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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Download the Prime Minister Closing the Gap Report Here


NACCHO Response Press Release



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Please note

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there can be no relationship without partnership.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Aboriginal Health Newspaper closing in the next few weeks

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Obesity #junkfood : 47 point plan to control weight problem that costs $56 billion per year


 ” JUNK food would be banned from schools and sports venues, and a sugar drink tax introduced, under a new blueprint to trim the nation’s waistline.

The 47-point blueprint also includes a crackdown on using junk food vouchers as rewards for sporting performance and for fundraising.

State governments would be compelled to improve the healthiness of foods in settings controlled by them like hospitals, workplaces and government events.

And they would have to change urban planning rules to restrict unhealthy food venues and make more space for healthy food outlets. “

Originally published as Move to ban junk food in schools

Updated Feb 21 with press release from Health Minister Greg Hunt See below

The Australian Government is taking action to tackle the challenge of obesity and encourage all Australians to live healthy lives

“In my view, we should be starting to tax sugary drinks as a first step. Nearly every week there’s a new study citing the benefits of a sugary drinks tax and and nearly every month another country adopts it as a policy. It’s quickly being seen as an appropriate thing to do to address the obesity epidemic.”

A health economist at the Grattan Institute, Stephen Duckett, said the researchers had put together a careful and strong study and set of tax and subsidy suggestions.see article 2 below  

One hundred nutrition experts from 53 organisations working with state and federal bureaucrats have drawn up the obesity action plan to control the nation’s weight problem that is costing the nation $56 billion a year.

The review of state and federal food labelling, advertising and health policies found huge variation across the country and experts want it corrected by a National Nutrition Policy.

The nation is in the grip of an obesity crisis with almost two out of three (63 per cent) Australian adults, and one in four (25 per cent) Australian children overweight or obese.

Obesity is also one of the lead causes of disease and death including cancer.

More than 1.4 million Australians have Type 2 diabetes and new cases are being diagnosed at the rate of 280 per day.

Stomach, bowel, kidney, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, oesophagus, endometrium, ovary, prostate cancer and breast cancer in postmenopausal women have all been linked to obesity.

Half of all Australians are exceeding World Health Organisation’s recommendations they consume less than 13 teaspoons or sugar a day with most of the white stuff hidden in drinks and processed food, the Australian Bureau of Statistics Health Survey shows.

Teenage boys are the worst offenders consuming 38 teaspoons of sugar a day which makes up a quarter of their entire calorie intake.

Dr Gary Sacks from Deakin University whose research underpins the obesity control plan says it’s time for politicians to put the interests of ordinary people and their health above the food industry lobbyists

“It’s a good start to have policies for restricting junk foods in school canteens, but if kids are then inundated with unhealthy foods at sports venues, and they see relentless junk food ads on prime-time TV, it doesn’t make it easy for them to eat well,” he said.

That’s why the experts want a co-ordinated national strategy that increases the price of unhealthy food using taxes and regulations to reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food advertising.

The comprehensive examination of state and federal food policies found Australia is meeting best practice in some areas including the Health Star Rating food labelling scheme, no GST on basic foods and surveys of population body weight.

While all States and Territories have policies for healthy school food provision they are not all monitored and supported, the experts say.

Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition and a partner in the research, said a piecemeal approach would not work to turn the tide of obesity in Australia.

“When nearly two-thirds of Australians are overweight or obese, we

know that it’s not just about individuals choosing too many of the wrong foods, there are strong environmental factors at play – such as the all pervasive marketing of junk food particularly to children,” she said.

The new policy comes as a leading obesity experts says a tax on sugary drinks in Australia would be just as logical as existing mandatory controls on alcohol and tobacco

Professor Stephen Colagiuri from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre claims a ‘sugar tax’ help individuals moderate their sugary beverage intake, in much the same way as current alcohol, tobacco, and road safety measures like seat belts and speed restrictions preventing harmful behaviours.

The UK will introduce a sugar tax next year and in Mexico a sugar tax introduced in 2014 has already reduced consumption of sugary drinks by 12 per cent and increased the consumption of water.

Australian politicians have repeatedly dismissed a sugar tax on the grounds it interferes with individual rights.

However, Professor Colagiuri says “individual rights can be equally violated if governments fail to take effective and proportionate measures to remove health threats from the environment in the cause of improving population health.”

Originally published as Move to ban junk food in schools

ARTICLE 2 Australia would save $3.4bn if junk food taxed and fresh food subsidised, says study 


O as published in the Guardian

Australian researchers say subsidising fresh fruit and vegetables would ensure the impact of food taxes on the household budget would be negligible. Photograph: Dave and Les Jacobs/Getty Images/Blend Images

Health experts have developed a package of food taxes and subsidies that would save Australia $3.4bn in healthcare costs without affecting household food budgets.

Linda Cobiac, a senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne’s school of public health, led the research published on Wednesday in the journal Plos Medicine.

Cobiac and her team used international data from countries that already have food and beverage taxes such as Denmark, but tweaked the rate of taxation and also included a subsidy for fresh fruit and vegetables so the total change to the household budget would be negligible.

They then modelled the potential impact on the Australian population of introducing taxes on saturated fat, salt, sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages, and a subsidy on fruits and vegetables. Their simulations found the combination of the taxes and subsidy could result in 1.2 additional years of healthy life per 100 people alive in 2010, at a net cost-saving of $3.4bn to the health sector.

“Few other public health interventions could deliver such health gains on average across the whole population,” Cobiac said.

The sugar tax produced the biggest gains in health, followed by the salt tax, the saturated fat tax and the sugar-sweetened beverage tax.

The fruit and vegetable subsidy, while cost-effective when added to the package of taxes, did not lead to a net health benefit on its own, the researchers found.

The researchers suggest introducing a tax of $1.37 for every 100 grams of saturated fat in those foods with a saturated fat content of more than 2.3%, excluding milk; a salt tax of 30 cents for one gram of sodium above Australian maximum recommended levels; a sugar-sweetened beverage tax of 47 cents a litre; a fruit and vegetable subsidy of 14 cents for every 100 grams; and a sugar tax of 94 cents for every 100ml in ice-cream with more than 10 grams of sugar per 100 grams; and 85 cents for every 100 grams in all other products.

The taxes exclude fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and many dairy products.

“You need to include both carrots and sticks to change consumer behaviour and to encourage new taxes,” Blakely said. “That’s where this paper is cutting edge internationally.

“We have worked out the whole package of taxes with minimal impact on the budget of the household, so you can see an overall gain for the government. The government would be less interested in the package if it was purely punitive, but this provides subsidies and savings to health spending that could be reinvested back into communities and services.”

He said taxing junk foods also prompted food manufacturers to change their products and make them healthier to avoid the taxes.

“For those who might say this is an example of nanny state measures, let’s consider that we don’t mind asbestos being taken out of buildings to prevent respiratory disease, and we’re happy for lead to be taken from petrol. We need to change the food system if we are going to tackle obesity and prevent disease.”

A health economist at the Grattan Institute, Stephen Duckett, said the researchers had put together a careful and strong study and set of tax and subsidy suggestions. “This is a very good paper,” he said.

“In my view, we should be starting to tax sugary drinks as a first step. Nearly every week there’s a new study citing the benefits of a sugary drinks tax and and nearly every month another country adopts it as a policy. It’s quickly being seen as an appropriate thing to do to address the obesity epidemic.”

A Grattan Institute report published in November found introducing an excise tax of 40 cents for every 100 grams of sugar in beverages as part of the fight against obesity would trigger a 15% drop in the consumption of sugary drinks. Australians and New Zealanders consume an average of 76 litres of sugary drinks per person every year.

In a piece for the Medical Journal of Australia published on Monday, the chair of the Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges, Prof Nicholas Talley, wrote that “the current lack of a coordinated national approach is not acceptable”.

More than one in four Australian children are now overweight or obese, as are more than two-thirds of all adults.

Talley proposed a six-point action plan, which included recognising obesity as a chronic disease with multiple causes. He also called for stronger legislation to reduce unhealthy food marketing to children and to reduce the consumption of high-sugar beverages, saying a sugar-sweetened beverage tax should be introduced.

“There is evidence that the food industry has been a major contributor to obesity globally,” he wrote. “The health of future generations should not be abandoned for short-term and short-sighted commercial interests.”

Press Release 21 February Greg Hunt Health Minister

The Australian Government is taking action to tackle the challenge of obesity and encourage all Australians to live healthy lives.

PDF printable version of Turnbull Government committed to tackling obesity – PDF 269 KB

The Turnbull Government is taking action to tackle the challenge of obesity and encourage all Australians to live healthy lives.

But unlike the Labor Party, we don’t believe increasing the family grocery bill at the supermarket is the answer to this challenge.

We already have programmes in place to educate, support and encourage Australians to adopt and maintain a healthy diet and to lead an active life – and there’s more to be done.

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister flagged that the Government will soon be announcing a new focus on preventive health that will give people the right tools and information to live active and healthy lives. This will build on the significant work already underway.

Yesterday, we launched the second phase of the $7 million Girls Make Your Move campaign to increase physical activity for girls and young women. This is now being rolled out across Australia.

Our $160 million Sporting Schools program is getting kids involved in physical activity. Already around 6,000 schools across the country have been involved – with many more to come. This is a great programme that Labor wants to axe.

Our Health Star Rating system helps people to make healthier choices when choosing packaged foods at the supermarket and encourages the food industry to reformulate their products to be healthier.

The Healthy Weight Guide website provides useful advice including tips and tools to encourage physical activity and healthy eating to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

The Healthy Food Partnership with the food industry and public health groups is increasing people’s health knowledge and is supporting them to make healthier food and drink choices in order to achieve better health outcomes.

We acknowledge today’s report, but it does not take into account a number of the Government programs now underway.

Obesity and poor diets are complex public health issue with multiple contributing factors, requiring a community-wide approach as well as behaviour change by individuals. We do not support a new tax on sugar to address this issue.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are already effectively discounted as they do not have a GST applied.

Whereas the GST is added to the cost of items such as chips, lollies, sugary drinks, confectionery, snacks, ice-cream and biscuits.

We’re committed to tackling obesity, but increasing the family’s weekly shop at the supermarket isn’t the answer

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article 1 New day dawning as Turnbull pushes grassroots agenda

From the Weekend Australian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aboriginal Health Newspaper Booking contacts and rate card


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Read Download full press release Apunipima


Read recent AMA Report card Indigenous Health

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


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

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

Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA)

Read Download full press release aida


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

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

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

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

RDAA President, Dr Ewen McPhee

Read Download full press release 2-rural-doctors


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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Download full press release national-rural-health



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Download full press release labor


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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Download full press release greens

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

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


“Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations deliver 2.5 million episodes of care a year in their local communities – and are the only health and leadership models making inroads on Close the Gap targets.

Our teachers, education professionals and family violence experts are delivering real results on the ground in their communities every single day – despite chronic underfunding and an ad hoc policy approach based on three year election cycles.

“Today we are seeking a new relationship, a genuine partnership and a commitment to ongoing structured engagement,”

National Congress of Australia’s First People’s Co-chair Dr Jackie Huggins said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations have worked with our people on the ground for decades and have shown they have solutions.

 ” We acknowledge the strength of culture and kinship, and those strong bonds that can helpshape higher expectations and better outcomes.

I want to pay tribute in particular to the Indigenous women who demonstrate that strength every day. The mums and the grandmas and aunties and sisters, who never give up.

We must ensure that the education system, and all those in it, believe in the dreams of our young people. That we support each student and lift them up, and give them every opportunity to get the most out of their education.

I know that you would all agree that a solid education is the surest way to get from the firstIndigenous doctor, to the 500th and then the 5,000th “

Prime Minster Address to the Indigenous Business Reception see article 2 below

Aboriginal leaders seek new relationship with government through historic Redfern Statement

Aboriginal leaders seek new relationship with government through historic Redfern Statement Australia’s leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peaks will today demand a new relationship with government as they deliver the historic Redfern Statement direct to the Prime Minister at Parliament House.

In the lead up to today’s 9th Closing the Gap Report to Parliament, the leaders will call on the Prime Minister to support the historic Redfern Statement, a road map to better address the appalling disadvantage gap between Australia’s First

Peoples and non-Indigenous Australians by working with them as genuine partners.

National Congress of Australia’s First People’s co-chair Mr Rod Little said: “After 25 years, eight Federal election cycles, seven Prime Ministers, eight Ministers for Indigenous Affairs, 400 recommendations, and countless policies, policy changes, reports, funding promises and funding cuts, it’s time to draw a line in the sand.

“We need a new relationship that respects and harnesses our expertise, and guarantees us a seat at the table as equal partners when governments are making decisions about our lives.”

The Redfern Statement was released during last year’s Federal Election campaign by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders from health, justice, children and families, disability, and family violence prevention sectors.

The statement calls for changes across these sectors through structured engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and is supported by more than 30 major mainstream organisations, including  the Australian Medical Association and Law Council.

Read the full Redfern Statement here:


The historic Redfern Statement calls for changes that address housing, health, education, justice, disability and representation for Aboriginal people, including:

Restoration of funding cut from the Indigenous Affairs Budget;

• Urgent reforms to the controversial Indigenous Advancement Strategy;

• Renewed commitment to closing the gap within a generation, with the inclusion of justice targets aimed at reducing incarceration and family violence;

• Re-establishment of the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs;

• Restoration of funding for the National Congress of First Peoples – as a representative voice for Aboriginal people;

Restoration of funding to national peak bodies to co-design policy and drive implementation – allowing this new partnership to function effectively;

• Implementation of recommendations by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation – including an agreement-making framework (treaty) and constitutional reform.

The Redfern Statement has been developed by national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak and representative bodies including:

National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN)

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS)

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (NACCHO)

National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS)

SNAICC – National Voice for our Children

The Healing Foundation, and The National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF).

The Statement also has the overarching support of The Change the Record Coalition; Close the Gap Steering Committee, and Family Matters campaigns.

Prime Minster Address to the Indigenous Business Reception :


Thank you, Shelley and thank you Tina and your family for that really moving Welcome to


Picture above Dakota Tompkins interviewing the Prime Minister

Yoonggu gulanyin ngalawiri, dhunayi, Ngoonawal dhowrrra.

Today we are meeting together on Ngunnawal country and we acknowledge and pay our respects to their elders.

I acknowledge and pay my deep respects to your people, the Ngunnawal people, who as you said Tina, have walked these lands, and met on these lands, forever, for time beyond our imagination, for time out of mind.

I extend our respects to all of your elders past and present and to the future elders, to the young dancers tonight, and to all our First Australian People and their elders, including of course, all of the outstanding achievers and role models here today.

Of course I want to acknowledge and welcome all of my ministerial and parliamentarycolleagues, especially Nigel Scullion, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs and of course Ken Wyatt, Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health and – as you know – the first Indigenous Australian to be a Minister in a Commonwealth Government.

Welcome all.

Now today is the 9th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations.

We acknowledge today, as we did in the House earlier, the loss, the grief, and the heartache past policies created for our First Australians.

But despite these injustices and that trauma, you and your people have shown a courage and resilience which is extraordinary.

Tonight, we acknowledge the remarkable lives of so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, who are thriving and succeeding in their chosen fields. Your stories are not deficit, but of surplus; not of despondency but of a relentless and determined optimism.

You lead and you inspire by your example. So many lives of achievement. Rishelle Hume, a senior human resources consultant at Chevron, whose work supporting Aboriginal people to grow in their careers spans two decades and many industries.

Cherisse Buzzacott, an Arrente woman who is helping women give birth safely and providing vital midwifery support to women in remote parts of the Northern Territory.

Or the Kongs—a family of firsts. Marilyn and Marlene were the first Indigenous medical graduates at Sydney University. Marlene became a GP and public health expert; Marilyn became the first Indigenous obstetrician and their brother Kelvin, the first Indigenous surgeon in Australia. Kelvin and his wife are here with us this evening.

Another young doctor, Vinka Barunga, is now the first Indigenous doctor in Derby, a town two hours out of Broome, where she grew up swimming, fishing and playing with a plastic stethoscope. She’s a proud Worora woman, going back to her community. She would have been here tonight, but work has called her away.

We also have with us Dr Cass Hunter, Mibu Fischer, and Karlie Noon—all working at CSIRO on research that impacts Indigenous communities. Karlie has just won a scholarship, one of two new CSIRO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarships, to undertake postgraduate studies in STEM subjects. Congratulations, Karlie.

Tanya Denning, a talented journalist and producer now managing the National Indigenous Television station that celebrates Indigenous Culture, voices and storytelling.

And so many others; people working caring for country, in health, social services,education, science, technology, law, the arts, politics, public service, defence and much more.

We acknowledge the strength of culture and kinship, and those strong bonds that can helpshape higher expectations and better outcomes.

I want to pay tribute in particular to the Indigenous women who demonstrate that strength every day. The mums and the grandmas and aunties and sisters, who never give up.

We must ensure that the education system, and all those in it, believe in the dreams of our young people. That we support each student and lift them up, and give them every opportunity to get the most out of their education.

I know that you would all agree that a solid education is the surest way to get from the firstIndigenous doctor, to the 500th and then the 5,000th. To make sure that in years to come, we’re not talking about one or two hundred Indigenous lawyers or accountants, but thousands of them.

So I want to thank all the organisations, some of whom are here tonight, for their investment in the dreams of these young people: Aurora Foundation, the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience, Career Trackers, AFL Cape York House, and many more, but too many to name.

And already we can point to progress. In the seven years to 2015, the gap in Year 12 attainment shrunk by close to 15 percent, and in the decade to 2015, the number of

Indigenous students enrolling in higher education nearly doubled.

The higher the level of education, the smaller the gap between Indigenous and non- Indigenous employment. For tertiary-educated Indigenous people, there is no gap. There is no gap.

We are making progress, and you are part of it.

And each of you are Ambassadors for change. Your determination and resilience is a demonstration to others that through hard work, anything is possible. Your stories are vitally important, your example is vitally important in creating that change.

Indigenous life is extraordinarily diverse and extraordinarily rich. It unfolds in the remotest parts of our nation as well as in the heart of our busiest cities and suburbs; far away in the Tiwi Islands, right here in the centre of Government, in the bush and on the coast. It encompasses extraordinary talent, vision and determination.

So Tonight I want to challenge all those present, and people right across Australia to tell your stories. To widen our lens. To focus the attention of our nation, on your hard work and your achievements.

We want to have a nation where our indigenous children are limited only by their imagination.

To show Indigenous children from Shepparton to the Tiwi Islands, from Redfern to Alice Springs, that they can be anything they set their mind to.

That little girl can be anything she sets her mind to, Tina. That’s the dream, that’s the goal.

So that being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander means to be successful; to achieve, to have big dreams and high hopes, and to draw strength from your identity as an Indigenous man or woman in this great country.

There is a room full of role models right here.

When we include the stories like those we honour tonight, we shine a light on the richness and diversity of our First Australians. We light, you light, the way for others to follow.

So Congratulations on your success and thank you for paving the way for so many

Indigenous Australian success stories to come.

I am now honoured to invite another great role model, another inspiration, my dear friend,

the very wise Ken Wyatt, Minister for Aged Care, Minister for Indigenous Health, the first Indigenous Member of the House of Representatives and first Indigenous Minister in a Commonwealth Government.



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


NACCHO schedule of todays Redfern Statement and PM Closing the Gap report  releases

  1. The Australian Closing the Gap coverage released 6.00am
  2. Redfern Statement Breakfast launch Parliament House : Press Release 7.30am
  3. Redfern Statement New Relationships with government released + video  8.30 am
  4. PM Closing the Gap Report to Parliament Released 12.05 pm
  5. Responses to report from other sources from 2.00 pm

Photo above  : From the heart of govt, Indigenous staff met  last night  ahead of the 2017 Report

 ” According to The Australian Malcolm Turnbull will deliver a bleak ninth annual Closing the Gap report today, with an ­acknowledgment that efforts to reduce indigenous disadvantage remain starkly inadequate.

The report follows a succession of independent surveys critical of the government’s ­approach to indigenous affairs. And it comes as Kevin Rudd, who delivered the inaugural 2008 report, gave an address in Canberra last night in which he described the yearly review as “a political disaster for the government of the day, for governments of whichever political persuasion”.

Attempting to limit the scale of that disaster, the Prime Minister refused to release any advance detail of the report other than a general admission of there being insufficient progress.

Last year’s report found just two of seven targets on track: child mortality and Year 12 attainment. Another target, early ­education (“95 per cent of all indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education by 2025”) was reported on for the first time last year.

Today’s report will show improvements in the proportion of indigenous 20 to 24-year-olds achieving Year 12 or equivalent, improvements in health, and reading and numeracy advances.

However, Mr Turnbull is expected to emphasise in his speech to parliament the importance of better research and evaluation of Closing the Gap criteria, and may announce details of a “refresh” of the exercise already under discussion by the Council of Australian Governments.

He will also likely emphasise programs such as Empowered Communities, a detailed rethink of how indigenous policy is enacted which has yet to win full government support. It is designed to put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the centre of regional decision-making.

Recent Productivity Commission and National Audit Office reports have been either gloomy about indigenous affairs or critical of government policy. The Audit Office’s review this month of the Abbott government’s 2014 landmark $4.8 billion Indigenous ­Affairs Strategy found policy had been poorly conceived and ­hastily implemented.

Funding allocations under the system had also been unpredictable and opaque, leaving some of the very organisations contributing to Closing the Gap outcomes unable to function properly.

In November, the Productivity Commission reported alarming increases in imprisonment rates, mental health problems and self-harm. It found only 34 of 1000 indigenous programs, worth a total $5.9bn, had been properly evaluated. While there were ­improvements in child mortality rates, educational outcomes and household income, rates of community violence were unchanged.

Speaking at the Australian National University last night on the ninth anniversary of the apology to the Stolen Generations, Mr Rudd said the indigenous child removal rates must be addressed through “immense co-operation across government departments (and) Aboriginal organisations being given responsibility for child welfare” in a policy shift that was “going to cost money”.

Tony Abbott last night described as “regrettable” Mr Turnbull’s decision not to follow his lead and spend time in an indigenous community every year

NACCHO Events Save a date


NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #prisons #JustJustice : Terms of references released Over-representation of Aboriginal peoples in our prisons


 ” It is acknowledged that while laws and legal frameworks are an important factor contributing to over‑representation, there are many other social, economic, and historic factors that also contribute.

It is also acknowledged that while the rate of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and their contact with the criminal justice system – both as offenders and as victims – significantly exceeds that of non‑Indigenous Australians, the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people never commit criminal offences.”

Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General of Australia,

Refering to the Australian Law Reform Commission, an inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our prisons:

Senator Siewert Greens Senator moved the following motion in the Senate

(a) notes that the adult incarceration rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples increased by 77.4 per cent from 2000 to 2015;

(b) acknowledges the growing incarceration rates of our First Peoples is shameful;

(c) notes the Redfern Statement, which was released in 2016 by over 55 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organisations and peak bodies, sets out a plan for addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ disadvantage;

(d) notes that the Redfern Statement calls for justice targets to help focus the effort to reduce Aboriginal incarceration; and

(e) calls on the Government to listen to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and adopt justice targets as a matter of urgency.


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will tomorrow deliver the ninth Closing the Gap address to Parliament.

The annual report card tracks progress against targets in a range of areas, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and life expectancy.

But it does not include any targets around incarceration rates — despite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people making up a quarter of Australia’s prison population

ALRC inquiry into the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) welcomes the appointment by Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, of His Honour Judge Matthew Myers AM as an ALRC Commissioner.

Judge Myers will lead the new ALRC Inquiry into the high incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, announced by the Attorney-General in October 2016.

Judge Myers was appointed to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in 2012. He is a member of the Board of Family and Relationship Services Australia, the CatholicCare Advisory Council (Broken Bay Dioceses), Law Society of New South Wales Indigenous Issues Committee, Federal Circuit Court of Australia Indigenous Access to Justice Committee, Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Family Law Pathways Network, member of the Central Coast Family Law Pathways Network Steering Committee, member of the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, member of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council,  member of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and member of the Honoured Friends of the Salvation Army.

Judge Myers said “I am honoured by this appointment and the opportunity to build on the valuable work of past Commissions, Inquiries and successful community initiatives. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children are significantly over represented in the Australian criminal justice system. This is something that cannot and should not be acceptable to any Australian. I look forward to undertaking a broad consultation across the country, working closely with stakeholders and the community to develop meaningful and practical solutions through law reform.”

ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher AM said, “We are delighted by this appointment and welcome Judge Myers to lead this very important Inquiry. To echo the Attorney-General, the over representation of Indigenous Australians in our prison system is a national tragedy. This Inquiry, with the expertise and leadership of Judge Myers, is an important step in developing much needed law reform in this area.”

The Attorney-General’s Department released draft Terms of Reference for Inquiry into the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for community consultation, in December 2016.

The consultation included Indigenous communities and organisations and state and territory governments.

Scope of the reference

  1. In developing its law reform recommendations, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) should have regard to:
    1. Laws and legal frameworks including legal institutions and law enforcement (police, courts, legal assistance services and prisons), that contribute to the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and inform decisions to hold or keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody, specifically in relation to:
      1. the nature of offences resulting in incarceration,
      2. cautioning,
      3. protective custody,
      4. arrest,
      5. remand and bail,
      6. diversion,
      7. sentencing, including mandatory sentencing, and
      8. parole, parole conditions and community reintegration.
    2. Factors that decision-makers take into account when considering (1)(a)(i-viii), including:
      1. community safety,
      2. availability of alternatives to incarceration,
      3. the degree of discretion available to decision-makers,
      4. incarceration as a last resort, and
      5. incarceration as a deterrent and as a punishment.
    3. Laws that may contribute to the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples offending and including, for example, laws that regulate the availability of alcohol, driving offences and unpaid fines.
    4. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their rate of incarceration.
    5. Differences in the application of laws across states and territories.
    6. Other access to justice issues including the remoteness of communities, the availability of and access to legal assistance and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language and sign interpreters.
  2.  In conducting its Inquiry, the ALRC should have regard to existing data and research[1] in relation to:
    1. best practice laws, legal frameworks that reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration,
    2. pathways of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through the criminal justice system, including most frequent offences, relative rates of bail and diversion and progression from juvenile to adult offending,
    3. alternatives to custody in reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and/or offending, including rehabilitation, therapeutic alternatives and culturally appropriate community led solutions,
    4. the impacts of incarceration on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including in relation to employment, housing, health, education and families, and
    5. the broader contextual factors contributing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration including:
      1. the characteristics of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison population,
      2. the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offending and incarceration and inter‑generational trauma, loss of culture, poverty, discrimination, alcohol and drug use, experience of violence, including family violence, child abuse and neglect, contact with child protection and welfare systems, educational access and performance, cognitive and psychological factors, housing circumstances and employment, and
      3. the availability and effectiveness of culturally appropriate programs that intend to reduce Aboriginal; and Torres Strait Islander offending and incarceration.
    6. fullsizerender
  3. In undertaking this Inquiry, the ALRC should identify and consider other reports, inquiries and action plans including but not limited to:
    1. the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody,
    2. the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (due to report 1 August 2017),
    3. Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration’s Inquiry into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Experience of Law Enforcement and Justice Services,
    4. Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs’ inquiry into Indefinite Detention of People with Cognitive and Psychiatric impairment in Australia,
    5. Senate Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs inquiry into Harmful Use of Alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities,
    6. reports of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,
    7. the ALRC’s inquiries into Family violence and Family violence and Commonwealth laws, and
    8. the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

The ALRC should also consider the gaps in available data on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and consider recommendations that might improve data collection.

  1. In conducting its inquiry the ALRC should also have regard to relevant international human rights standards and instruments.


  1. In undertaking this inquiry, the ALRC should identify and consult with relevant stakeholders including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their organisations, state and territory governments, relevant policy and research organisations, law enforcement agencies, legal assistance service providers and the broader legal profession, community service providers and the Australian Human Rights Commission.


  1. The ALRC should provide its report to the Attorney-General by 22 December 2017.

[1] It is not the intention that the Australian Law Reform Commission will undertake independent research or evaluation of existing programs, noting that this falls outside its legislative responsibilities and expertise.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Parliamentary Speech @DaveGillespieMP Why we need a Rural / Remote Health Commissioner


” Around one third of Australians live outside metropolitan areas, and about two per cent of the population live in remote and very remote locations.

Compared to metropolitan areas, rural and remote Australians generally:

  • Experience higher rates of chronic disease;
  •  Have a shorter life expectancy;
  •  Face higher health risk factors such as higher rates of smoking, drinking and obesity;
  •  Have lower incomes, and fewer educational and employment opportunities;
  •  Are, on average, an older population with a greater proportion living with a disability;
  •  Face some higher living costs, difficulties sourcing fresh food, harsher environmental conditions and relative social isolation;
  •     Have higher rates of preventable cancers such as melanoma and lung cancer; and
  •  Have lower levels of health literacy.

For those living in rural, regional and remote Australia, finding services can often be difficult, if not impossible.

 People living in these communities make an enormous contribution to our national economy, and to the culture and character of Australia. Access to a quality standard of health care is what they deserve and are entitled to expect.”

The Hon Dr David Gillespie MP  Assistant Minister for Health pictured above with former Minister for Rural Health, Senator Fiona Nash, now Deputy Leader of the Nationals  ” who made this bold and historic commitment.”

Download the Ministers Press Release HERE : press-release-rural-health-commissioner

I am proud to introduce the Health Insurance Amendment (National Rural Health Commissioner) Bill, which amends the Health Insurance Act 1973 for the purpose of establishing Australia’s first National Rural Health Commissioner.

This, Mr Speaker, is an incredible and historic occasion.

Watch NACCHO TV Here

An historic occasion for the Coalition, the National Party, and the third of our population that call regional, rural and remote Australia home.

This, Mr Speaker, is an historic occasion for our nation.

Improving access to quality health care for people, no matter where they live is a priority of this Coalition Government.

As a medical practitioner, who has worked for more than 20 years as a doctor in regional Australia, I am so proud and privileged to be here today to deliver this crucial commitment.

From my professional background, I understand the many pressures facing our hard working members of the broad health sector.

Our doctors, our nurses, dentists and allied health workers.

Our Indigenous health workers, mental health workers, our midwives – we understand these people, what they are up against and we understand the needs of Australians in regional, rural and remote Australia.

We understand that it takes a toughness and a boldness, coupled with a deep sensitivity, to work in health in rural and remote areas.

Since Australia’s pioneering days, before telecommunications, we found ways to overcome isolation between the new colonies. We did that – we are a nation that has overcome geographic challenges, having one of the largest land-masses in the world, and the largest search and rescue regions in the world.

As our Deputy Prime Minister, the Leader of the National Party, says, ‘we will continue to make sure that for the people out there doing it tough, that you don’t make their life tougher.’

And it was the then Minister for Rural Health, Senator Fiona Nash, our Deputy Leader of the Nationals who made this bold and historic commitment.

Mr Speaker, I commend to the house these two incredible leaders, who are champions for regional and rural communities in their own right.

As a member of the National Party and the Assistant Minister for Health, I have reiterated that this Government is committed to bridging the city-country divide.

For more than 20 years I served in areas many hours’ drive away from a major metropolitan city. I was a consultant specialist Gastroenterologist through regional hospitals for much of this time, and I have felt the demand that is on regional health services and staff.

The common problems encountered in the bush necessitate the development and application of a dedicated framework which supports a nationally coordinated approach that is also adaptable to local conditions.

Our commitment today is to ensure that regional, rural and remote communities will have a champion to advocate on their behalf so they are able to receive the support they need to deliver health services to local people.

This is guided by a deep lying principle that every Australian should have the right to access a high quality standard of health care, no matter where they live.

To this end, this Bill will pave the way to establish Australia’s first-ever National Rural Health Commissioner. The Commissioner is an integral part of our broader agenda to reform rural health in this nation.

Establishing this role will be achieved by amending the Health Insurance Act 1973, which will provide for the Commissioner to be a statutory position, enabling them to carry out their duties independently and transparently.

The Commissioner will work with regional, rural and remote communities, the health sector, universities, specialist training colleges and across all levels of government to improve rural health policies and champion the cause of rural practice.

The position will be independent and impartial. A fearless champion.

The Commissioner will be someone who has extensive experience within the rural health sector, who is capable of collaborating and consulting closely with a broad range of stakeholders, and who has a passion for improving health outcomes in regional, rural and remote Australia.

The Commissioner will be appointed for a period of two years, with a reappointment up until 30 June 2020.

As a part of the role, the Commissioner will be required to submit a report to the responsible Minister. This will outline findings and recommendations for consideration by Government.

The Commissioner will not be able to delegate his or her powers to anyone else, they will not hold any financial delegation powers, nor will they have any specific employment powers.

The Commissioner will be assisted by staff from the Department of Health throughout the duration of their term.

Once appointed, the Commissioner’s first priority will be to develop National Rural Generalist Pathways. The aim of these Pathways will be to address the most serious issue confronting the rural health sector- the lack of access to training for doctors in regional, rural and remote communities. Attracting and retaining more doctors and health professionals into country areas is essential if we are to improve access to health care in the bush.

Rural Generalists are faced with a unique set of challenges, and the Commissioner will examine these while developing the generalist pathways.

It is widely recognised that Rural Generalists often have advanced training and a broader skill-set than is required by doctors in metropolitan centres. In many instances, they perform duties in areas such as general surgery, obstetrics, anaesthetics and mental health. They not only work longer hours but are frequently on-call afterhours in acute care settings, such as accident and emergency hospital admitted patient care.

However, despite the Rural Generalists’ multidisciplinary skill-set, demanding workload and geographic isolation, there is no national scheme in place which properly recognises this set of circumstances.

In developing the National Rural Generalist Pathways, the Commissioner will consult with the health sector and training providers to define what it means to be a Rural Generalist.

The Commissioner will also examine appropriate remuneration for Rural Generalists, to ensure their extra skills and working hours are recognised. By addressing these areas, the Pathways will help to encourage more doctors to practice in regional, rural and remote Australia.

While the development of the Pathways will be the Commissioner’s first priority, the needs of nursing, dental health, Indigenous health, mental health, midwifery and allied health stakeholders will also be considered.

Health care planning, programs and service delivery models must be adapted to meet the widely differing health needs of rural communities and overcome the challenges of geographic spread, low population density, limited infrastructure and the significantly higher costs of rural and remote health care delivery.

In rural and remote areas, partnerships across health care sectors and between health care providers and other sectors will help address the economic and social determinants of health that are essential to meeting the needs of these communities.

The Commissioner will form and strengthen these relationships, across the professions and for communities.

Mr Speaker, it is worth noting that this Government’s commitment has been shared and welcomed by the sector. These are organisations that have been crucial in its development and I would like to thank:

 Allied Health Professionals Australia

 Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine

 Australian Indigenous Doctors Association

 Australian Medical Association Council of Rural Doctors

 Australian Rural Health Education Network

 Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives

 CRANAplus

 Federal Council of the Australian Dental Association

 Federation of Rural Australian Medical Educators

 Indigenous Allied Health Australia=

 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers Association

 National Rural Health Alliance

 National Rural Health Student Network Executive Committee

 Rural Doctors Association of Australia

 Rural Faculty of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

 Rural Health Workforce Australia

 Services for Australian and Rural and Remote Allied Health

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the Health Workforce Division within my Department who have assisted in developing this important initiative of our Government.

In addition to establishing the role of the Commissioner, this Bill also contains two other amendments to the Health Insurance Act 1973.

It will repeal section 3GC of the Act, to abolish the Medical Training Review Panel. In October 2014, members of the Medical Training Review Panel identified an overlap between their functions and those of the National Medical Training Advisory Network.

Part of the advisory network’s functions is to provide advice on medical workforce planning and medical training plans to inform government, employers and educators.

Given this focus, it was agreed that the advisory network could pick up the panel’s annual reporting obligations on medical education and training, and that the panel’s role would cease. This measure will simplify legislation in the Health portfolio.

The other amendment will be the repeal of section 19AD of the Act. This will not affect any medical practitioner subject to the legislation, and will not affect the operation of any current workforce or training programs.

It will remove a burdensome and ineffective process which required a review every five years of the operation of the Medicare provider number legislation, subsections 19AA, 3GA and 3GC of the Health Insurance Act 1973.

Previous reviews have not resulted in operational improvements to the legislation. Furthermore, recent developments in systems supporting Medicare provider number legislation and processes are not captured by Section 19AD. Repealing this ineffectual measure in the Act is a necessary measure.

To sum up, this Bill is an important step forward for regional, rural and remote health in Australia.

This Coalition Government recognises the value of our rural communities and the special place they hold within the fabric of this country.

People living in these communities make an enormous contribution to our national economy, and to the culture and character of Australia. Access to a quality standard of health care is what they deserve and are entitled to expect. The key is to recruit and retain more doctors and health professionals outside of the major cities, and that will be the focus of the National Rural Health Commissioner.

With the appropriate training opportunities, recruitment, remuneration and ongoing support, the Government is confident that more people will be encouraged to pursue a rewarding career in rural health.

Regional, rural and remote health is built on the commitment, the expertise and the courage of its workforce. We have some of the most resilient and passionate people working in this sector. The formation of the Commissioner will help to provide the rural health workforce with the support it needs to carry out its vitally important work.

Finally, I, together with the Commissioner will champion the incredible and rewarding opportunities of a career in rural medicine. We will do our best to hear you, to listen to you, and to make the necessary steps for our health system to work better for you.

Our Coalition Government looks forward to working closely with the National Rural Health Commissioner to ensure we can improve access to health services for all the men and women who call regional, rural and remote Australia home.

I commend this Bill to the House.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert : Turnbull reveals six-strong Indigenous Advisory Council – Biographies


” Malcolm Turnbull has moved to put his stamp on indigenous ­affairs, appointing a strong six-member advisory council to ­replace the Tony Abbott-devised body that was left in limbo when its term expired last month.

Announcing the all-Indigenous panel, which he described as a “refresh” of the 12-person group ­created in 2013, the Prime Minister said it reflected “the expertise and innovation that exist in Indig­enous Australia”.

Read full press release here

NACCHO Aboriginal Health NEWS ALERT : New appointments to the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council

As reported in todays Australian with NACCHO additions

Appointed for three years, it ­includes two carry­over members in Baniyala traditional owner Djambawa Marawilli and Ngiare Brown, professor of indigenous health at the University of Wollon­gong in NSW.

Joining them are 2017 Northern Territory Australian of the Year Andrea Mason and indigenous educationalist Chris Sarra, founder of the Stronger Smarter Institute and the 2016 NAIDOC Person of the Year.

Winun Ngari Aboriginal Corpor­ation chief executive Susan Murphy and NSW Aborig­inal Land Council chairman Roy Ah See round out the list.

Mr Turnbull had faced critic­ism for allowing the previous body’s term to expire without any statement of what would replace it, but yesterday’s announcement was described as “part of a two-staged appointment process”, with the new members to “meet and provide advice to the government on the final make-up of the council and its terms of reference”.

He said this was to include ­engaging with other indigenous Australians keen to sit on the council. National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples co-chair Rod Little said yesterday he ­“welcomed this opportunity” for the government to deal directly with the peak indigenous body.

In a joint statement, Mr Turnbull and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion thanked the previous chairman Warren Mundine for his service and said they “looked forward to continuing to work with former council members­, seeking their guidance, ­experience and expertise”.

Professor Sarra challenged Mr Turnbull when receiving his ­NAIDOC award at a gala event in Darwin last July to discuss a treaty whenever he found “the courage”.

“When you are ready, and when you have the courage and you are bold enough, I am ready on behalf of my people and my people are ready to speak with you about a treaty,” said Professor Sarra, who became the first Aboriginal school principal when he took the reins at Cherbourg State School in 1998.

Indigenous Advisory Council Bio’s

Members of the Council are highly respected in their chosen fields and will ensure the Council is able to provide the Government with a range of expert advice to help deliver better outcomes for Indigenous people


Area of expertise: Health and Wellbeing

Professor Ngiare Brown is a Yuin nation woman from the South Coast of NSW. She is a senior Aboriginal medical practitioner with qualifications in medicine, public health and primary care, and has studied bioethics, medical law and human rights. She was the first identified Aboriginal medical graduate from NSW, and is one of the first Aboriginal doctors in Australia. Professor Brown is a founding member and was Foundation CEO of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association.

NACCHO Aboriginal Childrens Heath : Ngaoara set to improve child and adolescent wellbeing

See recent NACCHO TV interview

Thursday 20 August 2009. Chris Sarra. Photo:QUT Marketing and Communication/Erika Fish. PH:0731385003.

Area of expertise: Education

Professor Sarra became the first Aboriginal principal at Cherbourg State School in 1998, holds a Diploma of Teaching, a Bachelor of Education, a Master of Education, an Executive Masters in Public Administration from the Australia New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG), and a PhD in Psychology at Murdoch University. Professor Sarra is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and an Honorary Fellow of the School of Ethical Leadership at the Melbourne Business School. In 2006, he established the Indigenous Education Leadership Institute, the forerunner to the Stronger Smarter Institute. In 2016, Professor Sarra was awarded NAIDOC Person of the Year, and has previously been a finalist for Australian of the Year in 2004 and 2010.


Area of expertise: Community safety

Ms Andrea Mason is the current Northern Territory Australian of the Year and was awarded the Australian Businesswomen of the Year in 2016. Ms Mason is CEO of the NPY Women’s Council – an organisation committed to delivering youth and wellbeing programmes and addressing domestic and family violence.


Area of expertise: Employment

Ms Andrea Murphy is the CEO of Winun Ngari Aboriginal Corporation, the largest community development provider for remote Aboriginal communities in the West Kimberley. Ms Murphy has previously held positions in a number of government organisations and has extensive experience working within Aboriginal health, child care and justice.


Area of Expertise: Economic Development, Land and Sea

Mr Roy Ah-See is a Wiradjuri man born and bred on Nanima Reserve near Wellington. He is a member of the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council and is Chairperson of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.

Mr Ah-See has also held other roles at the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, NSW Aboriginal Housing Office and various government departments working in policy.

See recent NACCHO TV interview


Area of expertise: Culture, Community safety

Mr Marawili is Djirrikay or senior ceremonial leader for the Blue Mud Bay region of North East Arnhem Land and coordinated the sea rights claim in 2002 which eventuated in the High Court’s determination in the 2008 Blue Mud Bay Case. He is the leader of the Yolngu Madarppa clan and the Baniyala/ Yilpara homeland. Mr Marawili is Chairman of the Association of Northern Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists. Mr Marawili is a senior artist, painter and sculptor and received an Order of Australia (AM) in 2010 for services to arts administration.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health NEWS ALERT : New appointments to the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council


The Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council has been refreshed with new membership as part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to closer engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The new Council will play an important role by engaging at the heart of Government, including with the Indigenous Policy Committee of Cabinet, collaborating with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, and ensuring the Government is well positioned to renew the expiring Closing the Gap targets in the year ahead.

The appointments reflect the expertise and innovation that exist in Indigenous Australia and we look forward to working with the new Council to drive better outcomes for our First Australians.

The following Council members have been appointed for a period of three years:

Andrea Mason – CEO of the NPY Women’s Council

Susan Murphy – CEO of Winun Ngari Aboriginal Corporation

Ngiare Brown – Professor of Indigenous Health at the University of Wollongong

Roy Ah See – Chair of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council

Chris Sarra – Founder and Chairman of the Stronger Smarter Institute

Djambawa Marawilli – Traditional owner from Baniyala

All members of the Council appointed today are highly respected in their chosen fields and bringstrong practical policy knowledge. This will ensure the Council is able to provide the Government with a range of advice to help deliver better outcomes in partnership with Indigenous people and communities.

Today’s appointments are part of a two-staged appointment process. The new Council members will meet and provide advice to the Government on the final makeup of the Council and its terms of reference. This will include engaging with other Indigenous Australians who have requested to be on the Council. This is a strong endorsement for the continuation of the Council and demonstrates that Indigenous Australians are very focused on working in partnership with the Government on the issues impacting their communities.

The refreshed Council reflects the Government’s deep commitment to doing things with Indigenous Australians in a genuine partnership. The Council is expected to work with, and draw in, other Indigenous Australians to ensure the Government has advice from a range of stakeholders and communities.

We have asked that the Council continue to focus on the Government’s priorities of education, community safety and justice, and employment.

We thank the members of the Council who have served over the past three years, in particularWarren Mundine for his service as Chair. We look forward to continuing to work with the formerCouncil members, seeking their guidance, experience and expertise.

Biographies of the new Council members can be viewed here: