NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Coronavirus and #ReconciliationWeek News Alert : Read full speech from our CEO Pat Turner launching #NRW2020 #InthisTogether and new @coalition_peaks website #COP #ClosetheGap

” I truly believe that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be impacted by the legacy of colonisation in every aspect of our lives.

But what also continues is our resilience amidst the adversity we face.

When we face adversity together, we see stronger outcomes.

Accordingly, today I would like to talk about the topic of ‘In This Together’.

I would like to focus on four aspects of what togetherness looks like currently for our people — aspects that we can and must build upon.

First, I want you all to know about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations came together from across the nation to form the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Peak Organisations.

Second, I want to discuss the unprecedented opportunity we have for genuine shared decision-making in the Partnership Agreement between the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the Coalition of Peaks.

Third, I want to alert you to the negotiations now underway to finalise a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, which came out of the Partnership Agreement that also advances this idea of ‘In this Together’.

Fourth, without engaging in any premature celebrations whatsoever, as we still have a long way to go, I will talk about the strong, coordinated work of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations that have come together from across Australia to successfully protect our people from to COVID-19.

I will then bring together the four — how the work of the Coalition of Peaks can help in optimising the health and wellbeing of our people and communities amidst the impacts of the pandemic.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner opening Reconciliation SA’s Reconciliation Week Breakfast May 27 see full speech Part 1 below

Download full event PowerPoint

Combined Power Point NRW MAY 2020 event (1)

In addition to the website, the Coalition of Peaks is also launching social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Coalition of Peaks new website : 




Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations are encouraged to engage with and share the work of the Coalition of Peaks

Download full press release HERE

20.05.27 – Final – Media Release – Coalition of Peaks Website and Social Media Launch

Good morning everyone, thank you for inviting me here today.

My name is Pat Turner, and I am the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman.

I am also the CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Peak organisations.

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

I am speaking to you from Canberra, which is Ngunnawal country.

I also want to acknowledge and thank Reconciliation South Australia for the opportunity to be the keynote speaker for your annual breakfast, in this case I assume the first ever virtual one.

Peter Buckskin, a co-chair of Reconciliation South Australia, and I worked together in ATSIC and he has made a great contribution to improving life outcomes for our people. Meanwhile, Shona Reid is Eastern Arrente, and like me we can both trace our ancestry back to Central Australia with pride.

Number one – Coalition of Peaks

Read all NACCHO Coalition of Peaks Articles 

Our people have lived in a climatically harsh country for more than sixty thousand years, which has required great knowledge and custodianship of the environment and close cooperation between our people to succeed.

This cooperation continues to be evident in our recent collaboration in forming the Coalition of Peaks to make sure that we share decision making in relation to Closing the Gap.

The Coalition of Peaks comprises nearly 50 national, State and Territory community-controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations.

This is every community-controlled peak organisation in Australia.  They include NACCHO, SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, First Peoples Disability Network and First Nations Media Australia.

The Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement has led South Australia’s involvement in the Coalition of Peaks.  To its credit, it has facilitated the establishment of the South Australian Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation Network that has brought together other Aboriginal peaks in South Australia to work together at the state level.

Never have community controlled peak bodies and organisations come together in this way – to develop policy and negotiate with governments.

Number two – The Partnership Agreement between the Coalition of Peaks and COAG

The historic Partnership Agreement, which commenced in March 2019 and is a public document, was also an initiative of the Coalition of Peaks.  Of most importance is that the signatories are COAG and the Coalition of Peaks – that is, legitimately appointed community representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from across Australia.

We proposed the Partnership Agreement after gaining the support of the Prime Minister and the Council of Australian Governments to a partnership being formed with representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to underpin the next phase of Closing the Gap.

Prior to this, COAG had decided on its own to refresh the Closing the Gap strategy that was originally agreed to in 2008 and given effect to by the National Indigenous Reform Agreement.

To do this refresh, in 2018 COAG undertook a series of consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia — which were inadequate and lacked transparency.

While the rhetoric was about partnership, there was no real commitment to it and the refresh was proceeding on the basis that COAG would make all the decisions.

To be frank, at this point in time, we did not consider we were ‘In This Together’ with them.
NACCHO and other community-controlled peaks decided that this could not continue and took a risk in publicly insisting that we be able to share decisions about the Closing the Gap strategy instead of COAG making decisions on its own.

We wrote to all First Ministers to put forward three (3) main propositions—

When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are included and have a real say in the design and delivery of services that impact on them, the outcomes are far better;

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need to be at the centre of Closing the Gap policy; the gap won’t close without our full involvement; and

COAG cannot expect us to take responsibility and work constructively with them to improve outcomes if we are excluded from decision making.

Under the Partnership Agreement, the Coalition of Peaks are already sharing decision making on developing, implementing, monitoring and reviewing the Closing the Gap strategy for the next ten years.

A new COAG Council, the Joint Council on Closing the Gap, is also established under the Partnership Agreement.

For the first time, this COAG Council has members from outside Governments.  In fact, it has 12 members elected from the Coalition of Peaks including a representative from each jurisdiction.  Ruth Miller is the representative for South Australia.

In addition, each jurisdiction nominates a Minister with responsibilities for Closing the Gap.  It is co-chaired by the Federal Minister, Minister Wyatt, and me.

Number 3 – the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap

Following a review of the National Indigenous Reform Agreement, the Joint Council on Closing the Gap agreed that it should be replaced with a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Joint Council also agreed that the new Agreement should not only be signed by First Ministers but also the Coalition of Peaks on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.   That is incredibly significant for our people and for Australia.

Once in place, the National Agreement will be a platform to address the structural inequalities Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face arising from years of unmet need.

Instead of targets being the focus, which was the case with the National Indigenous Reform Agreement, the Coalition of Peaks have also gained support from the Joint Council and all Governments that four priority reforms will underpin the new National Agreement.  These are:

  • establishing formal partnerships between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives across the country on closing the gap
  • building and strengthening our community-controlled organisations to deliver the services we need
  • transforming mainstream agencies and institutions of governments, such as the police and universities, to make a much bigger contribution to Closing the Gap; and
  • ensuring government data and information is shared with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to support us being able to make good decisions about our lives.

Finally, Joint Council also agreed to the Coalition of Peaks leading engagements with representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia to see what they thought about the priority reforms and what else should be included in the new National Agreement.

Those engagements took place between September and December last year including in South Australia and included an online survey and over 4000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had a say.

We have published the outcomes of those engagements and are making sure that what people said is reflected in the Agreement currently being negotiated with COAG.

Number 4 – Our ACCHO’s and communities’ coordinated COVID-19 response

I would also like to speak on our ACCHO’s and communities’ coordinated COVID-19 response.

Only three months ago the Prime Minister announced to the nation that last year the gap in infant mortality rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians increased.

In the three months since then COVID-19 has been a whole new stark reminder to us all just how vulnerable the health of our people is.

We have been reminded of the significantly greater risk we face of being profoundly impacted due to the pre-existing co-morbidities many of us battle.

The pandemic has highlighted the fault lines of disadvantage endured by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for generations, from health and education to housing.

Overcrowded housing, poverty and other social determinants are the root cause of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples being at high risk from pandemics and other communicable diseases.

The pandemic has exposed what we have been advocating for decades – better and less crowded housing for our people.

Overcrowding makes self-isolation and stopping the spread of a virus incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

NACCHO continues to advocate for greater federal, state and territory investment in housing for our people, and for housing initiatives to be developed in genuine partnership with us.

And as we know, there will be long term social, economic, health and cultural costs of the pandemic.

The risk facing our communities is a direct result of years of neglect, disinvestment and failed policies and programs that have been developed without our input.

But our organisations and communities are best placed to respond to this crisis and to drive progress towards the longer-term priority of closing of the gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector began actively preparing to respond to a possible COVID-19 outbreak in January 2020, in advance of the public response by the government. As a result, many of our ACCHOs had a level of preparedness prior to the pandemic which many general practices could not match.

This pandemic has demonstrated the community-controlled health sector collaborates extremely well, and the high level of information sharing and joint decision making must continue into the future.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has been committed to taking the advice of our community controlled health sector, and listening to the recommendations of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 to implement response plans to keep our mob safe.

Those of our organisations with strong existing partnerships with governments have been able to respond quickly to the threat of COVID-19.

Well-established and properly funded community-controlled organisations across numerous sectors have been able to accelerate measures that support our communities.

One example is the formal relationship between governments and Aboriginal Peaks Organisations in the Northern Territory (APONT) and the Aboriginal Advisory Council of Western Australia, which has enabled an informed response to the needs of our remote communities impacted by the swift travel restrictions out in place.

Other examples include —

First Nation’s media sector has been able to get health information out quickly in a way that people can understand

The New South Wales Coalition of Peaks has supported our young people to stay engaged in their education and make sure our older people have access to food, and

The Victorian Aboriginal Executive Council is working to make sure our kids continue to have access to safe early childhood services.

What NACCHO and our Affiliates and ACCHOs have been doing

Click on the above map to see full list of all NACCHO Members 

During these past few months ACCHOs have once again proven themselves to be the best in the business at —

  • knowing our people
  • our people feeling safe to access our services
  • being a well-established sector
  • having strong formal relationships with government

Together, collectively and nationally, as a sector we have been able to respond quickly and decisively to protect our people.

This is despite our ACCHOs and other Aboriginal community-controlled organisations having borne the brunt of repeated funding cuts and a roller coaster of policy and administration changes.

As soon as it became evident in January just how deadly the COVID-19 virus was, well in advance of the Commonwealth response, NACCHO, our Affiliates and Members initiated awareness campaigns for our communities and planning for prevention and response.

Before the first case of coronavirus in Australia our communities were preparing to close borders, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts were discussing measures needed to protect our mob across the nation.

In January I began sending COVID-19 health messages to all our Affiliates and ACCHOs, with gave me the opportunity to ask them how prepared they felt they were for the impending pandemic.

It was clear there were PPE shortages in many clinics, and concerns around how to prepare a pandemic response — including quarantine measures.

ACCHOs are barely funded for their regular day to day activities, let alone for a pandemic response.

I discussed options with the Department of Health for ways additional funding for ACCHOs and Affiliates to support the preparation of pandemic plans.

The government was receptive of the advice I provided and allocated $6.9 million to NACCHO and Affiliates to prepare a pandemic response and $5 million to assist remote communities prepare for COVID-19.

I also wrote to the Prime Minister on 16 March to propose a range of specific measures which needed to be taken to protect our communities.

The government again responded positively from the outset, and this spirit of collaboration has been crucial to our successful response to the pandemic.

With our Affiliates and ACCHOs in WA, the NT and QLD I strongly argued for the immediate application of travel restrictions and quarantine measures to protect our people and communities, and for urgent additional support to be deployed to Affiliates and ACCHOs to combat the virus.

I continue to pursue funding for quarantine/isolation facilities for remote, urban and regional communities which will be critical if we are going to properly manage an outbreak in our communities.

NACCHO has been sharing important public health messages and culturally appropriate COVID-19 news alerts and posts on our blog and across all social media platforms, and launched a dedicated COVID-19 website page.

And our Affiliates and ACCHOs — they have initiated their own creative and innovative awareness campaigns for our communities in January.

These campaigns have been successful because they were created by Aboriginal people, health groups and organisations for Aboriginal people and communities.

ACCHOs are busily facilitating phone consults, home visits to Elders and those self-isolating and seeing some patients at the clinic for flu vaccinations.

All the while, despite staff and equipment shortages and the challenges of working in a restricted environment due to lockdown, our ACCHOs have not wavered from treating those in our communities with chronic conditions as they continue to provide their comprehensive primary health services to their communities.

Up to now, as a sector, together, we have done exceptionally well, keeping infections out of our communities.

As of 3 May 2020, only fifty-five cases (0.8% of all cases tested) have been people identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

There have been absolutely no cases in our remote or very remote communities.

But, as stated earlier, there is a long way to go.

NACCHO and our Affiliates will continue to work collaboratively with the different tiers of government throughout this crisis, including pointing out the danger of moving too quickly to relax restrictions without a clear roadmap.


Despite the tireless work of our ACCHOs and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, there is a clear absence in this time of crisis of a national policy platform for governments to systemically re-build our communities and address the inequities too many of our people continue to face.

There is also a clear absence of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander national body for pooling collective expertise to work in partnership with governments to respond to the impacts of the pandemic.

It is because of this policy and process vacuum that the Coalition of Peaks was formed and why we have been continuing our work, in partnership with Australian governments, to chart a meaningful way forward, across a range of sectors and initiatives for bringing about real, sustained change.

The new National Agreement and the Coalition of Peaks will be crucial to rebuilding our communities post-pandemic.

The federal, state, territory and local governments must continue to work in full partnership with the Coalition of Peaks as a collective and as individual members to ensure that we emerge from this crisis stronger.

And, I must add, this pandemic cannot and should not be used by anyone as a reason to delay the finalisation of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The pandemic has disrupted governments, but it has disrupted us also.  Community-controlled organisations, including in health, have had to face much bigger workloads.  Nevertheless, we have continued to work to finalise the National Agreement and we expect governments to do the same.

Our response to the pandemic can and must galvanise our collective efforts and sharpen our focus to the task of closing the gap.

The National Agreement must be sorted by mid-July and I am confident this is achievable.  If it isn’t, we risk the Agreement being put on the “never- never” because of upcoming elections in jurisdictions like Queensland and the Northern Territory and because governments will be pre-occupied with their delayed budgets.

I ask  all participants in this virtual Breakfast, and in fact make a call to Australia, that everyone support the leadership of the Coalition of Peaks, made up of our own community controlled organisations, in achieving a new Closing the Gap agreement.

There is no better demonstration or more important priority for being ‘In This Together’.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ReconciliationWeek : @RecAustralia #NRW2020 Virtual events this week speakers include : @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills CEO Pat Turner @KenWyattMP @LindaBurneyMP @mdavisqlder @SummerMayFinlay Pat Anderson Karen Mundine Dean Parkin Fiona McLeod Larissa Behrendt

1. National Sorry Day Tuesday 26 May

2. Photos from the Uluru Convention: Special Online Event! 26 May .

3. Reconciliation SA presents Patricia Turner AM, CEO NACCHO to provide a keynote session : May 27

4.National Reconciliation Week 2020 #NRW2020 ” Conversations from The Heart ” #UluruStatement May 27

5. NRW launch: National Acknowledgement of Country 12pm* 27 May 

6. 20 years on: Crossing Bridges for Reconciliation : 12pm – 1pm* Thursday 28 May 

7.For resources CLICK on this banner 

1.National Sorry Day Tuesday 26 May

Today is National Sorry Day and it marks 23 years since the tabling of the Bringing Them Home report.

Listen to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children and find resources and toolkits from HERE 

2.”Photos from the Uluru Convention” Special Online Event! 26 May .

“Photos from the Uluru Convention” Special Online Event! 26 May 2020 5:30-6:30 pm.

Wayne Bergmann in conversation with Pat Anderson AO, @mdavisqlder, @Gabrielle_J_A, @SallyScales & Jimmy Widders Hunt. #UluruStatement #auslaw #IndigenousX

Register at:

3. Reconciliation SA is excited to have Patricia Turner AM, CEO NACCHO to provide a keynote session : May 27 Tickets close today May 26 at midday 

Uncle Bunna Lawrie to provide some musical inspiration at this years Reconciliation SA Virtual Breakfast.

Tickets on sale now and will close on midday 26 May 2020.

4.National Reconciliation Week 2020 #NRW2020 ” Conversations from The Heart ” #UluruStatement featuring Professor Megan Davis, Dean Parkin, Donnella Mills & Fiona McLeod AO SC

We will delve into what constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples might look like, the mechanics of constitutional reform, what reconciliation means for all Australians and the progress made, as well as what the justice system looks like on the frontline for First Australians.

Please join us for what will be an engaging, thought-provoking and memorable conversation.

Wednesday 27 May 2020
12.30pm to 1.30pm AEST

Details to be sent the day prior to acceptances only

Please note to register replace the ” Donnella Mills ” info on the form with your own info 


5.NRW launch: National Acknowledgement of Country 12pm* Wednesday 27 May 2020 

To launch NRW 2020 we are asking everyone to take to social media to acknowledge Country. We can’t be physically together to show respect but we can show respect to Country where we are.

On the first day of NRW, take the time to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the Land that you are on, wherever you are.

Choose your social media platform – or the privacy of your own space – to pay your respects.

Consult the AIATSIS Map of Indigenous Australia for a guide to the Traditional Owners of the Land you are on, and tag the Traditional Owners and/or your own mob plus #InThisTogether2020 #NRW2020

 6.20 years on: Crossing Bridges for Reconciliation : 12pm – 1pm* Thursday 28 May 2020 

20 years on is a panel discussion hosted by ABC Speaking Out’s Larissa Behrendt. Panel members will reflect on the bridge walks of 2000 and the role of reconciliation since that historic moment.

Featuring Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, The Hon Linda Burney MP, Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine and University of Wollongong Lecturer, Summer May Finlay.

Facebook Livestream on Reconciliation Australia and ABC Australia Facebook pages. The panel will be broadcast on Speaking Out, which can be heard on Radio National (Fridays at 8pm), ABC local Radio (Sundays at 9pm) and the ABC listen app.

7. In Concert Together 9pm -10pm* Friday 29 May 2020 ||

Reconciliation Australia and ABC bring you Busby Marou, Alice Skye and more in concert, hosted by Christine Anu on her National Evenings show on ABC Radio.

Tune into ABC Radio or the ABC listen app or watch on the Facebook Livestream on Reconciliation Australia, ABC Sydney or ABC Australia Facebook pages.

*All times are Australian Eastern Standard time.

For more event info and updates, check-out the National Reconciliation Week 2020 website. 

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus News Alert No 60 : May 13 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob :#Closingthegap: Aboriginal groups say #coronavirus should not delay new targets

” The pandemic should not be used by governments as a reason to delay the new agreement on closing the gap targets, a coalition of more than 50 Aboriginal peak organisations has warned ahead of the next scheduled meeting in June.

The Coalition of Peaks said the “quick and decisive” efforts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations has kept Covid-19 from devastating communities so far, and shows that strong partnerships with governments make a big difference to Aboriginal health and safety.

But the virus has exposed the inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people on many fronts, the lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner, said.

“Covid-19 is a pathogen, but it is also a diagnostic test being run on Australia – and the results are not good,” Turner said. “

Indigenous organisations say their success with Covid-19 shows strong partnerships with governments make a big difference

Originally published in The Guardian

For info Coalition of Peaks website

While Australians over 65 are considered at high risk of suffering the worst effects of Covid-19, in Aboriginal communities, where there is a higher chronic disease burden, anyone over 50 is considered vulnerable.

“Covid-19 doesn’t discriminate so the gap in potential outcomes is a result of the structural inequity that exists in Australia,” Turner said.

“It is not natural occurrence but the direct result of years of neglect, disinvestment and failed policies, developed without our input.”

In March last year, Australian governments signed a historic partnership agreement with the Coalition of Peaks on closing the gap. They have since developed four reform priorities that are yet to be formally adopted.

“This pandemic has shown just how important those reforms are,” Turner said.

The reforms are to have greater Aboriginal involvement in decision making and service delivery at a national, regional and local level. There is also a commitment to making sure government agencies and institutions undertake systemic and structural transformation, and strengthening community-controlled organisations to deliver the services Aboriginal people need.

Scott Morrison has already committed $1.5m for the fourth priority – a data project to support evidence-based policy and decision making by Indigenous communities.

“Our organisations and communities are best placed to respond to this crisis and yet are the same organisations and communities that have borne the brunt of repeated funding cuts and a rollercoaster of policy and administration changes,” she said.

Turner also said the absence of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander national body or voice to parliament, bringing its collective expertise to respond to Covid-19, was “stark” in its absence.

“People have labelled Covid-19 as some sort of great equaliser but, in reality, its impact is not shared equally,” she said.

“The truth is that there can be no equality until we work together to dismantle structural inequity. Collective will is the only real equaliser.”


Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus News Alert No 55 : May 6 #COVIDSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob :“Let’s stand as one and continue being strong, our work is not done! Is the COVID-19 Message update from NACCHO CEO Pat Turner

 ” We as a community and a country have responded remarkably in managing the spread of COVID-19!

Our work has been good, but our work is not done, and we need to continue following the rules around COVID-19.

We cannot afford to stop now. Community transmissions can still grow slowly.

We must safeguard ourselves and our people against the spread and continue to keep it away from our friends and families “

“Let’s stand as one and continue being strong, our work is not done!” is the key message from NACCHO CEO Pat Turner to encourage all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to remain steadfast and cautious under relaxed new rules released by the governments.

Pat Turner has been interviewed for NITV-The Point and the story will go on-air tonight, Wednesday 5 May at 8.30 pm

Download this NACCHO Press Release HERE

NACCHO COVID-19 Messaging May 2020

“I’m happy to hear that governments are easing some of the COVID-19 restrictions. But we must be sensible in continuing to follow the right guidelines to avoid any chance of a second wave.

Now we need to keep it all up more than ever.

This is not the point to start relaxing.

“I want to share with everyone that I have downloaded the COVIDSafe app as soon as it was available. I urge everyone with a mobile phone to do the same. It is free and it could well save your life and the lives of your loved ones.

“It is a way to protect your family and the community from further spread of coronavirus.

If you have the app, you will be told as soon as possible if you have been in close contact with someone infected with coronavirus. You can then isolate before developing symptoms, so you don’t pass it on to others. You will be contacted and advised to get tested as soon as possible.

Download HERE

“I urge everyone to continue to keep good hygiene, with washing our hands for at least 20 seconds and drying them thoroughly, physical distancing, coughing in the elbow, and staying home as far as possible apart from any of the essential needs. All the hard work we have done together so far will all be wasted if we do not safeguard now against a second wave.

“I can assure you that by following these measures and being sensible with these new changes, we are protecting ourselves and keeping our people safe through this pandemic together.”


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

In this special Corona Virus edition

1.Pat Turner NACCHO Appearance on The Drum

2.Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s press conference

3.Department of Health download videos

4.Dr Norman Swan

5.DR Mark Wenitong

6.Marion Scrymgour CEO NLC

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

1.Pat Turner NACCHO Appearance on The Drum

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s press conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PM Scott Morrison press conference full transcript

Download PM Press Release

Prime Ministers Press Release

3.Department of Health campaign download videos 

Download Videos

Coronavirus video – Help Stop The Spread

Coronavirus video – Recent Traveller

Coronavirus video – Stay Informed

Coronavirus video – Good Hygiene Starts Here

Dr Norman Swan provides some simple advice regarding Coronavirus.

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

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

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

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

For more information visit or

5. Dr Mark Wenitong

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

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


6.Marion Scrymgour CEO NLC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read in full HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Download the full Coalition of Peaks Press Release HERE

Read previous NACCHO Communiques this week

1.Coalition of Peaks Editorial Pat Turner

2.PM Launches CTG Report ( Download )

3.PM CTG Full Speech

4.Opposition response to CTG Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download full Close the Gap campaign press release HERE

Close the Gap Campaign response to CTG Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair of NATSILS.

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

Nerita Waight, Co-Chair of NATSILS.

Download the full NATSILS press release HERE

NATSILS response CTG Report

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

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

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

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

Download SARRAH Press Release

Media Release SARRAH Closing the Gap

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

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

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

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

SNAICC CEO, Richard Weston

Download the full SNAICC press release HERE

SNAICC Response to CTG Report

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

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

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

Australian Greens spokesperson on First Nations peoples issues Senator Rachel Siewert

Download the full Greens press release HERE

The Greens Response to CTG Report

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

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

Read RACGP editorial

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was a very comprehensive meeting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read all previous NACCHO Coalition of Peaks articles

Read Download the Coalition of Peaks full Press Release Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 3 Read Download the meeting communique

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Panellists include:

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

*Panelists subject to change

Get to know

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

Register here to watch the Webinar 

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


Pat Turners 2019 Year in Review Features include

1.Closing the gap / Have Your Say consultations

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

3. Yuendumu police shooting: Indigenous groups demand action

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

Listen here to Interview

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

Watch on IView

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

“Let no-one say the past is dead.

“The past is all about us and within.”

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

Watch the full speech see link below

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introduction and photos from NITV Online

Download the Ministers press release and opening speech HERE

Minister Wyatt Press Release speech the Voice

Read all 30 plus articles Aboriginal Health and the Uluru Statement 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Detail of advisory council from NIT

Professor Tom Calma AO – Kungarakun and Iwaidja heritage

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

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

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

Professor Dr Marcia Langton AM – Yiman and Bidjara heritage

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

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

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

Professor Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO

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

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

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

Professor Peter Buckskin PSM – Narungga heritage

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

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

Ms Josephine Cashman – Warrimay heritage

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

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

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

Ms Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM – Walbunja heritage

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

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

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

Ms Joanne Farrell

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

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

Mr Mick Gooda – Gangulu heritage

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

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

Mr Chris Kenny

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

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

Cr Vonda Malone – Kaurareg heritage

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

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

Ms June Oscar AO – Bunuba heritage

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

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

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

Ms Alison Page – Walbanga and Wadi Wadi heritage

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

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

Mr Noel Pearson – Guugu Yimidhirr heritage

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

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

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

Mr Benson Saulo – Wergaia and Gunditjmara heritage

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

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

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

Ms Pat Turner AM – Arrernte and Gurdanji heritage

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

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

Professor Maggie Walter – Palawa heritage

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

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

Mr Tony Wurramarrba – Warnindilyakwa heritage

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

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

Mr Peter Yu – Yawuru heritage

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

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

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

Dr Galarrwuy Yunupingu AM – Gumatj and Galpu heritage

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Hannah Cross NIT


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read over 30 NACCHO Uluru Statement articles Here

Media Coverage 

Originally published here 

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

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

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

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

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

Members include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His list includes representatives from across the country.

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

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

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

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

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

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