NACCHO #NAIDOCWEEK #BecauseofherWeCan #WeCan18 @RecAustralia Interview with NACCHO CEO Pat Turner “A reconciled nation will be when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have self-determination over their own lives without the constraints of poverty and the burden of disease “

“ A reconciled nation will be when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have self-determination over their own lives without the constraints of poverty and the burden of disease. We will be in charge of our own affairs and in control over decisions that impact on us.

Our past will be fully acknowledged and our collective future celebrated without reservation. There will be no more debates over our shared history and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ land ownership.

Racism will not be a barrier to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing education, employment and health services.

There will be complete acceptance of our unique cultural heritage and identities by all Australians enabling our languages, our connection to land and our cultural practices to flourish without restraint and be incorporated in all aspects of our nationhood “

Pat Turner AM NACCHO CEO interview with Reconciliation Australia when asked  : What does a reconciled Australia look like to you?

“They’ve allowed us to retain our identity”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Australia CEO Pat Turner tells National Rural Health Alliance  Di Martin about the importance of Aboriginal grandmothers guarding language and culture #BecauseOfHerWecan

VIEW HERE

Background Pat Turner AM

Ms Pat Turner AM is the daughter of an Arrernte man and a Gurdanji woman, and was born and raised in Alice Springs.

After her father’s death in an accident at work, Ms Turner’s family experienced extreme financial hardship. Her mother’s courage and leadership in the face of such difficult circumstances was a constant inspiration.

Ms Turner joined the Australian Public Service in the early 1970s and joined the senior executive ranks by the mid-1980s. She worked in a range of prominent roles, including as Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet during 1991-92, where she had oversight of the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. In 1994-98, Ms Turner was the CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, making her the most senior Indigenous government official in the country.

Over the years, Ms Turner became more committed to the politics of self-determination. At a professional level, this meant being a firm supporter of community-based service delivery of health and welfare programs for Aboriginal people.

Today, Ms Turner is the CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). NACCHO is the peak body representing 144 Aboriginal community-controlled health services across the country on Aboriginal health and wellbeing issues.

Interview continued: What or who got you involved in reconciliation? 

I first started thinking about reconciliation and the place of Aboriginal people in Australia after attending the graduation ceremony of Uncle Charlie Perkins from Sydney University with Nanna Hetty Perkins. I was thirteen at the time, and listening to Charlie speak, I started to understand the importance of education if I wanted to make a difference.

After joining the Australian Public Service and moving from Alice Springs to Canberra, I was later appointed Deputy Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. It was here I had a specific role in working for the Government on the legislation and establishment of the Council of Aboriginal Reconciliation. I was the inaugural National Secretary to the Council.

After returning to Alice Springs in 2006 I held the position of CEO of National Indigenous Television where I supported the celebration of Indigenous culture and helped challenge perceptions and fears of many non-Indigenous Australians about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that are a continuing barrier to reconciliation.

What do you see as the biggest challenges to national reconciliation?

Our biggest challenges are twofold:

Firstly, making both Federal and State Governments truly accountable to eliminate poverty and disadvantage endured by our people.

Secondly, acceptance and respect by all Australians of our unique cultural heritage and identities, our relationship with land, our languages and our cultural practices, so that those areas and the essence of our beings are incorporated into all aspects of Australian life and government efforts to eliminate our disadvantage.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert :@sunriseon7 finally shines light on Indigenous issues, but is it a real awakening (for all media)? Report from @croakeyblog

” In an era of fake news it was surprising that a popular breakfast news program would stop a live feed and resort to a green screen when confronted with Indigenous outrage over the comments of a few self-appointed white social media commentators from the other day.

That the Seven Network’s breakfast program Sunrise realised its mistake and offered to have a panel of three experts explain in lucid details the issues around the media storm they had generated was welcomed by NACCHO and our members.

Sunrise journalist David Koch asked well considered questions and the expert panel was able to respond in-depth regarding the removal of Indigenous children, the importance of  early intervention with increased funding for family support services and that multi-disciplinary teams should be invested in to work with Indigenous families urgently.

Unfortunately time did not permit discussion about other issues like extra resources devoted to early children’s education and the social determinants of health.

However, it should not just be about Aboriginal experts correcting the media record when the government has known about the health concerns of Aboriginal children for years: they are not listening to us and they give plenty of cash for their own pet projects. It’s time to resource our sector appropriately to reduce the numbers of children presenting in out of home care and juvenile detention as it has become a national scandal that needs to be fixed now. ”

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner

” It shouldn’t be occurring in this day and age to have such insensitive comments made in mainstream domains and media about Aboriginal people, even if the person making them thinks they are doing it with best intentions in mind.

I think that the arrogance in not acknowledging what had gone down in the first panel until the community protested outside Channel Seven is an issue. I think it’s very good that Channel Seven convened a new panel but maybe they wouldn’t have done that if it that pressure wasn’t applied.

What should be occurring from here on is recruiting a panel of Aboriginal experts so that they call on these if they want to discuss Aboriginal issues. They should be convening an Aboriginal panel with expertise in the content matter and that way non-Indigenous Australians will have a broader exposure to the issues on the ground rather than through the few who are called in to talk about issues they have no expertise in.

It needs to be done on a regular basis. TV stations will have much more credibility for seeking informed commentary. A good journalist will seek alternative views or expert commentary and publish informed commentary. It’s never what happens.

The more we can have visibility in the Australian mainstream media, the more informed the Australian population will be. Currently they are too often informed by a minority that hold polarising views for Aboriginal people. They don’t get enough expertise to talk about these complex issues in Aboriginal health and they need to do it much more regularly ”

SAHMRI researcher James Ward

Our thanks to Croakey for this comprehensive coverage of Sunrise’s second effort on the issue, for their reflections and what needs to be done going forward. Subscribe view HERE

Sunrise finally shines light on Indigenous issues, but is it a real awakening (for all media)?

Editor: Marie McInerney

Channel Seven’s Sunrise program has finally shone a little light on complex Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child protection issues in the face of major criticism, formal complaints, distress and protests over an ill-informed, offensive panel discussion it aired last week.

Aboriginal community members protested for three days outside Seven’s Sydney studio over the segment that South Sea Islander and Darumbal journalist Amy McQuire and Yorta Yorta writer and public health consultant Summer May Finlay said “regurgitated mistruths” and was “sensationalist and frankly incorrect”.

Media Watch declared it was “A Sunrise to forget”.

It took a week but on Tuesday the breakfast TV show had a lengthy (by its standards) interview with three Indigenous health leaders: National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO Pat Turner, Danila Dilba CEO Olga Havnen and South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) researcher James Ward.

You can watch the six minute segment here.

“We’ve got to talk about it, we’ve got to do something about it,” vowed anchor David Koch at the end of the discussion that highlighted the failure of governments to listen to Indigenous health experts, problems with government funding, systemic failures in health and child protection services, lack of community control and the conflation of sexually transmitted infection (STI) figures with child abuse.

But what Sunrise apparently didn’t feel the need to discuss was its own performance, its own journalistic standards, and the distress unleashed by last week’s ignorant and ill-informed discussion between Sunrise co-anchor Samantha Armytage and white shockjock commentators Prue MacSween and Ben Davis.

Armytage was no objective player or considered/informed moderator in the session, opening the two-minute ‘Hot Topic’ with: “Post-Stolen Generations there’s been this huge move to leave Aboriginal children where they are, even if they’re being neglected in their own families…”

(See the bottom of the Croakey  post for important reading on the placement of Indigenous children in out of home care from Victoria’s Commissioner for Aboriginal Children).

Thus it took just a minute for MacSween to follow this premise to declare it was “perhaps” time to consider a new Stolen Generation approach.

By the weekend Sunrise was clearly stung or shamed or embarrassed enough, with protesters assembling outside its studios at dawn and social media enraged, to finally do what it should have in the beginning, and invite Indigenous experts to the discussion.

“We don’t need confected outrage and anger”

But there was no mea culpa.

The show ignored the many calls for an apology, with ‘Kochie’ neatly sidestepping any culpability by referring only to how a “complex and emotional” discussion had been prompted by a newspaper report, headlined “Save Our Children”.

There was no mention of where it got it wrong, nor that it ignored three days of protests against the segment outside its Sydney studios last week, to the point of switching to a pre-recorded loop of a very quiet Martin Place for its studio backdrop on one day.

There was nothing about how, as ABC’s Media Watch revealed,  it had to take down the segment from its website because footage used to illustrate the “dangerous environment” that Indigenous children were allegedly subject to included a child getting a skin check in a film commissioned by Indigenous charity One Disease, used without permission.

It was left to Olga Havnen to have to interject at the end:

“What we need is intelligent informed discussions and looking for solutions rather than the confected outrage and anger.”

As my Croakey colleague Dr Ruth Armstrong said:

Kochie should have picked up on Olga’s comment, and asked (at least himself if not out loud) if there is any place in 2018 for a segment like ‘Hot Topic,’ where ‘social commentators’ are trotted out to shoot from the hip on issues that are far too nuanced and sensitive to be dealt with so flippantly. And will Sunrise develop a policy of going to Indigenous experts when they want to discuss Indigenous issues?

Kochie said “Let’s work together to try and get some of those changes through. It is a real issue affecting Indigenous people around the country.”

Does he know that he and his media buddies can actually have a role in improving Indigenous health and welfare? If only they will ask the right questions of the right people instead of amplifying sensationalism and misinformation.

With that in mind, the Croakey connective has come up with a few of the questions that ‘Kochie’ could have asked the panel – and/or himself and his colleagues (because many of these are surely not questions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be expected to explain over and over again).

Questions Kochie could have asked

  • Why is it, do you think, that mainstream media reports so badly on Indigenous issues as we did on this last week?
  • What impact does it have on Aboriginal and Torres Strait children and families when we talk about communities like that?
  • What impact does it have on the Stolen Generations?
  • What should we have done on the day?
  • Why is it, do you think, that we won’t hold the Minister and other media to account over clumsy/inaccurate/uninformed/misleading/inflammatory comments but we will target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people instead?
  • What was the impact from us showing archive footage of Aboriginal people with the implication they were somehow responsible/involved/at risk in abuse?
  • What should we have shown?
  • Who should hold media outlets like us to account: regulators, (white) journalists, advertisers, politicians?
  • How can we ensure that we include Indigenous voices in our stories in the future?
  • Can you suggest cultural safety training that all Australian journalists should undertake (and what the main issues are to address), as outlined in this submission to the recent Senate public interest journalism inquiry?
  • What’s the next most important Indigenous health topic we should cover in depth?
  • Can we book you all for a regular spot on the show so we can highlight these issues properly more often?

And Qs from the Croakey connective on child protection:

  • How do we best keep Aboriginal kids safe while maintaining their ties with family and culture?
  • What are the problems with the current system?
  • What can be done to better support Aboriginal families?
  • Data shows Aboriginal people frequently experience racism in hospitals and healthcare and it leads to worse outcomes – to what extent do you think racism and bias occurs in the child protection system? What would the impacts of this be?
  • What cultural safety training do child protection workers undergo? Best practice in learning recommends immersion in Aboriginal settings and learning from Aboriginal people – how much time do staff get for this professional development?

“Mopping up the mess”

The trouble is, of course, the Sunrise segment is no isolated example, but reflects ongoing, broader issues about representation and racism in the media and widespread media practices that harm the health, wellbeing and lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

They not only promote racist stereotypes but also divert the public spotlight from failures in government policies and processes, and consume the focus and energy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities, and organisations.

“Black people had to do a lot of work last week and it wasn’t even Invasion Day, Sorry Day, or NAIDOC Week,” said University of Queensland senior lecturer, Dr Chelsea Bond, an Aboriginal (Munanjahli) and South Sea Islander Australian, in this must-read piece at IndigenousX.

The implications of that also came out, she wrote, at a session she chaired last week at Converge, a First Nations National Media Conference.

Turns out the dilemma for First Nations news media is deciding how much of their little resources is exhausted on mopping up the mess created by mainstream news media and how much is invested in taking charge of the narrative and producing real Indigenous news content that has context and relevance to a local and/or national audience.

Indigenous journalist Amy McQuire  also had a revealing anecdote in her IndigenousX article: Spare us your false outrage.

She remembered being outside Parliament House in Canberra in 2015, on the day of the Abbott-Turnbull leadership spill, when Armytage and all the other mainstream TV stations were broadcasting live, with an unanticipated backdrop.

In a protest planned for months, Grandmothers Against Removals campaigners had come to Canberra from across the country to draw attention to skyrocketing rates of Aboriginal child removal. McQuire wrote:

The response from ‘journalists’ Armytage and David Koch was worse than silence. In one of the ad breaks, they turned around and admonished those who had assembled behind them. Rather than listen to their stories, rather than hearing about their children, they castigated them for daring to interrupt their broadcast. As Armytage ‘tsked tsked’, Koch told them to look at the charities he donated to before addressing him.

Where to from here?

Some other things (than Sunrise) to watch:

Which TV station will be first to take up James Ward’s challenge to set up a panel of Aboriginal experts so that they call on these if they want to discuss Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues?

How will Sunrise handle its next complex Indigenous issue?

What can the wider public health field can learn from Indigenous resistance, activism and critique/demolition of mainstream narratives?

And what will the wider mainstream media learn from Sunrise’s awakening?

The early signs may not be good, judging from this tweet.

Watch Here

NACCHO Aboriginal Women’ Health #NWHS18 Read full Keynote Address Pat Turner CEO NACCHO @RANZCOG National Women’s Health Summit

RANZCOG National Women’s Health Summit

2 March 2018

Patricia Turner, CEO NACCHO

Keynote address “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Health”

Read over 300 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Articles we have published over the past 6 years : SUBSCRIBE HERE

 

I begin by paying my respects to members of the Gadigal of the Eora Nation as the traditional custodians of this place we now call Sydney.

It is proper that I acknowledge the different Aboriginal groups when I travel to various parts of Australia because it should never be forgotten that our people have lived here for over 65,000 years. In those days Australia was a truly liveable place for our people.

So, thank you very much for the warm welcome Julia and to RANZCOG for inviting me to speak today.

It was important to hear from Minister Hunt, to listen to Professor Baum articulate the social determinants of women’s health and Professor Gannon discuss the economic impact of women’s health.

It is an honour to be asked to address an audience of 100 successful and influential women from the health care sector.

Today this summit is an opportunity to highlight health challenges facing Aboriginal women today. To help them live healthier, longer lives, supported by better, more targeted health services across the nation.

But first, I think this morning is an opportunity for all of us in this place to celebrate the contribution women make in our lives.

It is important to acknowledge how far we have all come together over the last 100 years.

The new medical technology now saves countless lives, the testing regimens are first rate, surgical care has been enhanced and women now have pathways to a multitude of careers and thrive in the health workforce. Some are even in positions of ‘real power’ to advocate for reforms.

Now let’s be clear that Australia has a world-class health system, but not for all of us! Yes, I could mention issues around pay, promotion, mentoring, bullying and harassment but that’s not why we are here today! So, let’s focus today on the fact that health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Australia are a long way from those of non-Indigenous women.

Whilst it is very flattering to be counted as one of the 100 influential women in this room.

It is important that you know how I became the person I did. I know that my experience was gained from and influenced by my mother.

She was the first medical person I knew. She cared for me and my family as a healer and she helped make me the woman I am today. Education just knocked off my rough edges!

Now, let’s not forget that Aboriginal people invented Bush Medicine which they still use today. They had ready access to bush tucker and led a healthy way of life before colonisation. We still have remnants of our past practice that continue today like using traditional healers and have access to very advanced Western medical models of health care.

I have had a long, varied and distinguished career in the Australian Public Service including as Deputy Secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Centrelink and was the longest serving CEO of ATSIC. I was also the inaugural CEO of the National Indigenous Television (NITV). So, I know how to argue for a change in women’s health policy. I’ve had a lot of experience in dealing across bureaucracy, Ministers, budget cycles, developing public health initiatives and campaigns and essentially dealing with governments at every level in this country.

Now, NACCHO is the national peak body representing 144 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in over 304 clinics and health settings. Our very first AMS started in Redfern and has 47 years of experience to draw upon.

We provide about three million episodes of care each year for about 350,000 people which is provided by almost 6,000 staff. In very remote areas, our services provided about one million episodes of care. Over 50 per cent of the workforce is Aboriginal and we are working at increasing that.

There are many gaps in our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and their holistic approach in delivering comprehensive primary care to our people, no matter where they live. We are mapping those gaps. Our aim is to ensure full coverage for our people.

We are funded by the Australian Government to support improvements in Indigenous health through the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services network and to bring the voices of those services into health policy decisions in Canberra.

NACCHO is independent of, trusted by and offers a strong voice to the federal government for the provision of specific community sector health care needs for Aboriginal people that is controlled by Aboriginal people. This ensures a strong voice in policy work and participation in policy development and legislation advocating and dealing with the issues as they arise or as reforms are discussed.

I coordinate 25 staff who sit on some 60 national committees and bodies. Historically NACCHO has a proud tradition and has developed over the last 20 years a strong coalition of support with other NGO’s working across a diverse range of areas.

We offer an alternative point of view enhanced by years of dedicated experience. Aboriginal perspectives from our governing bodies and staff about culturally appropriate healthcare needs are admired and respected by government.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples represented 2.8 per cent of the population counted in the 2016 Census or 649,200 people of whom 326,996 were females. The median age of an Aboriginal is 23 years and only one in ten reported speaking one of the 150 Australian Indigenous languages at home.

There were 18,560 births registered in Australia during 2016 (6% of all births) where at least one parent reported themselves as being an Aboriginal or about 2.12 babies per woman. Births to women aged under 30 years contributed three-quarters (73%) of the total fertility rate for Aboriginal women with the median age of 25.5 years when having their first child.

This is important, especially when you realise that our Aboriginal population will increase to one million people by 2030.

As many of you would know, the state of Aboriginal health continues to be cause for both national shame and requires national action. I’m still as frustrated as some of you are that we have not Closed the gap for Indigenous people, had meaningful reconciliation in this nation and enhanced Aboriginal women’s health.

I believe there is no agenda more critical to Australia than enabling Aboriginal people to live good quality lives while enjoying all their rights and fulfilling their responsibilities to themselves, their families and communities. Aboriginal people should feel safe in their strong cultural knowledge being freely practiced and acknowledged across the country. This should include the daily use of our languages, in connection with our lands and with ready access to resources.

Aboriginal people should feel free from racism, empowered as individuals and have educational opportunities, careers, and health services to meet their needs and overcome inequality, poverty and increase life expectancy.

Now the Australian Government’s 2007 commitment to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous life expectancy within a generation was welcome. But the Close the Gap agenda did not deliver on a fundamental change to the way governments work with Aboriginal people.

I want to be very clear that progress against the closing the gap targets is now stalling and, in many cases, is going backwards.

I am also concerned that the Government is now shifting the focus to ‘prosperity’ targets, when we don’t even have the basic targets on track.

The figures paint a staggering reality. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare tells us that the mortality gaps are actually widening.

No government can preside over widening mortality gaps and maintain goals to improve life expectancy and child mortality rates. On average Indigenous men and women die 15 years earlier than other Australians. Indigenous people suffer chronic diseases that are entirely preventable and have virtually been eliminated in the non-Indigenous population: trachoma, rheumatic heart disease and congenital deaths as a direct result of the current Syphilis outbreak across Australia, are but three examples.

The Closing the Gap target to halve the gap in child mortality by 2018 is not on track. Our children are dying at almost three times the rate of non-Indigenous children and there is a clear disparity in birth outcomes for my people. So, we now all appreciate and understand that our services are on the frontlines of women’s healthcare every day.

But of course, it’s not all bad news, NACCHO, its affiliates and our hardworking member services have had recent success with various national health programs. As you know Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can result in birth defects and behavioural and neurodevelopmental abnormalities including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

NACCHO recently provided advice to mothers that included practical advice and assistance with breastfeeding, nutrition and parenting, monitoring of developmental milestones, immunisations status and infections controls in 85 health service sites in remote, regional and urban locations. The FASD Prevention and Health Promotion Resources worked and did help to reduce the impacts of FASD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The information also provided an opportunity to engage our local communities about other health issues like tobacco smoking, substance misuse and improving diets.

On the ground, Through Better Start to Life campaign, our Northern Territory member Danila Dilba has recently begun offering home nurse visits, meaning Darwin children and families now have more culturally appropriate access to antenatal and postnatal care resulting in better pregnancy outcomes which is vital in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.

We now know that Mums participating in this program have fewer low birth weight babies, higher rates of breastfeeding and very high infant immunisation rates. We are also seeing women accessing antenatal care earlier in their pregnancies.

As you are aware a key component of improving pregnancy outcomes is early and ongoing engagement in antenatal care through culturally appropriate and evidence based care suitable to the local community. Investment in the early years is the best way to improve disadvantage over the longer term.

RANZCOG and NACCHO members understand this, evaluations have shown success in improving uptake of care earlier in pregnancy, for the duration of the pregnancy and in post-natal care allows other opportunistic healthcare interventions, such as family planning, cervical screening and improving breastfeeding rates.

So, by wrapping services around families, locally focused programs like this are also important in helping guard against the development of chronic conditions in later life, such as rheumatic heart disease and kidney failure.

While in Alice Springs, the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress is targeting at-risk Indigenous children before they even start preschool. The Preschool Readiness Program has up to 10 places for children between the ages of three and four who have been identified as having developmental delays or come from challenging home environments.

The foundations for health are laid early in life and there is much to be done in the early years to give our kids the best chance of succeeding at school and throughout their life.

If services cater for their needs, Aboriginal women will use them. However, not all Aboriginal women have access to these programs and many still rely on mainstream services such as GPs and public hospital clinics. That’s why it’s so important that mainstream services embed cultural competence into health care delivery across the care continuum.

Aboriginal culture has many strengths that can provide a positive influence, such as a supportive extended family networks, connection to country, and language. This is where the community controlled health sector and Aboriginal Health Workers are uniquely placed.

Our services build ongoing relationships to give continuity of care so that chronic conditions are managed and preventative health care can be effectively targeted.

Studies have shown that Aboriginal community controlled health services are 23% better at attracting and retaining Aboriginal clients than mainstream providers. Through local engagement and a proven service delivery model, our clients ‘stick’.

The cultural safety in which we provide our services is a key factor of our success. They can help to create relationships and understanding between our women and healthcare providers, practical assistance for attending appointments and coordinating care.

Many frontline clinicians and policy makers feel it is beyond their role to deal with these issues, but understanding some of these concepts will lead to greater empathy in the interactions with Aboriginal women.

We must acknowledge that Closing the Gap is not only a technical policy matter, but is also a political issue. We are disadvantaged, we are marginalised, we are poor, we do not have the numbers to influence government to the extent that others do, but we keep on trying.

The statistical gaps arise from voicelessness, powerlessness and a historical and significant lack of resources.

Firstly, the funding myth must be confronted as it stands like a rock in the way of progress.

As my good friend Professor Ian Ring tells us the commonly held view that enormous amounts of money have been spent on Indigenous Affairs has led many to conclude that money is not the answer and a different focus is required.

The recent Productivity Commission Report found that per capita government spending on Aboriginal services was twice as high as for the rest of the population. But higher spending on Aboriginal people should hardly be a surprise. We are not surprised, for example, to find that per capita health spending on the elderly is higher than on the healthier young because the elderly have higher levels of illness.

Nor is it a surprise that welfare spending is higher for Indigenous people who lag considerably in education, employment and income and there would be something very wrong with the system if it were otherwise.

The key question in understanding the relativities of expenditure on Indigenous is equity of total expenditure, both public and private, in relation to need, but the Productivity Commission’s brief is simply to report on public expenditure. In relation to government expenditure on health services the picture is quite different. State and Territory governments spend on average $2.6 per capita on Indigenous people for every $1 spent on the rest of the population.

By contrast, the Australian Government spends $1.4 for every $1 spent on the rest of the population, notwithstanding that, on the most conservative assumptions, Indigenous people have at least twice the per capita need of the rest of the population because of much higher levels of illness. The Commonwealth, in particular, needs to do much more. This is massive market failure.

The health system serves the needs of the bulk of the population very well but the health system has failed to meet the needs of the Indigenous population. And the Australian Government knows this, that’s why, for over 40 years they have been funding ACCHSs because they know the evidence shows these services better meet those needs, but the coverage of these services is patchy and needs to be expanded.

Secondly, Aboriginal communities need to be properly resourced, and Aboriginal people need to be in control. Let’s put Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands.

It is imperative that a person’s health be considered in the context of their social, emotional, spiritual and cultural wellbeing, and that of their community. We know that being able to better manage and control your own affairs is directly linked to improved wellbeing and mental health.

This is why Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are essential to closing the health gap. Often Aboriginal people are uncomfortable seeking medical help at hospitals or general practices and therefore are reluctant to obtain essential care.

For example, the policy of forcibly removing children from Aboriginal families until the 1960s may still engender distrust of the ‘system’ in Aboriginal mothers. Access to healthcare is extremely difficult due to either geographical isolation or lack of transportation.

Many Aboriginal people live below the poverty line so that services provided by practices that do not bulk bill are unattainable. The most well-intentioned mainstream services struggle to provide appropriate healthcare to Aboriginal patient’s due to significant cultural and language disparities. Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services bridge these gaps.

Their focus on prevention, early intervention and comprehensive care has reduced barriers to access and unintentional racism, progressively improving individual health outcomes for Aboriginal people.

 And thirdly, greater access to education, employment and participation in the economy.

So, for those three reasons, NACCHO continues to call on the Australian Government to invest in the expansion of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, to reach more people living in isolated areas, and to provide more care options for women, including mental health and psychology services.

Recently NACCHO, RANZCOG and other college Presidents met with the Minister for Indigenous Health and other ministers in Canberra who are all determined to do everything possible to close the gap in health outcomes. Now your stated mission is in providing excellence in women’s health. Well let’s do that by including Aboriginal women with new practical measures advocated to government and policy makers.

By all means let us together develop new statements and guidelines, by contributing effectively to health policy debate, in providing representation on various external committees and advisory groups, and responding to requests for submissions with expert evidence-based opinion.

Together lets us continue to drive policy development for the betterment of all women’s health with a view to developing a set of policy imperatives that must be addressed by Governments. It is through Aboriginal community controlled health service delivery that we can best close the gap. But we need your assistance.

We need your help with community-developed programs, that accept our cultural beliefs and traditions about health issues like contraception, termination, or pregnancy.

Currently Sexually Transmitted Infections rates have increased; the current syphilis outbreak has now reached four states predominantly infecting 15-29-year old’s with 12 cases of congenital syphilis causing five deaths.

In this day and age this is unacceptable! NACCHO seeks your assistance to insist on regular STI testing, a national public STI education campaign, with enhanced and clear antenatal guidelines, supported by a workforce with mobile local team’s conducting health checks and testing for other STI’s like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, HIV, Hepatitis C and B. This is the best way for you as individuals and organisations to contribute to improved Aboriginal women’s health outcomes and wellbeing.

As a group of 100 pioneering passionate women I know we have all earnt the accolades, enjoyed the press coverage and have a certain status in life. Let’s make a difference by today by being outspoken advocates for Aboriginal women and inspiring the next generation of women to not ask but demand better access to health care. Aboriginal women are the best advocates and leaders for health and wellbeing in their own families and in the broader community.

Please help bring about change, please make a contribution to improving the lives of Aboriginal women by lobbying governments.

We need your capabilities and skill, the energy and drive to make an impact, your commitment of time to our cause, your ingenuity and passion. Help us by proving to be effective role models, mentors and influencers for the next generation of Aboriginal female leaders.

I hope that today is seen as an opportunity to reflect on these vital Aboriginal women’s health issues. I urge you to act and commit to real sustainable practical change.

Don’t wait for government, don’t wait for them to provide the solutions. Work it out ourselves and just move on. So, to all you people here today I invite you to get in touch with your local Aboriginal Controlled Health Services and our Aboriginal health workers and to all your policy makers you can call me at NACCHO.

I have lost count of the number of speeches I have given over the years on this subject regarding Aboriginal women’s health to numerous gatherings, meetings, conferences, roundtables and symposiums. I will continue to speak for up all of our sisters, aunties, mothers and grandmothers.

I don’t expect or desire any consensus today but I expect robust discussion leading to identify policy reform that can be implemented. We must advocate for more action, adopt new policy positions and increase investment in the Aboriginal community controlled sector.

I know that the fight for Aboriginal rights continues and that the future is looking brighter for our mob with your support.

Thank you again for having me here today and I welcome any questions that you may have.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #CloseTheGap Press Release : Download a 10 year Review : The #ClosingTheGap Strategy and 6 Key Recommendations to #reset

The life expectancy gap has in fact started to widen again and the Indigenous child mortality rate is now more than double that of other children.

This is a national shame and demands an urgent tripartite health partnership. This must be high on the agenda at tomorrow’s COAG meeting.”

In a departure from the campaign’s usual report, this year’s review focusses on the decade since the 2008 signing of the Close the Gap Statement of Intent.”

Close the Gap Campaign Co-Chair and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO, said the Close the Gap strategy began in 2008 with great promise but has failed to deliver.

 Read  CTG call for urgent action to address national shame press release Part 2

Download the 40 Page review HERE

CTG 2018_FINAL_WEB

 

“ The Close the Gap refresh being considered by the COAG provides an opportunity to reflect upon and reform current policy settings and institutionalised thinking,

The Close the Gap targets should remain, as should the National Indigenous Reform Agreement framework and associated National Partnership Agreements. They serve to focus the nation and increase our collective accountability.

What we need however is radically different action to achieve the targets

This starts with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their community controlled health organisations and peak representatives having a genuine say over their own health and wellbeing and health policies.

“Increased funding is needed for ACCHOs to expand in regions where there are low access to health services and high levels of disease, and in areas of mental health, disability services and aged care.

ACCHOs have consistently demonstrated that they achieve better results for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, at better value for money.

NACCHO Chairperson, Mr John Singer.

Download NACCHO Press Release

1. NACCHO media release CtG – FINAL

Download NACCHO Press Background Paper

2. NACCHO media release ATTACH CTG – FINAL 10 Years On

Part 1 NACCHO Press Release : Increased support to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations needed to Close the Gap in life expectancy gap

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) calls for urgent and radically different action to Close the Gap.

“The Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) commitment to Close the Gap in 2007 was welcome.

It was a positive step towards mobilising government resources and effort to address the under investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health”, said NACCHO Chairperson, Mr John Singer.

“But ten years on the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians is widening, not closing.

Jurisdictions currently spend $2 per Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander for every $1 for the rest of the population whereas the Commonwealth in the past has spent only $1.21 per Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island person for every $1 spent on the rest of the population. NACCHO calls for the Commonwealth to increase funding to Close the Gap”, said John Singer.

NACCHO is a proud member of the Close the Gap Campaign and stands by its report released today: ‘A ten-year review: the Closing the Gap Strategy and Recommendations for Reset’.

The review found that the Close the Gap strategy has never been fully implemented. Underfunding in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services and infrastructure has persisted – funding is not always based on need, has been cut and in some cases redirected through mainstream providers.

The role of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) in delivering more successful care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than the mainstream service providers is not properly recognised.

A health equality plan was not in place until the release of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan Implementation Plan 2015, and this is unfunded.

And despite the initial investment in remote housing, there has not been a sufficient and properly resourced plan to adequately address the social determinants of health.

The framework underpinning the Close the Gap strategy – a national approach and leadership, increased accountability, clear roles and responsibilities and increased funding through National Partnership Agreements – has unraveled and in some cases been abandoned altogether.

A comprehensive and funded Indigenous health workforce is required to improve the responsiveness of health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples and increase cultural safety.

A boost in disease specific initiatives is urgently needed in areas where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a high burden of disease or are particularly vulnerable, like ear health and renal disease, delivered through ACCHOs.”

“There also needs to be a way in which NACCHO and other Indigenous health leaders can come together with COAG to agree a ‘refreshed approach’ to Close the Gap”, said Mr Singer.

NACCHO has proposed to Government a way forward to Close the Gap in life expectancy and is looking forward to working with the Australian Government on the further development of its proposals.

The only way to close the gap is with the full participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Until Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are fully engaged and have control over their health and wellbeing any ‘refresh’ will be marginal at best, and certainly won’t close the gap

Part 2 CALL FOR URGENT JOINT ACTION TO ADDRESS NATIONAL SHAME

Australian governments must join forces with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to address the national shame of a widening life expectancy gap for our nation’s First Peoples.

“It’s time for each State and Territory government to affirm or reaffirm their commitments made via the Close the Gap Statement of Intent.

“Until now, the scrutiny has rightly been on the Federal Government regarding the need for it to lead the strategy and to coordinate and resource the effort.

But it’s now time for state and territory governments to step up.

“We want to see Premiers, Chief Ministers, Health and Indigenous Affairs Ministers in every jurisdiction providing regular and public accountability on their efforts to address the inequality gaps in their State or Territory.

“No more finger pointing between governments. A reset Closing the Gap Strategy should clearly articulate targets for both levels of government and be underpinned by a new set of agreements that include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their leaders and organisations.”

Last year, the Prime Minister reported that six out of the seven targets were ‘not on track’. Since then, the Federal Government has announced that the COAG agreed

Closing the Gap Strategy would go through a ‘refresh’ process.

Close the Gap Co-Chair and Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Rod Little, said the refresh process is the last chance to get government policy right to achieve the goal of health equality by 2030.

“The Close the Gap Campaign is led by more than 40 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous health and human rights bodies,” Mr Little said.

“No other group can boast this level of leadership, experience and expertise. We stand ready to work together with Federal, State and Territory governments. We have the solutions.

“You must get the engagement on this right. No half measures. No preconceived policies that are imposed, rather than respectfully discussed and collectively decided.”

The Close the Gap Campaign Co-Chairs have warned that, without a recommitment, the closing the gap targets will measure nothing but the collective failure of Australian governments to work together and to stay the course.

“While the approach has all but fallen apart, we know that with the right settings and right approach, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples leading the resetting of the strategy, we can start to meet the challenge of health inequality, and live up to the ideals that all Australians have a fundamental right to health,” the Co-Chairs said.

Part 3 :This review’s major findings are:

1.First, the Close the Gap Statement of Intent (and close the gap approach) has to date only been partially and incoherently implemented via the Closing the Gap Strategy:

An effective health equality plan was not in place until the release of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan Implementation Plan in 2015 – which has never been funded. The complementary National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017-2023 needs an implementation plan and funding as appropriate. There is still yet to be a national plan to address housing and health infrastructure, and social determinants were not connected to health planning until recently and still lack sufficient resources.

The Closing the Gap Strategy focus on child and maternal health and addressing chronic disease and risk factors – such as smoking through the Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program – are welcomed and should be sustained.

However, there was no complementary systematic focus on building primary health service capacity according to need, particularly through the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and truly shifting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health to a preventive footing rather than responding ‘after the event’ to health crisis.

2.Second, the Closing the Gap Strategy – a 25-year program – was effectively abandoned after five-years and so cannot be said to have been anything but partially implemented in itself.

This is because the ‘architecture’ to support the Closing the Gap Strategy (national approach, national leadership, funding agreements) had unraveled by 2014-2015.

3.Third, a refreshed Closing the Gap Strategy requires a reset which re-builds the requisite ‘architecture’ (national approach, national leadership, outcome-orientated funding agreements).

National priorities like addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health inequality have not gone away, are getting worse, and more than ever require a national response.

Without a recommitment to such ‘architecture’, the nation is now in a situation where the closing the gap targets will measure nothing but the collective failure of Australian governments to work together and to stay the course.

4.Fourth, a refreshed Closing the Gap Strategy must be founded on implementing the existing Close the Gap Statement of Intent commitments.

In the past ten years, Australian governments have behaved as if the Close the Gap Statement of Intent was of little relevance to the Closing the Gap Strategy when in fact it should have fundamentally informed it.

It is time to align the two. A refreshed Closing the Gap Strategy must focus on delivering equality of opportunity in relation to health goods and services, especially primary health care, according to need and in relation to health infrastructure (an adequate and capable health workforce, housing, food, water).

This should be in addition to the focus on maternal and infant health, chronic disease and other health needs. The social determinants of health inequality (income, education, racism) also must be addressed at a fundamental level.

5.Fifth, there is a ‘funding myth’ about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health – indeed in many Indigenous Affairs areas – that must be confronted as it impedes progress.

That is the idea of dedicated health expenditure being a waste of taxpayer funds.

Yet, if Australian governments are serious about achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality within a generation, a refreshed Closing the Gap Strategy must include commitments to realistic and equitable levels of investment (indexed according to need).

Higher spending on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health should hardly be a surprise.

Spending on the elderly, for example, is higher than on the young because everyone understands the elderly have greater health needs.

Likewise, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population have, on average, 2.3 times the disease burden of non-Indigenous people.[i] Yet on a per person basis, Australian government health expenditure was $1.38 per Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person for every $1.00 spent per non-Indigenous person in 2013-14.[ii]

So, for the duration of the Closing the Gap Strategy Australian government expenditure was not commensurate with these substantially greater and more complex health needs.

This remains the case. Because non-Indigenous Australians rely significantly on private health insurance and private health providers to meet much of their health needs, in addition to government support, the overall situation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health can be characterised as ‘systemic’ or ‘market failure’.

Private sources will not make up the shortfall. Australian government ‘market intervention’ – increased expenditure directed as indicated in the recommendations below – is required to address this.

The Close the Gap Campaign believes no Australian government can preside over widening mortality and life expectancy gaps and, yet, maintain targets to close these gaps without additional funding. Indeed, the Campaign believes the position of Australian governments is absolutely untenable in that regard.

 

In considering these findings, the Close the Gap Campaign are clear that the Close the Gap Statement of Intent remains a current, powerful and coherent guide to achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality, and to the refreshment of the Closing the Gap Strategy in 2018.

Accordingly, this review recommends that:

Recommendation 1: the ‘refreshed’ Closing the Gap Strategy is co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders and includes community consultations.

This requires a tripartite negotiation process with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, and the Federal and State and Territory governments. Time must be allowed for this process.

Further, Australian governments must be accountable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for its effective implementation.

Recommendation 2: to underpin the Closing the Gap Strategy refresh, Australian governments reinvigorate the ‘architecture’ required for a national approach to addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality.

This architecture includes: a national agreement, Federal leadership, and national funding agreements that require the development of jurisdictional implementation plans and clear accountability for implementation.

This includes by reporting against national and state/territory targets.

Recommendation 3: the Closing the Gap Strategy elements such as maternal and infant health programs and the focus on chronic disease (including the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program) are maintained and expanded in a refreshed Closing the Gap Strategy.

Along with Recommendation 2, a priority focus of the ‘refreshed’ Closing the Gap Strategy is on delivering equality of opportunity in relation to health goods and services and in relation to health infrastructure (housing, food, water).

The social determinants of health inequality (income, education, racism) must also be addressed at a far more fundamental level than before. This includes through the following recommendations:

Recommendation 4: the current Closing the Gap Strategy health targets are maintained, but complemented by targets or reporting on the inputs to those health targets.

These input targets or measures should be agreed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders and Australian governments as a part of the Closing the Gap Strategy refresh process and include:

  • Expenditure, including aggregate amounts and in relation to specific underlying factors as below;
  • Primary health care services, with preference given to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, and a guarantee across all health services of culturally safe care;
  • The identified elements that address institutional racism in the health system;
  • Health workforce, particularly the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people trained and employed at all levels, including senior levels, of the health workforce; and
  • Health enabling infrastructure, particularly housing.

Recommendation 5: the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan Implementation Plan is costed and fully funded by the Federal government, and future iterations are more directly linked to the commitments of the Close the Gap Statement of Intent; and, an implementation plan for the complementary National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017-2023 is developed, costed and implemented by the end of 2018 in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders and communities

This will include:

  1. A five-year national plan to identify and fill health service gaps funded from the 2018-2019 Federal budget onwards and with a service provider preference for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs). This includes provision for the greater development of ACCHS’s satellite and outreach services.
  2. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leadership, Federal, State and Territory agreements clarifying roles, responsibilities and funding commitments at the jurisdictional level.
  3. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leadership, Primary Health Network and Federal agreements clarifying roles, responsibilities and funding commitments at the regional level.

Recommendation 6: an overarching health infrastructure and housing plan to secure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples equality in these areas, to support the attainment of life expectancy and health equality by 2030, is developed, costed and implemented by the end of 2018.

 

 

 

 

[i]      Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Healthy Futures—Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services: Report Card 2016. Cat. no. IHW 171. Canberra: AIHW, p. 40.

[ii]     Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council, 2017, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2017 Report, AHMAC, Canberra, p. 192.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health CEO Pat Turner 20 minute Interview with @abcspeakingout where she offers some guarded optimism and some advice for 2018.

“I think everything is so low, bottom of the scale, that 2018 can only be better in my view.

“I think that what our people and our communities have to do is just take total control of their own affairs. Don’t wait for government, don’t wait for them to provide the solutions. Work it out ourselves and just move on.”

Pat Turner AM CEO NACCHO 20 Minute interview ABC Speaking Out

” Despite there being a number landmark occasions in 2017, one of the country’s most senior Aboriginal Bureaucrats says there has been little to celebrate in the Indigenous Affairs sector in 2017.

In a frank and honest Discussion, Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) reflects on the key advances and shortcomings over the past 12 months.

We talk Aboriginal Health, Northern Territory Royal Commission, Deaths in Custody and Indigenous funding.”

On Speaking Out with Larissa Behrendt

Duration: 20min 40sec

Listen HERE

 
2017 forced us to ask how far we have come in Indigenous affairs

2017 was a year of several significant anniversaries in Indigenous affairs.

The 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum.

The 25th anniversary of the High Court’s Mabo decision.

The 20th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report.

The 10th anniversary of the NT Intervention.

An auspicious combination of anniversaries, each giving pause to reflect on the impacts of these events, and to ask the obvious question — how far have we come in 50 years? In 25, 20 or 10 years?

The age-old Western belief in the inexhaustible march towards progress would make many assume that these issues have been addressed, or at the very least improved.

This belief is evident every time you see someone say, “I can’t believe this is happening in 2017!” in reference to something they believe should now be a relic of a bygone era.

It was hoped that 2017 would enter the history books as another significant year in Indigenous affairs, with the passing of a referendum to ‘recognise’ Indigenous people in the Australian constitution.

Not only did this not come to pass, but the relationship between government and Indigenous groups feels like it may have reach a new low, unseen in decades.

Australia’s most successful referendum

In 1967 Australia passed its most successful ever referendum, with 90.77 per cent of Australians voting “Yes for Aborigines”. This allowed for Aboriginal people to be counted in the census, and the Federal Government was given the power to make laws for Indigenous people.

Right Wrongs

Up until that point, Indigenous people were the responsibility of the states, who each had their own laws and legislation defining and controlling the lives of Aboriginal people.

Fifty years later, many people believe that this momentous occasion gave Indigenous people citizenship rights and the right to vote. It did not.

It was also believed that the Federal Government would use their new powers solely to the benefit of Indigenous people. This too would prove to be false.

Larissa Behrendt wrote in detail about these myths as part of the ABC’s Right Wrongs site, which explored the impacts of the 1967 referendum.

Twenty-five years later, in 1992, the High Court handed down the Mabo decision determining that Australia was not Terra Nullius in 1770 when Captain Cook claimed the east coast of Australia.

Terra Nullius was the legal justification for the very existence of the Australian state, so it as hoped this decision would bring about significant Aboriginal land rights.

But it led to Native Title legislation instead.

The Mabo case itself took over a decade, and the man who instigated it, Eddie Koiki Mabo, would not live to see its conclusion.

Twenty-five years later though, his family are still fighting to keep his story alive and strong.

Bringing Them Home

Bringing Them Home was the name of the final report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families.

It was tabled in Parliament on the May 26, 1997. The following year this date would become known as Sorry Day, and would provide a call to action for governments to implement the 54 recommendations of the report.

The surviving members of the Stolen Generations still hold the stories from that shameful era. And members of each new generation of Aboriginal people forcibly removed from their families have their trauma compounded by this unaddressed history.

The recommendations from the Bringing Them Home report are still largely unimplemented, and the rate of child removal has steadily grown in the 20 years since.

The rate has doubled in the past decade, and every other month we see a headline warning of a “second Stolen Generation”. It’s a news story that has been on repeat for almost 20 years.

The NT Intervention

The NT Intervention has largely failed to bring about positive changes around the issues raised in the Little Children Are Sacred report, which was used as the key justification for the NT Emergency Response Act.

A group of eminent Australians from law, health, academia and the arts have called on the Federal Government to bring an immediate end to the Northern Territory Intervention and Stronger Futures policies.

Listen to Speaking Out

This disconnect between stated goals of respect, inclusion and Closing the Gap, and the actions and outcomes actually achieved, has come to embody Indigenous affairs in 2017.

This has been personified by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, since he took over the reins of government in September 2015. The end of 2017 seems to show a very different Mr Turnbull than the one who shed tears for the Stolen Generations at the start of 2016.

Despite his inclination to open Indigenous affairs speeches speaking in Indigenous languages, this has failed to translate to an ability to listen to Indigenous people. Given the long history of government failure to listen to Indigenous peoples, few held out hope that Mr Turnbull would make good on his stated desire to do things with Indigenous people, instead of to them.

At the release of the ninth Closing the Gap report, six of the seven targets were not on track to meet their goals.

“It has to be a shared endeavour. Greater empowerment of local communities will deliver the shared outcomes we all seek,” Mr Turnbull said, at the time.

Now, months before the 10th report is due, the Federal Government has put out a call for community input into Closing The Gap.

This prompted Referendum Council member Megan Davis to ponder on Twitter: “If they didn’t listen to what community said on Uluru and meaningful recognition, why would the government listen to input on this?”.

The call for consultation coincides with a decision to remove over $600 million in federal funds for remote housing.

Safe and appropriate housing is regarded as an essential criteria for governments to meet the Closing the Gap targets.

While 2017 may not have given much hope for the immediate future of Indigenous affairs, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation chief executive officer Pat Turner, offered some guarded optimism and some advice for 2018.

.@NACCHOChair Season’s Greetings and a very Happy and #Healthy New Year from all the NACCHO mob

Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year from the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

On behalf of NACCHO, the Board and our staff we wish you a safe, happy and healthy festive season.

Please note : Our Canberra Office Closes  21 December and Re Opens 3 January 2018

2017 has been a year of change, with many new members joining the NACCHO Board.

We have also welcomed a new ACCHO, Moorundi Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service, to our membership.

With change comes opportunity, 2018 will see many new and exciting developments as NACCHO continues to enhance better service for the sector.

We look forward to building strong relationships with you, maintain Aboriginal community control and work together in the new year to improve health and well-being outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

I hope you all have good health, happiness and a safe holiday season

John Singer

Chair NACCHO

NACCHO tribute and Bellear family thank you : #SolsLastMarch #StateFuneral for Sol Bellear AM ” Remembered as a giant of a man “

 

” Sol was giant of a man who made a giant contribution to self-determination for our people right throughout the land , one who would now take his honoured place amongst his very honoured ancestors.

News of his sudden death last week had sent shockwaves through Aboriginal Australia”.

Pat Turner, Chief Executive of NACCHO : National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation speaking at the State Funeral about her long term friendship and respect for Sol Bellear.  Pictures above Michelle Lovegrove

See full NACCHO Tribute to Sol Bellear AM Press Release

NACCHO tribute to Sol Bellear AM Aboriginal activist

NACCHO was also represented by Current Chair John Singer and Past Chairs Pat Anderson , Matthew Cooke and Justin Mohamed.

 ” We will always be grateful for the many expressions of kindness, love and support we have received following the loss of our father and brother, Sol Bellear, who passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday night, 29 November.

We have been overwhelmed by the numbers of people who have reached out to us in this very difficult time. Sol touched many lives in the movement for Aboriginal rights, the game of rugby league and the community of Redfern that he loved.  Now the people whose lives he touched are comforting us with their memories of him.”

Statement from the family of  Solomon David “Sol” Bellear AM

Sol stood for many things including self-determination, proper treaties with our people, Aboriginal control of our people’s health and legal services, Land Rights and a better understanding of our history.

Although, Sol achieved many great victories, much of this work remained unfinished at the end of his life. We ask all those who loved Sol to please continue his work so that the vision he had for his country and people might one day be fulfilled.

One of Sol’s last wishes was for the Sydney City Council to erect a plaque at Redfern Park to help people remember and reflect on the Redfern Speech delivered on that site by former Prime Minister, Paul Keating.

We will always treasure the time we had with him. He was the most loving and committed Father, Brother, Poppy and Uncle any family could hope for.=

We would like to particularly thank the NSW Premier and the staff from her Department, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Joshua Roxburgh and our brother, Shane Phillips for their generous assistance in organising Sol’s funeral.

 Sol Bellear remembered as giant at state funeral

Aboriginal land rights and health activist Sol Bellear has been remembered as a giant of indigenous advancement at a state funeral on Saturday at Redfern Oval in Sydney, the spiritual home of his beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs.

From the Australian

It was a mark of the man, mourners heard, that after being dropped as a player from the Rabbitohs squad after raising a black-power salute on scoring a try at the ground, he was within a year serving on the rugby league team’s board.

“He carried a great personal weight on his shoulders because he was a strong man,” fellow activist Paul Coe, one of the leaders with whom Bellear founded the Aboriginal tent embassy at the then parliament house in 1972, said.

“He would stand his ground no matter what or no matter who was opposing him.”

Bellear was joined in one final march to the football ground from the nearby Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, an institution which mourners including NSW Governor David Hurley and wife Linda heard was one of his great legacies.

Sols Last March with 3,000 family and friends

The march ended at the park where, exactly 25 years ago tomorrow, Bellear led Paul Keating to the stage to deliver the then prime minister’s famous oration admitting white Australia’s culpability in the poor state of indigenous affairs.(see Picture in Part 1 above )

“He stood proud and he stood tall but he was not egotistical,” Mr Coe said.

“I’ve seen him give money out of his own pocket to people on the streets. This is the kind of man that he was — a kind of man you could admire but not completely understand.

“In those days as young students, trying to work out who and what we were, it was very hard to make ends meet. But he would always give of himself, both time and energy.”

A Bundjalung man from Mullumbimby in northern NSW, Solomon David Bellear, who was 66, leaves partner Naomi and children Tamara and Joseph. He was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1999 for services to the Aboriginal community, in particular in the field of health. His brother Bob, who died a decade ago, was the first Aboriginal judge.

In a letter from grand-daughter Rose read out at the service, Bellear was bid a “merry Christmas in the dreamtime” and the hope he had travelled there safely with his totem, the carpet snake.

Bellear’s achievements were legion. He was the founding chair of the Aboriginal Legal Service, a founding member of the Aboriginal Housing Company, an Aboriginal delegate to the UN General Assembly, player and director at the Rabbitohs, a foundation player with the Redfern All Blacks in the NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout, a manager with the indigenous dreamtime and All Stars rugby league teams, and deputy chair of the former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

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Sol Bellear, whose funeral was held on Saturday. Picture: Dan Himbrechts

Ken Wyatt, federal Minister for Indigenous Health and Aged Care, said on Friday Bellear had “played a key role in establishing medical, housing, land rights and legal services for Aboriginal people and remains a towering figure on the journey towards justice for our people”.

He was remembered as being crucial to the consensus position developed at the Indigenous constitutional convention held in Central Australia in May this year, when disparate ambitions for reform were distilled into the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Singer Emma Donovan opened the funeral with the touchstone Land Rights Song, whose memorable lines “they keep on saying everything’s fine, still they can’t see us cry all the time” seemed particularly apt.

Bellear’s casket was borne from the park by a cortege including members of his beloved Redfern All Blacks, whose members linked arms to sing their team song for him one last time. His casket was draped with a Rabbitohs scarf, the hearse with an Aboriginal flag.

As it set off one final, slow, lap of the oval, fists were raised in a black-power salute

NACCHO tribute to Sol Bellear AM Aboriginal activist : ” Last March for Sol ” and State Funeral details announced

” Sol Bellear leaves an important legacy that must be carried on by the board of NACCHO and all our members if Indigenous Australians are to ever enjoy health services and standards that other Australians take for granted.

Throughout his career he advocated a philosophy of community control, self-reliance and independence, attributes that would be vital for the survival of ACCHO’s over the decades

We would like to record our sincere gratitude and admiration for Sol’s service to our nation and communities, and tender our profound sympathy to his family and community in their bereavement.”

NACCHO Chair John Singer speaking on behalf of all the 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services throughout Australia said he was saddened to hear of the untimely passing of one of the nation’s leading spokespeople on Aboriginal health issues, Mr Sol Bellear AM. ( see our full Press Release below ) Or Download

NACCHO tribute to Sol Bellear AM Aboriginal activist

Last march Sol Bellear AM

Health, justice and land rights Legend Sol Bellear AM will lead his last march at a State Funeral to be held in Redfern on Saturday.

Sol’s family, friends and supporters are invited to gather at Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service on Redfern Street from 10am for a last march to the State Funeral service at Redfern Oval starting at 11am.

WHEN: Saturday 9 December 2017

WHERE:

  • March from 10am outside Aboriginal Medical Service, Redfern Street
  • Service from 11am at Redfern Oval

For any enquiries please email media@alc.org.au or call 02 9689 4444

“ So they took our children away. They forced us from our ancestral lands. They held our wages and savings in trust, and then found better ways to spend the money. We were forced into slavery, denied equal wages and prevented from ever building generational wealth.

That great lie still underpins thinking in Indigenous affairs policy today. So it’s time to do something different, and time to acknowledge that the case for self-determination for Aboriginal people in Australia isn’t just compelling – it’s overwhelming. “

Sol Bellear AM 1951 -2017 : When NACCHO TV recorded over 100 interviews throughout Australia in 2015 Sol was our first interview : VIEW HERE

NACCHO Press Release :

NACCHO tribute to Sol Bellear AM Aboriginal activist

 NACCHO Chair John Singer speaking on behalf of all the 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services throughout Australia said he was saddened to hear of the untimely passing of one of the nation’s leading spokespeople on Aboriginal health issues, Mr Sol Bellear AM

Sol was a respected elder, friend, lifetime Aboriginal activist, a co-founder and Chair of Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern and a recently appointed NACCHO board member.

Sol Bellear a Bundjalung man from Mullumbimby was also the first chair of the Aboriginal Legal Service when it was founded in the early 1970s.

In 1990 Sol became a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), where he served as deputy chair before stepping down in 1994.

Throughout his career he advocated a philosophy of community control, self-reliance and independence, attributes that would be vital for the survival of ACCHO’s over the decades.

Mr. Singer said Sol Bellear was an inspiration to everyone involved with or interested in Aboriginal issues and specifically Indigenous health. He was admired and respected leader who served his community for nearly 50 years.

” Sol was a tireless worker for his people,” Mr Singer said.

“He travelled all over Australia and the world championing the cause of Indigenous Australians as we have had historically some of worst health outcomes in the western world.

“He was a fearless advocate not afraid to take on politicians and bureaucracies.

“And he certainly was a man of great compassion and commitment to improving the health of his Redfern Community and all Indigenous Australians.”

“Sol Bellear leaves an important legacy that must be carried on by the board of NACCHO and all our members if indigenous Australians are to ever enjoy health services and standards that other Australians take for granted,” Mr Singer concluded.

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

Adis

This Commission has been a landmark opportunity to expose the brutal and inhumane treatment of children in youth detention centres in the Northern Territory. Children have been stripped, assaulted and have been left languishing in cells in isolation for extended periods of time. This is no way to treat children. We need to do things vastly differently so that these abuses do not happen again.

 APO NT is encouraged to see the Commission has emphasised the importance of youth diversion, prevention and early intervention initiatives, and the need for a single Act covering youth justice and child protection.

Now is the time for the Commonwealth and Northern Territory Governments to accept all the Commission’s recommendations and commit to adequate resourcing of and independent oversight  and monitoring of all recommendations of the Royal Commission’

 John Paterson CEO AMSANT and APO NT Spokesperson  :see Part 2 for full Press Release

Download 68 Page Summary Full report 2,000 Pages

Royal-Commission-NT-Findings-and-Recomendations

VIEW Press Conference HERE

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” We commend the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission, particularly where it is apparent that the experiences of those young people and their families were taken into account along with the submissions from key Aboriginal community controlled organisations and expert evidence from all over the world about what really works

“We know that many young people who appear before the courts come from traumatised backgrounds, which in many cases has caused their offending. As a community we need to learn to ask “what’s happened to you?” rather than “what’s wrong with you?”

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Chief Executive Officer, Donna Ah Chee

“You don’t set up a royal commission and then walk away from the implementation of it. I urge the Federal and NT Government to give resources directly to Aboriginal community controlled groups, as white non-government organisations “need to get out of that space”. Those days are over.

“We are much more strategically placed and our service delivery is much wider.”

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations chief executive Pat Turner calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to “put his money with his mouth is.

Hear ABC World News Today Interview Pat Turner and Olga Haven CEO Danila Dilba ACCHO

See Part 4 below or NACCHO Press release HERE  

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“We really welcome this report because it’s really taken into account the things we have been lobbying for many, many years now and it’s always fallen on deaf ears.”

North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency CEO Priscilla Atkins see Part 5 below

Part 1: Don Dale royal commission demands sweeping change – is there political will to make it happen? From The Conversation

The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory’s final report, which was handed down on Friday, revealed “systemic and shocking failures” in the territory’s youth justice and child protection systems.

The commission was triggered following ABC Four Corners’ broadcasting of images of detainee Dylan Voller hooded and strapped to a restraint chair, as well as footage of children being stripped, punched and tear-gassed by guards at the Don Dale and Alice Springs youth detention centres.

The commission’s findings demonstrate the need for systemic change. However, the commission will not, in itself, bring about that change. Its capacity to make lasting change lies with the government implementing its recommendations.

What did the commission find?

The commission found that the NT youth detention centres were not fit for accommodating – let alone rehabilitating – children and young people.

It also found that detainees were subjected to regular, repeated and distressing mistreatment. This included verbal abuse, racist remarks, physical abuse, and humiliation.

There was a further failure to follow procedures and requirements under youth justice legislation. Children were denied basic human needs, and the system failed to comply with basic human rights standards and safeguards, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The commission also found that the NT child protection system has failed to provide appropriate and adequate support to some young people to assist them to avoid prison.

Importantly, the commission found that isolation “continues to be used inappropriately, punitively and inconsistently”. Children in the high security unit:

… continue to be confined in a wholly inappropriate, oppressive, prison-like environment … in confined spaces with minimal out of cell time and little to do for long periods of time.

What did the commission recommend?

Based on these findings, the commission recommended wide-ranging reforms to the youth justice and child protection systems.

Not surprisingly, a central focus of the recommendations relate to detention. They ranged from closing the Don Dale centre to significant restrictions on the use of force, strip-searching and isolation, and banning the use of tear gas, spit hoods, and restraint chairs.

There is a focus on greater accountability for the use of detention through extending the Commissioner for Children and Young People’s monitoring role. Recommendations also cover health care (including mental health and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder screening), education, training, and throughcare services for children exiting detention.

Among its suite of proposed reforms, the commission recommended developing a ten-year strategy to tackle child protection and prevention of harm to children, and establishing an NT-wide network of centres to provide community services to families.

Youth justice reforms include improving the operation of bail to reduce the unnecessary use of custodial remand; expanding diversionary programs in rural and remote locations; and operating new models of secure detention, based on principles of trauma-informed practice.

Adequate and ongoing training and education for police, lawyers, youth justice officers, out-of-home-care staff and judicial officers in child and adolescent development is also recommended.

The commission also emphasised the importance of developing partnerships with Indigenous organisations and communities in the child protection and youth justice systems. Several organisations in written submissions to the commission identified the importance of appropriately resourcing community-controlled, and locally developed and led, programs for Indigenous young people.

Summary Key recommendations ( added by NACCHO)

1. Close Don Dale Youth Centre (and report progress on this by February 2018) and replace with a new, purpose-built facility.

2. Immediately close the high security unit at Don Dale.

3. Raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 .

4. No child under 14 to be ordered to serve detention unless they have been convicted of a serious and violent crime, present a serious risk to the community and their sentence is approved by the head of the proposed new children’s court.

5. Set up a new Children’s Court.

6. Set up a specialist youth division within the police force and make sure all police cells are suitable for detaining children.

7. Establish a Commission for Children and Young People, with jurisdiction for all children and young people in the NT.

8. Stop the use of tear gas and continue to ban spit hoods and the restraint chair.

9. Set up at least 20 family support centres to help children and their families.

10. Develop a 10 year strategy for generational change around child protection and the prevention of harm to children. This would be led by the NT chief minister with specific targets and measures.

Increasing the age of criminal responsibility a good place to start

One of the commission’s most significant recommendations is to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12 years, and only allowing children under 14 to be sentenced to detention for serious offences.

If this recommendation were to be implemented it is likely to have far-reaching implications across Australia. Currently, the minimum age is ten years in all states and territories.

Of particular relevance to the commission is the adverse affect of a low minimum age of criminal responsibility on Indigenous children.

The majority of children under the age of 14 who come before Australian youth courts are Indigenous. In 2015-16, 67% of children placed in detention under the age of 14 were Indigenous. This concentration is even higher among those aged 12 or younger.

Nationally, 73% of children placed in detention and 74% of children placed on community-based supervision in 2015-16 were Indigenous.

Raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility opens the door to responding to children’s needs without relying on criminalisation, given its short- and long-term negative impacts.

It enables a conversation about the best responses to children who often – as the commission’s findings acknowledged – have a range of issues. These can include trauma, mental health disorders and disability, coming from highly disadvantaged backgrounds, having spent time in out-of-home care, and – particularly among Indigenous children – being removed from their families and communities.

A positive outcome from the commission will require political will and leadership to respond effectively to broader systemic issues. Raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility is a good place to start

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Part 2 : APO NT welcomes Royal Commission final report and calls for immediate commitment from Commonwealth and Northern Territory Governments

The Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APO NT) welcomes the Royal Commission’s final report, handed down in Darwin today.

Over the past 14 months, the Royal Commission has examined the failings of the youth justice and child protection systems in the Northern Territory and heard ideas for change including from Aboriginal young people and families directly impacted by these systems.

‘This Commission has been a landmark opportunity to expose the brutal and inhumane treatment of children in youth detention centres in the Northern Territory. Children have been stripped, assaulted and have been left languishing in cells in isolation for extended periods of time. This is no way to treat children. We need to do things vastly differently so that these abuses do not happen again’, said John Paterson CEO AMSANT.

The Commission has made unequivocal findings that the Northern Territory’s youth justice and care and  protection systems continue to fail young people and that wholesale reform is required.

‘APO NT is encouraged to see the Commission has emphasised the importance of youth diversion, prevention and early intervention initiatives, and the need for a single Act covering youth justice and child protection’, said Mr Paterson .

The report recognises the critical involvement of Aboriginal organisations and communities in reforming all aspects of the system to bring about real change for Aboriginal people across the Territory. As a first step, Government must immediately establish a process with Aboriginal organisations and community leaders to ensure Aboriginal people are actively involved in the change that lies ahead.

The Royal Commission represents a significant step in addressing the crisis facing our child protection and youth justice systems. ‘The work doesn’t stop here. We’ve got to keep the spotlight on these issues so the abuses our kids have faced in detention and in the child protection system don’t happen again. Now is the time for the Commonwealth and Northern Territory Governments to accept all the Commission’s recommendations and commit to adequate resourcing of and independent oversight  and monitoring of all recommendations of the Royal Commission’, Mr Paterson said.

APO NT pays tribute to the courageous Aboriginal young people and families who came forward to tell their story to the Commission. It is through their crucial involvement that the Commission has been able to expose the systemic failings and abuses and provide a roadmap for a better future for all children in the Territory.

‘Engagement with Aboriginal organisations and communities has to be front and centre of the reform agenda. We know the extent of change required is going to take time. Aboriginal people across the Northern Territory are ready to work with government to implement the Commission’s recommendations. We want to see commitment from both levels of government so we know we are in this together for the long haul.’

The Northern Territory has the opportunity to lead the way in reforming care and protection and youth justice in Australia. We must build on the momentum for change and work together towards a future where all children have the opportunity to thrive as part of strong and loving families and communities.

Part 3 : Time to commit to action after NT Royal Commission

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Today, Congress welcomes the release of the final report from Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.

“We commend the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission, particularly where it is apparent that the experiences of those young people and their families were taken into account along with the submissions from key Aboriginal community controlled organisations and expert evidence from all over the world about what really works” Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Chief Executive Officer, Donna Ah Chee said.

“We know that many young people who appear before the courts come from traumatised backgrounds, which in many cases has caused their offending. As a community we need to learn to ask “what’s happened to you?” rather than “what’s wrong with you?”

“We also know that the ‘get tough’ rhetoric in relation to youth offending does not work and that a preventative and therapeutic approach is what is required. This point was articulated by Commissioner White today drawing on evidence from all over the world. Commissioner White also made clear that a paradigm shift to a treatment and rehabilitation approach rather than a “lock them up” punitive approach could save the NT more than $300 million per year in ten years.

Congress welcomes Commissioner Gooda’s impassioned plea for change, acknowledging that throughout the Territory he heard that Aboriginal parents everywhere are ready for change and there is an acceptance that there is a need to do better.

Congress was pleased to see the major recommendations in our submission accepted including the need to increase the minimum age for criminality from 10 to 12, and the need to establish small scale secure care rehabilitation facilities for young people in need whilst also ensuring our young people are diverted away from the criminal justice system.

“The journey to this point has been a long one for those affected, beginning not just with the events that precipitated the Royal Commission. This report is the product of every similar enquiry, and every action – and inaction ­– that has taken place before this in our history.

“Recently, the NT Government has shown their commitment to tackling many of the issues that affect young people today including early childhood and alcohol.

“Congress looks forward to working with the Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments and other leading Aboriginal organisations, including AMSANT and APONT to ensure that the recommendations detailed in this report do not just sit on the shelf, but are implemented in a timely manner with Aboriginal communities and organisations at the forefront of decision making and delivery.

Part 4 :The Northern Territory Government must work with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations in true partnership on Royal Commission recommendations

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The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) calls on the Northern Territory and Australian Governments to work with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations on the implementation of recommendations of the Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory released today.

It is clear from the report that the current system of detention in the Northern Territory is failing our children and young people, leaving many more damaged than when they entered. The system of detention is punitive, harsh, and not in keeping with modern rehabilitative standards. We also know that the child protection system in the Northern Territory is letting down children and their families and is inextricably linked to youth justice issues.

Aboriginal children and young people living in the Northern Territory are overwhelmingly impacted with ninety four per cent of children and young people in detention being Aboriginal.

“The extent of this over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people compared with all other children and young people compels a special Aboriginal led response.” said NACCHO Chief Executive Officer Ms Pat Turner.

“The Northern Territory Government must now sit down with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to work in true partnership on the implementation of the recommendations.”

“Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHO) have the greatest coverage across the Territory and work with Aboriginal children, young people and families everyday on child protection and youth justice system prevention and early intervention support.”

Ms Turner called on the Northern Territory Government to show national leadership in responding to the recommendations, “The Northern Territory Government has a unique opportunity to lead the rest of the nation in developing a children and family centered public health approach to youth justice and child protection, responsive to Aboriginal people needs.”

NACCHO acknowledges the young people and their families who shared their stories of trauma and survival and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations that supported them.

“I particularly want to acknowledge the work of Danilla Dilba, led by Ms Olga Haven, in providing evidence based submissions to the Northern Territory Government and the Royal Commission to inform their considerations,” said Ms Turner.

“Danilla Dilba has also provided immense support to families and young people to share their own stories and experiences throughout this time, as well as ongoing health and wellbeing services to Aboriginal people across the top end.”

It is now time for the Northern Territory Government to take full responsibility and lead a change by working with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations on the implementation of the Royal Commission recommendations.

Part 5 Other REACTIONS TO THE NORTHERN TERRITORY YOUTH JUSTICE REPORT:

“I think to be honest these recommendations should be not only for the Northern Territory, but for all states across Australia.” – Former Don Dale detainee Dylan Voller.

“We really welcome this report because it’s really taken into account the things we have been lobbying for many, many years now and it’s always fallen on deaf ears.” – North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency CEO Priscilla Atkins.

“This royal commission very much began there and it needs to end there.” – NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner.

“Early intervention, diversion and rehabilitation must be front and centre of Australia’s justice system to protect the lives of our children.” – National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

“The children who suffered in Don Dale and all Australian children need a guarantee that our governments will do everything they possibly can to stop this happening again.” – Human Rights Law Centre lawyer Shaleena Musk.

“This is clearly a backwards approach – there must be more funding for the beginning of the cycle, with an emphasis on early intervention, prevention, rehabilitation and community-led diversion programs.” – Law Council of Australia president Fiona McLeod.

“The Northern Territory and federal government must listen and work with local communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to take these important findings and recommendations by the Royal Commission forward.” – Amnesty International’s Roxanne Moore.

“We need to heed the recommendations of the Royal Commission, not only to prevent another Don Dale-type scandal but to stop more crimes from being committed, because we all deserve to be safe.” – Red Cross executive director Andy Kenyon.

“We will take the time to scrutinise this report in detail.” – Ben Slade from Maurice Blackburn lawyers.

“Jailing children does not work – it harms them and the community.” – Kathryn Kernohan from Jesuit Social Services.

Adis

 

NACCHO Press Release : Aboriginal Health and #NTRC Download : The NT Govt. must work with #ACCHO’s in true partnership on Royal Commission recommendations

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The extent of this over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people compared with all other children and young people compels a special Aboriginal led response.

The Northern Territory Government must now sit down with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to work in true partnership on the implementation of the recommendations.”

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHO) have the greatest coverage across the Territory and work with Aboriginal children, young people and families everyday on child protection and youth justice system prevention and early intervention support.”

NACCHO Chief Executive Officer Ms Pat Turner

Download the Report : The Report of the Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory was tabled in Parliament on 17 November 2017.

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) calls on the Northern Territory and Australian Governments to work with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations on the implementation of recommendations of the Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory released today.

It is clear from the report that the current system of detention in the Northern Territory is failing our children and young people, leaving many more damaged than when they entered. The system of detention is punitive, harsh, and not in keeping with modern rehabilitative standards. We also know that the child protection system in the Northern Territory is letting down children and their families and is inextricably linked to youth justice issues.

Aboriginal children and young people living in the Northern Territory are overwhelmingly impacted with ninety four per cent of children and young people in detention being Aboriginal.

Ms Turner called on the Northern Territory Government to show national leadership in responding to the recommendations, “The Northern Territory Government has a unique opportunity to lead the rest of the nation in developing a children and family centered public health approach to youth justice and child protection, responsive to Aboriginal people needs.”

NACCHO acknowledges the young people and their families who shared their stories of trauma and survival and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations that supported them.

“I particularly want to acknowledge the work of Danilla Dilba, led by Ms Olga Haven, in providing evidence based submissions to the Northern Territory Government and the Royal Commission to inform their considerations,” said Ms Turner.

“Danilla Dilba has also provided immense support to families and young people to share their own stories and experiences throughout this time, as well as ongoing health and wellbeing services to Aboriginal people across the top end.”

It is now time for the Northern Territory Government to take full responsibility and lead a change by working with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations on the implementation of the Royal Commission recommendations

Background briefs

Link to briefing documents:

 

Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into protection and detention systems of the Northern Territory has revealed systemic and shocking failures

Fundamental reform is needed to end approaches that continue to fail children, families and the community

The closure of the current Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, a new Children’s Court, implementation of an early intervention family support program and a Commission for Children and Young People are key elements of a comprehensive reform program aimed at restoring the failed detention and child protection systems in the Northern Territory.

Increasing the age of criminal responsibility to 12, closing the High Security Unit at Don Dale, improving the youth justice system including the approach to bail, only allowing children under 14 to be detained for serious offences and new models of secure detention are also proposed.

The Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry has found shocking and systemic failures occurred over many years and were known and ignored at the highest levels.

Children and young people were subjected to regular, repeated and distressing mistreatment in detention and there was a failure to follow the procedures and requirements of the law in many instances.

The detention system failed to comply with basic binding human rights standards in the treatment of children and young people and the Commission has found that children were denied basic needs, such as water, and that isolation continues to be used punitively and inconsistently with the Youth Justice Act (NT).

The child protection system has failed to provide the support needed to some children in care to assist them to avoid pathways likely to lead into the youth justice system, and the Northern Territory Government has failed to comply with the statutory requirements that all children in out of home care have timely care plans.

“The Northern Territory and Commonwealth Governments were right to commission this Inquiry and what we have found vindicates their decision,” said Commissioner Margaret White AO and Commissioner Mick Gooda.

“These things happened on our watch, in our country, to our children.

“The time for tinkering around the edges and ignoring the conclusions of the myriad of inquiries that have already been conducted must come to an end.

“Only fundamental change and decisive action will break the seemingly inevitable cycle we have found of many children in care continuing to progress into the youth justice system and detention.

“Perpetuating a failed system that hardens young people, does not reduce reoffending and fails to rehabilitate young lives and set them on a new course, is a step backwards.

“The failures we have identified have cost children and families greatly, they have not made communities safer and they are shocking.”

In detention, the Commission has found that:

  •  youth detention centres were not fit for accommodating, let alone rehabilitating, children and young people
  •  children were subject to verbal abuse, physical control and humiliation, including being denied access to basic human needs such as water, food and the use of toilets
  •  children were dared or bribed to carry out degrading and humiliating acts, or to commit acts of violence on each other
  •  youth justice officers restrained children using force to their head and neck areas, ground stabilised children by throwing them forcefully onto the ground, and applied pressure or body weight to their ‘window of safety’, being their torso area, and
  •  isolation has continued to be used inappropriately, punitively and inconsistently with the Youth Justice Act (NT) which has caused suffering to many children and young people and, very likely in some cases, lasting psychological damage.

In child protection, the Commission has found that:

  •  the Northern Territory Government has failed to comply with the statutory requirements that all children in out of home care have timely care plans
  •  there is a major shortage of available foster and kinship care placements
  •  Territory Families and its predecessors failed to provide the support needed to some children in care to assist them to avoid pathways likely to lead into the youth justice system, and
  •  the Office of the Children’s Commissioner is under-resourced to perform its full range of statutory functions in relation to the care and protection of vulnerable children in the Northern Territory.

To address the failed child protection, youth justice and detention systems, the Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry have recommended wide ranging reforms including:

1. Closing the current Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and High Security Unit.

2. Raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12 and only allowing children under 14 years to be detained for serious crimes.

3. Developing a 10 year Generational Strategy for Families and Children to address child protection and prevention of harm to children.

4. Establishing a network of Family Support Centres to provide place-based services to families across the Northern Territory.

5. A paradigm shift in youth justice to increase diversion and therapeutic approaches.

6. Developing a new model of bail and secure detention accommodation.

7. Increasing engagement with and involvement of Aboriginal Organisations in child protection, youth justice and detention

“Our recommendations are based on best practice and the proven experience of other jurisdictions that have experienced the same problems. They have taken bold steps and delivered paradigm change that has improved outcomes for children, families and communities.

“We recognise some of what we are proposing marks a profound shift from past practice in the NT. But it is necessary as what has been relied upon to date has and continues to simply fail the entire community.

“Increasing the age of criminal responsibility to 12, making greater use of diversion, ending detention for children under 14 unless there are exceptional circumstances and changing the model of secure detention are the bold but essential actions that must be taken if communities are to be safer and children protected.

“If no action is taken the financial cost to the Northern Territory will remain unsustainable in the short term, with detention costs rising from $37.3 million in 2016-17 to $113.4 million in 2026-27, according to Deloitte Access Economics.

“Conversely, changing the current approach to youth justice and detention as we recommend is estimated conservatively to deliver savings of $335.5 million by 2027.

“Human costs dwarf financial considerations and if no action is taken these will continue to escalate beyond the already unacceptable levels that are seen in the Northern Territory.

“The tragic conclusion we have drawn is that not only have the systems failed to address challenges faced by children and young people, that have in some cases made the problems worse.

“We now hope that both governments commit to a new course for child protection and detention based on our recommendations and the evidence that supports them,” said Commissioner White and Commissioner Gooda.

1. Key Detention recommendations in summary

The Northern Territory Government close the current Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and within three months report on the program for that closure.

  • Immediately close the High Security Unit at the current Don Dale Youth Detention Centre.
  • Prohibit the use of tear gas, and continue to prohibit the use of spithoods and the restraint chair.
  • Prohibit force or restraint being used for the purposes of maintaining the ‘good order’ of a youth detention centre or to ‘discipline’ a detainee.
  • Prohibit isolation for the purposes of behaviour management or punishment, and that isolation be permitted only in certain circumstances, such as to protect the safety of another person or restore order but only after all reasonable behavioural or therapeutic options have been attempted.
  • Prohibit extendable periods in isolation beyond 24 hours.
  • Investigate alternatives to strip searches, such as body scanners, pat down searches or metal detectors.
  • Retain CCTV footage for at least 12 months.
  • Introduce video and sound recording, in the form of body-worn video cameras, in youth detention centres.
  • No child under the age of 14 years be ordered to serve detention unless they have been convicted of a serious and violent crime against a person, present a serious risk to the community, and the sentence is approved by the President of the proposed Children’s Court.
  • The powers of the Commission for Children and Young People to be expanded to allow free and unfettered access to detention facilities, children and young people in detention, people who work with them and documents and records in the possession of the department.
  • Ensure that an initial health risk assessment of any young person in detention take place within 24 hours of admission.
  • Implement monthly medical checks for those in secure detention and provide specialist drug and alcohol treatment to detainees after release if needed.
  • The Commonwealth enable the payment of Medicare benefits for medical services provided to children and young people in detention in the Northern Territory, and ensure that supply of pharmaceuticals to children and young people in detention in the Northern Territory is provided under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
  • Design, develop and construct a new model of secure accommodation.
  • Ensure that the selection criteria for a youth justice officer include demonstrated experience working with vulnerable young people, that youth justice officers be required to obtain a Certificate IV in Youth Justice in the first 12 months of their employment, and they be required to participate in induction training before commencing work in youth detention centres.
  • Develop an integrated, evidence-based throughcare service to deliver adequate planning for release of young people from detention.
  • Appoint a female youth justice officer in each youth detention centre as a ‘Girl’s Officer’, who is responsible for monitoring female detainees’ access to education, training, recreation, health and facilities.
  • Ensure that staff members working in education in youth detention are appropriately qualified to conduct special education.
  • Tutors proficient in major Aboriginal languages deliver at least once a week a literacy program in Aboriginal language.
  • Transfers over long distances to or between detention centres should be conducted by air transport. If transfers occur by road, sufficient breaks (including toilet breaks) should be given and drinking water must always be available to the detainee.
  • Only transfer detainees to an adult facility with the approval of a Judge.

2: Key Child Protection recommendations in summary

The Northern Territory Government:

o commit to a public health approach to child protection and the prevention of harm to children

o establish consultation procedures with the sector, organisations and communities

o carry out prevalence, needs, service mapping and service referral studies (the studies) to gather information about the needs of children, families and subpopulations, and what services are currently available to meet those needs

o create and maintain a Services Register containing information about the services available in communities

o establish an early support research unit, which would implement a research agenda relating to risk factors, service needs and evaluated outcomes, and

o develop and implement an outcomes and evaluation framework.

Develop a 10-year Generational Strategy for Children and Families.

Establish a network of no fewer than 20 Family Support Centres, their location to be based on information gathered in the studies and specified in the Generational Strategy for Children and Families, to:

o provide services to and support families and children

o help families understand the child protection system

o act as Recognised Entities, and

o act as an entry point in a dual pathway model.

Amend legislation to enable organisations that are qualified and meet relevant criteria to participate and advise in child protection matters and be heard relation to a proceeding about a child.

Only use residential care as a therapeutic placement option for children with complex behavioural needs or disabilities, in accordance with therapeutic care criteria.

Phase out the current model of purchased home-based care over a 24 month period.

Develop a strategy to address the current backlog of overdue investigations.

Develop and implement a campaign in conjunction with Foster Carers Association NT, current carers and other relevant organisations to recognise the contribution of existing foster and kinship carers, draw attention to the current shortage of carers and encourage people in the Northern Territory, particularly in remote areas, to apply to become carers

Review the financial support provided to carers in the Northern Territory.

Work with Aboriginal organisations to implement a joint program dedicated to increasing the number of Aboriginal foster and kinship carers, using community awareness and individualised community engagement.

Ensure that quality respite care is available to foster and kinship carers.

Improve access for children and young people in out of home care to effective rehabilitation and counselling services including the prevention and treatment of substance abuse.

Ensure that all young people between aged 15 and 18 have leaving care plans in compliance with the relevant legislation.

Develop a new accommodation service model which meets the specific needs of young people leaving out of home care to live independently. The service should be responsible for finding and securing acceptable accommodation for all young people who have left care and be available to those young people until they are 25 years old.

Undertake further research in the Northern Territory to understand the characteristics and needs of children and young people who have been in both out of home care and detention.

Ensure that child protection caseworkers

o have regular face-to-face contact with any child in detention who is also under care and protection orders

o monitor the wellbeing of children in detention and ensure that their needs are being met, and

o be involved in transition planning for a child in detention from the time of their entry into detention, in consultation with detention staff, key stakeholders and the child.

Establish a Crossover Unit employing specialised case managers employing with training in supporting children in child protection and youth detention contexts, who are to provide flexible and dynamic support personalised to children in the crossover group who experience both out of home care and detention.

Establish a Commission for Children and Young People, with jurisdiction for all children and young people in the Northern Territory.

3. Key youth justice recommendations in summary

Raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years.

Within the police, establish a specialist, highly trained Youth Division similar to New Zealand Police Youth Aid.

Expand the role of Aboriginal Community Police Officer to include the position of Youth Diversion Officer.

Ensure all police officers involved in youth diversion or youth engagement be encouraged to hold or gain specialist qualifications in youth justice and receive ongoing professional development in youth justice.

Amend the law so that a child or young person must not be interviewed by police until they have sought and obtained legal advice and assistance, or after exercising their right to silence.

Amend legislation to remove the restriction on police consideration of diversion.

Ensure that all police cells are made suitable for detaining children.

Ensure that appropriate facilities are available in Alice Springs for girls or young women who need to be held on remand.

Introduce a custody notification scheme requiring police to notify a lawyer from an appropriate legal service as soon as a child or young person is brought into custody.

Amend the bail legislation so that a child or young person is not denied bail unless:

(a) charged with a serious offence and a sentence of detention is probable if convicted

(b) they present a serious risk to public safety

(c) there is a serious risk of the youth committing a serious offence while on bail, or

(d) they have previously failed to appear without a reasonable excuse.

Provide bail support services for children and young people in Darwin, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine and Nhulunbuy, together with other such locations as are appropriate, which include the following features:

o accommodation services in small homelike residences, and

o bail support plans developed with a specialist youth worker, covering education, employment, recreation and sporting goals.

Establish a separate court venue in Alice Springs for proceedings under the Youth Justice Act (NT) and Care and Protection of Children Act (NT) as a matter of urgency.

Establish a Children’s Court, which is independent of the Local Court, to hear and determine matters currently within the jurisdiction of the Youth Justice Court and the Family Matters Division of the Local Court.

The new Children’s court will have a President appointed by the Executive Council and who has extra judicial powers and functions modelled on those conferred on the President of the Children’s Court in NSW.

Ensure that all legal practitioners appearing in a youth court be accredited as specialist youth justice lawyers after training in youth justice which includes child and adolescent development, trauma, adolescent mental health, cognitive and communication deficits and Aboriginal cultural competence.