NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Diabetes Australia recognises the outstanding contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurse Diabetes Educators for World Diabetes Day

Diabetes Australia recognises the outstanding contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurse Diabetes Educators 

Based on self-reported and measured results, Indigenous Australians are almost three times as likely to have diabetes as their non-Indigenous counterparts.  According to the ABS 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey around 64,100 of Indigenous Australians had diabetes

Tomorrow is World Diabetes Day and the NACCHO would like to highlight the disproportionate rates of diabetes amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In 2020, the theme ‘nurses make the difference for diabetes’ focuses on promoting the role of nurses in the prevention and management of diabetes. This is particularly important and necessary with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are at risk or living with diabetes. 

Diabetes Australia marked World Diabetes Day and NAIDOC Week celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurse Diabetes Educators.
The theme for World Diabetes Day 2020 is Diabetes: nurses make the difference and the theme for NAIDOC week in 2020 is Always Was, Always Will Be. This theme recognises the fact that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent and themselves for over 65,000 years this. An important reminder for health organisations.

Diabetes Australia, CEO Professor Greg Johnson said First Nations nurses are playing a major role in helping to meet the challenges of the diabetes epidemic.

“First Nations Peoples in Australia are four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and much more likely to develop serious diabetes-related complications. The gap in health outcomes for indigenous Australians is greatest in diabetes,” Professor Johnson said.

“Despite the size of the challenge, we should take heart that we have a growing First Nations health work force who are working hard every single day caring for, and supporting, people with diabetes.

“There are approximately 3000 First Nations nurses in Australia, and I take this opportunity today to recognise their contribution and, on behalf of people with diabetes, say thank you.”

Download the Diabetes Australia media release for World Diabetes Day here.

Dr Charles Perkins oration

Speaking at the 20th anniversary of the Dr Charles Perkins Oration and Prize, hosted by the University of Sydney, Aboriginal leader Pat Turner AM said governments must continue to prioritise working in partnership with Indigenous organisations to achieve positive outcomes for First Nations people. Ms Turner used her keynote address to outline a blueprint for how Australia could move towards a future of greater acceptance and equality, saying “We have a shared future — Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, together — and the two sides must come together to deliver lasting equality and recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”.

The Dr Charles Perkins Oration provides an esteemed platform for the discussion of race relations in Australia. In 2020, the theme is still relevant with the broader Australian public forced to once again reconcile with uncomfortable truths, just as it did in 1965 when Charles Perkins led a bus tour across NSW, known as the Freedom Rides. Over the past 12 months, issues such as the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system, an ineffective Closing the Gap strategy, and examples of blatant disregard for culturally significant Aboriginal sites have laid bare the inequality still experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Ms Turner said. “Lasting change can only come when it is embedded in the culture of organisations and traditionally Australian governments are … slow to adapt,” Ms Turner said. Ms Turner said Dr Perkins had led the fight against racial discrimination and segregation by mobilising the mainstream media and Aboriginal communities in unprecedented ways. “He wanted Aboriginal people, his people, to see that we deserved more, should demand more, and could be more,” she said.

To view a transcript of the Dr Charles Perkins Oration delivered by Patricia Turner AM at the University of Sydney on 12 November 2020 click here.

Pat Turner AM at lectern at The University of Sydney delivering the Dr Charles Perkins Oration 2020

Pat Turner AM, delivering the Dr Charles Perkins Memorial Oration for 2020. Image source: ABC Sydney.

 

First Nations health champion

When she was growing up, Ngaree Blow used to read statistics about the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and wonder, “does that mean I’m going to die early?” The figures showed First Nations people had, on average, had a significantly lower life expectancy than the rest of the population. They showed increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, renal disease and a host of other health issues. “That’s where my passion led to uncovering what those statistics actually mean, and how that links into our knowledge and understanding of health and wellbeing as Aboriginal people,” Dr Blow said.

To view the full article click here.

photo of Dr Ngaree Blow looking into distance in garden setting

Dr Ngaree Blow, director of First Nations health at the University of Melbourne’s medical school. Image source: ABC News.

Culturally trained female clinicians needed

More culturally trained female clinicians are needed to help reduce cervical cancer rates in remote Indigenous communities, a Mount Isa nurse says. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s 2019 report found the incidence of cervical cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was more than double that of non-Indigenous women.

The age-standardised incident rate for Indigenous women aged 20–69 was 22.3 new cases per 100,000 compared to 8.7 new cases per 100,000 for non-Indigenous women according to data from 2011 to 2015. The report also said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were three times more likely to die from the disease. Clinical nurse consultant Rachel Tipoti said a lack of testing put Indigenous women at higher risk.

To view the full article click here.

portrait shot of Rachel Tipoti against wall with Aboriginal ard

Rachel Tipoti is the only female Indigenous clinician trained in cervical screening, servicing NW Qld remote communities. Image source: ABC News.

Antenatal care links to baby outcomes

This report explores the factors associated with antenatal care use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, and how these may relate to baby outcomes – including how this varies spatially across the Indigenous Regions (IREGs) of Australia. Having no antenatal care was associated with increased odds of pre-term birth and perinatal death and late antenatal care was associated with increased odds of low birthweight and NICU/SCN admission. In 2016–2017 63% of Indigenous mothers attended antenatal care in the first trimester, up from 55% in 2014–2015. IREGs with higher rates of antenatal care were more likely to have lower rates of adverse mother and baby outcomes.

To view the Antenatal care use and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their babies report click here.

Aboriginal baby in hessian & orange wool in a basket sitting on paperbark

Photo by Aboriginal photographer Bobbi-lee Hille.

Best Practice decision-making

There are thousands of agreements in place between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, covering wide-ranging issues including land use, mining exploration and the provision of health services. But these agreements don’t always work, particularly where parties have little regard for formal agreement provisions, community standards or the spirit of ‘partnership’ with Traditional Owners. Agreement making processes must reflect that Indigenous Australians are more than ‘stakeholders’ and have a special relationship to Country as Traditional Owners. This includes ensuring appropriate representation in negotiations and transparency, as well as effective mechanisms for compliance and review.

The recent National Agreement on Closing the Gap sets out processes for representation, consultation and shared decision making. This demonstrates a commitment to improved partnerships between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and people.

Once the relevant groups are identified, it’s essential that resources are invested to ensure that the relevant Indigenous organisations can participate meaningfully in negotiations, and the subsequent implementation of agreements, including acting as a liaison between the parties.

To view the full article click here.

NACCHO COE Pat Turner AM at a Partnership Agreement on CTG meeting

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM. Image source: The University of Melbourne.

Nidjalla Waangan Mia celebrates 10 years

The Nidjalla Waangan Mia team only conducted 24 Aboriginal health checks in its first year of operation. However, 10 years on the service completed 312 health checks in the past year and helps 964 active clients. Celebrating the milestone anniversary during NAIDOC Week, Aboriginal community leader George Walley made a speech and played didgeridoo at the event. “Nidjalla Waangan Mia is quite an extraordinary place because it allows us to now work with families and clients to help them manage their own health – we’ve come a long way,” he said.

“Access is a big issue in terms of health and it’s important to break down the barriers that stop people accessing the health services they need,” she said. “So we have a transport service here, we have outreach services, and we do offer rapid appointments – all the eligible people that come here are offered an Aboriginal health check, offered prevention measures and health promotion measures to live the best lives they can. “Nidjalla now has 964 active clients, which is 56 per cent of the Aboriginal community in Peel based on the last census.”

To view the Mandurah Mail article click here.

Elder, client and GP cutting 10 year anniversary cake

Aboriginal community leader George Walley, GP down south chief executive Amanda Poller, and Nidjalla Waangan Mia client Keith Savage celebrating the organisation’s 10 year anniversary. Image source: Mandurah Mail.

Joe Williams promotes mental wellbeing

Focusing on what matters and reflecting on the ‘small victories’ could be the key to lessening the impact of COVID-19 on our mental health, according to former NRL player and mental health advocate, Joe Williams.

Joe has managed his mental wellbeing during the current global pandemic by focusing on some of the positive aspects to emerge from the significant and sudden changes to everyone’s life. He uses the extra time at home to connect more closely with family. 

“It was my sign to slow down,” says Joe. “I don’t want to say it’s been a positive, but the whole experience has taught me the importance of family. Living more closely with each other and spending more time at home means thinking more about our own words, actions and behaviours.”

For further information click here.

portrat shot of Joe Williams navy suit jacket and grey t-shire

Joe Williams. Image source: 33 Creative.

Eliminating Hep C webinar

EC Australia is hosting a webinar from 12.00 pm-1.30 pm (AEDT) on Wednesday 18 November 2020 presenting the latest hepatitis C data from a national sentinal surveillance network of ACCHOs (ATLAS network) and the results of The Goanna Survey 2; a study of knowledge, risk practices and health service access for sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs) among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Findings from a recent study on the barriers and enablers of hepatitis C treatment among clients of urban Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in SE Queensland and how the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (IUHI) have translated these research findings into service delivery. The webinar will also showcase micor-elimination approaches from two local ACCHOs based on outer regional and urban settings and one peer-based model of service delivery.

For further information about the webinar and to register click here.

image of hepatitis C cell

Image source: NPS Medicinewise.

Strong Brother Strong Sister partners with Surfing Victoria

Surfing Victoria and the Victorian Indigenous Surfing Program have signed a strategic partnership with Victorian based Indigenous Youth Organisation, Strong Brother Strong Sister. The organisations have been working closely together since Strong Brother, Strong Sister was founded in 2017 by Cormach Evans, and have now formalised the partnership to continue surfing as a key part of their program.

The Victorian Indigenous Surfing Program is the key initiative of Surfing Victoria’s Indigenous Strategic Pillar and is one of the longest running Indigenous engagement programs in the country. Now in its 23rd year, the program uses Surfing as a way to connect Indigenous Victorians with the ocean while learning new skills, water safety knowledge and healthy habits.

Evans notes “Strong Brother Strong Sister and Surfing Victoria’s partnership will allow the two organisations excellence to grow further and thrive, ensuring First Nations children, youth and their families have the opportunities to connect with community, culture and positive health and wellbeing and a love for the ocean through surfing.”

To view the full article click here.

two male adults and two Aboriginal children surfing

Image source: Australasian Leisure Management website.

Birthing in the city redesigned

Murdoch researchers are redesigning health care for Aboriginal people and the results may radically improve life outcomes for many. Healthy mothers, on the whole, give birth to healthy children and healthy mothers are supported physically and mentally by not only their communities, but their health practitioners and the health systems they deliver.

But what happens when the health system, which has been designed as a one size fits all approach, doesn’t fit?

Murdoch University’s Ngangk Yira Research Center, led by Professor Rhonda Marriott, has been working with Aboriginal communities throughout WA to identify the needs of Aboriginal women giving birth in metropolitan and regional centers. The project, Birthing on Noogar Boodjar, was conceived during a trip Rhonda took to Alice Springs in 2012 to discuss Australian country maternity services for Aboriginal women. The words Noongar Boodjar mean ‘the land that the Noongar people live on,” which is the SW corner of WA.

To view the full article click here.

Minister Wyatt, two researches & two Aboriginal mums and bubs

Image source: Murdoch University.

IAHP Yarnes restart

The Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP) Yarnes (Yarning Action Reflection National Evaluation Systems) Team enacted a decision to pause engagement with potential evaluation partners on 31 March 2020 because of COVID-19 and agreed to restart once pandemic conditions permitted safe engagement. Over the last six months, the team remained in contact with potential partners, and requested advice about when and how it would be appropriate to recommence planning workshops.

Over this period, the IAHP Yarnes team facilitated a series of three evaluation-specific webinars with potential partners. The webinars provided an opportunity for two-way knowledge exchange. They enabled potential partners to engage more in-depth with the evaluation values, scope, proposed approaches and methods, and for the team to better understand the concerns and needs of partners and test different approaches for future engagement. The team is confident that planning workshops, to discuss and reach agreement on partner participation and the implementation of the evaluation in individual sites can be successfully delivered virtually.

For further information about the IAHP Yarnes restart click here.IAHP Yarnes logo

NSW – Sydney – The George Institute for Global Health

PT or FT Research Associate – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program (identified position)
There is a very exciting opportunity for a Research Associate (project Manager) to join The George Institute for Global Health’s ‘Safe Pathways’ team that will work in partnership with families to focus on developing a discharge planning and delivery model of care that will: address institutionalised racism; facilitate access to ongoing specialist burn care; and enhance communication, coordination and care integration between families, local primary health services and the burns service at Westmead.
 
The George Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program cuts across content areas and is conducted within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing, with a focus on social determinants of health, health systems and healthcare delivery. We maintain an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander paradigm of health and healing (physical, emotional, social, cultural and spiritual) and a commitment to making impact through translation that influences policy.
 
For further information about the position and to apply click here.The George Institute for Global Health logo - white background, name in black font, purple sound waves across bottom

Feature tile 9.11.20 The Pharmacy Guild of Australia promote importance of NAIDOC Week, NAIDOC Week logo

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pharmacy Guild promotes importance of NAIDOC Week

Feature tile 9.11.20 The Pharmacy Guild of Australia promote importance of NAIDOC Week, NAIDOC Week logo

Pharmacy Guild promotes NAIDOC Week

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Executive Director Suzanne Greenwood has released an editorial about the importance of NAIDOC Week as the annual celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples saying that NAIDOC Week is celebrated not only in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities but by Australians from all walks of life in what is a national coming-together in cultural recognition and respect.

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme Always Was, Always Will Be, aims to recognise that First Nations peoples have occupied and cared for this land for more than 65,000 years. Our First Nations peoples are spiritually and culturally connected to this country. At the Pharmacy Guild, NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to highlight the way community pharmacies work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly in regional, rural and remote communities.

These pharmacies are going the extra mile in providing services to help address the documented poorer health outcomes experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Whether it be through visits to communities, special consultations or even ensuring labelling meets the needs of individual communities, pharmacists are at the forefront. And as the most accessible healthcare professionals, they have a unique role to play in addressing gaps and providing targeted services to improve the health outcomes of these Australians.

To view Suzanne Greenwood’s editorial in full click here and to read the two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacist case studies click here.

portrait photo of Aboriginal intern pharmacist Lillian Emery and Aboriginal pharmacist student Louis Emery

Aboriginal intern pharmacist Lillian Emery and Aboriginal pharmacist student Louis Emery. Image source: The Pharmacy Guild of Australia website.

Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Oration

In 2001, the University of Sydney, in collaboration with the Koori Centre, launched an annual oration by a leading spokesperson within the field of Indigenous and non-Indigenous race relations. The Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Oration was established with the full support of the Perkins family and in acknowledgement of his tireless dedication to human rights and social justice for Indigenous Australians.

This year the 2020 Charles Perkins Memorial Oration, will be presented by Pat Turner AM in honour of her uncle. This event, hosted by Stan Grant and Isabella Higgins at The Great Hall at the University of Sydney, will be a timely look at the state of race relations in Australian over the last two decades.

You can watch the Dr Charles Perkins Oration via livestreamed from 8.00 pm – 9.00 pm (AEST) Thursday 12 November from the following platforms:

University of Sydney Facebook    

University of Sydney YouTube

ABC Indigenous Facebook

ABC Sydney Facebook

black and white photo of Charles Perins on bus home after visit to Tranby, Glebe 1963

Charlies Perkins travelling home on a Sydney bus in 1963. Image source: ABC News website.

Professor Milroy wins mental health prize

Pioneering Aboriginal psychiatrist, researcher and mental health champion Professor Helen Milroy has been named as a joint winner of the 2020 Australian Mental Health Prize. Professor Milroy, recognised as the first Indigenous Australian to become a medical doctor, shares the prestigious prize with leading psychiatrist and founder of the Black Dog Institute, Professor Gordon Parker.

The national prize, presented by the Governor General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), recognises Australians who have made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health or prevention/treatment of mental health issues. “I am hoping that through this award, we can shine a light on children’s mental health and provide whatever it takes to bring about their wellbeing and that of their families and communities.”

To view the full article click here.

portrait photo of Professor Helen Milroy, background is an office

Image source: The University of Western Australian.

Jimmy Little Foundation supports remote health care

Based in Lightning Ridge, NSW the Jimmy Little Foundation is working to improve the quality of life and access to health care for remote and regional communities. The Foundation’s focus is promoting healthy outcomes for Indigenous Australians facing Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and the demands of dialysis. It currently depends solely on donations to run its programs and advocacy ventures.

The late Jimmy Little, a proud Yorta Yorta man, musician and actor founded the Jimmy Little Foundation in 2006. After undergoing a kidney transplant, he used his performances as an opportunity to tell the communities he visited there is good quality of life after dialysis. Little’s daughter, Frances Peters-Little, is now Managing Director of the Foundation. She said she’s proud of the Foundation’s current board of directors, who are all Indigenous women.

To read the full article click here.

portrait photo of Francis Peters-Little Managing Director of the Jimmy Little Foundation

Francis Peters-Little. Image source: ALTD Spirits website.

Football has power to improve health

The 2020 Indigenous Football Week (IFW20) – Monday 9 November until Sunday 15 November – will feature a program of events that will engage Indigenous communities and players across Australia. Organisers say IFW20 will highlight how football has the power to create pathways to improved physical and mental health, wellbeing, education, and community engagement for Indigenous players. The football community has come together to support the John Moriarty Football (JMF) initiative. JMF has partnered with Football Federation Australia (FFA), Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), SBS, NITV, and FOX Sports, to celebrate events held in JMF communities in NT, NSW and Queensland.

To read the full article click here.

Aboriginal boy in football uniform kneeling on soccer ball

Image source: Moriarty Foundation website.

48 hour follow up initiative supports recovery

In a resent presentation at the Deniliquin Local Health Advisory Committee, Aboriginal health education officer Jill Owens, shared some information about her role and partnerships, ensuring the health and well-being of Aboriginal members in the community are addressed.  Jill shared information about the ‘48 hour Follow Up’ initiative, a service for patients who have been in hospital for things such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or kidney disease, ensuring there is a check in on their well-being within 48 hours of discharge. Jill said ‘‘The value of this is that ongoing health needs can be identified and services put in place to support the patient’s recovery and prevent unnecessary admissions.’’

To view the full article in the Deniliquin Pastoral Times click here.

health worker with middle-aged Aboriginal man in home setting

Image source: GP Synergy website.

Tresillian Mobile2U helps get babies to sleep

If you or someone you know has ever had trouble getting a baby to sleep you have probably heard of the amazing work of Tresiliian and the Mid North Coast Local Health District. Tresilian works with parents to get babies into a sleep routine and have been recognised for their innovative approach to delivering child and family health services to regional NSW. Hesta has announced Tresillian and Mid North Coast Local Health District as a finalist in the HESTA Excellence Awards in the Team Excellence – Community Services category. The Mobile 2U van goes to locations in communities such as the Kempsey Community Centre and the Council Chambers at Wauchope. Ms Carlon said the Tresillian 2U mobile service is innovative, and unique. Nurses are focussed on individual parenting plans and give focussed and individualised support.

Aunty Delya Smith, a Dunghutti woman, is the Aboriginal health worker in the team and close to twenty percent of families who access the service identify as Aboriginal. The van also has two child and family health nurses who work with families providing the specialised services in the locations that are easy for families to access in their own communities.

To read the full News of The Area article click here.

Aboriginal baby sleeping

Image source: News Of The Area website.

Voluntary Indigenous Identifier Framework survey

Since 2002, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been able to have their status recorded confidentially on a database called the Voluntary Indigenous Identifier (VII). The VII is primarily used to estimate use of the Medicare Benefits Scheme by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This information, grouped together to produce statistical reports, appears in a range of publications and is used to:

  • improve policies focused on access to health programs and services,
  • target funding to specific areas of need,
  • improve access to benefits and payments, and
  • improve the Department of Health’s plans and policies for First Nations People.

The Framework for the Collection, Release, Use and Publication of Voluntary Indigenous Identifier Data (VII Data Framework) is a set of guidelines that direct how VII data is collected and used.

You can download the draft Framework here. and are invited to provide your feedback via the VII Framework Online Survey.

young Aboriginal woman portrait photo, green foliage in the background

Image source: VincentCare website.

ADHA aims to make health care more equitable

This NAIDOC Week the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has proudly joined a network of more than 1,100 corporate, government and not-for-profit organisations that have made a formal commitment to reconciliation through the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program. Agency CEO Amanda Cattermole PSM said the Agency’s reconciliation commitments include an emphasis on understanding and progressing digital health priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living across Australia, in rural, remote and metropolitan communities. “Technology can contribute to closing the gap by improving health care accessibility, quality and safety no matter where people live,” she said. “We can make health care more equitable and efficient using digital tools and technology like My Health Record, telehealth and electronic prescriptions.”

To view the full article click here. and to download the ADHA RAP click here.

cover of ADHA RAP 2020–21 report - Aboriginal dot painting circules orange blue dark red

Image source: Australian Government ADHA website.

Funding for improved use of data collections

The Australia Government is investing $8.9 million to support improved management and use of Indigenous data collections. The funding will be used to create a data network that will transform how Australian social and cultural data is accessed, curated and analysed. The project will support the development of eResearch platforms and tools for visualisation, transcription and entity recognition. Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the investment would boost Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) and Indigenous research capability and “will improve the reliability and consistency of data for Indigenous Australians to better support evidence-based Indigenous policy-making.”

To view the media release click here.

Aboriginal dot painting of map of Australia

Image source: Open Forum website.

Unaddressed trauma plays role in present pain

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said that NAIDOC Week this year celebrates the knowledge and ancestral wisdom of First Nations Australians and the importance of being connected to it. “While we marvel at the resilience and survival of our cultures, we have to continue to acknowledge unaddressed trauma and the role it plays in our present and immediate future,” Ms Petersen said. “In our journey, we continue to listen and learn from those who have gone before us, often too soon, and survivors of trauma. This drives our efforts to support intergenerational healing for all generations to come.

“NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to share the truth about the ongoing trauma experienced by Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants – and shine a light on the importance of healing.” For Stolen Generations survivors, being removed from family, community and Country had a profound impact on their connection to identity, language and culture. This has resulted in a huge amount of grief and trauma. Ms Petersen said healing is a proven way to overcome trauma and intergenerational trauma and restore wellbeing, which can bring about long-term change for families and communities. “By healing trauma, we are tackling the source of social and health problems that are far more prevalent for our people,” Ms Petersen said.

To view the Healing Foundation’s media release click here.

portrait shot Fiona Petersen CEO The Healing Foundation

The Healing Foundation CEO, Fiona Petersen. Image source: The Healing Foundation website.

NSW Aboriginal Deputy Children’s Guardian appointed

The head of Australia’s national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, Richard Weston will become the first Deputy Children’s Guardian for Aboriginal Children and Young People in NSW. Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said Mr Weston, who is currently the CEO of Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), brings more than 25 years of experience to the role. “Mr Weston’s wealth of experience working in peak and Indigenous-controlled organisations has delivered significant social, health and economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities,” Mr Ward said.

To view the NSW Government Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services media release click here.

Portrait shot of Richard Weston against greenery of a garden

Richard Weston. Image source: @INDIGENOUSX website.

feature tile Aboriginal fingers holding cashless debit card, words 'cashless debit card 'not worth the human cost''

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Welfare cards ‘not worth the human cost’

feature tile Aboriginal fingers holding cashless debit card, words 'cashless debit card 'not worth the human cost''

Welfare cards ‘not worth the human cost’

Cashless debit cards for welfare recipients are not worth the human cost, senators have been told. The Morrison government plans to make the cards permanent in existing trial sites and move welfare recipients in the NT and the Cape York onto the system. A Senate inquiry probing the enabling legislation has heard from academics, charities and Indigenous groups.

Anti-card campaigner Kathryn Wilkes said the system was cruel and demeaning. She told senators the scheme – which limits most welfare spending – had caused stress and mental anguish. “This program is not worth the human cost,” Ms Wilkes said. Fellow campaigner Amanda Smith said the government was legislating segregation. “Whatever the government wants to label what they’re doing, they’re creating and investing in a system of permanent social and economic apartheid,” she said.

Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory chief John Paterson said the public money earmarked for making the card permanent would be better spent on Indigenous housing, education and health. “We want to get people off the welfare treadmill, we want to create jobs,” he said.

Healthy eating – what works at the store

Supermarkets and food retail stores are the principal source of people’s food and beverage needs and are therefore a prime setting to implement changes designed to increase the purchase of healthy food and decrease the purchase of unhealthy food in order to improve population diet and health. There is growing awareness that where foods are placed in shelves is an important marketing strategy.

A recent study from NZ, involving a retailer/academic collaboration, explored the impact of more prominent shelf placement of healthier products. However, the study found that placing healthier breakfast cereals at adult eye level had no impact on sales. Failure to show any meaningful outcomes is not uncommon in this research area, so it is great to see some results from a study with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in remote Australia. The Lancet has just published a study led by Professor Anna Peeters at Monash University in conjunction with the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA)which owns and manages community stores in remote Australia and has looked at the implementation of the co-designed Healthy Stores 2020 strategy.

To read the full article click here.

9 infographic tiles representing store strategies to encourage healthy eating

Image source: croakey website.

Let’s work together towards Closing the Gap

The Coalition of Peaks (CoPs) is a representative body of around 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak organisations and members that have come together to change the way Australian governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Community-controlled organisations work for and are accountable to their communities, not governments. They believe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should have a meaningful say on policies and programs that impact on them through formal partnerships with Australian governments at all levels.

The CoPs and all Australian Governments signed a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap in July this year. This was an historic and exciting moment because it was the first time a national agreement about First Nations people had been made in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, through their community-controlled organisations.

To find out more about the National Agreement on Closing the Gap go to the Coalitions of Peaks website here.CTG Historial Agreement COP tile - cartoon Aboriginal hand holding paper with title National Agreement

NACCHO CEO honoured for COVID-19 response

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has announced it is jointly awarding the 2020 Sidney Sax medal for outstanding contributions to the development and improvement of Australian healthcare. Patricia Turner AM, CEO NACCHO is one of the award recipients for the significant leadership and proactive response as the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact Australia’s health system and communities. Pat Turner ensured that the PM, state premiers and chief ministers took urgent action to protect communities, close down access and prioritise safety to prevent community transmission of COVID-19. Ensuring that governments worked in partnership with communities, and placing culture at the heart of preventative measures, were key to successfully keeping communities safe. In comparison to the devastating incidence of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities abroad, rates of COVID-19 in First Nations peoples in Australia remain proportionately lower than the rest of the population. This successful model of community leadership will have long-term positive impact for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities working in partnership with governments.

To read the full press release click here.

Pat Turner at meeting Aoriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in background

Patricia Turner AM Image source: Alice Springs News.

Palawa woman new AIDA President

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has announced a new Board of Directors, including the elections of Dr Tanya Schramm, a Palawa woman,  as the AIDA President. Tanya is a former AIDA Board member, a General Practitioner and also works for the University of Tasmania as a senior lecturer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. Vice President – Dr Simone Raye is a proud Bardi Jabbir Jabbir woman from the Kimberley. Simone was closely involved with the initial meetings that lead to the formation of AIDA. Simone hopes to strengthen relationships with specialty colleges to help First Nations students and trainees achieve Fellowship and be leaders within their chosen field.

To read the AIDA media release click here.

portrait image of Dr Tanya Schramm

Dr Tanya Schramm. Image source: Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association website.

Food security essential for remote communities

Dietitians Australia is calling for the Government to ensure all Australians have access to affordable, safe, and nutritious food, regardless of their location. This comes ahead of the final report from the Senate Inquiry into Food Pricing and Food Security in Remote Indigenous Communities. Submitting a written response earlier thisyear, Dietitians Australia proposed 16 key recommendations, including the need to develop and implement a national strategy on food security, as well as elevating the status of community stores to an essential service.

“A National Food and Nutrition Security Strategy which includes local voices from remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, is vital to creating practical solutions to support adequate food access,” said Robert Hunt, CEO of Dietitians Australia. “Local food stores often provide the only source of food available for purchase in the community.

GPs encouraged to take up mental health training

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is encouraging GPs in rural and remote Australia to undertake new mental health training to help children who’ve experienced disasters. It comes as GPs across the nation are dealing with increasing mental health presentations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and last summer’s devastating bushfires, and with the next fire season approaching. There are two e-learning courses from Emerging Minds, National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health available to RACGP members on the website: https://www.racgp.org.au/special-pages/login. The first builds knowledge and skills in child mental health assessment and management in general practice, and the second focuses on supporting children and families after natural disaster or community trauma – including in the immediate aftermath, short and long term.

To view the RACGP’s press release click here.

vector image person sitting head on knees whole of back fragments flying off

Image source: UKRI Medical Research Council.

Reducing racism in healthcare organisations

The impact of institutional racism in healthcare, and the steps organisations can take to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, is just one of the topics being explored as part of Dietitians Australia’s inaugural webinar series for NAIDOC week (8–15 November 2020). Dr Chris Bourke, a Gamilaroi man and Strategic Programs Director at Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, will be calling on the healthcare sector to reflect on their governance and structure to improve the outcomes of their healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Dr Bourke, who is Australia’s first Indigenous dentist, highlights the importance of engaging both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people in organisational leadership positions, ensuring a strong foundation to provide equitable healthcare. “Statistics show that just under 50% of the factors that contribute to poor health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are related to racism, intergenerational trauma and lack of cultural safety. We all play a role in reducing this inequality, but to influence change within an organisation, First Australians must be included within the governing team,” said Dr Bourke. Without action, the ongoing impacts of institutional racism are alarming. 

To view the Dietitians Australia media release, including details of how to register for their NAIDOC Week events click here.

protesters holding signs No Room for Racism

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Music’s role as health determinant

A proud descendant of the Wiradjuri First People of Australia, Griffith University researcher Associate Professor Naomi Sunderland (Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre), has been awarded $820,000 Australian Research Council (ARC) funding (including a Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award) for the project titled The role of First Nations’ music as a determinant of health’.

This project aims to track how First Nations’ music and musicians are shaped by, and in turn may shape, powerful social determinants of health in Australia. The project responds to calls for health approaches that are strength based, First Nations-led, and culturally secure.

Aboriginal man from Bowraville Richie Jarrett singing into microphone, Aboriginal flag as backdrop

Richie Jarrett. Image source: Guardian News.

Sista Connections support college students

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: CtG targets alone will not close the chasm of need


AIHCTG logo painting of black hand with thumb interlinked with thumb of white hand against burnt orange cirle, surrounded by golden yellor circle, then white dots then black circle

CTG targets alone don’t drive change

The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap released in late July this year, was met with mixed reactions. Featuring 16 new socioeconomic targets and the commitment to shared decision-making between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, it reset the original 2008 targets after little year-to-year progress. The Coalition of Peaks, a representative body made up of approximately 50 Indigenous community-controlled organisations, believes progress on the targets over the last 12 years didn’t progress as far as was hoped, as governments didn’t follow through with their commitments.

Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Pat Turner AM said targets alone do not drive change. “The National Agreement gives our people and the wider Australian public a birds eye view of every government’s level of commitment to actually close the giant chasm of need,” she said.

To read the National Indigenous Times article click here.

view from waist up of two Aboriginal children one with arm around the shoulders of the other facing away from the canera

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

SNAICC expresses out-of-home care concerns

The Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) is deeply concerned about the increasing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care being placed away from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and carers, as revealed in a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) today. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Indicators 2018–19 report measures progress towards implementing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle – a principle that aims to ensure the value of culture to the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is embedded in policy and practice.

To view SNAICC’s media release click here.

sad face of young Aboriginal girl

Image source: AbSec website.

COVID-19 homelessness short-term fix

Research for the Australian Homelessness Monitor 2020 reveals at least 33,000 rough sleepers and other homeless people have been booked into hotels and other temporary accommodation during the COVID-19 crisis. COVID-19 triggered multimillion-dollar commitments by state governments to tackle homelessness, with several states pledging funds and support to move beyond this short-term fix to ensure former rough sleepers find long-term housing. These are commendable actions in a long-neglected policy area, even if largely inspired by public health anxieties rather than concern for the welfare of people without a home. Such action should be part of comprehensive national housing strategy to design and phase-in the wide-ranging reforms of taxes and regulations needed to rebalance Australia’s housing system and tackle homelessness at its source.

To view the full article click here.

homeless camps (multiple tents) Macquarie Street Sydney

Homeless camp in the centre of Sydney. Image source: The Conversation website.

COVID-19 wellbeing survey seeks youth voice

The Menzies School of Health Research Aboriginal and Islander Mental health initiative (AIMhi) Stay Strong team is looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth between 16–25 years old to take part in to understand the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic on mental health and wellbeing.

HAVE A YARN WITH THE TEAM – the team would love to hear about your experiences during the pandemic. Join them for a casual interview in-person (in Darwin) or on Zoom! Each interview participant will receive a $30 voucher! For more information about the research click here and here and to express your interest in participating click here.

UNABLE ATTEND AN INTERVIEW? – you can still take part by completing this 10 minute survey and go in the draw to win a $20 voucher!

Not you, but know someone who might be interested?

Please share this information to spread opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a voice in Australian research.

backs of Aboriginal Trei and Karlie Stewart leaning against would post rail fence looking at football field

Trei and Karlie Stewart. Image source: ABC news.

Every Doctor, Every Setting National Framework

The Every Doctor, Every Setting: A National Framework was officially launched last week, as part of a national commitment to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of Australian doctors and medical students. The framework was developed under the guidance of a national working group and in consultation with doctors, doctors in training and medical students in addition to a review of best practice evidence. It aims to guide coordinated action on the mental health of doctors and medical students through target areas including – improving training and work environments, recognising and responding to those needing support, improving the response to doctors and medical students impacted and improving the culture of the medical profession to enable wellbeing and coordinated action and accountability.

To view the DRS4DRS media release click here.Every Doctor, Every Setting banner - stethoscope sitting on keyboard

Reward for NATSIHWA membership referrals

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA) is holding a membership drive for the month of October 2020. NATSIHWA are inviting all student, associate and full members of NATSIHWA to refer new members. By referring a new member, you will assist others to discover the benefits of becoming a NATSIHWA member and get rewarded with a special gift pack for every successful referral. Also, there is a chance to win a Google Home Mini, for the most number of referrals!
 
The offer is valid for the month of October 2020 and applications must be made online.

Better healthcare in hospitals for our people webinar during NAIDOC Week 2020

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association will be holding a free webinar Better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in acknowledgement of NAIDOC Week 2020 at 10.30 am Thursday 12 November 2020.

AHHA would like to invite you and any other interested parties to register here, where you will also find more information on the webinar and presenters.

health professional leaning on rail of hospital bed talking to Aboriginal woman patient

Image source: the footprints network webpage.

Racism embedded in healthcare system

Why do vast gaps exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians when it comes to health outcomes? What would you say if someone told you that racism is embedded in Australia’s healthcare system, and that the system itself was perpetuating inequities? Professor Roianne West is taking on the immense task of unravelling racism in Australia’s complex health system through innovative training and education, and inspiring a generation of healthcare workers to understand the impact of racism on the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To read the full Hospital and Healthcare article click here.

portrait photo of Professor Roianne West

Professor Roianne West, Griffith University. Image source: Hospital and Healthcare website.

Training to support Stolen Generations survivors

The Marumali Journey of Healing Model developed by Aunty Lorraine (Darcy) Peeters, a survivor of the removal policies herself. is unique, original and unparalleled. Since 2000 the Marumali Program, that is based on the nationally recognised best practice, good practice healing model, has been delivered to groups and individuals, with an aim of increasing the quality of support available to Stolen Generations, their families and their communities. Groups  include service providers in the Aboriginal community controlled sector and Government sector and survivors within community and the prison system.

Wingali Marumali Pty Ltd is running two courses in December:

Marumali Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service Providers (4 days) – 1–4 December 2020, Brisbane.

Marumali Program Trauma-Informed Care For Stolen Generations Workshop for Non-Aboriginal Service Providers (2 days) – 7–8 December 2020, Brisbane.

For more information on the courses and to register click here.

close up photo of faces of Aunty Lorraine Peeters & her daughter Shaanf

Aunty Lorraine Peeters and her daughter Shaan. Image source: ABC All In The Mind webpage.

Mental health support network for our mob

Black Dog Institute is one step closer to developing a network to support mob struggling with mental ill-health. Led by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre, the network is being developed through extensive consultation with communities across the nation.

Head of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre, Quandamooka woman, Leilani Darwin. said “We have had an opportunity to host some national online yarning circles with mob who have lived experience and I feel so privileged to hear their stories and their journeys. Even though we know how much our communities are impacted by suicide and mental ill-health, when you have families there that are losing 20 people in a year in the family group … the fact they can [attend and] talk about it is powerful.” 

To view the full article in the National Indigenous Times click here.

Aboriginal man talking on his mobile phone

Image source: ABC News website.

Health worker support essential

The national peak body Mental Health Australia, has released results of a survey on the mental health and wellbeing of healthcare professionals across the country. The research looks at how the pandemic has affected healthcare professionals on a personal level, and what strategies they have used to maintain mental health and wellbeing over the past six months. Over 70% of healthcare professionals stated that COVID-19 restrictions have impacted their mental health and wellbeing in a negative way. 4 out of 5 say that working in healthcare during the pandemic has increased the amount of stress and pressure they experience in the workplace.

To view the Mental Health Australia’s media release click here.

3 Moorundi ACCHS Aboriginal Health Workers in office, one have blood pressure taken

Moorundi ACCHS Aboriginal Health Workers Alfie Gollan, Njirrah Rowe, Dorothy Kartinyeri. Image source: The Murray Valley Standard.

Social determinants of health link to kidney disease

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has produced an updated Review of kidney health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Kidney disease is a serious health concern for people living in Australia with one in three adult Australians at an increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD).  Australians diagnosed with CKD regularly suffer poor health outcomes and a compromised quality of life. CKD  can be associated with other chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience an increased burden of kidney disease, particularly those living in remote communities. HealthInfoNet Director Neil Drew says, “The purpose of this review is to provide a comprehensive synthesis of key information on kidney health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia and provide evidence to assist in the development and delivery of policies, strategies and programs”.

To view the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet media release in full click here.

Aboriginal person's arm & hand with tubes for dialysis

Image source: RACGP website.

Australia-wide – Hearing Australia

Hearing Australia is looking to fill the two Hearing Assessment Program (HAP) positions listed below. The HAP is a major initiative to reduce hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-6 years living in regional and remote communities.

FT Aboriginal Manager Capability Strategy HAP (fixed term)

The Aboriginal Manager Capability Strategy HAP position is a national role responsible for the detailed design and implementation of the capability strategy with a key focus of building capability in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.  The capability strategy contains 3 key areas- ensuring services have the resources (human and physical) to do ear and hearing health checks on 0–3 year olds; that services have staff who are competent to undertake these checks and that services have a system in place to provide checks at regular intervals during a child’s first 3 years of life. To view the job description click and to apply click here.

FT Manager Clinical Operations HAP (fixed term)

The Manager Clinical Operations HAP position is a national role responsible for ensuring that HAP-EE has sufficient clinical staff to meet its national service targets. The Manager will work closely with other HAP-EE managers to ensure that clinical staff and clinical equipment are deployed effectively across all HAP-EE sites, hearing centres and tele-health services to complete assessments and to build capability in participating services. To view the job description click and to apply click here.

Applications for both positions close on Friday 30 October 2020.

Adelaide – CRANAplus

FT or PT Senior Psychologist: Mental Health & Wellbeing Service (permanent)

CRANAplus is the Peak Professional Body for Health Professionals working in remote and isolated areas across Australia. We exist to ensure the delivery of safe, high quality primary healthcare to remote and isolated areas of Australia. Responsible for the development and delivery of high-quality psychological interventions and supports to Health Professionals and their families, across Australia. We are seeking an experienced Practitioner who has a passion to: – Provide counselling care and interventions through CRANAplus’ Bush Support Line – Grow clinical resources, materials, and workshops available to remote and rural Health Professionals to support their wellbeing and professional knowledge growth. – Contribute to new innovations, designs, and position CRANAplus as a specialist service.

To view the position description click here.

Applications close 3.00 pm 9 November 2020.CRANAplus logo & image of 4-wheel drive in outback

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News Alert No 3054 : Transcript of launch the historic #Closingthegap #NationalAgreement Prime Minister @ScottMorrisonMP , Minister @KenWyattMP and Pat Turner convener, leader, chair of the @coalition_peaks

 I’m joined today by the Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt and the convener, leader, chair of the Coalition of Indigenous Peak Groups, Pat Turner.

And I want to come to the important reason that we’re gathered together today, to speak about the finalisation of the Closing the Gap Agreements that have been historically reached between the group of Coalition Peaks, the Commonwealth and the states and territories.

This is a very significant day, and I know one that both Ken and Pat have been working together on now for some time and I’m so pleased that we’ve come to this day. I think it’s going to have a very meaningful impact on how we progress to ensure that young Indigenous boys and girls can grow up in this country with the same expectations as non-Indigenous boys and girls in this country. That’s what we want to see. That’s what it’s all about.

That, as Australians right across the country, we can have the same hopes, the same aspirations, the same goals, ultimately. It’s not an easy road and there’s still a long road ahead of us to achieve that. But what we’re announcing today, I think, will make a very meaningful impact on achieving that journey together.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison 30 July 2020

Download full transcript including questions and answers

Launch CTG NPA Prime Minister 30 July Transcript

Read download NACCHO Press Release and links to all documents 

So, with that let me turn, with your agreement, to the important reason that we’ve gathered today, as serious as the pandemic is. The issue of achieving those aspirations for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians together are of great significance to our country, not just now but into the future. It is a national aspiration, a national goal, a national task.

The process that we began around about two years ago, when we came together, began with listening as to why we were being unsuccessful in closing the gap. Any good process starts with listening and that’s what we did as a Government. We listened carefully.

And there were many discussions and there were many very unprecedented discussions, including here, in this very Cabinet room, as I sat early this year in January together with Indigenous leaders from peak groups, with Ken, and that was quite an extraordinary discussion. And it charged us up to keep going with the work that was being done to form the Agreement which we’ve reached today.

As we have been dealing with the pandemic, there have been two phrases, two concepts, that have come up in almost all the briefings that I’ve had. They talk about lines of effort and they talk about unity of effort. And as I was reflecting on this Agreement last night, I believe that’s what this does. It sets out very clear lines of effort, which has been important. But, more importantly, it sets out the process of having a unity of effort. And when we do those two things together, that’s where we make progress.

Whether it’s attacking a pandemic or attacking the very serious issues of Indigenous disadvantage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in this country. And the other thing we did as we listened and we identified these things, and we looked at how we had not been making the progress all of us wanted on closing the gap, we reflected on the fact that Closing the Gap and the initiative taken by Kevin Rudd was an entirely worthy initiative and an initiative deserving of credit. But, innocently, there were elements of how that was done which was misguided.

That’s not a criticism, that is a learning. A learning of these many years that have passed since then, as we’ve sought to live up to those worthy aspirations at that time. And one of the mistakes that have been made is, as we’ve looked at this as a Federal Government, we’ve decided what the gap is. We didn’t look at the gap through the eyes of Indigenous Australians.

We told Indigenous Australians what the gap was that we were going to close and somehow thought they should be thankful for that. That was wrong-headed. That wasn’t the way to do it.

We needed to understand what the gap was, looking through the lens and the eyes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They needed to tell us what the gap was that needed to be closed and that’s what this task has been about. It has also been about understanding that this is not the task or role or responsibility of any one organisation, level of government, or nation of peoples across the country. This is the task of us all. And for that to be successful, we need a partnership between all of these groups. Understanding what these lines of effort are to achieve this unity of effort.

And so we set about achieving a partnership and setting out these 16, as I understand, particular areas of activity. Underpinned by four key things we’re seeking to do to make them possible. And the first of those is partnership – a partnership of states and territories who have significant roles to play in achieving the outcomes that are set out here in this Agreement.

This is not something the Commonwealth can even pretend to think it can do alone. It must be done together with the service delivery and policy arms of state and territory governments. But also with the delivery agencies of Indigenous organisations, which are on the ground, making a difference.

Secondly, it’s about building the capabilities of those on-the- ground, community-based organisations in Indigenous communities to deliver those services as best as they possibly can. It is about transforming mainstream government agencies and institutions and how they conceive these challenges and how they go about engaging and delivering their services and broader policies that impact on Indigenous Australians, whether they’re directed to them specifically or not.

And it’s about getting the right data, the right evidence, and the right reporting that creates the transparency to drive the actions we’re seeking to get progress from.

The data then, as it’s set out in each of these 16 areas, is incredibly well-presented in terms of what we need. It sets out the goal and those goals haven’t changed drastically.

But what it has done is identified the things that make that goal achievable and the signs you need to look for along the way to know you’re going to meet that goal and how we’re progressing against those key data points. And it gets granular. It says, “We’re not just going to look up here, we’re going to go down the community level, we’re going to go and break this up by different groupings to understand where the real challenges are and where our progress is doing well.”

As Ken has often said, this process has to acknowledge the gains to drive the confidence that other areas can see achievement. But it’s also about separating out where the accountabilities lie to get the action. And then there is the further data that is needed to drive the whole process and there are some serious weaknesses when it comes to the intelligence and information that we need to inform plans to eliminate Indigenous disadvantage in this country as much as we possibly can.

And so I find it a very practical document, Pat and Ken. I commend you on the work that it’s done. It’s realistic, it’s shared, it’s evidence-based and led, it’s transparent, it’s practical, it’s ambitious. And from this point, the real work starts. And the plans that are needed from the Federal Government, from the state governments, the plans that need to find their way into budgets.

But I tell you where we start – we start with what we have to do, and then we apply the resources to achieve that. This isn’t about buckets of money, this is about changing the way we do things and ensuring that we apply the resources most effectively to achieve that. And with that I’ll pass you on to Ken, and then to Pat.

THE HON. KEN WYATT MP, MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS:

 Prime Minister, thank you very much. I want to acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, on whose land we are today, their elders past and present.

The concept of Closing the Gap was an idea that arose from the Human Rights Commissioner of the day, Tom Calma. Tom put forward a series of propositions and the first signing of a Closing the Gap Agreement was done by a former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

The intentions were honourable. The outcomes were never achieved in the way that we had aspired to reach in the way of improving the lives of Indigenous Australians. And this particular Agreement is historic.

Because it goes to the very thing that I said right at the beginning when I first came into this role – that we need to develop approaches to address the issues of inequality and inequity by having Indigenous Australians sitting and jointly designing, planning and developing a direction that is based on how we wrap around people, their life expectancy, their life expectations, and their aspirations from the community level through to the peak organisations.

It’s been an incredible privilege working with Pat and the 51 peak organisations.

When we first started, it was 21. And then it grew. But the more people that were involved, the greater the depth of discussion around what do these targets mean?

How will they change the lives of people? And how will we bring governments with us? And that was a critical part of the conversation, as to how do we then take it to the next stage? Because, primarily, it was the Prime Minister who tabled the Closing the Gap Report. There was no requirement for states and territories to do that.

This Agreement through the state and territory cabinet processes has endorsed a new approach. An approach that will involve Aboriginal people as partners in the design of the work of government agencies.

It will involve transforming the way in which government agencies at every level, including local government, work with Indigenous Australians. It also commits, through the cabinet process, ministers in all portfolios to work towards achieving closure in the targets and the gap that is associated with the targets.

But I think more importantly is the way in which the spirit of intent for the outcome we’ve achieved today in this Agreement was reached through the passion and commitment of so many people.

I want to acknowledge Pat’s leadership. If you work with Indigenous organisations, as she has done, she has certainly brought 51 significant leaders to the table, to agree on the targets that we have within the Agreement, including incarceration rates, including family safety and the safety of women, and expanding those targets to focus in key and critical areas.

But I also want to acknowledge every state and territory Aboriginal Affairs Minister, because their officials and the officers from the National Indigenous Agency and the officers who worked with Pat in the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation worked paragraph by paragraph through the Agreement until all parties were satisfied. But the thing that is different this time is the enthusiasm of all to address these targets.

Prime Minister,I want to acknowledge you, because you’ve done something that no other Prime Minister has done,andthatistoputfaithintheIndigenouscommunitytodeveloptargetsforusalltoachieve.But for all of us to take responsibility for, and for all of us to be accountable for. And by all of us focusing on those three tranches,Iamextremelyoptimisticthatwewillseeclosuresinareastoagreaterextentthan what we’ve seen historically in the past.

And the amount of goodwill means that the reforms that we seek to achieve will now be done in a way that is very different. It means a person living in Ampilatwatja or living in Balgo WA, or in Arrente country will have avenues in which to influence government policy and direction, and to have a say on those things that impact on them through our peaks, and through the other structures that exist within states and territories.

So, I compliment all who are involved. And whilst I have been Minister, I’ve enjoyed the immense journey of the very meaty debates, but the way in which we have come together to produce a blueprint for improving the lives of our people across this nation, with flow-on effects for all Australians.

It is part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to having a change of direction that is going to make a difference on the ground with state and territory Premiers and Chief Ministers who, through National Cabinet, have signed up to this Agreement, along with the President of the Australian Local Government Association, so it means that local government equally will be involved in achieving the outcomes.

I’d now like to ask Pat to come forward and make her comments.

PAT TURNER AM:

Thank you very much, Minister, and thank you, Prime Minister. Today truly is an historic occasion. This is the first time a National Agreement designed to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been developed and negotiated between Australian governments, local government, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives.

We have come a long way as partners since the partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect in March last year and I want to thank each government for the spirit in which they have approached the partnership.

I particularly want to thank you, Prime Minister, for your leadership in taking the first step in agreeing to establish a formal partnership between the Coalition of Peaks and governments on Closing the Gap.

The Prime Minister probably didn’t fully realise what he was committing to, and possibly no government did, but maybe that was a good thing at the time.

Today we now have a comprehensive set of commitments from governments that places Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations at the centre of Closing the Gap. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know what is best for our communities, not governments, and this National Agreement means that decisions of Government on Closing the Gap need to be negotiated and agreed with us.

But I have to say, the Prime Minister and Ken will know it hasn’t always been easy, and some of our negotiations have been very hard-fought.

For the Coalition of Peaks, the National Agreement is not just words. They represent actions that can make a real difference to the lives of our people, our families, and our communities. We have also had the voices of more than 4,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who participated in our engagements on what should be included in the new National Agreement, guiding us in our negotiations.

The Coalition of Peaks is confident that the National Agreement, if fully implemented, has the potential to establish a strong policy foundation to give effect to what our people have been saying for a long time is needed to make a difference.

The National Agreement may not include everything our people want or need to make lasting change to our lives, but this is a huge step forward. I also want to thank all the members of the Coalition of Peaks. This is the first time our community- controlled leadership have come together in this way to bring our collective experiences and expertise to the task of Closing the Gap, and it has been a real privilege to work with my colleagues in the Peaks.

It is important that we celebrate today’s achievements. We are marking a turning point in Indigenous Affairs and the relationship between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives and we have all played our parts.

But the real hard work starts tomorrow, as we begin the implementation of the National Agreement in full partnership between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, organisations and representatives. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, Pat. Let’s take questions on this matter and then we can return to the pandemic issues afterwards.

JOURNALIST: We’ve heard many moving and passionate speeches by Prime Ministers and Ministers over the last 12 years about this subject and every year moving speeches by Prime Ministers and Ministers lamenting the fact that governments have fallen woefully short of meeting the targets. What commitment can you give that these new targets will actually be met?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it has the full backing of our entire Government. I said when Ken was appointed as the first Minister for Indigenous Australians, as an Indigenous Australian, that every Minister in my Cabinet is a Minister for Indigenous Australians. Because that’s the change, that’s the shift that needs to have effect to actually make more progress. I think you’re right, Mark, there’s never been any lack of passion or commitment or dedication from this podium, no matter who stood behind it. Every Prime Minister that I know has shared this passion and this dedication but also the frustration that goes along with the lack of progress in this area.

What I think is different about this process is there has been some humble learnings that has led to its development and its execution. There has been a recognition that in sometimes we have been too ambitious without understanding the detail of what you actually have to do to get there. And what I particularly like about this Agreement is how, as I explained before, it gets very granular about how you get there, and how you know when you’re not getting there, and that’s very important. This evidence-led process which has an accountability to it, which I think is very important.

Now, I’d love to give you a guarantee, like every one of my predecessors would have and endeavoured, tried to, as I am today. But I am tempered by that bitter experience of my predecessors and my own. And so I take comfort in the fact that we’ve got a partnership now that we haven’t had before. It’s not because others didn’t want it. I think the partnership is the product of the learnings, the humble learnings that have been necessary. So, I do hope, Mark, that we can live up to this. We owe it to everybody Indigenous boy and girl in the country today, and every Indigenous person in the country today.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, and Minister Wyatt, there’s been some criticism of the fact that the domestic violence target is not being announced today and it’s going to continue to be worked on. Can you explain why, given what we know about the over-representation of First Nations women as victims of domestic violence, why that is still being worked on and is not being announced today?

PRIME MINISTER: Sure, I’m happy to, and I’ll let Ken and Pat speak to that because they’ve been directly involved in those decisions.

THE HON. KEN WYATT MP, MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS: In dealing with this issue we want zero tolerance of any domestic violence, of violence against women. I know that when the working group was going through this, the focus on just physical violence against women was seen as not sufficient. That hasn’t lowered our bar for absolute extinction of domestic violence against any woman, and this fits within the Fourth National Plan that our Government has in place as well. But our senior women have asked that we do more work on that and I respect the request that they have made, and we will come back with further work. But the target is still zero tolerance of domestic violence against our women.

PAT TURNER AM: Yes, thank you. So we do have some more work to do in our negotiations with all of the governments. It is a national priority and one that we take very seriously, and we hope to have that nutted out as we go through in the next few months and we start our work on the implementation plans to get some real nutty figures in there.

Let me say on the National Agreement, it’s very important that you read it in detail and you understand it because there are funding provisions that are already committed to in the National Agreement and they will come on board as we progress the important work now on the implementation plans and the important work that we have to do to make sure that we have the right people at the right table, at the right time, in the right place.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News Alert : Community control ‘key to Indigenous advancement’, says our CEO Pat Turner

 

Pat Turner believes that when Indigenous organisations take over the job of improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it will be the end of the grim practice of monitoring failure and calling it Closing the Gap.

“Self-determination has been a policy of the commonwealth since 1971 but we have never been given agency to exercise it to the fullest ­extent,” Ms Turner said.

“(That is) because there’s been so much government neglect of programs and the way they’ve implemented programs, and their lack of accountability for the poor outcomes that leaves us in the desperate situation we’re in today.”

From the Australian front page and page 4 interview with Paige Taylor

Ms Turner, who began working life as a switchboard operator, taught Australian studies at Georgetown University in the US and later established indigenous television channel NITV, has emerged as a prominent Aboriginal voice.

Working with Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt, Ms Turner has steered a radical re­design of the Closing the Gap scheme established by the Rudd government in 2008.

It has culminated in a draft agreement with states and terri­tories — as well as the Local Government Association of Australia — to bolster community-­controlled indigenous organisations across Australia so they are capable of doing the work that is currently done by government agencies and non-government organisations dominated by non-Aboriginal people.

The draft agreement, which sets ambitious targets to reduce indigenous disadvantage, is due to go to national cabinet this month.

Ms Turner understands what a strong network of community-controlled indigenous organisations can do. She represents 143 of them as chief executive of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

The community-controlled indigenous health sector is established and in touch with grassroots people all over the country. It led the advocacy that safeguarded remote Aboriginal communities when the corona­virus pandemic hit Australia but Ms Turner acknowledges there is no real equivalent in education, early childhood or other spheres, including the disability sector.

Changing that is key to the success of the new Closing the Gap agreement, Ms Turner said.

In 2019, after 11 annual reports, just two of seven Closing the Gap targets set in 2008 — early childhood education and Year 12 attainment — had been achieved. Targets were not met on school attendance, child mortality, employment, life expectancy and literacy and numeracy.

“We were most grateful that Kevin Rudd took the initiative to set up the Closing the Gap … that money he invested in it was over $4bn,” she said.

“What we weren’t happy with was the fixation on targets.

“They don’t drive change … and while you’ve got to have them, they’re not the things that make the difference.”

Ms Turner said indigenous people would be the difference. “The reforms are equal decision-making between governments and Aboriginal people at every level — local, regional, state, and national,” she said.

“So when they’re talking about measures that impact on us, at the moment what you’ve got in this arrangement are those sitting in ivory towers, the capital cities, and they come up with a policy or implementation plan based on what the government’s commitments of the day are and go out to Aboriginal people and say ‘We’ve got this new program and if you meet these guidelines, you’ll be eligible for funding’.”

Ms Turner said under the new agreement, communities would determine what was needed and they would be supported by governments to achieve it.

The third of five children raised in Alice Springs, Ms Turner has clear views about what gives a child a good start in life. She does not have children and helps raise a great nephew with her sister in a home they share in Canberra.

“I think it starts from pre-birth. It’s about the responsibilities of raising children for both young men and young women and having children at the right time in their lives, rather than unexpected pregnancies,” she said. “Too many young people are having too many kids too early. It just puts massive pressure on the whole extended family.”

Ms Turner’s world view was shaped in part by her father’s accidental death in 1963, when she was 10. Her mother went to work in three jobs as a dishwasher.

She was also influenced by the advocacy of her uncle Charles Perkins, the civil rights activist.

“What I understood very early was Aboriginal people endured a lot of ­racism in daily lives — including me — and that wasn’t right.”

Ms Turner rose through the ranks of the public service, including at the Department of Health and Centrelink, and was the only indigenous person to work as chief executive of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. “I never had one qualified audit report of my organisation; not one,” she said.

It is her view that the commonwealth’s reshaped work-for-the-dole scheme, called CDP, is a lost cause. “It needs to be abolished and what Aboriginal people really need is a job guarantee. Award wages and proper jobs,” she said.

It is a case argued in The Weekend Australian on Saturday by Noel Pearson, who described Australian economist Bill Mitchell’s longstanding call for government to fund real jobs, at the minimum wage, to all unemployed Australians as “one of the most imaginative and compelling answers” to the question of how to build a stronger, fairer and more resilient nation.

Ms Turner is adamant the new Closing the Gap agreement can play a role. “If you invest, as a government, in an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation to do the service delivery, instead of all these bureaucrats sitting around in jobs, those jobs could be undertaken by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which means families at the local level have a decent job,” she said.

“We will have a sustainable workforce, and can offer scholarships and apprenticeships … so that we expand the opportunities and career choices for our young­er generations.”

Part 2

As a receptionist in the Native Welfare department in the early 1970s, it was Pat Turner’s job to let her bosses know when somebody was at the front desk for them.

One day a very young Ms Turner told her boss a gentleman was here to see him, and her boss replied: “Is he black or white?”

It made her blood boil so she challenged him about what difference it made. He agreed to see the visitor. “I had great pleasure in taking him in. Of course, he was an Aboriginal bloke, but I wasn’t gonna tell him that,” she said.

By 1975, Ms Turner was a trained welfare officer back in her hometown of Alice Springs, reading Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. She also took kids to play sport. She also taught them their rights and obligations.

“There were too many of our kids at risk with the criminal justice system,” she said.

After speaking to parents and the local headmaster, she took indigenous kids to the Alice Springs Magistrates Court in a borrowed bus.

“Ninety five per cent of the people going to court every day were Aboriginal and most of the cases were for public drunkenness,” she said.

Afterwards, the police prosecutor and Ms Turner would ask the children for their observations.

Sometimes the children had questions about why an accused went to jail or what they did wrong.

“I would say, ‘Well, what would you do if you were pulled up by the police?’ and some kids said, you know, like, ‘run’,” Ms Turner said. “And so we’d explain to them how to handle that situation. It was about increasing their awareness, how to deal respectfully with the police and not get into further trouble.”

Ms Turner said the children she knew then each finished school and got jobs in indigenous organisations.

This made her proud of them and the families who supported them.

She lamented that excessive gambling, alcohol and drug abuse had left too many children “to their own devices” in Alice Springs these days.

“I think it’s gone a bit backwards in terms of the opportunities for children,” she said.

Paige Taylor

 

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News Alert : Joint Council recommends historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap to National Cabinet, the Australian Local Government Association and the Coalition of Peaks for signing

The Joint Council met this afternoon by teleconference to discuss the final details of the draft National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The Joint Council acknowledged the work between Australian governments, the Australian Local Government Association and the Coalition of Peaks to negotiate the historic agreement.

This is the first National Agreement of its kind that will be signed by Australian governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, represented by the Coalition of Peaks. It has been developed in genuine partnership between all parties.

“We are making history,” said Pat Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks; CEO of NACCHO and Co-Chair of the Joint Council. “I’m proud to say that we are in the home stretch of bringing this historic National Agreement to light.”

“A real game changer for this next phase of Closing the Gap is that the expertise and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on what works and what is needed is at the centre,” Ms Turner said.

The draft National Agreement is informed by a comprehensive engagement process, led by the Coalition of Peaks, in late 2019 with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country on what should be included.

“The draft National Agreement does not include everything that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want, but I know that we have pushed governments in their commitments because the Coalition of Peaks have been at the table. There is a significant difference from what governments alone were prepared to commit to in December 2018 and where we are now. That change has come about because of the work of the Coalition of Peaks.”

The draft National Agreement sets a strategy to close the gap that is strongly based on, and underpinned by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ priorities. It is built around four new Priority Reforms about transforming the way governments work with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in order to improve outcomes. The Priority Reforms were overwhelmingly supported during the engagements.

The Priority Reforms are:

1. Developing and strengthening structures to ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in shared decision making at the national, state and local or regional level and embedding their ownership, responsibility and expertise to close the gap.

2. Building the formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services sector to deliver Closing the Gap services and programs in agreed focus areas.

3. Ensuring all mainstream government agencies and institutions undertake systemic and structural transformation to contribute to Closing the Gap, improve accountability and respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

4. Ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to, and the capability to use, relevant data and information to monitor the implementation of the Priority Reforms, the Closing the Gap targets and drive local priorities.

The draft National Agreement includes commitments to tangible actions from all governments to change the way they work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and give effect to the four Priority Reforms. All four Priority Reforms will have a target to measure government action in these areas.

The draft National Agreement also establishes 16 national socio-economic targets in areas including education, employment, health and wellbeing, justice, safety, housing, land and waters, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. The targets will help to monitor progress in improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The Coalition of Peaks have always said that targets alone do not drive change. We have seen this from the past 10 years. It is the full implementation of the Priority Reforms that will make the difference to our peoples’ lives. This is where we need to focus governments to focus and this is exactly what the new National Agreement will do,” Ms Turner said.

“The Joint Council considered the ambition of the closing the gap targets in the draft National Agreement and agreed that parity of outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians is the only acceptable outcome.”

“Expected parity dates are not fixed dates. If governments implement the Priority Reforms in full and invest in the outcome areas of health, education, employment and housing, parity will be achieved earlier,” Ms Turner said.

The National Agreement includes new engagement and accountability mechanisms that mean jurisdictions will work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to implement the Agreement. All parties to the National Agreement are fully committed to the outcomes of the Agreement.

“This new National Agreement has the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of our people and has the potential to establish a strong policy foundation to finally give effect to what our people have been saying is needed, for a long time, to close the gaps,” Ms Turner said.

About the Joint Council

The Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap establishes a Joint Ministerial and Coalition of Peaks Council on Closing the Gap (Joint Council) with members from the Coalition of Peaks, a Minister from each state and territory government and the Commonwealth government, and a representative from the Australian Local Government Association.

Its role is to support national leadership, coordination and cooperation on Closing the Gap and provide advice to First Ministers, the President of Local of Government Association, and the Coalition of Peaks.

The Joint Council communique is at: http://coalitionofpeaks.org.au/joint-council-communique-july-2020/

About the Coalition of Peaks The Coalition of Peaks is a representative body of around fifty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled peak organisations and members. The Coalition of Peaks came together on their own as an act of self-determination to be formal partners with Australian governments on Closing the Gap.

Members are either national, state or territory wide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled peak bodies including certain independent statutory authorities. Their governing boards are elected by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and / or organisations.

For more information on the Coalition of Peaks and to sign up for our mailing list, go to: www.coalitionofpeaks.org.au

 Third Meeting of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap

3 July 2020, Communiqué

The Joint Council acknowledged the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the many lands, waters and rivers that members joined from, and paid their respects to Elders past and present. The previous meeting was on 23 August 2019 in Adelaide.

National Agreement on Closing the Gap

The Joint Council acknowledged the work between Australian governments, the Australian Local Government Association and the Coalition of Peaks to negotiate the draft National Agreement on Closing the Gap which was considered in detail today.

The Joint Council is proud to recommend the National Agreement on Closing the Gap to First Ministers, the President of the Australia Local Government Association and the Coalition of the Peaks for agreement and signature.

This is an historic National Agreement. It was developed in genuine partnership between the Commonwealth, the Coalition of Peaks, State and Territory governments and the Australian Local Government Association. It is the first time a National Agreement designed to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been developed and negotiated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The National Agreement is based on, and underpinned by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ priorities. It is built around four new Priority Reforms that will change the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

All governments have committed to tangible actions to change the way they work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and give effect to the four Priority Reforms. All four Priority Reforms will have a target to measure government action in these areas.

The Priority Reforms are:

  1. Developing and strengthening structures to ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in shared decision making at the national, state and local or regional level and embedding their ownership, responsibility and expertise to close the gap
  2. Building the formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services sector to deliver closing the gap services and programs in agreed focus areas
  3. Ensuring all mainstream government agencies and institutions undertake systemic and structural transformation to contribute to Closing the Gap, improve accountability and respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  4. Ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to, and the capability to use, locally relevant data and information to monitor the implementation of the Priority Reforms, the closing the gap targets and drive local priorities.

The draft National Agreement also establishes 16 national socio-economic targets in areas including education, employment, health and wellbeing, justice, safety, housing, land and waters, and languages. These build upon the draft targets of 2018. The targets will help to monitor progress in improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It is our collective ambition to reach parity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. The ambition of the targets take all governments beyond a business as usual approach and will require an increased effort by all parties. Expected parity dates are not fixed dates. With the full implementation of the Priority Reforms and a significant joint focus on the outcome areas, parity will be achieved earlier.

The National Agreement includes new engagement and accountability mechanisms that mean jurisdictions will work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to implement the Agreement. All parties to the National Agreement are fully committed to the outcomes of the Agreement and share ownership of those outcomes.

Engagement report

Joint Council welcomed the recently released ‘Report on engagements with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to inform a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap’, published by the Coalition of Peaks on 24 June 2020. The report provides a comprehensive analysis of the outcomes of the historic engagements which took place between September and December 2019.

To support the full involvement and ownership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in closing the gap, the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap is based on what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have said is needed to improve outcomes. The Joint Council has reviewed the report on the engagements and is satisfied that the key outcomes are included in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Members attending

Member Representing
The Hon Ken Wyatt MP (Co-chair) Commonwealth
Pat Turner AM (Co-chair) Coalition of Peaks
Muriel Bamblett AO Coalition of Peaks
Jamie Lowe Coalition of Peaks
Cindy Berwick Coalition of Peaks
Jill Gallagher Coalition of Peaks
Donella Mills Coalition of Peaks
Vicki O’Donnell Coalition of Peaks
David Warrener Coalition of Peaks
Katrina Fanning PSM Coalition of Peaks
John Paterson Coalition of Peaks
Ruth Miller Coalition of Peaks
Gabrielle Upton MP New South Wales
Gabrielle Williams MP Victoria
The Hon Craig Crawford MP Queensland
The Hon Ben Wyatt MLA Western Australia
The Hon Steven Marshall MP South Australia
The Hon Roger Jaensch MP Tasmania
Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA Australian Capital Territory
The Hon Selena Uibo MLA Northern Territory
Mayor David O’Loughlin Australian Local Government Association

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Cultural Heritage : Australia’s most powerful land councils have joined Indigenous leaders across Australia to try to force a moratorium on mining and other works that place cultural heritage sites at immediate risk

In an historic meeting held on the 17th June 2020, Aboriginal leaders from across Australia representing Aboriginal Land Councils, Native Title Representative Bodies and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Organisations expressed their outrage at the destruction of the 46,000 year-old heritage site at Juukan Gorge and vowed to pursue national reforms to prevent this from ever happening again.

Picture above Rock shelters in Juukan Gorge, in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

The appalling conduct of Rio Tinto, one of the richest companies on earth, has created headlines and public outrage. It no longer deserves to be considered the leading miner in building positive relationships with Aboriginal peoples in Australia.

However, sadly it is not just Rio Tinto and many similar incidents have been taking place across Australia for decades. Moreover, as immoral as it was, the destruction of Juukan Gorge does not appear to have been illegal and more destruction across Australia is contemplated under the current legislative regimes.

We find ourselves in this situation because governments, of both political persuasions and at all levels, have rarely been prepared to put the protection of Aboriginal heritage ahead of development and in the past 20 years, other than in the rarest of cases.

They have let their legislation, supposedly to protect our heritage, to fall into disuse or to focus on regulating destruction, rather than protecting, enhancing and educating about our living cultures unique to this country.

This is no way to protect the oldest living culture on earth. Politicians mention this regularly but when the crunch comes, they have not been prepared to protect it. Meanwhile, they are slow moving or refuse to change archaic and paternalistic laws.

While the Federal Environment Minister has the power to issue emergency declarations under the the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act, this is rarely ever done. It failed again in respect to Juukan Gorge.

Our leaders agree this cannot continue and intend on fighting back. Not only should the lives of our people matter as much as those of non-Indigenous Australians, but our heritage and culture should also be equally important.

We are determined to work together to develop a united national approach to this serious problem and insist all governments at all levels work with us to develop and implement reforms led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Governments must partner with us to develop best practice standards and implement broader reforms that support self-determination.

The National Native Title Council (NNTC) also briefed leaders on their important work to achieve reform to date.

In the meantime, all governments are asked not to make any decisions that will damage our heritage sites. This is particularly important for Western Australia which has a disgraceful record of heritage protection and where there are other sites in the Pilbara under immediate threat. Our leaders will work together to support Traditional Owners who are facing threats to their heritage sites and pursue all legal and political avenues should it be necessary.

A network is being put in place to make sure Aboriginal Land Councils, Native Title Representative Bodies and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Organisations are communicating across the nation to make sure that they alert one another to any threats and to allow for national action to be taken.

Importantly, our leaders propose to meet with responsible Ministers from the Commonwealth, States and Territories as soon as possible to discuss a process for reviewing heritage protection legislation across Australia, to engage with our communities and Traditional Owners about what they want to see in these laws, and to jointly design with Ministers a new system that will make sure that an incident like what happened at Juukan Gorge never happens again.

Our communities want laws that are based on the principles of empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make decisions on our own cultural heritage, self- determination, First Nations decision making, greater transparency and free, prior and informed consent

First Nations cultural heritage is 65,000 years of culture and history that must be protected for all future generations, for all Australians. We urge people from all backgrounds and all sections of Australian society to support our call for greater protection of Australia’s cultural heritage

The following organisations and individuals support this communique:

·       NSW Aboriginal Land Council ·       National Native Title Council
·       Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation ·       South Australian Native Title Services
·       NTSCorp ·       North Queensland Land Council
·       Native Title Services Goldfields ·       Professor Marcia Langton AM
·       Cape York Land Council ·       Dr Val Cooms
·       Central Land Council ·       Northern Land Council
·       Boonwurrung Land and Sea Council ·       Kimberley Land Council
·       First Nations Legal & Research Services ·       Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation
·       National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) ·       Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation
·       The Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations ·       South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council

 

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus Alert No 80 : June 12 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : Message update from our NACCHO CEO Pat Turner on COVID-19 advice for #BlackLivesMatter protesters

“Mass gatherings where people are close together are high-risk for spreading COVID-19 ”

Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

Download full press release here

“It has been recognised that COVID-19 poses a serious risk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people due to higher levels of chronic conditions especially those aged 50 years and older.

“The specific advice of all health authorities is that while COVID-19 remains in Australia that everyone should take precautions including the social distancing and hygiene practices,” she said.

“People with coronavirus can spread the virus for at least 48 hours before showing symptoms. Those who attended the rally should take every precaution they can in terms of practical measures to protect themselves and their families.

“It is important you continue with social distancing, regular hand washing and cough hygiene. If you can, avoid contact with Elders and with people with chronic medical conditions as these people are at much higher risk of serious COVID-19 illness if they get infected.

If you develop even the mildest of symptoms, stay home and get a COVID-19 test. The symptoms that warrant a COVID-19 test include a sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, chills, night sweats or a temperature over 37.5°C.

“As per government’s health advice, people who marched don’t need to isolate unless they felt sick, in which case, they should get tested. The earlier we pick up infections, the quicker we can move to prevent further spread.”

Aboriginal Health and #BlackLivesMatter News Alerts : Aboriginal deaths in custody with commentary from Pat Turner , Helen Milroy , Marcia Langton , @KenWyattMP @David_Speers @GayaaDhuwi @pat_dudgeon @SenatorDodson

1.1 NACCHO COVID-19 advice to Black Lives Matter protesters.

1.2 VACCHO press release responding to a Black Lives Matter protester testing COVID-19 positive.

1.3 Aboriginal Deaths in custody : Black Lives Matter referred to 432 deaths : its now 437 !

2.Listen to Pat Turner podcast canvassing both causes and solutions, advocating major changes to the justice system.

3.Minister Ken Wyatt press release: Indigenous incarceration rates

4. Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia welcomes reports of Australian governments adopting Indigenous incarceration Closing the Gap targets.

5. View Senator Patrick Dodson speech plus download Senate debate Black lives Matter.

6.Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and hearing loss.

7. Watch Professor Marcia Langton AO and Black Lives Matter video.

8. ABC’s David Speers Black Lives Matter and slavery

1.1 NACCHO COVID-19 advice to Black Lives Matter protesters.

Click here for advice

1.2 VACCHO press release responding to a Black Lives Matter protester testing COVID-19 positive.

Last week, VACCHO supported a harm minimisation approach to the peaceful protests. We recognised that large crowds were likely to congregate in Melbourne’s CBD regardless of any discouragement.  We wanted to ensure those deciding to attend, could do this as safely as possible.

Our messaging to those who decided to go to the rally was loud and clear; say home if unwell or vulnerable, have chronic conditions, or care for anyone who does; be sensible and wear face masks, bring sanitisers and wash your hands; and maintain safe distance of 1.5 meters apart.

Today, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, announced that a non-Aboriginal man in his thirties who attended the BLM rally held in Melbourne, has tested positive to COVID-19. Victoria reported another 7 cases overnight. These 7 cases are not linked or traced back to the rally.

Brett Sutton also advised that this man, who wore a mask at the rally, showed no symptoms Saturday. Mr Sutton reaffirmed that he was diagnosed 24 hours following the rally, meaning it was ‘highly unlikely’ that he caught the virus there.

Normally people show symptoms 4-6 days after being exposed to the virus. Currently, 179 of the 1,699 cases of COVID-19 are linked to cases of community transmission in Victoria which are unable to be traced back to a known source.

Read full Press Release HERE

1.3 Aboriginal Deaths in custody : Black Lives Matter referred to 432 deaths : its now 437 !

Last weekend, Black Lives Matter protests brought thousands on to the streets campaigning for an end to Aboriginal deaths in custody.

Many signs at rallies referred to the 432 deaths that are known to have happened since the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody delivered its final report in 1991.

That figure is based on Guardian Australia’s findings from a two-year long project to monitor Aboriginal deaths in custody, Deaths Inside.

We updated the database and published new results on Saturday. We found the number had risen to 434.

But by Saturday morning even that number was already out of date. Just before marches began in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and towns around the country, the department of corrective services in Western Australia confirmed that a 40-year-old Aboriginal man had died in custody at Acacia prison, near Perth.

Read full article HERE

2.Listen to Pat Turner podcast canvassing both causes and solutions, advocating major changes to the justice system

Pat Turner, for decades a strong Aboriginal voice, is the lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, which brings together about 50 Indigenous community peak organisations. In this role she is part of the negotiations for a new agreement on Closing the Gap targets.

Unlike the original Rudd government targets, the refreshed Closing the Gap agreement, soon to be finalised, will set out targets for progress on justice and housing.

But the issue is, how much progress should be the aim?

Read this Pat Turner interview HERE

“We want to push the percentages of achievement much higher, but we are in a consensus decision-making process with governments … what the targets will reflect is what the governments themselves are prepared to commit to,” Turner says.

The Australian Black Lives Matter marches have focused attention on the very high rates of incarceration of Aboriginal people, often for trivial matters.

In this podcast Turner canvasses both causes and solutions, advocating major changes to the justice system.

She points to “huge issues with drug and alcohol abuse”, with inadequate resourcing to deal with these problems.

She urges reform for sentencing arrangements for those charged with minor offences, criticising a system which imprisons people who cannot pay fines, or post bail. “It would be less expensive overall for the jurisdictions, and it would more beneficial to the community [if those people weren’t in prison]”. And she identifies the “the over-incarceration of women [as] a major concern.”

Among the changes needed, she says, is better training of police.

“Now I’m not saying that all the police behave badly – we have got outstanding examples of how the police work with our communities.” But “we just can’t wait for ad hoc ‘good guys’ to come out of the system and engage properly – we need wholesale reform of the police departments.”

Listen Here

3.Minister Ken Wyatt press release: Indigenous incarceration rates

” The Federal  Government is progressing with the Closing the Gap refresh in partnership with the Coalition of Peaks, and while we’re still in final negotiations, it has been agreed that there will be justice targets contained within that agreement that focus on incarceration rates.

What’s important is that this Agreement has been developed in Partnership with Indigenous Australians and so we’re all working towards better outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

I will keep on working to empower Indigenous Australians – improve health, education and employment outcomes – and reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in custody.

Minister Ken Wyatt Press Release:

Every death in custody is a tragedy.

Unfortunately, there is no simple solution and no single answer.

Through all the work I do as Minister for Indigenous Australian we’re working to address the factors that contribute to high incarceration rates – these include health, education and employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

If we want to reduce the number of deaths in custody we need to look very closely at what’s happening here in Australia – the factors contributing to incarceration rates and the way in which our systems are handling these incidents – this requires a co-operative approach between government and with communities, particularly when States and Territories hold the policies and levers relating to policing and justice matters.

The relationship between Indigenous Australians and the police, both the good and the bad, in respective jurisdictions must also be examined.

The Morrison Government, through the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), is playing a key role in ensuring that there are additional protections in place for individuals when they are taken into custody through the Custody Notification System (CNS).

But we also need to remember that reducing the number of Indigenous people in contact with the justice system, through addressing the underlying factors that lead to offending, is just as key in addressing the number of deaths in custody.

So we should be looking at these things every day – that’s why we fund a range of activities to complement State and Territories to improve justice and community safety outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

It takes more than money – it takes commitment – it takes listening and understanding, and it takes us working together.

4. Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia welcomes reports of Australian governments adopting Indigenous incarceration Closing the Gap targets.

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia welcomed today’s reports of Australian governments adopting Indigenous incarceration Closing the Gap targets.

Noting that Indigenous Australians are almost ten times proportionally overrepresented in prison, Professor Tom Calma AO, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Patron, said:

The 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was a response to too many Indigenous Australians being in jail, and dying in jail and in police custody. That this crisis is worse, not better, in 2020 is a scandal.

The legacies of colonisation: structural racism, poverty and social exclusion are at the root of the high rates of imprisonment we suffer. All these must be addressed along with policing and sentencing reform as set out in the Australian Law Reform Commission’s 2018 Pathways to Justice Report.

But in the shorter term, we must also address the pathways to prison that the resulting untreated trauma, mental health and alcohol and drug problems create for our people.

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Chair Professor Helen Milroy continued:

We know that high rates of trauma, mental health issues and alcohol use are reported in Indigenous prisoners at the time of their offending, but also that – for many – prison is the first time they get any kind of mental health or other support. Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia calls on Australian governments to work together with us to develop a comprehensive mental health focused, justice reinvestment based strategic response to reducing Indigenous imprisonment rates.

This would feature integrated communitybased mental health, AOD and diversionary programs, continuing mental health support in prison, and – upon release – continuity of care to prevent recidivism and to support the reintegration of our people back into our families and communities.

Professor Pat Dudgeon, National Director of the Centre of Best Practice in Indigenous Suicide Prevention and Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia director, added:

Black lives do matter. And in addition to other causes of death in custody, we know that both the stress of pending court cases and the challenges of post-release life contributes to suicides among us, something often forgotten by policy makers. It is critical that diversionary programs and Indigenous prisoner mental health support are also considered within integrated approaches to suicide prevention among us.

Professor Calma closed by stating:

Over a decade ago as Social Justice Commissioner, I called for the development of Closing the Gap targets to reduce our incarceration rates, and for a justice reinvestment approach to doing so.

I repeat these calls today. Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia aims to implement the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration’s Vision of Indigenous leadership delivering the best possible mental health system and standard of mental health to Indigenous Australians.

The organisation stands ready to lead and partner with stakeholders and Australian governments to develop a comprehensive mental health based strategic response to help close the imprisonment rate gap.

5. View Senator Patrick Dodson speech plus download Senate debate Black Lives Matter

Download Senate debate Black lives Matter

Black lives matter debate in Senate

6.Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and hearing loss

Download Report HERE

Hearing Loss

Read previous other report HERE 

7. Watch Professor Marcia Langton AO and Black Lives Matter video.

8. ABC’s David Speers Black Lives Matter and slavery