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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ‘Game changer’ e-prescriptions are coming

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

‘Game-changer’ e-prescriptions are coming

Electronic prescriptions (or e-prescriptions) are being rolled out in stages across Australia after being used in Victoria during the pandemic. E-prescriptions have been common in countries such as the United States and Sweden for more than ten years. In Australia, a fully electronic paperless system has been planned for some time. Since the arrival of COVID-19, and a surge in the uptake of telehealth, the advantages of e-prescriptions have become compelling. To read more about what e-prescriptions are, how they work, their benefits and what they mean for paper prescriptions click here.

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

Image source: Australian Pharmacist.

Electronic prescription roll out expanded

The big news in digital health in recent weeks has been the expansion of Australia’s roll out of electronic prescriptions to metropolitan Sydney, following the fast-track implementation in metropolitan Melbourne and then the rest of Victoria as a weapon in that state’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. There was also some rare movement in the secure messaging arena, with a number of clinical information system vendors and secure messaging services having successfully completed the implementation of new interoperability standards that will hopefully allow clinicians and healthcare organisations to more easily exchange clinical information electronically. The road to secure messaging interoperability has been a tortuous one to say the least, but movement does seem to be occurring. At least 19 separate systems have successfully fulfilled the Australian Digital Health Agency’s requirements, with the vendors now getting ready to release the capability in their next versions. It is expected these will start to roll out over the next few months.

To view the full PULSE+IT article click here.

image of hand with phone held to scanning machine

Image source: PULSE+IT website.

Lack of physical activity requires national strategy

A new report finding Australians are not spending enough time being physically active highlights the need for action on a national, long-term preventive health strategy, according to AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report found that the majority of Australians of all ages are not meeting the minimum levels of physical activity required for health benefits, and are exceeding recommended limits on sedentary behaviour.

The AMA is working with the Federal Government on its proposed long-term national preventive health strategy, which was first announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt in a video message to the 2019 AMA National Conference almost 18 months ago. Dr Khorshis said “As a nation, we spend woefully too little on preventive health – only about 2 per cent of the overall health budget. A properly resourced preventive health strategy, including national public education campaigns on issues such as smoking and obesity, is vital to helping Australians improve their lifestyles and quality of life.”

To view the AMA’s media release regarding the physical activity report click here.

image of arms of Aboriginal person in running gear bending to tie shoelaces along bush trail

Image source: The Conversation.

KAMS CEO appointed to WA FHRI Fund Advisory Council

The McGowan Government has today announced the make-up of the Advisory Council of WA’s Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund. The FHRI Fund was the centerpiece of the State Government’s commitment to drive research and innovation in WA by providing the State’s health and medical researchers and innovators with a secure and ongoing source of funding. Vicki O’Donnell, CEO, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service Ltd (KAMS), is one of seven eminent Western Australians appointed to the Advisory Council to provide high-level advice to the Health Minister and the Department of Health.

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

portrait photo of Vicki O'Donnell, KAMS CEO in office

Vicki O’Donnell, CEO KAMS. Image source: ABC News.

PLUM and HATS help save kids hearing

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are being encouraged to use an Australian Government toolkit to ensure young children are meeting their milestones for hearing and speaking. The rates of hearing loss and ear disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are significantly higher than for the non-Indigenous population. Between 2018–19 and 2022–23, almost $104.6 million will be provided for ear health initiatives to reduce the number of Indigenous Australians suffering avoidable hearing loss, and give Indigenous children a better start to education.

The Parent-evaluated Listening and Understanding Measure (PLUM) and the Hearing and Talking Scale (HATS) have been developed by Hearing Australia in collaboration with Aboriginal health and early education services. As part of a $21.2 million package of funding over five years from 2020–21 to advance hearing health in Australia, the 2020–21 Budget includes an additional $5 million to support early identification of hearing and speech difficulties for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and embed the use of PLUM and HATS Australia-wide.

To view the Department of Health’s media release click here.

young Aboriginal child having his ear checked by health professional

Image source: The Wire website.

Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation receives research grant

The University of Wollongong (UOW) had announced the recipients of the Community Engagement Grants Scheme (CEGS). CEGS is uniquely focused on addressing the challenges faced by communities and taking action to create real and measurable outcomes. The CEGS projects are dedicated to serving communities on a range of issues that matter in the real world. Some areas of focus are health and wellbeing, disability and social services, culture and multiculturalism, Indigenous and local history and communities.

This year, the University awarded grants to three innovative community partners and UOW academics to support their research and outreach projects. Among the recipients is the Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation and senior Aboriginal researcher and anthropologist, Professor Kathleen Clapham. Their project, titled ‘Amplifying the voices of Aboriginal women through culture and networking in an age of COVID19’ aims to address women’s isolation, restore networks, and nurture the exchange of Aboriginal knowledge and traditional practices.

To view the University of Wollongong’s media release click here.

portrait shot of Professor Kathleen Clapham University of Wollongong

Professor Kathleen Clapham, UOW. Image source: UOW website.

LGBQTISB suicide prevention

Indigenous LGBQTISB people deal with additional societal challenges, ones that can regularly intersect and contribute to the heightened development of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug problems, and a heightened risk of suicide and suicidal behaviour. Dameyon Bonson, an Indigenous gay male from the NT and recognised as Indigenous suicide prevention subject matter expert, specifically in Indigenous LGBQTI+ suicide, will be presenting ‘An introduction to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous Australian) LGBQTISB suicide prevention’ from 11.00 am to 12.00 pm (ACST) on Tuesday 10 November 2020

For more information about the event and to register click here.image of Dameyon bonson and Indigenous LGBTIQSB Suicide Prevention - An Introduction course banner

Dead quiet to award winner in only two years

“The first year we were almost dead quiet … word of mouth and occupational health is what grew us, and now we’ve been able to really branch into Indigenous health and Closing the Gap initiatives,” said Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. At just 22-years-old, Tassone is also a part-owner of the company, along with former footballed Des Headland and others. Being privately owned gives Spartan First a flexibility that other companies in the same space don’t have. “One of the benefits of being a being a private business is we don’t really have a lot of red tape to jump over. If we want to start making a change, then we can just do it,” Tassone said.

To view the full article click here.

Practice Manager Olivia Tassone standing in front of Spartan building

Spartan Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Tackling Indigenous Smoking with Prof Tom Calma

Tobacco smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and early death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is responsible for 23 per cent of the gap in health burden between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program aims to improve life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by reducing tobacco use.

Professor Tom Calma, National Coordinator, leads the TIS program which has been running since 2010.  Under the program local organisations design and run activities that focus on reducing smoking rates, and supports people to never start smoking. Activities are:

  • evidence-based — so they are effective, and
  • measurable — so we can tell that they work.

feature tile 'important changes to income reporting' & image of Centrelink Office

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Important changes to income reporting

feature tile 'important changes to income reporting' & image of Centrelink OfficeSimplifying Income Reporting

Are you, or your partner, working and also getting a payment from Centrelink?

From 7 December 2020, the way you report employment income is changing.

This change will affect you if you, or your partner, get employment income and any of the following payments:

What are the changes?

Currently, you need to report your employment income based on the number of hours you worked in your reporting period, even if you haven’t been paid yet.

From 7 December 2020, you will need to report the gross employment income your employer paid you in your reporting period. 

Gross pay is not the amount of money received in your bank account, it is the amount your employer paid you before tax and any other deductions. You can find this on your payslip.

If you have a partner, don’t forget to report the gross employment income they were paid as well.

If your reporting date falls between 7 and 18 December 2020, you may need to make a one-off calculation if;

  • you reported earned employment income for a period before 7 December 2020, and
  • your employer paid you the income after 7 December 2020.

If you report using your Centrelink online account or Express Plus Centrelink mobile app, you’ll be asked some extra questions during this period to help you with this one-off report.

Centrelink will have an online calculator available to help you work this out. You can find the calculator here from 7 December 2020.

If you get back pay from your employer, how this affects your payments will change from 7 December 2020. Instead of applying it in the past, Centrelink will assess it in your future payments for the same amount of time the back pay was for. You will be able to report these types of payments online.

Centrelink will also make reporting your employer details easier. For some customers, when you sign into your online account, your employer’s details may be pre-filled for you to check. This will save you having to record your employer’s details.

Why is it changing?

The changes are designed to:

  • simplify the way you report to Centrelink
  • assess the employment income you were paid (rather than what you earned and have not been paid)
  • support people to report employment income correctly and reduce the likelihood of an overpayment
  • support people as they transition to work.

How can I report my income?

You can report the income you’ve been paid with your Centrelink online account through myGov. If you don’t have a myGov account, create an account and link it to Centrelink services.

If you can’t report your income online, you can:

How do I get more information?

Services Australia staff are available to assist as you transition to the new model of reporting employment income.

If you’re unsure how to report your employment income or would like more information, go to the Services Australia income reporting section on their website here.

Support is also available on the Services Australia website here.

Or you can ask at Services Australia on Facebook or tweet @ServicesAustraliaAU.

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

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

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

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

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

This agreement belongs to all of us!”

Donnella Mills NACCHO Chair

Read / Download the full NACCHO Press Release HERE

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

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

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

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

Scott Morrison Prime Minister

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

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

Ken Wyatt  Minister for Indigenous Australians

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

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

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

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

Read all NACCHO Coalition of Peaks articles HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

 

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

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

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #BlackLivesMatter : Pat Turner Lead Convener @coalition_peaks calls for more ambitious targets to reduce Indigenous incarceration

Aboriginal leaders are pushing for more ambition across all categories in the Closing the Gap refresh, including health, education, economic development and housing.

The 2018 draft agreement was “totally inadequate”and governments should be prepared to spend more money to meet ambitious targets rather than propose modest goals.

The Rudd government’s Closing the Gap initiative failed because of a lack of funding.

We have now got a national agreement very close to finalisation except the ambition of governments is very slack at the moment

We want to achieve parity across the board but unless governments invest correctly in the achievement of the targets, then it is going to be extremely difficult to (meet) them. There will be some movement (on the draft 2018 targets) but I don’t think it will be enough.

It would be the wrong lesson to adopt less-ambitious targets because of the failure to hit the ambitions set by Kevin Rudd in 2008.

There needed to be more control given to peak Aboriginal bodies to roll out the programs and control the funding.

We should be running our own affairs in this day and age.We don’t need bureaucrats to tell us what to do.

We want realistic targets. We don’t want what suits the bureaucracy. The money that has been spent to date has largely been eaten up by overly bureaucratic processes and very little of it hits the ground where it is most needed.”

Pat Turner NACCHO CEO and the Lead Convener  Coalition of Peaks  for the Closing the Gap “refresh

Full story front page of the Australian 9 June

Read previous NACCHO posts for Coalition of Peaks

More ambitious targets to reduce the number of Aboriginal Australians in jail will be put to state and territory governments as part of an overhaul of the Closing the Gap program to reduce Indigenous disadvantage.

Morrison government sources confirmed the commonwealth would scrap a draft agreement to reduce the rate of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in prisons by up to 19 per cent by 2028.

It will instead take a higher target to the states next month after thousands of protesters took to the streets to express their anger over indigenous incarceration rates and deaths in custody.

Officials from state and federal departments will meet Aboriginal representatives including Pat Turner, the chief indigenous negotiator for the Closing the Gap “refresh”, on Tuesday before a meeting of state and territory leaders to decide on the stricter targets on July 2.

Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991, the rate at which indigenous people have died in jail as a percentage of the Aboriginal prison population has fallen and is now lower than for the non-indigenous prison population, according to data from both the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

But the number of indigenous people in the prison system has increased from 19 per cent in 2000 to nearly 30 per cent in March this year, according to ABS figures. There are now 12,900 indigenous people in prisons, out of a total prison population of 44,159.

Indigenous people made up almost 3 per cent of the population at the 2016 census

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt is pushing for each state and territory to adopt specific incarceration targets, according to sources close to negotiations. The new targets will be more ambitious than the draft Closing the Gap target, released in December 2018, for a 5 per cent decline in the incarceration rate among adults and an 11 to 19 per cent reduction among youths.

The high rate of indigenous incarceration and associated frequency of deaths in custody were seized on by Australian Black Lives Matter protesters at the weekend marches, which fuelled a backlash over the breaching of coronavirus social-distancing restrictions.

Mr Wyatt declined to comment on the new targets but told The Australian he was “working to address the factors that contribute to high incarceration rates (including) health, education and employment”.

“If we want to reduce the number of deaths in custody, we need to look very closely at what’s happening here in Australia — the factors contributing to incarceration rates and the way in which our systems are handling these incidents,” Mr Wyatt said.

“This requires a co-operative approach between government and with communities, particularly when states and territories hold the policies and levers relating to policing and justice matters.

“It takes more than money; it takes an iron-stead commitment; it takes listening and understanding; and it takes us working together. The Morrison government is progressing with the Closing the Gap refresh in partnership with the Coalition of Peaks, and while we’re still in final negotiations, there will be a justice target contained within that agreement.”

The 2018 draft targets included: 65 per cent of indigenous youth (15-24 years) to be in employment, training or eduction by 2028; 60 per cent of Aboriginal Australians aged 25-64 to be in work; and 82 per cent to live in appropriate-sized housing by 2028.

Just two of the seven Closing the Gap targets set in 2008 — early childhood education and Year 12 attainment — were achieved. Ambitions failed in targets for school attendance, child mortality, employment, life expectancy and literacy and numeracy targets.

A report by the Productivity Commission estimated state and federal governments spent $33.4bn on services for indigenous Australians in the 2016 financial year, up from $27bn (in 2016 dollars) in 2009.

The direct government expenditure per Aboriginal Australian was $44,886 in 2016, compared with $22,356 on non-indigenous Australians.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ReconciliationWeek News Alert : #NRW2020 Messages from Minister @KenWyattPM and our @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills : Let’s stand as one and continue being strong. We are all #InThisTogether2020 !’

“ This year’s #NRW2020 theme is ‘In this Together’ – reminds us whether in a crisis or reconciliation we are all #InThisTogether2020.

We have shown during these tough times that we can all do our part to stop the spread of a deadly disease and the results speak for themselves.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be impacted by the legacy of colonisation but what continues is our resilience amidst the adversity we face. When we face adversity together, we see stronger outcomes.

If we all can work together and support the journey of reconciliation, every step forward removes disadvantage and creates a more solid foundation for our country towards a better future for all Australians.”

Read and download full NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills Press Release HERE

Plus details of our Chairs and CEO NRW2020 speaking engagements 27 May

“National Reconciliation Week draws our attention each year to the ongoing efforts to walk together with a shared purpose, and to build a stronger future for all Australians.

This year’s theme, In This Together, resonates in new ways in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and reminds us we all share this land and rely on each other to build a better future.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, has asked Australians to think about what reconciliation means to them and what practical steps they can take to build trust, mutual respect and opportunities for Indigenous Australians. Pictured above with NACCHO CEO Pat Turner 

“The week commences 27 May marking the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and concludes with the anniversary of the High Court’s Mabo decision on 3 June – both significant milestones in our shared history that had profound impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

“These moments in our reconciliation journey remind us of the tireless campaigners who sought to bring us closer and the success that can be achieved when Australians come together as one.”

“This year also marks 20 years since Corroboree 2000 and the memorable Walk for Reconciliation across Sydney Harbour Bridge where close to a quarter of a million people demonstrated their commitment to reconciliation. The images from that day are still striking and it’s important we do not lose that enthusiasm.”

“While we are unfortunately not able to celebrate with gatherings this year due to COVID-19, there are many events happening online that people can get involved with.”

“From film screenings and book recommendations to panel discussions and streamed concerts, there are opportunities for people to learn about our history, engage with Indigenous culture and reflect on what it means to be in this together.”

“I also encourage all Australians to take part in the National Acknowledgement of Country. At midday on Wednesday 27th May, join Indigenous Australians across the nation by posting a video of an acknowledgement of the country you are on with the hashtags #InThisTogether2020 and #NRW2020.”

Visit https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/articles/aiatsis-map-indigenous-australia for a guide to the Traditional Owners of the land you are on.

Visit reconciliation.org.au or indigenous.gov.au to find out more.

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus News Alert No 47 : April 27 #KeepOurMobSafe : #OurJobProtectOurMob : NACCHO is part of the group of national health professionals / peak health groups supporting the #COVIDSafe app : Plus FAQs

” As key representatives of Australia’s health professions this joint statement, with the Federal Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, supports and approves the COVIDSafe app as a critical tool in helping our nation fight the COVID-19 pandemic, protect and save lives.

The COVIDSafe app has been created as a public health initiative, which will allow state and territory public health officials to automate and improve manual contact tracing.

Accelerating contact tracing will help slow the virus spreading and prevent illness as well as allow an earlier lifting of social distancing and other measures.

The COVIDSafe app will assist health authorities to suppress and eliminate the virus as part of the three key requirements for easing restrictions: Test, Trace and Respond. “

After you download and install the app from the Australian Apple App store or Google Play store, which you can also access from the government’s Covidsafe app page covidsafe.gov.au, you’ll be asked to register your name (or pseudonym), age range, postcode and phone number.

 ” The medical profession and the medical profession has released a joint statement with the government .In alphabetical order – the support and encouragement for people to download the app

Allied Health Professions of Australia, the Australian College of Nursing, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, the Australian Dental Association, the Australian Medical Association, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, the Council of Medical College Presidents of Australia representing all of the medical colleges, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled and Health Organisation, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, the Rural Australian College of Physicians, the Royal Australian College of GPs and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia.

Download the Minister Greg Hunt’s full press conference transcript HERE

We thank Australians for their help in protecting each other and our doctors, nurses, carers, pharmacists, allied health professionals, dentists and support staff through their support for the difficult but life-saving social distancing measures.

We equally ask you to consider downloading the app to help protect our nurses, doctors, pharmacists, dentists, allied health professionals, carers and support staff. This will help us protect you and help you protect us.

The COVIDSafe app will also help keep you, your family and your community safe from further spread of the COVID-19 virus through early notification of possible exposure. It will be one of the tools we will use to help protect the health of the community by quickly alerting people who may be at risk of having contact with the COVID-19 virus.

Receiving early notification that you may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus can save your life or that of your family and friends, particularly those who are elderly. It will mean you can be tested earlier and either be given the support you will need if diagnosed positive, while protecting others, or have the peace of mind of knowing you have not contracted what could be a life threatening disease.

The COVIDSafe app has been developed with the strongest privacy safeguards to ensure your information and privacy is strictly protected. We strongly encourage members of the public to download the app which will be available from your usual App Stores. The user registers to use the app by entering a name, age range, phone number and postcode and will receive a confirmation SMS text message to complete the installation of the COVIDSafe app.

Signing up to the COVIDSafe app is completely voluntary. We hope Australians will choose to support this app so that we can continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and give people more freedom to get on with their day-to-day lives.

The COVIDSafe app is part of our work to slow the spread of COVID-19. Having confidence we can find and contain outbreaks quickly will mean governments can ease restrictions while still keeping Australians safe.

The new COVIDSafe app is completely voluntary. Downloading the app is something you can do to protect you, your family and friends and save the lives of other Australians. The more Australians connect to the COVIDSafe app, the quicker we can find the virus.

For detailed questions and answers about this app, see our COVIDSafe app FAQs.

What COVIDSafe is for

The COVIDSafe app helps find close contacts of COVID-19 cases. The app helps state and territory health officials to quickly contact people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The COVIDSafe app speeds up the current manual process of finding people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19. This means you’ll be contacted more quickly if you are at risk. This reduces the chances of you passing on the virus to your family, friends and other people in the community.

State and territory health officials can only access app information if someone tests positive and agrees to the information in their phone being uploaded. The health officials can only use the app information to help alert those who may need to quarantine or get tested.

The COVIDSafe app is the only contact trace app approved by the Australian Government.

How COVIDSafe works

When you download the app you provide your name, mobile number, and postcode and select your age range (see Privacy). You will receive a confirmation SMS text message to complete installation. The system then creates a unique encrypted reference code just for you.

COVIDSafe recognises other devices with the COVIDSafe app installed and Bluetooth enabled. When the app recognises another user, it notes the date, time, distance and duration of the contact and the other user’s reference code. The COVIDSafe app does not collect your location.

To be effective, you should have the COVIDSafe app running as you go about your daily business and come into contact with people. Users will receive daily notifications to ensure the COVIDSafe app is running.

The information is encrypted and that encrypted identifier is stored securely on your phone. Not even you can access it. The contact information stored in people’s mobiles is deleted on a 21-day rolling cycle. This period takes into account the COVID-19 incubation period and the time it takes to get tested. For more, see Privacy.

When an app user tests positive for COVID-19

When someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, state and territory health officials will ask them or their parent/guardian who they have been in contact with. If they have the COVIDSafe app and provide their permission, the encrypted contact information from the app will be uploaded to a highly secure information storage system. State and territory health officials will then:

  • use the contacts captured by the app to support their usual contact tracing
  • call people to let them or their parent/guardian know they may have been exposed
  • offer advice on next steps, including:
    • what to look out for
    • when, how and where to get tested
    • what to do to protect friends and family from exposure

Health officials will not name the person who was infected.

After the pandemic

At the end of the Australian COVID-19 pandemic, users will be prompted to delete the COVIDSafe app from their phone. This will delete all app information on a person’s phone. The information contained in the information storage system will also be destroyed at the end of the pandemic.

Deleting the COVIDSafe app

You can delete the COVIDSafe app from your phone at any time. This will delete all COVIDSafe app information from your phone. The information in the secure information storage system will not be deleted immediately. It will be destroyed at the end of the pandemic. If you would like your information deleted from the storage system sooner, you can complete our request data deletion form.

Privacy

Your information and privacy is strictly protected.

Read the COVIDSafe Privacy Policy for details on how personal information collected in the app is handled.

A Privacy Impact Assessment was commissioned to ensure that privacy risks have been addressed. See the Privacy Impact Assessment Report and our Agency Response.

The Health Minister has issued a Determination under the Biosecurity Act to protect people’s privacy and restrict access to information from the app. State and territory health authorities can access the information for contact tracing only. The only other access will be by the COVIDSafe Administrator to ensure the proper functioning, integrity and security of COVIDSafe, including to delete your registration information at your request. It will be a criminal offence to use any app data in any other way. The COVIDSafe app cannot be used to enforce quarantine or isolation restrictions, or any other laws.

Get the app

Download on the Apple app store
Download on the Google play app store

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #NovelCoronavirus Resources Fact Sheets Alert : @healthgovau Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (the #COVID19 Plan)

The Australian Government’s Chief Medical Officer held a national teleconference yesterday to provide details on the national response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Chief Medical Officer and state and territory Chief Medical Officers have been meeting and teleconferencing daily for several weeks since the outbreak in China.

They have agreed on the Response Plan to guide the health sector response within Australia.

The link to the Response Plan is:

Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (the COVID-19 Plan)

The Response Plan is a living document and will be updated as required.

In addition, the Australian Government Department of Health website Coronavirus (COVID-19) includes a collection of resources including fact sheets for the general public, health professionals and industry about COVID-19.

A collection of resources for health professionals, including pathology providers and healthcare managers, about coronavirus (COVID-19).

You are encouraged to subscribe to the page to remain informed and ensure you have the latest information.

The information is updated daily.

Any urgent enquiries can be directed to the Department of Health’s National Incident Room via health.ops@health.gov.au.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Alert :  Download the PM @ScottMorrisonMP 2020 #ClosingTheGap report that commits to a partnership where Indigenous Australians are genuinely positioned to make informed choices, to forge their own pathways and reach their goals.

” In March 2019, I entered into the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap, a landmark agreement to work together to develop the new Closing the Gap framework

For the first time, we have constructed something that sits at the very centre of government and demonstrates a strong commitment to Indigenous Australians having a real say.

That’s what was missing from the original Closing the Gap framework.

As we turn the last page on that framework, we take the evidence of the last twelve years and provide the final results. These results are not what we had hoped for, and it’s important to acknowledge them.

But it’s also important to celebrate the stories and successes that lie beyond the targets. On almost every measure, there has been progress.

I look forward to honouring our commitment to partnership. I want to make sure Indigenous Australians are genuinely positioned to make informed choices, forge their own pathways and reach their goals.

I want to make sure all governments renew our efforts to help close the gap.

We can all play a part.

Together we can all improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this generation and the next. “

Selected extracts from Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s forword to the Closing the Gap report

Download the 2020 Closing the Gap Report HERE

closing-the-gap-report-2020

View the NIAA Closing the Gap Website HERE

“Never have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies from across the country come together in this way, to bring their collective expertise, experiences, and deep understanding of the needs of our people to the task of closing the gap.

 We have an unprecedented opportunity to change the lived experience of too many of our people who are doing it tough.

It is hard not to get overwhelmed by the lack of progress ( 2020 CTG Report ) , a widening gap in life expectancy, soaring rates of incarceration, with our people dying in custody

I’m hopeful the renewed policy will be a “circuit breaker”.

There is “goodwill” and “desire for change”, and the new Closing the Gap targets could be signed off by June.

We’re aiming for a maximum of 15 targets [and] all the targets should be national.

[There will be] new ones like justice, for example … and for the first time there will be actual Aboriginal involvement in designing this process.”

Ms Pat Turner AM, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and co-chairing a project to refresh the Closing the Gap framework.

Read all 500 plus Aboriginal Health and Closing the Gap articles published by NACCHO over past 8 years HERE

Read all Coalition of Peaks articles HERE

“This demonstrates the need to adopt a new approach to Closing the Gap.

Key to this is shared accountability and shared responsibility – governments, Indigenous Australians and their communities and organisations.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt welcomed the gains in early childhood and school education, but acknowledged progress has been slow in other areas . See Part 3 below for the Ministers CTG Editorial 

Part 1 :This year, the Closing the Gap report marks a new era. An era of partnership based on an historic agreement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Last year, I hoped this report would be on a new Closing the Gap framework.

But, this is not a process we should rush. Getting it right is worth the time it takes. So while we don’t yet have a new framework in place, a new process has begun. A process that is truthful, strengths-based, community-led, and that puts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the centre.

In March 2019, I entered into the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap, a landmark agreement to work together to develop the new Closing the Gap framework.

It’s a commitment by the Commonwealth, all states and territories, the Australian Local Government Association and the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations to work together in genuine partnership.

This is no small achievement.  For the first time, we have constructed something that sits at the very centre of government and demonstrates a strong commitment to Indigenous Australians having a real say.

That’s what was missing from the original Closing the Gap framework.

As we turn the last page on that framework, we take the evidence of the last twelve years and provide the final results. These results are not what we had hoped for, and it’s important to acknowledge them. But it’s also important to celebrate the stories and successes that lie beyond the targets.

On almost every measure, there has been progress.

There have been heartening improvements in key areas of health and education. These are the things that create pathways to better futures.

It’s clear we have more to do, but we must do things differently. Without a true partnership

with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we will hamper our own progress.

The new framework is based on true partnership, and on a commitment by all governments

to work together, and to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The new Joint Council on Closing the Gap is developing priorities, realistic targets and metrics that all governments and the Coalition of Peaks can commit to achieving. At the core of this new process is the expertise of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, guiding local action and local change.

Our refreshed Closing the Gap will focus on how we deliver services, as well as what is being delivered, and on solutions, not problems.

This means changing the way we work. It means expanding the opportunities for shared decision-making and making sure all mainstream agencies provide high quality programs and services. It means making sure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have better access to

high-quality services, including building community-controlled sectors, and ensuring we have the data needed for ongoing improvement. It means making sure we have the systems in place to share responsibility, and to measure our progress. Without this, we can have no meaningful action and no real progress.

For example, we are investing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led data to support

decision-making at a local level. This will mean richer data to build programs that work for people in the place they live. It will also help to develop regional profiles to better understand how we are tracking towards Closing the Gap targets and other community priorities.

In making this commitment, together we have made a new path. Together we are setting out towards a goal we all share: that is, for every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child to grow up with at least the same opportunities in life as every other Australian.

I look forward to honouring our commitment to partnership. I want to make sure Indigenous Australians are genuinely positioned to make informed choices, forge their own pathways and reach their goals. I want to make sure all governments renew our efforts to help close the gap.

We can all play a part. Together we can all improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this generation and the next.

Part 2 : Key findings from the 12th Closing the Gap report 

Child Mortality

Target: Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade by 2018 – Not met.

In 2018, the Indigenous child mortality rate was 141 per 100,000 – twice the rate for non-Indigenous children (67 per 100,000). While the Indigenous child mortality rate has improved slightly, the rate for non-Indigenous children has improved at a faster rate.

Early Childhood Education

Target: 95 per cent of all Indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education by 2025 – On track.

In 2018, 86.4 per cent of Indigenous four-year-olds were enrolled in early childhood education compared with 91.3 per cent of non-Indigenous children.

School Attendance

Target: Close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school attendance within five years by 2018 – Not met.

Most Indigenous students attended school for an average of just over four days a week in 2019. Gaps in attendance start from the first year of schooling and widen into high school.

Literacy and Numeracy

Target: Halve the gap for Indigenous children in reading, writing and numeracy within a decade by 2018 – Not met but some improvements.

In 2018, about one in four Indigenous students in Years 5, 7 and 9, and one in five in Year 3 remained below national minimum standards in reading. Year 3 literacy rates are improving.

Year 12 Attainment

Target: Halve the gap for Indigenous Australians aged 20-24 in Year 12 attainment or equivalent attainment rates by 2020 – On track.

In 2018/19, 66 per cent of Indigenous Australians aged 20-24 years had attained Year 12 or equivalent. Over the decade, the proportion of Indigenous Australians aged 20-24 years attaining Year 12 or equivalent increased by 21 percentage points.

Employment

Target: Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade by 2018 – Not met (stable).

In 2018, the Indigenous employment rate was 49 per cent compared with 75 per cent for non-Indigenous Australians.

Life Expectancy

Target: Close the life expectancy gap within a generation by 2031 – Not on track.

Life expectancy is 71.6 years for Indigenous males (8.6 years less than non-Indigenous males) and 75.6 years for Indigenous females (7.8 years less than non-Indigenous females). While there have been improvements in Indigenous mortality rates from heart disease, stroke and hypertension, cancer rates are increasing.

Part 3 : A good education can lay solid foundation blocks for a successful life.

Through these foundations we have the ability to close the gap for indigenous Australians across a range of areas – getting it right at an early age can mean getting it right for life.

I am heartened by gains, including in early childhood and education and its long-term impact.

As a government, we do however, acknowledge that progress has been slow in other areas.

The past ten years have not delivered the results they should have – and there’s no shying away from the responsibility we share to get the next ten right, and the ten after that.

This demonstrates the need to adopt a new approach to Closing the Gap.

So, how do we take our successes in the education field and replicate them across other markers and indicators?

It’s not a simple answer but key to this is shared accountability and shared responsibility – between all governments and indigenous Australian communities and organisations.

We are committed working in partnership with indigenous Australians to optimise outcomes over the life course

And we have issued a call to all governments to continue to work together on national priorities for collective action and supporting local communities to set their own priorities and tailor services to their unique context.

For the first time in the Closing the Gap process, indigenous expertise is at the centre of decision making – this represents an opportunity to set, implement and monitor closing the Gap along with indigenous Australians.

2020 marks the next stage in an unprecedented partnership between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations, the Australian government, states and territories.

The Morrison government, through the leadership of the Prime Minister, is bringing together COAG and the Coalition of Peaks to deliver the new Closing the Gap National Agreement.

Our Closing the Gap Refresh will deliver shared responsibility and accountability.

Indigenous Australians at local, regional and national engagements are embedding knowledge and leadership, co-designing systems, policy and operational frameworks, and working with government to action change.

We are taking the time to ensure indigenous Australians and traditional owners are empowered and in a genuine position to make informed decisions.

In this new way of working, we share priorities – with indigenous Australians and with state and territory governments – in the fields of early childhood, education, employment and business opportunity, community safety, suicide prevention and health, as well as supporting local people to drive local solutions.

We must also continue to encourage conversations across the nation – so we become more comfortable with each other, our shared past, present and future. This has often led to local action to realise positive change.

This is why as the Minister for indigenous Australians, I have been tasked by the Prime Minister to develop a new whole of government indigenous early childhood strategy.

This will be a new way of working together to achieve our shared goal – working with experts, families, frontline service providers and communities.

Longer term we know that education has a direct impact on the ability for indigenous Australians to obtain employment.

The employment gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians narrows as education levels increase.

Since 2014 through the indigenous Advancement Strategy we have provided significant investments to indigenous youth and education initiatives throughout Australia.

Currently some 30,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth are being supported on their education journey through mentoring, scholarships and leadership programs like AIME, Yalari, Clontarf and the GO Foundation.

With this support, we will see this cohort of youth come through completing year 12 and progressing through further education, training and employment.

There was effectively no gap in the 2016 employment gap between indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians with a Bachelor degree or above (around 83 per cent employed for both)

Completion of Year 12 also considerably boosts employment outcomes for younger indigenous Australians compared with early school leavers.

The employment rate in 2016 for young indigenous Australians aged 18-29 who had completed Year 12 was between 1.5 and 3 times the rate for those without Year 12 qualification, depending on gender and remoteness locations.

Young, employed indigenous Australians with Year 12 qualifications were more likely than early school leavers to be employed full time, and be in a skilled occupation.

In the last 10 years, the number of indigenous Australians accessing higher education as more than doubled and currently almost 20,000 indigenous Australians are attending university.

This is worth celebrating. Every improved outcome and achievement needs to be celebrated and used to build momentum for greater improvements.

Governments, indigenous Australians and communities have a shared commitment to closing the gap; change will happen and we must not be afraid to learn from each other.

Indigenous Australians are the key agents of change. Governments need to draw on their insights, knowledge and lived experiences to deliver on Closing the Gap, for current and future generations.

We owe it to future Australians, both indigenous and non-Indigenous to build a better future.

We owe it to all Australians that they feel as though they have a future ahead of them that will deliver worth and value for work.

We will continue to work every day, to get more children to school, to support pathways into long-term employment, to address and reduce suicides right across the nation and to empower and give a voice to those who need it most.

For the first time government is walking this journey hand-in-hand with indigenous Australians.

I am optimistic that we can Close the Gap, not overnight, but overtime, in partnership and through genuine engagement with all indigenous Australians.

Ken Wyatt is the Minister for indigenous Australians

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Alcohol other Drugs: Peak public health bodies @_PHAA_ And @FAREAustralia respond to Health Minister @GregHuntMP launch of National Alcohol Strategy 2019-28 : Download Here

The federal government will spend $140m on drug and alcohol prevention and treatment programs but has ruled out measures such as hiking taxes on cask wine.

Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the National Alcohol Strategy 2019-28 has been agreed with the states following protract­ed negotiations.

The strategy outlines agreed policy options in four priority areas: community safety, price and promotion, treatment and prevention.

Health lobby groups have pushed for reform in two major areas: the introduction of a minimum floor price for alcohol by state governments, and the introduction of a volumetric tax, based on the amount of alcohol in a beverage, by the commonwealth. ”

From The Australian Health Editor Natasha Robinson (See in full part 1 below )

Read over 200 Aboriginal health and Alcohol other drugs articles published by NACCHO over the past 7 years 

” Overall, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to abstain from drinking alcohol than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (31% compared with 23% respectively).

However, among those who did drink, higher proportions drank at risky levels (20% exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines) and were more likely to experience alcohol-related injury than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (35% compared to 25% monthly, respectively).

For this reason, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience disproportionate levels of harm from alcohol, including general avoidable mortality rates that are 4.9 times higher than among non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to which alcohol is a contributing factor.

The poorer overall health, social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Islander people than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also significant factors which can influence drinking behaviours. ” 

Page 8 of National Strategy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Download the full strategy HERE

national-alcohol-strategy-2019-2028

 ” The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) is pleased the National Alcohol Strategy 2019-2028 is finally out but said it lacked ambition to prevent Australians suffering adverse health impacts of alcohol consumption.

“It is good news to have this strategy now finalised, albeit many years in the making and with too much influence from the alcohol industry,”

PHAA CEO Terry Slevin  : See part 2 below for full press release 

Australia has not had a national strategy since 2011 and we congratulate Health Minister Greg Hunt for spearheading this successful outcome. 

Given the high burden of harm from alcohol, including 144,000 hospitalisations each year, we trust that the NAS will support proportionate action from the Commonwealth, states and territories to protect Australians and their families,

 FARE has also welcomed the Minister’s announcement that the Government will commission a report to estimate the social costs of alcohol to the community.  

Australia faces a $36 billion a year alcohol burden, with approximately a third due to alcohol dependence, a third caused by injuries, and the final third due to chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases,

FARE Director of Policy and Research Trish Hepworth. See part 3 below for full press release 

 ” Alcohol places an enormous burden on our healthcare resources on our society and ultimately on us as a nation.

Alcohol is currently the sixth leading contributor to the burden of disease in Australia, as well as costing Australian taxpayers an estimated $14 billion annually in social costs.

The AMA has previously outlined the priorities we would like to see reflected in the Strategy, including action on awareness, taxation, marketing, and prevention and treatment services.

Implementing effective and practical measures that reduce harms associated with alcohol misuse will benefit all Australians.”

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone : See Part 4 Below for full Press Release 

Part 1 The Australian Continued 

The National Alcohol Strategy lists the introduction of a volumetric tax as one policy ­option, but Mr Hunt said the commonwealth was ruling out such taxation reform.

“The government considers Australia’s current alcohol tax settings are appropriate and has no plans to make any changes,” the minister’s office said.

Mr Hunt said there were “mixed views” among the states on the introduction of a minimum floor price for alcohol — the Northern Territory is the only jurisdiction to introduce this measure — but such policy remained an option for the states.

Mr Hunt said the national strategy had laid out a path towards Australia meeting a targeted 10 per cent reduction in harmful alcohol consumption.

“There’s a balance been struck, what this represents is an attempt to lay out a pathway to reducing alcohol abuse and reducing self-harm and violence that comes with it,” Mr Hunt said.

“The deal-maker here was the commonwealth’s investment in drug and alcohol treatment. That was the most important part. Now we’d like to see the states match that with additional funds, but we won’t make our funds ­dependent upon the states.”

Health groups welcomed the finalisation of the national strategy. Alcohol Drug Foundation chief executive Erin Lalor said it was now up to governments to act on the outlined policies. “The strategy means we can now start doing and stop talking, because it’s been in development for a ­really long time,” Ms Lalor said.

“We’ve now got really clear options that we can focus on and it’s up to governments around Australia and other groups working to reduce alcohol-related harm and the alcohol industry to start to take serious measures and evidence-based measures that will reduce the significant harm from alcohol.”

Ms Lalor was disappointed the government had ruled out a volumetric tax. “We have been advocating for a long time for volumetric tax to be introduced. The strategy outlines it and we would hope to see pricing and taxation of alcohol being adopted to reduce alcohol-related harms.”

Canberra will spend $140m on programs to combat alcohol and drug addiction.

Primary Health Networks will receive $131.5m to commission new and existing drug and ­alcohol treatment services, while the government will commission a new report to estimate the social costs of alcohol to society.

Part 2 Belated alcohol strategy is a missed opportunity

The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) is pleased the National Alcohol Strategy 2019-2028 is finally out but said it lacked ambition to prevent Australians suffering adverse health impacts of alcohol consumption.

“It is good news to have this strategy now finalised, albeit many years in the making and with too much influence from the alcohol industry,” PHAA CEO Terry Slevin said.

“The strategy recommends important policy options that can reduce alcohol related harm via both national and state level efforts.”

“All governments should invest in and commit to reducing the health and social burden of excess alcohol consumption,” Mr Slevin said.

“It is a shame the federal government has again ruled out the option of volumetric tax on alcohol, which is a fairer and more sensible way of taxing alcohol.

“This is about stopping people from getting injured, ill or dying due to alcohol, so why rule out this option?”

“The current alcohol tax system is a mess and is acknowledged as such by anyone who has considered the tax system in Australia.”

“We hope this important reform will again be considered at a time in the near future.“

“Let’s remember that alcohol is Australia’s number one drug problem. Harmful levels of consumption are a major health issue, associated with increased risk of chronic disease, injury and premature death,” Mr Slevin said.

“The announcement of funding for drug treatment services is modest but we welcome the support for a report assessing the social cost of alcohol.”

“When that report is completed we hope it will influence alcohol policy into the future.”

Part 3 The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) congratulates Federal, State and Territory Ministers for finalising the National Alcohol Strategy 2019–2028 (the NAS).

“Australia has not had a national strategy since 2011 and we congratulate Health Minister Greg Hunt for spearheading this successful outcome,” said FARE Director of Policy and Research Trish Hepworth.

“Given the high burden of harm from alcohol, including 144,000 hospitalisations each year, we trust that the NAS will support proportionate action from the Commonwealth, states and territories to protect Australians and their families,” she said.

FARE has also welcomed the Minister’s announcement that the Government will commission a report to estimate the social costs of alcohol to the community.

“Australia faces a $36 billion a year alcohol burden, with approximately a third due to alcohol dependence, a third caused by injuries, and the final third due to chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases,” Ms Hepworth said.

“In implementation, we urge governments to take action to increase the community’s awareness of the more than 200 injury conditions and life-threatening diseases caused by alcohol,” she said.

FARE strongly encourages the Federal Government to revisit alcohol taxation reform, which would be the most effective way to reduce the death toll from alcohol-related harm, which is almost 6,000 people every year.

“We know from multiple reviews that alcohol taxation is the most cost-effective measure to reduce alcohol harm because measures can be targeted towards reducing heavy drinking, while providing government with a source of revenue,” Ms Hepworth said.

Part 4 AMA

The announcement that the National Alcohol Strategy 2019–2028 (the NAS) has been agreed to by all States and Territories is welcome, but it is disappointing that it does not include a volumetric tax on alcohol, AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today.

“The last iteration of the NAS expired in 2011, so this announcement has been a long time coming,” Dr Bartone said.

“The AMA supports the positive announcements by the Government to reduce the misuse of alcohol. However, they simply do not go far enough.

“An incredibly serious problem in our community needs an equally serious and determined response.

“Doctors are at the front line in dealing with the devastating effects of excessive alcohol consumption. They treat the fractured jaws, the facial lacerations, the eye and head injuries that can occur as a result of excessive drinking.

“Doctors, and those working in hospitals and ambulance services, see the deaths and life-long injuries sustained from car accidents and violence fuelled by alcohol consumption.

“Healthcare staff, including doctors, often bear the brunt of alcohol-fuelled violence in treatment settings. Alcohol and other drugs in combination are often a deadly cocktail.

“Prolonged excessive amounts contribute to liver and heart disease, and alcohol is also implicated in certain cancers.

“All measures that reduce alcohol-fuelled violence and the harm caused by the misuse of alcohol, including taxing all products according to their alcohol content, should be considered in a national strategy.

“For this reason, we are extremely disappointed that the Government has ruled out considering a volumetric tax on alcohol.

“A national, coordinated approach to alcohol policy will significantly improve efforts to reduce harm.

“Alcohol places an enormous burden on our healthcare resources on our society and ultimately on us as a nation.

“Alcohol is currently the sixth leading contributor to the burden of disease in Australia, as well as costing Australian taxpayers an estimated $14 billion annually in social costs.

“The AMA has previously outlined the priorities we would like to see reflected in the Strategy, including action on awareness, taxation, marketing, and prevention and treatment services.

“Implementing effective and practical measures that reduce harms associated with alcohol misuse will benefit all Australians.”

Background

  • The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that alcohol and illicit drug use were the two leading risk factors for disease burden in males aged 15-44 in 2011.
  • The AIHW has linked alcohol use to 26 diseases and injuries, including six types of cancer, four cardiovascular diseases, chronic liver disease, and pancreatitis, and estimated that in 2013 the social costs of alcohol abuse in Australia was more than $14 billion.
  • A study conducted by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine in 2014 found that during peak alcohol drinking times, such as the weekend, up to one in eight hospital patients were there because of alcohol-related injuries or medical conditions. The report noted that the sheer volume of alcohol-affected patients created more disruption to Emergency Departments than those patients affected by ice.