NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Australians urged to get vaccinated

feature tile text 'First Australians urged to protect themselves, family & community by getting vaccinated' - image of COVID-19 vaccine vials

First Australians urged to get vaccinated

This week marks the second phase of the national COVID-19 vaccine rollout which is targeting over six million higher-risk Australians. NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner say last week on ABC The Drum that “While the focus remains on those at highest risk – people over 55 or with chronic medical conditions – ACCHOs can also vaccinate family members and household members of those at high risk. A remote vaccine working group is considering a whole of community strategy – including all non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the community.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney MP and Professor Tom Calma AO made time this morning to attend Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Minister Wyatt said “We have done a remarkable job so far in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, we cannot now become complacent. Vaccines are an important tool in our strategy and I urge all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to come forward and get vaccinated when they are able to. It will help protect themselves, their family and their community.”

To view the Minister Ken Wyatt’s media release click here and to read a transcript of Linda Burney’s doorstop interview click here.

Ken Wyatt, Linda Burney & Tom Calma in waiting room at WNAHS ACT to receive vaccine 24.3.21

Ken Wyatt, Linda Burney and Tom Calma were among Indigenous leaders to receive their first vaccine dose in Canberra this morning at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service.

ACCHO’s first vaccine day incredibly successful

The first words from the first Aboriginal elder in Campbelltown to get his COVID-19 vaccine on Monday this week were those of love and gratitude for his people and those who kept them safe during the pandemic. “I love you, I love the work you do, and the people you serve,” elder Uncle Ivan Wellington told Darryl Wright, the chief executive of the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation and the staff of its Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) after he got the jab.

During the pandemic, the first priority at Tharawal was protecting elders. Tharawal health workers visited homes to deliver flu shots and do health checks, telephoned frequently and arranged for deliveries of food and vegetables. “If we lose our elders, we lose our entire library [of knowledge],” said Leonie Murdoch, 62, who was also vaccinated on Monday.

Dr Heather McKenzie, who is coordinating the vaccine roll-out at Tharawal, was excited about getting her injection because it would protect the community she serves. To prepare people before today’s injections Dr McKenzie had run a Q and A session about what to expect. Despite that, some were nervous, including Uncle Ivan who had heard about the rare blood clots experienced by some people. But Ms Murdoch reassured him, “They can treat that [blood clots], but they can’t treat COVID.”

When the medical service texted the community offering the first round of vaccinations on Monday, it was inundated. Every appointment was taken within 10 minutes, Mr Wright said. Dr Tim Senior, a doctor with Tharawal’s AMS, said nearly all the service’s 5,000 patients would qualify to be vaccinated during this phase because of problems with chronic disease and other health issues. “It would be a struggle to find people who aren’t eligible under 1B,” he said.

To view the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald click here.

Tharawal elder Uncle Ivan Wellington receives his first AstraZeneca vaccine from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation GP Heather MacKenzie

Tharawal elder Uncle Ivan Wellington receives his first AstraZeneca vaccine from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation GP Heather MacKenzie. Photograph: Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: The Guardian.

The Guardian also reported on the second phase of Australia’s vaccine rollout. It said Aboriginal community health services across Australia have overcome major challenges including floods and wild weather to deliver their first Covid-19 vaccines to Aboriginal elders. “Our elders are our leaders and during the pandemic they continue to show us the way forward by proudly getting vaccinated first,” Dr Heather Mackenzie, from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the highest rate of immunisation among the Australian population, according to NACCHO medical advisor, Dr Jason Agostino, who said “The Aboriginal health sector is extremely equipped in delivering large-scale immunisation programs and has been working hard to support communities during the pandemic.”

To view The Guardian’s article Aboriginal health sector overcoming major challenges to deliver first Covid vaccine jabs click here.

photo of Cecil Phillips, 63, receiving AstaZeneca vaccine by registered nurse, Sam Parimalanathan at AMS Redfern

‘I didn’t even feel it,’ says Cecil Phillips, 62, receiving his AstraZeneca vaccination by registered nurse, Sam Parimalanathan, at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photograph: Isabella Moore. Image source: The Guardian.

Community-based COVID-19 responses among best

The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the start of the 1b phase of the COVID vaccination rollout to older people and other vulnerable groups, urging the importance of the need for community patience and two-way communication between health authorities and consumers. The success of Australia’s response so far in keeping the spread of COVID to relatively low levels should not make us complacent about the priority of prompt vaccination of all Australians in the interests of our health and of the economy.

It is vital that people get the facts about the vaccine and the rollout from authoritative and readily accessible sources, including government websites and their GPs who, from this week, will be scaling up vaccination availability. The CHF CEO, Leanne Wells, said “A convincing example of just how effective community-based responses can be, has been the success in countering pandemic infections achieved by the member groups of NACCHO. The 107 NACCHO groups achieved among the best results in preventing COVID compared to similar entities anywhere in the world and that was because of the strong community engagement and leadership.”

To view the CHF’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal flag with COVID-19 virus cell shooting across image with flames coming from it

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

COVID-19 information for Victoria’s mob

The Victorian Government has developed a very useful COVID-19 information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities webpage.

The site says there are a couple of reasons why, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the risk of COVID-19 transmission is higher and it can cause more severe symptoms. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50 years, or who have a pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes, asthma, heart and lung conditions, or immune problems, are at higher risk of developing a severe illness associated with COVID-19. Younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can also get COVID-19 and infect family, friends and elders. As a lot of mob often live under the same roof, it’s also harder to practise physical distancing and isolation, which increases the risk of spreading the disease within the community.

The webpage says that in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Victoria, we must all do our part. We know it’s tough, but together we can keep our families, mob and ourselves safe, strong and well. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community sector partners are working closely with government to coordinate response plans and ensure communities have the necessary information, resources and support they need.

close up photo of face of Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe wearing cap with the word 'Deadly' & black face mask, blurred image of crowd in the background

Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe. Image source: BBC News.

Updated health check templates survey

The Commonwealth Department of Health has endorsed recently updated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health check templates developed in a partnership between NACCHO and the RACGP.

The NACCHO-RACGP Partnership Project Team is keen to hear your feedback on the templates by:

  • participating in this 10 minute survey open until 1 April 2021
  • expressing interest to be one of 10 primary healthcare teams testing the templates between 12 April and 11 June 2021 by contacting the Team at

Your feedback will support the team to understand what it takes to get these health check templates into practice and what other innovations can support quality health checks and primary healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Aboriginal Health Worker smiling at Aboriginal man lying on examination bed in a clinic

Image source: NT PHN & Rural Workforce Agency NT webpage.

Remote PHC Manuals update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals review process in underway. Monthly updates will be available to health services and other organisations to provide updates on the review process.

What’s new: new Acute Assessment Protocols are being developed to guide practitioners to assess emergencies and guide differential diagnoses.

Coming up next: Expert Advisory Groups have been working to update protocols.

This flyer provides further information about the RPHCM project, including what you need to do to become a reviewer or provide feedback on the new manuals.Remote Primary Health Care Manaulas (RPHCM) logo - Aboriginal painting, path, footprints, blue green pink purple petal flower and horseshoe shapes x 5

Aboriginal-led ways to foster mental health

A report Balit Durn Durn – strong brain, mind, intellect and sense of self: report to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System was developed by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VAACHO) to support the final report for the Royal Commission into Victoria’s (Vic) Mental Health System. The report outlines five Aboriginal-led ways to build strength, resilience, connectedness and identity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to create essential pathways for fostering positive mental health and wellbeing.

The report aims to provide an overview of Aboriginal communities’ experience with the current mental health system and offers innovative solutions that have the potential to dramatically transform the Victorian mental health system to better meet the needs of Aboriginal communities.

To view the report click here.cover of VACCHO Balit Durn Durn Storng brain, mind, intellect & sense of self Report to the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System report

What ‘healing’ means

The Healing Foundation has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Queensland to co-design and develop the state’s first healing strategy. The Dreaming big process identified community issues and themes by the number of times keywords were mentioned in surveys and yarning circles.

The report outlines what over 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 80 different cultural groups in over 50 locations in Queensland, said when asked what healing means and what happy and strong feels like. The aim being to help transcend the divide between deficit-based solutions and strength-based outcomes.

To view the report Dreaming big – voices we heard: informing the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing strategy click here.cover of Healing Foundation Dreaming big Voices we hear informaing the Qld A&TSI Healing Strategy October 2020

Healthier smiles in Loddon Mallee

Minister for Health Martin Foley says the Andrews Labor Government is ensuring Aboriginal children in the Loddon Mallee region have strong and healthy teeth. “The $360,000 Loddon Mallee Fluoride Varnish program will help protect 600 Aboriginal children in schools, Aboriginal-specific early years services and Aboriginal childcare organisations at heightened risk of tooth decay. Fluoride varnish applications reduce tooth decay in young children by 37% by providing a protective covering. The varnish also prevents an existing tooth decay from progressing further. The preventive oral health program provides including twice-yearly fluoride varnish applications, oral health promotion and free tooth packs to Aboriginal children across the Loddon Mallee region. The expanded program builds on a successful pilot in 2018/20, which reached 200 Aboriginal children aged up to 18 across the region.”

To view the Victoria State Government media release click here and to view a related article Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative to deliver Fluoride Varnish program click here.

close up photo of gloved dentist's hands inspecting teeth of an open mouth

Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

Proposed NT youth justice changes flawed

Australia’s only national First Nations-led justice coalition has warned that the NT Gunner Government’s proposed youth justice reforms will see the number of Aboriginal children behind bars skyrocket. The reforms are highly punitive and will disproportionately drive Aboriginal kids into police and prison cells. Change the Record has highlighted that the proposed law changes fly in the face of the Royal Commission recommendations to invest in supporting children outside of the criminal justice system and move away from the ‘tough on crime’ policies that have been proven to fail. Change the Record, Co-Chair Cheryl Axleby said “If the NT Government goes ahead with these youth justice reforms it will take the Northern Territory back to the dark days before the Royal Commission when Don Dale was full of Aboriginal children being subjected to the most  horrendous abuse.”

The NT Council of Social Service and Amnesty International Australia have also expressed concerns about the proposed changes to the NT’s youth justice system. “This is a callous, racist legislative crackdown in search of a problem,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Advocate, Rodney Dillon, said. “Chief Minister Gunner has picked up the Royal Commission report and thrown it in the bin. Let’s be clear: no one wants youth crime. But cracking down on Indigenous kids – because all the kids in the NT justice system are Indigenous – who have complex needs, by throwing them in jail fixes nothing. What it does is condemn young kids to the quicksand of the youth justice system, and it entrenches recidivism, which is what all the politicians say they want to address,” Dillon said.

You can view the Change the Record media release here, the NTCOSS media release here and the Amnesty International Australia media release here.

painting of 7 Aboriginal youth with text 'free our future'

Image source: Change the Record website.

NSW – Sydney – The University of Sydney

Research Assistant (Identified) x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Sydney

The Centre for Kidney Research are seeking a Research Assistant (Identified) to work on a project alongside a team of researchers and educators. This project aims to develop clinical practice guidelines on the management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the management of kidney stones.

You will join the project at an interesting stage and will be responsible for actively contributing to research activities for the project including, building relationships and engaging with Aboriginal people and communities to ensure that the clinical guidelines are incorporating community needs and promoting awareness of the guidelines to improve the management and prevention of kidney disease.

To view position description and to apply click here. Applications close midnight Monday 5 April 2021.

vector image of kidneys, one sliced showing kidney stones

Image source: Kettering Health Network.

Purple Day

Purple Day (Friday 26 March 2021) is a global initiative dedicated to raising epilepsy awareness. Purple Day was founded in 2008, by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada. Motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy, Cassidy started Purple Day to get people talking about the condition and to let those impacted by seizures know that they are not alone. She named the day, Purple Day after the internationally recognised colour for epilepsy, lavender.

Purple Day has grown into a well-known and supported national awareness day with thousands of people across Australia gathering within their community, education and corporate sectors to raise much needed awareness and funds for those affected by epilepsy. You can access epilepsy information for Indigenous communities here.World epilepsy day. Purple ribbon on bright dark violet background. Epilepsy solidarity symbol. Vector illustration

NACCHO International #CoronaVirus News Alert No 37 : Based on the @UN4Indigenous Declaration of Indigenous Peoples Rights and on @WHO messages, The @FAOIndigenous Peoples Unit makes 12 #COVID_19 recommendations:

Indigenous peoples live in both urban and rural locals and account today for over 476 million individuals spread across 90 countries in the world, accounting for 6.2% of the global population.

Nonetheless, our communities are nearly 3 times as likely to be living in extreme poverty, and thus more prone to infectious diseases.

Many indigenous communities are already suffering from malnutrition and immune-suppressive conditions, which can increase susceptibility to infectious diseases.

The extent of the devastating nature and potential of COVID-19 is uncertain.

 Member States must protect the most vulnerable in our global society.

I urge you to take immediate steps to ensure that indigenous peoples are informed, protected and prioritized during the COVID-19 global health pandemic.”


Read Download full press release HERE.


 ” The global reach of the COVID-19 virus affects us all, but some groups will suffer disproportionately and in different ways. Indigenous peoples are such a group.

Many indigenous peoples live in remote regions difficult to access and often inaccessible.

Even prior to this crisis, they experienced higher rates of health risks, poorer health and greater unmet needs in respect of health care than their non-indigenous counterparts. Indigenous peoples were already disadvantaged in terms of access to quality health care and were more vulnerable to numerous health problems, in particular pandemics.

The social determinants of health, such as safe drinking water and a sufficient, balanced diet, and sanitation were not fulfilled before this crisis.

Moreover, the expropriation of indigenous lands and natural resources and the increase in conflicts on their territories were already placing indigenous peoples in a particularly precarious situation ” 

See how NACCHO protects our mob Corona Virus Home Page

Read all 37 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Coronas Virus Alerts HERE

Read more see part 2 below 

For example see this recent report 

The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic could have serious effects on indigenous peoples’ wellbeing, livelihoods and health.

FAO urges governments, academia, NGOs, international community and indigenous peoples authorities to take specific measures that ensure the respect to indigenous peoples’ rights during the pandemic and that includes an intercultural approach when dealing with the emergency, safety and health aspects of the response.

Based on the UN Declaration of Indigenous Peoples Rights and on WHO messages, The FAO Indigenous Peoples Unit makes the following recommendations:

  1. Under the right of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination, FAO encourages Governments to include indigenous peoples’ representatives, leaders and traditional authorities in emergency and health response committees or any entity dedicated to the COVID 19 pandemic, both during the outbreak as well as in the aftermath.
  2. FAO urges the global, regional and national health instances to provide contention information and audiovisual materials to indigenous peoples and to support their translation and dissemination in indigenous languages.
  3. Local indigenous communities often do not have full command of mainstream languages. To avoid communication breakdowns that will spread the disease, all main hygiene, quarantine and contention messages should be shared with the traditional leaders and youth leaders and translated into local indigenous languages.
  4.  Involve indigenous youth in the dissemination of COVID-19 messages within the communities both in mainstream languages as well as in local indigenous languages, their command of social media makes them a fundamental player in this situation.
  5. FAO urges health entities to include in their response an intercultural approach that takes into consideration traditional indigenous health care takers, training them in all the relevant contention measures and use of equipment to stop the spreading of the virus.
  6. FAO requests Governments and health organizations to include indigenous peoples´ communities among the receivers of contention material such as masks, gloves, disinfectant and other contention materials.
  7.  FAO urges Governments to include indigenous peoples in their countries as recipients of health assistance like any other citizen of the country, including them among the population share that is tested for possible positive COVID-19 cases.
  8. FAO calls to not implement any policy, programme or intervention that affects indigenous peoples without obtaining previously their Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
  9.  The right of Indigenous Peoples to be or remain in Voluntary Isolation must be respected
  10. Several Indigenous Peoples communities have self-imposed quarantine and have established controls to limit access to their communities. These mechanisms should be respected and reinforced whenever requested.
  11. FAO urges Governments to intensify protection measures to stop external farmers, settlers, private firms, industries and miners from entering indigenous peoples´ territories taking advantage of the present crisis.
  12. FAO has always been urging governments to stop any planned or ongoing evictions of indigenous peoples. Its call is renewed and heightened given the context of the health emergency for COVID-19.

FAO is in contact with indigenous organizations to provide assistance by sharing information about prevention and contention of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FAO Indigenous Peoples Unit is ready to assist countries in their efforts to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on indigenous peoples and to support the implementation of measures that previously discussed and agreed with indigenous peoples.

Part 2 Continued

The spread of COVID -19 has and will continue to exacerbate an already critical situation for many indigenous peoples: a situation where inequalities and discrimination already abound.

The rise in national recessions and the real possibility of a world depression are set to aggravate the situation further, bringing fear that many indigenous peoples will die, not only from the virus itself but also from conflicts and violence, linked to the scarcity of resources, especially drinking water and food.

Yet there is still time to limit this health crisis and its disastrous effects. Urgent action has demonstrated that appropriate measures taken early on in the crisis can drastically reduce and control the transmission of this disease.

We call on all States to fulfil their human rights obligations, guided by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to protect the health and lives of indigenous peoples. In following WHO advice, we urge you to ensure that indigenous peoples become your partners in this endeavour, and that you provide culturally acceptable healthcare, as well as food or other humanitarian relief, when necessary, and without discrimination.

States should acknowledge and accommodate the cultural, spiritual, and religious rights and responsibilities of indigenous peoples when considering measures to respond to the virus. As with the adoption of any measures that may affect indigenous peoples, their free, prior and informed consent, grounded in the right to self-determination, should be sought.

Many indigenous peoples are invisible in our societies but they should not be forgotten, they may even warrant special attention. Indigenous peoples in refugee or internally displaced camps, detention centres or institutions, migrants in administrative settings, have a higher risk of contracting the disease. For older indigenous persons this virus may be fatal, and indigenous migrants and individuals in urban areas, are often already living in precarious environments.

Probably the most vulnerable of indigenous peoples are those living in voluntary isolation or initial contact given their particular vulnerability to disease. It is imperative that sanitary cordons preventing outsiders from entering their territories are strictly controlled to avoid any contact.

In order to limit the spread of Covid-19, several communities of indigenous peoples have taken the initiative to put in place containment measures and controls at the entrance to their territories. We welcome these initiatives and call on States to respect and support them.

All indigenous peoples will require timely and accurate information on all aspects of the pandemic, in their indigenous languages, and in culturally sensitive formats.

The requirement to remain in quarantine will also require measures taken by the State, in partnership with indigenous peoples, to control entry by non-indigenous peoples or non-essential health care workers onto indigenous land. Such measures should also mitigate against encroachment upon indigenous land by opportunists, or invaders such as illegal loggers and miners.

We also urge States to make a firm commitment to avoid: removal of indigenous peoples from their lands; diminishing indigenous lands; and using indigenous lands for military activity, especially for the duration of this pandemic. In short, territorial protection will be a vital component of States’ efforts to protect indigenous peoples from the spread of the disease and contribute to their recovery after this crisis.

We advise all States and UN agencies to take on board our advice herein, guided by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as guidance provided by the OHCHR

(, and FAO (


The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) is a subsidiary body of the Human Rights Council mandated to provide the Council with expertise and advice on the rights of indigenous peoples as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and assist Member States, upon request, in achieving the ends of the Declaration through the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the rights of indigenous peoples.
For further information see the following


NACCHO Aboriginal Health #IYIL2019 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Minister @KenWyattMP Speech Geneva : To us the Declaration reflects economic, social, cultural and political rights that should guide our policies intended to deliver change


” Kaya wangju – hello and welcome in my language, the Noongar language.

To celebrate the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, I commenced in the language of my ancestors. I am Ken Wyatt, Australia’s first Indigenous member of the Australian cabinet and Minister for Indigenous Australians.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to address the Human Rights Council in this session.

There is power in telling the truth.

In Australia, we are starting a national conversation about truth telling around the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

To me, truth-telling is not a contest of history, but an acknowledgement of what has been, and sharing what was seen.

So let me start here by talking truth with you.” 

Minister Ken Wyatt’s Dignitary address to the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council 18 September : Read full speech part 1 below

“ Language is more than a mere tool for communicating with other people. People simply don’t speak words. We connect, teach and exchange ideals. Indigenous languages allows each of us to express our unique perspective on the world we live in and with the people in which we share it with.

Unique words and expressions within language, even absence of, or taboos on certain words, provide invaluable insight to the culture and values each of us speaks.

Our Language empowers us.

It is a fundamental right to speak your own language, and to use it to express your identity, your culture and your history. For Indigenous people it lets us communicate our philosophies and our rights as they are within us, our choices and have been for our people for milleniums “

Minister Ken Wyatt sharing Australia’s story on preserving and revitalising #IndigenousLanguages at @UNHumanRights Council yesterday @IYIL2019

Part 1

It’s been 10 years since Australia joined the global community to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The truth is… Australia did not support the Declaration when it was first introduced. Over two years we considered the implications, and like other countries, we are still on the journey of what the Declaration means to us.

To us the Declaration reflects economic, social, cultural and political rights. Rights that should guide our policies intended to deliver change that is sustainable and embraces Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their culture.

Although we have already started walking our journey to change the way we protect and uphold the rights of Indigenous people, we know healing won’t actually start until we recognise and acknowledge where our country began. To this end we have set ourselves a goal to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first peoples of Australia.

This is too important to rush, and too important to get wrong.

As everyone here would know, the declaration itself was the product of almost 25 years of deliberation between UN member states and the Indigenous groups.

To achieve our goal we must focus on rediscovering our differences, our incredible history and culture, and integrating traditional knowledge and systems in our current way of life.

We acknowledge that our long struggle to recognise and realise traditional Indigenous systems has been made more difficult by the truth that we have interpreted that connection long ago.

This is a terrible and hard fact to face. We cannot change it. But we are trying hard to heal and to reconnect.

To achieve our goals it’s vital we have unity in our solution. This demands all voices should be heard respectfully. It requires us to solve the problem together … to ‘co-design’.

Soon we will be talking to our elders and communities about what co-design looks like.

The truth is we have problems and some are serious problems. High rates of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and high rates of suicide, particularly of young Indigenous Australians are just two of these problems.

But … we are working to change the statistics.

Australians pride themselves on being honest, hard-working and loyal people. We know we must all contribute to enjoy better outcomes for all of us.

All of Australia’s governments have partnered to work with Indigenous people and communities to develop solutions to our problems jointly.

Our Closing the Gap framework, focuses on community safety, education and employment as enablers for better futures. By addressing the underlying issues we hope to reduce the unacceptably high rates of suicide and incarceration.

Economic rights are also at the heart of our strategies. Our strategies covering demand and supply are designed to cultivate growth and sustainability.

We are offering targeted funding support and levering our own government spending to drive demand for Indigenous goods and services, and consequently drive business growth and create jobs.

For example, the Australian Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy commenced four years ago. In this time over 16,280 contracts, worth more than $2.47 billion, have been awarded to 1,780 Indigenous businesses across a variety of industries and sectors.

On the supply side we’re nurturing the Indigenous corporate sector through a 10-year plan to improve access to business and financial support.

We also recognise the additional struggles Indigenous women can face in setting up businesses. To address this we have provided culturally-safe spaces for women to seek business support and we’ve funded the first Indigenous Women in Business conference.

Economic participation is just one element of the declaration.

Australia’s truth is that while our Indigenous culture and systems are one of the most ancient, sophisticated and complex in the world, they are also evolving, blending our Australian nations together in a peaceful but challenging journey. Similar to our journey towards realising the Declaration.

There is no doubt we are a nation with a lot of challenges to address and we anticipate new ones as globalisation shifts us further into the new community paradigms. We are headed in the right direction … but we are cautious not to run before we have first learned to walk.

We are on that journey and walking together.

We embrace the opportunity to be part of this global community here and we hope you will walk with us to achieve long and lasting change for the better for both Indigenous and non Indigenous Australians but the First Nations of the World.

Thank you Mr President.

Part 2 Panel discussion on Indigenous languages

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

Australia welcomes the International Year of Indigenous Languages and the focus this past year has brought to the importance of Indigenous languages.

Those present at this session today would be aware of the statistics about Indigenous languages:

  • 96 per cent of the world’s 6,700 languages are spoken by only three per cent of the world’s population.
  • Indigenous people comprise less than six per cent of the global population, but speak more than 4,000 of the world’s languages.

Language is more than a mere tool for communicating with other people. People simply don’t speak words. We connect, teach and exchange ideals. Indigenous languages allows each of us to express our unique perspective on the world we live in and with the people in which we share it with.

Unique words and expressions within language, even absence of, or taboos on certain words, provide invaluable insight to the culture and values each of us speaks.

Our Language empowers us.

It is a fundamental right to speak your own language, and to use it to express your identity, your culture and your history. For Indigenous people it lets us communicate our philosophies and our rights as they are within us, our choices and have been for our people for milleniums.

It is in the everyday lives of people who are speaking their own language that a difference can be felt.

In Australia, we are investing in maintaining the knowledge of languages being spoken today, and preserving this resource for younger people, as one way for future generations to connect with their identity, culture and heritage.

We have around 250 original Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Sadly only about half of these are still spoken today. Even more upsetting is that of these, only 13 are considered strong. This places Australia as one of the world’s most top five hot spots for endangered languages.

To address this we are partnering with Indigenous Australians to revitalise languages that are in danger.

We recognise that cultural authority, community control and engagement are paramount to preserving and revitalising Australia’s first languages. This is why the Australian Government insists that it’s first people, our Indigenous voices, that are heard when we develop policies, programs and services around Indigenous languages.

To support this work we are undertaking a comprehensive survey to inform us on the current state of proficiency and frequency and use of languages.

We are also keeping language alive, vibrant and accessible.

Australia has over 20 Indigenous community-led language and arts centres. These centres contribute to strong cultural identities, and community-driven wellbeing activities.

At the national level we are using modern technology streaming platforms to provide a range of content in language — from children’s stories and cartoons to oral histories and news articles.

IndigiTUBE, which has received Commonwealth funding, is such a platform. It is becoming a repository for this content as well as music videos, documentaries and comedy routines.

We encourage Indigenous community radio stations around the country to share the content, and all Australians to access it at home or through the web. Imperatives of incorporating language into government services is a priority.

As we say in Noongar:

“Ngyung moort ngarla moort, ngyung boodja ngarla boodja”

My people our people, my country our country.

At all levels, on all platforms we should be making our languages heard and kept. While we acknowledge that much has been lost, it is not too late to preserve and use Indigenous language – which I hope is the outcome of the International Year.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Cancer #Smoking : Report from Canada where 400 delegates are meeting at #WICC2019 with theme ‘Respect, Reconciliation and Reciprocity “ discussing cancer and its impact on Indigenous peoples.

“Cancer has been largely overlooked amongst Indigenous populations world-wide and remains the second leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people “

Professor Gail Garvey, who convened the first WICC and is co-chair of WICC 2019 :Pictured above with Professor Tom Calma and Blackfoot Fancy Feather Dancer Kyle Agapi.

“Smoking is the single biggest contributor to early deaths, including cancer deaths, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – which is why it is so important that we encourage people not to take up smoking and assist smokers to stop “

Professor Tom Calma AO, National Coordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking, and member of the Cancer Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Leadership Group

Read over 80 Aboriginal Health and Cancer articles published by NACCHO in past 7 years

Read over 130 Aboriginal Health and Smoking articles published by NACCHO in past 7 years

Indigenous communities, consumers and health experts from around the world have come together at the opening of the second World Indigenous Cancer Conference (WICC) at the Calgary Telus Convention Centre in Canada.

The conference, which has drawn a large contingent of Australian delegates, follows on from the success of the inaugural WICC held in Brisbane, Australia in 2016.

The WICC 2019 theme is ‘Respect, Reconciliation and Reciprocity,’ with over 400 delegates from across the globe discussing cancer and its impact on Indigenous peoples.

World-wide, Indigenous peoples bear a disproportionately higher cancer burden than non-Indigenous peoples, which makes WICC 2019 so very important.

Hosted by the Canadian Indigenous Research Network Against Cancer (CIRNAC) in partnership with the host sponsor Alberta Health Services, this premier event is supported by the Alberta First Nations Information Governance Centre, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which is the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization.

 Professor Gail Garvey , Blackfoot Piikani Chief Stan Grier and Professor Tom Calma 

WICC 2019 has drawn expertise of leading cancer researchers, public health practitioners, clinicians, advocacy groups, Indigenous community leaders and consumers.

They are coming together to share knowledge about critical issues across the cancer continuum from prevention and treatment to survivorship and end of life.

Several Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates with a lived experience of cancer are making an important contribution to the conference.

Des McGrady, an Aboriginal cancer survivor, said “An international meeting is important for the information sharing that we can pass on to community and people working in this space. This will allow us to work in partnership to drive positive change.”

The burden of cancer among Indigenous populations is of major public health importance and forums for collaboration such as this conference will strengthen research and service delivery and help accelerate progress in improving cancer outcomes.

Indigenous leadership, culturally sound service delivery and encouragement of mainstream services to prioritise Indigenous cancer are critical to these efforts and central to WICC 2019.

For more details about the conference, please visit the website:

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #ClosingtheGap #UNDRIP : Minister @KenWyattMP announces he will represent Australia at the #UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week to promote his Government’s priorities that partner with, invest in and empower our mob

Australia’s support of the Declaration reflects our intent to promote and protect the economic, social, cultural and political rights of indigenous people

The Declaration was drafted in partnership with the world’s Indigenous peoples, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the Morrison Government remains committed to observing these rights through our policies and programs

We are changing the way we work in partnership with Indigenous Australians and this is a message we can take to the world.

Our national framework for action to improve outcomes for Indigenous Australians, the Closing the Gap strategy, is a priority for the Australian Government and demonstrates our commitment to working in partnership with Indigenous communities.

 I will be discussing our experiences with UN experts and other countries to harness global thinking and research to improve our framework.

Through our advocacy with the United Nations and our recognition of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we can improve the lives of all Indigenous peoples.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, said since Australia supported the Declaration in 2009, our nation’s human rights obligations to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have been clear.

Friday marked the 12th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which established a universal set of rights for the dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples around the world.

Minister Wyatt  announced he will represent Australia at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, from 16 to 20 September, to promote the Australian Government’s priorities that partner with, invest in and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

“This year is our second as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, following the Coalition Government’s successful campaign to secure Australia a seat for the first time. It is in Australia’s national interest to shape the work of the Human Rights Council and uphold the international rules-based order.

“I will be pleased to promote Australia’s pragmatic and constructive approach to protecting and promoting fundamental human rights and freedoms both at home and abroad. Advancing Indigenous rights globally is a pillar of our membership of the Human Rights Council and an objective we pursue through a range of other UN mechanisms.

“I intend to build stronger relationships with like-minded countries by meeting with experts and leaders from around the world to discuss good practices in Indigenous policy, to share Australia’s experiences and learn from other countries’ strategies.

“As one of the largest donors to the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples, Australia will continue to play a constructive role in ensuring Indigenous voices are heard in UN meetings and bodies.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Self Determination : How to improve health outcomes for Indigenous peoples in New Zealand , Canada and Australia by making space for self-determination #VoiceTreatyTruth

Indigenous public policy fails consistently. The research evidence is compelling. Across post-settler colonial societies like New Zealand, Australia and Canada, schooling is not as effective for Indigenous citizens, employment and housing outcomes are not as good, and health outcomes are worse.

In Canada, the government says the solution lies in stronger nation-to-nation relationships between the state and First Nations. In Australia, the federal government proposes stronger consultation to “close the gaps in Indigenous disadvantage”.

In New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi is broadly accepted as an agreement offering solutions to policy failure. It protects the Māori right to self-determination and obliges the state to ensure that public policy is as effective for Māori as it is for everybody else.

Last week, the Waitangi Tribunal affirmed both these general principles in respect to health policy, but in its comprehensive report on the primary health care system, it found that despite clear intentions, the state fails to deliver good outcomes for Māori. “

Associate Professor of Political Science, Charles Sturt University

From The Conversation

Lack of self-determination

In effect, the tribunal found the state fails because it does not stand aside to allow Māori self-determination to prevail. Self-determination is a right that belongs to everybody. Under the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which New Zealand accepts as an “aspirational” document, self-determination means that:

Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development. In particular, Indigenous peoples have the right to be actively involved in developing and determining health, housing and other economic and social programmes affecting them and, as far as possible, to administer such programmes through their own institutions (Article 23).

Under the Treaty of Waitangi the right to self-determination may be expressed in at least two ways. Firstly, the treaty affirms Māori rangatiratanga, or chiefly authority over their own affairs. Secondly, it gives Māori the “rights and privileges of British subjects”.

The latter was a relatively meaningless status in 1840, when the treaty was signed by representatives of the Crown and Māori tribes. But in 2019, citizenship has replaced subjecthood as a substantive body of political rights and capacities for many New Zealanders, though not always for Māori.

Read more: Explainer: the significance of the Treaty of Waitangi

Proposal for Māori health authority

The tribunal’s Health Services and Outcomes Inquiry report is explicit. Poor Māori health persists because health policy doesn’t honour the treaty. Solutions, it says, lie in the treaty partnership between Māori and the Crown.

The idea of a treaty partnership is well established in New Zealand policy. But the tribunal report reinforces the idea that it is an unequal partnership, with the Crown acting as a senior party and crowding out space for Māori policy leadership. On the other hand, it makes at least two potentially transformative recommendations.

The first is that the Crown and Māori claimants in health care agree on a methodology for assessing underfunding of Māori health providers. The tribunal found that underfunding is in breach of the treaty and one of the variables that explains poor Māori health outcomes.

Secondly, the tribunal recommended the Crown and claimants “explore the possibility of a standalone Māori health authority”. This authority could become the principal funder of primary health services for Māori citizens. Māori health providers would make bids for contestable funding to the authority which, unlike District Health Boards, would have a predominantly Māori membership.

The authority would assess self-defined Māori health needs against established Māori cultural values. It could also have the capacity to commission research and contribute to national policy debate.

Māori at centre of policy decisions

This parallels a recommendation made to Kevin Rudd’s government in Australia in 2009 by a National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission.

Services would be purchased from Aboriginal community controlled health services, mainstream primary health care services and hospitals, and other services. The authority would ensure that all purchased services meet set criteria including clinical standards, cultural appropriateness, appropriately trained workforce, data collection and performance reporting against identified targets such as the national Indigenous health equality targets.

The proposal’s rejection was never fully explained. But it remains instructive to New Zealand as a way of making Māori policy work through self-determination.

Independent Māori decisions about which health programmes to fund, and from which providers, potentially brings Māori people and values to the centre of the policy process. It means that Māori people are not the subjects of state policy. They become its agents, exercising meaningful citizenship and the right to take responsibility for their own affairs. The concept of Māori as junior partners to the Crown is replaced by decision making authority.

An independent funding agency could also strengthen democratic accountability to Māori people who would not need to wait for an invitation to join the policy process, but would be at its centre. Liberal democracies exclude Indigenous people and perspectives as a way of protecting majority interests. But as the tribunal found, exclusion can explain why policy fails.

Meanwhile, Indigenous Australians have proposed a constitutionally enshrined “voice” to parliament, a truth telling commission and treaties between Indigenous nations and the state to acknowledge enduring Indigenous sovereignty. Victoria and the Northern Territory have started the process of treaty negotiation, but last year, a new government in South Australia “paused” the negotiations begun by its predecessor. It didn’t think that treaties could contribute to better lives for Indigenous people.

In Zealand, the treaty is not a panacea for better lives for Māori. But in 2019, it remains as the Māori government minister, Sir Apirana Ngata, put it in 1922.

[It] is widely discussed on all marae. It is on the lips of the humble and the great, of the ignorant and of the thoughtful.

Ultimately, the treaty’s transformative capacity depends on how it is interpreted, especially whether self-determination is allowed to trump partnership.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #selfdetermination #International day of the #WorldsIndigenousPeople 9 August : #WeAreIndigenous and we Walk for Makarrata –  One Message, One Goal, Many Voices #ulurustatement

On this annual observance, let us commit to fully realizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the rights to self-determination and to traditional lands, territories and resources.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres See Part 2 below 

Our desire for Makarrata is about self-determination, genuine partnership and moving beyond survival.  It’s about putting our future into our own hands,

Makarrata was needed because the Apology and successive reforms from both sides of politics have not on their own delivered healing and unity for the nation, or enough progress for Aboriginal people.” 

NSWALC Chairman, Cr Roy Ah-See Part 1 Below 

What is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

A declaration is a statement adopted by governments from around the world. Declarations are not legally binding, but they outline goals for countries to work towards.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration) represents 20 years of negotiation between Indigenous peoples, governments and human rights experts, and argues that Indigenous peoples all around the world are entitled to all human rights, including collective rights.

The rights within the Declaration, which was formally adopted by Australia in 2009, set standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples.

Why have a Declaration for Indigenous peoples?

The Declaration is necessary to combat the policies of assimilation and integration employed by colonisers throughout the world that have uprooted, marginalised and dispossessed First Nation peoples. This common history of dispossession created many circumstances that remain unique to Indigenous cultures. These groups bear similar marks of colonisation, while continuing to practice their incredibly diverse cultures and traditions.

The rights of all people are protected through international law mechanisms. However, what these fail to provide to Indigenous peoples are the “specific protection of the distinctive cultural and group identity of indigenous peoples as well as the spatial and political dimension of that identity, their ways of life.”[1] Prior to the Declaration there was a lack of a legal guarantee of Indigenous communities to their collective rights, such as ownership of traditional lands, the return of sacred remains, artefacts and sites, and the guarantee of governments to honour treaty obligations.

What does the Declaration mean for Australia?

The Declaration sets out rights both for individuals and collective groups. This reflects the tendency of Indigenous groups around the world, to organise societies as a group (a clan, nation, family or community). An example of these group rights is the acknowledgment that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have the right to own country, hold cultural knowledge as a group and the right to define their groups.

Some other rights secured in the document include, the right to equality, freedom from discrimination, self-determination and self-government. Many of these rights are already secured through Commonwealth and State legislation. However, the Declaration is Australia’s promise that mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be able to benefit from these rights.

The significant disadvantages currently faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia only serve to highlight the ongoing relevance and importance of the Declaration.

What is self-determination and why is it important?

Self-determination is a key part of the Declaration, and is a right unique to Indigenous communities around the world. Self-determination can only be achieved through the consultation and participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the formation of all policies and legislation that impacts upon them. Self-determination is characterised by three key elements that require Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have:
 Choice to determine how their lives are governed and the paths to development
 Participation in decisions that affect the lives of First Nation peoples.
 Control over their lives and futures, including economic, social and cultural development.

A campaign for Makarrata launches in Sydney today Thursday August 9, when Aboriginal people and their supporters will walk from Hyde Park to the NSW Parliament.

Led by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) and Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations (CAPO), the walk will call on Parliamentarians to join a movement for a better future for Aboriginal people, and all Australians.

NSWALC Chairman, Cr Roy Ah-See said that the walk will promote a positive alternative agenda for Aboriginal affairs in the state. .

Makarrata is gift from the Yolngu language. It means coming together after a struggle. It has been used nationally since the National Aboriginal Conference in the late 1970’s and featured prominently in the historic Uluru Statement from the Heart.


“What we have seen to date are disconnected stepping stones towards a vague future focused on survival. What we need is a clear pathway for Aboriginal people to thrive, and for all Australians to walk with us on this journey.

“Our successes have been many, but we still face significant challenges.  We want to see increased prosperity for Aboriginal families across the state, with more of our people going to university and getting better jobs.

“We want to see our children flourishing; walking proudly and successfully in two worlds. Taking part in the economy and enriching the country with their culture.

“By walking with us we are asking all political parties to commit to genuine partnership, to face our challenges together, and grow and support our successes.

“NSW is where the struggle started, and it is right that the largest state, with the largest population of Aboriginal people in the country takes genuine steps towards Makarrata,

“We are looking for all Australians to join us on our journey towards Makarrata,” Cr Ah-See said.

Walk with us, join us at


Part 2

There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.

Indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Despite their cultural differences, indigenous peoples from around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples.

Indigenous peoples have sought recognition of their identities, way of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources for years, yet throughout history their rights have always been violated. Indigenous peoples today, are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world. The international community now recognizes that special measures are required to protect their rights and maintain their distinct cultures and way of life.

2018 Theme: Indigenous peoples’ migration and movement

As a result of loss of their lands, territories and resources due to development and other pressures, many indigenous peoples migrate to urban areas in search of better prospects of life, education and employment.

They also migrate between countries to escape conflict, persecution and climate change impacts. Despite the widespread assumption that indigenous peoples live overwhelmingly in rural territories, urban areas are now home to a significant proportion of indigenous populations. In Latin America, around 40 per cent of all indigenous peoples live in urban areas — even 80 per cent in some countries of the region. In most cases, indigenous peoples who migrate find better employment opportunities and improve their economic situation but alienate themselves from their traditional lands and customs. Additionally, indigenous migrants face a myriad of challenges, including lack of access to public services and additional layers of discrimination.

The 2018 theme will focus on the current situation of indigenous territories, the root causes of migration, trans-border movement and displacement, with a specific focus on indigenous peoples living in urban areas and across international borders. The observance will explore the challenges and ways forward to revitalize indigenous peoples’ identities and encourage the protection of their rights in or outside their traditional territories.

The observance of the International Day will take place on Thursday 9 August 2018 from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm in the ECOSOC Chamber at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The programme can be found in Events. More information in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) page.

International Year of Indigenous Languages

View above interactive map HERE

Languages play a crucially important role in the daily lives of all peoples, are pivotal in the areas of human rights protection, peace building and sustainable development, through ensuring cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. However, despite their immense value, languages around the world continue to disappear at an alarming rate due to a variety of factors. Many of them are indigenous languages.

Indigenous languages in particular are a significant factor in a wide range of other indigenous issues, notably education, scientific and technological development, biosphere and the environment, freedom of expression, employment and social inclusion.

In response to these threats, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a Resolution (A/RES/71/178) on ‘Rights of Indigenous Peoples’, proclaiming 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

On Twitter, follow #WeAreIndigenous#IndigenousDay#IndigenousPeoplesDay, and #UNDRIP

Aboriginal Health and #UN Capacity building Program : Applications Close October 1 : For an opportunity to focus on the rights of Indigenous peoples

” The Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs ) is an opportunity to focus on the rights of Indigenous peoples and ensure they have the capability to participate in decision making; implement and advocate policies on inequality. “

More information and the application form are available to be downloaded from


To mark the 10th Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the Diplomacy Training Program, in partnership with National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and the Indigenous Law Centre (UNSW) is holding a capacity building program on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the 2030 Agenda – Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Download the PDF brochure here
This special program will build the capacity of advocates from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations to use UNDRIP as they engage with governments and the private sector in incorporating SDGs in their planning.

• Increase awareness and understanding of the UNDRIP and SDGs and their relevance to Australia

• Build knowledge and skills to promote the application and implementation of UNDRIP, including the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent;

• Catalyze engagement and coordination to ensure that SDG planning, resourcing and monitoring prioritise the perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples;

Contribute to inclusion of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous Peoples’ rights in Australia’s reporting to the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) and national SDG review processes.

The SDGs is an opportunity to focus on the rights of Indigenous peoples and ensure they have the capability to participate in decision making; implement and advocate policies on inequality.
This capacity building program will be held at University of New South Wales in Sydney on October 23-25 2017.

More information and the application form are available to be downloaded from

Applications close Sunday 01 October 2017.
With best wishes,

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #SaveAdate #NACCHOAgm2017 #IIPD2017 #WeAreIndigenous #InternationalIndigenousDay August 9 #DIPI2017

NEW August 9  : International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2017

NEW 3 September  : Clintons Walk for Justice arrives in Canberra

New 4 -10 September National Stroke Week, the Stroke Foundation’s annual awareness campaign is taking place

12 – 14 September SNAICC National Conference

13 September : Webinar Reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services

20-23 September : AIDA Conference 2017

New 29 Sept : Closing the Prison Gap Focus on the Children Tweed Heads NSW

26-27 October Diabetes and cardiovascular research, stroke and maternal and child health issues.

10 October  : CATSINAM Professional Development Conference Gold Coast

18 -20 October  : 35th Annual CRANAplus Conference Broome

NEW 20 October : ‘Most influential’ health leaders to appear in key forum at major rural medicine conference

NEW 18- 20 October First 1000 Days Summit Abstracts close August 11

26-27 October  :Diabetes and cardiovascular research, stroke and maternal and child health issues.

30 October2 Nov  :NACCHO AGM Members Meeting Canberra ABSTRACTS close 21st August 2017

14- 15 November  : 6th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation.

15 -18 November  :National Conference on Incontinence Scholarship Opportunity close 1 September

27-30 November  :Indigenous Allied Health Australia : IAHA Conference Perth

11-12 April 2018  :6th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium  Canberra call for extracts

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

Colin Cowell NACCHO Media Mobile 0401 331 251

Send to NACCHO Media

Noting Abstracts close 21st August 2017


August 9  : International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2017

By resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples shall be observed on 9 August every year. The date marks the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1982.

This year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples will be commemorated on Wednesday, 9 August at UNHQ in New York from 3.00pm to 6.00pm in the ECOSOC Chamber.

This year is of particular importance, as it is the Tenth Anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and at the same time the theme of the event.

The UNDRIP is partnering with Twitter on an International Day emoji to be launched on 8 August. The emoji will follow our branding and will be linked to the hashtags #WeAreIndigenous  #IamIndigenous #InternationalIndigenousDay #IIPD2017 #DIPI2017  The emoji will be launched on @UN4Indigenous and @UN on 8 August and will be available through 11 August.

3 September  : Clintons Walk for Justice arrives in Canberra

We all have come a long way and now it time we finish this off and do why we went on this journey in the first place.

I’m almost there at end of a amazing journey. It has been a great honour to walk in the foot step of my ancients and I walk with prouded for my people and walk on song line that my ancients made for us to follow and understand why they was created in the first place for my people.

I do not know what going to happen when I reach Canberra, but I do know in my heart an mind I must try because it need to be done to change this country and this world we live in. But I hope it well be something that this country will never forget and it well help change this country way to do better to build a better country and a better world we live in.

All that matter now is to speak the truth from the heart to make this men in suit and everyone else who live here to change they way and do better than they know them self now.

I hope in year to come people well talk about the walk for justice that a man who was just young walk across a land thought different country for his people and for everyone else. Walk all the way to the capital city call Canberra to speak the truth and send a message he collected from his people and from every one else on this journey that made him did it in the first place.

The walk well live on and the name the spirit walker well live on when I go and pass on. A man who walk across a country bring hope and change and all the way to capital city to tell men in suit to change they way because he believe and he believe in a dream could made a difference.

Clintons Facebook Page

4 -10 September National Stroke Week, the Stroke Foundation’s annual awareness campaign is taking place

National Stroke Week, the Stroke Foundation’s annual awareness campaign is taking place 4 to 10 September 2017.

Australians are being asked to join the FAST response team by knowing the signs of stroke. Paramedics, nurses and doctors can only treat stroke if Australians recognise the signs of stroke and call 000 immediately.

Could your community recognise the signs of stroke F.A.S.T?

Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arms – Can they lift both arms?
Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time – Time is critical. If you see any of these symptoms Act FAST and call 000.

Sharing the FAST message with those around you could save their life.

REGISTER online to get your FREE Stroke Week kit

Once you register you will be sent a FREE Stroke Week kit including posters, campaign booklet and resources to support your activity.

Click here to register now.

What does an awareness activity involve?

  • Set up a public awareness display in your local shopping centre.
  • Host a public morning/afternoon tea.
  • Organise a healthy event i.e. social walk around the park or a healthy bake sale.
  • You can also add a health check to your activity. We provide the tools to make this simple.

Visit for more details.

Join the FAST response team for National Stroke Week.

12 – 14 September SNAICC National Conference

Includes 2 pre-conference masterclasses, 3 plenaries, 56 concurrent sessions, and a social/cultural program.

Register now!

13 September : Webinar Reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services

Developed in consultation with NACCHO and produced by the Mental Health Professionals’ Network a federally funded initiative

Join our interdisciplinary panel as we explore a collaborative approach to reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services.

The webinar format will include a facilitated question and answer session between panel members exploring key issues and impacts of incarceration on individuals, families and communities.

The panel will discuss strategies to enhance cultural awareness and develop responsive services for Indigenous communities affected by incarceration. Strategies to increase self-esteem and enhance emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing of individuals will also be explored.

When: Wednesday 13th September, 2017

Time: 4.30pm – 5.45pm (AEST)

Where: Online – via your computer, tablet or mobile

Cost: Free


  • Dr Mark Wenitong (Medical Advisor based in QLD)
  • Dr Marshall Watson (Psychiatrist based in SA)
  • Dr Jeffrey Nelson (Clinical Psychologist based in QLD)
  • Julie Tongs (OAM) (CEO Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service – Narrabundah ACT)


  • Dr Mary Emeleus (General Practitioner and Psychotherapist based in QLD)

Read more about our panel.

Learning Outcomes:

Through an exploration of incarceration, the webinar will provide participants with the opportunity to:

  • Describe key issues and impacts of incarceration on individuals, families and communities
  • Develop strategies to enhance culturally aware and responsive services for Indigenous people and communities affected by incarceration
  • Identify strategies to increase self-esteem and enhance emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing

Before the webinar:

Register HERE


20-23 September AIDA Conference 2017

The AIDA Conference in 2017 will celebrate 20 years since the inception of AIDA. Through the theme Family. Unity. Success. 20 years strong we will reflect on the successes that have been achieved over the last 20 years by being a family and being united. We will also look to the future for AIDA and consider how being a united family will help us achieve all the work that still needs to be done in growing our Indigenous medical students, doctors, medical academics and specialists and achieving better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This conference will be an opportunity to bring together our members, guests, speakers and partners from across the sector to share in the reflection on the past and considerations for the future. The conference will also provide a platform to share our individual stories, experiences and achievements in a culturally safe environment.

Conference website

29 Sept : Closing the Prison Gap Focus on the Children Tweed Heads NSW

  • Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson and Margaret Hayes will “Focus on the Children”, describing their work with young people excluded from mainstream schools due to their behaviour.
  • Leanne Phillips and Cathy Stillwell will talk about “Healing the Womyn Healing the Child”
  • Jyi Lawnton and Casey Bird will describe “Indigenous Policy and the Scientific Gaze”
  • Chris Lee and Associate Professor Helen Farley discuss “Making the Connection”, the use of technology to address the issues of literacy and numeracy in juvenile justice settings
  • Dr Anthea Krieg will talk about her work in Ceduna, South Australia, coordinating services to prevent incarceration of First Nations children.

More info bookings Website

30 Sept : The 2017 Human Rights Photography competition  Closes

The 2017 Human Rights Photography competition is now open to children and adults around the country, with a $600 camera prize up for grabs for the most outstanding image!

For almost a decade, the Australian Human Rights Commission has been holding photo competitions every couple of years. Our last competition attracted a record 450 entries.

Photography is a powerful medium with a long history in the promotion and advancement of human rights around the world. Photos foster empathy for the suffering and experience of others, community engagement and positive social change. No one can forget the impact of photos such as Nick Ut’s famous photo The Terror of War of child Kim Phuc after a napalm attack during the Vietnam War.

Our focus for this year’s competition will be the experiences of people at home. The theme for the 2017 competition is Home, inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home…

The shortlisted and winning photos to be displayed at the 2017 Human Rights Awards on 8 December in Sydney.

So, what are you waiting for?

About the competition

  • Enter at
  • There will be two categories for entries: Under 18 and 18 & over.
  • Overall winners will receive their prizes at the 2017 Human Rights Awards on December 8 in Sydney. A selection of photos from the Competition will also be on display.
  • Main prizes worth $600.
  • The competition will close on 30 September 2017.

If you have a query about the competition, please email

Photo Credit: Nimboi’s Bat by Sean Spencer, from the 2011 competition.

10 October CATSINAM Professional Development Conference Gold Coast


Contact info for CATSINAM

18 -20 October 35th Annual CRANAplus Conference Broome

We are pleased to announce the 35th Annual CRANAplus Conference will be held at Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa in Broome, Western Australia, from 18 to 20 October 2017.


Since the organisation’s inception in 1982 this event has served to create an opportunity for likeminded remote and isolated health individuals who can network, connect and share.

It serves as both a professional and social resource for the Remote and Isolated Health Workforce of Australia.

We aim to offer an environment that will foster new ideas, promote collegiate relationships, provide opportunities for professional development and celebrate remote health practice.

Conference Website

18- 20 October First 1000 Days Summit Abstracts close August 11

Abstract submissions for the First 1000 Days Australia Summit are now open. Get them in by August 11th!

The First 1000 Days Australia Summit is a three-day event that will bring together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, researchers, community members, front- line workers and policy makers involved in areas relevant to the work of First 1000 Days Australia. Lectures, panel discussions and workshops will address topics such as caring and parenting, infant and child development, family strengthening, implementation and translation, as well as a number of other areas.

The theme for the Summit is ‘Celebrating our leadership, strengthening our families’. We invite interested presenters to submit abstracts for oral presentations, workshops and posters that align with the aims, principles and research areas of First 1000 Days Australia, and of First 1,000 Days international.

20 October : ‘Most influential’ health leaders to appear in key forum at major rural medicine conference 

‘Most influential’ health leaders to appear in key forum at major rural medicine conference

RMA Presidents’ Breakfast
Friday 20 October 2017
Pullman Albert Park, Melbourne

Australia’s most influential health leaders will discuss critical health policy issues in a key Presidents’ Breakfast forum at the Rural Medicine Australia 2017 conference, to be held in Melbourne in October.Dr Ewen McPhee, President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), will host the forum and will be joined on the panel by Associate Professor Ruth Stewart, President of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM); Dr Bastian Seidel, President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP); and Dr Tony Bartone, Vice President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

26-27 October Diabetes and cardiovascular research, stroke and maternal and child health issues.

‘Translation at the Centre’ An educational symposium

Alice Springs Convention Centre, Alice Springs

This year the Symposium will look at research translation as well as the latest on diabetes and cardiovascular research, stroke and maternal and child health issues.  The event will be run over a day and a half.
The Educational Symposium will feature a combination of relevant plenary presentations from renowned scientists and clinicians plus practical workshops.

Registration is free but essential.

Please contact the symposium coordinator on 1300 728 900 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm) or via email at  

30 October2 Nov NACCHO AGM Members Meeting Canberra

We welcome you to attend the 2017 NACCHO Annual Members’ Conference.

On the new NACCHO Conference Website  you find links to

1.Registrations now open

2. Booking Your Accommodation

3. Book Your Flights

4. Expressions of Interest Speakers, case studies and table top presentations Close

5. Social Program

6.Conferences Partnership Sponsorship Opportunities

7.NACCHO Conference HELP Contacts

The NACCHO Members’ Conference and AGM provides a forum for the Aboriginal community controlled health services workforce, bureaucrats, educators, suppliers and consumers to:

  • Present on innovative local economic development solutions to issues that can be applied to address similar issues nationally and across disciplines
  • Have input and influence from the ‘grassroots’ into national and state health policy and service delivery
  • Demonstrate leadership in workforce and service delivery innovation
  • Promote continuing education and professional development activities essential to the Aboriginal community controlled health services in urban, rural and remote Australia
  • Promote Aboriginal health research by professionals who practice in these areas and the presentation of research findings
  • Develop supportive networks
  • Promote good health and well-being through the delivery of health services to and by Indigenous and non-Indigenous people throughout Australia.

Where :Hyatt Hotel Canberra

Dates : Members’ Conference: 31 October – 1 November 2017
Annual General Meeting: 2 November 2017


14-15 November : 6th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, are proud to be co-hosting the 6th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation.

This partnership indicates an alignment of priorities and a strong commitment from our two institutions to deliver a measurable, positive impact on the health and wellbeing of Australia’s First Peoples.

Under the theme “The Butterfly Effect: Translating Knowledge into Action for Positive Change”, the Symposium will be an opportunity to bring relevant expertise to the business of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research translation and put forward Indigenous perspectives that inform the most effective policies and programs. It will also be a forum to share knowledge of what successful research looks like at community level and what the key elements of success are.

We look forward to the participation of delegates with community, research and policy expertise, including outstanding keynote speakers Dr Carrie Bourassa (Canada) and Sir Mason Durie (New Zealand). We are confident that through our joint commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, the Symposium will make a significant contribution to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, families and individuals. This commitment also signals the importance of working together as equal partners, Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

More info HERE

15 -18 November  :National Conference on Incontinence Scholarship Opportunity close 1 September

The Continence Foundation of Australia is offering 10 scholarships to support health professionals to attend the 26th National Conference on Incontinence. The conference will be held in Sydney on 15-18 November 2017.  The conference program and registration brochure can be found here.
This scholarship program is open to registered nurses and physiotherapists with an interest in continence care working in rural and remote areas of Australia. The scholarship includes full conference registration, including clinical workshops and social events, flights and accommodation. The top applicant also has the opportunity to participate in a placement at a Sydney continence clinic. Previous unsuccessful applicants are encouraged to apply.
Applications close Friday 1 September.
Applications are being taken online. Click here to find out more and to apply.  

27-30 November Indigenous Allied Health Australia : IAHA Conference Perth


Abstracts for the IAHA 2017 National Conference are now open!

We are calling for abstracts for concurrent oral presentations and workshops under the following streams:
– Care
– Cultures
– Connection

For abstract more information visit the IAHA Conference website at:

11-12 April 2018 6th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium  Canberra call for extracts

About the Symposium

Drawing upon a tradition which commenced with the first rural and remote health scientific conference ‘Infront Outback’ held in Toowoomba in 1992, the 6th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium will be held in Canberra, 11-12 April 2018.

The Symposium will celebrate 20 years since the establishment of the first university department of rural health in 1997 and will highlight the research and knowledge that followed this innovation.

Outback Infront will celebrate the leadership that has emerged from the rural and remote health research community, while at the same time, support early career academics and the next generation of rural health researchers.

The Symposium will focus on rural and remote health research that informs strategic health policy and health service challenges in rural and remote Australia.

The Symposium will provide an opportunity to share and develop research that seeks to understand and deliver innovative change through building evidence that has the potential to transform health outcomes and service delivery.

Who should attend

The Symposium program will be designed to engage academics, policy makers, expert researchers in rural and remote health and clinician-researchers, as well as emerging and early career researchers.

It will also be relevant to policy makers, university departments of rural health, rural clinical schools, research collaborations and bodies, rural workforce organisations and health services delivery networks and providers.


As well as key presentations from respected researchers in rural and remote health the Symposium will also feature Rogano presentations (scholarly debate on a current research project that answer “how to” questions and encourage scholarly thinking and debate) and a return of the popular Lightning Talk presentations to support early career academics and the next generation of rural health researchers.

Abstracts are now being sought for general presentations, Lightning talks and Rogano presentations


NACCHO #HealthElection16 Aboriginal – Māori: how Indigenous health suffers on both sides of the ditch


“Indigenous people in Australia and New Zealand, despite the distance separating them and varying histories, have one disturbing issue in common: poor health. A landmark comprehensive report published today in medical journal The Lancet has highlighted that this commonality is shared among 23 countries and 154 million Indigenous and tribal people around the world.

Researchers assessed data on measures including life expectancy at birth, infant mortality, birthweight, maternal mortality, nutritional status and educational attainment for the countries involved. On all measures, Indigenous people were found to suffer more than their non-Indigenous counterparts.”

Graeme Maguire Professor and Head Clinical Research Domain, Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute and

 Bridget Robson Associate Dean Māori, Department of Public Health, University of Otago

As published in the Conversation

This isn’t new knowledge, but the report reminds us of the breadth of the problem. We’ve compiled similar statistics in our region. No matter the type of measure used, the results show unacceptable levels of health disparity.

Indigenous children are less likely to receive a proper education and more likely to suffer mental illness as teenagers and be exposed to dangerous levels of alcohol. Marianna Massey/AAP

Greater numbers of Indigenous babies are born weighing less than a healthy 2,500 grams in both countries. This speaks to the amplifying nature of intergenerational poverty and disadvantage. Without a good start in the womb, an Indigenous baby will struggle to live a long, healthy life even before taking its first breath.

Small babies have less reserve in the bodies they are born into. Smaller kidneys and lungs and fragile hearts have less ability to deal with future challenges.

Indigenous children are less likely to receive a proper education, and more likely to suffer mental illness as teenagers and be exposed to dangerous levels of alcohol. They will grow up more prone to chronic diseases and be more likely to contract an infectious disease, such as syphilis.

All this translates to a shorter life. Below, we compare how both countries fare in key health indicators: life expectancy at birth, low birth weight, diabetes and youth suicide.

Indigenous Australians

Marianna Massey/AAP

Indigenous Australians must contend with the triple challenge of acute infectious disease (such as trachoma), chronic non-communicable disease (such as diabetes) and mental illness. There are few health conditions where they don’t have poorer health outcomes, extending from cancer to traumatic-related injuries, such as those that stem from car accidents and domestic violence.

There is nothing to suggest Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander people are intrinsically susceptible to disease. For instance, acute rheumatic fever – a preventable cause of heart disease in young Indigenous Australians that is now extremely rare in non-Indigenous children – was just as common in non-Indigenous Australians 100 years ago.

A large number of Indigenous Australians live in remote regions while about half of Australia’s Indigenous populations resides in regional towns and cities. Poorer medical access in these areas naturally leads to poor health outcomes.

A large number of Indigenous Australians live in remote regions. Neda Vanovac/AAP

Medical conditions are also exacerbated by poverty – not just the sort of poverty that means you don’t have enough money, but the extreme poverty that translates to educational and environmental disadvantage. This is associated with overcrowded housing and an inability to participate in the mainstream economy and benefit from living in a wealthy nation such as Australia.

But even this often fails to explain why young people are driven to the finality of suicide, at a rate nearly five times higher among Indigenous youth between 15 to 19 than other Australians of the same age. In this can be seen the existential nihilism of a lack of hope associated with compounding factors of family and community stress and attendant drug and alcohol use.

While health disadvantage persists, some areas have improved. Childhood mortality, for instance, has been substantially reduced over the last 20 years. This is in large part a testament to vaccination, slowly improving environmental conditions (including housing, water and sanitation facilities) and better access and quality of community and hospital health care.

New Zealand Māori

Seth Mazow/Flickr, CC BY

In Aotearoa (New Zealand), low birth weight is associated with smoking during pregnancy. Although New Zealand has been lauded for its success in tobacco control, the smoking rate of around 40% among Māori – compared to 15% among the total population – shows the strategies haven’t succeeded for all.

Until recently, there have been only modest declines among Māori. Smoking rates remain relatively high among young adults in their 20s (the main age of childbirth among Māori). Pregnancy is a critical time to quit smoking, not just for the health of the baby, but also because children are more likely to become smokers if their parents smoke.

This requires an approach that works for the whole family, as women are more likely to resume smoking after pregnancy if they live with a smoker.

Increasing assertions of Māori self-determination are evident throughout Aotearoa. MARTY MELVILLE/Flickr, CC BY

Māori have championed the goal of a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025. This will require a steep change in tobacco control – reducing supply as well as demand, and stopping future generations from starting.

Youth suicide is a relatively new phenomenon among Māori. In the 1980s and 90s, rates soared, alongside the introduction of policies specifically impacting youth (youth wages, increased costs for tertiary education, reduction of apprenticeships, lowered alcohol drinking age).

Although the suicide epidemic affected both Māori and non-Māori, Māori rates rose higher and have stayed relatively high since. Māori between the ages of 16 and 24 are more than twice as likely to take their own life as non-Māori of the same age. Great concern among Māori communities has led to recent efforts to curb youth suicide through community support programs that aim to replace despair with a culture of hope.

Diabetes is twice as prevalent among Māori (5.6%) as among non-Māori (2.8%). The government’s new childhood obesity plan will need to be twice as effective for Māori to bring the rates down.

Communal gardening projects have gone a way to help diabetes. from

It is critical we reject “discourses of deficit” that maintain Māori youth exposure to everyday racism and to more overt discriminatory practices, such as targeting by police, and promote “discourses of potential” for a positive future.

Healthy lifestyle programs such as IronMāori and Mara Kai (communal gardening projects) are some of the ways Māori communities are working to overcome obesity. But extreme disparities in rates of avoidable complications of diabetes (with rates more than five times higher among Māori), including renal disease and lower limb amputations, indicate health-care system failure.

Increasing assertions of Māori self-determination are evident throughout Aotearoa – in Māori radio, television, Māori medium education, political parties and Māori provision of health and social services. This movement makes a difference. To mitigate, resist and undo ongoing racism and coloniality, it is vital to have a robust alternative vision for our communities and society. The health of our nation depends on it.