Manager People and Culture (Identified) – Katungul

Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services has a vacancy for a Manager People and Culture. The focus of the role is to provide advice, support and expertise in providing a culturally safe workplace that is HR and WHS compliant.

To view the position description click here. Application close 5.00pm Tuesday, 6 October 2020.Katungul logo duck over silhouette of two adults two children

National Press Club of Australia – ‘Australia and the World’ annual lecture – Pat Turner AM

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

The ANU 2020  ‘Australia and the World’ annual lecture aims to promote a broader conversation about Australia’s place in the world. This year Pat Turner AM will discuss the call of Indigenous Peoples across the globe to be heard on matters that have a significant impact on them as Indigenous Peoples and what ‘being heard’ means in the Australian context. Pat will explain why the struggle of Indigenous peoples in Australia to be heard is at a defining moment for the nation.

To view details of the event, which will be live streamed click here.

portrait image of Pat Turner AM & National Press Club logo

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: New funding for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector to close the gap

 

New funding for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector to close the gap

NACCHO welcomes a joint funding pool being established by Australian governments to strengthen the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector to deliver vital services to communities and help deliver on the commitments of Priority Reform Two under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The Commonwealth Government has announced an initial contribution of $46.5 million over four years, with the Victorian Government adding an additional $3.3 million.

This funding comes on the heels of the unveiling of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap which was signed last week.

Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM, said that the Coalition of Peaks welcomes the leadership of Ken Wyatt, the Commonwealth’s Indigenous Australians Minister, in establishing the fund.

“The Coalition of Peaks fought hard to put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations at the centre of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap. They deliver better services for our people, get better outcomes, protect our cultures and employ more First Nations people in their home communities,” Ms Turner said.

“This new funding for the initial delivery of Priority Reform Two will help strengthen and build the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector to deliver additional services to First Nations people, including in new areas like housing and early childhood.” Ms Turner said.

“The joint funding pool complements the commitments in the National Agreement on Priority Reform Two which will also bring additional funding to community-controlled organisations over time and provide more jobs for First Nations people.”  Ms Turner said.

To read the full media release click here.

To view the full new National Agreement on Closing the Gap click here.

 

Culturally safe cancer care guide released

Cancer Australia recently released A guide to implementing the Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer (the Guide), a companion guide to the Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer (OCP).

The Guide is designed to support health services and clinicians in the planning and delivery of culturally safe and responsive cancer care. Using the OCP as the foundation for best practice, the Guide contains priorities for consideration at a system level, practical strategies to help health services plan for improvement and guidance for health professionals to consider in relation to their own practice.

Click here to view the Guide.

 

ATAGI Secretariat EOI request

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) Secretariat recently published a request for Expressions of Interest (EOI) to fill a vacant role on the ATAGI, to provide expertise with respect to the delivery of health services to and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, commencing 31 August 2020.

The EOI deadline for this Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Representative member role on the ATAGI has been extended – EOIs must now be received by midnight 12 pm 6 August 2020.

EOIs can be submitted to ATAGI.Secretariat@health.gov.au

For more information on the role click here.

Syringe drawing from a vial

Source credit: AMA Website.

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News Alert No 3054 : Transcript of launch the historic #Closingthegap #NationalAgreement Prime Minister @ScottMorrisonMP , Minister @KenWyattMP and Pat Turner convener, leader, chair of the @coalition_peaks

 I’m joined today by the Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt and the convener, leader, chair of the Coalition of Indigenous Peak Groups, Pat Turner.

And I want to come to the important reason that we’re gathered together today, to speak about the finalisation of the Closing the Gap Agreements that have been historically reached between the group of Coalition Peaks, the Commonwealth and the states and territories.

This is a very significant day, and I know one that both Ken and Pat have been working together on now for some time and I’m so pleased that we’ve come to this day. I think it’s going to have a very meaningful impact on how we progress to ensure that young Indigenous boys and girls can grow up in this country with the same expectations as non-Indigenous boys and girls in this country. That’s what we want to see. That’s what it’s all about.

That, as Australians right across the country, we can have the same hopes, the same aspirations, the same goals, ultimately. It’s not an easy road and there’s still a long road ahead of us to achieve that. But what we’re announcing today, I think, will make a very meaningful impact on achieving that journey together.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison 30 July 2020

Download full transcript including questions and answers

Launch CTG NPA Prime Minister 30 July Transcript

Read download NACCHO Press Release and links to all documents 

So, with that let me turn, with your agreement, to the important reason that we’ve gathered today, as serious as the pandemic is. The issue of achieving those aspirations for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians together are of great significance to our country, not just now but into the future. It is a national aspiration, a national goal, a national task.

The process that we began around about two years ago, when we came together, began with listening as to why we were being unsuccessful in closing the gap. Any good process starts with listening and that’s what we did as a Government. We listened carefully.

And there were many discussions and there were many very unprecedented discussions, including here, in this very Cabinet room, as I sat early this year in January together with Indigenous leaders from peak groups, with Ken, and that was quite an extraordinary discussion. And it charged us up to keep going with the work that was being done to form the Agreement which we’ve reached today.

As we have been dealing with the pandemic, there have been two phrases, two concepts, that have come up in almost all the briefings that I’ve had. They talk about lines of effort and they talk about unity of effort. And as I was reflecting on this Agreement last night, I believe that’s what this does. It sets out very clear lines of effort, which has been important. But, more importantly, it sets out the process of having a unity of effort. And when we do those two things together, that’s where we make progress.

Whether it’s attacking a pandemic or attacking the very serious issues of Indigenous disadvantage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in this country. And the other thing we did as we listened and we identified these things, and we looked at how we had not been making the progress all of us wanted on closing the gap, we reflected on the fact that Closing the Gap and the initiative taken by Kevin Rudd was an entirely worthy initiative and an initiative deserving of credit. But, innocently, there were elements of how that was done which was misguided.

That’s not a criticism, that is a learning. A learning of these many years that have passed since then, as we’ve sought to live up to those worthy aspirations at that time. And one of the mistakes that have been made is, as we’ve looked at this as a Federal Government, we’ve decided what the gap is. We didn’t look at the gap through the eyes of Indigenous Australians.

We told Indigenous Australians what the gap was that we were going to close and somehow thought they should be thankful for that. That was wrong-headed. That wasn’t the way to do it.

We needed to understand what the gap was, looking through the lens and the eyes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They needed to tell us what the gap was that needed to be closed and that’s what this task has been about. It has also been about understanding that this is not the task or role or responsibility of any one organisation, level of government, or nation of peoples across the country. This is the task of us all. And for that to be successful, we need a partnership between all of these groups. Understanding what these lines of effort are to achieve this unity of effort.

And so we set about achieving a partnership and setting out these 16, as I understand, particular areas of activity. Underpinned by four key things we’re seeking to do to make them possible. And the first of those is partnership – a partnership of states and territories who have significant roles to play in achieving the outcomes that are set out here in this Agreement.

This is not something the Commonwealth can even pretend to think it can do alone. It must be done together with the service delivery and policy arms of state and territory governments. But also with the delivery agencies of Indigenous organisations, which are on the ground, making a difference.

Secondly, it’s about building the capabilities of those on-the- ground, community-based organisations in Indigenous communities to deliver those services as best as they possibly can. It is about transforming mainstream government agencies and institutions and how they conceive these challenges and how they go about engaging and delivering their services and broader policies that impact on Indigenous Australians, whether they’re directed to them specifically or not.

And it’s about getting the right data, the right evidence, and the right reporting that creates the transparency to drive the actions we’re seeking to get progress from.

The data then, as it’s set out in each of these 16 areas, is incredibly well-presented in terms of what we need. It sets out the goal and those goals haven’t changed drastically.

But what it has done is identified the things that make that goal achievable and the signs you need to look for along the way to know you’re going to meet that goal and how we’re progressing against those key data points. And it gets granular. It says, “We’re not just going to look up here, we’re going to go down the community level, we’re going to go and break this up by different groupings to understand where the real challenges are and where our progress is doing well.”

As Ken has often said, this process has to acknowledge the gains to drive the confidence that other areas can see achievement. But it’s also about separating out where the accountabilities lie to get the action. And then there is the further data that is needed to drive the whole process and there are some serious weaknesses when it comes to the intelligence and information that we need to inform plans to eliminate Indigenous disadvantage in this country as much as we possibly can.

And so I find it a very practical document, Pat and Ken. I commend you on the work that it’s done. It’s realistic, it’s shared, it’s evidence-based and led, it’s transparent, it’s practical, it’s ambitious. And from this point, the real work starts. And the plans that are needed from the Federal Government, from the state governments, the plans that need to find their way into budgets.

But I tell you where we start – we start with what we have to do, and then we apply the resources to achieve that. This isn’t about buckets of money, this is about changing the way we do things and ensuring that we apply the resources most effectively to achieve that. And with that I’ll pass you on to Ken, and then to Pat.

THE HON. KEN WYATT MP, MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS:

 Prime Minister, thank you very much. I want to acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, on whose land we are today, their elders past and present.

The concept of Closing the Gap was an idea that arose from the Human Rights Commissioner of the day, Tom Calma. Tom put forward a series of propositions and the first signing of a Closing the Gap Agreement was done by a former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

The intentions were honourable. The outcomes were never achieved in the way that we had aspired to reach in the way of improving the lives of Indigenous Australians. And this particular Agreement is historic.

Because it goes to the very thing that I said right at the beginning when I first came into this role – that we need to develop approaches to address the issues of inequality and inequity by having Indigenous Australians sitting and jointly designing, planning and developing a direction that is based on how we wrap around people, their life expectancy, their life expectations, and their aspirations from the community level through to the peak organisations.

It’s been an incredible privilege working with Pat and the 51 peak organisations.

When we first started, it was 21. And then it grew. But the more people that were involved, the greater the depth of discussion around what do these targets mean?

How will they change the lives of people? And how will we bring governments with us? And that was a critical part of the conversation, as to how do we then take it to the next stage? Because, primarily, it was the Prime Minister who tabled the Closing the Gap Report. There was no requirement for states and territories to do that.

This Agreement through the state and territory cabinet processes has endorsed a new approach. An approach that will involve Aboriginal people as partners in the design of the work of government agencies.

It will involve transforming the way in which government agencies at every level, including local government, work with Indigenous Australians. It also commits, through the cabinet process, ministers in all portfolios to work towards achieving closure in the targets and the gap that is associated with the targets.

But I think more importantly is the way in which the spirit of intent for the outcome we’ve achieved today in this Agreement was reached through the passion and commitment of so many people.

I want to acknowledge Pat’s leadership. If you work with Indigenous organisations, as she has done, she has certainly brought 51 significant leaders to the table, to agree on the targets that we have within the Agreement, including incarceration rates, including family safety and the safety of women, and expanding those targets to focus in key and critical areas.

But I also want to acknowledge every state and territory Aboriginal Affairs Minister, because their officials and the officers from the National Indigenous Agency and the officers who worked with Pat in the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation worked paragraph by paragraph through the Agreement until all parties were satisfied. But the thing that is different this time is the enthusiasm of all to address these targets.

Prime Minister,I want to acknowledge you, because you’ve done something that no other Prime Minister has done,andthatistoputfaithintheIndigenouscommunitytodeveloptargetsforusalltoachieve.But for all of us to take responsibility for, and for all of us to be accountable for. And by all of us focusing on those three tranches,Iamextremelyoptimisticthatwewillseeclosuresinareastoagreaterextentthan what we’ve seen historically in the past.

And the amount of goodwill means that the reforms that we seek to achieve will now be done in a way that is very different. It means a person living in Ampilatwatja or living in Balgo WA, or in Arrente country will have avenues in which to influence government policy and direction, and to have a say on those things that impact on them through our peaks, and through the other structures that exist within states and territories.

So, I compliment all who are involved. And whilst I have been Minister, I’ve enjoyed the immense journey of the very meaty debates, but the way in which we have come together to produce a blueprint for improving the lives of our people across this nation, with flow-on effects for all Australians.

It is part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to having a change of direction that is going to make a difference on the ground with state and territory Premiers and Chief Ministers who, through National Cabinet, have signed up to this Agreement, along with the President of the Australian Local Government Association, so it means that local government equally will be involved in achieving the outcomes.

I’d now like to ask Pat to come forward and make her comments.

PAT TURNER AM:

Thank you very much, Minister, and thank you, Prime Minister. Today truly is an historic occasion. This is the first time a National Agreement designed to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been developed and negotiated between Australian governments, local government, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives.

We have come a long way as partners since the partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect in March last year and I want to thank each government for the spirit in which they have approached the partnership.

I particularly want to thank you, Prime Minister, for your leadership in taking the first step in agreeing to establish a formal partnership between the Coalition of Peaks and governments on Closing the Gap.

The Prime Minister probably didn’t fully realise what he was committing to, and possibly no government did, but maybe that was a good thing at the time.

Today we now have a comprehensive set of commitments from governments that places Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations at the centre of Closing the Gap. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know what is best for our communities, not governments, and this National Agreement means that decisions of Government on Closing the Gap need to be negotiated and agreed with us.

But I have to say, the Prime Minister and Ken will know it hasn’t always been easy, and some of our negotiations have been very hard-fought.

For the Coalition of Peaks, the National Agreement is not just words. They represent actions that can make a real difference to the lives of our people, our families, and our communities. We have also had the voices of more than 4,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who participated in our engagements on what should be included in the new National Agreement, guiding us in our negotiations.

The Coalition of Peaks is confident that the National Agreement, if fully implemented, has the potential to establish a strong policy foundation to give effect to what our people have been saying for a long time is needed to make a difference.

The National Agreement may not include everything our people want or need to make lasting change to our lives, but this is a huge step forward. I also want to thank all the members of the Coalition of Peaks. This is the first time our community- controlled leadership have come together in this way to bring our collective experiences and expertise to the task of Closing the Gap, and it has been a real privilege to work with my colleagues in the Peaks.

It is important that we celebrate today’s achievements. We are marking a turning point in Indigenous Affairs and the relationship between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives and we have all played our parts.

But the real hard work starts tomorrow, as we begin the implementation of the National Agreement in full partnership between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, organisations and representatives. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, Pat. Let’s take questions on this matter and then we can return to the pandemic issues afterwards.

JOURNALIST: We’ve heard many moving and passionate speeches by Prime Ministers and Ministers over the last 12 years about this subject and every year moving speeches by Prime Ministers and Ministers lamenting the fact that governments have fallen woefully short of meeting the targets. What commitment can you give that these new targets will actually be met?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it has the full backing of our entire Government. I said when Ken was appointed as the first Minister for Indigenous Australians, as an Indigenous Australian, that every Minister in my Cabinet is a Minister for Indigenous Australians. Because that’s the change, that’s the shift that needs to have effect to actually make more progress. I think you’re right, Mark, there’s never been any lack of passion or commitment or dedication from this podium, no matter who stood behind it. Every Prime Minister that I know has shared this passion and this dedication but also the frustration that goes along with the lack of progress in this area.

What I think is different about this process is there has been some humble learnings that has led to its development and its execution. There has been a recognition that in sometimes we have been too ambitious without understanding the detail of what you actually have to do to get there. And what I particularly like about this Agreement is how, as I explained before, it gets very granular about how you get there, and how you know when you’re not getting there, and that’s very important. This evidence-led process which has an accountability to it, which I think is very important.

Now, I’d love to give you a guarantee, like every one of my predecessors would have and endeavoured, tried to, as I am today. But I am tempered by that bitter experience of my predecessors and my own. And so I take comfort in the fact that we’ve got a partnership now that we haven’t had before. It’s not because others didn’t want it. I think the partnership is the product of the learnings, the humble learnings that have been necessary. So, I do hope, Mark, that we can live up to this. We owe it to everybody Indigenous boy and girl in the country today, and every Indigenous person in the country today.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, and Minister Wyatt, there’s been some criticism of the fact that the domestic violence target is not being announced today and it’s going to continue to be worked on. Can you explain why, given what we know about the over-representation of First Nations women as victims of domestic violence, why that is still being worked on and is not being announced today?

PRIME MINISTER: Sure, I’m happy to, and I’ll let Ken and Pat speak to that because they’ve been directly involved in those decisions.

THE HON. KEN WYATT MP, MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS: In dealing with this issue we want zero tolerance of any domestic violence, of violence against women. I know that when the working group was going through this, the focus on just physical violence against women was seen as not sufficient. That hasn’t lowered our bar for absolute extinction of domestic violence against any woman, and this fits within the Fourth National Plan that our Government has in place as well. But our senior women have asked that we do more work on that and I respect the request that they have made, and we will come back with further work. But the target is still zero tolerance of domestic violence against our women.

PAT TURNER AM: Yes, thank you. So we do have some more work to do in our negotiations with all of the governments. It is a national priority and one that we take very seriously, and we hope to have that nutted out as we go through in the next few months and we start our work on the implementation plans to get some real nutty figures in there.

Let me say on the National Agreement, it’s very important that you read it in detail and you understand it because there are funding provisions that are already committed to in the National Agreement and they will come on board as we progress the important work now on the implementation plans and the important work that we have to do to make sure that we have the right people at the right table, at the right time, in the right place.

 

NACCHO Press Release @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills “ New #NationalAgreement on #ClosingtheGap marks historic shift to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ life outcomes” @coalition_peaks

The National Agreement commits governments and the Coalition of Peaks to building strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sectors and organisations to deliver Closing the Gap services and programs.

The first four sector strengthening plans will be developed for early childhood care and development, housing, health, and disability within 12 months.

We are pleased that governments are putting in funding to support Priority Reform Two. This funding will help build and strengthen the community-controlled sectors to deliver services and programs to our people.

NACCHO has been working on this new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, as a member of the Coalition of Peaks.

This agreement belongs to all of us!”

Donnella Mills NACCHO Chair

Read / Download the full NACCHO Press Release HERE

Today finally marks a new chapter in our efforts to close the gap – one built on mutual trust, shared responsibility, dignity and respect.

The gaps we are now seeking to close are the gaps that have now been defined by the representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This is as it should be. This creates a shared commitment and a shared responsibility.

This is the first time a National Agreement designed to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been negotiated directly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives.

By focusing our efforts on these more specific, practical and shared objectives we can expect to make much greater progress.”

Scott Morrison Prime Minister

“The way all levels of government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives have come together to negotiate this National Agreement and collectively determine how we strive to close the gap demonstrates our commitment to working together through meaningful partnerships.

We know that the best out comes are achieved when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are equal partners with governments, and when they have a direct say in how we are going to be successful in driving the desired outcomes.”

Ken Wyatt  Minister for Indigenous Australians

“For the first time, First Nations people will share decision-making with governments on Closing the Gap. The National Agreement makes this a reality, not just for the Coalition of Peaks, but for all First Nations people that want to have a say on how things should be working in their communities,”

If the Priority Reforms are implemented in full by governments and through shared decision making with First Nations people, we should see changes over time to the lives and experiences of our people.”

Ms Pat Turner AM, Lead convenor, Coalition of Peaks will be appearing on the ABCTV The Drum tonight 30 July at 6.00 PM 

To read download the full new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, 

Read all NACCHO Coalition of Peaks articles HERE

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) which has a membership of 143 community-controlled health services in every jurisdiction of Australia has strongly welcomed the launch of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The Agreement has now been signed by the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak organisations, all Australian Governments, and the Australian Local Government Association.

The National Agreement signals a turning point in the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and governments – one that is based on shared decision making on policies and programs that impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives.

The partnership that the Peaks sought was agreed to by Australian Governments and subsequently the Coalition of Peaks, including NACCHO, signed an historic National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.

That provided a platform to develop a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap which replaces the former National Indigenous Reform Agreement, agreed to only by Australian Governments in 2008. The new Agreement breaks with the past because it was negotiated and agreed to by representatives of our people too.

We have also had the voices of the more than 4000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who participated in our engagements on what should be included in the new National Agreement guiding us in our negotiations.

We needed to collectively show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that they have been heard.

NACCHO is pleased to see the National Agreement includes a new commitment to increase the amount of government funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and services going through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “The National Agreement is such a momentous time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is the first time a National Agreement designed to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been developed and negotiated between Australian governments, local government, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives.

This will be a game-changer as we will be at the table discussing the issues and policies that matter to us.

“The National Agreement is built on four priority reforms to address ongoing critical issues around the social determinants of health such as housing, environment, access to health services, education and others with justice being a new target in there.

“We have worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for decades on matters that are important to our people and are best placed to represent areas like health, early childhood, education, land and legal services.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations deliver healthcare services that are holistic, comprehensive, and culturally competent and better for our people. They get better outcomes and they employ more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The new National Agreement is a commitment from all governments to fundamentally change the way they work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations through four Priority Reforms that were overwhelmingly supported during the community engagements led by the Coalition of Peaks late last year.

The Priority Reforms commit governments to new partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the country; strengthen community-controlled organisations to deliver closing the gap services; address structural racism within government agencies and organisations; and improve sharing of data and information with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to support shared decision making.

Summary

  • The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap has today come into effect, upon signature by the First Ministers of all Australian Governments, the Lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, and the President of the Australian Local Government
  • The National Agreement demonstrates the Government’s commitment to work in genuinepartnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap is a marked shift in the Closing the Gap framework.
  • This historic Agreement is the culmination of a significant amount of work undertaken by the Joint Council on Closing the Gap and developed in genuine partnership between all Australian governments and the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak
  • It is the first time an Agreement designed to improve life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been developed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

 

  • The Agreement is centred on four priority reforms that will change how governments work with Indigenous Australians. These are
    • Strengthening and establishing formal partnerships and shared decision-making.
    • Building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled
    • Transforming government organisations so they work better for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    • Improving and sharing access to data and information to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities make informed
  • There are 16 national socio-economic targets that will track progress in improving life

  • All governments and the Coalition of Peaks are accountable under this Agreement for implementing the reforms and achieving the
  • There will be a significant increase in the level of reporting against the new targets to increase transparency and
  • There will be more independent reporting on progress than before, with the Productivity Commission delivering a report on progress every three years and an Indigenous-led review of change on the
  • Annual reports on actions taken by all parties will be published and, for governments, tabled in respective parliaments.
  • And the Joint Council will have an ongoing role in monitoring performance and implementation of all Parties’ actions under the jointly agreed National Agreement.
  • Each party will now develop implementation plans in the next 12 months that will set out what they will do to deliver on the priority reforms and achieve the

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dental Health : #ClosingtheGap : Co-design with ACCHO’s enables much needed health-care services to be delivered in ways that strengthen communities, respect culture and build capacity.

“We’ve now moved through all phases of implementing our co-designed programs, and are focusing on maintaining them with the support of school staff and the local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service.

Our research shows engaging communities to design and deliver oral health services was associated with reduced tooth decay and increased healthy behaviours.

The following elements of co-design in our project could readily be incorporated into the design and delivery of health-care services for Aboriginal Australians:

  1. improved cultural safety— Aboriginal people feel safe and welcome
  2. co-design and shared ownership— local Aboriginal people shape the service model
  3. local employment— Aboriginal people work in the service and lead local delivery
  4. skills development— Aboriginal people complete qualifications that are nationally recognised
  5. long-term commitment— programs are designed and delivered with sustainable and reliable funding.

The gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians remains stubbornly wide.

Co-design enables much needed health-care services to be delivered in ways that strengthen communities, respect culture and build capacity.

Original published here 

Read over 40 Aboriginal Dental Health articles published by NACCHO over past 8 years

Aboriginal children in rural Australia have up to three times the rate of tooth decay compared to other Australian children.

Tooth decay can affect a person’s overall health and nutrition because it can affect how they chew and swallow. Tooth decay can also reduce self esteem because of its effect on appearance and breath. And importantly, poor oral health increases the risk of chronic disease such as heart disease.

Yet tooth decay is both preventable and treatable.

Broadly speaking, improving oral health is critical to closing the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and Australians overall. Tackling this gap requires customised, community-led solutions.

Our research demonstrates co-design — that is, engaging communities to design and deliver services for their own communities — is associated with significantly improved oral health among Aboriginal primary school children.

This approach may also hold the answer for closing the gap in other areas of health care.

Oral health among Aboriginal children

In the middle of last century, Aboriginal children actually had significantly better oral health than other Australian children. But today, Aboriginal children have roughly double the rate of tooth decay compared to other Australian children.

A range of factors have contributed to this recent problem, starting with colonisation — the effects of which have been compounded over time — and the shift to a highly processed Westernised diet.

Where interventions to prevent common oral diseases like tooth decay have become available to most Australian children in recent decades, Aboriginal children in rural Australia have historically had limited access to public dental services.

The disparity is compounded by the cost of basic supplies like toothpaste and toothbrushes, which may be unattainable for some families, and poor availability of cool filtered drinking water in remote communities.

We sought to reduce consumption of sugary drinks by installing refrigerated and filtered water fountains in schools and communities. We also engaged teachers to encourage students to fill up their water bottles and drink from them throughout the school day.

As well as this, we sought to increase fluoride intake (a naturally occurring mineral that helps to prevent tooth decay) by establishing daily in-school tooth brushing programs, supplying toothbrushes and toothpaste for school and home, and applying fluoride varnish to the children’s teeth once each term.

We also provided treatment for existing tooth decay and gum disease.

In 2018, we looked at the oral health and oral hygiene behaviours of children from the participating schools. Our findings have recently been published and show the project is working well.

What we found

In just four years we found a reduction in tooth decay, plaque and gingivitis (gum disease).

The average number of teeth with tooth decay per child in 2018 was 4.13, compared to 5.31 in 2014. Notably, the proportion of children with no tooth decay increased from 12.5% in 2014 to 20.3% in 2018.

There was also a dramatic reduction in the proportion of children with severe gingivitis from 43% in 2014 to 3% in 2018.

We also saw an increase in positive oral hygiene behaviour including tooth brushing, consumption of drinking water and reduced consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

In 2014, 13% of children reported brushing their teeth on the morning they took the survey. This increased to 36% in 2018.

Collaborating with communities

Co-design means working alongside communities to establish the most effective ways to implement evidence-based strategies, and sustain these. It’s about sharing knowledge to enable long-term, positive change to complex problems.

In our project, the co-design process has been central to these outcomes:

  • local Aboriginal staff coordinate the programs and dental treatment services
  • clinical staff live and worklocally
  • we’ve established scholarships for localsto obtain qualifications as dental assistants, allied health assistants and oral health therapists
  • we’ve implemented daily in-school tooth brushing, regular fluoride varnish application and drinking water programs
  • the community decided on the location and installation of water fountains
  • we’ve set up highly cost-effectiveoral health services for the communities.

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Alert : Download @AIHW National report card examining Indigenous Health , COVID-19 and other health issues in Australia

” Generally, Australians can expect to enjoy long and relatively healthy lives, however, there are disparities across some population groups.

Often, people living in rural and remote and/or lower socioeconomic areas, people with disability, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of illness, hospitalisation and death than other Australians.

For example, people living in remote and very remote areas are 1.2 times as likely to have diabetes as people in major cities; people living in the lowest socioeconomic areas are twice as likely to have diabetes as people in highest socioeconomic area; and Indigenous Australians are 2.9 times as likely to have diabetes as non-Indigenous Australians.

There have been some improvements in the health of Indigenous Australians in recent years, including a fall in the Indigenous death rate across all age groups—except for those aged 75 and over—between 2008 and 2018 and rates of ear disease among Indigenous children are decreasing.’

See pages 107 to 131 in attached report for Indigenous Health report or read online HERE

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities COVID-19 see below 

Download full report 

aihw-australia Health 2020

Life expectancy, chronic conditions, social determinants of health and the COVID-19 pandemic are some of the issues under the spotlight in the latest two-yearly report card on the health of Australians.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Chair Mrs Louise Markus today launched Australia’s Health 2020 

AIHW Deputy CEO Mr. Matthew James said the report had come at an important time.

‘More than any other event in recent history, the pandemic has led Australians to focus on our health, the health of our families and communities, and demonstrated the importance of the health system,’ Mr. James said.

Doing well but room for improvement

Australians are living longer—life expectancy for males born in 2016–2018 was 80.7 years and 84.9 years for females, this is up from 55.2 and 58.8 years, respectively, for those born in 1901–1910. Australian males had the ninth highest and Australian females had the seventh highest life expectancy at birth among the 36 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries in 2018.

An estimated 11.6% of Australian adults (aged 18+) were daily smokers in 2019—a decrease from 12.8% in 2016, and 25% in 1991. Similarly, the number of homes with children where someone smoked in the home has fallen over time—from 19.7% in 2001 to 2.8% in 2016, and 2.1% in 2019.

The coronary heart disease death rate has fallen 82% since 1980 but it is still our leading single cause of death. About 7 in 10 (69%) people survived at least 5 years after a cancer diagnosis during 2012–2016––an improvement from about 5 in 10 (51%) people during 1987–1991.

‘Unfortunately, Australia has the fifth highest rate of obesity out of the 23 OECD countries for which data is available. In 2017–18, around two-thirds (67%) of adults and one-quarter (25%) of children and adolescents were overweight or obese,’ Mr. James said.

‘Almost half (47%, or more than 11 million people) of Australians have a chronic condition such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, asthma or a mental health condition. Many—but not all—chronic conditions are largely preventable by addressing risk factors such as tobacco smoking, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol, insufficient physical activity, poor diet and nutrition and overweight and obesity.’

The health system

On an average day, Australians make 430,000 visits to general practitioners, fill 830,000 prescriptions under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and there are 32,000 hospitalisations.

Over the past 2 decades, the health sector in Australia has grown faster than the rest of the economy, as well as the population.

‘In the 20-year period to 2017–18, total health expenditure in Australia increased from $77.5 billion to $185.4 billion in real terms, and spending per person increased from $4,200 to $7,490,’ Mr. James said.

‘As a proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), health expenditure increased from 7.6% in 1997–98 to a peak of 10.3% in 2015–16. It has since declined to 10% in 2017–18.’

Governments funded about two-thirds (68%) of health spending in 2017–18, with funds primarily raised through tax revenue. As a proportion of tax revenue, health spending by governments represented 24% in 2017–18, a decline from 26% in 2016–17 (reflecting strong revenue growth in 2017–18).

Over the past 5 years, the proportion of health spending funded by individuals declined and in both 2016–17 and 2017–18, personal spending on health reflected less than 0.4% of individual wealth, the lowest proportion since 2000–01.

Between 2014–15 and 2018–19, the total number of hospitalisations in Australia increased by an average of 3.3%—faster than the average population growth of 1.6% over the same period.

Data to be released by the AIHW later this year will give an indication of how the COVID-19 pandemic, including the temporary suspension of elective surgery during April 2020, affected surgical and emergency department waiting times for 2019–20.

Looking back on the first 4 months of COVID-19 in Australia

The report includes new analysis to try to fill the gaps in our understanding of COVID-19. It contains data on the first 4 months of COVID-19 in Australia, covering the period from 25 January 2020 (when the first Australian cases were confirmed) to the end of May.

The data demonstrates COVID-19’s potential to seriously affect not just those who are elderly or in very poor health, but also people who may not have been considered to be at the highest risk.

‘One way of understanding a disease’s death toll is in terms of how many years of life it cost the victim, based on their expected lifespan. For example, if a young, healthy person dies, they have probably lost many more years of life compared with an elderly person,’ Mr. James said.

‘There is perception that the majority of COVID-19 deaths are among people who did not have a long expected lifespan prior to developing the disease. However, the Australians who died lost more years of their expected lifespan on average than those who died of our 3 leading causes of death: coronary heart disease, dementia and stroke.’

Mr. James said that Australian governments and the Australian community have responded well to this crisis so far and, as a result, it appears at this point that we may have avoided some of the large adverse impacts that have been seen in some other countries.

‘However, it is important to remember that COVID-19 continues to pose a threat to the community and to the health system—as seen by the current situation in Victoria—and has broadly affected the lives of Australians in other ways, particularly regarding employment.’

While the data in this report largely predates the pandemic, its impacts on both the health system and people’s physical and mental health will be the subject of analysis for several years.

The importance of data to our health

Data have been central to the COVID-19 response because governments have needed immediate and accurate information to make swift, evidence-based decisions.

In addition to seconding staff to the Department of Health to assist with responding to the COVID-19 crisis, the AIHW compiled data on the use of hospital, mental health, and homelessness services and data from various crisis help lines.

‘While the long-term health effects of COVID-19 are largely unknown at present, health data—in particular, linked data—will be critical to understanding its impact on health, society and the economy,’ Mr James said.

‘We expect the demand for ‘near real-time’ data will increase as a result of COVID-19 and the AIHW’s future planning will consider our capacity to deliver information more quickly, while maintaining quality and accuracy.’

In partnership with the Australian National University (ANU), the AIHW worked to add a range of questions to the Life in Australia panel survey to explore the impact of COVID-19 on mental health, housing, alcohol consumption and service use.

The most recent report focuses on mental health and relationships, and is available at https://csrm.cass.anu.edu.au/research/publications/covid-19

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities 

 

There have been substantial improvements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health over the past 30 years, with decreases in cardiovascular death rates and infant mortality, and increases in life expectancy and in the number of people accessing preventive or health monitoring services (such as health checks, chronic disease management plans, and antenatal care) (AHMAC 2017).

However, Indigenous Australians as a group still experience poorer health outcomes compared withnon-Indigenous Australians.

The reasons for this disparity are complex, and key among these is the impact of colonisation and separation from Country on the wellbeing of Indigenous Australians (Osborne et al. 2013). It is also well recognised that disparities in upstream factors—the social determinants of health—result in differences in risks, exposures, access to services and in outcomes throughout life.

One social determinants having a substantial impact on Indigenous health is housing conditions.

This article considers common factors underlying a number of diseases prevalent in the Indigenous Australian population, particularly those in remote areas, but less commonly or even rarely seen among non-Indigenous Australians: chronic kidney disease, rheumatic heart disease, and certain eye and ear diseases. Bringing together the available information, and highlighting data gaps, can help us to

draw out critical issues and to identify potential points of intervention that would produce benefits across multiple areas. Given that many of the social determinants, including housing, lie outside of the health system, the efforts of a range of systems, government departments and other organisations will be needed to support and drive interventions. Establishing agreed indicators across the main domains of interest, and regularly monitoring these, can also help to ensure that all parties, both within and outside the health system, are able to gauge progress and to make sure their efforts are having the desired impact.

Social determinants of health and Indigenous Australians

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes social determinants of health as ‘the structural determinants and conditions of daily life’—that is, the conditions of work or leisure; people’s homes, communities and environments; and their access to education and health care (WHO CSDH 2008). People’s opportunities and circumstances are shaped by the distribution of power, income, goods and services, which are in turn affected by policy choices, and are a major component of health inequities between and within countries.

Commonly recognised social determinants of health include housing, education, employment, income, and social networks and connections. For Indigenous Australians and other Indigenous peoples across the world, cultural factors—including connection with land and waters, identity, and language, as well as the ongoing effects of dispossession, marginalisation, racism, and discrimination—also play a key role in influencing health outcomes (Figure 4.1).

Other important social determinants affecting health outcomes include:

  • health literacy (the ability to obtain, read, understand and use health-related information to make appropriate health decisions), and
  • availability of health resources (the funds, equipment, facilities, personnel and other items such as medicines and medical supplies) needed to provide health

The social determinants of health act through complex and multidirectional pathways, and underlie a broad range of poor health and welfare outcomes. A combination of factors may act at the community and the individual level to influence health.

For example, an individual’s level of education and household income may influence their food choices, while the area in which they live may affect the availability and cost of various foods.

Other articles in this report and the Australia’s health 2020 snapshots (for example, ‘Social determinants of health’ https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/ social-determinants-of-health and ‘Social determinants and Indigenous health’ https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/social-determinants-and- indigenous-health) detail the range of social determinants and how they relate to health; their impact throughout life; and their contribution to the gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. This article examines key health conditions disproportionately impacting Indigenous Australians, which are affected by housing conditions and access to services.

Two of the critical factors connecting housing conditions to health are the impact of overcrowding and the state of domestic health hardware. ‘Health hardware’ refers to the physical equipment needed to support good health. This includes safe electrical systems; access to water; working taps, showers, and sinks with plugs; toilets; waste and wastewater removal systems; and facilities needed for the safe storage and preparation of food.

If any of these facilities are unavailable, not working, or inadequate to support the number of residents, illness or injury can occur. Also implicit in this is that local infrastructure should minimise environmental health risks, by providing access to safe drinking water, and by supporting sanitation and waste management services.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities COVID-19 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities are at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks and severe outcomes for a number of reasons.

They are a mobile population and remote communities have frequent visitors (including fly-in fly-out health care workers), increasing the chances of disease importation. They often have reduced access to health services either due to physical distance for those in remote areas or due to other barriers related to institutional racism, and mistrust of mainstream health services (CDNA 2020b). In addition, Indigenous Australians experience a burden of disease 2.3 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians, with 64% of the burden due to chronic diseases such as diabetes and CHD (AIHW 2016).

Overcrowding in homes and lack of infrastructure to support personal hygiene in remote areas can promote disease transmission and make physical distancing and efforts to self-quarantine challenging.

To protect remote communities from COVID-19, governments working in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities began restricting the movement of people in and out of remote areas and began setting up respiratory clinics to support Indigenous Australians (Hunt & Wyatt 2020). The National Management Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples has been developed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 and endorsed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, and was released on 30 March 2020.

As of 24 May, less than 1% of notified cases had been reported in Indigenous Australians (59 cases; with 95% Indigenous identification completeness for notified cases), who represent 3.3% of the Australian population. Ten per cent of these cases were acquired in Outer Regional areas, and none in Remote or Very Remote areas; 47% were acquired overseas (COVID-19 NIRST 2020d).

While the number of cases in Australian Indigenous communities has been low, there have been outbreaks in Indigenous populations in Brazil and in Navajo Native Americans in the USA (SBS 2020, The Guardian 2020).

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News Alert : Community control ‘key to Indigenous advancement’, says our CEO Pat Turner

 

Pat Turner believes that when Indigenous organisations take over the job of improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it will be the end of the grim practice of monitoring failure and calling it Closing the Gap.

“Self-determination has been a policy of the commonwealth since 1971 but we have never been given agency to exercise it to the fullest ­extent,” Ms Turner said.

“(That is) because there’s been so much government neglect of programs and the way they’ve implemented programs, and their lack of accountability for the poor outcomes that leaves us in the desperate situation we’re in today.”

From the Australian front page and page 4 interview with Paige Taylor

Ms Turner, who began working life as a switchboard operator, taught Australian studies at Georgetown University in the US and later established indigenous television channel NITV, has emerged as a prominent Aboriginal voice.

Working with Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt, Ms Turner has steered a radical re­design of the Closing the Gap scheme established by the Rudd government in 2008.

It has culminated in a draft agreement with states and terri­tories — as well as the Local Government Association of Australia — to bolster community-­controlled indigenous organisations across Australia so they are capable of doing the work that is currently done by government agencies and non-government organisations dominated by non-Aboriginal people.

The draft agreement, which sets ambitious targets to reduce indigenous disadvantage, is due to go to national cabinet this month.

Ms Turner understands what a strong network of community-controlled indigenous organisations can do. She represents 143 of them as chief executive of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

The community-controlled indigenous health sector is established and in touch with grassroots people all over the country. It led the advocacy that safeguarded remote Aboriginal communities when the corona­virus pandemic hit Australia but Ms Turner acknowledges there is no real equivalent in education, early childhood or other spheres, including the disability sector.

Changing that is key to the success of the new Closing the Gap agreement, Ms Turner said.

In 2019, after 11 annual reports, just two of seven Closing the Gap targets set in 2008 — early childhood education and Year 12 attainment — had been achieved. Targets were not met on school attendance, child mortality, employment, life expectancy and literacy and numeracy.

“We were most grateful that Kevin Rudd took the initiative to set up the Closing the Gap … that money he invested in it was over $4bn,” she said.

“What we weren’t happy with was the fixation on targets.

“They don’t drive change … and while you’ve got to have them, they’re not the things that make the difference.”

Ms Turner said indigenous people would be the difference. “The reforms are equal decision-making between governments and Aboriginal people at every level — local, regional, state, and national,” she said.

“So when they’re talking about measures that impact on us, at the moment what you’ve got in this arrangement are those sitting in ivory towers, the capital cities, and they come up with a policy or implementation plan based on what the government’s commitments of the day are and go out to Aboriginal people and say ‘We’ve got this new program and if you meet these guidelines, you’ll be eligible for funding’.”

Ms Turner said under the new agreement, communities would determine what was needed and they would be supported by governments to achieve it.

The third of five children raised in Alice Springs, Ms Turner has clear views about what gives a child a good start in life. She does not have children and helps raise a great nephew with her sister in a home they share in Canberra.

“I think it starts from pre-birth. It’s about the responsibilities of raising children for both young men and young women and having children at the right time in their lives, rather than unexpected pregnancies,” she said. “Too many young people are having too many kids too early. It just puts massive pressure on the whole extended family.”

Ms Turner’s world view was shaped in part by her father’s accidental death in 1963, when she was 10. Her mother went to work in three jobs as a dishwasher.

She was also influenced by the advocacy of her uncle Charles Perkins, the civil rights activist.

“What I understood very early was Aboriginal people endured a lot of ­racism in daily lives — including me — and that wasn’t right.”

Ms Turner rose through the ranks of the public service, including at the Department of Health and Centrelink, and was the only indigenous person to work as chief executive of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. “I never had one qualified audit report of my organisation; not one,” she said.

It is her view that the commonwealth’s reshaped work-for-the-dole scheme, called CDP, is a lost cause. “It needs to be abolished and what Aboriginal people really need is a job guarantee. Award wages and proper jobs,” she said.

It is a case argued in The Weekend Australian on Saturday by Noel Pearson, who described Australian economist Bill Mitchell’s longstanding call for government to fund real jobs, at the minimum wage, to all unemployed Australians as “one of the most imaginative and compelling answers” to the question of how to build a stronger, fairer and more resilient nation.

Ms Turner is adamant the new Closing the Gap agreement can play a role. “If you invest, as a government, in an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation to do the service delivery, instead of all these bureaucrats sitting around in jobs, those jobs could be undertaken by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which means families at the local level have a decent job,” she said.

“We will have a sustainable workforce, and can offer scholarships and apprenticeships … so that we expand the opportunities and career choices for our young­er generations.”

Part 2

As a receptionist in the Native Welfare department in the early 1970s, it was Pat Turner’s job to let her bosses know when somebody was at the front desk for them.

One day a very young Ms Turner told her boss a gentleman was here to see him, and her boss replied: “Is he black or white?”

It made her blood boil so she challenged him about what difference it made. He agreed to see the visitor. “I had great pleasure in taking him in. Of course, he was an Aboriginal bloke, but I wasn’t gonna tell him that,” she said.

By 1975, Ms Turner was a trained welfare officer back in her hometown of Alice Springs, reading Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. She also took kids to play sport. She also taught them their rights and obligations.

“There were too many of our kids at risk with the criminal justice system,” she said.

After speaking to parents and the local headmaster, she took indigenous kids to the Alice Springs Magistrates Court in a borrowed bus.

“Ninety five per cent of the people going to court every day were Aboriginal and most of the cases were for public drunkenness,” she said.

Afterwards, the police prosecutor and Ms Turner would ask the children for their observations.

Sometimes the children had questions about why an accused went to jail or what they did wrong.

“I would say, ‘Well, what would you do if you were pulled up by the police?’ and some kids said, you know, like, ‘run’,” Ms Turner said. “And so we’d explain to them how to handle that situation. It was about increasing their awareness, how to deal respectfully with the police and not get into further trouble.”

Ms Turner said the children she knew then each finished school and got jobs in indigenous organisations.

This made her proud of them and the families who supported them.

She lamented that excessive gambling, alcohol and drug abuse had left too many children “to their own devices” in Alice Springs these days.

“I think it’s gone a bit backwards in terms of the opportunities for children,” she said.

Paige Taylor

 

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News Alert : Joint Council recommends historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap to National Cabinet, the Australian Local Government Association and the Coalition of Peaks for signing

The Joint Council met this afternoon by teleconference to discuss the final details of the draft National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The Joint Council acknowledged the work between Australian governments, the Australian Local Government Association and the Coalition of Peaks to negotiate the historic agreement.

This is the first National Agreement of its kind that will be signed by Australian governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, represented by the Coalition of Peaks. It has been developed in genuine partnership between all parties.

“We are making history,” said Pat Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks; CEO of NACCHO and Co-Chair of the Joint Council. “I’m proud to say that we are in the home stretch of bringing this historic National Agreement to light.”

“A real game changer for this next phase of Closing the Gap is that the expertise and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on what works and what is needed is at the centre,” Ms Turner said.

The draft National Agreement is informed by a comprehensive engagement process, led by the Coalition of Peaks, in late 2019 with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country on what should be included.

“The draft National Agreement does not include everything that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want, but I know that we have pushed governments in their commitments because the Coalition of Peaks have been at the table. There is a significant difference from what governments alone were prepared to commit to in December 2018 and where we are now. That change has come about because of the work of the Coalition of Peaks.”

The draft National Agreement sets a strategy to close the gap that is strongly based on, and underpinned by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ priorities. It is built around four new Priority Reforms about transforming the way governments work with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in order to improve outcomes. The Priority Reforms were overwhelmingly supported during the engagements.

The Priority Reforms are:

1. Developing and strengthening structures to ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in shared decision making at the national, state and local or regional level and embedding their ownership, responsibility and expertise to close the gap.

2. Building the formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services sector to deliver Closing the Gap services and programs in agreed focus areas.

3. Ensuring all mainstream government agencies and institutions undertake systemic and structural transformation to contribute to Closing the Gap, improve accountability and respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

4. Ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to, and the capability to use, relevant data and information to monitor the implementation of the Priority Reforms, the Closing the Gap targets and drive local priorities.

The draft National Agreement includes commitments to tangible actions from all governments to change the way they work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and give effect to the four Priority Reforms. All four Priority Reforms will have a target to measure government action in these areas.

The draft National Agreement also establishes 16 national socio-economic targets in areas including education, employment, health and wellbeing, justice, safety, housing, land and waters, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. The targets will help to monitor progress in improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The Coalition of Peaks have always said that targets alone do not drive change. We have seen this from the past 10 years. It is the full implementation of the Priority Reforms that will make the difference to our peoples’ lives. This is where we need to focus governments to focus and this is exactly what the new National Agreement will do,” Ms Turner said.

“The Joint Council considered the ambition of the closing the gap targets in the draft National Agreement and agreed that parity of outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians is the only acceptable outcome.”

“Expected parity dates are not fixed dates. If governments implement the Priority Reforms in full and invest in the outcome areas of health, education, employment and housing, parity will be achieved earlier,” Ms Turner said.

The National Agreement includes new engagement and accountability mechanisms that mean jurisdictions will work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to implement the Agreement. All parties to the National Agreement are fully committed to the outcomes of the Agreement.

“This new National Agreement has the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of our people and has the potential to establish a strong policy foundation to finally give effect to what our people have been saying is needed, for a long time, to close the gaps,” Ms Turner said.

About the Joint Council

The Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap establishes a Joint Ministerial and Coalition of Peaks Council on Closing the Gap (Joint Council) with members from the Coalition of Peaks, a Minister from each state and territory government and the Commonwealth government, and a representative from the Australian Local Government Association.

Its role is to support national leadership, coordination and cooperation on Closing the Gap and provide advice to First Ministers, the President of Local of Government Association, and the Coalition of Peaks.

The Joint Council communique is at: http://coalitionofpeaks.org.au/joint-council-communique-july-2020/

About the Coalition of Peaks The Coalition of Peaks is a representative body of around fifty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled peak organisations and members. The Coalition of Peaks came together on their own as an act of self-determination to be formal partners with Australian governments on Closing the Gap.

Members are either national, state or territory wide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled peak bodies including certain independent statutory authorities. Their governing boards are elected by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and / or organisations.

For more information on the Coalition of Peaks and to sign up for our mailing list, go to: www.coalitionofpeaks.org.au

 Third Meeting of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap

3 July 2020, Communiqué

The Joint Council acknowledged the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the many lands, waters and rivers that members joined from, and paid their respects to Elders past and present. The previous meeting was on 23 August 2019 in Adelaide.

National Agreement on Closing the Gap

The Joint Council acknowledged the work between Australian governments, the Australian Local Government Association and the Coalition of Peaks to negotiate the draft National Agreement on Closing the Gap which was considered in detail today.

The Joint Council is proud to recommend the National Agreement on Closing the Gap to First Ministers, the President of the Australia Local Government Association and the Coalition of the Peaks for agreement and signature.

This is an historic National Agreement. It was developed in genuine partnership between the Commonwealth, the Coalition of Peaks, State and Territory governments and the Australian Local Government Association. It is the first time a National Agreement designed to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been developed and negotiated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The National Agreement is based on, and underpinned by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ priorities. It is built around four new Priority Reforms that will change the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

All governments have committed to tangible actions to change the way they work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and give effect to the four Priority Reforms. All four Priority Reforms will have a target to measure government action in these areas.

The Priority Reforms are:

  1. Developing and strengthening structures to ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in shared decision making at the national, state and local or regional level and embedding their ownership, responsibility and expertise to close the gap
  2. Building the formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services sector to deliver closing the gap services and programs in agreed focus areas
  3. Ensuring all mainstream government agencies and institutions undertake systemic and structural transformation to contribute to Closing the Gap, improve accountability and respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  4. Ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to, and the capability to use, locally relevant data and information to monitor the implementation of the Priority Reforms, the closing the gap targets and drive local priorities.

The draft National Agreement also establishes 16 national socio-economic targets in areas including education, employment, health and wellbeing, justice, safety, housing, land and waters, and languages. These build upon the draft targets of 2018. The targets will help to monitor progress in improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It is our collective ambition to reach parity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. The ambition of the targets take all governments beyond a business as usual approach and will require an increased effort by all parties. Expected parity dates are not fixed dates. With the full implementation of the Priority Reforms and a significant joint focus on the outcome areas, parity will be achieved earlier.

The National Agreement includes new engagement and accountability mechanisms that mean jurisdictions will work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to implement the Agreement. All parties to the National Agreement are fully committed to the outcomes of the Agreement and share ownership of those outcomes.

Engagement report

Joint Council welcomed the recently released ‘Report on engagements with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to inform a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap’, published by the Coalition of Peaks on 24 June 2020. The report provides a comprehensive analysis of the outcomes of the historic engagements which took place between September and December 2019.

To support the full involvement and ownership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in closing the gap, the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap is based on what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have said is needed to improve outcomes. The Joint Council has reviewed the report on the engagements and is satisfied that the key outcomes are included in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Members attending

Member Representing
The Hon Ken Wyatt MP (Co-chair) Commonwealth
Pat Turner AM (Co-chair) Coalition of Peaks
Muriel Bamblett AO Coalition of Peaks
Jamie Lowe Coalition of Peaks
Cindy Berwick Coalition of Peaks
Jill Gallagher Coalition of Peaks
Donella Mills Coalition of Peaks
Vicki O’Donnell Coalition of Peaks
David Warrener Coalition of Peaks
Katrina Fanning PSM Coalition of Peaks
John Paterson Coalition of Peaks
Ruth Miller Coalition of Peaks
Gabrielle Upton MP New South Wales
Gabrielle Williams MP Victoria
The Hon Craig Crawford MP Queensland
The Hon Ben Wyatt MLA Western Australia
The Hon Steven Marshall MP South Australia
The Hon Roger Jaensch MP Tasmania
Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA Australian Capital Territory
The Hon Selena Uibo MLA Northern Territory
Mayor David O’Loughlin Australian Local Government Association

 

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News Alert : The Joint Council to consider draft National Agreement on Closing the Gap

The Joint Council will consider the draft National Agreement on Closing the Gap today when it meets by teleconference this afternoon. This is the third meeting of the Joint Council.

The draft National Agreement has been negotiated between the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks), all Australian governments and the Australian Local Government Association.

The Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Ms Pat Turner AM, and Commonwealth Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt MP, met this morning as Co-Chairs of the Joint Council ahead of the meeting.

The draft National Agreement has been built around what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people say is needed to help close the gap. These insights were gathered during community engagements led by the Coalition of Peaks late last year.

“The Coalition of Peaks are expecting that the Joint Council will be focused on getting the best National Agreement possible, one that will have the greatest impact for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” said Pat Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks; CEO of NACCHO and Co-Chair of the Joint Council.

Following the Joint Council’s consideration, the draft National Agreement is expected to be referred to the National Cabinet, the President of the Local Government Association and the Coalition of Peaks for approval before the end of July.

A communique from the Joint Council will be released once the meeting concludes this afternoon.

About the Joint Council

The Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap establishes a Joint Ministerial and Coalition of Peaks Council on Closing the Gap (Joint Council) with members from the Coalition of Peaks, a Minister from each state and territory government and the Commonwealth government, and a representative from the Australian Local Government Association.

Its role is to support national leadership, coordination and cooperation on Closing the Gap and provide advice to First Ministers, the President of Local of Government Association, and the Coalition of Peaks.

About the Coalition of Peaks The Coalition of Peaks is a representative body of around fifty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled peak organisations and members. The Coalition of Peaks came together on their own as an act of self-determination to be formal partners with Australian governments on Closing the Gap.

Members are either national, state or territory wide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled peak bodies including certain independent statutory authorities. Their governing boards are elected by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and / or organisations.

For more information on the Coalition of Peaks and to sign up for our mailing list, go to: www.coalitionofpeaks.org.au

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Research Alerts : Download @AIHW Report Indigenous primary health care results : Our ACCHO’s play a critical role in helping to improve the health of our mob

 ” Comprehensive and culturally appropriate primary health care services play a key role in improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians through prevention, early intervention, health education, and the timely identification and management of physical and psychological issues. “

Download the 77 Page AIHW Report HERE

Indigenous-primary-health-care-results-from-the-OSR-and-nKPI-collections

Primary health care organisations play a critical role in helping to improve the health of Indigenous Australians.

In 2018–19:

To this end, the Australian Government provides funding through the IAHP to organisations delivering Indigenous-specific primary health care services (referred to hereafter as organisations).

These organisations, designed to be accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, are administered and run by:

  • Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations (ACCHOs)
  • state/territory/local health services
  • non-government organisations (NGOs), such as women’s health services (a small proportion of services).

They vary in size, location, governance structure, length of time in operation, workforce composition, sources of funding, the services they offer, the ways in which they operate (for example, stand-alone or part of a consortium), and the needs of their clients.

What they all share in common is a holistic approach to meeting the needs of their Indigenous clients, which often involves addressing a complex mix of health conditions.

Each organisation provides contextual information about their organisation to the OSR once each financial year (covering the period July–June). The OSR includes all activities of the funded organisations, regardless of the percentage of those activities funded by IAHP.

This chapter presents a profile of organisations delivering Indigenous-specific primary health care services, including staffing levels, client numbers, client contacts, episodes of care and services provided. It excludes data from organisations that received funding only for maternal and child health services.

Trends over time are presented where possible, noting that the organisations providing data can vary over time which may limit comparability for some purposes (see Technical notes and Glossary for more information). Also, in 2018–19, the OSR collection underwent significant change and was scaled back to include only ‘core’ items. Plans are underway to reintroduce key items in a staged approach over the next few years.

The following boxes show key results for organisations providing Indigenous-specific primary health care in 2018–19.

Clicking HERE will go to more information on the selected topic.