NACCHO Aboriginal Youth Health News @KenWyattMP launches Aboriginal Youth Health Strategy 2018-2023, Today’s young people, tomorrow’s leaders at @TheAHCWA

“ The youth workshops confirmed young people’s biggest concerns are often not about physical illness, they are issues around mental health and wellbeing, pride, strength and resilience, and ensuring they can make the most of their lives

Flexible learning and cultural and career mentoring for better education and jobs were highlighted, along with the importance of culturally comfortable health care services.

While dealing with immediate illness and disease is crucial, this strategy’s long-term vision is vital and shows great maturity from our young people.”

Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Ken Wyatt, AM launched AHCWA’s Western Australia Aboriginal Youth Health Strategy 2018-2023, Today’s young people, tomorrow’s leaders at AHCWA’s 2018 State Sector Conference at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle. Read the Ministers full press release PART 2 Below

See Previous NACCHO Post

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @TheAHCWA pioneering new ways of working in Aboriginal Health :Our Culture Our Community Our Voice Our Knowledge

“If we are to make gains in the health of young Aboriginal people, we must allow their voices to be heard, their ideas listened to and their experiences acknowledged.

Effective, culturally secure health services are the key to unlocking the innate value of young Aboriginal people, as individuals and as strong young people, to become our future leaders.”

AHCWA Chairperson Vicki O’Donnell said good health was fundamental for young Aboriginal people to flourish in education, employment and to remain socially connected.

Download the PDF HERE

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) has this launched its new blueprint for addressing the health inequalities of young Aboriginal people.

“The Turnbull Government is proud to have supported this ground-breaking work and I congratulate everyone involved,” Minister Wyatt said.

“Young people are the future, and thinking harder and deeper about their needs and talking to them about how to meet them is the way forward.”

Developed with and on behalf of young Aboriginal people in WA, the strategy is the culmination of almost a decade of AHCWA’s commitment and strategic advocacy in Aboriginal youth health.

The strategy considered feedback from young Aboriginal people and health workers during 24 focus groups hosted by AHCWA across the Kimberley, Pilbara, Midwest-Gascoyne, Goldfields, South-West, Great Southern and Perth metropolitan areas last year.

In addition, two state-wide surveys were conducted for young people and service providers to garner their views about youth health in WA.

During the consultation, participants revealed obstacles to good health including boredom due to a lack of youth appropriate extracurricular activities, sporting programs and other avenues to improve social and emotional wellbeing.

Of major concern for some young Aboriginal people were systemic barriers of poverty, homelessness, and the lack of adequate food or water in their communities.

Significantly, young Aboriginal people shared experiences of how boredom was a factor contributing to violence, mental health problems, and alcohol and other drug use issues.

They also revealed that racism, bullying and discrimination had affected their health, with social media platforms used to mitigate boredom leading to issues of cyberbullying, peer pressure and personal violence and in turn, depression, trauma and social isolation.

Ms O’Donnell said the strategy cited a more joined-up service delivery method as a key priority, with the fragmentation and a lack of coordination in some areas making it difficult for young Aboriginal people to find and access services they need.

“The strategy provides an opportunity for community led solutions to repair service fragmentation, and open doors to improved navigation pathways for young Aboriginal people,” she said.

Ms O’Donnell said the strategy also recognised that culture was intrinsic to the health and wellbeing of young Aboriginal people.

“Recognition of and understanding about culture must be at the centre of the planning, development and implementation of health services and programs for young Aboriginal people,” she said.

“AHCWA has a long and proud tradition of leadership and advocacy in prioritising Aboriginal young people and placing their health needs at the forefront.”

Under the strategy, AHCWA will establish the Aboriginal Youth Health Program Outcomes Council and local community-based Aboriginal Youth Cultural Knowledge and Mentor Groups.

The strategy also mandates to work with key partners to help establish pathways and links for young Aboriginal people to transition from education to employment, support young Aboriginal people who have left school early or are at risk of disengaging from education; and work with local schools to implement education-to-employment plans.

More than 260 delegates from WA’s 22 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are attending the two-day conference at the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle on April 11 and 12.

Over the two days, 15 workshops and keynote speeches will be held. AHCWA will present recommendations from the conference in a report to the state and federal governments to highlight the key issues about Aboriginal health in WA and determine future strategic actions.

The conference agenda can be found here: http://www.cvent.com/events/aboriginal-health-our-culture-our-communities-our-voice-our-knowledge/agenda-d4410dfc616942e9a30b0de5e8242043.aspx

Part 2 Ministers Press Release

A unique new youth strategy puts cultural and family strength, education, employment and leadership at the centre of First Nations people’s health and wellbeing.

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM today launched the landmark Western Australian Aboriginal Youth Health Strategy, which sets out a five-year program with the theme “Today’s young people, tomorrow’s leaders”.

“This is an inspiring but practical roadmap that includes a detailed action plan and a strong evaluation process to measure success,” Minister Wyatt said.

“It sets an example for other health services and other States and Territories but most importantly, it promises to help set thousands of WA young people on the right path for healthier and more fulfilling lives.”

Produced by the Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) and based on State wide youth workshops and consultation, the strategy highlights five key health domains:

    • Strength in culture – capable and confident
    • Strength in family and healthy relationships
    • Educating to employ
    • Empowering future leaders
    • Healthy now, healthy future

Each domain includes priorities, actions and a “showcase initiative” that is already succeeding and could be replicated to spread the benefits further around the State.

Development of the strategy was supported by a $315,000 Turnbull Government grant, through the Indigenous Australians Health Program.

“I congratulate AHCWA and everyone involved because hearing the clear voices of these young Australians is so important for their development now and for future generations,” the Minister said.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Download @KenWyattMP speech to @CISOZ : The question of leadership and responsibility in Aboriginal health – addressing the Centre for Independent Studies

 ” Last year, we led a massive group listening program – the My Life My Lead consultations involved 600 people at 13 forums across Australia, plus more than 100 written submissions were received.

Seven priority areas were identified, and are informing the current Closing the Gap refresh agenda.

The priorities we heard from First Australians are:

  • Putting culture at the centre of change
  • Success and wellbeing for health through employment
  • Foundations for a healthy life
  • Environmental health
  • Healthy living and strong communities
  • Health service access, and
  • Health and opportunity through education

We need to be fully committed to sitting down and listening; hearing what’s being said, and continuing to invest in programs that do their work from the ground up.

Policies and services that reflect local voices and wisdom are more closely owned by the people they serve.”

Minister Ken Wyatt MP speaking at Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney yesterday

Download full address or read below

FINAL Wyatt CIS speech 10 April 2018

Family the key to Indigenous health, says Ken Wyatt

Executive summary from the The Australian Stephen Fitzpatrick 

Good parenting rather than increased funding for programs and services is key to improving Indigenous health, the federal minister responsible for the sector has ­declared.

Warning that “doing more of the same is an option we can no longer afford”,

Aboriginal Liberal MP Ken Wyatt said the successes and the failures in indigenous health demonstrated that “responsible parents and families provide the most consistent and enduring interventions”.

“Funding for health programs and services, from public or private sources, will only ever be part of the currency of change,” Mr Wyatt said at a speech to the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney. “By far the greatest value will come from every mother, father, uncle, aunt and elder every day, taking responsibility for and contributing to better health.”

Calling for a declaration of “non-negotiable standards to be met from the bottom up”, Mr Wyatt said these standards must “reflect the pride of the oldest continuous culture on the planet” but should also extend “far beyond families, to health and community groups and organisations too”.

He said there had for too long been a “piecemeal approach” to indigenous health, with “inadequate accountability” for repeated programs and yet “every time there’s been a new issue or challenge, ­people say we need more money”.

Efforts to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous health outcomes would not succeed “until we eliminate the mindset that Aboriginal Australians could be, and even should be on occasions, dealt with differently”.

The current syphilis epidemic in northern Australian indigenous communities, which has prompted the Turnbull government to commit $8.8 million in an attempt to turn its tide seven years after it began, was a case in point.

“If this outbreak had occurred on Sydney’s north shore, in ­Cottesloe in Perth or Toorak in Melbourne — in any city or major town, in fact — there would have been a rapid response years ­earlier,” Mr Wyatt said.

However, he cautioned that there must also be a greater focus on strategies that clearly work, calling for governments and NGOs to “hear the voices of families, of mothers, fathers and community elders, not just the voices of those who are the strongest ­advocates for the establishment of organisations or services”.

He cited the work of Fitzroy Crossing women including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar in curbing the spectre of ­fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, saying it had “turned the town around and you now see strong families there, bound by the glue of love and caring”.

He had ordered his department to overhaul a Medicare provision designed for indigenous Australians that provides physical, psychological and social wellbeing assessments as well as preventive healthcare, education and other options to improve health.

He said only 217,000 people ­accessed this provision last year but he wanted this number to rise because “what I want to see is all First Nations people accessing all relevant (Medicare) items in the same way other Australians do”.

He praised the growing number of indigenous health professionals at all levels, “as doctors and nurses, in allied health, administration and management (and) in policy planning and research”.

Mr Wyatt said this was likely to be the best hope for the future, with more than 40 per cent of the 720,000-strong indigenous population aged under 24, so that many of this group were “set to make a big impact across many fields that may help to close the gap”.

Full Speech Minister Ken Wyatt


Download FINAL Wyatt CIS speech 10 April 2018

Thank you Tom, [Switzer, Executive Director, Centre for Independent Studies] for your introduction.

In West Australian Noongar language, I say kaya wangju – hello and welcome.

At the same time, I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to Elders past and present.

Today, I want to pose the question: “What is the currency of positive change for the health of First Nations people?”

Is it government or private investment; is it determination; is it personal motivation?

To begin, I’d like those of us who can remember, to think back to 1972.

Australia’s Helen Reddy was topping the international charts and we were getting out of Vietnam.

The Tent Embassy went up at Parliament House in Canberra on Australia Day that year, a symbolic foreign mission erected in the fight for land rights, after years of dashed hopes – an embassy that continues today in the fight for equality.

1972 was a potentially life-changing year for thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Prime Minister Gough Whitlam established the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs, ushering in an era of bold new promise, building on changes implemented by previous governments following the 1967 referendum.

Looking back – in so many different ways since then – we have come so far.

Yet, since 1972, we have not seen the broad, wholesale change that we would expect, especially given the significant funding and vast amount of good intentions that have been invested in Aboriginal affairs.

Yes, for the first time in several years, we are on track to reach three of the seven Closing the Gap targets – but what lies behind the statistics that still highlight health inequities today?

What have we got right – and wrong – since 1972?

As I travel our nation, I see and hear more and more inspiring stories of First People’s achievement and the journey to equality, from almost every corner of the country.

Perhaps I’m a bit old-fashioned, but I like to call these “jewels in the crown” – because they shine so brightly, and they exemplify the things that work.

One of these is a university college for Aboriginal students I recently launched in Perth.

Now doubling in size six years after it began, it boasts a 90 per cent retention rate, with almost 80 percent of students passing all their exams.

Head to remote communities in the Kimberley and the Pilbara and you’ll find the EON program, literally teaching children how to grow vegetables and good health.

This is especially close to my heart, because I approved the initial, modest, funding to help start the project 10 years ago.

Since then, EON’s employed scores of local Aboriginal people, worked with students and families to create dozens of school vegetable gardens and has run countless cooking classes, including bush tucker, too.

The compelling taste and health benefits of home grown food are one thing; but it’s the ownership, the healthy habits, the skills learned, and the pride that are also helping change young lives.

The EON program’s now in high demand, extending further south in WA and into the Northern Territory this year.

In the Western Desert, the Pintupi Luritja people saw the tragedy of kidney failure and decided it wasn’t going to be a one-way ticket off their beloved country, to being hooked up to dialysis in Alice Springs.

They took control, famously painted and sold precious artworks – and raised a million dollars to start realising their dream.

Eighteen years on, the Purple House project has treatment centres across their vast lands, a mobile dialysis truck and, just as important, a growing primary and preventive health care network.

Not surprisingly, the wraparound approach – from the ground and the street up – most often shows the common denominator of success.

This local impetus is being strongly supported, and replicated with careful community consultation, through significant Turnbull Government programs.

Better Start to Life and its care and family partnerships begin a child’s health journey before conception. We have funded 124 sites nationwide, and counting.

The results are showing fewer low birth weight babies, higher rates of breastfeeding and, in our Australian Nurse Family Partnership Program sites, 100 per cent immunisation rates, the highest in the nation.

At the same time, from Alice Springs to Port Augusta and from Doomadgee to Canberra, the Connected Beginnings program links parents, health care and education, so children are ready to start school, learn and grow into healthy teenagers and adults.

As Nelson Mandela rightly said: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

But sometimes, I go into communities and I meet with organisations that tell me they are meeting their health targets — the key performance indicators.

I then get permission from Elders to walk around and chat with locals.

On one particular occasion, in the Kimberley, I met a significant Aboriginal artist.

We were walking along and a friend was talking with this painter and I noticed that her eyes looked opaque, so I asked her: How much can you see?

She said: “I can’t see very much at all, I’m hoping for my cataract surgery.”

At that time, it had been a two-year wait – yet the health organisation’s KPIs were being met. How could this be?

In a country as rich and advanced as Australia, how can this happen?

This is not an isolated incident.

Improving overall Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is, first and foremost, critical for the well-being and dignity of hundreds of thousands of First Australians.

But it is also fundamental to our nation’s commitment to equality, and our global health status.

The health of First Nations Australians is everyone’s business.

We must continually celebrate with Aboriginal communities and families the many milestones in health, education, careers and cultural achievement.

At the same time, it is crucial we look carefully at where poorer aspects of health and wellbeing remain.

In these cases, doing more of the same is an option we can no longer afford – the high cost in lives and lost futures is incalculable, and budgets are also under intense pressure.

First Nations knowledge is embedded in the memories of the living – knowledge that is imparted through teaching, storytelling, music, art and dance.

They are our living libraries and losing each individual means a precious book of knowledge is lost forever.

It is imperative that we enable people to be healthy and live longer.

For far too long in Aboriginal health there was a piecemeal approach; series upon series of programs, often with inadequate accountability.

Every time there’s been a new issue or challenge, people say we need more money.

Currently, there are two evaluations underway to identify opportunities to improve; access to quality and effective primary health care services; assess health gains; and identify the social returns and the broader economic benefits of the Indigenous Australians’ Health Program.

While Government investment in the program will continue to grow over the forward estimates, it is imperative – especially for those in greatest need – that we maximise the health value in every dollar.

To illustrate this point I want to look at the current challenges of Sexually Transmitted Infections and Blood Borne Viruses.

Recently, I was asked to approve significant special funding for a targeted program to tackle the increasing prevalence of STIs, particularly the alarming rise of syphilis in northern areas.

When I asked ‘What are the States and Territories doing about this?’ I was disturbed to find too little had been invested and too little done when the first warning signs appeared, almost seven years ago – certainly not to the extent I would have expected from the responsible jurisdictions.

There was still an overwhelming reliance on Commonwealth leadership and funding in order to address the spread of STIs across the Top End.

I committed $8.8 million dollars, to provide a surge approach that is currently ramping up, aiming to turn the tide of infection.

I also make the point that these First Nations people now struggling under the burden of this deadly disease are, first and foremost, citizens of Australia.

If this outbreak had occurred on Sydney’s North Shore, in Cottesloe in Perth, or Toorak in Melbourne – in any city or major town, in fact – there would have been a rapid response years earlier.

I believe there will not be complete success, in terms of Closing the Gap, until we eliminate the mindset that Aboriginal Australians could be, and even should be on occasions, dealt with differently.

Ensuring awareness and respect for First Nations people and culture throughout our health system may be critical to equality of access – but above all, there is a fundamental human right we must accord every one of our citizens, and that is the right to good health.

Picture this scenario.

A doctor based in Kintore – around 2,000 kilometres South-West of Darwin visited the community of Kiwirrkurra located in Western Australia’s sandhill country — the Gibson Desert.

This doctor reports meeting a group of nine nomadic Aboriginal people, and he says:

“…They were the most healthy people I have ever seen…They were literally glowing with health – not an ounce of superfluous fat. They were extremely fit…”

The year was 1984.

Today, we hear a different narrative too often: There is an alarming rise in obesity and diabetes, suicide levels are high, there is alcohol and drug misuse and the impacts of poverty leave many people with a sense of powerlessness.

Too often, First Nations people’s achievements are overshadowed by health and welfare stories of deep, and understandable, concern.

We’re seeing laudable improvements because of interventions, but they’re not always consistent enough, and they’re often not equivalent to results achieved by other sectors within multicultural Australia.

I’m strongly focussed on where we need to improve; on why – even after accounting for the social and environmental impacts on health – we’re still seeing better outcomes for non-Aboriginal people.

For almost 20 years now, the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) has included Item number 715 – a health assessment especially designed to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive primary care matched to their needs.

A 715 looks at a patient’s health — physical, psychological and their social wellbeing.

It also assesses what preventative health care, education and other assistance should be offered to improve health and wellbeing.

It’s holistic. Not body part, by body part. The whole body.

Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is around 720,000.

Yet only 217,000 people in 2016-17 have been assessed under MBS Item 715.

At the same time, I see organisations such as the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, that according to their 2016-17 Annual Report have over 33,000 active patients, of which approximately 60 per cent have had their 715 health check.

In 2016-17, the organisations Members’ Network of 19 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Care Clinics generated more than $14.3 million in Medicare income, with all funds re-invested in the delivery of comprehensive health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in South East Queensland.

What I see here are significantly better results, through completion of a “cycle of care”, comprising the range of chronic disease and other MBS items.

The Institute has grown its clinics from 5 to 19 in the past nine years, with their 20th soon to open in the Moreton Bay region.

I’m excited by this work – the innovation and capacity to change, and the resolve not to accept the status quo of poorer health outcomes.

I look at some of the health disparities and think, why aren’t we as a nation case managing, fundamentally, 720,000 people in a way that would make a difference to so many chronic conditions?

I have asked my department for an overhaul of 715s – what I want to see is all First Nations people accessing all relevant MBS items in the same way that other Australians do.

A key Government focus is on the health of our children, from conception right through to their late teens, so they can grow into strong and healthy men and women who can be the best mentors for their own children.

With more than 1700 First Australians receiving kidney dialysis, and rheumatic heart disease affecting another 6,000 mainly younger people, this year I’ve also prioritised renal health and RHD, along with eye and ear health.

From four national roundtables, we’re now charting Australia’s first roadmaps to coordinate efforts to combat these debilitating and deadly conditions.

It’s absolutely intolerable that RHD among our First Nations people is happening at more than 50 times the rate of other groups in Australian society.

In parts of the Northern Territory, those horrific rates of RHD are doubled again.

And Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people under the age of 55 are starting dialysis at twice the rate of non-Aboriginal Australians, with many showing danger signs in their teens.

The unfinished business of today is disappointing because we should be celebrating more successes.

And are community-controlled health organisations and other community groups established to service great need, sitting down enough and asking families and individuals what they know, what they want and what they think would work best?

They must ask: Where is the continuity of service for anyone who requires an intervention to prolong their life or to circumvent an illness?

Minor ailments like skin sores or strep throats, if treated consistently and effectively, won’t develop into early onset renal failure or rheumatic heart disease.

In the same way, neither will ear infections become impaired hearing, that can stunt a child’s learning capacity and their chances of a good job, or any job at all.

There is a need for a holistic approach to the health of each individual.

Some of the benefits flowing from Australia’s recent mining boom have been great employment opportunities, close to country, for thousands of First Nations people.

But the job hopes of many were hampered by deafness contracted in childhood, much to the frustration of mining companies committed to hiring keen local staff.

Hearing and communication are fundamental to fulfilling our life’s potential.

They’re also two of the most valuable commodities for sustainable change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Governments and non-government organisations across the board must listen to and hear the voices of families, of mothers, fathers and community Elders.

Not just the voices of those who are the strongest advocates for the establishment of organisations or services that, theoretically, should make a difference on the ground.

I say this with no political overtones – the Prime Minister and the Turnbull Government are committed to doing things with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, not to them.

Last year, we led a massive group listening program – the My Life My Lead consultations involved 600 people at 13 forums across Australia, plus more than 100 written submissions were received.

SEE NACCHO report

Seven priority areas were identified, and are informing the current Closing the Gap refresh agenda.

The priorities we heard from First Australians are:

Putting culture at the centre of change

Success and wellbeing for health through employment

Foundations for a healthy life

Environmental health

Healthy living and strong communities

Health service access, and

Health and opportunity through education

We need to be fully committed to sitting down and listening; hearing what’s being said, and continuing to invest in programs that do their work from the ground up.

Policies and services that reflect local voices and wisdom are more closely owned by the people they serve.

People are empowered, because they’ve been heard, and take responsibility because they’re respected and proud.

Around the nation there are many things that are working and I have seen programs and services where Aboriginal organisations, Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people are highly successful in the most difficult of circumstances.

I see June Oscar and her community’s work in Fitzroy Crossing, which has changed the whole dynamic of buying alcohol and curbed the local tragedy of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Together, they have turned the town around and you now see strong families there, bound by the glue of love and caring.

Alcohol and the bad behaviour of a few no longer defines Fitzroy Crossing, the strength and the story of the community does.

When I think about the successes, as well as the failures, I know that responsible parents and families provide the most consistent and enduring interventions.

Funding for health programs and services, from public or private sources, will only ever be part of the currency of change.

By far the greatest value will come from every mother, father, uncle, aunt and Elder every day, taking responsibility for and contributing to better health.

For over 65,000 years, First Nations people survived and thrived without a plethora of organisations – individual families and communities pulled together, to ensure the health and wellbeing of all.

Working and walking together with local communities, we collectively need to declare non-negotiable standards to be met, from the bottom up.

Standards that also reflect the pride of the oldest continuous culture on the planet.

This individual responsibility extends far beyond families, to health and community groups and organisations, too.

Everyone working to close the gap in health equality must look at themselves and say: Together, we have outcomes to achieve – what difference are we really making today and how can we do better?

We must constantly walk around the communities we serve and look for patterns of disparity.

If that’s what we’re seeing, the question should be: Are we fighting our own people? Are we listening enough?

Fortunately for the future, increasing numbers of young First Nations people are hearing the call to lead the next wave of change.

With more than 40 per cent of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged under 24, large groups – like the undergraduates I met recently at the university college – are set to make a big impact across many fields that may help close the gap.

Through concerted programs around the country, there’s also a growing number of First Nations health professionals at all levels – as doctors and nurses; in allied health, administration and management; in policy, planning and research.

My message to them and to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in communities across this nation, is that we are proud descendants of those who came here at least 65,000 years ago.

We have proven incredibly resilient, and we’ll continue that tradition of resilience, and respect for our country and for all Australians.

But the strength of our cultural identity will always remain the basis for our health – and what we strive for and live for.

Thank you.

 

NACCHO Media Alerts : Top 10 Current Aboriginal Health News Stories to keep you up to date

1. Aboriginal sexual health: The Australian : Was the syphilis epidemic preventable ? NACCHO responds

2.Royal Flying Doctors Service extra 4-year funding $84 million Mental Health and Dental Services

3.Nurses PAQ continues political membership campaign spreading false and misleading information about our cultural safety

4.AMSANT has called for re-doubled efforts to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into the care and protection of children in partnership with NT Aboriginal leaders

5.Dialysis facilities worth $17 million are sitting padlocked, empty and unused in WA’s north

6.ALRC Report into Incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

7. Minister Ken Wyatt : Listening to Indigenous Needs: Healthy Ears Program Extended with $29.4 commitment

8.Tangentyere Alice Springs Women’s Family Safety Group visits Canberra

9.Minister Ken Wyatt launches our NACCHO RACGP National Guide to a preventative health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

10. Your guide to a healthy Easter : #Eggs-actly  

 

1.Aboriginal sexual health: The Australian : Was the syphilis epidemic preventable ? NACCHO responds

“These (STIs) are preventable diseases and we need increased testing, treatment plans and a ­culturally appropriate health ­education campaign that focuses resources on promoting safe-sex messages delivered to at-risk ­communities by our trained Aboriginal workforce,”

Pat Turner, chief executive of peak body the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, is adamant about this.

Read full article in Easter Monday The Australian or Part B below

2.Royal Flying Doctors Service extra 4-year funding $84 million Mental Health and Dental Services

Read full press release here

 

3.Nurses PAQ continues political membership campaign spreading false and misleading information about cultural safety

SEE NACCHO Response

SEE an Indigenous Patients Response

See Nurses PAQ Misleading and false campaign

4. AMSANT  has called for re-doubled efforts to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into the care and protection of children in partnership with NT Aboriginal leaders

Read full AMSANT press Release

Listen to interview with Donna Ah Chee

Press Release @NACCHOChair calls on the Federal Government to work with us to keep our children safe

#WeHaveTheSolutions Plus comments from CEO’s @Anyinginyi @DanilaDilba

4.Dialysis facilities worth $17 million are sitting padlocked, empty and unused in WA’s north

Read full Story HERE

6.ALRC Report into Incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People;

Read Download Full Transcript

Senator Patrick Dodson

Download the report from HERE

Community Groups Call For Action on Indigenous Incarceration Rates

7. Minister Ken Wyatt : Listening to Indigenous Needs: Healthy Ears Program Extended with $29.4 commitment

The Australian Government has committed $29.4 million to extend the Healthy Ears – Better Hearing, Better Listening Program, to help ensure tens of thousands more Indigenous children and young adults grow up with good hearing and the opportunities it brings.

Read Press Release HEAR

8.Tangentyere Alice Springs Women’s Family Safety Group visits Canberra

This week the Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group from Alice Springs were in Canberra. They shared with politicians, their own solutions for their own communities, and they are making an enormous difference.
Big thanks to all the Tangentyere women who made it to Canberra.

Read Download the Press Release

TANGENTYERE WOMEN’S FAMILY SAFETY GROUP (FED

9. Minister Ken Wyatt launches our NACCHO RACGP National Guide to a preventative health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Read press releases and link to Download the National Guide

10. Your guide to a  healthy Easter : #Eggs-actly  

And finally hope you had a Happy Easter all you mob ! After you have enjoyed your chocolate eggs and hot cross buns , this is how much exercise you will require to work of those Easter treats .

For medical and nutrition advice please check with your ACCHO Doctor , Health Promotion / Lifestyle teams or one of our ACCHO nutritionists

 

Part B Full Text The Australian Article Easter Monday

There is no reason it should have happened, especially not in a first-world country like Australia, but it has: indigenous communities in the country’s north are in the grip of wholly treatable sexually transmitted diseases.

In the case of syphilis, it is an epidemic — West Australian Labor senator Patrick Dodson ­described it as such, in a fury, when health department bureaucrats mumbled during Senate estimates about having held a few “meetings” on the matter.

There have been about 2000 syphilis notifications — with at least 13 congenital cases, six of them fatal — since the outbreak began in northern Queensland in 2011, before spreading to the Northern Territory, Western Australia and, finally, South Australia.

What’s worse, it could have been stopped. James Ward, of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, wrote in mid-2011 that there had been a “downward trend” over several years and it was likely at that point that the “elimination of syphilis is achievable within indigenous ­remote communities”.

But governments were slow to react, and Ward is now assisting in the design of an $8.8 million emergency “surge” treatment approach on the cusp of being rolled out in Cairns and Darwin, with sites in the two remaining affected states yet to be identified.

It will be an aggressive strategy — under previous guidelines, you had to have been identified during a health check as an active carrier of syphilis to be treated. Now, anyone who registers antibodies for the pathogen during a blood prick test, whether actively carrying syphilis or not, will receive an ­immediate penicillin injection in an attempt to halt the infection’s geographical spread.

This is key: the high mobility of indigenous people in northern and central Australia means pathogens cross jurisdictions with ­impunity. Australian Medical ­Association president Michael Gannon calls syphilis a “clever bacterium that will never go away”, warning that “bugs don’t respect state borders”.

Olga Havnen, one of the Northern Territory’s most respected public health experts, points out that many people “will have connections and relations from the Torres Strait through to the Kimberley and on to Broome — and it’s only a matter of seven or eight kilometres between PNG and the northernmost islands there in the Torres Strait”.

“This is probably something that’s not really understood by the broader Australian community,” Havnen says. “I suspect once you get a major outbreak of something like encephalitis or Dengue fever, any of those mosquito-borne diseases, and that starts to encroach onto the mainland, then people will start to get a bit worried.”

Olga Havnen, CEO of the Danila Dilba Health Service, says transmission is complex issue in Australia’s indigenous communities.
Olga Havnen, CEO of the Danila Dilba Health Service, says transmission is complex issue in Australia’s indigenous communities.

But it is not just syphilis — ­indeed, not even just STIs — that have infectious disease authorities concerned and the network of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations stretched.

Chlamydia, the nation’s most frequently diagnosed STI in 2016 based on figures from the Kirby Institute at the University of NSW, is three times more likely to be contracted by an indigenous Australian than a non-­indigenous one.

The rate was highest in the NT, at 1689.1 notifications per 100,000 indigenous people, compared with 607.9 per 100,000 non-indigenous Territorians. If you’re indigenous, you’re seven times more likely to contract gonorrhoea, spiking to 15 times more likely if only women are considered. Syphilis, five times more likely.

As the syphilis response gets under way, health services such as the one Havnen leads, the Darwin-based Danila Dilba, will be given extra resources to tackle it. “With proper resourcing, if you want to be doing outreach with those people who might be visitors to town living in the long grass, then we’re probably best placed to be able to do that,” she says.

But the extra focus comes with a warning. A spate of alleged sexual assaults on Aboriginal children, beginning with a two-year-old in Tennant Creek last month and followed by three more alleged ­attacks, has raised speculation of a link between high STI rates and evidence of child sexual assault.

After the first case, former NT children’s commissioner Howard Bath told this newspaper that STI rates were “a better indicator of background levels of abuse than reporting because so many of those cases don’t get reported to anyone, whereas kids with serious infections do tend to go to a ­doctor”. Others, including Alice Springs town councillor Jacinta Price and Aboriginal businessman Warren Mundine, raised the ­spectre of the need for removing more at-risk indigenous children from dangerous environments.

Children play AFL in Yeundumu. Picture: Jason Edwards
Children play AFL in Yeundumu. Picture: Jason Edwards

However, Sarah Giles, Danila Dilba’s clinical director and a medical practitioner of 20 years’ standing in northern Australia, warns this kind of response only exacerbates the problem. She is one of a range of public health authorities who, like Havnen, say connecting high STI figures to the very real scourge of child sex abuse simply makes no sense. They do not carry correlated data sets, the experts say.

“One of the things that’s really unhelpful about trying to manage STIs at a population level is to link it with child abuse and mandatory reporting, and for people to be fearful of STIs,” Giles says. “The problem is that when they’re conflated and when communities feel that they can’t get help ­because things might be misinterpreted or things might be reported, they’re less likely to present with symptoms. The majority of STIs are in adults and they’re sexually transmitted.”

Havnen says there is evidence of STIs being transmitted non-sexually, including to children, such as through poor hand ­hygiene, although Giles says that is “reasonably rare”. And while NT data shows five children under 12 contracted either chlamydia or gonorrhoea in 2016 (none had syphilis), and there were another five under 12 last year, Havnen points to the fact that over the past decade there has been no increasing trend in under 12s being affected. Where there has been a rise in the NT is in people aged between 13 and 19, with annual gonorrhoea notifications increasing from 64 cases in the 14-15-year-old ­female cohort in 2006 to 94 notifications in 2016.

In the 16-17-year-old female ­cohort the same figures were 96 and 141 and in the 12-13-year-old group it rose from 20 in 2006 to 33 in 2016. Overall, for both boys and girls under 16, annual gonorrhoea notifications rose from 109 in 2006 to 186 in 2016, according to figures provided to the royal ­commission into child detention by NT Health. Havnen describes the rise as “concerning but not, on its own, evidence of increasing ­levels of sexual abuse”.

Ward is more direct. Not all STIs are the result of sexual abuse, he warns, and not all sexual abuse results in an STI. If you’re a health professional trying to deal with an epidemiological wildfire, the distinction matters — the data and its correct interpretations can literally be a matter of life and death.

Indeed, in its own written cav­eats to the material it provided to the royal commission, the department warns that sexual health data is “very much subject to variations in testing” and warns against making “misleading assumptions about trends”. Ward says: “Most STIs notified in remote indigenous communities are ­assumed to be the result of sex ­between consenting adults — that is, 16 to 30-year-olds. Of the under 16s, the majority are 14 and 15-year-olds.” He says a historically high background prevalence of STIs in remote indigenous communities — along with a range of other ­infectious diseases long eradicated elsewhere — is to blame for their ongoing presence. Poor education, health services and hygiene contribute, and where drug and ­alcohol problems exist, sexually risky behaviour is more likely too. The lingering impact of colonisation and arrival of diseases then still common in broader ­society cannot be underestimated.

But Ward claims that an apparently high territory police figure of about 700 cases of “suspected child sexual offences” in the NT over the past five years may be misleading. He says a large number of these are likely to be the result of mandatory reporting, where someone under 16 is known to have a partner with an age gap of more than two years, or someone under 14 is known to be engaging in sexual activity. Ward points out that 15 is the nationwide ­median sexual debut age, an age he suggests is dropping. At any rate, he argues, child sex abuse is unlikely to be the main reason for that high rate of mandatory ­reporting in the NT.

Areyonga is a small Aboriginal community a few hours drive from Alice Springs.
Areyonga is a small Aboriginal community a few hours drive from Alice Springs.

Data matters, and so does how it is used. Chipping away at the perception of child sexual abuse in indigenous communities are the latest figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showing the rate of removals for that crime is actually higher in non-indigenous Australia.

According to a report this month from the AIHW, removals based on substantiated sex abuse cases in 2016-17 were starkly different for each cohort: 8.3 per cent for indigenous children, from a total of 13,749 removals, and 13.4 per cent for non-indigenous children, from 34,915 removals.

Havnen concedes there is a need for better reporting of child abuse and has called for a confidential helpline that would be free of charge and staffed around the clock by health professionals.

It’s based on a model already in use in Europe that she says deals with millions of calls a year — but it would require a comprehensive education and publicity campaign if it were to gain traction in remote Australia. And that means starting with the adults.

“If you’re going to do sex ­education in schools and you start to move into the area about sexual abuse and violence and so on, it’s really important that adults are ­educated first about what to do with that information,” she says. “Because too often if you just ­educate kids, and they come home and make a disclosure, they end up being told they’re liars.”

These challenges exist against the backdrop of a community already beset by a range of infectious diseases barely present elsewhere in the country, including the STIs that should be so easily treatable. It is, as Havnen is the first to admit, a complex matter.

Cheryl Jones, president of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases, says the answer is better primary treatment solutions and education, rather than trying to solve the problem after it has ­occurred. “For any of these public health infectious disease problems in ­remote and rural areas, we need to support basic infrastructure at the point of care and work alongside communities to come up with ­solutions,” she says.

Sisters play in the mud after a rare rain at Hoppy's 'town camp' on the outskirts of Alice Springs.
Sisters play in the mud after a rare rain at Hoppy’s ‘town camp’ on the outskirts of Alice Springs.

Pat Turner, chief executive of peak body the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, is adamant about this. “These (STIs) are preventable diseases and we need increased testing, treatment plans and a ­culturally appropriate health ­education campaign that focuses resources on promoting safe-sex messages delivered to at-risk ­communities by our trained Aboriginal workforce,” Turner says.

The Australian Medical ­Association has called for the formation of a national Centre for Disease Control, focusing on global surveillance and most likely based in the north, as being “urgently needed to provide national leadership and to co-ordinate rapid and effective public health responses to manage communicable diseases and outbreaks”.

“The current approach to disease threats, and control of infectious diseases, relies on disjointed state and commonwealth formal structures, informal networks, collaborations, and the goodwill of public health and infectious disease physicians,” the association warned in a submission to the Turnbull government last year.

However, the federal health ­department has rebuffed the CDC argument, telling the association that “our current arrangements are effective” and warning the suggestion could introduce “considerable overlap and duplication with existing functions”.

“I think it (the CDC) might have some merit, if it helps to ­advocate with government about what needs to happen,” Havnen says, “but if these things are going to be targeted at Aboriginal bodies, it needs to be a genuine partnership. It’s got to be informed by the realities on the ground and what we know. That information has to be fed up into the planning process.”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #CloseTheGap Research @GregHuntMP and @KenWyattMP announces $6 million 3 year funding for Aboriginal led , only Academic Health Science Centre in Australia with a primary focus on #Aboriginal and #remote health

As the only Academic Health Science Centre in Australia with a primary focus on Aboriginal and remote health, we are pleased that Minister Hunt is leading on the front foot with an announcement such as this.

It’s especially pleasing that this is happening just as we are about to engage with a wide consultation between our members over health research priorities in Central Australia in the coming years—this three year commitment allows us to do this with confidence.

The Centre is already working in key areas such as endemic HTLV-1 infection, exploring the complex interplay between communicable and chronic disease as well as exploring the capacity of the primary health care sector to reduce avoidable hospitalisations,”

The Chairperson of the Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre [CA AHSC] John Paterson has welcomed the commitment over three years of significant research funding to the Centre by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

“Research projects that will be supported will emphasise those based on community need and initiative especially as expressed by the Aboriginal partner organisations, though this will not necessarily preclude externally identified needs. 

In any case, we will focus on comprehensive approaches to consultation and participation in the ethical design of research projects, the carriage of the research, and the rapid implementation of positive research results.

A key activity will be that of building future leaders in the Aboriginal research workforce. We have already started this critical work with the first meeting of a network of more than 15 Aboriginal researchers in Central Australia.”

A health research partnership benefitting Warumungu, Arrernte (Eastern), Pintupi, Pitjantjatjarra, Arrernte (Central), Yankunytjarra, Luritja, Arrernte (Western), Warlpiri, Anmatyere, Ngaanyatjarra, Kaytetye and Alyawarre speakers across Central Australia

Project website

Press Release : Medical research to uncover better treatment for Indigenous Australians

The Turnbull Government will invest more than $6 million in a health science centre in Alice Springs which is focused on addressing health challenges faced by Indigenous Australians.

The Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre will receive $6.1 million over three years from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

This funding will support better treatment and diagnosis of health challenges experienced by Indigenous Australians.

The Centre brings together top researchers, medical experts and local communities to look at ways to improve healthcare options for the specific health challenges facing Indigenous Australians.

The Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre is the first Aboriginal-led collaboration of its kind and demonstrates the importance of Aboriginal community leadership in research and health improvement.

See NACCHO Coverage of launch July 2017

Aboriginal Health #NAIDOC2017 : New Aboriginal-led collaboration has world-class focus on boosting remote Aboriginal health

These projects will directly benefit regional and remote Aboriginal communities and it is our hope that medical research will help in closing the gap on disadvantage.

The first priority project that will be supported through the Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre will be a study into addressing HTLV-1.

Additional areas that will be considered by the Centre include addressing research into ear and eye health, renal health and dialysis, children and maternity health in Indigenous communities.

Indigenous health is one of the Turnbull Government’s fundamental priorities and while progress has been made on some key indicators, with male and female life expectancy increasing and child mortality and smoking rates decreasing, more needs to be done.

Today I am also pleased to announce more than $740,000 of MRFF funding for University of Queensland researchers to undertake a world-first project, in collaboration with Aboriginal communities, to find ways to improve Aboriginal food security and dietary intake in cities and remote areas.

Poor diet and food insecurity are major contributors to the excess mortality and morbidity suffered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

The Turnbull Government is committed to improving the health services for Indigenous Australians and we will continue to invest in better treatment, care and medical research.

NACCHO Aboriginal #SexualHealth debate #CloseTheGap : Media reports ” Warning on sexually transmitted diseases ignored ” corrected by Minister

 ” Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion ignored a plea from a government MP more than a year ago to implement a $25 million policy to combat sexually transmitted diseases gripping Aboriginal communities, instead adopting a $9m program that remains stalled.

The Australian has obtained a letter penned by Liberal senator Dean Smith warning that the rise of STIs in indigenous communities was “disturbing” and urged Senator Scullion to take immediate action, describing the situation as “critical”.

See Minister Scullion’s  Correction part 2 below

 ” The Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, has confirmed that the surge response is not “stalled” as The Australian has claimed and is being rolled out in partnership with the States and Territories as well as Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.”

Front Page of the Australian this morning

“I’m sure you would agree that the increase in rates are disturbing and it’s critical that we tackle this challenge head on to ensure the problems do not escalate to a crisis point,” Senator Smith told Senator Scullion in December 2016.

When contacted yesterday about the letter, Senator Scullion shifted blame for the government’s inaction to Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt.

Senator Scullion’s spokesman told The Australian he passed Senator Smith’s letter on to the “health portfolio”.

The letter, addressed to Senator Scullion and copied to Mr Wyatt and former health minister Sussan Ley, outlined a ­detailed proposal drafted by ­experts James Ward and Frank Bowden, in consultation with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, to tackle a syphilis epidemic in ­indigenous communities.

Professor Ward yesterday confirmed he had meetings with Senator Scullion, Mr Wyatt and Health Minister Greg Hunt about his policy proposal. The Ward-Bowden policy was drafted following meetings with Ms Ley.

Six children have died from gestational syphilis since the epidemic emerged in north Queensland in 2011 and later spread to the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia.

The government sat on the $25m policy until last November when it agreed to adopt one third of it as part of an $8.8m plan to tackle the syphilis outbreak in central and northern Australia.

The two other elements of the proposed three-year program — to reduce HIV risks and broader STI risks in Aboriginal communities — were rejected.

Since announcing the watered-down policy, the government has failed to rollout the program ­despite bureaucrats holding meetings about its implementation since August, before its funding was signed off by Mr Wyatt.

Mr Wyatt said yesterday the rollout would begin in Cairns and Darwin in May. He said the syphilis outbreak was an “absolute ­priority” and had been targeted on a national basis since 2015 but more funding was needed because the states had not contained it.

“This is why the Chief Medical Officer is leading a nationally co-ordinated enhanced response to the outbreak in conjunction with states and territories who have the primary role for delivering sexual health services and dealing with infectious disease outbreaks,” Mr Wyatt said.

Professor Ward said adopting only a third of the policy would ­reduce its efficacy and cost the community more money to address the problem in the long term.

“We put it to them in December 2016 and they still haven’t rolled out any of it. I don’t mean to make any judgment about whether they are dragging their heels or not,” Professor Ward said.

Olga Havnen, chief executive of the Darwin-based Danila Dilba health service, said she was consulted on Professor Ward’s policy and expressed anger it had not been adopted in full.

“It is obscene, it is ridiculous. If you are going to tackle STIs then it would have made sense to do a comprehensive response,” she said. “This is a preventable disease and, I can tell you now, if this was happening in the major suburbs of Sydney or Melbourne there would have been ­urgent and immediate action.”

Retired Aboriginal magistrate Sue Gordon, who chaired the Howard government’s Northern Territory intervention taskforce, said it was about time state and federal governments took the issue seriously.

Labor indigenous senator Pat Dodson said: “The government has not taken the outbreak seriously enough and have not taken appropriate action to tackle the outbreak, otherwise we would not be in this situation.”

Part 2 **CORRECTION**

Minister for Indigenous Affairs
Senator the Hon. Nigel Scullion

Correction to incorrect reporting in The Australian newspaper

Thursday 15 March 2018
Today’s Australian article by Greg Brown, Sex disease warning ignored,  incorrectly states I ignored a letter by Senator Dean Smith in December 2016 regarding a plan to tackle increasing rates of Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs) in the Indigenous population.

This is grossly misleading and entirely incorrect. I did not ignore Senator Smith’s letter or the request contained in it but referred it to the Indigenous Health portfolio as the relevant and appropriate portfolio with responsibility for Indigenous Health issues. I responded to Senator Smith on this basis.

Notwithstanding that States and Territories have primary responsibility for delivering sexual health services and dealing with infectious disease outbreaks, the Minister for Indigenous Health announced a nationally coordinated surge response in November last year to address the rising rates of STIs in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

The Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, has confirmed that the surge response is not “stalled” as The Australian has claimed and is being rolled out in partnership with the States and Territories as well as Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

Questions about the status of the surge response or the proposal referred to in this article should be referred to the Department of Health, as is appropriate.

To suggest however that I ignored any warnings regarding the protection of human life is absolutely repugnant and appalling and I reject any such assertion unequivocally.

This is yet another example of ill-informed and incorrect reporting of Indigenous issues by The Australian newspaper.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Alert : Download The 2018 Closing the Gap report finds that for the first time since 2011, three out of the seven #ClosingtheGap targets are on track to be met

Closing the Gap aims to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) set targets aimed at eliminating the gap in outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The 2018 Closing the Gap report finds that for the first time since 2011, three out of the seven Closing the Gap targets are on track to be met.

Download the Report HERE

ctg-report-2018

Download the Executive Summary

NACCHO Executive summary 2018 Closing the Gap Report

Current Closing the Gap targets:

  • Close the gap in life expectancy within a generation (by 2031)
  • Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade (by 2018)
  • 95 percent of all Indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education (by 2025) – renewed target
  • Close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school attendance within five years (by 2018)
  • Halve the gap for Indigenous children in reading, writing and numeracy achievements within a decade (by 2018)
  • Halve the gap for Indigenous Australians aged 20-24 in Year 12 attainment or equivalent attainment rates (by 2020)
  • Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade (by 2018).

In 2018 four of the seven targets will expire. Commonwealth, state and territory governments have agreed to work together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, organisations, communities and families on a refreshed agenda and renewed targets.

It will be important to look at what has worked well over the last decade, and where more needs to be done. COAG leaders have welcomed a focus on a strength-based approach that supports Indigenous advancement. All levels of government will work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in genuine partnership to develop renewed targets that are measurable and meaningful.

A Taskforce has been established in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to progress this important work.

Any enquires about the process can be sent to ClosingtheGapRefresh@pmc.gov.au. Further details and opportunities to contribute to the process will be made available soon

The rich history of Australia’s First Peoples stretches back at least 65,000 years – and is celebrated as one of the longest living civilisations on earth.

It is a history based on the extraordinary strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their families and communities. This endurance of human life and caring for country is both profound and inspiring.

The cultural strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play a significant role in creating pathways for healing and addressing the trauma inflicted upon Australia’s First Peoples through past policies.

Over the past year we have spent time acknowledging significant moments in Australia’s modern history that brought us closer together as a nation:the 50th anniversary of the successful 1967 referendum and the 25th anniversary of the Mabo High Court decision.

The 1967 referendum and Mabo High Court decision were momentous occasions that followed Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians standing side by side – campaigning for recognition of what has always been true; that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have cared for this country for tens of thousands of years. That their songs have been sung since time out of mind and these songs have held and passed on the knowledge of customs and traditions for 65,000 years.

These anniversaries are humbling reminders that enduring reform and change only occur when we bring all Australians along; that the continued march of reconciliation in this country is not an inexorable one and requires the leadership and relentless pragmatism of those campaigners we honoured in 2017.

We have a unique opportunity in 2018 – a decade after Australia committed to a new framework called Closing the Gap – to reflect, and recommit and renew our collective efforts and focus on improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

As we look back on the 10 years that the Closing the Gap framework has been in place, there is much to celebrate.

  • Today, the annual growth rate of Supply Nation registered Indigenous businesses is an average of 12.5 per cent – the envy of all other sectors of the Australian economy.
  • Today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, on average, are living longer than ever before – and factors contributing to the gap such as death from circulatory disease (heart attack and stroke) are going down.
  • Today, around 14,700 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are enrolled in early childhood education the year before full-time school, and there have been improvements in literacy and numeracy.
  • And today, more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are staying in school through to Year 12. While closing the employment gap is challenging, we know educational attainment opens pathways to greater economic opportunity and can make an important difference in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This reflects the efforts of successive governments – but more importantly, the efforts of First Australians to reach their full potential and live lives that they value. Importantly, it is something we should all be proud of.

The Closing the Gap framework has provided the architecture for Commonwealth, state and territory governments to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a holistic way to improve outcomes.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, as well as governments, need to nurture honest, transparent, robust relationships based on mutual respect. It is a journey all Australians are walking.

Although much progress has been made, we know we have a continuing journey ahead of us to truly Close the Gap.  Like any great journey, we must ensure we continually review and realign our collective efforts based on what the data, the outcomes, and the people are telling us.

What is clear is we must continue to maintain a long-term vision of what success looks like, and importantly how success is defined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves.

In this 10th Closing the Gap report, the Australian Government commits to staying the course with our First Australians – and working to help deliver a prosperous future.

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP
Prime Minister of Australia

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #ClosingtheGap Smoking @KenWyattMP announces a $183.7 million 4 years funding commitment to Tackling Indigenous Smoking

The $183.7 million 4 years funding commitment builds on a previous three-year program and forms part of the government’s efforts to progress the Closing the Gap strategy, which is set for a “refresh” after years of disappointing results across education, employment and health

The sickening fact is that, despite considerable progress in recent years, smoking is still responsible for around one in five preventable deaths in Aboriginal people,

It also remains the leading cause of preventable disease, accounting for more than 12 per cent of the overall burden of illness in our Indigenous communities.

The revamped TIS program will:

  • Continue the successful Regional Tobacco Control grants scheme including school and community education, smoke-free homes and workplaces and quit groups
  •  Expand programs targeting pregnant women and remote area smokers
  •  Enhance the Indigenous quitline service
  •  Support local Indigenous leaders and cultural programs to reduce smoking
  •  Continue evaluation to monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of individual programs, including increased regional data collection

Ahead of the release of the latest Closing the Gap progress report, Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said a four-year “Tackling Indigenous Smoking” program will direct money to successful local initiatives to continue to drive down smoking rates.

Originally posted HERE

Read over 119 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Smoking articles published in the last 6 years

The Turnbull government has announced more than $180 million for programs to reduce the drastic rates of smoking among Indigenous Australians, with tobacco still a leading cause of death and illness in communities across the country.

The government’s Closing the Gap progress report will be published today, the week after a 10-year review by the Close the Gap campaign criticised the government for “effectively abandoning” the strategy with $530 million in funding cuts put in place under former prime minister Tony Abbott.

Lena-Jean Charles-Loffel, who leads a Victorian Aboriginal Health Service anti-smoking initiative, said the organisation relied on federal funding to deliver its programs.

As part of her work, every Friday at Yappera Children’s Services in Thornbury, Ms Charles Loffell leads sessions that include reading, games and an Aboriginal super hero called Deadly Dan to educate kids on the dangers of smoking.

“It’s important to target the younger generation because they are going to be our best smoke-free ambassadors not just because of the choices they can make when they are older but because they are having an influence on the people around them,” Ms Charles-Loffel said.

She said a recent focus group conducted by her organisation had found families in the local community had gone completely smoke-free because of the influence of their children spreading the word.

Mr Wyatt said the four-year timeframe of the funding allowed organisations to have stability and long-term planning and emphasised that, underneath the mixed national results on Closing the Gap targets, there were successful efforts.

“The challenge when you aggregate to national data is that that is lost. And I would hope that we turn our minds not to the gap but to the effective programs and improved outcomes and build on that,” he said.

Overall, the government’s anti-smoking funding seeks to support education programs, smoking during pregnancy, the especially high rates of smoking in remote areas, the Indigenous quitline service, and local Indigenous cultural programs.

The most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows Indigenous smoking rates have dropped an average 2.1 per cent annually since 2008, with particular reductions among young people. Smoking-related heart disease has fallen while lung cancer continues to rise.

This week, the Close the Gap campaign’s scathing review said the Closing the Gap strategy had only been “partially and incoherently” adopted since being established in 2008 and called for national leadership.

Visit the Tackling Indigenous Smoking portal on Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet to access resources to help you achieve smoke free workplaces,homes, cars and events:
 asite
For those individuals who are thinking of making a ‘give up smokes pledge’  there are several supports available, including:
·         Quitline – 13 78 48
ql-web-mqb-home-page-banner-v2
·         The QuitNow website: http://www.quitnow.gov.au/internet/quitnow/publishing.nsf/Content/home for other resources
·         Your Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and /or Tackling Indigenous Smoking regional team can provide you with smoking cessation support

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #ClosetheGap Media Alert : PM #ClosingTheGap Report Monday on track for disaster, with only one of seven targets to end #Indigenous disadvantage ?

 

” Malcolm Turnbull’s crucial 10th ­annual Closing the Gap report on Monday is on track for disaster, with only one of seven targets to end indigenous disadvantage set to be achieved amid questions about the program’s relevance.

Targets to close the gap on child mortality rates, early childhood education, school attendance, literacy, employment and life expectancy are either unlikely to or definitely will not be met, key data obtained by The Australian shows. As with last year’s report, only Year 12 attainment rates are on track to halve the gap for ­indigenous Australians aged 20-24 by 2020.”

From Todays Australian

Monday 12 Feb, the PM provides his #ClosingtheGap report to Parliament 11.00 am

 ” The 10-year review launched yesterday suggests the program’s health targets be retained but that they be “complemented by targets or reporting on the inputs to those health targets”, as well as calling for a specific increase in health ­infrastructure and spending, and for greater First Nations participation in decision-making.”

Download NACCHO Press Release and 40 Page report

The trends are contained in an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare assessment distributed to participants at a hastily called two-day summit bringing together prominent indigenous Australians in Canberra to consider a Closing the Gap “refresh”, including expanding the number of ­targets.

That summit ended in bitterness yesterday with a formal statement from the powerful four Northern Territory Land Councils denouncing it as peremptory and rushed. “Governments had 10 years to get it right,” the statement from the chairmen of the Northern Land Council, Central Land Council, Tiwi Land Council and Anindilyakwa Land Council said. “Ten years ago, they did not talk to us.

After 10 years of failure why are they rushing us now? Why don’t they give us time to consult our people and elected members properly about these life and death issues?”

The NLC and CLC will not hold their next executive meetings until June, by which time the government plans to have completed its refresh — leaving the two councils unable to present their proposals to their members.

The pushback came after a 10-year review of the Council of ­Australian Governments scheme found it had been marred by poor accountability and a lack of ­indigenous policy input, and was badly implemented from the ­beginning.

Malcolm Turnbull angered participants at the Parliament House launch of that study yesterday when he left to meet another commitment halfway through.

Labor indigenous affairs spokesman Patrick Dodson called the Prime Minister’s departure “indicative of the deafness, the absolute derision and the ­contempt which this government is meting out to the Aboriginal people”.

Reconciliation Australia co-chair Tom Calma, who launched the Close the Gap steering committee’s review after Mr Turnbull had gone, admitted the departure “wasn’t a surprise” but said it was “unfortunate he had to leave; it’s never a good look when we’ve all come together”. Further fire came with the revelation the government hopes to conduct 14 regional indigenous consultations in ­coming weeks as it pushes ahead with its refresh.

The regional process would mirror last year’s multi-million-dollar Referendum Council regional dialogues on indigenous constitutional recognition, whose results at Uluru were dismissed out of hand by Mr Turnbull.

Critics say the government could find it hard to encourage participants in the earlier process to show up for more of the same, having believed the resulting Uluru Statement from the Heart contained practical measures for improving indigenous outcomes — including its parliamentary ­advisory voice and treaty mechanism.

Kyllie Cripps, acting director at the University of NSW indigenous law centre, said the fact latest Closing the Gap figures closely mirrored last year’s was a case of governments “pretending they’re doing something when they’re not”.

“This has been a constant criticism of Closing the Gap reporting, because it’s a reduplicating of data that’s already out there,” Dr Cripps said. “It would easily cost $200,000 to produce the report each year, which is money that could be better put elsewhere, for instance a women’s refuge or other services.”

Referendum Council member and UNSW pro-vice chancellor Megan Davis described the report as “regulatory ritualism, pretending to fix something when you’re not”.

Bill Shorten said Mr Turnbull’s “disdainful attitude” towards the Uluru Statement was perpetuating the poor outcome. “The idea that you could paternalistically, in the Prime Minister’s office, make decisions on behalf of hundreds of thousands of Australians without them being involved in the ­decision-making, is just guaranteed (to not work),” the Opposition Leader said.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Socialdeterminants and #Aboriginality : “Papunya-Parramatta comparison ” Could GST changes channel more funding to #remote communities “

 ” More effort needed to be put into calculating “indigeneity and need together”.

“It’s a problem that has to be solved given that more than 50 per cent of indigenous Australians are disadvantaged and probably 30 per cent (of those) extremely disadvantaged — you can’t get rid of indigeneity as an indicator,But the question is how to refine it.

The category of Indigenous in terms of distributing the money has become meaningless — proportionally, the Aboriginal population is doing well on the east coast, and as a population is doing extremely badly in central Australia.”

The Papunya-Parramatta comparison was “a good argument”

Indigenous academic Marcia Langton 

FROM Todays The Australian

See previous NACCHO Press Release 8 January 2018

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Housing and #Socialdeterminants Debate : @NACCHOChair urges Federal Government to invest in remote housing

Changes to the definition of Aboriginality in distributing GST revenue to states and territories are being considered by the Productivity Commission, with a proposal to better prioritise the needs of especially disadvantaged remote communities that would dramatically rewrite a 30-year-old system.

The proposal is contained in a GST review submission by the Yothu Yindi Foundation, which declares “illiterate, welfare-­dependent families in Papunya clearly should rate higher than a double-income, university-­educated family living in their own home in Parramatta”.

The submission suggests that a steady rise in the number of people in the nation’s south identifying as Aboriginal has left the Northern Territory at a demographic disadvantage, with a ­“declining share of the national indigenous population” drawing money away from the “desperate need” in its remote areas.

As it currently stands, “indigeneity” is a factor that can attract more funding in the complex GST redistribution equations used by the Commonwealth Grants Commission.

The submission has the backing of former Liberal deputy leader and Aboriginal affairs minister Fred Chaney, indigenous academic Marcia Langton and others. Professor Langton said the submission, which will be part of a report presented to government in May addressing the horizontal fiscal equalisation regime that redistributes GST revenue to the states and territories, demonstrated more effort needed to be put into calculating “indigeneity and need together”.

“It’d be an outrage if I were to say ‘I’m indigenous (so) I’m disadvantaged’ — it’d be ridiculous. How can people disagree with that notion?”

The CGC determines each year how much state and territory spending is attributable to indigenous programs under six broad headings: schools, health, welfare, housing, justice and service to communities.

However, Professor Langton suggested alternative markers such as high household occupancy rates and chronic disease rates could be more practical than a simple “indigenous” category.

“The (GST) process was invented 30 years ago and for many years was a good system and made sense when all indigenous people were highly disadvantaged, but things have changed and the measurement tools are not keeping up with the changes,” she said.

“It could be something as ­simple as number of people per room — the average on discrete Aboriginal communities in the NT, of which there are 73, is eight or nine per room, which far exceeds the general Australian number, so you could have a number of very powerful indi­cators like that run together,” she said.

Mr Chaney, who served as Aboriginal affairs minister in the Fraser government, said that while it was a “perfectly legitimate and understandable trend” that the Aboriginal population was increasing nationally through self-identification and marriage rather than birth rate, the statistics did not differentiate sufficiently.

“It’s not a headcount matter, it’s much more a locational matter,” he said. “If the funds available are affected by numerical Aboriginal populations then there is a distortion around need.”

GST receipts are lowest in Western Australia, which will receive 34c for every dollar this year, while South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory will receive $1.44, $1.80 and $4.66 respectively.

A 2012 review, to coincide with that year’s census results, showed that indigeneity had historically been the biggest influence on GST distribution, for a total that year of $2360 million or 42 per cent of the total. A similar review will be presented within weeks based on last year’s results.

States and territories are not required, however, to spend the money they receive in line with the CGC’s findings.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Housing and #Socialdeterminants Debate : @NACCHOChair urges Federal Government to invest in remote housing

Closing the Gap in health disadvantage requires action on many fronts.

One of these is to improve living conditions for Indigenous people. Housing facilities needs to improve to raise Indigenous health outcomes.

I have been to many communities where the housing for Indigenous people is actually a driver of poor health and creates a cycle of disadvantage .

 Ministers from South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia have recently expressed concern that the Federal government will not renew the current Commonwealth State funding agreement for Indigenous Housing.

We call on the Federal government to invest in remote Indigenous housing.”

 Mr John Singer, Chairperson of NACCHO see in full Part 1 below

Picture above : The community of Mimili in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands, an Aboriginal local government area in northwest South Australia. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen

Download the NACCHO Press Release HERE

NACCHO URGES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO INVEST IN INDIGENOUS HOUSING 5 2018

 

 ” The Federal Coalition Government of Malcolm Turnbull has turned its back on the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing (NPARH) – leaving Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland facing a funding shortfall totalling hundreds of millions of dollars.

The pre-Christmas decision of Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion leaves some of Australia’s most vulnerable communities with dramatically reduced funding for housing and other essential services – creating an increased risk of marginalisation.

Notably, the decision flies in the face of the Commonwealth’s own review into remote housing and directly contravenes the ‘Closing the Gap’ report which clearly states that safe and appropriate housing is fundamental to achieving the COAG targets.

The Commonwealth had previously committed $776 million over two years to the NPARH but will now only fund the Northern Territory component of the agreement. Mr Scullion is a NT Senator. “

Download the WA QLD and SA press release or read in full Part 2 below

21 Dec Combined WA QLD SA Response to Aboriginal Housing CRISIS

”  Any decision to cut funding by the Turnbull government will contribute to an increase in chronic disease, and inevitably lead to poorer health outcomes, more indigenous deaths and widening of the gap between the general community and indigenous communities.

Safe and healthy housing is fundamental to the wellbeing of all Australians and contributes to providing shelter, privacy, safety and security, supports health and education, and has a significant impact on workforce participation.

Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Nigel Scullion must take immediate steps to ensure the continuation of funding for remote and indigenous housing. Failure to do so will be another example of a government that is out of touch and only concerned with their internal disputes and dysfunction.

Rather than $65 billion in tax cuts for big business and the banks, the Turnbull government should immediately commit to the recommendations in its own report and close the gap by continuing funding of the National Partnership on Remote Housing.”

Download Federal Labor Party press release or read in full part 3 below  

22 Dec Federal Labor Response to Aboriginal Housing CRISIS

We share the concern of state governments, the Close the Gap campaign and the National Congress of First Peoples at the recent cuts by the Australian Government to the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing’

The cut will see funding from the federal government drop from $776 million over two years to just $100 million, with that $100 million going only to the Northern Territory.

Our major concern is that overcrowded housing in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is the primary cause of rheumatic fever in Australia.

Indigenous Australians suffer from this completely preventable disease at 26 times the rate of non- Indigenous Australians. Australia is one of the few countries in the world where rheumatic fever is still a serious problem, and it’s a national disgrace.”

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association Strategic Programs Director Dr Chris Bourke

Full Press Release 22 Dec AHHA Response to Aboriginal Housing CRISIS

 ” Misleading and outrageous statements from Western Australian Labor Housing Minister Peter Tinley as well as South Australian Labor Housing Minister Zoe Bettison are undermining good faith negotiations between the Commonwealth and state governments about the future of remote housing.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said despite claims by the state Labor ministers, and despite the fact that housing still remains a state responsibility (last time we checked) no announcement or decision has been made by the Commonwealth Government to cease funding for remote housing.

“It is complete and utter nonsense to suggest that Commonwealth funding for housing is ceasing. This is a fiction created by certain Labor state ministers who are clearly trying to abrogate their own responsibility to their Indigenous housing tenants and it should be called out “

 Download Minister Nigel Scullion Press Release or read in full Part 4 Below

21 Dec Response from Minister Scullion Aboriginal Housung Crisis

Part 1 NACCHO press release 8 January 2018

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) which represents 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations across Australia today urged the Federal government to invest in remote Indigenous housing.

Mr John Singer, Chairperson of NACCHO said, “the recent review of the current agreement provided to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet highlights the key role of safe and effective housing for Indigenous health.

In fact, it makes this point in its very first sentence,” said John Singer. The review documents progress in the provision of Indigenous housing by the current funding agreement.

It stresses the need for funded long-term maintenance programs to sustain the gains made as well as further investment to address the continued need.

It also proposes ways to better monitor whether new funding is making a difference.

As acknowledged by the Turnbull government last month in their publication My Life, My Lead housing is just one well known and understood social cultural determinant factor along with education, employment, justice and income that impact on a person’s health and wellbeing at each stage of life.

“NACCHO believes that the evidence both in Australia and from international experts such as the UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples is very clear, that a lack of adequate and functional housing as well as overcrowding remains a significant impediment to improving all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. It is critical to fix this situation now,” said John Singer

Background 1 : My Life My Lead – Opportunities for strengthening approaches to the social determinants and cultural determinants of Indigenous health: Report on the national consultations December 2017, 2017 Commonwealth of Australia December 2017.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : @KenWyattMP #MyLifeMyLead Report: Tackling #SocialDeterminants and Strengthening Culture Key to Improving #Indigenous Health

 Background 2 : Housing Issues Background ( PMC Charts above )

SOURCE PMC

Housing is an important mediating factor for health and wellbeing. Functional housing encompasses basic services/facilities, infrastructure and habitability.

These factors combined enable households to carry out healthy living practices including waste removal; maintaining cleanliness through washing people, clothing and bedding; managing environmental risk factors such as electrical safety and temperature in the living environment; controlling air pollution for allergens; and preparing food safely (Bailie et al. 2006; Nganampa Health Council 1987; Department of Family and Community Services 2003).

Children who live in a dwelling that is badly deteriorated have been found to have poorer physical health outcomes and social and emotional wellbeing compared with those growing up in a dwelling in excellent condition (Dockery et al. 2013).

Comparisons between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) show improvements in housing can be expected to translate into gains for Indigenous children’s health, social and learning outcomes (Dockery et al. 2013).

As expected, housing variables are closely associated with socio­ economic status, including: crowding, renting rather than owning, and being in financial stress (see measures 2.01 and 2.08).

Infectious diseases are more common in households with poor housing conditions. For example, trachoma and acute rheumatic fever are present almost exclusively in the Indigenous population in remote areas (see measures 1.06 and 1.16). Domestic infrastructure, along with overcrowding and exposure to tobacco smoke increases the risk of otitis media in children (Jervis-Bardy et al. 2014) (see measures 1.15, 2.01 and 2.03).

Background 3  NPARIH/NPARH

  • The Commonwealth Government provided $5.4 billion over ten years to 2018 through the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing and the National Partnership for Remote Housing. This was a one-off National Partnership Agreement to assist states to undertake their own responsibilities for the delivery of housing to reduce overcrowding and increase housing amenity.
  • Expires 30 June 2018

Part 2 WA SA and QLD Govt : Commonwealth abandons indigenous Australia; axes remote housing deal

  • ​Federal Government’s decision will create a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars
  • States demand Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister reverse decision
  • McGowan Government calls on Federal WA Ministers, Julie Bishop, Christian Porter, Mathias Cormann and Michaelia Cash to exert influence in Turnbull Cabinet

The Federal Coalition Government of Malcolm Turnbull has turned its back on the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing (NPARH) – leaving Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland facing a funding shortfall totalling hundreds of millions of dollars.

The pre-Christmas decision of Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion leaves some of Australia’s most vulnerable communities with dramatically reduced funding for housing and other essential services – creating an increased risk of marginalisation.

Notably, the decision flies in the face of the Commonwealth’s own review into remote housing and directly contravenes the ‘Closing the Gap’ report which clearly states that safe and appropriate housing is fundamental to achieving the COAG targets.

The Commonwealth had previously committed $776 million over two years to the NPARH but will now only fund the Northern Territory component of the agreement. Mr Scullion is a NT Senator.

Housing Minister Peter Tinley has demanded senior figures in the Turnbull Cabinet from WA – notably Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, Attorney-General Christian Porter, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Jobs and Innovation Minister Michaelia Cash and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt, as well as WA’s Nationals Party, stand up for their State and get the decision reversed.

The original 10-year NPARH, brokered by the Federal Labor Rudd government, has seen an average annual Federal Government contribution of about $100 million to WA.

A recent expert panel review commissioned by the Federal Government acknowledged the Federal Government had an ongoing role as a key funding partner with the States and Territory for housing in remote communities.

Comments attributed to Housing Minister Peter Tinley:

“This latest decision, especially the way the Turnbull Government has tried to sneak it through during the festive season, is absolutely appalling and demonstrates its lack of concern for indigenous Australia.

“The Commonwealth has a responsibility to support Australians living in isolated and remote areas. They cannot just walk away from this duty of care.

“This situation is yet another test for those Western Australian MPs with senior positions in the Turnbull Cabinet who are habitually missing in action when it comes to protecting the interests of WA.

“Further, all Western Australian Nationals MPs, both State and Federal, need to stand up for regional WA and send a clear message to their Canberra colleagues that these cuts are unacceptable. WA Nationals leader Mia Davies must outline her position.

“I sincerely hope the Liberals and Nationals will step up their game and get this decision reversed.

“The McGowan Government inherited a financial disaster from the previous Liberal National Government that governed WA so incompetently for eight years.

“Because of that mess, there is no way we can afford to pick up a funding shortfall from the Commonwealth that will equate to hundreds of millions of dollars over the coming years.

“The Commonwealth has a responsibility to help fund essential services in remote communities and in doing so to protect an important element of our national cultural heritage.

“If Turnbull, Scullion and the rest of them fail to fulfil this fundamental duty they will be demonstrating to the entire nation, and to other countries around the globe, exactly how much they value Australia’s First People.”

Part 3 Federal Labour CUTTING REMOTE HOUSING FUNDING UNFAIR AND UNJUSTIFIED

Media reports and comments by the Western Australian Housing Minister Peter Tinley indicate that the Turnbull government is proposing massive cuts to the National Partnership on Remote Housing, which has replaced the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing and the Remote Housing Strategy (2008- 2018).

The reports indicate that the financial commitment by the Commonwealth will be reduced from $776 million to $100 million and will only be available to remote communities in the Northern Territory.

The Turnbull government must immediately clarify these reports and, if true, reconsider this cruel and outrageous cut to housing and homelessness funding in remote and indigenous communities.

In recognition of the serious problems in indigenous housing, $5.4 billion of funding has been invested since 2008 by Commonwealth governments in an attempt to close the gap in indigenous housing.

The Turnbull government’s own remote housing review demonstrated that this long term strategy had delivered over 11,500 more liveable homes in remote Australia, 4000 new houses, and 7500 refurbishments. This has resulted in a significant but necessary decrease in the proportion of overcrowded households.

The report also estimates that an additional 5500 homes are required by 2028 to reduce levels of overcrowding in remote areas to acceptable levels. The report shows that 1,100 properties are required in Queensland, 1,350 in Western Australia, and 300 in South Australia by 2028 to address overcrowding and meet population growth.

“If these reports are true, remote communities in Western Australia will continue to be overcrowded for the decade to come,” Senator Dodson said.

The report debunks the myth that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families cause the majority of damage to remote indigenous housing. The report shows that only nine percent of household damage is caused by tenants, with the majority of damage coming from lack of programmed maintenance and in 25 per cent of cases the cause is poor specifications or faulty workmanship in the original build.

Rather than cutting funding, the Turnbull government’s own report has concluded that capital plans should be set for a minimum five years. This is on the basis that government procurement practices would support small, emerging businesses, and provide greater opportunities for training and employment of local people.

Key recommendations to the government in the report include:

  • That there be a recurrent program funded to maintain existing houses, preserve functionality and increase the life of housing assets.
  • The costs of a remote Indigenous housing program to be shared 50:50 between the Commonwealth and the other jurisdictions.
  • Investment for an additional 5500 houses by 2028 is needed to continue efforts on closing the gap on indigenous disadvantage.
  • Additional recommendations include improved governance structures, increased transparency, the development of the local workforce, and tenancy education programs.

The report also found overcrowding and poor quality housing leads to poor health outcomes and makes it harder to manage chronic disease. In addition, the report indicates that indigenous communities experience high rates of infectious diseases.

As such, any decision to cut funding by the Turnbull government will contribute to an increase in chronic disease, and inevitably lead to poorer health outcomes, more indigenous deaths and widening of the gap between the general community and indigenous communities.

Safe and healthy housing is fundamental to the wellbeing of all Australians and contributes to providing shelter, privacy, safety and security, supports health and education, and has a significant impact on workforce participation.

Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Nigel Scullion must take immediate steps to ensure the continuation of funding for remote and indigenous housing. Failure to do so will beanother example of a government that is out of touch and only concerned with their internal disputes and dysfunction.

Rather than $65 billion in tax cuts for big business and the banks, the Turnbull government should immediately commit to the recommendations in its own report and close the gap by continuing funding of the National Partnership on Remote Housing.

Part 4 Minister Scullion More Labor lies on remote housing

Thursday 21 December 2017
Misleading and outrageous statements from Western Australian Labor Housing Minister Peter Tinley as well as South Australian Labor Housing Minister Zoe Bettison are undermining good faith negotiations between the Commonwealth and state governments about the future of remote housing.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said despite claims by the state Labor ministers, and despite the fact that housing still remains a state responsibility (last time we checked) no announcement or decision has been made by the Commonwealth Government to cease funding for remote housing.

“It is complete and utter nonsense to suggest that Commonwealth funding for housing is ceasing. This is a fiction created by certain Labor state ministers who are clearly trying to abrogate their own responsibility to their Indigenous housing tenants and it should be called out for what this is,” Minister Scullion said today.

“In fact, the Commonwealth commenced discussions with Western Australian Government officials only yesterday about a future funding contribution to remote Indigenous housing – clearly the hapless Peter Tinley is unaware of what his own department is doing.

“It is disappointing that after the first day of discussion, this incompetent Minister has decided to play politics rather than work cooperatively on future funding arrangements.

“The Commonwealth already supports public housing, which is a state and territory responsibility, to the tune of $6 billion per year including $1.5 billion per annum in direct payments to states and around $4.5bn per annum through Commonwealth rent assistance.

“The states should prioritise some of the social housing funding for remote Indigenous residents. Why is there one standard for Indigenous residents and another for non-Indigenous residents?

“The National Partnership on Remote Housing was always scheduled to cease on 30 June 2018. Under the NPARH the Commonwealth paid the states $5.4 billion to reduce overcrowding yet they abjectly failed to achieve this – this is why we are once again in negotiation with the states.

“But the Commonwealth does not believe that the Western Australian Government should not take it’s responsibility for housing in Indigenous communities just like it does for housing of every other citizen in its state.

“Why is there one approach for Indigenous citizens and another for every other community?”

In contrast, the Northern Territory Government has taken responsibility and committed ongoing funding to remote Indigenous housing. That commitment, and the severe overcrowding in the Northern Territory, has meant the Commonwealth has been able to offer longer term funding.

Instead of playing politics with ‘indigenous Australia’, Peter Tinley and Zoe Bettison should take the time to work constructively with the Commonwealth on future funding arrangements.

Background on NPARIH/NPARH

  • The Commonwealth Government provided $5.4 billion over ten years to 2018 through the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing and the National Partnership for Remote Housing. This was a one-off National Partnership Agreement to assist states to undertake their own responsibilities for the delivery of housing to reduce overcrowding and increase housing amenity.