NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health : Read @keenan_mundine’s powerful speech to @UNHumanRights Council calling for Australian Governments to end injustice of Indigenous kids in prison #RaisetheAge Plus #IndigenousX 8 things the government can do right now to end this injustice “

“I have spent more than half of my life behind bars, and I want to make sure this will not be the same future for my children.

Right now, children as young as ten are still being locked away in prisons across Australia.

This year alone, around 600 children under the age of 14 were taken from their families and imprisoned. This injustice must end.

”In joining this Council, the Australian Government promised to uphold human rights and champion Indigenous peoples’ rights. For as long as Indigenous children are 25 times more likely to be sent to prison than non-Indigenous children, these will be hollow promises “

Indigenous advocate, Keenan Mundine, a former youth prisoner and principal consultant of Inside Out Aboriginal Justice Consultancy, has travelled to Geneva to address the UN Human Rights Council about the Turnbull Government’s failure to stop ten year old children being sent to prison.

 ” The justice system is stacked against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids at every stage, from police through to the courts. It is undeniable that racism is a factor, whether it’s institutional or direct.

It is also clear that invasion and past policies of dispossession of land, stolen children and discrimination has led to this shocking statistic, with a direct link proven between contact with the justice system and the entrenched poverty, homelessness, child removal, lack of education, family violence, substance abuse, disability, mental and other health issues.

But there are solutions. Here are 8 things the government can do right now to end this injustice “

Cheryl Axleby Chair of NATSILS From Indigenous X

Two years after the ABC’s Four Corners program exposed horrific abuse of children in the Don Dale prison, pressure is mounting on Australian state and territory governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years.

Mr Mundine told the Council – the world’s peak human rights body of which Australia is now a member – that the Turnbull Government must stop ignoring human rights abuses at home.

“I have travelled from across the world to address this Council because I want my sons to grow up in a country that treats them fairly. This one simple change to our laws, will make a very big difference. Indigenous children in Australia deserve what I was denied – equality and freedom,” said Mr Mundine.

The Turnbull Government called for the Northern Territory Royal Commission into the horrors of Don Dale in 2016, but has failed to deliver a key recommendation for reform – raising the age at which children can be charged, hauled before the courts and sent to prison.

Australia has one of the lowest ages of criminal responsibility in the democratic world. The average age in Europe is 14 years.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, the Human Rights Law Centre, Amnesty International and other medical, Indigenous and human rights organisations have been pushing all Australian governments to commit to raising the age of criminal responsibility.

Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, said in addition to raising the age to 14 years, more support was needed for Indigenous-led programs.

“Australian youth prisons are institutional racism in action. Criminalising the behaviour of young, vulnerable children – who are mostly Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander – creates further disadvantage and traps children in the criminal justice system. It’s time to raise the age to 14 and fund wrap-around Indigenous-led supports that keep kids strong in culture and community,” said Ms Axleby.

When seeking election to the Human Rights Council, the Turnbull Government pledged to put Indigenous rights front and centre and progress the realisation of human rights through the implementation of UN recommendations and resolutions.

In the last five years, the UN has demanded Australia uphold children’s rights and raise the age of criminal responsibility on numerous occasions.

Ruth Barson, a Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said children should be in classrooms not courtrooms.

“No child should be strip searched, hand cuffed, or locked in a prison cell. The Turnbull Government cannot defend human rights on the world stage, while allowing primary school aged children to be sent to prisons at home. Raising the age is a simple reform that would make a world of difference. What we need is for our governments to show some leadership,” said Ms Barson.

Across Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up over 50% of the children locked away in youth prisons. Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia have the highest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth imprisonment rates in the country.

Belinda Lowe, Indigenous Rights Campaigner at Amnesty International, said the criminal justice system is failing kids and it’s failing communities.

“Children thrive best with their families and in their communities. Let’s instead focus on prevention not detention. Let’s raise the age that kids can be put behind bars, and provide early support to children and their families who are facing difficulties in their lives, so children don’t offend in the first place,” said Ms Lowe.

This session of the Human Rights Council session will run until 6 July.

The Human Rights Law Centre will attend every day of the Council session and provide regular updates on the Australian Government’s actions.

Read: Keenan Mundine’s statement

Watch: Keenan Mundine’s statement

Plus Indigenous X post

Cheryl Axleby Chair of NATSILS From Indigenous X

Every single child in prison in the Northern Territory is Indigenous.

This is systemic racism in action.

This damning fact is causing outrage across Australia, two years after we saw the torture and abuse coming out of Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in the nightmarish Four Corners Report. A Royal Commission followed, with hundreds of recommendations to end the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids in prison, yet here we are.

But the Northern Territory is not alone; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are over-imprisoned in every state and territory in Australia, and are locked up at a rate 25 times higher than that of other youth.

We know the reasons why, and it’s not because there are no “bad” non-Indigenous children in the Northern Territory.

The justice system is stacked against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids at every stage, from police through to the courts. It is undeniable that racism is a factor, whether it’s institutional or direct.

It is also clear that invasion and past policies of dispossession of land, stolen children and discrimination has led to this shocking statistic, with a direct link proven between contact with the justice system and the entrenched poverty, homelessness, child removal, lack of education, family violence, substance abuse, disability, mental and other health issues.

But there are solutions. Here are 8 things the government can do right now to end this injustice:

1. Support children, families and communities to stay strong and together

No child belongs in prison.

Prison doesn’t “work” – many kids come out damaged and more likely to go back in. Children need love and support and the care of their communities, so they can be brought up strong in their identity and connection with country.

There is a large cross-over between experiencing child removal, disability, family violence, mental health issues, and the justice system. But families need culturally appropriate wrap-around supports in place to stay strong and together. Policies need to change to stop forced child removals, reduce family violence and help heal the ongoing trauma of the Stolen Generations.

2. Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility

Australia is far behind the rest of the world in locking up very young children – the global median age of criminal responsibility is 14, but the Australia-wide age is 10.

Science shows these young children are not yet able to understand the long-term consequences of their actions, or to control their impulses. It is often the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children who come to the attention of the justice system at a young age.

Once in the system, younger children are more likely to be return to prison. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are hugely over-represented in this age bracket, so raising the age will help to end their over-representation in the system.

The NT Royal Commission recommended for government to raise the age. The UN has repeatedly criticised Australia for locking up kids as young as 10, which is below minimum international standards and recommended age, and a breach of their rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It’s time for all Australian governments to #RaisetheAge to 14.

3. Get children who are not sentenced out of prison

Most kids in prison are not sentenced and may not even have had their trial yet. This goes against international standards and can be incredibly damaging for kids, leading to further contact with the justice system.

This can be due to police and courts not granting children bail, as well as delays in court processes and legal representation. Compliance with and over-policing of bail conditions is a huge issue for Aboriginal children, or not having a “suitable” address to be bailed to, or a guardian available to come to court.

This can be fixed by having better family supports in place so bail isn’t denied due to welfare reasons, amending unfair bail legislation, increased funding and access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, bail support programs, having custody notification services in place and investing in community alternatives to prison.

4. Adequately fund Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled legal and other support services

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Family Violence Legal Prevention Services are the preferred and often only option for legal representation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

These services are community-controlled and culturally safe, and understand the systemic issues that stack the system against Indigenous people. However, these are desperately under-resourced to meet legal need, and despite the reversal of further fundings cuts in 2017, budget papers show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services will face a further $5m cut from 2020.

It’s not just legal services that struggle for funding, but most Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations across health, disability, education, housing and youth justice diversion.

In the Northern Territory, Bushmob had to end its bush camp program – where the government could have been sending kids to learn life skills and reconnect with culture, rather than to prison.

Another example is Balit Ngulu – the only Aboriginal youth specific legal service in Australia – is facing closure this year due to lack of funding. Our communities have the answers but they need Government support.

5. End abusive practices in prisons

Whether it’s Don Dale, Cleveland, Banksia Hill, Bimberi, Parkville, Cobham – children in prisons around Australia are subject to solitary confinement, strip searches, assaults, spit hoods, hog-tying, sedating, deprivation of food, hygiene, exercise and education. These abuses are an indictment on Australia and they are continuing to happen right around the country. This year it was revealed that one young man in Banksia Hill spent over a year in isolation.

Independent oversight is needed so these human rights abuses end and perpetrators are held accountable.

6. Set targets to end the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prison

Decades have gone by without any progress on the rates of overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids in prison.

The Federal Government must set national justice targets on ending rates of imprisonment and violence as part of the Closing the Gap framework so it can measure, track, report and be held accountable for achieving national progress on ending the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prison.

There is currently a refresh of the targets – now is the time to add them in.

7. Improve collection and use of data

It is amazing how much we simply do not know about children being deprived of their liberty, because governments are either not tracking or refuse to be transparent about youth justice data.

Data is necessary to inform smart and effective policy choices, and to fully understand the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids by different age groups, genders, disability, socio-economic groups, LGBTIQ+ identity and geographic locations.

8. Work through COAG to reform State and Territory laws that breach children’s rights

The Australian Government must accept that this is a national shame which demands national leadership.

The solutions are in the recommendations of the avalanche of commissions and inquiries stemming back to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody over 27 years ago.

Most recently, solutions were set out in the Northern Territory Royal Commission Report and the Australian Law Reform Commission’s ‘Pathways to Justice’ Report – neither of which have received an adequate national response.

The Australian Government can set minimum youth justice standards to make sure that all laws are compliant with human rights and do not disproportionately affect Indigenous kids.

NATSILS, as part of Change The Record Coalition, called for these changes last year in response to the NT Royal Commission as part of a National Plan of Action. The Australian Government must hear our voices and adopt our recommendations so that our children are no longer abused in prison, and instead are supported to thrive in their communities.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Justice #NRW2018 #IHMayDay18 : Queensland Attorney General @YvetteDAth launches #LawYarn a cutting edge health and justice resource at Wuchopperen ACCHO : A unique resource which supports good health outcomes


‘Legal problems with money, housing, court and families will lead to poor health if they are not resolved. Poor health impacts on your capacity to make good decisions and care for your children, for example resulting in engagement with the courts or child protection system.

‘It is no coincidence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – among the most incarcerated people in the world – also have some of the poorest health outcomes in the world.’

Wuchopperen Chairperson, NACCHO Deputy Chairperson and LawRight lawyer Donnella Mills said health and legal needs are often interlinked.

“We know that legal problems with money, housing, families and crime can often lead to poor health outcomes for people if they are not resolved,” Mrs D’Ath said.

The State Government allocated $55,000 to not-for-profit community legal organisation LawRight to develop a legal ‘health check’ project to help identify the potential legal needs of Indigenous people

Law Yarn helps health practitioners yarn with members of the Indigenous community about their legal problems and connect them with legal help.”

At today’s launch in Cairns, Mrs D’Ath said Law Yarn was a free, innovative conversation starter to help Indigenous people identify their legal issues

See Ministers Press Release Part 2

 

Queensland Attorney General Yvette D’ath has launched the cutting edge health and justice resource ‘Law Yarn’ at Wuchopperen today.

Download the Law Yarn Edition

Lawright Yarn Edition 1

So… what is Law Yarn ?

Law Yarn is a unique resource which supports good health outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Law Yarn helps health workers to yarn with members of remote and urban communities about their legal problems and connect them to legal help.

Legal problems with money, housing, crime and families will lead to poor health if they are not resolved.

Without Law Yarn the problems won’t be identified and will instead be ignored. This turns them into bigger problems

What are the key legal problems faced by the community

Law Yarn uses images of cyclones, mangroves, stars and journeys to help vulnerable communities recognise their legal problems in context and learn where to get help

Law Yarn, an initiative of community legal service LawRight, will see specially trained Wuchopperen health staff yarn with clients about legal issues which might be affecting them, and connect them to the free on-site legal services delivered by LawRight and Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service.

The health staff will use the highly visual, culturally appropriate Law Yarn tool to help clients feel at ease, and identify and discuss legal problems.

Wuchopperen staff are currently being trained to use the resource, with the program being rolled out in the second half of 2018.

Law Yarn will run until the end of June 2019 and will then be evaluated by distinguished legal academics Fiona Allison, Chris Cunneen and Melanie Schwartz.

Part 2: Law Yarn to help improve Indigenous health

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath has launched a legal ‘health check’ for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Cairns, as part of National Reconciliation Week.

Mrs D’Ath said Law Yarn would be trialled at Wuchopperen Health Service Limited, the Cairns-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical service where LawRight and the Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service (QIFVLS) operate weekly legal services.

“Health practitioners will be trained to help a person complete their Law Yarn,” she said.

“The resources use Indigenous symbols by artist Rikki Salam to represent the main legal problems – money, housing, family and crime – to help structure the yarn.

“A handy how-to guide includes conversation prompts and advice on how to capture the person’s family, financial, tenancy or criminal law legal needs as well as discussing and recording their progress.”

Mrs D’Ath said LawRight has worked with Wuchopperen and QIFVLS and consulted with the Health Justice Partnerships Network and Health Justice Australia to make this innovative project happen.

“The trial will undergo independent academic evaluation but other Australian legal and health services have already shown an interest in the resource,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Read full press release here

 

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

SEE NACCHO Response

SEE an Indigenous Patients Response

See Nurses PAQ Misleading and false campaign

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

Read full AMSANT press Release

Listen to interview with Donna Ah Chee

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

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

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

Read full Story HERE

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

Read Download Full Transcript

Senator Patrick Dodson

Download the report from HERE

Community Groups Call For Action on Indigenous Incarceration Rates

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

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

Read Press Release HEAR

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

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

Read Download the Press Release

TANGENTYERE WOMEN’S FAMILY SAFETY GROUP (FED

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

Read press releases and link to Download the National Guide

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

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

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

 

Part B Full Text The Australian Article Easter Monday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Prison System: New Ground breaking partnership for ACT Government and Winnunga having an ACCHO deliver health and wellbeing services to prison inmates

“ACT Corrective Services recognises that increasing Aboriginal led services within the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) a minimum to maximum security prison is essential to maintaining cultural connection for Aboriginal detainees and improving overall wellbeing and safety.”

Speaking at the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) board meeting ACT Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury announced that Winnunga Aboriginal Health and Community Services (AHCS) will move soon into full service delivery at the AMC

Photo above Minister with some of the new NACCHO Board December 2017 : Pic Oliver Tye

Julie Tongs pictured above with Shane Rattenbury and NACCHO CEO John Singer  

‘Importantly, Winnunga will continue to be a separate independent entity, but will work in partnership with the ACT Government to complement the services already provided by ACT Corrective Services and ACT Health to deliver better outcomes for Indigenous detainees.

It is ground breaking to have an Aboriginal community controlled and managed organisation delivering health and wellbeing services within its own model of care to inmates in prison in this capacity’ Ms Tongs said.

‘Winnunga delivering health and wellbeing services in the AMC and changing the way the system operates is the legacy of Steven Freeman, a young Aboriginal man who tragically died whilst in custody in the AMC in 2016

It is also ground breaking for our sector, so it needs to be given the recognition it deserves’

Julie Tongs, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services (Winnunga AHCS) welcomed the announcement by Minister Shane Rattenbury

Winnunga has commenced enhanced support at the AMC focused on female detainees, and will move to full delivery of standalone health, social and emotional wellbeing services in the AMC in 2018.

The Independent Inquiry into the Treatment in Custody of Steven Freeman highlighted the need for improvements in a range of areas including cultural proficiency to more effectively manage the welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees.

The ACT Government is working to develop a safer environment for all detainees, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees.

Minister Rattenbury welcomed the involvement of Winnunga AHCS in the delivery of health services within its culturally appropriate model of care in the AMC.

To achieve this ACT Corrective Services and Justice Health have been working closely with Winnunga AHCS to enhance their presence in the AMC. Winnunga AHCS has begun delivering social and emotional wellbeing services to female detainees who choose to access Winnunga AHCS in the AMC.

Over time, all detainees will have the option to access Winnunga AHCS services.

Winnunga AHCS will over time deliver services to all inmates in the AMC who choose to access this option, however the services will be implemented through a staged process initially focussed on female detainees. This will help inform system changes as we operationalise the model of care within the AMC.

‘In 2018, we will expand our role to deliver GP and social and emotional wellbeing services to all detainees who choose to access Winnunga AHCS in the AMC, Monday to Friday, between the hours of 9am to 5pm’, Ms Tongs noted.

‘Winnunga does not want to be divisive in the AMC, we will be inclusive.

Obviously, there will be some issues particularly around – strong identity and connection to land, language and culture, and how the impact of colonisation and stolen Generations affects unresolved trauma, grief and loss that will be specific to Aboriginal people, however we will work with all inmates’, said Ms Tongs.

Ms Tongs stated, ‘The priority for us is to ensure in time all Aboriginal people are provided with an Aboriginal health check and care plan…the goal is for Winnunga to provide all services we do outside in the community, to prisoners also on the inside and this is a very good starting point’.

Aboriginal Children’s Health #FreetobeKids : Download the @Change_Record National plan of action to transform the #justice system for our kids

“ The time to act is now. This is an historic opportunity for the Federal Government to make a difference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,”

Antoinette Braybrook, Co-Chair of Change the Record. See Part 1 below

Change the Record Website

Download the National Plan :

CTR_Free_to_be_Kids_National_Plan_of_Action_2017_web

Projected out-of-home care population growth suggests the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care will more than triple by 2036.”

The Family Matters Report report – due to be launched at Parliament House on 29 November – reveals a shocking trend in the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who are now nearly 10 times as likely to be removed from their family as non-Indigenous children – a disparity which continues to grow. See Part 3 Below 

Read over 270 NACCHO Articles about Aboriginal Children

Part 1 Change the Record National Plan

This week the Change the Record Coalition launched an eight-point plan –Free to be Kids – National Plan of Action – to transform the youth justice system and prevent abuse of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in prisons.

“The Royal Commission into Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory demonstrated shocking abuse of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prisons, and we know that similar abuses are happening right around the country,” said Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair of Change the Record.

Art 2

7.00 am Monday morning Canberra press conference with the Change the Record team in the rain

Change the Record has said the Federal Government must:

  1. Support children, families and communities to stay strong and together
  2. Raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14
  3. Get children who are not sentenced out of prison
  4. Adequately fund Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled legal and other support services
  5. End abusive practices in prisons
  6. Set targets to end the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prison
  7. Improve collection and use of data
  8. Work through COAG to reform State and Territory laws that breach children’s rights

Download Free to be Kids – National Plan of Action [PDF]

 Part 2 Children suffer every day that PM Turnbull delays on Federal commitment to lead youth justice change says Amnesty International

 Amnesty International, as part of the Indigenous-led Change The Record coalition, released a National Plan of Action for Prime Minister Turnbull to end the abuse and overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australian prisons.

The eight-point plan includes strategies for children and families to be supported to stay together; raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14; setting national justice targets; and investing in Indigenous-led prevention and support programs.

The National Plan of Action release date marks 10 days since the Turnbull Government pledged national commitment on youth justice.

The plan was launched in response to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory report released on 17 November.

“The most shocking thing about the Royal Commission findings are that the abuses are happening in every state and territory,” said Claire Mallinson, National Director, Amnesty International Australia.

“Every day the Prime Minister delays taking action, children are self-harming, or being held in solitary confinement. They are being denied basic needs, being restrained or handled inappropriately, being verbally or physically abused in Australian child prisons.”

“What’s more, Indigenous children are 25 times more likely to be locked up than non-Indigenous children.”

Barely a week after the Royal Commission report, the NT Government has announced it will send the Territory Response Group, from the counter-terrorism taskforce, into Darwin and Alice Springs. The police will be equipped with military-grade assault weapons to patrol children at night over December.

The decision flies in the face of the NT Royal Commission report, which recommended a shift away from tough, brutal responses to a focus on prevention, diversion and supporting families. It shows, yet again, that we need Federal leadership to set a standard across the states and territories,” said Claire Mallinson.

Amnesty International’s recent ReachTEL poll found two out of three Australians believe the Turnbull Government should lead national action to end the injustice of too many Indigenous kids in prison.

“We welcome the Turnbull Government’s acknowledgement that the Royal Commission findings have national implications, and the Government’s commitment to lead national change of the youth justice system,” said Claire Mallinson.

A number of recommendations in the Royal Commission report would make a significant difference if implemented nationally. These include those about diversion; supporting families; raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility; bail support services and accommodation; and ending abusive practices in prison, like banning spithoods, restraint chairs and teargas.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said the Government would develop a Royal Commission response, “not only here in the Northern Territory, but across every jurisdiction in Australia.

Every other jurisdiction will be looking to the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth for leadership about change throughout our jurisdictions, and I know that [Chief Minister Michael Gunner] and I are committed to working together to provide that leadership.”

“With today’s plan, Prime Minister Turnbull can turn those words into solid policies,” said Claire Mallinson.

“He must commit to work in partnership with Indigenous communities to nationally reform the youth injustice system. This is the only way to achieve real progress, not only for kids suffering in prison now, but for the next generation of Indigenous children

Part 3: WITHOUT URGENT ACTION THE NUMBER OF ABORIGINAL AND  TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CHILDREN REMOVED FROM FAMILY WILL TRIPLE IN NEXT 20 YEARS

The rate at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are removed from their families is an escalating national crisis.

Without immediate action from all levels of government further generations of children will be lost to their families, cultures and communities, according to a new report from the Family Matters campaign.

The report – due to be launched at Parliament House on 29 November – reveals a shocking trend in the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who are now nearly 10 times as likely to be removed from their family as non-Indigenous children – a disparity which continues to grow.

“If we continue on this path, carved out by the flawed approaches of consecutive governments, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care will more than triple in the next 20 years,” Family Matters Co-Chair Natalie Lewis said.

“Twenty years ago, the Bringing them Home report brought public and political awareness to the destructive impact of the Stolen Generations on communities, families and children – a historical pain that has caused trauma with lasting impacts. We cannot allow the history of trauma to devastate yet another generation of our children.

“In the 20 years since Bringing them Home, and nearly 10 years since the national apology, the numbers of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care have continued to escalate.”

The Family Matters Report shows that only 17 per cent of the child protection budget is spent on services aimed at preventing issues for families before they develop, while the bulk of spending is invested in reacting to problems when they arise.

“The Family Matters Report clearly shows we have a system that invests in failure and not success,” Ms Lewis said.

“Only one in every five dollars spent on child protection is invested in family supports.

Supportive and preventative services – designed to build the capacity of families to care for children and allow children to thrive – are crucial to addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care.”

The Family Matters Report provides a comprehensive analysis of child protections systems in every state and territory, judged against a series of building blocks to ensuring child safety and wellbeing.

“The disproportionate representation of our children, and the failure to adequately provide for their wellbeing and ensure fulfilment of their rights, are characteristics common to all jurisdictions,” Ms Lewis said.

“Those of us working for our communities are striving to address these fundamental system failures, but what we really need is governments to resource our vision for a better future for our children.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been forthcoming with solutions to these issues for many, many years. We need to work together now to prevent another generation of children growing up separated from their family, culture and connection to country.”

Notes :

Data from the Family Matters Report 2017 shows:

• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 9.8 times more likely to be living in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous children.

• Projected out-of-home care population growth suggests the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care will more than triple by 2036.

• From 2010 to 2018, the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in child death statistics has grown from a rate ratio of 1.84 to 2.23.

• Only 67 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia are placed with family, kin, or other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers.

Only 2 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children commenced an intensive family support service in 2015-16, a rate well below their rate of contact with child protection services.

• Only 17 per cent of overall child protection funding is invested in support services for children and their families.

• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are significantly less likely to access antenatal care during the first trimester of pregnancy.

CT REC

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #WhiteRibbonDay : @HealingOurWay @WhiteRibbonAust Report calls for overhaul of #violenceprevention programs for #Indigenous men and boys

 

 

Awr

 Australia needs to overhaul violence prevention programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and boys .

  A discussion paper released today by White Ribbon and the Healing Foundation said, “inappropriate and ill-targeted strategies” are not working to change the behaviour of violent Indigenous men.

Co-author Dr Mark Wenitong, a respected Aboriginal GP and men’s health expert from North Queensland, said generational trauma was not being addressed.”

Report

Download the Report Here

HF_Violence_Prevention_Framework_Report_Oct2017_V9_WEB 

“I think if you look at the current discourse in Australia it’s just heavier prison sentences and better policing,” he said.

“We can build lots more women’s shelters, but that’s not the point, we want it to stop.

Dr Wenitong, who works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in prison, said programs in jails did not appear to be effective.

“The prison offender programs are mostly mainstream programs … I talk to men in prison who go ‘that anger management program doesn’t mean anything when I go back to my community’,” he said.

The report said an urgent priority was “elevating the voice of men in family violence prevention”.

“Men do need to lead this, because it’s men who are the main perpetrators of violence,” Healing Foundation chief executive Richard Weston said.

The paper recommend that Indigenous men and women have a greater say over new behaviour-change programs — including consulting with reformed perpetrators of domestic violence.

“We have high levels of violence, we have high levels of substance abuse, we have a whole range of challenging social issues in our community,” Mr Weston said.

“Mainstream programs are failing us because we’re not involved in the design.”

Dr Wenitong said Indigenous mothers and children were often left in unsafe situations.

“When there’s violence in a community — in a household — why do we take the women and children out of the house for their safety, why aren’t we taking the men out?”

The paper said there had been “little opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to influence the policies and programs designed to improve safety for them and their children”.

“Arguably, the voice and perspective of men is absent, and sometimes excluded in this domain,” Dr Wenitong said.

Aside from family breakdown, alcohol and drug abuse was the most significant factor associated with family violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the report said.

An effective framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and boys to prevent and reduce family violence needs to include the following critical elements:

  • violence should be understood within a historical context, recognising the effects of foundational and structural violence, and the wide ranging continued impacts on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and boys
  • the many strong Aboriginal and Torres Islander men must be supported to lead work with men and boys, and reconnect men to their core cultural practices and protocols as a central factor to creating change
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women should be involved in the design and development, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the framework
  • prevention strategies must be positioned within broader community strategies that address intergenerational trauma through individual, family and community healing approaches – drawing from both local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and western therapeutic practice
  • all work should be developed in partnership with communities through a genuine co-design process that respects and supports local cultural governance and self-determination, and empowers communities to drive change
  • a focus on collective wellbeing should be supported through referral pathways to trauma-informed holistic health and wellbeing services. Crucially, any strategy must be adequately resourced; implemented in a safe

A taskforce led by the Victorian Aboriginal Children’s Commissioner in 2016 found that in nine-out-of-ten cases, family violence had been present in the home when an Indigenous child was removed.

Mr Weston said the discussion paper also refuted claims by some Aboriginal men that violence against women and children had “a cultural basis”.

NACCHO 1 of 100 Organisations supporting @Change_Record #NationalAction4Kids #FreetobeKids call for PM @TurnbullMalcolm to take national action through #COAG

 

” We are horrified by the abuses and torture of children in detention in the Northern Territory, highlighted throughout the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (the Royal Commission)

We are deeply concerned at the worsening rate at which Australia is locking up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, which is now 25 times the rate of non-Indigenous children. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up more than half the total number of children in prisons Australia-wide.”

NACCHO has joined nearly 100 other organisations to call for immediate national action so we never see abuse again. The Federal Government must act now on make change for children in the justice system

See NACCHO post

NACCHO @AMSANTaus @CAACongress respond #NTRC #DonDale Royal Commission demands sweeping change – But how can we make it happen?

https://nacchocommunique.com/2017/11/20/naccho-amsantaus-caacongress-respond-ntrc-dondale-royal-commission-demands-sweeping-change-but-how-can-we-make-it-happen/

We note the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, following her visit to Australia in March 2017 who found “the routine detention of young indigenous children the most distressing aspect of [her] visit.”

We note that this abuse is not isolated to the Northern Territory. Throughout the past 18 months there have been independent Inquiries into youth detention in every jurisdiction except South Australia.

In addition to removing children from their families and communities, children are being subjected to prolonged abuse including isolation, restraint chairs, spit hoods and tear gas in youth prisons.

This is unacceptable.

All Australian governments must take immediate measures to reform our youth justice systems and address the recommendations of the Royal Commission. These must be developed collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to ensure that all of Australia’s children thrive.

The undersigned organisations call on the Australian Government, working with the Northern Territory Government and other State and Territory governments through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), to seize the landmark opportunity presented by the Royal Commission to:

  • Work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their representative bodies to deliver a comprehensive and ongoing response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission
  • Lead national reform through COAG of youth justice systems, laws, policies and practices. This must build on the recommendations of the Royal Commission, with a view to developing national minimum benchmarks for laws and policies
  • Prioritise this issue as a standing item at future COAG meetings to ensure an ongoing comprehensive Commonwealth, State and Territory response to this pressing national issue
  • Ensure there is independent oversight and monitoring of the implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission.

For media comment from Change the Record Co-Chairs Antoinette Braybrook or Cheryl Axleby, contact Rashmi Kumar, Principal Advisor, at 0409 711 061 or rashmi@changetherecord.org.au.

Signed by the following organisations:

Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Legal Service Victoria

ACOSS

ACTCOSS

Amnesty International Australia

ANTaR

Article 26

Australian Association of Social Workers

Australian Capital Territory Law Society

Australian Child Rights Taskforce

Australian Council of Trade Unions

Australian Health Promotion Association

Australian Indigenous Alpine Sport Foundation

Australian Indigenous Doctors Association

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights

Australian Physiotherapy Association

Australian Youth Affairs Coalition

Bar Association of Queensland

Canberra Police Community Youth Club

Centrecare Inc.

Child Rights Australia

Children and Young People with Disability Australia

Common Grace

Community Legal Centres NSW

Community Legal Centres Queensland

Community Legal Centres Association WA

CREATE Foundation

Democracy in Colour

Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre

Federation of Community Legal Centres (Victoria)

First Peoples Disability Network

Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre

GetUp

Human Rights Law Centre

Indigenous Allied Health Australia

Indigenous Eye Health

Infinite Hope

International Social Service Australia

Jesuit Social Services

Just Reinvest NSW

Justice Reinvestment SA

Koorie Youth Council

Law Council of Australia

Law Society of NSW

Law Society of South Australia

Making Justice Work

Melbourne City Mission

Muticultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN)

NACCHO- National aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

National Association of Community Legal Centres

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services

National Children’s and Youth Law Centre

National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

National Council of Single Mothers and their Children

National FVPLS Forum

NCOSS

NTCOSS

Oxfam Australia

People with Disability Australia

PIAC

Plan International Australia

Protect All Children Today Inc.

Public Health Association of Australia

QCOSS

Reconciliation Australia

Reconciliation Victoria

Relationships Australia

SACOSS

Save the Children Australia

Sisters Inside

Smart Justice for Young People

SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children

Social Determinants of Health Alliance

Southern Aboriginal Corporation

St Vincent de Paul Society of Australia

TEAR Australia

The Bridge of Hope Foundation Inc.

The Kimberley Foundation

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians

UNICEF Australia

VCOSS

WACOSS

Weave Youth & Community Services

Woden Community Service

Youth Action

Youth Advocacy Centre Inc.

Youth Affairs Council of Victoria

Youth Coalition of the ACT

Youthlaw

YSAS

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Alcohol : #NT set to lead the nation on alcohol policy reform says @AMSANTaus

 ” This report has the potential to be a game-changer in responding to the alcohol-related harms that are far too prevalent here in the Northern Territory.

“It is really heartening to see how much the review has listened to the long-standing policy solutions that AMSANT has been advocating for more than a decade.

Implementing this report will reduce premature death, hospitalisations, domestic violence and child neglect. It will help significantly to close the health gap in the NT. ”

Mr John Paterson CEO  Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) today welcomed the final report of the NT Review of Alcohol Legislation and Policy released last Thursday.

Download the Final Report HERE

NT Alcohol Policies and Legislation Review

“It is really heartening to see how much the review has listened to the long-standing policy solutions that AMSANT has been advocating for more than a decade”, he said.

“For a very long time we have been concerned about the harms being caused by cheap grog, too many outlets and take-away licenses, too much alcohol promotion and lack of adequate data, amongst other issues.

“This report addresses all of these issues and goes further, providing a comprehensive response to alcohol problems in the NT. Previous attempts at reform, such as the “Enough is Enough” program, not been far-reaching enough to have a major impact, but we are confident that this report provides the policy options to effectively deal with the NT’s alcohol problems.

“AMSANT thanks the Gunner Government for their immediate and emphatic response to the report in supporting all but one of the 220 recommendations.

The leadership shown by our Chief Minister on this key public health issue is commendable.

“The Territory is on the cusp of finally coming to terms with alcohol and the harm it causes. Instead of being the jurisdiction famous for its “bloody good drinkers”, we now have an opportunity to lead the nation in action to address alcohol.

“Implementing this report will reduce premature death, hospitalisations, domestic violence and child neglect. It will help significantly to close the health gap in the NT.

Research shows that in any population, the most disadvantaged people are most impacted by alcohol and have the most to gain from an effective public health response”, he concluded.

Riley review: Floor price on alcohol, 400sqm rule to be scrapped in wake of NT alcohol policy paper

Photo: Michael Gunner (centre) says he agrees with nearly all the recommendations of Trevor Riley (left). (ABC News: Felicity James)

Published HERE

The review by former chief justice Trevor Riley could usher in some of the biggest-ever changes to the Northern Territory’s alcohol policies.

Already the Gunner Government has said it will accept in principle nearly all of the 220 recommendations from the review, including a floor price or volumetric tax on alcohol products and a policy shift away from floor-size restrictions.

Major recommendations of the Riley Review:

  • The NT Liquor Act be rewritten
  • Immediate moratorium on takeaway liquor licences
  • Reduce grocery stores selling alcohol by phasing out store licences
  • Floor price/volumetric tax on alcohol products designed to reduce availability of cheap alcohol
  • Shift away from floor size restrictions for liquor outlets and repeal 400-square-metre restrictions
  • Reinstating an independent Liquor Commission
  • Legislating to make it an offence for someone to operate a boat or other vessel while over the limit
  • Establish an alcohol research body in the NT
  • Trial a safe spaces program where people can manage their consumption and seek intervention

“I got that one wrong going into the election and it has been good to see that Trevor [Riley] has come forward with this report with a much more considered, better way of dealing with density and sales of take-away outlets,” Mr Gunner said following the release of the report.

The Government has also said it will enact today a “complete moratorium” on all new take-away alcohol licences, including at greenfield sites.Attorney-General Natasha Fyles said the Northern Territory had the highest rate of alcohol consumption of anywhere in the world.

But the AHA’s opposition to Dan Murphy’s in the NT continues.

“We see that there are some recommendations in there in relation to additional licencing fees… to put an additional impost on businesses above the GST… we would see would be unfair,” he said.

“If the spirit of the review is followed in the Liquor Act, then the end result will be a reduction in alcohol in the volume of alcohol in the community.”

The national branch of the Australian Hotels Association does not support a floor price but the Northern Territory branch is in favour of it and has widely accepted the Riley review.

The figure would be indexed against ordinary wages and evaluated after three years.

“Floor space doesn’t impact on the amount of alcohol out there… it’s the price that makes the alcohol obtainable… if we’ve got people selling bottles of wine for $3, that’s cheaper than water, it seems to me you’ve clearly got a problem,” he said.

It said the relationship between the size of these premises and any increased harm is less clear, dismissing the claim that floor space was a contributing factor to alcohol related harm.

Floor price a more powerful way to reduce harm

He also acknowledged the Territory’s problem with alcohol-related harm and promised to sell liquor responsibly, if the licence was to be granted.

In a statement he said the company planned to move ahead with their application for a liquor licence in the Northern Territory.

Dan Murphy’s will try to operate in the NT

Other reforms include introducing licensing inspectors to help police at bottle shops, a move the NT Police Association has been pushing for.

Once the review is in place, one of the first priorities would be to reinstate an independent Liquor Commission, followed by a complete rewrite of the Liquor Act, which is expected to take 12 months.

“It is time that the Northern Territory gets rid of the tag of being an alcohol-fuelled community,” Ms Fyles said

He said details of how the floor price on alcohol will operate are yet to be determined, and any such price would be abolished if the Federal Government were to introduce its own volumetric tax.

Another recommendation that the Government has said it will back is a law to make it an offence for a person to operate or navigate a vessel on the water with a blood-alcohol content above 0.05 per cent.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner conceded that he made an error in pushing for the 400-square-metre rule, which had been dubbed a “Dan Ban” because it was seen as preventing Dan Murphy’s from opening a large store in Darwin.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Incarceration Debate #JustJustice : Download : IPA releases report on their solutions

The standard of living of Indigenous Australians fall far short of the standard that the rest of the nation enjoys, many aspects of this disadvantage are correlated, in general, with higher offending and incarceration.”

“However, these correlations also exist for non-indigenous cultural groups, and therefore it is incorrect and counter-productive to believe that the criminal justice system must treat Indigenous Australians in an exceptional way.”

The fourth major report of the IPA’s Criminal Justice program authored by IPA Research Fellow, Andrew Bushnell, was recently incorporated into a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Inquiry into the Incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Download the IPA Report

IPA report Indigenous Australians and the criminal justice system

NACCHO Note : This article and the attached report has not been endorsed in any way by NACCHO and has been only published for research purposes only

“Australia’s prison population grew by 43 percent between 2007 and 2016, with more than one third of this growth caused by the incarceration of Indigenous Australians. Indigenous Australians make up 3 percent of the general population, but 27 percent of the prison population.”

For balance to this attached report read

NACCHO 20 + Articles Just Justice articles 

NACCHO 40 + Articles NT Royal Commission

A new report released last by the free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs: Indigenous Australians and the criminal justice system, examines the very high rate of incarceration among Indigenous Australians.

The report makes an original contribution through a renewed focus on core principles of justice and corrections, while being mindful of Indigenous disadvantage.

It finds that despite decades of special programs for Indigenous offenders, recidivism and incarceration rates have continued to climb, and calls for enhanced options for punishment and reform outside of the traditional prison system

“The standard of living of Indigenous Australians fall far short of the standard that the rest of the nation enjoys,” Mr Bushnell said. “Many aspects of this disadvantage are correlated, in general, with higher offending and incarceration.”

“However, these correlations also exist for non-indigenous cultural groups, and therefore it is incorrect and counter-productive to believe that the criminal justice system must treat Indigenous Australians in an exceptional way.”

“The high level of Indigenous offending and incarceration can and should be addressed in a manner consistent with the traditional bases of the criminal justice system: community safety, fair punishment, and personal responsibility.”

“All of the tools necessary for improving Indigenous outcomes in criminal justice are known and available,” said Mr Bushnell.

However, there are unique difficulties in finding alternatives to incarceration. Indigenous offenders are more likely than the non-Indigenous to be imprisoned for violent crimes and to have been in prison before. Moreover, Indigenous Australians are more likely to live in remote areas where the delivery by Government of alternatives to incarceration, like home detention and work and community orders, is more difficult.

But Mr Bushnell said the problems were not insurmountable.

“More should be done to fill in the spectrum of coercion that exists between release into the community and imprisonment. In particular, residential programs in larger population centres that can sustain them would make employment programs and rehabilitation services more viable.”

“It is important to improve Indigenous Australians’ ability to access our universal system of justice, including alternative punishments, rather than developing parallel systems of justice than only reinforce social division,” said Mr Bushnell.

In the report Mr Bushnell the search for solutions should not lead to setting aside traditional principles of justice. He said the criminal justice system must remain focused on defending individual rights and delivering retribution on behalf of victims and society, and the correction of offenders’ antisocial behaviour, for the long-term benefit of all Australians of all backgrounds.

“To view this issue through any other prism is to diminish the agency and dignity of Indigenous Australians and perpetuate a racial separatism that is not in the long-term interests of Australians and national solidarity.”

Australia’s prison population grew by 43 percent between 2007 and 2016, with more than one third of this growth caused by the incarceration of Indigenous Australians. Indigenous Australians make up 3 percent of the general population, but 27 percent of the prison population.

There is growing awareness that incarceration in Australia is rising at an unsustainable rate. In previous reports, the Institute of Public Affairs Criminal Justice Project has demonstrated the potential benefits of reforming punishment for nonviolent, low-risk offenders and the importance of skills training and work to the reduction of recidivism. The lessons of successful criminal justice reform in the United States and elsewhere apply with equal validity to the problem of rising Indigenous incarceration.

NACCHO welcomes comments below

NACCHO Aboriginal Children #SNAICC2017 : Download : UN Report Recommends : Reducing rates of Indigenous child incarceration and removal

 ” The United Nations has criticised Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government for the soaring rates at which Australia locks up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

In her new report, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, said “the routine detention of young Indigenous children” was “the most distressing aspect of her visit” to Australia.

The report found that Australia locks up Indigenous children, as young as 10 years old, at 24 times the rate of non-Indigenous children.”

Download the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 

UN The Australia Report

 ” The lack of progress to improve education, health and employment standards for Indigenous people had fuelled “escalating” rates of incarceration and child removal.

The Special Rapporteur’s report said a plan of action to address high rates of Indigenous incarceration was a “national priority”.

The current claim by the Government that matters relating to incarceration remain the sole prerogative of states is untenable in the severe “

See ABC Report Part 3 Below  Australia’s progress on Closing the Gap ‘woefully inadequate’, UN says

 ” Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services have achieved remarkable success in delivering culturally appropriate services for primary health care.

However, the Special Rapporteur was informed by multiple stakeholders during her visit about inequalities in the resources available for rural and remote service delivery and of cuts to community managed primary health care, which play an essential role, for example in the prevention of chronic diseases.”

See Part 2 Below Close the Gap and ACCHO Health Services

Update September 20

CTG Press Release : Australian governments urged to act on scathing UN report

The Close the Gap Campaign urges Australian governments to act on the recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Special Rapporteur, Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, said it is “woefully inadequate” that, after more than two decades of sustained economic growth, governments have failed to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The co-chairs of the Close the Gap Campaign, Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar and National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Co-Chair, Mr Rod Little, call on Federal, State and Territory governments to make Indigenous health reform a top priority at the next COAG meeting and in their 2018 Budgets

Download the CTG press Release HERE CTG Special Rep MR Final

Ms Tauli-Corpuz emphasised that PM Turnbull’s Government, not states and territories, is responsible under international law for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s “national detention crisis”.

She called for the Federal Government to adopt a National Action Plan to address the crisis.

Tammy Solonec, Indigenous Rights Manager at Amnesty International Australia, said today:

Download Report from Amnesty Amnesty Aboriginal Austrlia

“Locking up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids in children’s prisons is a national shame. Children are being abused not only in Don Dale in the NT, but in Cleveland in Queensland, in Bimberi in the ACT, in Banksia Hill in WA. This problem is nationwide.”

“The good news is that we already know what will keep Indigenous kids out of children’s prisons and safe in their communities.”

“PM Turnbull must commit to a National Action Plan to fix the youth ‘injustice’ system. That plan must fund Indigenous-led community programs, which are the best at keeping Indigenous kids safe and thriving.”

 Other concerns and recommendations in the Special Rapporteur’s report include

  • The application of criminal responsibility as low as at the age of 10 years across the country is deeply troubling and below international standards. This situation is aggravated by the failure to apply diversion measures and community programmes and the placement of children in high-security facilities.
  • It is wholly inappropriate to detain children in punitive, rather than rehabilitative, conditions. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are essentially being punished for being poor and, in most cases, prison will only perpetuate the cycle of violence, intergenerational trauma, poverty and crime.
  • Allegations of serious abuses, including violent strip-searches, teargassing, hooding and prolonged isolation committed against Aboriginal children in custody.
  • The focus urgently needs to move away from detention and punishment towards rehabilitation and reintegration. Locking up people costs tax payers vast amounts of money. For instance, the Special Rapporteur was told that detaining a child costs between $A170,000 and $A200,000 per year.
  • The Government must ensure that community-led early intervention programmes invest in families, rather than punish them, in order to prevent children from being in contact with the child protection system.

 

Part 2 Closing the Gap strategy

  1. The “Closing the Gap” strategy has been in existence for nearly a decade. However, in its 2017 report on health, education and unemployment targets,17 the Government recognizes that only one of the seven targets — to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment rates — is on track. The Government did not expect to meet targets to close or reduce the gap in the remaining six targets, including on life expectancy, infant mortality, education and employment. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to die on average 10 years younger than other Australians, with no major improvements being recorded. In the Northern Territory, the life expectancy of Aboriginal people is the lowest in the nation and the gap between the non-indigenous population is 16 years for men and 14 years for women.
  2. It is woefully inadequate that, despite having enjoyed over two decades of economic growth, Australia has not been able to improve the social disadvantage of its indigenous population. The existing measures are clearly insufficient as evidenced by the lack of progress in achieving the “Close the Gap” targets.

Health services

  1. Social and cultural determinants explain almost one third of the health gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people. In 2015, nearly 45 per cent of indigenous peoples reported having a disability or long-term health condition. Understanding the impacts of intergenerational trauma and racism are essential factors in order to address the health situation of indigenous peoples effectively.
  2. The Government has taken steps to improve the health of indigenous peoples through the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023, and the Special Rapporteur notes as positive that the plan adopts a human rights-based approach informed by the Declaration.18
  3. In order for the Implementation Plan for the Health Plan to be successful, the Government must invest in partnerships that recognize the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The workforce of indigenous Australian medical professionals has expanded in the past decade and developed valuable expertise. However, parity is still lagging as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders still make up less than 1 per cent of the national health workforce. Support for training more indigenous health professionals is therefore required.
  4. Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services have achieved remarkable success in delivering culturally appropriate services for primary health care. However, the Special Rapporteur was informed by multiple stakeholders during her visit about inequalities in the resources available for rural and remote service delivery and of cuts to community managed primary health care, which play an essential role, for example in the prevention of chronic diseases.
  5. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders also told the Special Rapporteur about their feelings of powerlessness, loss of culture and lack of control over their lives. Suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are escalating at a shocking rate and are double that of non-Indigenous Australians. The current situation was described to the Special Rapporteur as a suicide epidemic. While visiting the Kimberley region in Western Australia, she learned about youth-developed and -driven projects to prevent suicide among Aboriginal adolescents. She strongly urges that such initiatives be supported and replicated. Adopting a holistic approach to social and emotional well-being that recognizes the need for cultural connection is essential to achieve sustainable improvement in health indicators.
  6. Aboriginal-led health research capacity has been established and should be drawn upon to inform policies. Strengthened financial and political support for Aboriginal- and Torres Strait Islander-led expertise, professional development and research is crucial in order to close the gap in relation to key health inequalities faced by indigenous peoples. In order for such measures to be sustainable, longer-term funding agreements are necessary.

Part 3 Australia’s progress on Closing the Gap ‘woefully inadequate’, UN says

The United Nations has described Australia’s lack of progress on Closing the Gap as “woefully inadequate”, saying the over-incarceration of Indigenous people is a major human rights concern

Key points:

  • The UN supported the call for a referendum to establish a First Nations advisory body in the constitution, the report said
  • It also recommended the Federal Government adopt new targets to reduce the rate of Indigenous incarceration
  • A plan of action to address high rates of incarceration was a “national priority”, it added

UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz visited Australia earlier this year, and today released her report detailing her concerns on the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Ms Tauli-Corpuz said it was unacceptable that despite two decades of economic growth, Australia had not been able to improve the social disadvantage of its Indigenous population.

She said the United Nations supported the call for a referendum to establish a First Nations advisory body in the constitution and urged the Federal Government to establish a treaties and truth-telling commission.

“Such measures would carry momentous significance to resetting the relationship with the First Peoples of Australia,” Ms Tauli-Corpuz said.

The Special Rapporteur’s report also recommended the Federal Government adopt new targets to reduce violence against women and rates of incarceration and child removal.

Ms Tauli-Corpuz said the detention of young Indigenous children was “the most distressing aspect of her visit” to Australia.

“Detention of those children has become so prevalent in certain communities that some parents referred to it as an achievement that none of their children has been taken into custody so far,” she wrote.

“The extraordinarily high rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, including women and children, is a major human rights concern.

“There have been allegations of serious abuses, including violent strip-searches, teargassing, hooding and prolonged isolation committed against Aboriginal children in custody.”

She said the lack of progress to improve education, health and employment standards for Indigenous people had fuelled “escalating” rates of incarceration and child removal.

The Special Rapporteur’s report said a plan of action to address high rates of Indigenous incarceration was a “national priority”.

“The current claim by the Government that matters relating to incarceration remain the sole prerogative of states is untenable in the severe,” she said.

Ms Tauli-Corpuz praised the Children’s Koori Court in Victoria, which brings young offenders in front of a panel of elders and aims to reduce imprisonment and recidivism.

“Such culturally sensitive processes could significantly reduce recidivism rates if extended to other jurisdictions,” she said.