NACCHO Aboriginal Health Debate 3 of 3 @BillShortenMP speech #ClosingtheGap Our future is your future.


Shadow minister for human services Linda Burney MHR ,Senator Pat Dodson , Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, Jenny Macklin and leader of the opposition Bill Shorten signing the Redfern statement

See also Mondays 20 Feb press release and ACCHO visit


Labor sets up Indigenous caucus in push to improve representation across all parties


” Bill Shorten  pointed  to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations around this country and the magnificent work they are doing to improve the health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people right around this country.

They are the best examples of comprehensive primary health care in the nation. What we do not want is for them to be white-anted by some competitive-funding model, which has the potential to happen.

So I say to the government: invest in what we know works. I am sure that if we do that, we can get better outcomes all round.

I note also—and the Leader of the Opposition spoke about this today—that there are programs that actually do work well.

The Deadly Choices program through the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health, which the member for Blair referred to—a highly progressive organisation—started with four health clinics in Brisbane and now has 18, delivering comprehensive primary health care across the urban population of Brisbane for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—some 50,000 to 60,000 people.  The number of health checks is increasing.”

Mr SNOWDON (Lingiari) (17:21):

Can I firstly acknowledge the traditional owners of this great land that we are on, the Ngunawal and the Ngambri people, and acknowledge the traditional owners of all Aboriginal lands—all Aboriginal nations—right around this country, most particularly in my own electorate of Lingiari, which traverses 1.34 million square kilometres, one-sixth of Australia’s landmass, and has a sizeable proportion of the remote Aboriginal population.

Mr SHORTEN (Maribyrnong—Leader of the Opposition) (12:23):

I acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, traditional owners of the land upon which we meet. I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.

This tradition of recognition goes back millennia. This parliament and the nation we call home is, was and always will be Aboriginal land. Where we are, so too are Aboriginal peoples: from the Noonga near Perth to the Eora of Sydney, the Nunga of Adelaide, the Kulin around Melbourne, the Palawah of Tassie, the Murri of Brisbane and Torres Strait Islanders. We are one country, enriched by hundreds of nations, languages and traditions.

After the last election, I took on the shadow ministry for Indigenous affairs. My family and I went back to Garma to listen and learn. I have met with Northern Territory leaders, defending the young men being abused in juvenile detention.

I travelled to Wave Hill to commemorate the courage of Vincent Lingiari and the Gurindji. And I have looked to my Indigenous colleagues for their wisdom. They are as inspirational as they are modest: a Wiradjuri woman in the House, a shadow minister; a Yanuwa woman in the Senate, heading our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander caucus committee; and a Yawuru man, the father of reconciliation, I look to him as my mentor and assistant shadow minister.

I also recognise the member for Hasluck, Ken Wyatt, and congratulate him on his historic appointment, and I recognise too Senator Lambie.

I will never forget walking into Cairns West Primary on Djabugay Country on the first day of last year’s election campaign and I saw the wide-eyed smiles of so many young Aboriginal students as I introduced them to Senator Patrick Dodson.

The value of role models, of the next generation seeing faces like theirs in places of power, cannot be underestimated. It should not be the exception. We should make it the rule.

In the Labor Party, we are doing better than we have, but what we did before was simply not good enough and I want us to improve, not just at the federal level but at every level of government.


There are so many First Australians in the galleries today. You are friends and your peers would elevate and enrich our parliament with your talent, whichever party you choose. I look forward to the day, and can imagine the day, when one of the First Australians is our Prime Minister or, indeed, our head of state.

As the Prime Minister mentioned, the Referendum Council are continuing their important community conversations. After the Uluru gathering, it will be time for the parliament to step up and draw upon these consultations and to finally agree a set of words to put to the Australian people.

I believe, and let me be clear, that this parliament, this year, should agree on a way forward—not a vague poetic statement meaning nothing and offending no-one by saying nothing; a meaningful proposition that every Australian can understand and, I remain confident, Australians will overwhelmingly support.

Recognition is not the end of the road, but it should be the beginning of a new, far more equal relationship between the first peoples of this nation and all of us who have followed. And that is where the listening and the learning must reach beyond the walls of this chamber.

I do not seek to present a balance sheet of the good and the bad—not a list of top-down programs imperfectly managed; not the same old story of reports written but not read. Instead, I believe in a new approach.

We must forget the insulting fiction that the First Australians are a problem to be solved and, instead, have a new approach to listen to people who stand on the other side of the gap; a new approach that, from now on, the First Australians must have first say in the decisions that shape their lives; a new approach that means a stronger voice for the National Congress of Australia’s First People and the resources to make it happen; a new approach to extend ourselves beyond handpicked sources of advice; a new approach to be in the places where our First Australians live and work and play, from Mount Druitt to Logan, in the APY Lands and East Arnhem.

Not treating local consultation as a box to be ticked but applying the wisdom of people who know. Understanding and recognising there are many Aboriginal nations across this country: Waanyi and Warlpiri, Badi Badi and Gumatj, Tharawal and Kuarna, Yorta Yorta and Narrunga. And all of these nations have the right to have control of their future. The change required is deeper and more profound than where we visit and who we talk to, though.

I believe that First Australians want a way to be heard in a voice that they are in control of. I want Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to know that Labor hears you.

We understand the need for a structure that is not at the mercy of the cuts or seen as a gift of largesse; a voice that cannot be kicked to the curb by change of government or policy; an entity that recognises culture, kinship, identity, language, country and responsibility; the pride that comes from knowing who you are, where you come from and the values you stand upon; and a system where culture is central and fundamental. And have no doubt; this can be done.

We see it when a Pitjantjatjara person seeks out a local healer, a ngangkari, in addition to a GP—when they see both the GP and the local healer; because spiritual wellbeing cannot be treated by a packet of Panadol alone. We see it in the Koori Court in Parramatta, using diversionary sentencing as an alternative to incarceration. The elders sit on the bench alongside the judges and ask the right questions of young people.

They give the young people a sense of belonging and, if these young people muck up, the elders address them with that straight-talking freedom of family and culture, a frankness and reassurance, that even the judge can learn from.

There at this court, the police, the prosecution and the defence show sensitivity to culture, yet still deal with the young person who has behaved in an antisocial way.

This cross-cultural approach enhances the system, bringing Aboriginal cultures to the centre, allowing justice to be done without diminishing the individual or denying identity. It Australianises justice and makes it work better.

We also see it in the best of Australian theatre and art and in education and literature. And if we can accept the value and richness of Indigenous cultural genius and allow it to impact and transform our justice system and the arts, we can do this with the Australian parliament too. In this the people’s place, we can grow an enhanced respect for the first peoples for their unique societies, for their values and for their experiences.

At Redfern, Paul Keating threw down a gauntlet to us, the non-Aboriginal Australians.

He posed a question that we had never asked: how would I feel if this were done to me? That question still stands before Australia, 25 years later. How would we feel if our children were more likely to go to jail than to university? .

How would we feel if the life expectancy of our families was 20 years shorter than our neighbour? How would we feel if, because of our skin, we experienced racism and discrimination? And how would we feel if every time we offered a solution, an idea or an alternative approach, we were patronisingly told ‘the government knows best’?

This is about our ability to walk in another’s shoes. So our test, as a people and as a parliament, is not just to craft a new response but also to rediscover an old emotion, to recapture the best of Australian compassion, to wake up our brotherhood and sisterhood and recapture our love for our fellow human being and our dedication to our neighbours, as we saw with Weary Dunlop’s devotion to his troops—the love of others over risk to self; with Fred Hollows’ life of service; and with Nancy Wake’s courage. It is actually a spirit we see in millions of ordinary Australians: carers, teachers, volunteers and emergency service personnel. It is the story that Pat told me about the matron at his school demanding that that young boy have sheets on his bed like every other young boy. It is about the lady in Casterton who said that no-one was going to treat Pat any different to any other boy.

Courage comes in all forms, and it is the spirit we need. There is a spirit of courage which lurks in the hearts of all Australians. There is that sense that we, at a certain point, will be pushed no further, that we will not stand for it any more.

It is that spirit to reject discrimination, to reject inequality and to simply say, ‘This cannot continue and Aboriginal people should not put up with the rubbish anymore.’ So my message today is not just for the people in this chamber but for the first peoples of this nation.

We seek your help. We seek your partnership. We seek your inspiration and your leadership, because things cannot continue as they are.

The audit of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy tells a worrying tale, a familiar tale. It is concern about consultation and cuts. But it speaks, though, of a problem—perhaps it is called paternalism—of a slide backwards. We see too often—and this is not a comment on the coalition or Labor; it is a comment about parliament—the legitimate cynicism of our First Australians towards the efforts of this place.

There are problems written across the land, in suburbs and remote communities, in our schools and hospitals, in women’s refuges, in the courts of our country and in the targets that we fall short of today. We see it in the staggering 440 per cent increase in Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.

It has been 20 years since Bringing them home, that report which brought tears to this chamber. It is nine years since Kevin Rudd and Jenny Macklin’s apology to the stolen generations—and I wish to acknowledge former Prime Minister Rudd’s presence here today in the gallery, visiting his former workplace. I say this, Kevin: you can take well-deserved pride in your leadership on the 2008 apology.

But now we have more Aboriginal children than ever growing up away from home and away from kin, culture and country. We know that many members of the stolen generation are still living with the pain of their removal and the harm done by years of having their stories rejected and denied.

That is why I applaud the state governments of New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania, who are already taking steps towards providing reparations to families torn apart by the discrimination of those times. Decency demands that we now have a conversation at the Commonwealth level about the need for the Commonwealth to follow the lead on reparations. This is the right thing to do. It is at the heart of reconciliation: telling the truth, saying sorry and making good.

The Closing the Gap targets were agreed by all levels of government—not just the Commonwealth; the states and the local government—in partnership with Aboriginal people. The targets were driven by the understanding: that your health influences your education, that your education affects your ability to get a job, and that good jobs make thing better for families, relationships and communities. The Closing the Gap framework is an intergenerational commitment to eroding centuries of inequality.

It outlives governments and parliaments and prime ministers and opposition leaders—but it also requires renewal. This year, many of the current targets are due to be renegotiated. And there are also new areas that we must consider. Labor continues to demand a justice target, because incarceration and victimisation are breaking families and communities across this country.

Today we propose a new priority on stronger families—adding a target for reducing the number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care. The Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Chid Care has shone a light on this shame: one in three children in statutory out-of-home care are Indigenous. And Indigenous children are nearly 10 times more likely to be removed by child protection authorities than their non-Indigenous peers.

Labour will listen to and will work with SNAICC—and, most importantly, the communities themselves—to look at new models and new approaches.

Breaking this vicious cycle of family violence, of women murdered and driven from their homes, of unsafe communities, of parents in jail and kids in care, requires more from us than doubling down on the current system.

We need to learn from places like Bourke and Cowra and their focus on justice reinvestment—on prevention, not just punishment; from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities who are making men face up to their responsibilities, forcing a change in attitudes and supporting great initiatives such as the ‘No More’ campaign. And that should be our story across the board: in preventative health, in education, in employment and in housing. It is time for humility—to admit that we don’t have the answers here; to go out and seek them.

It is time for truth-telling. Our ancestors drove the first peoples of this nation from their bora ring; we scattered the ashes of their campfires. We fenced the hunting grounds; we poisoned the waterholes; we distributed blankets infected with diseases we knew would kill. And there has been plenty of damage done in different ways with better intentions—by the belief that forced assimilation was the only way to achieve equality.

So today, I come here not to tell but to ask, because where we have failed the first Australians have succeeded. On the road to reconciliation, it is our first Australians who have led the way: giving forgiveness as we seek forgiveness; standing up and walking off at Wave Hill Station, for their right to live on their land in their way; Charles Perkins and the Freedom Riders, who opened the eyes of a generation to racism and poverty; Jessie Street, Faith Bandler, Chicka Dixon, Joe McGinniss and countless others who rallied support for the 67 Referendum under the banner ‘Count us Together’; and Eddie Mabo, who told his daughter Gail: ‘One day, all Australia is going to know my name’.

The success of Aboriginal leadership can be found in every corner of the country. I have seen it with my own eyes: the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, providing essential primary care; marvellous Indigenous rangers, in Wadeye and Maningrida, the Central Desert and the Kimberley, working on country and on the seas and waterways, doing meaningful jobs for good wages; the Families as First Teachers program, which has given culturally-appropriate support to over 2,000 young families, helping with health and hygiene and preparing for early childhood education; Money Mob, teaching budgeting and planning skills; Deadly Choices, through the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health in Brisbane, improving preventive health; the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre in Darwin; the Stars Foundation, inspiring Indigenous girls, modelling the success of the Clontarf Academy for Boys; and there is the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience, connecting Aboriginal university students with high achievers at school.

On every issue, at every age, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are demonstrating that solutions are within their grasp. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know what needs to be done. What they need from this parliament is recognition, respect and resources.

We cannot swap the tyranny of bureaucracy for funding cuts and neglect. The people on the frontline—the elders, the leaders, the teachers and health-care workers—know what to do. We need to take the time to listen. We need to respect the right of Aboriginal voices to make decisions and to control their own lives—to give them their own place and space. They just need us to back them up.

Fifty years ago, Oodgeroo wrote: … the victory of the 1967 Referendum was not a change of white attitudes. The real victory was the spirit of hope and optimism …We had won something. … We were visible, hopeful and vocal.

All too rarely—before and since—has that been the story for Aboriginal people. Instead, it has been a tale of exclusion: exclusion from opportunity, from the pages of our history, and exclusion from the decisions that govern their lives.

It is time to write a new story. And it is a story of belonging, because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples belong to a proud tradition, of nations who fought the invaders; brave people who fought, and died, for their country, at Passchendaele, Kokoda and Long Tan, and now in the Middle East and Afghanistan; who have fought and continue to fight for justice, for land, for an apology, for recognition.

You belong to a tradition of sporting brilliance, in the face of racism from opponents, teammates, administrators and even spectators. You belong to humanity’s oldest continuous culture—more famous around the world than ever before. You do not belong in a jail cell for an offence that carries an $80 fine. You do not belong strapped into a chair with a hood on your head. You do not belong in the back of a windowless van, away from your family and loved ones. You do not belong in a bureaucrat’s office begging for money. You do not belong on the streets with nowhere to go.

You belong here, as members of parliament, as leaders of this nation. You belong in the Constitution, recognised at last. You belong in schools, teaching and learning. You belong on construction sites, building homes, gaining skills. You belong on country, caring for land. You belong here, growing up healthy, raising your children in safety, growing old with security. You belong here, strong in your culture, kinship, language and country. You belong here, equal citizens in this great country, equal partners in our common endeavour. This is your place. This is our place.

Our future is your future.

As Senator Dodson has said to me, ‘Let’s go. The best advice: let’s get on with it.’ As he would say, in the language of his people, ‘Wamba yimbulan.’

NACCHO Aboriginal Health 16 #Saveadate Events Workshops : #Leadership #Mentalhealth #Kidneys #ClosetheGap , #Eyes Plus more


NACCHO Save a date NEW featured event


Full details of these events and registration links below

22 February Racism survey Opens

23 February: Webinar to support the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal youth in crisis

27 February: 2017 International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership

  • Healing and Empowerment Indigenous Leadership in Mental Health and Suicide Prevention exchange. 

3 March: AMSANT: APONT Innovating to Succeed Forum – Alice Springs

5 March: Kidney Health Week Starts

16 March: National Close the Gap Day

16 March Close the Gap Day VISION 2020

22 March: 2017 Indigenous Ear Health Workshop  Adelaide

29 March: RHD Australia Education Workshop Adelaide SA

26- 29 April The 14 th National Rural Health Conference Cairns

29 April:14th World Rural Health Conference Cairns

10 May: National Indigenous Human Rights Awards

26 May :National Sorry day 2017


If you have a Conference, Workshop or event and wish to share and promote contact

Colin Cowell NACCHO Media Mobile 0401 331 251

Send to NACCHO Media


22 February Understanding Racism survey Opens


Complete Survey Here

23 February: Webinar to support the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal youth in crisis


NACCHO invites all health practitioners and staff to the webinar: An all-Indigenous panel will explore youth suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The webinar is organised and produced by the Mental Health Professionals Network and will provide participants with the opportunity to identify:

  • Key principles in the early identification of youth experiencing psychological distress.
  • Appropriate referral pathways to prevent crises and provide early intervention.
  • Challenges, tips and strategies to implement a collaborative response to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in crisis

Working collaboratively to support the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in crisis.

Date:  Thursday 23rd February, 2017

Time: 7.15 – 8.30pm AEDT


27 February: 2017 International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership

  • Healing and Empowerment Indigenous Leadership in Mental Health and Suicide Prevention exchange. 


Image copyright © Roma Winmar

The 2017 International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) Exchange, Contributing Lives Thriving Communities is being held across Australia and New Zealand from 27 February to 3 March 2017.

NACCHO notes that registration is free for the Healing and Empowerment Indigenous Leadership in Mental Health and Suicide Prevention exchange.  This is co-hosted by National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health (NATSILMH) and the Queensland Mental Health Commission in partnership with the Queensland Department of Health.

It will be held at the Pullman Hotel, 17 Abbott Street, Cairns City, Queensland 4870.

The theme is Indigenous leadership in mental health and suicide prevention, with a focus on cultural healing and the empowerment of communities with programs, case studies and services.

For more about IIMHL and to register

3 March: AMSANT: APONT Innovating to Succeed Forum – Alice Springs


Following our successful 2015 AGMP Forum we are pleased to announce the second AGMP Forum will be held at the Alice Springs Convention Centre on 3 March from 9 am to 5 pm. The forum is a free catered event open to senior managers and board members of all Aboriginal organisations across the NT.

Come along to hear from NT Aboriginal organisations about innovative approaches to strengthen your activities and businesses, be more sustainable and self-determine your success. The forum will be opened by the Chief Minister and there will be opportunities for Q&A discussions with Commonwealth and Northern Territory government representatives.

To register to attend please complete the online registration form, or contact Wes Miller on 8944 6626, Kate Muir on 8959 4623, or email

5 March: Kidney Health week


is nearly here! Learn how you can get involved this 5-11 March, and order your free event pack:


16 March Close the Gap Day


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples die 10-17 years younger than other Australians and it’s even worse in some parts of Australia. Register now and hold an activity of your choice in support of health equality across Australia.


Resource packs will be sent out from 1 February 2017.

We will also have a range of free downloadable resources available on our website

It is still important to register as this contributes to the overall success of the event.

More information and Register your event

16 March Close the Gap Day VISION 2020


Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne would like to invite people to a two-day national conference on Indigenous eye health and the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision in March 2017. The conference will provide opportunity for discussion and planning for what needs to be done to Close the Gap for Vision by 2020 and is supported by their partners National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Optometry Australia, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists and Vision 2020 Australia.

Collectively, significant progress has been made to improve Indigenous eye health particularly over the past five years and this is an opportunity to reflect on the progress made. The recent National Eye Health Survey found the gap for blindness has been reduced but is still three times higher. The conference will allow people to share the learning from these experiences and plan future activities.

The conference is designed for those working in all aspects of Indigenous eye care: from health workers and practitioners, to regional and jurisdictional organisations. It will include ACCHOs, NGOs, professional bodies and government departments.

The topics to be discussed will include:

  • regional approaches to eye care
  • planning and performance monitoring
  • initiatives and system reforms that address vision loss
  • health promotion and education.


Indigenous Eye Health – Minum Barreng
Level 5, 207-221 Bouverie Street
Melbourne School of Population and Global Health
The University of Melbourne
Carlton Vic 3010
Ph: (03) 8344 9320


22 March2017 Indigenous Ear Health Workshop  in Adelaide


The 2017 Indigenous Ear Health Workshop to be held in Adelaide in March will focus on Otitis Media (middle ear disease), hearing loss, and its significant impact on the lives of Indigenous children, the community and Indigenous culture in Australia.

The workshop will take place on 22 March 2017 at the Adelaide Convention Centre in Adelaide, South Australia.

The program features keynote addresses by invited speakers who will give presentations aligned with the workshop’s main objectives:

  • To identify and promote methods to strengthen primary prevention and care of Otitis Media (OM).
  • To engage and coordinate all stakeholders in OM management.
  • To summarise current and future research into OM pathogenesis (the manner in which it develops) and management.
  • To present the case for consistent and integrated funding for OM management.

Invited speakers will include paediatricians, public health physicians, ear nose and throat surgeons, Aboriginal health workers, Education Department and a psychologist, with OM and hearing updates from medical, audiological and medical science researchers.

The program will culminate in an address emphasising the need for funding that will provide a consistent and coordinated nationwide approach to managing Indigenous ear health in Australia.

Those interested in attending may include: ENT surgeons, ENT nurses, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, audiologists, rural and regional general surgeons and general practitioners, speech pathologists, teachers, researchers, state and federal government representatives and bureaucrats; in fact anyone interested in Otitis Media.

The workshop is organised by the Australian Society of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery (ASOHNS) and is held just before its Annual Scientific Meeting (23 -26 March 2017). The first IEH workshop was held in Adelaide in 2012 and subsequent workshops were held in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney.

For more information go to the ASOHNS 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting Pre-Meeting Workshops section at

Or contact:

Mrs Lorna Watson, Chief Executive Officer, ASOHNS Ltd

T: +61 2 9954 5856   or  E

29 March: RHDAustralia Education Workshop Adelaide SA


Download the PDF brochure sa-workshop-flyer

More information and registrations HERE


26- 29 April The 14 th National Rural Health Conference Cairns c42bfukvcaam3h9

INFO Register

29 April : 14th World Rural Health Conference Cairns


The conference program features streams based on themes most relevant to all rural and remote health practitioners. These include Social and environmental determinants of health; Leadership, Education and Workforce; Social Accountability and Social Capital, and Rural Clinical Practices: people and services.

Download the program here : rural-health-conference-program-no-spreads

The program includes plenary/keynote sessions, concurrent sessions and poster presentations. The program will also include clinical sessions to provide skill development and ongoing professional development opportunities :

Information Registrations HERE

10 May: National Indigenous Human Rights Awards


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

To nominate someone for one of the three awards, please go to
For further information, please also check out the Awards Guide at
26 May :National Sorry day 2017
The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998 – one year after the tabling of the report Bringing them Home, May 1997. The report was the result of an inquiry by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission into the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.

The importance, resilience and richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages will be the focus of national celebrations marking NAIDOC Week 2017.

The 2017 theme – Our Languages Matter – aims to emphasise and celebrate the unique and essential role that Indigenous languages play in cultural identity, linking people to their land and water and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song.

More info about events


NACCHO Aboriginal Health supports the @Lungfoundation first ever Australia-wide #Indigenous Lung Health Checklist



 ” Lung Foundation Australia in collaboration with the Queensland Government’s Indigenous Respiratory Outreach Care Program (IROC) have developed the Checklist specifically for the Indigenous community.

It only takes a few minutes to answer 8 questions that could save your or a loved one’s life.

It can be completed on a mobile phone, tablet or computer.


The Indigenous Lung Health Checklist is narrated by the Lung Foundation’s Ambassador and Olympic Legend Cathy Freeman.

Read or Download the PDF Brochure


Please go to the site as Indigenous peoples are almost twice as likely to die from a lung-related condition than non-Indigenous Australians.

# Indigenous Lung Health Checklist at

NACCHO Aboriginal Health debate 2 of 3 : Prime Minister’s Parliament speech ” We must embark on a new approach to #closingthegap on Indigenous disadvantage.


“ The national interest requires a re-commitment to the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  But there can be no relationship without partnership.

And there can be no partnership without participation—we heard that very eloquently this morning at the Redfern Statement breakfast.

I firmly believe that people must be involved in the process in order to be engaged in the outcomes. It has to be a shared endeavour;


We have made great gains in improving the key factors that influence the health of Indigenous children. But we are also reminded of the fragility of life, and the heavy burden of responsibility of families, communities and governments. I am very saddened and disappointed that the target to halve the gap in Indigenous child mortality is not on track, with the 2015 data being just outside the target.

We must redouble our efforts to reduce smoking rates during pregnancy, continue to improve immunisation rates, lift rates of antenatal care, reduce fetal trauma, and keep our children safe. Rates of attending antenatal care in the important first trimester are highest in outer regional areas and lowest in major cities.

Ken Wyatt as the Minister for Indigenous Health, a field in which he has had many decades of experience, will work wisely and collaboratively with our state and territory counterparts, and the community health sector, to get this target back on track.

We have seen improvements in reducing mortality from chronic diseases; however, the mortality rates from cancer are rising. The overall mortality rate has declined by 15 per cent since 1998, and life expectancy is increasing. However, it is not accelerating at the pace it should and, therefore, as in previous years, this target is not on track. “

CLOSING THE GAP Report 2017 Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (12:01): Yanggu gulanyin ngalawiri, dhunayi, Ngunawal dhawra. Wanggarralijinyin mariny bulan bugarabang.

Download the Prime Minister Closing the Gap Report Here


NACCHO Response Press Release



Read or Download all a copy of all speeches


Please note

NACCHO will be publishing Bill Shortens #closingthegap speech Tuesday 21 February

Today, we are meeting together on Ngunawal land and we acknowledge and pay our respects to their elders past and present. And we pay our deep respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people gathered here today—including our Aboriginal members of parliament—and all across Australia, who have been the custodians of these lands and whose elders hold the knowledge of their rich and diverse cultures.

I also welcome the first ministers and their representatives from the states and territories who have gathered with us today to demonstrate that the responsibility—indeed, the opportunity—for closing the gap in partnership with our communities rests with all levels of government and with all Australians

The lives, the occupations and the dreams of Aboriginal and Torres Islander Australians are as diverse as those of all other Australians and stretch across this vast land, from the most remote communities to the heart of our capitals, to our national parliament.

Our First Australians are showing that they can do anything, as they inspire us with their resilience, their courage and their enterprise.

Last year, Chris Sarra proposed three principles that would help make a difference in Indigenous policy. He said: ‘Do things with us, not to us, bring us policy approaches that nurture hope and optimism, and acknowledge, embrace and celebrate the humanity of Indigenous Australia.’

I am pleased that Chris has agreed to join the new Indigenous Advisory Council, along with Andrea Mason, Susan Murphy, Ngiare Brown, Roy Ah-See and Djambawa Marawili. And I want to thank Warren Mundine and the retiring members for their work.

Nothing brought a quiet moment of humanity to the 2016 election campaign more than the handing of the title deeds to Belyuen elder Raylene Singh, 37 years after the Larrakia people submitted a claim to what had always been theirs. For families like Raylene’s, despite their old people passing on before the Kenbi land claim was settled, the past continues to live in the present.

Acknowledging past wrongs enables healing to begin. We saw that with the National Apology to the Stolen Generations—delivered by Prime Minister Rudd, who also joins us today—and the ninth anniversary of that moment in history was recognised yesterday here in the House. Acknowledgement requires the humility of acceptance of the truth.

On that hot, dry day on the shores of the Cox Peninsula in Darwin, we acknowledged that the Larrakia people had cared for their country for tens of thousands of years, that their songs had been sung since time out of mind, and that those songs held and passed on the knowledge of Larrakia customs and traditions.

Acknowledgement is the seed from which hope and healing grow. It is that acknowledgement that 50 years ago saw the Australian people vote overwhelmingly to change our Constitution so that the Commonwealth could assume powers in relation to our First Australians. And while many issues divide us in this place, we are united in our determination to ensure that our Constitution is amended once again to recognise our First Australians. Changing the Constitution is neither easy nor a task for the faint hearted.

The Referendum Council will conclude its consultations this year so that then parliament can complete the work of formulating and presenting the recognition amendments.

The success of the 1967 referendum also meant that First Australians were counted equally in our official population alongside all other others in the census. This provided our first understanding of the survival and the resilience of our Indigenous peoples, but also the depth of that gap between their situation and that of other Australians.

The leaders of those times challenged us to think well past statistics: the Freedom Riders like Charles Perkins; Vincent Lingiari and his fellow workers at the Wave Hill ‘walk-off’; and Eddie Mabo and his fight for native title. Theirs are the shoulders among many upon which a new generation of Indigenous leaders stand today.

And last night the Prime Minister’s courtyard was abuzz with enthusiasm, with positivity and with the hope of leaders challenging us to again think past the statistics. Bright, determined women and men stood tall as successful people in their fields of work, proud of their heritage and anchored in their culture.

While we must accelerate progress and close the gap, we must also tell the broader story of Indigenous Australia, not of despondency but of a relentless and determined optimism; that being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander means to succeed, to achieve, to have big dreams and high hopes, and to draw strength from your identity as an Indigenous person in this country.

As Prime Minister, I will continue to tell these stories, to talk about the strengths of our First Australians.

We have among us five Indigenous members of parliament, who bring the same pride, the same strength, here to our democracy: Ken Wyatt, the first Indigenous member of the House of Representatives, and now the first Indigenous minister to be appointed in a Commonwealth government; as well as Linda Burney, Senator Pat Dodson, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and Senator Jacqui Lambie.

Yet, even with the determination of our First Australians to create a better future, even with successive Commonwealth and state governments investing more resources and even with tens of thousands of dedicated Australians seeking to contribute and engage, we still are not making enough progress.

We have come a long way since the referendum, but we have not come far enough. I present today to the parliament and to the people of Australia the ninth Closing the Gap report. This report demonstrates that all Australian governments have much more work to do.

The proportion of Indigenous 20- to 24-year-olds who has achieved year 12 or equivalent is 61.5 per cent—up from 45.4 per cent in 2008. This target is on track to halve the gap. A new target for Indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education is 95 per cent by 2025. The data shows that in 2015, 87 per cent of all Indigenous children were enrolled in early childhood education the year before full-time school.

We have seen improvements in reading and numeracy for Indigenous students but this target is not on track. Last year, 640 more children needed to read at the year 3 benchmark to halve the gap. This year, that figure is around 440. The literacy gap is narrowing and achievable, and through the individualised learning plans agreed at COAG, first ministers have committed to improve these results.

The national school attendance is also not on track. Around 20 per cent of the gap in school performance between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students can be explained by poor attendance. But there are examples of real progress with families and communities.

In the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, the APY Lands, principal Matt Greene spoke to me of the fierce rivalry in community football. But he said he was more interested and focused on the fierce rivalry to attain school attendance targets. And with the help of our Remote School Attendance Strategy, championed by Minister Nigel Scullion, Matt is driving cultural change in Fregon. The strategy is working. RSAS schools showed a higher attendance rate in 2016 compared to 2013.

The employment target is not on track either, but 57.5 per cent of those living in major cities are employed. Five thousand Indigenous job seekers have been placed in to real jobs through our Vocational Training and Employment Centres network. Almost 500 Indigenous businesses were awarded more than $284 million in Commonwealth contracts thanks to our Indigenous Procurement Policy. I want to thank state and territory governments for agreeing to explore similar procurement policies to help the Indigenous business sector thrive.

Mr Speaker, a telling point: the data tells us there is no employment gap between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians with a university degree—a reminder of the central importance of education.

If we look at the long-term intergenerational trends, we see that Indigenous life expectancy is increasing, babies are being born healthier, more people are studying and gaining post-school qualifications and those adults are participating in work. These are achievements that families, elders and communities can be proud of.

But incarceration rates and rates of child protection are too high. Sixty-three per cent of Indigenous people incarcerated last year were in prison for violent offences and offences that cause harm. Central to reducing incarceration is reducing the violence and, of course, protecting the victims of violence.

Our Third Action Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children includes measures to support Indigenous victims, and stop the cycle of reoffending.

Our Prison to Work report commissioned in last year’s Closing The Gap speech has since been delivered, and adopted by COAG. Working in partnership with Kuku Yalanji man, Jeremey Donovan, we have gained important insights into the cycle of incarceration. In response, COAG agreed to better coordination of government services especially in-prison training and rehabilitation, employment, health and social services.

Children should always be treated humanely and with love, especially when they are in custody. The confronting and appalling images of children shackled and in spit hoods shocked our nation, and as Prime Minister I acted swiftly.

While the work of the royal commission into juvenile justice and child protection continues, governments across Australia are taking steps to ensure children are always treated appropriately.

To provide independent oversight, this government will ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

I am pleased to inform the House that Bunuba woman, June Oscar AO, has been appointed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner. The first woman to take on this role.

June brings tremendous knowledge, and has been a formidable campaigner against alcohol abuse, shining a light on the devastating consequences of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

The issues are complex, and, as we know, the solutions are not simple.

Indigenous Affairs is an intricate public policy area. It requires uncompromised collaboration with Indigenous people, and national leadership. And it needs buy-in from states, communities and most importantly families.

I am pleased that COAG has agreed to progress renewed targets in the year ahead, and I invite the opposition and the crossbench to participate, particularly the Indigenous members of parliament.

The national interest requires a re-commitment to the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

But there can be no relationship without partnership.

And there can be no partnership without participation—we heard that very eloquently this morning at the Redfern Statement breakfast.

I firmly believe that people must be involved in the process in order to be engaged in the outcomes. It has to be a shared endeavour.

Greater empowerment of local communities will deliver the shared outcomes we all seek.

The government is reforming the way the Indigenous Affairs portfolio operates—moving from transactional government, to enablement, from paying for services to linking funding to outcomes, and from a one-size-fits-all mindset for program design, to local solutions.

Indigenous families and communities must be at the centre of this approach.

We have started the journey, but there is much more work to do.

I welcome Professor Ian Anderson into my department who will play an important role in leading this new way of working, along with people like Anne-Marie Roberts, who leads a team of passionate and committed staff working in communities across the nation.

The Indigenous-led Empowered Communities model is now in eight regions across the country. I met their leaders last month, and it is clear this approach is generating strong Indigenous governance, and empowering Indigenous people to partner with government and companies.

These models, and others such as Murdi Paaki in Western New South Wales, and Ceduna in South Australia, are being driven by local Indigenous leaders.

Where communities are ready, we will work with them to build capacity and ensure more responsibility for decision making rests as close to the community as possible.

My confidence comes from seeing firsthand how this approach is working at the community level.

I have met mothers, like Norma and Lena from Western Australia, who have lost children to suicide. These women have bravely shared their stories, working tirelessly with leaders like Pat Dudgeon, Gerry Georgatos and Adele Cox to find locally-driven solutions.

I met Corey McLennan, and the leaders of Ceduna and the Far West Coast as well as Ian Trust from the Kimberley, who have co-designed the trial of the new Cashless Debit Card with the government.

We hosted Charlie King and the No More campaign to end violence against women. In an historic display of support parliamentarians—all of us—linked arms and walked with Charlie to end this scourge of violence against women.

And I could tell dozens more stories of self-reliance from Fregon, Redfern, La Perouse, Scotdesco, Brisbane, Darwin, Perth—it is a very long list, as we know.

We can learn as much from these successes, as we can from the failures.

But, to do so we must have a rigorous evaluation of programs so we know what is working and what is not.

We will expand the Productivity Commission to include a new Indigenous Commissioner to lead the commission’s work of policy evaluation.

And the government will invest $50 million for research into policy and its implementation; this will be designed in partnership and with the guidance of the Indigenous Advisory Council.

So much is published about Indigenous communities and, as many Indigenous Australians have said to me, not nearly enough is published for Indigenous communities.

So the data and research we have, and the evidence we need to build, will be made available to Indigenous communities to empower leadership and support community-led programs. It will assist government in its next phase of Closing The Gap, which must focus on regional action and outcomes.

And I ask that you seek out people like those I had the honour of addressing last night—everyday Indigenous Australians achieving extraordinary things.

Like the Kongs—a family of firsts. Marilyn and Marlene were the first Indigenous medical graduates at Sydney University. Marlene became a GP and public health expert; Marilyn became the first Indigenous obstetrician and their brother Kelvin, the first Indigenous surgeon in Australia.

I ask that we share these stories and those of the entrepreneurs, lawyers, the scientists, the teachers, the nurses, the servicemen and servicewomen, the social service workers, the writers, the accountants, the public servants, and the ministers, members and senators. Again, their callings and achievements are as diverse, as magnificent and as inspiring as those of other Australians.

Let us tell the stories of Indigenous achievement and hard work, because those stories are true markers of progress. They inspire and encourage and they make a difference. This parliament has the opportunity, using the knowledge and wisdom of Indigenous people, to embark on a new approach to closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.

My government will not shy away from our responsibility and we will uphold the priorities of education, employment, health and the right of all people to be safe from family violence. We will not waver in our quest to achieve these outcomes, but we will have the humility to admit that we must travel this road together, with open hearts and a determination to ensure that our First Australians and all Australians will be able here, more than anywhere, to be their best and realise their dreams.

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health #closingthegap debate 1 of 3 : Give Indigenous services the respect and funding they deserve says experts


” I endorsed all six ( Indigenous Advisory Council Members ) because of their qualities as leaders” — but stresses the need to see leadership as a devolved, organic process, with regular input from com­munity leaders being just as crucial as formal meetings at the top.

I always find it frustrating that there is an assumption that the national (Indigenous) leaders that the media often refers to are the only leaders with an authoritative voice on any issue at all, when every time I walk into a community I see natural leaders who are doing things, who are guiding ­people,”

“They’re working to make a difference on the ground but they’re never recognised, nor are they ever involved in providing input into what’s needed in the way of reforms and change.

There’s some continuity of thinking in terms of what the previous body did .But in her own right I have ­always been impressed with Dr ­Ngiare Brown deep thinking and the way in which she’ll reflect on what’s being said, and then she will go to a very salient point that sometimes others have missed, or that contributes to a solution or a way forward.”

Ken Wyatt, Indigenous Health Minister  ” Aboriginal health and wellbeing is close the my heart  Aboriginal Health Newspaper see advert below

 “But people in health who understand the data know that progress is being made.We’ve got to report the improving trends as well, and we need to revisit that in next year’s report.”

Sandra Eades, head of the ­Aboriginal Health Program for the Baker Institute in Melbourn­e, laments that any gap exists between indigenous and non-indigenous child deaths.

“Do something differen­t after 30 years of failed policies. Really fund the Aborig­inal-controlled organisations and let them show what they can do.”

Aboriginal child health and trauma specialist at Notre Dame University’s Broome campus Professor Juli Coffin has advice for the government about how to close the gap: See article 2 below

Article 1 New day dawning as Turnbull pushes grassroots agenda

From the Weekend Australian

The first task for Malcolm Turnbull’s band of hand-picked Indigenous advisers will be to wind back the damage caused by Tony Abbott’s “bromance” with his former chief counsellor, Warren Mundine.

The new six-person indigenous advisory council’s first meeting, shortly after the Prime Minister delivered a disappointing ninth Closing the Gap statement in parliament this week, was cordial, constructive and largely ego-free, according to some who were there.

But mending community disaffection over the performance of the previous 12-member body, announced in chaotic circumstances at the Garma festival in northeast Arnhem Land in late 2013 and then presiding over the widely panned introduction of Abbott’s signature $4.8 billion Indigenous Advancement Strategy the next year, will be a priority.

“Out on the ground, with our mob, the council has in the past been regarded as operating by itself,” new member Roy Ah-See tells Inquirer. “We need to build some credibility with people on the ground, with our people. We need to re-engage.”

Ah-See knows a bit about engagement. He chairs the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, the nation’s largest such member-based organisation, and while professing surprise at his selection on the new panel (“it was a whirlwind, totally unexpected”) concedes that serving three elected terms on his 20,000-member body “has given me some good foundation skills”.

Neither he, nor anyone involved in putting together the streamlined advisory body, thinks Abbott or Mundine were anything but well-intentioned in how they went about pursuing indigenous affairs policy reform. The pair’s passion for indigenous economic advancement, rather than seeing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians as irrevocably mired in disadvantage, is acknowledged and Mundine says he’s determined to continue in a private capacity the push away from this “old-world thinking” approach.

But it’s not just community disquiet at the nadir that had been reached — report after report in the past 12 months alone — from the Productivity Commission, the Nat­ional Audit Office, a Senate committee — has picked holes in the government’s indigenous affairs approach.

Educationalist Chris Sarra, another of the new body’s six members and the man credited with coining the phrase now so beloved of the Prime Minister when it comes to indigenous affairs — “do things with us, not to us” — is adamant that change is at hand.

“I feel like there’s something different in the air,” he says. “It’s a new day dawning — there’s an enthusiasm for change that I wasn’t feeling before.”

Sarra, a forceful presence who has no hesitation in pushing an agenda, nonetheless sees himself as a facilitator, not a dominator. He believes Turnbull is serious when he declares that policy must come from the grassroots, not from Canberra, and wants the council to be more of a clearinghouse than a central committee.

“I’m not a gatekeeper,” he says. “I’m interested in making things work. I’ll say to this person, you need to go talk to Congress” — the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, the elected peak body stripped of funding last year and disparaged by Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion at the time as being unrepresentative — “or this person, you need to talk over here.

“The last thing we want is another bromance,” he says. “I like Malcolm Turnbull a lot, but I see no value for Australia in there being another relationship like that.”

Even Ken Wyatt, Australia’s first indigenous minister with responsibility in the Turnbull government for indigenous health, concedes the Abbott council was perceived as too autocratic and that policy suffered as a result.

“There were some excellent people around that table,” he says. “But you can’t keep taking advice from the same group of people. And the Aboriginal community viewed it that it was from one or two (people).”

Wyatt is also a keen supporter of a re-energised Congress, saying that co-chairs Jackie Huggins and Rod Little “have provided good advice to the Prime Minister and to myself, and I will include them in certain aspects of the work I do”.

Huggins and Little say that, rather than the despondency they felt a year ago when Abbott refused to even meet them, they now see progress.

Addressing a Congress-led coalition of around 50 groups known as the Redfern Alliance on Tuesday, Turnbull declared a need for “more community-driven local decision-making models”. Advisory council member Andrea Mason notes to Inquirer the “vast amount of corporate memory, not just historical figures” in the various groups making up that very alliance, and the clear value of that to government.

The Prime Minister also made a point this week of praising the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly, a policymaking body stretching over 16 northwestern NSW communities, and the eight-member Empowered Communities model of local governance, whose several architects include Mason and Cape York leader Noel Pearson.

And he announced the appointment of University of Melbourne pro vice-chancellor Ian Anderson to run indigenous affairs, making Anderson Australia’s most senior indigenous bureaucrat. He will conduct a root-and-branch review both of policy generally and of the Closing the Gap project specifically.

There will also for the first time be an indigenous productivity commissioner’s role, with a wide-ranging brief and a $50 million budget.

So the signs are positive, and in Sarra’s view it’s down to Turnbull simply being “smart enough to know there’s a need for something different. He can see the great value for all Australians to see blackfellas not just going from surviving to complying, but from surviving to thriving”.

Sarra, Ah-See and Alice Springs-based Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunutjatjara Women’s Council chief executive Mason are joined as newcomers on the council by Derby-based Winun Ngari Aboriginal Corp CEO Susan Murphy. Yolgnu leader and artist Djambawa Marawili, from East Arnhem Land, and Wollongong University health academic Ngiare Brown carry over from the Abbott body, a link Wyatt — himself a career health bureaucrat — sees as invaluable.

Anthropologist and geographer Marcia Langton is deeply weary of regularly being given the “indigenous leader” tag, telling Inquirer: “I’m a public intellectual; I’ve been voted onto public intellectual lists over the years at one number or another, not that one takes any notice of this, but it just means I’m a thinker”.

In her powerful essay of almost a decade ago, Trapped in the Aboriginal Reality Show, Langton warned of the folly of seeing “First Peoples … as virtual beings without power or efficacy”, where “political characters played by ‘Aboriginal leaders’ pull the levers that draw settler Australians to them in a co-dependent relationship. The rhetoric of reconciliation is a powerful drawcard — like the bearded woman at the old sideshow. It is a seductive, pornographic idea, designed for punters accustomed to viewing Aborigines as freaks.”

It’s an analysis that stands, though the current mood, and Turnbull’s gathering around him of experts with a directive to tell him who and what he should be listening to rather than what he wants to hear, tend to confirm the perception of change that Sarra, Huggins, Little and many others detect. “The previous prime minister put a lot of faith in one or two ­people (but) in the Aboriginal community, we don’t have one leader who speaks on every issue,” Reconciliation Australia chief executive Justin Mohamed says.

“We’ve got many nations within this country, many different ­dialogues, traditional languages, cultures and laws that we all operate in.

“So if someone’s a strong representative, say, of the Kimberley, that doesn’t mean they represent a person from Perth. If you get to understand that, then you’ll say it’s not one voice I need to hear, I need to hear a collective of people.”

And yet the elephant in the room is that Turnbull’s panel remains, as was Abbott’s, hand-picked.

“That original Abbott group had absolutely no legitimacy, but I’m still lukewarm on a hand-picked group of people — not because of the individuals, some of whom I consider friends of the highest order,” indigenous Labor MP Linda Burney says.

“But it must not be like the last council, which was moribund, without transparency, and without accountability back to the community.”

Labor senators Malarndirri McCarthy and Patrick Dodson are equally sceptical of a group that has been appointed from on high, with McCarthy concerned it has no clear brief. “Until there’s clarity as to its purpose it will not be taken seriously,” she says.

Dodson told caucus this week that the “top-down centralised process leaves our indigenous nations on the margins as policy fringe-dwellers … Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are cynical, frustrated and angry”.

“We need to be free from constantly needing you to understand us. We need to be free from explaining ourselves to you. We need to be free to do the things that are important for us,” he told his colleagues, even as they were celebrating the fact that for the first time, all three flags — Australian blue ensign, Torres Strait Islands and Aboriginal — were flanked in the room and will be at all future caucus meetings.

There is another solution to all this, of course, and it’s being discussed at the grassroots level as part of efforts by the bipartisan-­appointed Referendum Council to devise a proposal for indigenous constitutional recognition to take to the parliament by the middle of the year.

Pearson’s proposal of a parliamentary body representing indigenous interests is under debate at community consultations around the country, leading to a major gathering at Uluru at the end of May, marking the 50th anniversary of the referendum that gave the commonwealth powers in indigenous affairs.

The latest of these gatherings is in the western NSW regional city of Dubbo this weekend; last week’s meeting in Broome resolved there should be “an indigenous voice to parliament to give First Nations peoples a greater say in decision-making on matters that affect them and their rights” and that this body “must not be appointed or hand-picked by government”.

Article 2 : Gap crisis: give indigenous services the respect they deserve

This week’s poor Closing the Gap result in child mortality has been met with despair by early childhood experts around Australia.

It is not just because of the tragedy of the deaths of 124 indig­enous children younger than five in 2015, an increase of six deaths on 2014.

Their despair lies in the failure to fully acknowledge the gains made, often by Aboriginal-run organisat­ions, in the wellbeing of indigenous children after nearly a decade of Closing the Gap reports.

Sandra Eades, head of the ­Aboriginal Health Program for the Baker Institute in Melbourn­e, laments that any gap exists between indigenous and non-indigenous child deaths. “But people in health who understand the data know that progress is being made,” she insists. “We’ve got to report the improving trends as well, and we need to revisit that in next year’s report.”

Malcolm Turnbull told parliament this week that just one of seven Closing the Gap targets to reduce indigenous disadvantage is on track, with child mortality rates joining this year’s list of failed­ targets.

The 124 deaths was “four deaths outside the range of the target”, the report noted, adding that it was influenced by a change in Queensland’s data reporting of deaths identified as indigenous. The Northern Territory, with 333 per 1000 deaths, has the highest rate, with experts saying the cause lies only partly in the remote places­ where children live.

Former Australian of the Year Fiona Stanley, who led Australia’s biggest study of indigenous families at Perth’s Telethon Child Health Research Institute, says Professor Eades is right to look to the improvements. “The good news is we’ve halved the indigenous mortality rate from 1998 to 2015, from 13.5 per thousand live births to 6.3 per 1000 live births in 2015” she says. “That’s fantastic.”

And the Gap report notes that fewer babies are being born with low birthweight. “Why is that happening?’’ Professor Stanley asked. “Because maternal health is better, there’s better antenatal care, women are stopping smoking and fetal alcohol exposures are going down. I’m seeing all this when I visit the Eastern Goldfields, Pilbara and Kimberley, and Aboriginal mums should be given a big pat on the back for this.”

Professor Stanley’s message to the federal government is loud and clear, however — it must support the maternal health and child welfare centres, many Aboriginal-controlled, that helped achieve those gains.

She says the Closing the Gap report is accurate when it calls for “better integration of services across health, childcare, early childhood education and school”.

“Many of us are deeply concerned about the future of early childhood and parental support centres around Australia,” she says. “Under changes to federal government funding, they could close, or be underfunded so that parents won’t be able to afford to use them.”

At St Mary’s Primary School in Broome, more than a dozen parents arrive each day to spend time with their children in an early childhood program called Our Mob as First Educators. Aboriginal child health and trauma specialist at Notre Dame University’s Broome campus Juli Coffin praises the program for “investing­ in parents, supporting them in positive relationships between­ each other and with the kids.”

Mother Natalie Graham says she had bad post-natal depression: “Coming here is really helping to build a bond with my son.”

Dad Geoffrey Clark says he feels comfortable visiting, “and it’s fun interacting and learning”.

Professor Coffin says such culturally appropriate services build family strength in the face of the Kimberley’s high rates of child remov­al. In Western Australia, 53 per cent of all 4658 state wards are Aboriginal, despite comprising less than 7 per cent of the popula­tion. The crisis has forced Child Protection authorities to focus resource­s on vulnerable families in a bid to reduce child trauma and removal.

“Our kids are vitally important in our family structure, they are often the only beam of light, the reason for people to get up in the morning,” says Professor Coffin.

What of the grim statistics at the heart of the Closing the Gap report, those 124 children who failed to make it through infancy?

Professor Stanley says the Territory’s high mortality rate “could be related to high rates of preventable things like scabies and rheumatic heart disease, as well as isolation”.

Next year’s statistics are alread­y being made. On Monday, a woman in an indigenous community near a regional WA town gave birth to twins. One died during labour. The attending doctor, who does not wish to be identified, says regular antenatal care in an Aboriginal-run maternal health centre might have saved the child.

Another statistic in next year’s Gap report will be Perth baby Sean. His family ticks many of the boxes that health professionals know are risk factors for infant death, including poverty and parents who grew up in state care and experienced jail time.

And homelessness. Last year, The Weekend Australian reported that the chubby-cheeked infant, who had a stoma bag and was awaiting a bowel operation, was homeless along with his four siblings. Sean’s parents were praised by the hospital for carrying his medical supplies around and keeping him clear of infection.

But it wasn’t easy — after an outbreak of violence at the house where they’d lived, the family had resorted to nights sleeping under a bridge in Perth’s outer suburbs.

Sean died, aged five months, shortly after the family moved into emergency housing provided by a youth service. The Weekend Australian can no longer identify the family because, after the fathe­r became seriously ill, the four surviving children were taken into Child Protection’s care.

Christine Jeffries-Stokes, a pediatrician in the Goldfields town of Kalgoorlie, says the Goldfields region has a much lower mortality rate than the Territory, but trauma and loss in many Kalgoorlie families means fewer relatives to support mothers and children or notice if something is not right, she says.

Dr Jeffries-Stokes says Kalgoorlie’s Ngunytju Tjitji Pirni matern­al and infant health closed down last year, after the federal government reallocated funds to the Aboriginal Medi­cal Service. “Yet it provided intim­ate, supportive care that women trusted; babies were weighed routinely and checked, women were trained as infant health workers and that benefited their own families. I’ve noticed my work is harder now keeping track of patients.

“The lessons we’ve learned are not reaching people, and great indig­enous services are not getting the respect they deserve.”

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health #closingthegap debate : Can we improve the #ctg reporting


It’s time to move away from the deficit model that is implicit in much discussion about the social determinants of health, and instead take a strengths-based cultural determinants approach to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” – Professor Ngiare Brown

The following opinion is published from Crikey and not NACCHO policy : We welcome your comments below

Closing the Gap goals not met” the headline read, on the stories spruiking the new report on indigenous health and conditions on Monday. That’s presumably ctrl-shift-F7 on some subeditor’s keyboard.

The outcomes are always disappointing in Closing the Gap, and disappointment at the outcomes of Closing the Gap has now become an annual Australian ceremony, in which everyone nods in sorrow, rather than in anger, and vows to do more.

The report was started as a way of bringing attention to the gap between life conditions of indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. It has now become the opposite: a sop to our consciences, a way for people to believe that “something is being done”. The report itself is a brochure, light on chunky statistics and heavy on photos of grinning children, case studies and video links. If you’re about to open a juice bar/Reiki massage parlour and you need a brochure, whoever put together “Closing the Gap 2017” will do you proud.

“Closing the Gap” as an approach to assessing progress in indigenous life-conditions has long since outlived its usefulness. It needs to be abolished and broken up into several reports. It has many problems, but the major one is that it overaggregates. Firstly, it aggregates Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders (or, more exactly, the latter more or less disappear entirely), two quite different peoples, with different histories — and from that, different strategies towards creating fully modern-traditional societies.

Secondly, it aggregates the conditions of urban/suburban/regional-urban Aboriginal people on the one hand, with remote-area Aboriginal people. There’s a degree of disaggregation in the meat of it, but for the most part they are lumped together. In everything from health to employment, that obscures rather than illuminates. The employment, health, etc, problems of Aboriginal people in Mt Druitt may be far more to do with the problems of such for outer-suburban working-class/benefit-class people in general — with some fun added extras — rather than those of a community who live 1000kms from the nearest convenience store.

But the aggregation of “challenges” and “problems” is itself a problem. The report covers everything from health to employment to youth suicide and back to literacy, all in one big go. Yes, yes, they’re all related. But they’re also all not, and emphasising the autonomy of separate sectors may be a part of tackling them more effectively — and getting the public to think about them as being more readily addressable. The report puts them all on the same plane, and they clearly aren’t — morally, politically, causally.

Take health and employment, for example. We are all embodied subjects, with the same bodily form and structure, and good health is a precondition to a fully meaningful life and full social and political participation. “Employment” is a thing that is one way of doing that. Yes, everyone who wants it, should have access to it, and currently, it is a requirement to exercise social power and clout. But “maximising the avoidance of coronary heart disease”, and “maximising full employment” are quite different types of goals, which simply look the same, if put in the same language.

Thus the report notes (with some embarrassment) that while there has been some gains (not much) in employment for urban and regional Aboriginal people, for remote-area people, employment levels remain at 35%, as opposed to a national level of 72%. Really?

There’s high unemployment in former mission/camp societies, based on nomadic kinship societies, in an era of FIFO, automation, in the middle of the desert? No shit. What if we abandoned the idea that such communities need to have a full wage-employment model, or anything like it, and find other pathways (and measures) to autonomy, self-development and self-reliance by those communities?

Hence, the key difference: because there is no good level of poor health outcomes. The report is maddeningly aggregated here too, using measures that do not yield much insight into the specificity of problems, but one fact stands out clearly. No matter how much they try and disguise it with and/but language, and the ctrl-shift phrases “disappointing”, “more needs to be done”, the fact remains that in key outcomes — community mortality rate, infant mortality, and life expectancy — there has been no progress in 20 years. None. All these measures have improved for Aboriginal people, but only at the rate they’ve improved for non-indigenous people. The gap hasn’t narrowed an inch. That is failure on a grand, indeed total, scale.

The health statistics deployed in Closing the Gap are bloody useless, and a deeper dive will be required — I half suspect that the choice of stats is now being used to make the report a way of obscuring how dire things are — but you can read through the gumment-report smoking-screen ceremony. Health outcomes are terrible because chronic diseases — type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, lung conditions — are so high. But so too are diseases unknown, or very rare in non-indigenous communities, such as TB and worm infections. And here we come to another problem of, you guessed it, aggregation.

For decades now, the mantra has been the inter-relation of all conditions of health — physical, social, mental, cultural. This was a justifiable reaction to the sort of 20th-century approach, which was to tackle health problems by more or less spraying communities with DDT from aeroplanes. But one suspects it has now become a block to thinking and to the taking of decisive action on distinct conditions.

With that comes a second problem: the detailed mainstream reporting on Aboriginal health, and policy, is terrible, just terrible. For some years we were beset with Aboriginal health “squalor porn”, feature stories of the horror of petrol-sniffing, etc, with photos for the Saturday morning newspaper readership. That has now disappeared, only to be replaced by near-total indifference, and lack of information.

One looks in vain for any story, from people who have some expertise, as to how these parts fit together. Is alcoholism the main or overwhelming factor in high chronic disease rates, or is chronic disease more evenly spread across the population? Are the distinct indigenous-only* conditions such as TB and worm infections (some of which lead to blindness) exacerbated by such chronic conditions, or do they occur relatively autonomously? What role does lack of everyday access — pharmacies, 24/7 doctors — play in the worsening of chronic conditions? What role does poor literacy and low education rates play in problems of self-care and regime maintenance (taking pills, diet, limb care, etc). Even the sole focus on life expectancy as a single number is misleading. Ten years less, on average, than a non-indigenous person is bad enough, but there is a question of quality of life. Unmanaged diabetes/heart disease/lung disease may mean death at 65 — but it means exhaustion and illness at 40, dialysis at 45, oxygen at 50, amputations and blindness after that.

None of this is put before the public or discussed. Nor is there any discussion of how a “disaggregated” approach to Aboriginal health — i.e. nationwide-focused priorities — might yield better results. That’s what we used to do, in the West, and places like China still do. Is there any discussion of that? Quite possibly there is, but I don’t want to have to read 300 academic articles to find it. The discussion and debate, rather than the hand-wringing, should be out in the public. In this, Aboriginal health academics must shoulder a great deal of the blame. There are many good people in this field, but very few who appear to have any interest in communicating the debates to a wider public. They appear to be caught up in the state-policy-academia triad, essentially using their academic work as a form of lobbying of state instruments — rather than trying to raise wider public support for varying strategies.

For example if one disease — type 2 diabetes, as example, and also likely culprit — was identified as a, or the, major central factor in chronic disease, would not a focused campaign against it, with diversion of resources to it, be preferable to ineffectiveness spread evenly across the board?

In the 20th century, southern Europe and Turkey tackled malaria by “draining the swamps” where mosquitoes bred, part of great patriotic and public campaigns to wipe out the disease. It’s a measure of how distant that is that when the “drain the swamps” metaphor re-appeared in Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016, no one knew where it came from. We could do the same in Aboriginal health by involving the public. “Closing the Gap” needs to go. Or save money by simply making 2018’s report a photocopy of 2017, because it will be pretty much the same.

We need three separate reports: one on health, housing and food/nutrition, one on social and educational conditions, and one on work and employment. Yes, yes, they’re related. But forms of work and education are complex questions of competing models, based on different social ideals. There is no competing model between being well and being ill. We need more specific, concrete goals over shorter time-spans — three, five, seven years. The 2031 goal is bullshit in most cases. We have made no progress in 20 years on these key conditions, so there is no reason to believe we will make any in the next 15, using the current approaches.

We need more active choices, as to where the money and effort go, rather than the arse-covering process of doing a useless bit of everything. And we need academics to take the time to write a few articles that they won’t be able to count towards their career publications points, to let us know the debates within the field, and the proposals for more effective strategies. And please, less photos of brown people grinning. There are times when the report looks like a Trans Australia Airlines Corroboree tourism brochure from 1951. Time to turn the page on “Closing the Gap”, and look, especially in health, to more targeted, concrete, imaginative and audacious strategies, and raise our ambitions to immediate and palpable gain.

NACCHO Member and Stakeholders support #closingthegap #RedfernStatement : Our community voices are key to Closing the Gap


Yesterday ninth Closing the Gap Report highlighted the health challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.Included in this NACCHO post are support press releases from a wide range of NACCHO members and stakeholders : 


 ” The report identifies small gains that are being made by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations such as Apunipima, however with the targets looking increasingly out of reach we urge government to work more closely with communities and look at serious reforms to give us a chance to close the health gap between mainstream and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We urge the government to listen and work with the community who know what is needed for themselves and their families.

We know that mainstream services do not deliver the outcomes we are all looking for and this report is further evidence that community led and community driven services are the way forward for better health outcomes in community.

Community is central to any debate about the future of our health services “

Apunipima Cape York Health Council CEO Cleveland Fagan pictured above with Dr Mark Wenitong

Read Download full press release Apunipima


Read recent AMA Report card Indigenous Health

Read NACCHO Press Release referred to by Dr Michael Gannon AMA President


 “ The Redfern Statement was developed on 9 June 2016 and the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) are one of the 18 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations leading this statement and calling for Government action. Members of AIDA were proud to be in the Great Hall at Parliament House for this significant occasion.

AIDA looks forward to working with other Redfern Statement signatory peaks and senior State and Territory Government representatives between March and July at the Redfern Statement Workshops and participating in the National First People Summit in August/September later this year.

Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA)

Read Download full press release aida


“It is a continuing tragedy that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still suffer from poorer health outcomes and a shorter life expectancy than non Indigenous Australians.

While the reasons for this are complex and include a range of socioeconomic and other factors, it is certainly the case in the healthcare system that much more can be done.

For example, we have a continuing lack of access in many locations to culturally appropriate health services. Understandably, the availability of culturally appropriate healthcare often makes the difference between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients going to see a doctor or other health professional, or not going at all.

And while there are increased opportunities for cultural competency training within our medical and other health courses, more consistent access for medical and health students (particularly non Indigenous students) to this critical training is needed for them to have the skills and knowledge required to communicate effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

RDAA President, Dr Ewen McPhee

Read Download full press release 2-rural-doctors


“While we have seen positive signs for health, including improvements in numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers not smoking during pregnancy and babies born with a low birthweight, we are still falling behind when it comes to achieving the target of halving the gap in child mortality by 2018,

One of the key priorities for our organisation is improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which is demonstrated to worsen with increasing remoteness.

Mr Butt also stressed that while many of these issues are not new, they are even more pressing in isolated areas given approximately 65% of Aboriginal people live outside Australia’s major cities.

We need greater focus on improving child health, education, and wellbeing and to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to give them the best start in life. It should involve a holistic early childhood strategy which informs high quality, locally responsive and culturally appropriate programs supported by stable, long term funding.”

The NRHA continues to work closely with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander member bodies to achieve these outcomes,” .

NRHA CEO, David Butt, while progress has been seen in some areas, the rates of infant mortality were no longer on target and this was of concern.

Read Download full press release national-rural-health



 ” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians pay a heavy price for this collective national failure.

The first peoples live with worse health and education outcomes, fewer employment opportunities, inadequate housing options and the lasting effects of intergenerational trauma.

The flawed design and delivery of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy reminds us that paternalism does not work. We cannot ignore the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, or impose solutions instead of working with communities.

We need a new approach – an approach that listens to first Australians, gives them a stronger voice that they control, and recognises that they have the solutions.

We need a new approach that fosters hope that builds on a sense of belonging. An approach built on respect, recognition and resources.

Labor calls on the Government to heed local voices, to empower communities, and to prioritise what works.

The $500 million in cuts to programs and frontline services has had a very real and damaging impact. Despite a promise that there would be no jobs or services lost, the opposite is true. Cutting funding from local providers doesn’t foster independence, it undermines hope. “

The Hon Bill Shorten Shadow Minister for Indigenous affairs together we signed the malarndirri McCarthy Senator Dodson & Jenny Macklin

Read Download full press release labor


The Close the Gap report now showing that child mortality rates are not on track is a dismal reflection on the Government’s half-hearted and under-funded attempts to end Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage.

One of the targets is on track to Close the Gap for our First Peoples. Just one. How has the Government let it get to this stage?

“I have witnessed many Closing the Gap reports in my time as a Senator but this year’s report is particularly devastating. Unfortunately it is not surprising.

“When they ripped half a billion dollars out of the sector, leaders, Aboriginal organisations and service deliverers knew the impacts would be real. This is now reflected in this report. This highlights why the Government needs to adopt the Redfern Statement’s Engagement Approach.

“Falling behind on child mortality rates means that the Government’s failure to act in this space is costing lives.

Senator Rachel Siewert – Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues  . President met with & today to discuss priorities in health for 2017

Read Download full press release greens

Please note at time of publications no other political parties had issued Closing the Gap Press releases

NACCHO CEO Press Release #ClosingtheGap : Aboriginal led solutions the key to closing the health gap #Redfernstatement


The Prime Minister committed to working with our people this morning and from this date on we expect nothing less,

For NACCHO the acceptance that our Aboriginal controlled health services deliver the best model of integrated primary health care in Australia is a clear demonstration that every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person should have ready access to these services, no matter where they live.

We can more than double the current 140 Aboriginal medical services that will improve health outcomes.”

NACCHO  CEO  Pat Turner Press Release : 

Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten receive the Redfern statement, a blueprint for improvement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, before the release of the Closing the Gap report. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian

Download :  naccho-1702-mr-naccho-response-to-closing-the-gap

ICYMI Todays other NACCHO posts below

NACCHO Aboriginal Health download the #ClosingtheGap report #Redfernstatement Post 4 of 5

Today’s Closing the Gap Report demonstrates the need to more than double the network and reach of Aboriginal controlled medical services to Close the Gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

National Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), CEO, Pat Turner, said despite some improvement in education outcomes, only one out of seven Closing the Gap targets is on track ( see ABC link below )


The 9th Closing the Gap Report shows there have been small improvements over time in some areas of health but we are not on track to Close the Gap in average life expectancy and the gap in deaths from cancer is widening.

“Governments at all levels need to make a massive long term investment to redress the social and cultural determinants of health, which are responsible for more than 30 per cent of ill health in our communities.

“Early childhood education delivered in a culturally respectful manner by our own people, trained to work locally in their communities must be a priority.”

Ms Turner said current Commonwealth Government policies remain disconnected and siloed.

“In 2017 we need to see greater connectivity across all government portfolios at the Ministerial and departmental levels and more accountability from state and territory governments for the funding they receive to improve the lives of Aboriginal people.

“In every jurisdiction we see inconsistent data collection.  In 2017, with such innovative information technology available, all governments should implement open, transparent, consistent data collection and reporting to ensure their accountability to the Australian people at large.

“NACHHO stands ready, willing and able to work with everyone to negotiate better solutions to public policy and program investments that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people”



ICYMI todays posts

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Redfernstatement 1 of 5 posts : PM to release #closingthegap report today

NACCHO #closingtheGap Aboriginal Health and the #Redfernstatement Its time for this new approach

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Redfernstatement #closingtheGap Post 3 of 5 : New relationship with government is desperately needed

NACCHO Aboriginal Health download the #ClosingtheGap report #Redfernstatement Post 4 of 5

NACCHO SNAPSHOT progress Against Health Targets:

We are not on track to close the gap in life expectancy by 2031.

Over the longer term, Indigenous mortality rates have declined significantly by 15 per cent since 1998.

There have been significant improvements in the Indigenous mortality rate from chronic diseases, particularly from circulatory diseases (the leading cause of death) since 1998.

However, Indigenous mortality rates from cancer (second leading cause of death) are rising and the gap is widening.

There have been improvements in health care access and reductions in smoking which should contribute to long-term improvements in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Working collaboratively across governments, the health sector and with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on local and regional responses is central to the Government’s approach to improve life expectancy.


See ABC Website for all Targets

Indigenous Australians don’t live as long as other Australians. Their children are more likely to die as infants. And their health, education and employment outcomes are worse than non-Indigenous people.

Australia has promised to close this gap on health, education and employment. But a new report card finds we are failing on six out of seven key measures.

Target: To close the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation (by 2031).

  • Progress: Indigenous Australians die about 10 years younger than non Indigenous Australians, and that hasn’t changed significantly.
  • With increasing life expectancy in the non-Indigenous population, to close the gap “Indigenous life expectancy would need to increase by 16 years and 21 years for females and males respectively”.
  • That means gains of at least 0.6 years per annum, but in the five years to 2012 there was only a gain of 0.8 years for men and 0.1 for women — a fraction of what is needed.
  • The mortality rate (the number of deaths per 100,000 people in a year) for Aboriginal people is 1.7 times that of the Australian population, and that hasn’t changed since 1998.

Target: To halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade (by 2018).

  • Progress: There has been no significant decline in child mortality rates since 2008, and child mortality rates actually increased slightly from 2014 to 2015.
  • In 2015, there were 124 Indigenous child deaths. This was four deaths outside the range of the target and an increase of six deaths since 2014.
  • Between 2011 and 2014 Indigenous children aged 0-4 were more than twice as likely to die than non-Indigenous children.

Advertising and editorial wanted for the April 5  #Closingthegap  #Redfernstatement edition ?


NACCHO has announced the publishing date for the 9 th edition of Australia’s first national health Aboriginal newspaper, the NACCHO Health News .

Publish date 6 April 2017

Working with Aboriginal community controlled and award-winning national newspaper the Koori Mail, NACCHO aims to bring relevant advertising and information on health services, policy and programs to key industry staff, decision makers and stakeholders at the grassroots level.

And who writes for and reads the NACCHO Newspaper ?


While NACCHO’s websites ,social media and annual report have been valued sources of information for national and local Aboriginal health care issues for many years, the launch of NACCHO Health News creates a fresh, vitalised platform that will inevitably reach your targeted audiences beyond the boardrooms.

NACCHO will leverage the brand, coverage and award-winning production skills of the Koori Mail to produce a 24 page three times a year, to be distributed as a ‘lift-out’ in the 14,000 Koori Mail circulation, as well as an extra 1,500 copies to be sent directly to NACCHO member organisations across Australia.

Our audited readership (Audit Bureau of Circulations) is 100,000 readers

For more details rate card

Contact : Colin Cowell Editor

Mobile : 0401 331 251

Email  :

NACCHO Aboriginal Health download the #ClosingtheGap report #Redfernstatement Post 4 of 5


 ” I thank you for your efforts to come together to identify the key priorities for Indigenous Affairs, and opportunities for Government and the community to work together more closely.

Your vision, and the call to action of the signatories of the Redfern Statement aligns with the Government’s commitment to do things with Indigenous Australians, not do things to them.

As we work together as a nation, all levels of government, to renew the Closing the Gap targets, input from the Redfern Statement Alliance will be critically important.

Our intention is to redesign the targets that are expiring in partnership with our First Australians.

We’ll work to ensure that the Closing the Gap initiatives are community-driven and recognise that Indigenous leaders are absolutely central – paramount – to finding the solutions in a way that supports identity and wellbeing.”

Prime Minister remarks at the Redfern Statement Breakfast The Great Hall, Parliament House

Download the Closing the Gap report here :


This ninth Closing the Gap report showcases real successes being achieved at a local level across the country by individuals, communities, organisations and government.

However, at a national level, progress needs to accelerate.

Over the long term there are improvements across a number of the targets, however these improvements are not enough to meet the majority of the outcomes set by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

This is a report card on how we, as a nation, are meeting our responsibilities in improving outcomes for our First Australians.

This report recognises changes are underway and successes are being achieved, however, progress overall nationally, is too slow.

Progress Against Health Targets:

We are not on track to close the gap in life expectancy by 2031.

Over the longer term, Indigenous mortality rates have declined significantly by 15 per cent since 1998.

There have been significant improvements in the Indigenous mortality rate from chronic diseases, particularly from circulatory diseases (the leading cause of death) since 1998.

However, Indigenous mortality rates from cancer (second leading cause of death) are rising and the gap is widening.

There have been improvements in health care access and reductions in smoking which should contribute to long-term improvements in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Working collaboratively across governments, the health sector and with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on local and regional responses is central to the Government’s approach to improve life expectancy.

OR View PMC website

This year we mark important milestones in the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the Australian Government.

It is 50 years since the 1967 Referendum which saw Australians overwhelmingly agree the Commonwealth had a duty to make laws to benefit our First Australians.

The past year saw the 50th anniversary of the Wave Hill Walk Off, in which Gurindji people petitioned the Governor-General for the return of some of their traditional land, and the 40th anniversary of the passage of Aboriginal land rights legislation for the Northern Territory.

In June last year I was honoured to hand the title deeds for some 52,000 hectares of land on the Cox Peninsula near Darwin to the Larrakia people as part of the Kenbi land claim settlement. Theirs is a story that epitomises the survival and resilience of our First Australians, and of the Larrakia people.

This ninth Closing the Gap report showcases real successes being achieved across the country—by individuals, communities, organisations and government.

For example, in response to the Prison to Work Report, we are collaborating nationally to explore ways to support reintegration of Indigenous prisoners into communities, address the barriers to employment and improve the coordination of services across and within all jurisdictions.

We have taken great strides in progressing financial independence for Indigenous Australians through the Commonwealth’s Indigenous Procurement Policy. In its first year, 493 Indigenous businesses were awarded $284.2 million in Commonwealth contracts. State and territory governments have agreed to explore similar policies in their own jurisdictions and the Indigenous business sector will continue to grow.

While we celebrate the successes we cannot shy away from the stark reality that we are not seeing sufficient national progress on the Closing the Gap targets. While many successes are being achieved locally, as a nation, we are only on track to meet one of the seven Closing the Gap targets this year. Although we are not on track to meet the ambitious targets we have set, we must stay the course.

We will continue to focus on key priorities—from preconception and the early years through school, providing a positive start to life, which of course opens opportunities for further study and employment. The high rates of suicide and disproportionately high rates of incarceration among our First Australians are issues that all governments, in partnership with community, need to work tirelessly to resolve.

We have listened to calls from the community. We will not shy away from our goal of supporting equal opportunity for First Australians. This is our national responsibility. Our commitment to the end goal will not waiver, but we must do things differently. We must build on what is working, and change what isn’t working.

Twelve months ago, when I tabled my first Closing the Gap report in Parliament, I made a commitment that my Government would do things with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, not do things to them and I am pleased to say we have made some real gains in that regard.

We are building a new way of working together with Indigenous leaders and their communities to create local solutions—putting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the centre of decision-making in their regions.

As I have said before, our greatest strides in Closing the Gap will come when we work together—all levels of government, business and the community.

The Empowered Communities model is now in eight regions across the country, in addition to other local decision-making models such as the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly in western New South Wales. Over the coming year we will continue to build the capacity and capability of communities and government to truly engage with each other and to jointly make informed decisions.

As part of the Government’s commitment to enable Indigenous leaders to develop local solutions, we have a responsibility to measure the success or otherwise of our policies and programs, and adjust where needed. And sharing this knowledge and evidence with communities enables local decision-making. We need to be patient and acknowledge that these things take time—but we are determined to get it right.

We must also recognise culture as paramount to finding solutions that respect, acknowledge and support identity.

We are on a path of an ambitious reform agenda for Indigenous affairs. Changing the way in which Governments work together, and with communities to deliver better outcomes.

I am heartened that we have bipartisan support to improve the wellbeing of our First Australians, and that the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has recently agreed to work together, and with Indigenous Australians, to refresh the Closing the Gap agenda, emphasising collaboration and acknowledging that one size does not fit all.

With the tenth anniversary of Closing the Gap approaching in 2018, it is timely to look at what we have learned. What has worked and where we need to focus efforts to drive greater change. Over the decade there has been greater collaboration and national focus on Indigenous outcomes than ever before. This will continue, this must continue.

Last year, as part of my commitment to bring Indigenous Affairs to the forefront of government, I established the Indigenous Policy Committee of Cabinet. The Committee will support better engagement with Cabinet Ministers, their portfolios and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including through collaboration with the Indigenous Advisory Council.

With the term of the inaugural Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council having recently ended, I take this opportunity to thank all Council members for their hard work and dedication to improving the lives of Australia’s First Peoples. I look forward to building on that legacy with the new members for the Council’s second term.

As Aboriginal and Torres Strait leaders have said for a long time, it is not all about what you seek to achieve, it is equally about how you achieve it. The ends we seek from our efforts are non-negotiable; the means by which we achieve them can differ but must always be in concert with the wishes of Indigenous people.

Well thank you very much Jackie and Rod, and thank you Matilda, for your very warm Welcome to Country.

We are on the lands of the Ngambri and the Ngunawal people and I pay my very deep respect for the traditional custodians, for you, your elders, today, in the past and as we saw, the little children in the future.

I want to welcome and acknowledge all the leaders of our First Australian communities here today, acknowledge and pay our respect to them, as we do to all Indigenous Australians.

I also welcome the First Ministers and their representatives who have gathered with us today to demonstrate the responsibility, the opportunity, for Closing the Gap in partnership with our communities, rest with all levels of Government, with all Australians.

I acknowledge my many parliamentary colleagues, our Indigenous parliamentary colleagues, Ken Wyatt, Pat Dodson, Linda Burney, Malarndirri McCarthy, Jacqui Lambie. I also acknowledge the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten and the Leader of the Greens and of course our Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion, who has been working so closely with the authors of the Redfern Statement.

And we are of course, Kevin, here with you on the day after the 9th anniversary of your Apology to the Stolen Generation, which we acknowledged in the Parliament yesterday.

I thank the National Congress of Australia’s First People for its leadership in bringing together the Redfern Statement Alliance.

I thank you for your efforts to come together to identify the key priorities for Indigenous Affairs, and opportunities for Government and the community to work together more closely.

Your vision, and the call to action of the signatories of the Redfern Statement aligns with the Government’s commitment to do things with Indigenous Australians, not do things to them.

As we work together as a nation, all levels of government, to renew the Closing the Gap targets, input from the Redfern Statement Alliance will be critically important. Our intention is to redesign the targets that are expiring in partnership with our First Australians.

Now, in the last six months, I believe we have built a new relationship with Congress. In the

year ahead, I want us to strengthen that further. I’ll be asking members of the renewed

Indigenous Advisory Council to work with the Redfern Alliance so that a broad range of views are heard and brought to bear on improving not only what we do, but the way we do it.

We’ll work to ensure that the Closing the Gap initiatives are community-driven and recognise that Indigenous leaders are absolutely central – paramount – to finding the solutions in a way that supports identity and wellbeing.

We want to have more local decisions-making models and we’ll continue to build the capability of governments and communities to engage in a better way of working together.

Now, I know you’ve commenced discussions, as you noted Jackie, with Nigel Scullion the Minister, on holding workshops to discuss practical solutions and work in more detail on a plan for the five key topics proposed in the Redfern Statement.

I believe this shows the way we’re approaching a new relationship in good faith. The Indigenous Affairs Cabinet Policy Committee will attend the workshops along with Nigel Scullion, the Minister, as appropriate.

I also want us to take a moment to reflect on the progress made in addressing Indigenous disadvantage over the 50 years since the ’67 referendum.

There are more Indigenous Australians in school, in universities, in employment, in business, living longer lives and in better health. We have come a long way over the last 50 years since the ’67 referendum, but we have not come far enough.

There are still significant challenges that remain. That’s true. But let’s ensure we continue to celebrate the successes along the way. Because they are the stories that encourage and inspire and pave the way for those who will come after.

Last night, I had the privilege of meeting with many Indigenous Australians who have pursued their dreams and are succeeding. They were doctors, lawyers, nurses, disability advocates, scientists, business leaders, officers in our Defence Forces, senior public servants and so many more.

Those bright Indigenous Australians, bright and often young Indigenous Australians, reflect the diversity of experience and aspiration that exist in our communities.

It’s vitally important that the narrative is not solely one of deficit. It must also recognise and reflect the success, the inspiration, the enterprise, the leadership.

Now, I’ve had the privilege in the last year of meeting with many Indigenous Australians in very a wide diversity of settings. The Indigenous Digital Excellence Conference in Redfern, full of budding young entrepreneurs.

Helping to get kids to school in Yalata and Fregon.

Meeting Indigenous business-owners in Brisbane. Handing back the title deeds of the Cox Peninsula to the Larrakia people in Darwin. Speaking and consoling grieving parents from the Kimberley who is suffered the pain of their children’s suicide.

Now on each occasion and many more, it gave me an opportunity to listen to your stories, to understand, in awe, the resilience of our First Australians and to build a stronger bond between the Government I lead and our First Australians.

This is a relationship we’ll continue to build and we look forward to working with you all, in the year ahead.

I want to thank you for your ongoing commitment, your tireless and ever-optimistic commitment, to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

We will achieve much greater progress together in the years ahead and we will do so working together in collaboration, in long-lasting relationships, built on a common goal of a fair go, as Jackie said, a fair go for all – long-lasting relationships and trust and in the reconciliation that is our commitment.

Thank you very much.

Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, discusses the Redfern Statement


Good morning everybody.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, I pay my

respects to elders past and present.

On a day like today, we remember that those words are not just an acknowledgement – they are a promise.

A promise to remember that this is, was and always will be Aboriginal land.

I’d like to acknowledge all the distinguished guest; the Prime Minister, Senator Di Natale, Leader of the Greens, parliamentary colleagues but in particular, I hope no one minds me acknowledging former Prime Minister Rudd and Jenny Macklin for all the work they did for the 2008 Apology.

And I want to acknowledge all of the Aboriginal-controlled organisations here, the peak-groups and others.

Thank you for coming to parliament today – I won’t make a long speech.

This morning, parliamentarians should be listening to our first people – not talking at our first people.

That’s something a bit different for this building – a bit of a change.

But it’s clear from this very important statement that a change is exactly what is required.

For the first peoples of our nation: control-as-usual, cynicism-as-usual, business-as usual, politics-as-usual, government-as-usual – is simply no longer a satisfactory option.

It is the hour for Canberra to start listening to communities.

It is the hour for Parliament to listen to the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

It is the hour to renew relationships.

And it is well past the hour that first Australians have first say in the decisions which affect their daily lives.

Today, I want to briefly say what I think real change looks like – not, as the Prime Minister says, a cataloguing of the good and the bad as important as that is, but when I think about real change which we all aspire to, I think about:

  • Healthier people
  •  Happier people
  • Confident and proud people

No more fear, no more sense of subjugation.

No encumbrance of bureaucracy, no imperative of authority or domination.

First peoples standing proud of culture – with the place and space to be themselves.

Not caught in a self-fulfilling prophecy were the worst is expected – and subsequently inflicted.

Instead, as Jackie said, a place at the table.

We must achieve this change – not just on this day, but every day.

Until we achieve this real change, we are all diminished.

Our first Australians are diminished, white Australians are diminished.

Not just as Australians – but we are diminished as human beings.

Your insights, your wisdom, your statement shows us the way forward.

I look forward to working with you, to make it happen.

Thank you and good morning.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Redfernstatement #closingtheGap Post 3 of 5 : New relationship with government is desperately needed


 ” Today, when he when he delivers the 9th Closing the Gap report to Parliament, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and many elected members will likely express disappointment at the lack of progress in closing the Indigenous disadvantage gap.

But this disappointment will be as nothing compared to what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel at the repeated news that our lives are still shorter, sicker and poorer than other Australians.”

It’s disappointment born from a failure of successive governments to look to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for solutions on matters that deeply affect us.”

This article is drawn from todays speech  delivered by Dr Jackie Huggins at the Redfern Statement Parliamentary Event in Parliament House Canberra


 ” It is, we hope, the start of a new relationship with government, a new way of doing things.

At its heart the Redfern Statement calls for greater recognition and representation for indigenous led solutions ”



 ” Today, we will bring the Redfern Statement to Parliament, carried in a Coolamon to formally hand it to the Prime Minister to hold in trust on behalf of the 45th Parliament.

Coolamons were traditionally used by Aboriginal women to carry water, fruits, nuts, as well as to cradle babies. Occasionally they were used in ceremonies for smoking and purifying

Today it will carry something no less important to the wellbeing of our people “


It is us who witness our elders pass before their time, our children placed in out of home care, and our young people locked up rather than educated.

We see our women’s continued experiences of family violence, and wait for our brothers and sisters to have their disabilities diagnosed and supported.

We watch our families live in overcrowded houses that are crumbling around them.

We have also seen the many reports and inquiries over the years make important recommendations, without the required attention or response from governments.

Take the Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody for example. It contained 339 well-considered recommendations, few of which have been acted on, none of which have been reported on.

The incarceration rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was seven times that of other Australians when the Commission did its work 26 years ago, it is now 13 times the rate.

There are many such examples.

For this cycle of failure to change, government must change what it’s doing.

It must look to the torches lighting the path to a better future for our people.

Torches like the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services, legal services, family violence prevention services, child-care, and disability organisations, run by our mob with decades of experience and a deep understanding of what needs to be done.

The positive examples are there, but not enough is being done to support, amplify, and empower them.

This must change.

Around 2.5 million episodes of care are delivered to our people by Aboriginal Community Controlled Heath Organisations each year.


Picture above NACCHO CEO Pat Turner at todays event

This is echoed by many of the organisations that are managed by us with a direct link to the communities they serve.

This work, of Aboriginal community controlled organisations, stretches out over decades, but has never been properly funded or recognised as an equal partner in developing solutions to the issues we face.

We need a new relationship that respects and harnesses this expertise, and recognises our right to be involved in decisions being made about us.

We need a seat at the table when policies are developed.

During the Federal Election Campaign last year, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders from health, justice, children and families, disabilities, family violence protection, and other sectors released the Redfern Statement.

It represents the considered views from across those sectors, supported by three major national campaigns – Close the Gap, Change the Record and Family Matters, and some 50 organisations.

It was, and is, an entreaty to prospective governments for us to be listened to, engaged with, and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be equal partners in decisions made about us.

It is an entry point for government to draw on our collective expertise, our deep understanding of our communities, and lifetimes of experience working with our people.

It is, we hope, the start of a new relationship with government, a new way of doing things.

At its heart the Redfern Statement calls for greater recognition and representation for indigenous led solutions.

This includes recognition of our representative bodies and redirection of funding to our Aboriginal controlled organisations who already working so hard on the ground.

We are seeking a new beginning, a new way of government working with us in an agreed, structured way through the Redfern Statement.

The Prime Minster, said recently that ‘every Australian deserves a fair go in this race of life.’

We ask no less than this for our people.

This article is drawn from the speech to be delivered by Dr Jackie Huggins at the Redfern Statement Parliamentary Event in Parliament House Canberra.