feature tile text 'strong family relationships prove to be perinatal mental health protective factor' & photo of Aboriginal woman's hands above & below pregnant belly

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Perinatal mental health protective factors

feature tile text 'strong family relationships prove to be perinatal mental health protective factor' & photo of Aboriginal woman's hands above & below pregnant belly

Perinatal mental health protective factors

A recent Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) and Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) paper that retrospectively analysed 91 perinatal mental health assessments from the Kimberley region found that almost all of the women had protective factors and these appeared to contribute to them not having anxiety or depression even if they had significant risk factors. The most prominent protective factor was positive relationships with family members.

The study found that for Aboriginal women, it is important that the health professional explores a woman’s whole context; that is, the way she experiences stress and risk and how her protective factors support her. This will help the woman and her health professional best understand and support her mental health and wellbeing. Assessing Aboriginal women’s perinatal mental health by only looking at risk is not enough.

Plain language reports and a link to the paper are available on the KAMS research website which can be accessed by clicking here.

black and white image of adult Aboriginal hand holding sleeping Aboriginal baby's hand

Image source: Centre of Perinatal Excellence website.

AHCWA launches Mappa platform

The Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA), in conjunction with its 23 member Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHSs) and associated communities have initiated the development and launch of the Mappa platform live to all Western Australians.

Mappa is a free-to-use online mapping platform developed to address the lack of clarity at all levels in regards to healthcare services being delivered across rural, remote and metropolitan regions throughout WA. Mappa provided comprehensive, culturally appropriate and reliable information for health services, health professionals, patients, clients and their communities.

Mappa brings three worlds together: the patient/client journey world; the healthcare world; and the technology world. In doing this, the mapping platform seeks to help those who are not technology savvy and/or have English as a second or third language, busy healthcare providers, clinicians, GPs, allied healthcare providers and those who want an easy way to find a place, a community or a healthcare service and to know how long it will take to get there.

Mappa is about ‘getting the right care, in the right place, at the right time‘, while being with family, at home and on country.

To view the article about the Mappa platform in The West Australian – New Directions in Telehealth liftout (page 3) click here.

To access the Live Mappa Link click here.Mappa Mapping Health Services Closer to Home banner with vector of tree and tree roots in a teardrop pointing to a place on a map

NACCHO supports HIV Awareness Week

NACCHO supports the World Aids Day 2020 theme ‘now, more than ever’ saying it is time to close the gap on rates of HIV notifications amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities in Australia. NACCHO believes as per the National Agreement on Closing the Gap that there is a real opportunity to take Aboriginal-led approaches and partnerships to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey said, “Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face unique issues and social determinants that affect health outcomes, including overcrowded housing. We have demonstrated that a partnership and commitment from the Australian Government’s Departments of Health with NACCHO and direct funding for ACCHOs to address the syphilis outbreak has produced some positive outcomes.”

To read NACCHO’s media release click here.banner text U and Me Can STOP HIV with red, aboriginal flag & Torres Strait Islander flag coloured HIV awareness ribbons

8,000 Katherine patients without GP

Katherine’s only general practice closed its doors last month, leaving the 8,000 patients on its books with no other option but to travel three hours to Darwin for a GP consultation. The decision to close was not an easy one for GP and practice owner Dr Peter Spafford – who has been a resident of the NT town for 19 years and owner of Gorge Health for 10 – but he felt he had no other option.
 
A 2018 workforce assessment conducted by the NT Primary Health Network (PHN) recommended the town, with a population of almost 10,000, needed nine GPs to provide a service equal to elsewhere in Australia. The reality on the ground, however, has been just two GPs, four at best. Constant waitlists have meant there’s always been a difficulty in providing full GP services to the community.

The solution, according to RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements, is multifaceted and requires a whole-of-system approach that considers everything from housing security and spousal employment to children’s education and the training environment.

To view the full article click here.

road sign Kathering 90 Alice Springs 1263

Image source: newsGP website.

Making the invisible visible

After more than 12 months of hard work, consultation and collaboration, the RACGP has launched a reconciliation action plan (RAP) as part of its vision of a healthcare system free of racism.
 
Designed to help establish a culturally safe organisation that supports continuous education and learning for staff and members, the RAP has been praised by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within and outside of the college. The plan involves a commitment to improving the knowledge, skills and abilities required to deliver culturally responsive health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which relies on a culturally inclusive and safe environment with strong relationships based on mutual respect.

To view The RACGP Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan October 2020 – September 2022 click here.

To view the related article published in newsGP click here.

Aboriginal woman with Aboriginal face paint looking sideways against a background of blue and white Aboriginal dot and line painting

Image source: newsGP.

World Scabies Program launched

The recently launched World Scabies Program (WSP), headed by Professor Andrew Steer, based on key research by Murdoch Childrens’ Research Institute (MCRI), conducted in partnership with the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) and the Kirby Institute of UNSW Sydney, has shown that scabies prevalence can be reduced by more than 90% with a single community wide treatment.

Scabies is a parasitic infestation of the skin with the parasitic ‘itch mite’ Sarcoptes scabiei. The tiny mite burrows into the upper layers of the skin causing intensely itchy lesions which commonly become infected with bacteria and can lead to more serious conditions such and kidney disease and rheumatic heart disease. In humans, scabies is a particularly significant disease in children, but occurs in both sexes, at all ages, in all ethnic groups, and at all socioeconomic levels. Transmission of the mites from one person to the next is by direct skin to skin contact. Scabies is a significant disease worldwide in humans, wildlife, livestock and domestic animals and is a particularly serious problem in many remote Australia Indigenous communities, where overcrowded living conditions are a major factor contributing to high rates of transmission.

Fiji will be one of the first countries in the world to roll out a nationwide scabies elimination program and will be a model for other countries. Approximately one in every five Fijians is at risk of having scabies at any given time, with children at a higher risk. WSP will scale up this approach to the whole population of Fiji, with an aim to essentially eliminate scabies as a public health problem.

To learn more about the World Scabies Program click here.

scabies mite under a microscope

The scabies mite, Sarcoptes scabiei. Image source: SBS NITV website.

2021 Eye Health Conference abstracts open

Abstract submissions are now open for the 2021 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference (NATSIEHC): The Gap and Beyond. The conference will bring elements from the postponed Close the Gap for Vision National Conference 2020 and, in 2021, will be delivered fully online.

The conference will be held virtually from 20–22 April 2021 with abstracts welcome from all working in, or interested in, improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health. Topics should be relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and efforts to close the gap for vision and ultimately eliminate avoidable vision loss and blindness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. This could include eye care in primary care; eye care stakeholder collaborations; community-led and cultural engagement approaches and initiatives; workforce development; challenges in coordination and case management; improving outcomes and access to services; health system changes and reform.

For more information about abstract submissions click here. The closing date for abstract submissions is Monday 18 January 2021.banner 2021 National ATSI Eye Health Conference The Gap & Beyond 20-22 April 2021

First signs of ear disease at 8 weeks

Telethon Kids Institute researchers have found close to 40% of Aboriginal babies begin to develop middle ear infections between 2–4 months of age in a first of its kind study in metropolitan Perth. By 6–8 months this increased to over 50% of kids according to results published in Deafness and Educational International, clearly demonstrating the urgent need to prioritise early testing and treatment for Aboriginal children suffering debilitating ear infections, also known as otitis media (OM).

Clinical Associate Professor Deborah Lehmann AO, Honorary Emeritus Fellow at the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases, based at Telethon Kids Institute, said 650,000 Australian children are affected by OM each year and Aboriginal children have some of the highest rates in the world. “While our previous research has already shown Aboriginal children are disproportionately impacted by chronic ear disease, most studies have focused on kids in regional and remote areas and information about the true burden of OM in urban areas was very limited,” Professor Lehmann said.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal woman with Telethon Kids Institute logo on shift with Aboriginal man holding Aboriginal baby standing outside of a building

Image source: Telethon Kids Institute.

NACCHO CEO makes Australians who mattered list

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner has made the Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend’s second annual 40 Australians Who Mattered list for her contribution to social justice. Pat’s citation says ‘For decades Pat Turner has being a passionate voice for Aboriginal equality and self-determination, inside and outside governments, particularly in the field of Indigenous health. Her strong leadership was highlighted this year in her role as the lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, which brings together more than 50 Indigenous community peak organisations. In July, Turner stood beside Prime Minister Scott Morrison to launch a new national agreement on Closing the Gap, which is supposed to make Indigenous-run organisations central to programs to reduce disadvantage in communities.

“She’s one of the most experienced public servants in Australia,” says federal Labor frontbencher and Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney. “She’s had an incredibly distinguished career spanning both community and government. She shows a willingness to speak truth to power, she understands how governments work and is absolutely committed to driving a proper partnership with Aboriginal people in relation to Closing the Gap.”

To view the full article click here.

portrait shot of Pat Turner sitting in a chair looking directly at the camera, hand to her cheek

Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Activism against gender-based violence video  

Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-op has contributed to a video telling the story of what a gender equitable future looks like and the need to call out disrespect, sexism and discrimination. The video, produced with funding from Respect Victoria and the City of Ballarat, is part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence global campaign to end gender-based violence. The campaign is book-ended by the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November and International Human Rights Day on 10 December. These days were chosen in order to emphasise that violence against women is a human rights violation. 

To view the article about the video’s launch click here, and to view the video click here.banner with text '16 Days of Activism Respect Women: Call It Out' with vector images of people holding up letters that make up words 'Respect is....'

Dialysis trial focusing on culture

Bluey Roberts had been undergoing dialysis treatment in Adelaide’s major hospitals for the past three years. This year, however, he said things have changed for the better. “It’s more like home here,” Mr Roberts said while overlooking a smoking fireplace at Kanggawodli, a short-term accommodation facility in Adelaide’s north-west for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from across Australia.

Until recently, the site didn’t provide dialysis treatment options — but a trial of on-site facilities has seen immediate results, boosting attendance for vital services. For Bluey, a Ngarrindjeri elder and revered artist whose work features at institutions including the Art Gallery of SA, home is several hours’ drive away. But health difficulties linked to his dialysis needs left him in a challenging spot. “I wasn’t too good when I first came but I’m not too bad now, sort of settled down and got a lot better with my dialysis,” he says.

The six-month SA Health pilot of stationing dialysis machines at Kanggawodli makes it the only treatment location outside of a hospital in a metropolitan setting. Kanggawodli Manager Wade Allan said traditional owners often find hospitals overwhelming and alienating, which results in patients not committing to ongoing treatment.

To view the full article click here.

#swab4mob campaign launch

The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC) has partnered with The National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) and other Aboriginal organisations to launch #swab4mob; a campaign aimed at urging Aboriginal communities to protect their families by getting COVID-19 testing if they feel unwell. While there is currently no available COVID-19 vaccine or cure, it is essential that continued testing rates are maintained to help with community control of the virus and assist with contact tracing.

AH&MRC CEO Robert Skeen stated: “The collective voice of Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal health organisations play an important role to help people maintain COVID-19-safe behaviours and high testing rates while there is no cure or vaccine available for COVID-19. Wash your hands, wear a mask in crowded areas, and if you are feeling unwell, even just a slightly, play your part to protect your Community and get a COVID-19 test.”

To view AH&MRC’s press release about the #swab4mob launch click here and to view the #swab4mob video click here.image from swab4mob video David Follent Chairman NAATSHIHWP

AHW and patient Wuchopperen Health Service

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community best placed to deliver human services

AHW and patient Wuchopperen Health Service

Community best placed to deliver human services

Earlier this week (Wednesday 25 November) NACCHO CEO Pat Turner appeared as a panelist the ABC’s The Drum. Pat Turner described why the  NACCHO COVID-19 communication strategy was so successful “it was done at the local level through NACCHO’s 143 members because they know the community and know what sort of messaging will resonate in the community and they know the behaviours of people, there were things that we said like ‘don’t share your smokes and don’t share your drinks’ because we know people do that. It was a way of making sure the messaging that was going out was really going to resonate with the people in those regions and that’s why we did it ourselves, our members did a great job and we were able to do it because we have a long established relationship with the communities and therefore they trust the messaging that comes from us.

The interviewer asked Pat Turner “how do you say to government ‘you’ve had a crack at closing the gap, let us have a try – how do you shake the cage of government and say ‘look you’ve got to let the community do its own delivery of human services because frankly with the best will in the world, Commonwealth government you’re rubbish at it.'”

screen shot of Pat Turner on ABC The Drum

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM. Image source: ABC The Drum.

Praise for hospital models of care

The St John of God Midland public hospital, which has just celebrated its firth birthday, has been praised for developing models of care in providing Aboriginal health services and building a strong relationship with local community groups. Aboriginal engagement and cultural advisors work across the hospital’s wards to assist patients and their families and assist with post discharge planning. St John of God Midland Public Hospital has created significant links with the local community, and works closely with local health agencies, community service providers and patient support groups and provides important outreach and in-reach services to patients.

To view the Government of WA’ s media release click here.

AHW talking to middle aged Aboriginal patient

Image source: St John of God Midland Public Hospital website.

Child removal Catch-22

Life with Archie

Laugh and cry as you listen to Aboriginal mum Carly and her husband Luke talk about raising their beautiful little four year old boy Archie who has a number of disabilities. Carly talks about her pregnancy, the birth of Archie, learning of his various disabilities, therapy, navigating the NDIS and more. Listen here to the interview on an episode of the Too Peas In A Podcast podcast.

toddler Archie eating sandwich blue plastic bib and Aboriginal colours headband

Archie as a baby. Image source: carlypuck Instagram.

Social media racism affects mental health

In her 2015 book, The Internet of Garbage, Sarah Jeong writes: “The internet is experienced completely differently by people who are visibly identifiable as a marginalised race or gender. It’s a nastier, more exhausting internet, one that gets even nastier and even more exhausting as intersections stack up.” When it comes to racism (and all of its intersections), the exhaustion of experiencing it in our own lives is being increasingly compounded by its visablity online.  To be clear: as a person who is victimised by systemic racism, it’s never your responsibility to adapt. But there are ways to take back control when things feel overwhelming.

To view the article on ABC Life click here.

graphic of Aboriginal person with sweat on forrid looking at iPhone

Image source: ABC Life website.

Ngarrindjeri woman awarded grant

Murray Bridge woman Brooke Vanzati has been awarded a grant to support her study by Flinders University Rural Health SA. Funded and awarded by the rural health departments of the three SA universities – Flinders University, the University of Adelaide and the University of SA, the bursary is open to any Aboriginal Health Professional, Practitioner or Worker who is currently working in an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service in rural or remote SA.

To view the article in full click here.

photo of Brooke Vanzati standing next to Flinders University signage

Brook Vanzati. Image source: The Murray Valley Standard.

Cultural support for hospital patients

Around 3% (more than 10,000) of the NSW Central Coast’s population is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, with numbers steadily rising as more people move to the region to be close to family and to access better employment opportunities and healthcare. The region has one of the fastest growing Aboriginal populations according to data from the last two Censuses.

Nunyara Aboriginal Health Unit provides an important service to local hospitals and the community. Aboriginal liaison officers Jody Milson and Wayne Merritt have explained, “We work out of all hospitals in the Health District and at Woy Woy we concentrate on patients in rehabilitation, sub-acute and transitional care,” Milson said. “We provide cultural support to Aboriginal patients and help them in engaging with staff. “Some of them have been newly diagnosed and need that one on one support.”

To view the full article in the Coast Community News click here.

external image of Nunyara Aboriginal Health Unit NSW

Image source: Unique Building Partners website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Prematurity Day 2020 – Life’s Little Treasures

World Prematurity Day 2020 - life's little treasures, image of Aboriginal father looking at baby in a humdicrib

World Prematurity Day 2020

Every year, 15 million babies are born premature worldwide. More than one million of these babies die, and many more facing serious, lifelong health challenges. Worldwide, one in 10 babies are born too early – more than 27,000 each year in Australia alone. The National average rate of preterm birth in Australia has remained relatively constant over the last 10 years (between 8.1 and 8.7%), however, for many Aboriginal babies, the news is far worse.

In an address to the National Rural Press Club, National Rural Health Commissioner Dr Ruth Stewart will explain that in 2018, 8.4 per cent of births in major cities were premature compared with 13.5 per cent in rural, remote and very remote Australia. “Those averaged figures hide pockets of greater complexity. In East Arnhem Land communities, 22 per cent of babies are born prematurely,” she will say. But she will argue it is an “urban myth” that the quality of rural maternity care and services is to blame. Rather, she will point to an ongoing decline in available services, clinics and skilled operators.

One solution she will present is the model of care developed through the Midwifery Group Practice on Thursday Island. That program has halved premature birth rates across the Torres Strait and Australia’s northern peninsula since 2015. Crucially, all women have access to continuity of care, or the same midwife throughout the pregnancy, and those midwives are supported by Indigenous health practitioners and rural generalists (GPs with a broad range of skills such as obstetrics).

November 17 is World Prematurity Day, a globally celebrated awareness day to increase awareness of preterm births as well as the deaths and disabilities due to prematurity and the simple, proven, cost-effective measures that could prevent them.

For further information about preterm birth in Aboriginal babies click here and to view the ABC Rural article mentioning the Midwifery Group Practice on Thursday Island click here.

World Prematurity Day 2020 - life's little treasures, image of Aboriginal father looking at baby in a humdicrib & logo of World Prematurity Day 2020 with vector image of white footprint and text November 17th & Get your purple on for prems

Image source: Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance Twitter.

Narrative therapy helps decolonise social work

Social worker, educator and proud Durrumbal/Kullilli and Yidinji woman, Tileah Drahm-Butler, has found a narrative therapy approach resonates with Aboriginal practitioners and clients alike. For many Aboriginal people, the words ‘social work’ trigger the legacy of child removal and everything that comes with that. Social work is a colonised discipline that has had a problematic relationship with Aboriginal communities. Tileah was introduced to the practice of narrative therapy while working on ‘Drop the rock’ – a jobs and training program in Aboriginal communities that supported mental health service delivery and went on to complete a Masters in Narrative Therapy and Community Work. 

Tileah explains that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, problems have come about from colonisation. So with clients, it is important to re-author – to move away from a medicalised, pathologised discourse to a story that tells of survival and resistance. Narrative therapy helps people to tell their strong stories and identify the skills and knowledge that they already have that can help them make the problem smaller. Tileah said ‘the problem is the problem’, is narrative therapy’s catchphrase. The person, the family, the community aren’t the problem.

To view the full article published by the University of Melbourne click here.

portrait photo of Tileah Drahm-Butler - senior social worker Cairns Hospital

Tileah Drahm-Butler. Image source: The Mandarin Talks.

Joint Council on CTG to meet

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap will meet this afternoon (17 November 2020) to discuss the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. It will be the first time the Joint Council has met since the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect on 27 July 2020.

The Joint Council will discuss the collective responsibilities for the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap; funding priorities for the joint funding pool committed by governments to support strengthening community-controlled sectors (Priority Reform Two); a revised Family Violence target and a new Access to Information target which reflect a commitment in the National Agreement to develop these two targets within three months of the Agreement coming into effect; and the first annual Partnership Health Check of the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap. The Health Check reflects the commitment of all parties to put in place actions and formal checks over the life of the 10-year Partnership Agreement to make sure that the shared decision-making arrangements strengthen over time.

To view the Coalition of Peaks media alert click here.

Minister Ken Wyatt & Pat Turner sitting at a desk with draft CTG agreement

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt and Co-Chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap Pat Turner. Image source: SBS News.

Facebook can help improve health literacy

Health literacy, which generally refers to the abilities, relationships and external environments required to promote health, is an influential determinant of health that impacts individuals, families and communities, and a key to reducing health inequities. New research is showing how Facebook can be a useful source of information – particularly when used in conjunction with other methods – to develop broader understandings of health literacy among young Aboriginal males in the NT, and to spark different conversations, policies and health promotion programs. 

The project, Health literacy among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males, led by the Menzies School of Health Research emerged from an understanding that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males face multiple health and social inequities, spanning health, education and justice settings. Unfortunately, these health and social inequities start early in life and persist across different stages of their life-course. They are particularly pronounced for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys and men.

The project found its participants were very open about sharing information about their health and wellbeing on social media — including the benefits of being on country and the importance of family and friends — and how this influenced their own health-related decision making.

To view the full article published in croakey click here.

three young Aboriginal men at Galiwinku, Elcho Island, NT, 2008

Young Aboriginal men, Galiwinku, Elcho Island, NT, 2008. Image source: Tofu Photography.

Clothing the Gap supports Spark Health

For view the full article and to access a link to an interview with Laura Thompson click here.

photo of Laura Thompson sitting in front of laptop at desk huge smile, arms outstretched

Laura Thompson delivering a Spark Health program. Image source: The Standard.

LGBTIQ mental health crisis

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) has called on the Commonwealth Government to develop a mental health and suicide prevention blueprint to tackle the crisis of unmet need within the LGBTIQ community and public investment in LGBTIQ health organisations. La Trobe University research found 57.2% of more than 6,000 surveyed lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people were experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress, while 41.9% reported thoughts about suicide over the past 12 months.

“Mental health in the LGBTIQ community is in crisis, and the La Trobe research makes it clear action and investment in LGBTIQ mental health and suicide prevention is sorely needed,” Darryl O’Donnell, CEO of AFAO, said. “Existing approaches aren’t working and LGBTIQ communities are paying the price.”

To view AFAO’s media release click here and the La Trobe University media release click here. To access the La Trobe University’s Private Lives 3 The Health and Wellbeing of LGBTIQ People in Australia report click here.

Aboriginal trans person with rainbow coloured plait

The Tiwi Islands Sistagirls at Mardi Gras. Image source: Balck Rainbow website.

Most kids in out-of-home care with kin

A new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care were living with relatives, kin or Indigenous caregivers in 2018–19. The report, The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Indicators (ATSICPP) 2018–19: measuring progress, brings together the latest state and territory data on five ATSICPP indicators that measure and track the application of the placement and connection elements of the framework. 

‘The ATSICPP is a framework designed to promote policy and practice that will reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system,’ said AIHW spokesperson Louise York. As at June 2019, nearly two-thirds (63% or about 11,300 out of 18,000) of Indigenous children in out-of-home care were living with Indigenous or non-Indigenous relatives or kin or other Indigenous caregivers.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal mum kissing small child on the cheek at table of activities in outside setting

Image source: Family Matters website.

STI testing drops during COVID-19

Victorians are being urged to get tested for sexually transmissible infections (STIs), with new figures showing a concerning drop in STI notifications and testing during the coronavirus pandemic. New data from the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre shows a 68% drop in people without symptoms seeking STI testing this year. There are many types of STIs and most are curable with the right treatment, however, if left untreated, STIs can cause long-term damage, including infertility.

This week is STI Testing Week (16–20 November) – and as Victoria moves towards COVID Normal it’s the perfect time for everyone to consider their sexual health, have a conversation about STIs and get the important health checks they might have put off during the pandemic. To view the full article click here.

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) says the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Australia’s top experts in HIV and sexual health to drastically rethink our national response. Over 700 HIV and sexual health experts will gather (virtually due to the COVID-19) this week (16–20 November) for the joint Australasian HIV & AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences, run by the ASHM. To view ASHM’s media release click here

half peeled banana with red patch

Image source: Medicine Direct.

HMRI proud of health related initiatives 

Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) has been helping researchers to undertake research that translates to better treatments and better access to health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, including:

MRFF grant for Indigenous kid’s ear health

Associate Professor Kelvin Kong received a 5-year Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant to explore a telehealth ear, nose and throat (ENT) model, based in metropolitan, rural and regional Aboriginal community controlled health services, enabling improvement in Aboriginal children’s access to specialist ENT care and a reduction in the waiting time for treatment during the vital years of early childhood ear and hearing health.

Partners and Paternal Aboriginal Smokers’ project

Research Associate with the University of Newcastle and HMRI affiliated researcher, Dr Parivash Eftekhari, is running a first-of-its kind program to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers to quit smoking when their partner is pregnant, or if they have young children at home. The Partners and Paternal Aboriginal Smokers’ (PAPAS) project is key in improving children’s health by supporting fathers to have smoke-free homes.

To access further information about these research projects and to download the Indigenous Healthy: Eliminating the Gap seminar held earlier this year click here.

Professor Kelvin Kong presenting at Indigenous Health - Eliminating the Gap virtual seminar

Professor Kelvin Kong. Image source: HMRI website.

Mt Isa Hospital opens new Indigenous family rooms

North West Hospital and Health Service has unveiled its newly built family rooms at the Mount Isa Hospital. The family rooms, situation near the hospital’s Emergency Department are a culturally appropriate space where Indigenous patients and their families can meet, rest or engage with specialist hospital staff. Christine Mann, Executive Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health said the facility was a spacious place close to the hospital for use by families, “We have a lot of sorry business around here and regrettably we are outgrowing the hospital, so this place is spacious enough to accommodate families. This is a place where they can come and have a cup of tea and have family meetings.”

To view full article in The North West Star click here.

9 Aboriginal women cutting red ribbon to Mt Isa Hospital family rooms

Image source: The North West Star.

General Practice: Health of the Nation report

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has released its General Practice: Health of the Nation report, an annual health check-up on general practice in Australia. Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Professor Peter O’Mara, said the report contains many positive signs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

“It is important not to just dwell on the problems confronting healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said. “On the workforce, education and training front there is very good news. In 2018, there were 74 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs registered and employed – an increase from 50 in 2015. In 2020, there are 404 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students – this has increased from 265 in 2014. This year 121 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students started studying medicine, which is a 55% increase over the past three years. Nearly 11,000 members have joined the RACGP’s National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, which to me shows real interest and engagement.”

To view the full article click here.

Associate Professor Peter O'Mara

Associate Professor Peter O’Mara. Image source: RACGP Twitter.

Prison language program linked to better health

A new Aboriginal Languages in Custody program has been launched at Boronia Pre-release Centre for Women where up to 30 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal prisoners will be taught Noongar, the official language of the Indigenous people of the south-west of WA. The program will be created and delivered by the Perth-based Noongar Boodjar Language Cultural Aboriginal Corporation and rolled out to Hakea Prison, Bunbury Regional Prison and the rest of the state’s jails in four stages from late 2020 to the first quarter of 2021. 

WA Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan said “There is an intrinsic link between language and culture so this new program aims to help Aboriginal prisoners reconnect with their own people, practices and beliefs. Research shows that teaching Aboriginal languages leads to positive personal and community development outcomes, including good health and wellbeing, self-respect, empowerment, cultural identity, self-satisfaction and belonging.”

To view the related Government of WA media release click here.

Aboriginal painting of Aboriginal person with Aboriginal art and english words in the backgrouns

Image source: ABC News.

Dispelling outdated HIV myths webinar

In the lead up to World AIDS Day on 1 December 2020 Positive Women Victoria will host a ground breaking webinar. A panel of women living with HIV, including Yorta Yorta woman Michelle Tobin, will be  joined by a leading Australian infectious diseases physician, to share stories and knowledge about how this fact has transformed their lives and discuss issues around motherhood, sex, and relationships. The webinar will introduce audiences to more than 20 years of scientific evidence confirming that when antiretroviral treatment is used, and levels of HIV cannot be detected in blood, HIV is not transmitted during sexual contact or to a baby during pregnancy and childbirth. There is also growing evidence that supports mothers with HIV with an undetectable viral load and with healthcare support can also breastfeed their baby. 

For more information about the webinar on Thursday 7.00 pm – 8.30 pm (AEDT) 26 November 2020 and to register for the webinar click here.

portrait shot of Yorta Yorta woman Michelle Tobin

Yorta Yorta woman Michelle Tobin. Image source: AFAO website.

Fully subsidised online antibiotic resistance program

An exciting opportunity exists for 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care professionals to enrol in the inaugural Hot North Antimicrobial Academy 2021. The Antimicrobial Academy is a fully subsidised 9-month online program for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners) to build on their understanding and expertise in antibiotic resistance and to support further leadership of antibiotic use in our communities.

Further details are available here.

Submissions close Monday 30 November 2020.Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre & Hot North Improving Health Outcomes in the Tropical North Antimicrobial Academy 2021 banner

Vision 2030 Roadmap open for consultation

The National Mental Health Commission is inviting you to participate in a guided online consultation to inform the content and recommendations of the Vision 2030 Roadmap.

This online consultation forms part of the Commission’s stakeholder engagement approach to ensure that the Vision 2030 Roadmap incorporates as wide a range of experience as possible when developing evidence-based responses to mental health and psychosocial wellbeing.

Through special interest meetings and external expertise, the Commission has identified a number of priority areas for inclusion in the Roadmap. The online consultation asks you to consider the impact of Vision 2030 on you and identify your needs in its implementation.

More information on Vision 2030, including video recordings of the ‘Introducing Vision 2030 Blueprint and Roadmap’ webinars is available at the Commission’s website. The Vision 2030 Roadmap guided online consultation can be accessed here.

Now is your chance to get involved. This consultation opportunity is open to all until Friday 4 December 2020.purple tile text 'have your say - online consultation now open - VIsion 2020 AUstralian Government National Mental Health Commission' vector map of Australia with magnifying glass image surrounding the map

 

feature tile Aboriginal fingers holding cashless debit card, words 'cashless debit card 'not worth the human cost''

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Welfare cards ‘not worth the human cost’

feature tile Aboriginal fingers holding cashless debit card, words 'cashless debit card 'not worth the human cost''

Welfare cards ‘not worth the human cost’

Cashless debit cards for welfare recipients are not worth the human cost, senators have been told. The Morrison government plans to make the cards permanent in existing trial sites and move welfare recipients in the NT and the Cape York onto the system. A Senate inquiry probing the enabling legislation has heard from academics, charities and Indigenous groups.

Anti-card campaigner Kathryn Wilkes said the system was cruel and demeaning. She told senators the scheme – which limits most welfare spending – had caused stress and mental anguish. “This program is not worth the human cost,” Ms Wilkes said. Fellow campaigner Amanda Smith said the government was legislating segregation. “Whatever the government wants to label what they’re doing, they’re creating and investing in a system of permanent social and economic apartheid,” she said.

Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory chief John Paterson said the public money earmarked for making the card permanent would be better spent on Indigenous housing, education and health. “We want to get people off the welfare treadmill, we want to create jobs,” he said.

Healthy eating – what works at the store

Supermarkets and food retail stores are the principal source of people’s food and beverage needs and are therefore a prime setting to implement changes designed to increase the purchase of healthy food and decrease the purchase of unhealthy food in order to improve population diet and health. There is growing awareness that where foods are placed in shelves is an important marketing strategy.

A recent study from NZ, involving a retailer/academic collaboration, explored the impact of more prominent shelf placement of healthier products. However, the study found that placing healthier breakfast cereals at adult eye level had no impact on sales. Failure to show any meaningful outcomes is not uncommon in this research area, so it is great to see some results from a study with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in remote Australia. The Lancet has just published a study led by Professor Anna Peeters at Monash University in conjunction with the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA)which owns and manages community stores in remote Australia and has looked at the implementation of the co-designed Healthy Stores 2020 strategy.

To read the full article click here.

9 infographic tiles representing store strategies to encourage healthy eating

Image source: croakey website.

Let’s work together towards Closing the Gap

The Coalition of Peaks (CoPs) is a representative body of around 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak organisations and members that have come together to change the way Australian governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Community-controlled organisations work for and are accountable to their communities, not governments. They believe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should have a meaningful say on policies and programs that impact on them through formal partnerships with Australian governments at all levels.

The CoPs and all Australian Governments signed a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap in July this year. This was an historic and exciting moment because it was the first time a national agreement about First Nations people had been made in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, through their community-controlled organisations.

To find out more about the National Agreement on Closing the Gap go to the Coalitions of Peaks website here.CTG Historial Agreement COP tile - cartoon Aboriginal hand holding paper with title National Agreement

NACCHO CEO honoured for COVID-19 response

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has announced it is jointly awarding the 2020 Sidney Sax medal for outstanding contributions to the development and improvement of Australian healthcare. Patricia Turner AM, CEO NACCHO is one of the award recipients for the significant leadership and proactive response as the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact Australia’s health system and communities. Pat Turner ensured that the PM, state premiers and chief ministers took urgent action to protect communities, close down access and prioritise safety to prevent community transmission of COVID-19. Ensuring that governments worked in partnership with communities, and placing culture at the heart of preventative measures, were key to successfully keeping communities safe. In comparison to the devastating incidence of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities abroad, rates of COVID-19 in First Nations peoples in Australia remain proportionately lower than the rest of the population. This successful model of community leadership will have long-term positive impact for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities working in partnership with governments.

To read the full press release click here.

Pat Turner at meeting Aoriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in background

Patricia Turner AM Image source: Alice Springs News.

Palawa woman new AIDA President

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has announced a new Board of Directors, including the elections of Dr Tanya Schramm, a Palawa woman,  as the AIDA President. Tanya is a former AIDA Board member, a General Practitioner and also works for the University of Tasmania as a senior lecturer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. Vice President – Dr Simone Raye is a proud Bardi Jabbir Jabbir woman from the Kimberley. Simone was closely involved with the initial meetings that lead to the formation of AIDA. Simone hopes to strengthen relationships with specialty colleges to help First Nations students and trainees achieve Fellowship and be leaders within their chosen field.

To read the AIDA media release click here.

portrait image of Dr Tanya Schramm

Dr Tanya Schramm. Image source: Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association website.

Food security essential for remote communities

Dietitians Australia is calling for the Government to ensure all Australians have access to affordable, safe, and nutritious food, regardless of their location. This comes ahead of the final report from the Senate Inquiry into Food Pricing and Food Security in Remote Indigenous Communities. Submitting a written response earlier thisyear, Dietitians Australia proposed 16 key recommendations, including the need to develop and implement a national strategy on food security, as well as elevating the status of community stores to an essential service.

“A National Food and Nutrition Security Strategy which includes local voices from remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, is vital to creating practical solutions to support adequate food access,” said Robert Hunt, CEO of Dietitians Australia. “Local food stores often provide the only source of food available for purchase in the community.

GPs encouraged to take up mental health training

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is encouraging GPs in rural and remote Australia to undertake new mental health training to help children who’ve experienced disasters. It comes as GPs across the nation are dealing with increasing mental health presentations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and last summer’s devastating bushfires, and with the next fire season approaching. There are two e-learning courses from Emerging Minds, National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health available to RACGP members on the website: https://www.racgp.org.au/special-pages/login. The first builds knowledge and skills in child mental health assessment and management in general practice, and the second focuses on supporting children and families after natural disaster or community trauma – including in the immediate aftermath, short and long term.

To view the RACGP’s press release click here.

vector image person sitting head on knees whole of back fragments flying off

Image source: UKRI Medical Research Council.

Reducing racism in healthcare organisations

The impact of institutional racism in healthcare, and the steps organisations can take to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, is just one of the topics being explored as part of Dietitians Australia’s inaugural webinar series for NAIDOC week (8–15 November 2020). Dr Chris Bourke, a Gamilaroi man and Strategic Programs Director at Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, will be calling on the healthcare sector to reflect on their governance and structure to improve the outcomes of their healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Dr Bourke, who is Australia’s first Indigenous dentist, highlights the importance of engaging both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people in organisational leadership positions, ensuring a strong foundation to provide equitable healthcare. “Statistics show that just under 50% of the factors that contribute to poor health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are related to racism, intergenerational trauma and lack of cultural safety. We all play a role in reducing this inequality, but to influence change within an organisation, First Australians must be included within the governing team,” said Dr Bourke. Without action, the ongoing impacts of institutional racism are alarming. 

To view the Dietitians Australia media release, including details of how to register for their NAIDOC Week events click here.

protesters holding signs No Room for Racism

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Music’s role as health determinant

A proud descendant of the Wiradjuri First People of Australia, Griffith University researcher Associate Professor Naomi Sunderland (Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre), has been awarded $820,000 Australian Research Council (ARC) funding (including a Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award) for the project titled The role of First Nations’ music as a determinant of health’.

This project aims to track how First Nations’ music and musicians are shaped by, and in turn may shape, powerful social determinants of health in Australia. The project responds to calls for health approaches that are strength based, First Nations-led, and culturally secure.

Aboriginal man from Bowraville Richie Jarrett singing into microphone, Aboriginal flag as backdrop

Richie Jarrett. Image source: Guardian News.

Sista Connections support college students

feature tile text 'partnering withACCHOs key to tackling health disparity', painting of brick wall with Aboriginal flag overlaid with hand holding stethoscope for yellow centre of flag

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Partnering with ACCHOs key to tackling health disparity

feature tile text 'partnering withACCHOs key to tackling health disparity', painting of brick wall with Aboriginal flag overlaid with hand holding stethoscope for yellow centre of flag

Partnering with ACCHOs key to tackling health disparity

The Heart Foundation has welcomed a NSW Government announcement of a $7.4 million investment towards its Closing the Gap commitment. “Investing in and partnering with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, as well as enabling them to lead the way, is key to tackling the conditions of disadvantage that affect Indigenous Australians, such as housing and health,” said Heart Foundation Group CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly AM. “This commitment also recognises that community and Indigenous leadership is a pivotal step forward in Closing the Gap and ending rheumatic heart disease (RHD) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. “The NSW Government’s expansion of the Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations in the key sectors of early childhood, housing, disability and health is a step closer to making sustainable change to close the gap.

To view the full article click here.

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation metal sign

Image source: Aboriginal Medical Research Council of NSW website.

Record high vaccination rates

More Australian families are vaccinating their children, with new figures showing four quarters of growth in all childhood coverage rates to September 2020, the highest on record. Each year, the Morrison Government invests more than $400 million in the National Immunisation Program to protect young and vulnerable Australians. The highest rates of vaccination are among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at five years, at more than 97%. The coverage rate for all five-year-olds continues to grow towards the aspirational 95% target. In the year to September 2020, it reached 94.9%. Among all two-year-old children, the coverage rate has risen to almost 92.4 per cent, which is the first time it has climbed above 92 per cent since 2014. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander two-year-old vaccination rate has also risen to almost 91.2 per cent in the current quarter.

To view the media release  click here.

NSW $7.4m for new National CTG Agreement

The NSW Government has announced funding of $7.4 million as a first step to begin state-based actions to support the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Don Harwin confirmed this new investment at the 400th meeting of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), held at Broken Hill. “This investment demonstrates the NSW Government’s commitment to achieving a critical priority under the Closing the Gap National Agreement – strengthening the capacity of Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations,” Mr Harwin said.

To view the media release click here.

Closing the Gap banner Aboriginal art black and white hands thumbs interlocked

Image source: Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service.

Better hospital healthcare free webinar

Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association (AHHA), with support from HESTA, is presenting a free webinar on better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during NAIDOC week. The webinar will cover the latest research from Australia and North America on how hospitals can deliver better care. Following the presentations a Q&A session will be facilitated by AHHA Strategic Programs Director. 

Webinar: Better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Date:  0.30 am – 11.30 am Thursday 12 November 2020 (EDST).

To register for the free webinar click here.

female Aboriginal patient, Aboriginal support person and Aboriginal health worker in hospital room

Image source: Creative Spirits website.

Changing the future of heart health

Heart disease is one of Australia’s biggest health problems, representing one in four of all deaths, with over one thousand people a day hospitalised and costing the economy $7 billion each year.

Monash University is aiming to change the future of heart health, with the establishment of the Victorian Heart Institute (VHI), which will focus on training and leading a future focused workforce, extensive research and innovation to deliver measurable change in the rates of heart disease in Australia. The Institute will be located within the Victorian Heart Hospital (VHH) upon its completion in 2022. The VHH is a collaborative partnership between the Victorian Government, Monash Health and Monash University and will be Australia’s first stand-alone heart hospital and research facility. 

To mark the launch of the Victorian Heart Institute and explore the important issues around heart health, Monash University will be hosting a free live event A Different Lens: Matters of the Heart at 7.30 pm on Thursday 5 November 2020 with leading experts in heart disease. For more information about the event and how to join click here.

National health campaign: How’s Your Head Today? 

A national COVID-19 mental health campaign How’s your head today? is being rolled out to urge people to prioritise their mental health, raise awareness about how to identify when something is wrong, and encourage people to seek help. The campaign has been launched on TV, radio, in shopping centres and venues, online and through social mediaand will continue through to next year. How’s your head today? encourages all Australians to check in with how they are feeling. Through animated characters, the campaign recognises the emotions many people are feeling and illustrates the actions they can take to help themselves feel better.

To view the media release click here.

Greg Inglis' face & text 'I want people to know that they're not alone'

Greg Inglis opens up about mental health battles. Image source: ABC Australian Story.

Stars Foundation program for young women

Students at Newman Senior High School will be among the first in WA to take part in a motivating mentoring program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women. The pilot of the Stars Foundation program would run at Newman Senior High School and Butler College in Perth. Stars Foundation staff will work with the school communities this year to identify the needs of the students before the program starts in 2021. The Stars Foundation program provides mentoring and targeted support to improve the health and education outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women. The program at Newman Senior High School will operate full time in a dedicated ‘Stars Room’ supporting students to develop their confidence, self-esteem and the life skills needed for school and beyond.

To view the full article click here.

close up face of Aboriginal young girl with Aboriginal face paint and Stars Foundation logo

Image source: Stars Foundation Facebook page.

Community pharmacies critical role during disasters

The report of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements has acknowledged the critical role played by community pharmacies during disasters. The report also called for the inclusion of primary healthcare workers, including pharmacists, in disaster management and planning bodies. The report says Australian, State and Territory Governments “should develop arrangements that facilitate greater inclusion of primary healthcare providers in disaster management, including: representation on relevant disaster committees and plans, and providing training, education and other supports”.

Elsewhere the report highlights the importance of community pharmacists and other healthcare providers by stating they are generally the main point of contact that Australians have with the health system. “They are the entry level to the health system and are a broad group, including general practitioners, pharmacists, Aboriginal health workers, nurses and allied health professionals. Primary care providers have valuable local knowledge and strong connections with the communities they support,” the report says. The importance of continued dispensing during emergencies also is highlighted in the report.

To view the full article click here.

male and female Aboriginal people with pharmacy sign

Image source: The Conversation.

Lung cancer symptoms

Lung cancer remains the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia and the most common cause of cancer death according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data. Smoking is linked to as many as 80 per cent of lung cancers with current smokers almost nine times more likely to develop lung cancer than people who have never smoked.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and the WA is community is being reminded of the symptoms of lung cancer and what to do if they notice any unusual changes to their body. The Cancer Council WA Cancer Prevention and Research Director, Melissa Ledger, said many people don’t realise a cough which lasts for three weeks or more needs to be investigated. “If you have a long standing cough that worsens or changes for three weeks or more, it needs to be investigated,” Ms Ledger said. “If you have repeated chest infections, you notice you are becoming more short of breath or lacking energy, and have had any of these symptoms for more than four weeks, they should be investigated too. “If you cough up blood – even once – it’s really important to visit your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker right away to find out the cause. “It doesn’t mean you’ve got cancer, often it turns out to be something less serious, though,” she says. “Remember, the chances of successful treatment are much higher when cancer is found early,” Ms Ledger said.

To view the Cancer Council WA’s full article click here.

David Gulpilil with image of his younger self as an actor on a computer screen in the background

In July 2019 Yolngu traditional dancer and actor David Gulpilil revealed he was dying from lung cancer. Image source: SBS NITV.

Culturally secure community services funding

The WA McGowan Government has allocated an immediate additional $1.2 million to deliver workforce development in the mental health, alcohol and other drug community sector. This initial suite of programs will support workforce development in key areas identified by peak bodies, service providers, stakeholders and consumers and carers. They cover key focus areas of need including building the peer workforce; Aboriginal culturally secure services; building capacity in trauma-informed care; and providing employment pathways.

The programs follow the release of the WA Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Workforce Strategic Framework 2020–2025, which outlines priority areas and principles to guide the growth and development of the mental health, alcohol and other drug workforce in WA. The workforce development program will include future phases and will support peer workers, the Aboriginal workforce, clinicians, counsellors, social workers and more who assist and care for people with mental health, alcohol and other drug issues.

To view the media release click here.

Aboriginal painting of a head with footprints across the head

Image source: NSW Governement SafeWork website.

CTG education target will improve health

The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap has a higher education target for the first time. It’s also the first time an agreement between governments on Indigenous issues was negotiated and signed by Indigenous Australians. The Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations represented Indigenous Australians. Endorsed by the National Cabinet on July 30 this year, the 10-year agreement replaces the 2008 National Indigenous Reform Agreement. The higher education target is for 70% of Indigenous Australians between 25 and 34 years of age to have a tertiary qualification by 2031.

In 2016, 42.3% of Indigenous Australians in this age group had tertiary qualifications at the target’s required level. The proportion had more than doubled from 18.9% in 2001. By contrast, however, 72% of non-Indigenous Australians had such qualifications in 2016. Achieving higher Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education levels has a flow on impact of improvements in other CTG targets including health, child protection, housing, employment, community safety, language and land.

To view the full article click here.

11 Aboriginal graduates Cooktown Townsville

Image source: The Bouverie Centre.

Housing and health linked

The World Health Organisation has always been interested in housing as one of the big “causes of the causes”, of the social determinants, of health. The WHO launched evidence-based guidelines for healthy housing policies in 2019. Australia is behind the eight ball on healthy housing. Other governments, including in the US, UK and NZ acknowledge housing as an important contributor to the burden of disease. These countries have major policy initiatives focused on this agenda. In Australia, however, we do housing and we do health, but they sit in different portfolios of government and aren’t together in the (policy) room often enough. Housing should be embedded in our National Preventive Health Strategy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink how we approach health and protect our populations. It has amplified social and economic vulnerability. The pandemic has almost certainly brought housing and health together in our minds. Housing – its ability to provide shelter, its quality, location, warmth – has proven to be a key factor in the pandemic’s “syndemic” nature. That is, as well as shaping exposure to the virus itself, housing contributes to the social patterning of chronic diseases that increase COVID-19 risks.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal art from APY lands SA showing poor living environment

Image source: Health Habitat Housing for health website.

Medicines Australia-NACCHO Committee seeks representatives 

Consumer representatives are being sought to participate in the Medicines Australia-NACCHO Committee. As the national leadership body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia NACCHO provides advice and guidance to the Australian Government on policy and budget matters while advocating for community-developed health solutions that contribute to the quality of life and improved health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Medicines Australia leads the research-based medicines industry of Australia. Its members discover, develop and manufacture prescription medicine products, biotherapeutic products and vaccines that bring health, social and economic benefits to Australia.

NACCHO and Medicines Australia have established a Committee to lead and support medicine related measures that improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and communities. The role of the Committee is to provide advice for projects, programs and services in addressing the medicines priorities and challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. The Committee is comprised of representatives from the ACCH sector, including NACCHO, and from Medicines Australia and its members. 

The Committee is now recruiting for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumer representatives.

Interested consumers will have some experience with the health system and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumer issues. The appointment is for a twelve-month term, with the possibility of extension.  The meetings will be held quarterly and are virtual. If you are interested, please email a letter of endorsement from a supporting health consumer organisation with discussion of your links to health consumer base and/or community using this link. You may consider including a short CV (no longer than two pages) in pdf format. The deadline is COB 16 November 2020.

The nominations will be reviewed by a small panel of NACCHO and Medicines Australia representatives and based on a set of criteria related to the consumer’s skills, knowledge and experience. Please contact NACCHO here if you have any questions.

range of multi-coloured pills

Image source: Australian Journal of Pharmacy website.

NSW – Taree – Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre

Aged Care Manager

Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre (BACMC) provides a wide range of culturally-appropriate health and well-being services covering communities across the mid-northern NSW region. BACMC have a vacancy for an Aged care Manager who will responsible for the day to day management of the Aged Care team to meet the strategic goals of BACMC.

To view the job description click here. Application close 9.00 am Monday 9 November 2020.Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre banner

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Unique funding enables First Nations-led COVID-19 research

feature tile - older Aboriginal man with Aboriginal flag sweatband & ceremonial paint on face waving to camera

First Nations-led COVID-19 research funding

A unique $2 million funding round has privileged First Nations voices and resulted in high-quality COVID-19 research projects that will result in better outcomes for First Nations communities. The 11 projects from across Australia were awarded funding from the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies (APPRISE) Centre of Research Excellence, based on a $2 million donation from the Paul Ramsay Foundation to support the development of effective responses to COVID-19 for First Nations communities. Townsville-based APPRISE investigator Professor Adrian Miller of the Jirrbal people of North Queensland and Director of the Centre for Indigenous Health Equity Research at CQ University says APPRISE gave the space for a First Nations-led process that began with the creation of the APPRISE First Nations Council to advise on all aspects of  the grant process from research priorities to evaluation criteria.

To view the APPRISE media release click here.

Two Aboriginal women & 3 Aboriginal children walking on Country away from the camera

Image source: Standford News, Standford University website.

Start evaluating for impact

How do you know if your programs are making a difference?

Interplay works with communities to design evaluations that measure the things that communities value. The Interplay Project is designed to bring the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members into research and evaluation with a vision that all people are empowered to experience optimal wellbeing from the safety and strength of their own culture. Interplay work towards this by collaboratively building science around different ways of knowing and being. To view the Interplay Project’s new website click here.

The Interplay Project also recently launched a mobile app, Disability in the Bush on behalf of the NDIS. You can check out the mobile app, available in five different Aboriginal languages by clicking here.

Five Aboriginal women, two Aboriginal children & a terrier dog sitting on bare weathered red rocks

Image source: The Interplay Project website.

WA Connecting to Country grant program

The Connecting to Country grant program supports projects that enable Western Australian Aboriginal people and organisations to undertake on Country trips to renew links between community, Country and culture. Grants up to $25,000 are available for a wide range of activities that foster the transfer of knowledge between generations, preservation of culture and strengthening of communities. Activities may include those that improve understanding of Country, ancestry and kinship and promote positive mental health, wellbeing and resilience through community-led cultural healing projects.

For further information about the Connecting to Country grant program click here. Grant applications close on 10 November 2020.

Aboriginal elder of Nyikina country, John Watson show grandchildren his special lands in WA's Kimberley area

Aboriginal elder of Nyikina country, John Watson show grandchildren his special lands in WA’s Kimberley area. Image source: St Stephen’s School website.

Free palliative care online training program

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has developed a free online training program to help aged and community care workers, carers, volunteers, family members and health professionals who provide palliative care to aged persons in the community. Every person’s needs are unique and sorting your way through the emotional and social stresses faced by a dying person and their family can be difficult. The modules will help those involved in providing end of life care develop skills and confidence in that role.

To find out more about the AHHA palliative care training program and to register click here.

Aboriginal hand held within two other Aboriginal hands

Image source: Aged Care Guide website.

Fierce Girls wellbeing resources

An ABC podcast Fierce Girls tells the stories of Australian girls who dare to do things differently, adventurous girls, girls with guts and spirit. Among the inspiring tales of some of Australia’s most extraordinary women are those of Ash Barty and Nova Peris.

For more information about the ABC Fierce Girls podcast click here.

snapshot of cartoon drawing of Ash Barty from ABC Fierce Girls podcast webpage

Image source: ABC website.

University fee hikes put CtG targets at risk

The Federal Government’s “job-ready” university reforms will dramatically increase the cost of courses in the social sciences, a consistently popular discipline amongst Indigenous students. According to the latest national data, 33 per cent of Indigenous students chose to enrol in social science degrees compared to 19 per cent of the general cohort. Experts are concerned the changes will disproportionately disadvantage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, by lumping them with more debt or deterring them from study altogether — scenarios which both stand to jeopardise national higher education targets agreed to just months ago. Wiradjuri man Lachlan McDaniel believes his arts degree was “probably the best thing that ever happened” to him, but fears new laws passed this week will make it much tougher for other Indigenous students to get the same opportunities.

To view the full article click here.

Wiradjuri man Lachlan McDaniel graduating from arts/law degree

Wiradjuri man Lachlan McDaniel graduating from an Arts/Law degree. Image source: ABC website.

NSW – Casino – Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation

FT/PT Practice Nurse

Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation (BNMAC) Richmond Valley is looking for a motivated Practice Nurse to join our team in Casino NSW with part time and full time work options available. The Registered Nurse will take a proactive role to assist clients to address health issues in a holistic way at BNMAC’s Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service. BNAMC endeavors to take a proactive approach working with local communities to raise awareness of health issues and to develop and implement intervention strategies in the treatment of chronic conditions.

To view the job description click here. Applications close Saturday 14 November 2020.Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation logo

VIC – Shepparton – Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd.

FT Aboriginal Family Violence Practice Leader

Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative has a vacancy for a full-time Aboriginal Family Violence Practice Leader. This is a leadership position co-located in The Orange Door site and will have a significant role to work closely with services to lead high quality, culturally safe and effective responses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking support and safety. The Orange Door is a free service for adults, children and young people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence and families who need extra support with the care of children.

To view the position description click here. Applications close 4.00 pm Monday 2 November 2020.Rumbalara clinic & logo

Working from home, any location – Hearing Australia

FT Manager of Aboriginal Engagement and Awareness for HAPEE

Hearing Australia is currently recruiting for a Manager of Aboriginal Engagement and Awareness for the Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE). This is a national team of 11 Community Engagement Officers that among many things establish and facilitate free hearing assessments primarily in Aboriginal Medical Services, Childcare Centres and CP clinics nationally. This role is responsible for: ensuring that the Community Engagement Officers can effectively engage with primary health and early education services in their locations; ensuring targets for number of locations that Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE) operates in are met; working with marketing on the development and delivery of culturally appropriate awareness campaigns; expanding HAPEE so that families who use private medical services are aware of and can access the program; providing high quality advice and support to senior management of Australian Hearing.

To view the job description click here. Applications close as as soon as a pool of suitable applicants are identified.Hearing Australia logo - outline of Australia using soundwaves

Across Australia (except Vic & Tas) – Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

2021 Census Engagement Manager x 35 (25 in remote areas, 10 in urban/regional locations)

The ABS is recruiting Census Engagement Managers for the 2021 Census. Due to the close working relationship with the community, 35 Census Engagement Manager positions will be only open to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander applicants. Census Engagement Managers are specialised roles requiring a high degree of community interaction. They will be working within communities telling people about the Census and ensuring everyone can take part and get the help they need. Where possible, Census Engagement Managers will be recruited locally. To view a recruitment poster click here.

For further information on the roles and to apply click here.

Applications for Census Engagement Manager roles are open now and close Thursday 5 November 2020. ABS 2021 Census Engagement Manager banner

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: The Long Cry of Indigenous People’s to be heard – a defining moment in Australia

The Long Cry of Indigenous People’s to be heard!

Australia and the World Annual Lecture.

Pat Turner, AM CEO NACCHO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks National Press Club Speech:        The Long Cry of Indigenous People’s to be heard -a defining moment in Australia.

I would like to start by acknowledging the country and traditional owners of the land we are meeting on today.

We are meeting on Ngunnawal country.

I pay my respects to the Elders past and present; and thank them for their continuing openness to have us live, work and meet on their land.

The Indigenous practice of acknowledging your place, and the place you are on, is something that has existed for thousands of generations. It is a way of being heard.

Acknowledgment of Country is about respecting and hearing the unwritten history of place. It is an assertion of our unceded sovereignty.

I would also like to thank Professors Sally Wheeler; Brian Schmidt; Paul Pickering and Mark Kenny of the Australian National University for inviting me to give this year’s ‘Australia and the World,’ annual lecture.

I also thank the National Press Club for supporting this important national conversation.

Our shared cry to be heard

Indigenous peoples across the globe share similar histories.

We share deep attachments to our land, our cultures, our languages, our kin, and families.

These attributes have developed over millennia to harmonise with the natural environment, manage and sustain natural resources, and to facilitate meaningful and healthy lives.

They reflect core values that have served us, and the wider world, remarkably well.

Indigenous peoples also share histories of colonisation, violent dispossession, overt and disguised racism, trauma, extraordinary levels of incarceration, and genocidal policies including child removal, assimilation, and cultural and linguistic destruction.

These histories were — and are — real and alive, both in the way we see the world and in the political and social structures that have been imposed upon us.

In last year’s Boyer Lectures, Rachel Perkins quoted the poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal: ‘Let no-one say the past is dead. The past is all around us’.

And Rachel cited her father, my uncle, Charles Perkins, who would say: ‘We cannot live in the past; the past lives in us’.

In other words, we cannot forget the past. We all must work to make sense of it, to come to terms with it.

We must work to overcome the inter-generational consequences that are all too real for so many Indigenous peoples.

In his 1968 Boyer Lectures, anthropologist, Bill Stanner, identified the propensity of non-Indigenous Australians to not see, to forget, and to actively disremember the consequences of colonisation.

He termed this ‘the Great Australian Silence’. What he didn’t say, but it was inferred, is that this structural silence necessarily means also shutting out Indigenous voices.

Four years later, Stanner quoted Dr Herbert Moran, surgeon, medical innovator, and first captain of the Wallabies, who wrote in 1939:

We are still afraid of our own past. The Aborigines we do not like to talk about. We took their land, but then we gave them in exchange the Bible and tuberculosis, with for special bonus alcohol and syphilis. Was it not a fair deal? Anyhow, nobody ever heard them complain about it.

Portrait of Patricia Turner, an Aboriginal health advocate who is CEO of NACCHO, in her office in Canberra. Picture by Sean Davey for The Australian

Nobody ever heard them complain about it!

Of course, we know now that there has been a long history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander complaint, protestation, resistance, resolve and repudiation.

Two hundred and fifty years ago, Lieutenant James Cook ordered his sailors to open fire on two remonstrating Gweagal men as he came ashore.

From that day to the present day, courageous Indigenous men and women have sought to be heard regarding the ownership and meaning of this land and the rights of its First Peoples.

Pemulwuy, Yagan, Multeggerah, Truganini, William Cooper, Bill Ferguson, Eddie Mabo, Charles Perkins, Jack Davis, Lowitja O’Donoghue, and others confronted and broke through Stanner’s Great Australian Silence.

However, for the most part, our lived experience has been that we have not been heard.

Hearing us involves more than merely being allowed to speak.

It involves more than merely listening.

It requires respectful engagement, two-way communication, and ultimately action.

It requires the non-Indigenous majority — most importantly governments — to act on what they have been told, and to explain their actions in response.

It is the essential ingredient in shared decision-making of policies, of programs, and crucially it is the essential ingredient for our self-determination.

Download the full speech here: PAT TURNER – AUSTRALIA AND THE WORLD ANNUAL LECTURE – 30.09.20

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To read the full media release click here.

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

 

Culturally safe cancer care guide released

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

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

Click here to view the Guide.

 

ATAGI Secretariat EOI request

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

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

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

For more information on the role click here.

Syringe drawing from a vial

Source credit: AMA Website.

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

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

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

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

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

Prime Minister Scott Morrison 30 July 2020

Download full transcript including questions and answers

Launch CTG NPA Prime Minister 30 July Transcript

Read download NACCHO Press Release and links to all documents 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PAT TURNER AM:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

This agreement belongs to all of us!”

Donnella Mills NACCHO Chair

Read / Download the full NACCHO Press Release HERE

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

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

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

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

Scott Morrison Prime Minister

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

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

Ken Wyatt  Minister for Indigenous Australians

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

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

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

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

Read all NACCHO Coalition of Peaks articles HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

 

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

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