NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Communities #CoronaVirus News Alerts March 13- 16 : Contributions from our CEO Pat Turner, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Dr Mark Wenitong, Dr Norman Swan and Marion Scrymgour

In this special Corona Virus edition

1.Pat Turner NACCHO Appearance on The Drum

2.Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s press conference

3.Department of Health download videos

4.Dr Norman Swan

5.DR Mark Wenitong

6.Marion Scrymgour CEO NLC

Read all previous Aboriginal Health and Corona Virus articles published by NACCHO since January

1.Pat Turner NACCHO Appearance on The Drum

Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), warned tonight that if the novel coronavirus gets into Aboriginal communities, “it will be absolute devastation without a doubt”.

In particular, she urged state and local governments to lift their games, but acknowledged that some local governments, like those in Alice Springs and Halls Creek, were acting.

Turner also called for action to address “the national disgrace” of inadequate Aboriginal housing given the implications for infection control, and for screening of communities in vulnerable areas, stating that the docking of a cruise ship in Broome today had caught health authorities unawares.

The ACCHO sector had been working very hard to get out information to communities and clinics, but needed the Government to fund their services at a realistic level, she told ABC TV’s The Drum program.” 

Urgent calls for more resources to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from COVID-19 From Croakey Read HERE in full 

Watch the full episode of The Drum on IView (Available till 20 March )

2.Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s press conference

 “Today, I now want to move to the decisions that we have taken that were consistent with the plan that I’ve outlined to you.

First of all, the National Security Committee met before the National Cabinet today and we resolved to do the following things; to help stay ahead of this curve we will impose a universal precautionary self-isolation requirement on all international arrivals to Australia, and that is effective from midnight tonight.

Further, the Australian government will also ban cruise ships from foreign ports from arriving at Australian ports after an initial 30 days and that will go forward on a voluntary basis. The National Cabinet also endorsed the advice of the AHPPC today to further introduce social distancing measures.

Before I moved to those, I just wanted to be clear about those travel restrictions that I’ve just announced. All people coming to Australia will be required, will be required I stress, to self isolate for 14 days.

This is very important. What we’ve seen in recent, in the recent weeks is more countries having issues with the virus.

And that means that the source of some of those transmissions are coming from more and more countries.

Bans have been very effective to date. And what this measure will do is ensure that particularly Australians who are the majority of people coming to Australia now on these flights, when they come back to Australia, they’re self-isolation for 14 days will do an effective job in flattening this curve as we go forward.

And there are major decisions that were taken today that reflect changing where we are heading.

The facts and the science, the medical advice will continue to drive and support the decisions that we are making as a National Cabinet, as indeed as a federal Cabinet at the Commonwealth level.

But the truth is that while many people will contract this virus that it’s clear, just as people get the flu each year, it is a more severe condition than the flu, but for the vast majority, as I said last week, for the majority, around 8 in 10 is our advice, it will be a mild illness and it will pass. “

 Prime Minister Scott Morrison press conference 15 march : Download full Transcript here 

PM Scott Morrison press conference full transcript

Download PM Press Release

Prime Ministers Press Release

3.Department of Health campaign download videos 

Download Videos

Coronavirus video – Help Stop The Spread

Coronavirus video – Recent Traveller

Coronavirus video – Stay Informed

Coronavirus video – Good Hygiene Starts Here

Dr Norman Swan provides some simple advice regarding Coronavirus.

– Wash your hands regularly with soap and water; or with hand sanitiser.

– Try to keep your distance from other people; and avoid physical contact

– If you need to sneeze or cough, do it into a fresh tissue which you then discard; or into your elbow.

– If you have a cough or a cold, it’s most likely that you have just a cough or a cold; but talk to your Doctor about it before turning up to a surgery.

For more information visit http://www.abc.net.au/coronavirus or http://www.health.gov.au

5. Dr Mark Wenitong

Dr Mark speaks with Black Star Radio about Coronavirus and the simple steps you can take to protect yourself.

“If you’re not sure, give the clinic a call and we’ll tell you what to do.” Dr Mark

 

6.Marion Scrymgour CEO NLC

“The NLC has received many calls from community members asking that we do all we can to ensure the safety and protection of Aboriginal people in their communities who are very concerned about the spread of COVID-19.

Should this virus break out in our communities, we don’t have the manpower to deal with this.

The NLC will be launching an information campaign in Indigenous languages to inform people about hygiene, testing for coronavirus and for them to avoid travel outside communities.

NLC staff have also cancelled their non-essential travel to communities including its regional council meetings.

“Somebody could come out and they could get infected and then go back into the community.

“The position we’re taking is if we can push back that virus taking hold in our communities, that’s a good thing. It means we can work at getting better prepared.”

The decision comes after the Northern Territory Government decided it will stop its employees from making non-essential travel to remote communities.

The NLC has received many calls from community members asking that we do all we can to ensure the safety and protection of Aboriginal people in their communities who are very concerned about the spread of COVID-19 “

Chief executive officer Marion Scrymgour said the move was to protect Aboriginal people in the communities who already faced issues like chronic health conditions, lack of resources and overcrowded housing.

Read in full HERE

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : Read / Download Press Release responses to the 2020 #ClosingtheGap Report from #CoalitionofPeaks @closethegapOZ @NATSILS_ @SNAICC @SenatorSiewert @CAACongress @RACGP

“ These Closing the Gap reports tell the same story of failure every year

The danger of this seemingly endless cycle of failure is that it breeds complacency and cynicism, while excusing those in power.

People begin to believe that meaningful progress is impossible and there is nothing governments can do to improve the lives of our people.

The truth is that the existing Closing the Gap framework was doomed to fail when it was designed without the input of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We know what will work best for our communities and the Prime Minister even acknowledges in this report that our voice was the missing ingredient from original framework.

The Coalition of Peaks has signed a formal partnership agreement with every Australian government, where decision-making on design, implementation and evaluation of a new Closing the Gap framework will be shared. Through this partnership, the Coalition of Peaks has put forward structural priority reforms to the way governments work with and deliver services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Governments say they are listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. However, the true test in listening is translating the priority reforms into real, tangible and funded actions that make a difference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people right across our country.

This historic partnership could be the circuit-breaker that is needed. However, if they view this process as little more than window dressing for the status quo, the cycle of failure evident in today’s report is doomed to continue.”

Pat Turner, CEO of NACCHO and Co-Chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap, said that governments need to learn from these failures, not continue to repeat them.

Read Download the full Coalition of Peaks Press Release HERE

Read previous NACCHO Communiques this week

1.Coalition of Peaks Editorial Pat Turner

2.PM Launches CTG Report ( Download )

3.PM CTG Full Speech

4.Opposition response to CTG Report

“Every year for the last 12 years we have listened to a disappointing litany of failure – it’s not good enough, Indigenous Australians deserve better.

We are heartened by the developments last year with COAG and the Prime Minister agreeing to a formal partnership with the Coalition of Peaks on the Closing the Gap strategy.

Indigenous involvement and participation is vital – when our peoples are included in the design and delivery of services that impact their lives, the outcomes are far better.

However, now that partnership is in place, Australian governments must commit to urgent funding of Indigenous healthcare and systemic reform.

Preventable diseases continue to take young lives while unrelenting deaths in custody and suicide rates twice that of other Australians continue to shame us all.

As governments reshape the Closing the Gap strategy, we cannot afford for the mistakes of the past to be repeated.

Close the Gap Campaign co-Chairs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA) CEO Karl Briscoe, have called on the government to invest urgently in health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Download full Close the Gap campaign press release HERE

Close the Gap Campaign response to CTG Report

” There was one glaring omission from the Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap speech this week. Housing did not rate a mention. Not a word about action on Aboriginal housing or homelessness.

Housing was not even one of the targets, let alone one we were meeting, but it must be if we are to have any chance of finally closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians on all the other targets for life expectancy, child mortality, education and jobs.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 3 per cent of Australia’s population but 20 per cent of the nation’s homeless. Aboriginal people are 2.3 times more likely to experience rental stress and seven times more likely to live in over-crowded conditions than other Australians.”

James Christian is chief executive of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.

“For the first time ever, there is a commitment from all Australian governments, through COAG, to work with Aboriginal leaders through the peak bodies of Aboriginal organisations to negotiate key strategies and headline indicators that will make a difference.

So long as the negotiations continue in good faith and we stay the course together this should lead to a greater rate of improvement in coming years. Of this I am sure.

There is a commitment to supporting Aboriginal people by giving priority to our own community controlled organisations to deliver the services and programs that will make a difference in our communities while at the same time ensuring mainstream services better meet our needs”

Donna Ah Chee, Chief Executive Officer of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress : Read full Report Part 1 below.

“Today is another day we reflect on the Federal Government’s inability to meet the Closing the Gap targets.

This report clearly shows that the gap will continue to widen if reforms aren’t translated into tangible, fully funded actions that deliver real benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout the country.

The report reveals that progress against the majority of Closing the Gap targets is still not on track. The gap in mortality rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous

Australians increased last year and there are very worrying signs on infant mortality.

The Federal Government needs to commit to funding solutions to end over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and they must be implemented alongside other areas of disadvantage in the Closing the Gap strategy – health, education, family violence, employment, housing – in order to create real change for future generations.”

Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair of NATSILS.

“We are deeply concerned about the Federal Government’s decision to not continue funding for remote Indigenous housing. Access to safe and affordable housing is essential to Closing the Gap,”

Nerita Waight, Co-Chair of NATSILS.

Download the full NATSILS press release HERE

NATSILS response CTG Report

” SARRAH welcomes the bipartisan approach by Parliamentarians who committed to work genuinely and collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.

The potential contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is far greater than has been acknowledged or supported to date.

There are many organisations working hard to close the gap, such as Aboriginal community controlled health organisations right across Australia, and Indigenous Allied Health Australia, the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak allied health body.

Governments, through COAG, working with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Coalition of Peaks have the opportunity to reset the trajectory.”

Download SARRAH Press Release

Media Release SARRAH Closing the Gap

“ Many of our communities are affected by a range of adverse experiences from poverty, through to violence, drug and alcohol issues and homelessness.

Without an opportunity to heal from the resultant trauma, its impact can deeply affect children’s brain development causing life-long challenges to the way they function in the world.

It is experienced within our families and communities and from one generation to the next.

We need urgent action to support better outcomes and opportunities for our children.

SNAICC CEO, Richard Weston

Download the full SNAICC press release HERE

SNAICC Response to CTG Report

“Mr Morrison will keep failing First Nations peoples and this country until a genuine commitment to self-determination is at the heart of closing the gap.

The Prime Minister’s same old “welfare” rhetoric indicates that the Government really hasn’t got it.   While they say they are committed to the COAG co-design process the PM ignores the point that it is his Government continuing to drive discriminatory programs such as the Cashless Debit Card, the CDP program, ParentsNext and who are failing to address the important social determinants of health and wellbeing.

There are a few things this Government needs to do before they just “get people into jobs”, like invest in the social determinants of health and wellbeing and a housing first approach.”

Australian Greens spokesperson on First Nations peoples issues Senator Rachel Siewert

Download the full Greens press release HERE

The Greens Response to CTG Report

” Australia’s efforts to close the gap are seemingly stuck in a holding pattern.

Though Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hailed the beginning of a ‘new era’ of improving the health and life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the launch of the 12th Closing the Gap report, the results are all but unchanged.”

Read RACGP editorial

Part 1 : Donna Ah Chee, Chief Executive Officer of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

Continued

“It’s also important to recognise that there has been progress here in Central Australia both over the longer term and more recently. Since 1973, the number of Aboriginal babies dying in their first year of life has reduced from 250 to 10 per 1000 babies born, and life expectancy has improved on average around 13 years.

As recently as 2019 we have seen significant improvements across multiple areas.

“Alice Springs has experienced a remarkable 40% reduction in alcohol related assaults and a 33% reduction in domestic violence assaults. This is 739 fewer assaults year on year, or 14 fewer assaults per week”.

“There has been a 33% reduction in alcohol related emergency department presentation which is 1617 fewer presentations year on year or a reduction of 31 per week. Corresponding with this, there has been a decline in hospital admissions and, as noted in the MJA recently, ICU admissions. These are dramatic improvements,” she said.

“The proportion of babies born of low birth weight has halved and the rates of childhood anaemia and anaemia in pregnancy have declined markedly.”

“In addition to this the number of young people who reoffend and therefore recycle through youth detention has dropped dramatically.”

“Combining all of these factors, we are closing the gap on early childhood disadvantage and trauma and this will make a big difference in coming years in other health and social outcomes.”

There are however, still many issues to be addressed, especially with the current generation of young people, as too many have already experienced the impacts of domestic violence, trauma and alcohol and other drugs. Unfortunately, this has led to the youth issues experienced now in Alice Springs.

The NT government recently advised Congress that they are implementing strategies that are aimed at making an immediate difference while at the same time we know key strategies that will make a longer-term difference are already in place. New immediate strategies include:

  1. 14 additional police undertaking foot patrols and bike patrols in the CBD
  2. Police now taking young people home where it is safe to do so, rather than telling them to go home themselves
  3. The employment of two senior Aboriginal community police officers from remote communities and the recruitment of three others in town and two at Yuendumu
  4. The flexible deployment of the YOREOs to meet peaks in the numbers of young people out at different hours of the night
  5. The much more active deployment of the truancy officers to ensure all young people are going to school.
  6. Access to emergency accommodation options for young people at night

While progress overall is slower than it should be, it is important to acknowledge the successes we are having because of the good work of many dedicated community organisations and government agencies working together in a supportive environment, where governments are adopting evidence based policies.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert :  Prime Minister @ScottMorrisonMP hosts historic meeting with the Coalition of Peaks on #ClosingtheGap

“ I’ve just come from a meeting with the Coalition of Indigenous Peak Bodies, led by Pat Turner. 

And I want to thank Pat and all of those who were able to join me there for what has been a very important meeting as to how we’re continuing to work together to close the gap.

The big change that has been occurring in policy and outcomes that we’re working to, for indigenous Australians is they are now looking at this gap from the perspective of indigenous Australians, not from the perspective of governments, but listening to indigenous Australians about those gaps, where they are, how wide they are, and the policies and the responses that are needed from the perspective of indigenous Australians and the coalition of indigenous peak groups has been invaluable in their partnership with us to go about that work

And that work will go forward to the Council of Australian Governments.

We are working with indigenous Australians all across the country, but it was a very productive meeting and there were particular initiatives about data collection, but also in the area of early childhood education. There were discussions around issues of housing.

It was a very comprehensive meeting.

And again, I want to thank Pat Turner for her tremendous leadership in the way we have been completely turning around, the way we are approaching this issue of closing the gap and ensuring that we’re doing it from the perspective of indigenous Australians, from their view, how they’re looking at those gaps and how we can overcome them.

Part 1 : Prime Minister Scott Morrison Press Conference Parliament House 23 January broadcast live ABC TV and Sky News : See full PMC communique Part 3

Read Download full transcript of the Prime Minsters opening remarks at the meeting

Today the Prime Minister and Ministers heard the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across the country on what is needed to close the gap.

The Prime Minister is listening to those voices and supports the new National Agreement being built around the Priority Reforms.

It was also great to see the Prime Minister responding immediately with concrete actions that will contribute to the success of our Priority Reforms.

This historic meeting represents a significant step forward under the new formal relationship between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on closing the gap where decision making is shared, and the expertise and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is fully recognised.

We look forward to positive engagements with other Australian governments over the coming months as the new Agreement is finalised.”

Part 2 : Pat Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, CEO of NACCHO and Co-Chair of the Joint Council. See recently released 8 Page Snapshot report Part 4 below 

Read all previous NACCHO Coalition of Peaks articles

Read Download the Coalition of Peaks full Press Release Here

The meeting comes after the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap was signed in March 2019 by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the Coalition of Peaks where for the first time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through their community controlled representatives, and Australian governments share decision making on Closing the Gap.

The Coalition of Peaks acknowledged the Prime Minister’s leadership on the development of the Partnership Agreement.

The meeting discussed the Priority Reforms, agreed in-principle by the Joint Council on Closing the Gap in August 2019, to be included in the new National Agreement.

The Priority Reforms that were put forward by the Coalition of Peaks to Australian governments to be included in the National Agreement to change the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and accelerate progress on closing the gap:

Priority Reform 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;

Priority Reform 2: Building the formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services sector to deliver closing the gap services and programs in agreed priority areas; and

Priority Reform 3: Ensuring all mainstream government agencies and institutions undertake systemic and structural transformation to contribute to Closing the Gap.

The Prime Minister committed $1.5 million for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data project to develop regional profiles of Closing the Gap targets, Priority Reforms, and other community priorities to support regional decision making between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and Australian governments.

This project will be led by the Coalition of Peaks in partnership with the Indigenous Data Network and form of delivering on the new Priority Reform Four.

Part 3 Read Download the meeting communique

Part 4 Read Download the recently released 8 page Coalition of Peaks Snapshot 2020

Coalition-of-Peaks-engagement-snapshot-6

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Media Alerts : 1.Today 18 Nov watch @HealthJusticeAu Webinar features our @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills 2. Listen to our CEO Pat Turner 2019 review interview @abcspeakingout 3.Watch Rachel Perkins deliver the first 2019 Boyer Lecture

 

1.Health Justice Partnerships webinar today 18 November features our NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills 

Monday 18 November – 2:30pm – 4:00pm AEDT 

A quiet revolution is taking place across Australia and it’s transforming the way some of the most vulnerable in our community access legal services. In a practitioner-led movement, community lawyers have been moving out of their offices and into the most unlikely of places – hospitals and community health settings – to collaborate with health services and their patients to address unmet, health-harming legal need.

Known as health justice partnerships (HJPs), these collaborations work by embedding legal help into healthcare services and teams.

Health Justice Partnerships will explore the growing body of evidence that shows there are groups of people who are vulnerable to intersecting legal and health problems, but who are unlikely to turn to legal services for solutions.

Facilitated by Jason Rostant, a panel examines what takes a HJP partnership beyond ‘status quo’ services in terms of purpose, structure, activity and resourcing.

Panellists include:

  • Donnella Mills, Lawyer, Lawright and Chair, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (NACCHO
  • Tessa Boyd Caine, CEO, Health Justice Australia
  • Jane Cipants, Director Client Service, Legal Aid
  • Sandra Gates, Director Allied Health and Clinical Support, The Royal Women’s Hospital

*Panelists subject to change

Get to know

  • Legal problems that affect health
  • The definition of a health justice partnership
  • Evidence supporting the HJP model
  • Create partnerships with existing local social resource providers and expand capacity to address social needs
  • The development and sustainability of the community service sector

Register here to watch the Webinar 

2.Our CEO Pat Turner interviewed by  Larissa Behrendt on Speaking Out 16 Nov

 

Pat Turners 2019 Year in Review Features include

1.Closing the gap / Have Your Say consultations

2. Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt has urged the senior advisory group co-designing an Indigenous Voice to Government to take hold of the “moment in time” before them to change the lives of Indigenous Australians.

3. Yuendumu police shooting: Indigenous groups demand action

4.New $90 Million funding for our ACCHO’s

Listen here to Interview

3. Leading filmmaker Rachel Perkins echoes the Uluru Statement from the Heart in the first of her ABC Boyer Lectures:

Watch on IView

I am reminded of the distinguished poet and stateswoman, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, when she wrote:

“Let no-one say the past is dead.

“The past is all about us and within.”

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains images of people who have died.

Watch the full speech see link below

Watch Rachel Perkins deliver the first 2019 Boyer Lecture on ABC iview

For Indigenous people have not lost from our minds the history of our nation, not only its deep past of thousands of years, but also the events on April 29, 250 years ago, when James Cook ordered his men to fire upon the two men on the shore.

It is likely they were Gweagal warriors, who stood before him in defence of their family behind them on the beach. Cook’s action signalled the Crown’s intentions; the transfer of a continent, from one people to another, by force if necessary, a phenomenon we politely call colonisation.

Our generation wasn’t standing on the deck of the Endeavour or on the shores of Kamay Botany Bay in 1770, just as we weren’t present during the massacres as the colonial frontier progressed from south to north.

However, as my father Charles Perkins, the Indigenous leader who came to prominence in the 1960s for leading the Freedom Ride, said:

“We cannot live in the past, but the past lives in us.”

The past has made us. We are its inheritors, for better or worse, and this is now our time.

How we move forward from this moment will set the course of relationships between Indigenous people and their fellow Australians into the future.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-16/boyer-lecture-rachel-perkins-echoes-uluru-statement/11696504

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the #Ulurustatement : The Senior advisory group co-designing the Indigenous Voice to government has meet for the first time : Includes today’s Editorial from the The Australian and @KenWyattMP speech

 ” Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt has urged the senior advisory group co-designing an Indigenous Voice to Government to take hold of the “moment in time” before them to change the lives of Indigenous Australians.

The minister led the first meeting of the consultation body made up of 19 people at Old Parliament in Canberra on Wednesday.

The senior advisory group is seeking to shape a framework towards developing options for an Indigenous voice to all levels of government. 

But his actions have earned some backlash for already taking enshrining the voice in the constitution off the table.

Mr Wyatt called on the leadership group to embrace their opportunity to “enact meaningful” and “long-lasting change” for Indigenous Australians and the entire nation.

“All of us have been around for a long time – we have seen communities grow but we’ve seen them struggle,” he said.

“We talk about community control – but I don’t see it on the ground.

The bottom line is for the elder in the community, the child … the family – that’s where we have to make the difference.”

Introduction and photos from NITV Online

Download the Ministers press release and opening speech HERE

Minister Wyatt Press Release speech the Voice

Read all 30 plus articles Aboriginal Health and the Uluru Statement 

Editorial from the Australian ( Please note we have not edited spelling ) 

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt is a man for constructive action in preference to the grand gesture.

After 12 years of false starts, arguments and setbacks under both sides of federal politics, the minister is pushing quietly and methodically towards the establishment of an indigenous voice to government.

Mr Wyatt, the first Aborigine to lead the ministry responsible for his people and our first indigenous cabinet minister, is a pragmatist.

In a sector where empty symbolism has sometimes overshadowed practical outcomes, that is a refreshing advantage.

At the first meeting of the co-design panel for a legislated “voice to government” at Old Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday, Mr Wyatt cautioned, sensibly, that overreaching could spoil a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

In his Lingiari memorial address in August, he ruled out including a voice to parliament in the Morrison government’s referendum on constitutional reform.

That stance, in contradiction of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, has disappointed some of his high-profile countrymen.

It has bolstered the chances, however, of such a referendum on recognition being passed not only by a majority of voters in a majority of states, as it should, but by a thumping majority.

Recognition, when it comes, needs to unite rather than divide the nation.

As Mr Wyatt puts it, the referendum will be about “recognising indigenous Australians on our birth certificate”.

Scott Morrison, like Malcolm Turnbull, does not want the voice to be seen as a “third chamber” of parliament; that would be neither desirable nor acceptable to most voters.

Mr Wyatt prefers the term “voice to government” rather than “voice to parliament”. His idea that it could advise local and state authorities, as well as the commonwealth, is a good one. To be effective that voice, or voices, as he says, need not be constitutionally enshrined. What his people want is to be heard.

On Thursday, Greg Brown reported Mr Wyatt’s clear message for indigenous leaders who were angry the voice would not be included in the Constitution:

“Reflect back on the history of our people and think of every time you challenge and move forward; we have done it incrementally and then when we have gained the incremental achievement we have gone on to build bigger and better things.” His people were “at the beginning” of the process.

After consolidating, others could take up the baton for the next stage.

Against that backdrop, the minister deserves credit for drawing many of Australia’s most distinguished and outspoken indigenous leaders, including supporters of the Uluru statement, on to his Senior Advisory Group. Members of the group include indigenous lawyer Noel Pearson, land rights leader Galarrwuy Yunupingu and co-chairs Marcia Langton and Tom Calma.

Participants have decades of experience working for their people across a range of sectors.

To mention a few, Tony Wurramarrba from Groote Eylandt negotiated a comprehensive mining agreement with BHP Billiton on behalf of traditional owners, and led negotiations with the commonwealth and Northern Territory governments to deliver housing, infrastructure, health and education in the region.

Peter Buckskin, from South Australia, is a former teacher, academic and ministerial adviser.

Josephine Cashman is a NSW entrepreneur and lawyer. Marcia Ella-Duncan chaired the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council and is a member of the Netball Australia Reconciliation Action Plan. Vonda Malone is the first female mayor of the Torres Shire Council.

Pat Turner, with 40 years experience in business, academe and government, is at the forefront of community efforts to improve Aborigines’ health outcomes in the Northern Territory. ( NACCHO Correction should read Australia wide )

These and other indigenous panel members are ideally placed to speak for the communities they know and love.

The panel also includes non-indigenous people with understanding and skills to enhance the exercise.

Jesuit priest and lawyer Frank Brennan has long been a staunch advocate for indigenous people. The Australian’s associate editor and Sky News presenter Chris Kenny has written extensively on indigenous issues.

He accepted his appointment “to make sure indigenous Australians” at the grassroots “get a fair go”.

Beyond constitutional recognition and a voice to government, Mr Wyatt also envisages a process that would provide a sharing of a history between indigenous and non-indigenous people across the nation.

It is a worthwhile goal. After years of uncertainty and dashed hopes, Mr Wyatt and his colleagues are on track, although stumbling blocks and disagreements in such a sensitive process are inevitable.

But from the perspective of indigenous people whose health, education, jobs, welfare and quality of life often fall far short of what non-indigenous people expect, the panel has a major responsibility to build a system to represent their voices well, helping to facilitate practical reconciliation.

 

Detail of advisory council from NIT

Professor Tom Calma AO – Kungarakun and Iwaidja heritage

Co-Chairing the Senior Advisory Group (SAG), Professor Calma has extensive experience advocating for Indigenous Australians.

From 2004-09, he was the Race Discrimination Commissioner and from 2004-10 he served as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

He also currently serves as Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia.

Professor Dr Marcia Langton AM – Yiman and Bidjara heritage

The SAG’s other Co-Chair, Dr Langton attended Australian National University and was the first Indigenous honours graduate in anthropology.

She is accomplished in many areas, including social, cultural and land rights, political and legal anthropology, as well as Indigenous engagement in the minerals industry.

Dr Langton was also the first woman to Chair the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) Council.

Professor Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO

Professor Brennan is a human rights lawyer and Jesuit priest commonly known for his involvement in the Wik debate of 1998.

He chaired the 2009 National Human Rights Consultation and was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his services to Indigenous Australians, specifically in areas of law, reconciliation and social justice.

Professor Brennan has also authored books on Indigenous issues such as The Wik Debate and One Land One Nation.

Professor Peter Buckskin PSM – Narungga heritage

Professor Buckskin has plenty of experience at an elite level, having served as Commissioner of the Australian Commission to UNESCO, Chair of the South Australian Aboriginal Education Consultative Committee and Dean of Aboriginal Engagement and Strategic Projects at the University of South Australia.

In 2001, he received a Commonwealth Public Servant Medal (PSM).

Ms Josephine Cashman – Warrimay heritage

With over two decades of experience as a lawyer and entrepreneur, Ms Cashman works in areas promoting inclusive economic development and positive change in society.

She founded the Big River group and was an inaugural member of the Prime Minsiter’s Indigenous Advisory Council.

Ms Cashman was also an invited speaker at the UN Human Rights Council session addressing violence against Indigenous girls and women.

Ms Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM – Walbunja heritage

Ms Ella-Duncan was the first Indigenous women to represent Australia in Netball and has been inducted into the Netball Australia and Netball NSW Halls of Fame.

A Director of Netball Australia, Ms Ella-Duncan is also a member of the association’s RAP working group.

From 2009-17, she also chaired La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council.

Ms Joanne Farrell

A retired Rio Tinto executive, Ms Farrell has experience in leading interaction with key stakeholders while overseeing global Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) systems and processes.

She has led many partnerships with Indigenous communities in employment, economic capacity building, skills development and agreement making.

Mr Mick Gooda – Gangulu heritage

With over 25 years of representing Indigenous Australians under his belt, Mr Gooda has a vast knowledge of the cultural nuances and situational diversity of Indigenous Australians.

Mr Gooda has experience in urban, rural and remote areas, and has also served as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

Mr Chris Kenny

At times a controversial commentator on Indigenous affairs, Mr Kenny is a Sky News journalist and an Associate Editor at The Australian.

He has reported for Channel Nine, Network Ten and the ABC as well as working as a media adviser and Chief of Staff for past foreign minister Alexander Downer.

Cr Vonda Malone – Kaurareg heritage

Breaker of glass ceilings, Cr Malone is the first female Mayor of the Torres Shire Council, first female Torres Strait Islander Australian diplomat and the first female Torres Strait Islander complete the UN’s Indigenous Fellowship Program.

Cr Malone has 22 years’ experience with the Federal Government, particularly in foreign affairs, was the founding Chair of the Torres Health Indigenous Corporation (THIC) and is Chair of the Torres and Cape Indigenous Councils Alliance (TCICA).

Ms June Oscar AO – Bunuba heritage

A big name in WA’s Kimberley region, Ms Oscar (pictured above) currently serves as Social Justice Commissioner.

She has also served as ATSIC Commissioner, Kimberley Land Council Deputy Director and Chair of the Kimberley Language Resource Centre.

In 2018, Ms Oscar was awarded NAIDOC’s Person of the Year.

Ms Alison Page – Walbanga and Wadi Wadi heritage

Award-winning Producer and Designer, Ms Page is the founder of the National Aboriginal Design Agency and founding CEO of the Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance.

She has experience working with Indigenous communities, particularly in delivering architectural services that are culturally appropriate, and was on the Expert Panel for the Federal Government’s Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Mr Noel Pearson – Guugu Yimidhirr heritage

Prominent lawyer and land rights activist, Noel Pearson is a name well-known in the Indigenous affairs space.

Mr Pearson helped establish the Cape York Land Council in 1990 and Founder of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership.

He is a strong advocate for social and economic development and has served on the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Mr Benson Saulo – Wergaia and Gunditjmara heritage

The first Indigenous Australian to be Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations, Mr Saulo has extensive experience in the Indigenous youth space.

Appointed Director of the National Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy in 2012, Mr Saulo works to engage young Indigenous Australians from across the nation to create campaigns around issues such as mental health and climate change.

He is also the Head of Partnerships, Investments at Australian Unity and is Group sponsor of the organisation’s RAP.

Ms Pat Turner AM – Arrernte and Gurdanji heritage

Leading the way for better Indigenous health outcomes as CEO of NACCHO (National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation), Ms Turner has over 40 years’ experience in senior leadership positions.

Some of her esteemed roles include being current Co-Chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap, the inaugural CEO of NITV and the longest serving CEO and only woman CEO of ATSIC.

Professor Maggie Walter – Palawa heritage

Representing descendants of Indigenous Tasmania, Professor Walter is both a Professor of Sociology and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Aboriginal Research and Leadership at the University of Tasmania.

She researches and teaches in the disciplines of inequality and race relations and is a founding member of the Maiam Nayri Wingara Australian Indigenous Data Sovereignty Collective and the Global Indigenous Data Alliance (GIDA).

Mr Tony Wurramarrba – Warnindilyakwa heritage

An experienced negotiator with multninational corporations and State and Federal Governments, Mr Wurramarrba currently chairs the Anindilyakwa Land Council.

He has negotiated deals with BHP Billiton on behalf of Traditional Owners and has worked extensively with the Federal and NT Governments on investment into education, housing, health and infrastructure.

Mr Peter Yu – Yawuru heritage

Another well-known name across the Kimberley region, Mr Yu has 35 years’ experience in Indigenous advocacy at all levels.

He was a key negotiator for the Yawuru Native Title Agreement, Executive Director at Kimberley Land Council throughout the 1990s and was Chair of the WA Aboriginal Housing Board.

Mr Yu currently serves on the Board of the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea management Alliance Ltd (NAILSMA Ltd) and is Deputy Chair at Broome Future Alliance Ltd.

Dr Galarrwuy Yunupingu AM – Gumatj and Galpu heritage

Chair of the Yothu Yindi Foundation and Gumatj Corporation, Dr Yunupingu has years of experience fighting for Indigenous land rights.

From 1977, Dr Yunupingu also chaired the Northern Land Council for 25 years.

A fierce advocate for Indigenous Australians, Dr Yunupingu said at this year’s Garma Festival that Australia’s Constitution would be thrown into the saltwater if constitutional recognition was not achieved.

Minister Wyatt has said the SAG will advise him on different model options to ensure Australia’s First Nations people are heard at all levels of government.

The past few weeks have seen Minister Wyatt travel to the Northern Territory and Queensland to listen to people on the ground, committing to the notion that he will be the “Minister for all Indigenous Australians” who makes sure “all of their voices can be heard loud and clear.”

“It will be a historic occasion that will mark a shift in the way government and Indigenous Australians work in partnership to shift the pendulum and advance positive outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

By Hannah Cross NIT

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the #UluruStatement : Our CEO Pat Turner to attend the first meeting of the 20 member Senior Advisory Leadership group on an “ Indigenous Voice “ at Old Parliament House this week

Over the past few weeks I’ve travelled to Queensland and the Northern Territory to listen to Indigenous Australians – I am committed to being the minister for all Indigenous Australians, and want to make sure that all of their voices can be heard loud and clear,” 

The best outcomes are achieved when Indigenous Australians are at the centre of decision making.

We know that for too long decision making treated the symptoms rather than the cause.

Mr Wyatt said when launching the consultation process he wanted a group of individuals “to have the rigorous discussions” The Morrison government has committed $7.3 million for the process.

I would like to get the opportunity to establish the bodies and the process and look at all the models and how they might work, and then at a future time look at – and this is the government’s role – to look at constitutional enshrinement or whatever,” Calma told the Guardian late last month

Both Calma and Langton support constitutionally enshrining the voice to parliament, but have said they are willing to work with the process to see what can be achieved.

CEO of National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Pat Turner AM will be instrumental in the discussions and has previously said the long-term solution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination requires a strong commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. “

Read over 30 NACCHO Uluru Statement articles Here

Media Coverage 

Originally published here 

The Minister for Indigenous Australians has announced a list of twenty names that will become members of the Senior Advisory Group that will charged with tasked with guiding the Co-Design process towards developing options for an Indigenous voice to government.

The list includes Uluru Statement from the Heart Advocate, Noel Pearson, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO, Pat Turner, and the first international Indigenous netballer, Marcia Ella-Duncan.

Last week, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, announced he would be creating an elite committee that would oversee a co-design process to work towards realising an Indigenous voice to government.

The top committee will be responsible for developing two lower consultation groups at a local and regional, and national level to assist in putting forward models for consideration.

Indigenous Academics Professor Tom Calma and Professor Marcia Langton have been named co-chairs of the Senior Advisory Group and will oversee a committee made up of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

Members include:

  • Professor Tom Calma AO
  • Professor Dr Marcia Langton AM
  • Professor Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO
  • Professor Peter Buckskin PSM
  • Ms Josephine Cashman
  • Ms Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM
  • Ms Joanne Farrell
  • Mr Mick Gooda
  • Mr Chris Kenny
  • Cr Vonda Malone
  • Ms June Oscar AO
  • Ms Alison Page
  • Mr Noel Pearson
  • Mr Benson Saulo
  • Ms Pat Turner AM
  • Professor Maggie Walter
  • Mr Tony Wurramarrba
  • Mr Peter Yu
  • Dr Galarrwuy Yunupingu AM

The first meeting of the Senior Advisory Group will be held next Wednesday 13 November at Old Parliament House.

As the group prepares to kick off 12 months of consultations, there are some notable inclusions and absences.

Many prominent Indigenous Rights advocates are wary of the co-design process, saying the only meaningful form of recognition is through a constitutionally enshrined advisory body, truth-telling process and Makarratta commission, as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

CEO of National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Pat Turner AM will be instrumental in the discussions and has previously said the long-term solution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination requires a strong commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Lawyer and activist, Noel Pearson, has been selected for the group, following on from his role in the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians and the Referendum Council.

He is one of numerous former panel members to be part of the next consultation process.

Other prominent names in the recognition conversation however have been left out, including Professor Megan Davis, a former member of the Referendum Council, and Thomas Mayor, a vocal advocate of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Minister Wyatt has previously described outspoken advocates of the Uluru Statement as ‘influencers’, and claimed he preferred to listen to “grassroots” Indigenous voices.

His list includes representatives from across the country.

Former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda and current Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar are also part of the group.

Representing the next generation will be Benson Saulo, the first Indigenous person to be appointed to the Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations and 2014 NAIDOC Youth of the Year.

Sky News political commentator, Chris Kenny was also appointed to the committee.

Members from remote communities include Eastern Arnhem Land leader, Dr Galarrwuy Yunupingu AM and Yawuru man from Broome, Peter Yu.

Mr Wyatt said the group will ensure that all Indigenous people are heard.

“It will be a historic occasion that will mark a shift in the way government and Indigenous Australians work in partnership to shift the pendulum and advance positive outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” he said.

NACCHO Aboriginal #Environmental Health ClosingtheGap #HaveYourSay : Our CEO Pat Turner’s speech to the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health Conference in Perth this week

” In mainstream settings, there is no battle for recognition or resources for environmental health from finance departments. There is nothing more to prove and a fully resourced framework is in place. 

But Aboriginal environmental health is something else again.

Aboriginal environmental health combines deep cultural knowledge of how things work in Aboriginal communities with these hard scientific facts about disease.

Aboriginal environmental health must forge high-trust partnerships with community. 

Aboriginal environmental health is a community asset.

And Aboriginal environmental health is needed now more than ever.   Why is this so?

Public housing and public utilities have largely been taken out of Aboriginal control. In some locations, funding for the Aboriginal Environmental Health workforce has evaporated.\

Sometimes, the power to make the simplest decision on the ground has been ripped away from local communities. 

Instead, this power is with someone far away who doesn’t even know us.

This is nowhere more manifest than in Aboriginal housing. 

Effective Aboriginal environmental health programs must be in Aboriginal hands. 

Community controlled organisations must drive the necessary knowledge exchange between those who hold technical expertise and those who have been denied it.

The very nature of this work means that Aboriginal communities must retain the reins – and retain the knowledge

Selected extracts NACCHO CEO Pat Turner addressing the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health Conference in Perth this week

As an Aboriginal woman of Gudanji-Arrernte heritage, I wish to acknowledge the Whadjuk people of the Noongar nation as traditional owners of the land where we meet today.

I also acknowledge our continuing and vibrant First Nations cultures.  I am grateful for the contributions of our past, present and emerging leaders.

Our cultures, our leaders and our country give us collective strength and resilience as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Just a note for about language conventions in Western Australia. I tend to use the term Aboriginal in recognition that Aboriginal people are the original inhabitants here. This is not out of any disrespect to Torres Strait Islander colleagues and communities.

I have discovered that the first NATSIEH conference was held in 1998. Every second year or so since, the aim of these national conferences is to increase the understanding and awareness of environmental health issues in our communities.

This year, your theme is ONE GOAL: MANY PATHS.  There must be a huge diversity of backgrounds, professions and experiences in the room.   I am delighted to be here.  I hope I have something for everyone in my address to you today.

I will begin with recent CHANGES in the way governments must now work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Then I’ll cover some CHALLENGES that we can no longer ignore.

And finally, I’ll explain how Aboriginal LEADERSHIP will show the right path that we must take together.

How has our political landscape changed?

Please cast your minds back to 2008 when the original Closing the Gap policy was agreed by the Council of Australian Governments – known as COAG.

There was never full ownership of Closing the Gap from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. CLOSING the Gap was always considered to be an initiative of Governments.  Frankly, it was governments talking to other governments ABOUT us.  WITHOUT us.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak bodies supported Closing the Gap in good faith, particularly with new funding given to specific issues including housing, health and education.

But was Closing the Gap ever going to work with its genesis in the bureaucratic backrooms of Canberra?

Our people were always going to be configured as ‘the problem’.  Not as allies, not as experts, not as partners, not as equals.  It was not surprising to Aboriginal people to see that progress was patchy.

As Prof Marcia Langton, a leading Aboriginal academic of Yiman and Bidjara heritage, said in February this year at the Australian and New Zealand School of Government Indigenous conference:

“You can’t have administration of very complex matters from the Canberra bubble. It’s not working and lives are being lost. 

… We must push for policies that give formal powers to the Indigenous sector and remove incompetent, bureaucratic bungling.”

Marcia made a specific request of those who were listening:

“Please do not feel personally offended by what I have to say to you” she said.

I also ask this of you today.  And as Marcia continued to say:

‘… we must all take responsibility and be courageous enough to take action, to put an end to the policies and programs that disempower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, not just causing a decline in their living standards, but accelerating them into permanent poverty.

Especially the vulnerable. The children and youth are victims of a failed view of the Indigenous world and Indigenous people. This is a dystopian nightmare. We must imagine a future in which Indigenous people thrive and we must do whatever it takes to reach that future. This is urgent.”

It is not surprising then, that after 10 years, not much progress against the Closing the Gap targets had been made.

As the Closing the Gap targets were expiring, COAG announced a “Refresh” of Closing the Gap.  This “refresh” kicked in during 2017.  As various conversations took place however, it became clear that governments were still not listening properly or engaging in a genuine way, and they only wanted to talk about new targets.

Many Aboriginal Peak bodies wanted more time to test the options being put before us in these conversations. Most importantly, Peak bodies needed to be sure that THEIR voices were truly being heard. There was a real concern – AGAIN – that governments had already decided what they wanted to do. That governments were now negotiating behind closed doors to decide new priorities and targets without our input.

As Aboriginal peak bodies, we had to call this out before the country made another momentous mistake. We were very insistent.  We formed a Coalition.  The Prime Minister and his COAG colleagues had to adopt a better way of working.  Without a radical change in approach, the next ten years would be more of the same lack luster approach.

To his credit, Prime Minister Morrison listened.

He opened the door to a new way of working, giving his personal authority to change.

An historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap was signed this year in March between COAG and the Coalition of Peaks.  This means that now, for the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through their peak body representatives, will share decision making with governments on Closing the Gap.

How is this to be done?

This Partnership Agreement has created a high-level COAG Joint Council.  This Joint Council is made up of 22 members.  That means a Minister from the Commonwealth Government, a Minister from each State and Territory Governments, and a representative for local government. This makes up ten members.

But significant success was realized when the Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Bodies ensured TWELVE Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander representatives were on the Joint Council.  Chosen by us, in the majority, working for our mobs.

The Joint Council is co-chaired by the current Commonwealth Minister for Indigenous Australians and a representative of the Coalition of Peaks chosen by the Peaks. Currently, that representative is me.

The Partnership Agreement embodies the belief of all signatories that:

  • When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are included and have a real say in the design and delivery of services that impact on them, the outcomes are far better;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need to be at the centre of Closing the Gap policy: the gap won’t close without our full involvement; and
  • COAG cannot expect us to take responsibility and work constructively with them to improve outcomes if we are excluded from the decision making.

So to those public servants in the audience, whether you work in Commonwealth, state, territory or local government institutions, I say this.

If the Director-General, Secretary or CEO of your department or agency is not enabling you to do your work differently and act in accordance with the Partnership Agreement, Principles, then you need to join the movement and shake the tree.

I encourage you to:

  • Initiate co-design that looks entirely different to the way your department worked two years ago.
  • Give power of veto to communities on priorities. Listen to what THEY say.
  • Double the number of Indigenous people on your committees.
  • Forget ‘one size fits all’ … because it doesn’t.
  • Immerse yourself in this unprecedented opportunity for true equity in our country.

Trust me, your change of practice will be noticed, commended and supported.

Within the Joint Council, we will continue to lead the structural reform that will make your change of practice easier.  At our recent meeting in Adelaide, the Joint Council significantly agreed to develop a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap centred on three reform priorities.

The reform priorities seek to change the way Australian Governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations, and accelerate life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, these are:

  1. Establishing shared formal decision making between Australian governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the State/Territory, regional and local level to embed ownership, responsibility and expertise on Closing the Gap.
  2. Building and strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations to deliver services and programs in priority areas.
  3. Ensuring all mainstream government agencies and institutions undertake systemic and structural transformation to contribute to Closing the Gap.

The Joint Council also agreed to the Coalition of Peaks leading engagements with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the next two months to ensure others can have a say on the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The Coalition of Peaks want to hear views from across the country on what is needed to make the reform priorities a success.

 

I encourage you all to contribute and have your say.

You can find out more on the NACCHO website. Step up and join in!

I know these priorities, especially the first two, are critical to our success as Aboriginal  people. And I know this from a lifetime of advocacy and service for my people, including my current role as CEO of NACCHO.

NACCHO is the living embodiment of the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and our struggle for self-determination.  NACCHO is the national peak body representing 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services or “ACCHOs” across the country.   NACCHO has a history stretching back to a meeting in Albury in 1974 in country New South Wales.

For those who don’t know, an “ACCHO” is a primary health care service initiated and operated by the local Aboriginal community to deliver holistic, comprehensive, and culturally appropriate health care to the community which controls it, through a locally elected Board of Management.

As a sector, we are especially proud that ACCHOs are the largest employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the country.  Not even the mining sector compares. We also have evidence that ACCHOs are demonstrably better than mainstream in providing culturally responsive, clinically effective primary health care.

At this year’s AMSANT conference, Donna Ah Chee, a Bundgalung woman from NSW and CEO of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, said precisely what community control means in this context.

Read full speech HERE

It means:

  • The right to set the agenda and determine what the issues are
  • The right to determine which programs or approaches are best suited to tackle the problems in the community
  • The right to determine how a program is run, its size and resources
  • The right to determine when a program operates, its pace and timing
  • The right to say where a program will operate, its geographic coverage and its target groups
  • The right to determine who will deliver the program its staff and advisers.

This commitment to equal partnership through COAG has brought us to the table.  There’s no going back.

I’d now like to cover some CHALLENGES in environmental health. 

Environmental health is a science-based, technical practice.  Environmental health takes scientific knowledge to people. It focuses on disease risk and finds the way to limit disease in modern society. Environmental Health Practitioners draw the connection between environmental factors and health outcomes.

Environmental health practitioners take this science and fix environmental hazards to prevent risk. They nip outbreaks in the bud.

They influence and draft legislation, and monitor compliance with public health laws and the regulations to protect people’s health.

Of course, in mainstream Australia, hardly anyone recognizes the role that environmental health plays.  For the majority of the population, environmental health is silently present. Water, sanitation, rubbish, housing standards, food safety, everything … it is all taken for granted.

In mainstream settings, there is no battle for recognition or resources for environmental health from finance departments. There is nothing more to prove and a fully resourced framework is in place.

But ABORIGINAL environmental health is something else again.

Aboriginal environmental health combines deep cultural knowledge of how things work in Aboriginal communities with these hard scientific facts about disease. Aboriginal environmental health must forge high-trust partnerships with community.

Aboriginal environmental health is a community asset.

And Aboriginal environmental health is needed now more than ever.   Why is this so?

Public housing and public utilities have largely been taken out of Aboriginal control. In some locations, funding for the Aboriginal Environmental Health workforce has evaporated. Sometimes, the power to make the simplest decision on the ground has been ripped away from local communities.  Instead, this power is with someone far away who doesn’t even know us.

This is nowhere more manifest than in Aboriginal housing.

First, the evidence.  A recent systematic review of the scientific literature has summarized the known causal links between the home environment and health.  Here are some examples:

  • Skin-related diseases are associated with crowding
  • Viral conditions such as influenza are also associated with crowding.
  • Ear infections are associated with crowding, lack of functioning facilities for washing people, bedding and sewerage outflow.
  • Gastro infections are associated with poorly maintained housing and the state of food preparation and storage.

These are not hypothetical claims yet to be proved.  These have academic weight and the verdict is in.

In mainstream Australia, these causal links between the housing and health have been actioned.  In mainstream Australia, sustained progress in the social and environmental determinants of health has permanently reduced the rates of preventable infectious diseases.  One look at the disease burden tells us that.

BUT … because of the state of OUR environmental conditions, Aboriginal people are denied the health outcomes that non-Indigenous people now enjoy.

The challenge is huge.

  • Let’s consider clinic presentations for Aboriginal children for their first year of life. Did you know that research has found that the median number of clinic presentations per child in the first year of life was 21.  Twenty-one! Per child!   Children in this NT study would typically have six clinic presentations for diarrhea in any one year!  SIX! An infectious ear disease known as Otitis Media and skin infections were also high on the list of most frequent reasons for Aboriginal children coming to the clinic in their first year of life. These infectious diseases are NOT caused by bad parents.  They are caused by poor living conditions, overcrowding and poverty imposed on our people.
  • In the Fitzroy Valley in the Kimberley here in Western Australia, 70% of Aboriginal children have been admitted to hospital at least once before they turn seven years of age. A closer look at the reasons why is shocking.  The researchers concluded that most of these admissions would not have happened at all if household disadvantage, poor quality housing and access to primary health care had been addressed.
  • Another example comes from the Western Desert region here in Western Australia. This looked at clinic presentations of all children aged 0 to 5 years of age.  These children had on average more than 30 clinic visits each per year to their clinic. ………  Think about what that means to the morale of the parents, the attitudes of the clinicians, the health budget bottom line. Infectious diseases explained half of these presentations:
    • Ear infections were 15%
    • Upper respiratory tract infections, 13%
    • Skin sores were 12% of the total.
    • And 25% needed treatment for scabies.
  • These statistics aren’t just confined to remote communities. Aboriginal children in Western Sydney in homes with 3 or more housing problems were two and a half times more likely than others to have recurrent gastro-enteritis. For every additional housing problem, the odds of infectious disease significantly increased.

But is this all NEWS?  What about the year of your first NATSIEH conference in 1998?

1998 was the year a study was published showing that admissions to hospital for skin disease of Aboriginal children under five years of age was ten times higher than that of their non-Indigenous counterparts.

It was also the year that deaths among Aboriginal men from infectious diseases were calculated to be some 15 times higher than deaths among non-Indigenous men.

1998 was also the year a study measured the precise “wear and tear” on washing machines installed in seven remote communities.

1998 was a year AFTER a study had already been published showing that over one-third of Aboriginal remote communities had water supply or sanitation problems. Seventy percent had housing problems.  In the words of the researchers, overcrowding and substandard housing were “commonplace”.

So there we have it.   Even this brief snapshot shows we have a disconnect between data and decisions.

From your first conference in 1998 to this one in 2019 …

….  Aboriginal people, their children and now their children’s children have NOT been afforded their DUE HUMAN RIGHTS in response to these “repeat plays” of research data.

Should we have mobilised a more strategic response at the time these research studies were published?

Perhaps data sovereignty is another challenge we need to face.

I regret thinking of the number of children growing up since 1998 who should have been safe from preventable infections IF THERE HAD BEEN ACTION.  I think of how many children need not have gone to hospital.  Who should NOT have ended up with permanent damage for life from rheumatic heart disease or deafness …

… and would NOT have ended up with these conditions if their houses had been safe, healthy and affordable.

I have been told even mental health problems – including suicide – get worse in overcrowded houses not fit for social purpose.

And please don’t tell me we can’t find the money.  My colleagues in the Kimberley estimate that one third of the entire cost of hospital admissions of Aboriginal children is DIRECTLY due to the environmental conditions in which these children live.  Let me repeat that. One third of the entire cost.

In one year alone, $16.9 million is the estimated cost for hospitalisations of Aboriginal people directly due to the environment. And that was just the Kimberley.

Maybe all those departments of housing really don’t have the money BUT their colleagues in health departments are spending it hand over fist.

The Australian Indigenous Governance Institute affirms that Aboriginal people have the right to:

  • Exercise control of the data “ecosystem” including creation, development, stewardship, analysis, dissemination and infrastructure.

We also have the right to:

  • Data structures that are accountable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their governance structures.

And the right to

  • Data that is protective and respects our individual and collective interests.

AND

  • Data that is relevant and empowers sustainable self-determination and effective self-governance.

In my view, Aboriginal people must more clearly set the agenda for the health data story.

As Aboriginal people, WE are vested in the outcomes.  WE are accountable to each other, our families and communities.  These research studies represent OUR families, OUR loved ones, OUR LOST ones.

I believe the character and foresight of Aboriginal leadership will show the right path. 

Should you need convincing, I can think of no better example in environmental health than Yami Lester and the Nganampa Health Council in the APY lands.

Decades ago, these leaders knew that health improvement required medical services AND a healthy living environment.  In 1986, they initiated a collaborative project between local Anangu people and technical experts to ‘stop people getting sick’. Some of you may recognise this as the UKP project.

These Aboriginal leaders engaged Paul Pholeros and Dr Paul Torzillo to work together to develop a codified schedule for home assessments and repairs.  When assessments were finished, simple repairs to health hardware that could be fixed, WERE fixed.  Immediately, over 75% of these assessment and repair teams were local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people trained and assisted by skilled managers and team leaders.

Any requirements for major repairs that were the responsibility of the landlord were submitted, logged and monitored. As this program expanded, data from different locations showed that the reasons for poor housing conditions were shoddy building materials in the first place (22%); inadequate maintenance schedules by the landlord (70%) and less than 8% was due to damage by occupants.

As relevant today, Yami Lester and his Council knew the importance of sharing with their people knowledge about disease transmission and supporting households to adopt new habits to sustain health in circumstances none of us would find easy.

And they succeeded.

Their legacy is the framework of nine Healthy Living Practices about washing, clothes, wastewater, nutrition, crowding, animals, dust, temperature and safety against injury.

Today, housing audits and home hardware assessments conceived by Aboriginal leaders in this UKP project MUST be permanently funded everywhere and combined with culturally responsive support directed by communities to re-build THEIR knowledge about disease transmission.

Every home is different.  Every environmental risk assessment is unique.  In one, there might be an issue with food-borne diseases. In another, passive smoking that affects the children’s ears, lungs and eyes.  In another, it could be …

– a blocked toilet,

– a shower dislodged from a poorly laid wet floor, or

– a washing machine that has collapsed under the pressure from multiple loads and hard water every single day.

Resources enable Aboriginal environmental health workers and families to work together over time to build the household’s confidence and knowledge.  The shared goal is self-management in healthy habits ….. AND an assertiveness as tenants to report poor quality building materials, housing problems and urgent repairs to the respective housing landlord.

Effective Aboriginal environmental health programs must be in Aboriginal hands.  Community controlled organisations must drive the necessary knowledge exchange between those who hold technical expertise and those who have been denied it. The very nature of this work means that Aboriginal communities must retain the reins – and retain the knowledge.

What Yami Lester envisaged is our unrealized obligation.

Housing programmes will have limited impact UNLESS they are controlled in their design and delivery by Aboriginal organisations with sustained visibility, authority and relationships in the community.  Communities have ideas on how to manage overcrowding, maintain housing stock and build new housing through local entrepreneurship. It is time once again for Aboriginal leaders to be heard.

You may know about extensive consultations conducted across the country in 2017 known as “My Life My Lead”.

The purpose of these consultations was to provide an opportunity to shape the next update of the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan released originally in 2013.

At these consultations, Aboriginal people spoke up about the fundamental significance of social, economic and environmental determinants affecting their health and wellbeing.

Environmental health was identified as one of seven top priorities for the next Implementation Plan.

I quote:

Addressing the underlying environmental health conditions that contribute to poor health outcomes in many Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander communities will lead to long-term improved health, education and employment outcomes. 

This is why I hope my message to you today is clear. We will get better health by improving housing and environmental health programs. Regaining control over decisions about housing will also lead to better health.  Returning authority for decision-making to communities about resources and program design reinvigorates empowerment, autonomy and more equitable power arrangements.  Self-determination promotes health.

With a decent investment in Aboriginal housing alongside genuine shifts in who makes decisions about resource allocation, I am prepared to guarantee to you today that the impact on Aboriginal health outcomes will be large, positive and permanent.

If those estimates of the costs from hospital admissions hold true nationally, I am also prepared to guarantee a significant reduction in healthcare budgets.

Our Prime Minister is inclined to miracles … so I think this would be the next miracle he’d very much like to see!

If we believe in public health and preventing the preventable …

If we believe in equity and social justice …

If we believe in community control …

… then we have everything we need to turn this around.

To governments I say let Aboriginal leaders sit down with you and – together in partnership – analyse the current state of environmental health and housing in your jurisdictions.

Let’s establish the level of investment that will reduce the cost of hospitalisations of Aboriginal children, adults and elders due to poor housing and living conditions.

Let’s develop national standards for a safe house. Let’s agree to strict criteria for urgent and priority housing repairs.  Let’s audit repair performance.  Let’s publish the data.

Let’s get more accountability from public housing for proactive home maintenance schedules and repairs.

Let’s invest in environmental and building programs that will cut the demand in primary health care clinics by a quarter and let these busy staff focus on other priorities.

Let’s grow knowledge in our communities as experts in healthy living.

Let’s train, credential and employ young Aboriginal people as environmental health workers, plumbers, electricians and carpenters to keep houses safe, healthy and ready for climate change ahead.

Let’s ensure a sustainable on-the-ground workforce for effective environmental health employed by Aboriginal organisations.

Here at this conference, let’s create the cross-sectoral approach involving communities, environmental health, primary health care and governments IN PARTNERSHIP to get this moving.

In closing, I’d like to quote Senator Patrick Dodson, a Yawuru man from Broome who, in February this year, asked a very important question:

“Who actually closes the gap?”

He answered this by saying:

“It’s the people working at the grassroots, led by First Nations peoples, with a deep understanding and lived experience of the needs of their communities.”

It is in that spirit that I thank each and every Aboriginal Environmental Health Practitioner at this conference whether it is your 1st or your 12th.

I know you work hard. I know you care deeply about your communities.  I know you lead by example.

I respect your hard-earned skills and your expertise to provide a huge scope of professional services ranging from dog control to vector management.

I admire your precise and up-to-date knowledge of disease transmission routes, hazardous chemicals, sanitation and practical engineering.

I am sincerely impressed by the care you take to work with families whose circumstances are complex … and that you find THEIR strengths and work with their capacities.

You respect cultural protocols.  You deliver with few resources, a lot of ingenuity and teamwork.

It is enabling YOU to do an even better job for YOUR communities that motivates me to do mine.  And I will keep on working just as hard as you do.

It’s been a pleasure sharing my reflections with you all.

Thank you for this opportunity to kick off the second day of your 12th NATSIEH conference here in Perth.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #ClosingtheGap : Pat Turner Convener #CoalitionofPeaks Speech at the National #PHN Conference : Challenging the way Governments and Primary Health Networks work with us

The reform priorities, and that they are being discussed in a COAG forum with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the table, as well as the upcoming engagements is a demonstration of how the conversation and approach is changing as a result of the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.  

But this changed approach is not to be just contained to the Partnership Agreement and governments work with the Coalition of Peaks. It is to be applied to all your policy practice and service delivery.

It is a challenge for you (PHN’s) to reconsider how you develop policies and programs with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

The Partnership Agreement means that:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are no longer government ‘stakeholders’ but are full partners in the development of policies and programs that impact on us.
  • Primary Health Networks need to develop formal arrangements with us, through our community controlled health organisations, to agree policy and programs, based on our own structures and not your own appointed advisory bodies.
  • The knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to determine their own solutions must be given primacy in policy and program design and delivery.

I ask that you all consider what the Partnership Agreement will mean to your own Primary Health Network, to the area and team that you work with, to start a conversation with your team members about it, to read further about the work we are doing and set up a time to speak to one of our Coalition of Peaks members to learn more.

The Partnership Agreement presents a significant opportunity for you all to think creatively and with innovation, to not just think about what is possible in the relationship between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but to be at the forefront of the change.”

Pat Turner NACCHO CEO speaking at the PHN NATIONAL FORUM, 11TH September 2019 HYATT HOTEL, Canberra

Hello everyone, thank you for inviting me here today to speak to at the seventh Primary Health Network National Forum.

It is testament to the changing times that you now have delegates from national health peak bodies like mine, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), attending your forums and being invited to share our own stories.

My name is Pat Turner. I am the CEO of NACCHO, and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks. Foremost, I am an Aboriginal woman, the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman.

Before we start, I want to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands where we are meeting today.

Canberra is Ngunnawal country. The Ngunnawal are the Aboriginal people of this region and its first inhabitants.

The neighbouring people are the Gundungurra to the North, the Ngarigo to the South, the Yuin on the coast, and the Wiradjuri inland.

It is a harsh climate and difficult country for hunter-gatherer people. To live here required great knowledge of the environment, skillful custodianship of it and close cooperation.

It is this knowledge and ways of working that continue to guide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the in today’s Indigenous policy landscape.

As we navigate the changing policy environment, Aboriginal people draw strength from our lands and our customs. And we continue the cooperation amongst our many nations for the betterment of all of us. This is the approach that we take to the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks Bodies and our work on Closing the Gap.

The Coalition of Peaks are made up of some forty national and state/territory community controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations. We have come together to be formal partners with Australian Governments on Closing the Gap.

Today I want to share with you how a group of Aboriginal community controlled organisations, led by NACCHO, have exercised political agency by leading the way, challenging the possibilities and imagining a future of shared decision-making with governments on policies and programs that impact on our people and our communities.

Together, we are changing the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on policies and programs that impact on us: we are setting a new benchmark for how our voices are heard in the design and implementation of policies and programs that impact on us.

I come before you to not only share the story of the Coalition of Peaks and their work with governments. Importantly, I also want to talk to you about what these new arrangements mean for Primary Health Networks and for your own daily work practices.

The new approach to Closing the Gap is a challenge you to change the way you work with and engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the development of policies and delivery of health and wellbeing programs.

BACKSTORY

I will start by going back, to tell you how the Coalition of Peaks got to where we are today.

You might recall the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2007 committed to ‘closing the gap’ in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other Australians, and a range of targets to end the disparity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians in areas like infant mortality, employment and education.

  1. It was the first time that Australian Governments had come together in a unified way to address the disadvantage experienced by too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  2. An unprecedented investment of around 4.6 billion dollars in programs and services to ‘close the gap’ as also made.
  3. Governments also agreed to new oversight, monitoring and reporting arrangements, including an annual report to the Commonwealth Parliament by the Prime Minister.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders at the time welcomed this new approach from governments and some of us were consulted in the early stages of the Commonwealth’s thinking.

However, despite this unprecedented coming together of Australian Governments and investment and initial engagement with our peoples, we were not formally involved in Closing the Gap, it was not agreed by us and it was a policy of governments and not for our people.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people felt that Closing the Gap presented the issue of our disadvantage as a technical problem built around non-Indigenous markers of poverty. This only served to hide the extent to which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ disadvantage is a political problem requiring deep structural reforms about the way governments work with us.

Closing the Gap did not address the biggest gap that we face: the gulf between the political autonomy and economic resources of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people.

The policies and programs that then followed whilst making some difference to our peoples lives did not achieve their potential.

Over time government commitment to work together fell away. Funding to our programs and services were cut or not continued.

It is not surprising then, that, now ten years later, we have not made the progress against the closing the gap targets that had been hoped.

“REFRESH”

As you know, in 2017 the Commonwealth Government embarked on a ‘refresh’ of the Closing the Gap framework and undertook a series of consultations. In the view of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, the consultations were inadequate and superficial. There was no public report prepared on their outcomes.

The lack of transparency and accountability surrounding these consultations were very disappointing, but also not surprising. Many of our organisations made submissions to government on Closing the Gap but we felt like our voices were ignored.

We were worried that governments commitment to work differently with us going forward was not backed by meaningful demonstrations. And we were concerned that governments wanted to walk away from the intergovernmental arrangements that brought a national integrated policy strategy needed to close the gap.

No new funding was announced to accompany the ‘refresh’ and there were no specific actions being discussed that we could see or feel confident would make a positive change to our lives.

As the ‘refreshed’ Closing the Gap strategy was being prepared for sign off by the Australian Governments, our dismay and disappointment galvanised a small group of community controlled organisations to come together to write to the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers asking that it not be agreed.

We weren’t going away, and there were three important messages that we wanted governments to hear. These were:

  • When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are included and have a real say in the design and delivery of services that impact on them, the outcomes are far better;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need to be at the centre of Closing the Gap policy: the gap won’t close without our full involvement; and
  • the Council of Australian Governments cannot expect us to take responsibility and work constructively with them to improve outcomes if we are excluded from the decision making.

Eventually, we were invited to meet with the Prime Minister, who acknowledged that the current targets were ‘government targets’ not ‘shared targets’, and that for Closing the Gap to be realised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had to be able to take formal responsibility for the outcomes through shared decision making.

On 12 December 2018, COAG publicly committed to developing a genuine, formal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through their representatives, on Closing the Gap; and that through this partnership a new Closing the Gap policy would be agreed.

THE PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT ON CLOSING THE GAP

The initial fourteen organisations then became almost forty, as we brought together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks bodies across the country to form a formal Coalition to negotiate a new Closing the Gap framework with Australian Governments. We include both national and state and territory based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks representing a diverse range of services and matter that are important to us as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to Closing the Gap.

As a first step and through our initiative, we negotiated and agreed a formal Partnership Agreement between the Council of Australian Governments and the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations which came into effect in March 2019.

The Partnership Agreement sets out that the Coalition of Peaks will have shared decision making on developing, implementing and monitoring and reviewing Closing the Gap for the next ten years.

This is an historic achievement. It is the first time that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks have come together in this way, to work collectively and as full partners with Australian Governments. It’s is also the first time that there has been formal decision making with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Australian Governments in this way.

WHERE ARE AT NOW

Progress is being made under the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap:

  • All Council of Australian Government members, including the local government association, have signed the Partnership Agreement.
  • The National Indigenous Reform Agreement (NIRA) has been reviewed by the Coalition of Peaks and officials from Australian Governments.
  • It has been agreed that the NIRA will be replaced with a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap covering the next ten years, to be signed off by the Council of Australian Governments and the Coalition of Peaks. It will continue the NIRA’s successful elements, strengthen others and address foundational areas that were previously excluded from consideration.
  • New accountability, monitoring and reporting arrangements are being developed for the new National Agreement that will strengthen public transparency and accountability.

Most importantly, the Coalition of Peaks have also proposed reform priorities to underpin the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The reform priorities seek to change the way Australian Governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations, and accelerate life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, these are:

  1. Establishing shared formal decision making between Australian governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the State/Territory, regional and local level to embed ownership, responsibility and expertise on Closing the Gap.
  2. Building and strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations to deliver services and programs in priority areas.
  3. Ensuring all mainstream government agencies and institutions undertake systemic and structural transformation to contribute to Closing the Gap.

These reforms have been agreed in principle by the COAG established Joint Council on Closing the Gap, made up of Ministers from each jurisdiction and Coalition of Peak representatives on 23 August 2019. And they have direct relevance to the Primary Health Networks and our work together.

The Joint Council also agreed to the Coalition of Peaks leading engagements with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives of communities and organisations on new National Agreement.

These engagements are happening over the next two months and include open meetings across Australia agreed to and supported by governments. The Coalition of Peaks are also consulting with their own memberships and there is an online public opportunity for people to have their say.

The primary focus of the engagements is to build understanding and support for the reform priorities and to have a detailed discussion on what is needed to make those reform priorities a success. The discussions and input from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will help inform the finalisation of the negotiations on the New National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

This is also a significant shift in the approach to policy development. It is the first time that governments have agreed to leaders of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations engaging with representatives from our communities and organisations about important government policy.

Pat Turner Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks invites community to share their voice on #ClosingtheGap

This week a survey will be sent to hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations and their networks, inviting responses from both individuals and organisations.

There is a discussion booklet that has background information on Closing the Gap and sets out what will be talked about in the survey.

The survey will take a little bit of time to complete. It would be great if you can answer all the questions, but you can also just focus on the issues that you care about most.

To help you prepare your answers, you can look at a full copy here

The survey is open to everyone and can be accessed here:

https://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/coalition-of-peaks/have-your-say/

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #COAG #ClosingtheGap : Pat Turner ” Today marks a significant step forward in our historic partnership between governments and the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks “

Today marks a significant step forward in our historic partnership between governments and the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks with the agreement that we will work towards a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap to guide efforts over the next ten years.

The conversation on Closing the Gap is changing because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are now at the negotiating table with governments.

The proposed priority reforms are based on what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been saying for a long time is needed to close the gap and we now have a formal structure in place to put those solutions to governments.

If we are to close the gap it will be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations leading the way on service delivery. We already know that community-controlled organisations achieve better results because we understand what works best for our peoples.

It is a critical step for the Joint Council to formally recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must share in decision-making on policies that affect their lives.

The Coalition of Peaks are looking forward to engaging with communities around Australia to build support from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for the priority reforms and to ensure that their views on what is needed to make them a success is captured in the new National Agreement.” 

Pat Turner, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, CEO of NACCHO and Co-Chair of the Joint Council speaking after a meeting of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap was held in Adelaide on Friday 23 August

The Joint Council agreed on a communiqué, which is attached.

ctg-joint-council-communique-20190823

See Closing the Gap Website

Joint Council makes progress towards new National Agreement on Closing the Gap

A meeting of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap was held in Adelaide on Friday 23 August , between representatives of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and a Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Bodies (Coalition of Peaks).

In its second ever meeting, the Joint Council today agreed to work towards a new National Agreement Closing the Gap.

Importantly, it also agreed in principle to the following three priority reforms to underpin the new agreement and accelerate progress on Closing the Gap:

  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 priority areas; and
  3. Ensuring all mainstream government agencies and institutions undertake systemic and structural transformation to contribute to Closing the Gap.

The priority reforms will form the basis of engagements with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives of communities and organisations across Australia and will focus on building support and what is needed to make them a success.

In another first, the engagements will be led by the Coalition of Peaks, with the support of Australian Governments.

A Welcome to Country for the second meeting of the Joint Council on #ClosingtheGap in Adelaide , co-chaired by the Minister Ken Wyatt and Pat Turner AM, Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks. 

Additional text AAP

Friday’s agreement follows the release in December last year of a set of draft targets by the Council of Australian Governments in a range of areas including health, education, economic development and justice.

They include a desire to have 95 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education by 2025, a bid to close the life expectancy gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians by 2031 and efforts to ensure 65 per cent of indigenous youth aged between 15 and 24 are in employment, education or training by 2028.

The targets also seek to cut the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island young people in detention by up to 19 per cent and the adult incarceration by at least five per cent by 2028.

The refreshed closing the gap agenda will also commit to targets that all governments will be accountable to the community for achieving.

About the Joint Council

The Joint Council was established under the historic Partnership Agreement, announced in March. The agreement represents the first time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak bodies will have an equal say in the design, refresh, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Closing the Gap framework.

The council is comprised of 12 representatives elected by the Coalition of Peaks, a Minister nominated by the Commonwealth and each state and territory governments and one representative from the Australian Government Association.

See full list in Communique 

ctg-joint-council-communique-20190823

The Joint Council will meet at least twice a year, and will develop a workplan to refresh the Closing the Gap framework and monitor its implementation over the next ten years.

For more information on The Joint Council, The Partnership Agreement, The Coalition of Peaks and to sign up for our mailing list, go to: https://www.naccho.org.au/ programmes/coalition-of-peaks/

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Closingthe Gap : Coalition of around forty Peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations welcomes COAG continued commitment to the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap

“I’m very pleased to see COAG acknowledge the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap and note the important work of the Joint Council already underway.”

We will only be able to close the gap with a continued commitment to shared decision making with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the design and implementation of key actions to close the gap.

The Coalition of Peaks is looking forward to participating in the next Joint Council meeting later this month. And I look forward to co-chairing the meeting with the Hon Ken Wyatt, the first Aboriginal Minister for Indigenous Australians.

Coalition of Peaks Convener and NACCHO Chief Executive Officer Ms Patricia Turner AM.

Download Coalition of Peaks Press Release

CoP Media Statement 9 August 2019

Part 1 COAG Communique 

 ” Reaffirming commitment to Closing the Gap Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring that the finalisation of targets and implementation of the Closing the Gap framework occurs through a genuine formal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, through their representatives.

Since COAG met in December 2018, governments and the National Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations have formed the Joint Council on Closing the Gap.

This is the first COAG Council to include non-government members as equal partners in decision-making and marks an historic change in the way Australian governments are working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This partnership embeds shared decision making into designing, implementing and monitoring the Closing the Gap framework. Leaders welcomed an update on progress from the co-chairs of the Joint Council and look forward to finalising a new national agreement on Closing the Gap with the Coalition of Peaks

Download the full COAG communique

COAG Meeting Communique

Part 2; The Coalition of around forty Peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations (Coalition of Peaks) has today welcomed the formal commitment of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.

COAG has today officially endorsed the Partnership Agreement which sets out for the first-time shared decision making on Closing the Gap between Australian Governments and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through the Coalition of Peaks.

The Partnership Agreement establishes the Joint Council on Closing the Gap, made up of ministers from the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, and representatives from the Coalition of Peaks and the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) to oversee and work together as equal partners to refresh the Closing the Gap framework for the next 10 years.

The Joint Council will next meet in Adelaide on August 23 and will consider new priority reforms to accelerate improvements in life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

About the Coalition of Peaks

The Coalition of Peaks is a representative body comprised of around forty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peaks organisations that have come together to have their collective voice heard on issues that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Since the Closing the Gap framework and targets were first implemented in 2008, we have been calling on government to recognise the expertise that exist in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.

In an historic agreement, the Coalition of Peaks has formed a Joint Partnership with COAG in order to collaborate on the Closing the Gap Refresh process. This is the first time that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices have not only been invited to the table, but have also been empowered with shared decision-making responsibilities.

More information on the Coalition of Peaks: www.naccho.org.au/programmes/coalition-of-peaks/