NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding grant applications OPEN!

NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding grant applications OPEN!

Attention NACCHO members! NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grant applications are NOW OPEN!

IBSF offers funding to eligible Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) to help address:

  • basic establishment costs, and/or
  • business and technical challenges in registered and delivering services under the NDIS

Grants of $20,000 are available for up to 100 member ACCHOS.

ACCHOs have been contacted via email with information about the grants and how to apply.

Applications close on the 14 May 2021. Please contact the NDIS Ready team at if you have any questions.

Australia made a plan to protect Indigenous elders from COVID-19. It worked

Washington Post story is all praise for us on how effectively we have managed to keep COVID-19 out of our communities!

From Alaska to the Amazon, Indigenous people are more likely to get sick with or die of covid-19, as the pandemic magnifies deep-rooted health and socioeconomic inequities.
Not only have Indigenous Australians recorded far fewer infections per capita than their global counterparts, they are six times less likely than the wider Australian population to contract the coronavirus, government data shows.
There have been no cases in remote communities, and not a single Aboriginal elder has died. Of the 149 cases involving Indigenous people since the start of the pandemic nationwide, few were serious enough to require hospitalization. By contrast, covid-19 is killing Native Americans at a faster rate than any other group in the United States.
Dawn Casey, who co-chairs a government task force established to develop a virus plan for Indigenous communities, said Aboriginal doctors expressed alarm during weekly meetings at the number of flights arriving from countries where the virus had taken hold. “We could see what was happening overseas,” she said. “If it got into remote communities, it would wipe them out.”
Pat Turner, chief executive of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organization, wrote to state and federal leaders in March 2020, asking them to use their powers to order the closure of remote communities to stop visitors from entering. Accordingly, the communities were sealed off.
“I think increasingly the Australian government is looking at the Aboriginal-controlled model and seeing they can be really effective,” said Jason Agostino, an epidemiologist and medical adviser on Aboriginal health.
To read the full story in the Washington Post click here.

Join Dementia Australia in calling on Governments to commit to action

Dementia Australia is calling on the Australian Federal Government to act with urgency in response to the Final Report, Care, Dignity and Respect of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

An estimated 472,000 Australians live with dementia. Without a medical breakthrough, this is expected to increase to almost 1.1 million in 2058. I want dementia to be core business for government #dementia #auspol

Dementia is one of the largest health and social challenges facing Australia and the world. As well as being the chronic condition of the 21st century it is a debilitating, progressive and ultimately terminal disease and the second leading cause of death of Australians annually and the leading cause of death of women. Many Australians living with dementia require care, whether this is in their own home, or in an aged care setting – 68 per cent of people living in care have dementia. This of course includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Australians.

Since September 2018 people living with dementia, their families and carers have entrusted the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety with their views, personal experiences and often traumatic stories. The Royal Commission’s Final Report captures the essence of those issues and demonstrates that the Commissioners have listened.

Dementia Australia’s Roadmap for Quality Dementia Care has been shared with all sides of government in the lead up to the release of the Royal Commission’s Final Report and the 2021-22 Federal Budget.

The Roadmap is the product of extensive consultations with people living with dementia and reflects all of the recommendations in relation to dementia made in the Royal Commission’s final report.

We encourage you all to join this plea to the Federal Government to implement this much required Roadmap.

For any of your stakeholders that may need guidance on how to call on the Government to implement the Roadmap, please refer them to Dementia Australia’s webpage, Engaging your local Member of Parliament, Senator or political candidate.

The page features draft social media posts and tiles, letter and email templates, scripts and guides for calls and meetings and many more resources.

Thank you in advance for any support you can provide and should you have any questions please contact Alex Shaw – 03 9816 5731 or 

Joint Council on Closing the Gap will discuss progress and implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap will meet Friday 16 April to discuss the progress and implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap that came into effect in July 2020.

The Joint Council will discuss:

  • the impact of COVID-19 on all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the success of the partnership approach between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations and governments in responding to the pandemic.
  • the release of the Joint Council’s response to the first annual Partnership Health Check report of the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap assessing the successes and challenges faced by the Partnership since it came into effect in 2019. The Health Check reflects the commitment of all parties to put in place actions and formal checks over the life of the 10-year Partnership Agreement to make sure that the shared decision-making arrangements strengthen over time, including revisions to the Joint Council Terms of Reference and development of a risk register.
  • the release of its Joint Communications Strategy to ensure engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to build their awareness and ownership of the National Agreement and to assist them to talk to governments about how to apply the commitments to communities and organisations across the country.
  • the next stages of the Strategic Plan for Funding the Development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Sector (Strategic Plan) to guide investment from the joint funding pool committed by governments to support Priority Reform Two of the National Agreement, investment priorities for the Health and Disability Sectors.
  • revised Family Violence target and a new Access to Information target which reflect a commitment in the National Agreement to develop these two targets within three months of the Agreement coming into effect.
  • allowing more time for the development of Sector Strengthening Plans and Place-Based Partnerships to facilitate community and organisation engagement.

Australian consensus STI testing guideline for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Australasian Society for HIV Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (2020) Australian consensus STI testing guideline for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Sydney: This national consensus testing guideline for sexually transmitted infections, is for use by primary care clinicians working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Read more click here.

Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service Newsletter for March 2021

To read the BRAMS March newsletter click here.

Delivering more Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in the NT

The Australian Government is investing $8.75 million over four years to provide additional health services in the Northern Territory as part of its commitment to strengthen Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. Delivered through the Northern Territory Pathways to Community Control program (NT P2CC), the funding will provide First Nations people with access to effective, high quality, comprehensive and culturally appropriate primary health care services.

This investment builds on the $4 million already committed for transition activities occurring in West Arnhem, demonstrating the strong partnerships that exist between the Commonwealth and Northern Territory Government and other key members of the NT Aboriginal Health Forum, including the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT). Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said community driven approache  s to delivering health services were delivering major benefits for First Nations people.

Read the full media release here.

Have Your Say – Participate in Survey to Contribute to National Evaluation

Indigenous Eye Health at The University of Melbourne is asking people who work in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector to participate in an anonymous survey as part of a national evaluation.

The survey asks questions about your experience working in the sector, what kinds of activities you’ve seen or been involved with at a regional level, what changes have happened over time, what has supported this work and what more is needed to improve eye care and eye health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It takes around 20 minutes to complete the survey.

Those who complete the survey can go into the draw for a ‘Check Today, See Tomorrow’ Diabetes Eye Care T-Shirt or a pair of Deadly Eyewear Sunglasses (there are 20 of each to be won!).

The survey is being run by independent evaluators from ARTD Consultants. If you would prefer to complete the survey over the telephone you can do this by contacting Rachel Aston from ARTD at

To complete the survey click here.

Deaths in custody: Canberra Aboriginal health leader calls for justice system overhaul on royal commission anniversary

A new royal commission is needed into Canberra’s jail, the Alexander Maconochie Centre, to reset the entire system, says Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services chief executive Julie Tongs.

“I’m always concerned there’s going to be another death in custody.”

Read the full story released in the Canberra Times here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah chief executive Julie Tongs is fearful another Indigenous life will be lost in custody. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

AMA Media statement: Time for Calm and Clear Information on Vaccine Rollout

Australians should trust the advice of the experts when deciding on their COVID-19 vaccination, AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today.

“The AMA has supported the decisions made by independent scientific experts – the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) – to keep Australians safe throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr Khorshid said.

“The Federal Government has also accepted this advice. While the changed advice about the AstraZeneca vaccine may seem confusing, and further delays to the rollout are frustrating, Australia is in the very fortunate position of being able to watch and learn from the experiences overseas.

“Communicating in this rapidly changing environment has been a challenge for the Government but it is critical for Australia’s future that public confidence in the vaccine program is maintained.

“The patient-GP relationship is one of the most trusted and important relationships in every person’s life.

“Your GP will give you the best advice about any medicine or vaccine. They will offer you what they believe to be of medical benefit to you and explain any risks and benefits of having or not having the treatment.

“They will ask you if you need any clarification and answer your questions. You can then decide whether you want the treatment.

“This is the same as for any treatment whether it is an antibiotic, surgery or a vaccine.

“GPs are guided by Government advice about AstraZeneca, and the risks for the under-50 cohort – most of whom would not be eligible for the vaccine until later this year anyway.
“The advice around the incredibly rare but serious thrombotic events associated with AZ vaccination has made decision making more difficult for those under 50 who are currently eligible for the vaccine. The AZ vaccine remains very safe and effective, and access to the alternative, preferred Pfizer vaccine is likely to be delayed.

“Our advice for Australians with questions is to make an appointment with their GP for a full discussion about the possible risks and benefits of having the vaccine, or of not having it, taking into account of their own specific circumstances.

“There has been some talk about doctors being concerned about potential litigation from side-effects of any vaccines. Please be assured that all registered doctors are fully covered – your GP is more concerned with your health.”

Do you think the state of epilepsy care in Australia could be improved?

Do you believe there is enough support, resources and information available?

Epilepsy Smart Australia invites you to participate in an online survey to better understand your needs and the gaps that exist in epilepsy services and supports in Australia.  The survey is open from April 1st to May 31st and should only take you 20 minutes.

This research is being conducted as part of the Epilepsy Smart Australia Program Pilot and will be managed in conjunction with independent consultant KPMG. Your responses will remain anonymous.

Tap this link to access the survey and have your say today!

If you would like more information about how to get involved on a deeper level, please contact Mohana Ryan on 0436 404 895 or

Alternatively, you can email

Elephant in the Room! – Kununurra

A training program designed for professionals working in community services, health and education who provide services to children, youth, adults and families who have experienced trauma by Complex Trauma Training WA.

The ‘8 principles of trauma-informed practice’ will be discussed and practical strategies to implement these in various contexts will be explored.

Learning outcomes for this course:

  • Define complex trauma.
  • Discuss the immediate and long term impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s).
  • Identify the impact of trauma on: brain development, attachment and memory.
  • Define Trauma-Informed care.
  • Discuss 8 Principles of trauma-informed care.
  • Apply an understanding of trauma-informed care to create safe environments and build strong relationships with children, youth, adults and families you work with.
  • Apply an understanding of trauma-informed care to support workers, including self-care strategies to manage secondary traumatic stress (vicarious trauma).
  • Identify resources & further professional development to implement trauma-informed practices in your workplace.

To know more about the training and to register click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding grant round opening soon

Feature tile text 'NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding Grant Round Opening Soon' & image of tile with same text & logo artwork

Hi there

You may have accidently received the previous blog post that went out earlier today. Our WordPress site had a ‘whoops’ moment and it was published by mistake.

We apologies for the error! This is the final version of today’s NACCHO Aboriginal Health News.

Thank you.

NDIA Ready IBSF grant round opening soon

Attention NACCHO members!

We are excited to announce that the NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grant round will be opening soon!

IBSF offers funding to eligible ACCHOs to help address:

  • basic establishment costs, and/or
  • business and technical challenges in registered and delivering services under the NDIS.

Grants of $20,000 will be available for up to 100 member ACCHOs. ACCHOs will be contacted shortly via email with information about the grants and how to apply.

image of wheelchair wheel & seat overlaid with Aboriginal dot painting gold, red, blue white tones

Image source: AbSec website.

Outcry over fifth death in custody in a month

The fifth Indigenous death in custody in a month has provoked an outcry by Aboriginal leaders after a 45-year-old maximum security inmate died in a WA prison. The prisoner from WA’s Casuarina Prison, who has not been publicly identified was taken to the secure wing of Fiona Stanley Hospital in southern Perth where he underwent a medical procedure and was placed in intensive care where he died.

Among the outcry from Indigenous leaders, Victoria’s first Aboriginal politician, Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe posted on Twitter that the man was “the 5th Aboriginal person to die in this country’s criminal legal system since the start of March. The pain is never ending! No justice, no peace!!,” she wrote. Since 1991, almost 500 Indigenous Australians have died in prison or in the custody of police.

To read the full article click here.

Indigenous Senator Lidia Thorpe holding Aboriginal flag & wearing hat with the word Deadly at an Invasion Day rally in January 2021

Indigenous Senator Lidia Thorpe (above at an Invasion Day rally in January) has protested at the fifth death in custody in a month. Picture: Darrian Traynor. Image source:

Fears new NDIS assessments not culturally safe

Submissions to a parliamentary inquiry have raised concerns that controversial proposed changes to the NDIS will not serve people from Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. A parliamentary committee examining controversial independent assessment reforms under the NDIS has been warned about the potential impact of changes on Indigenous and culturally diverse communities.

The inquiry is looking into the proposed changes intended to overhaul the evaluation process for determining an individual’s eligibility for support and funding under the disability support scheme. Currently, people with disability are required to submit evidence from their own experts such as specialists for evaluation by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

The reforms would instead see participants undergo an “independent assessment” from an allied health professional employed by contracted providers – paid for by the Australian government. Critics claim the move is a cost-cutting exercise that will leave participants worse off and undermine their control over the support they receive – a claim strongly denied by the government.

To view the full SBS News article click here.

portrait photo of SA artist Jackie Saunders with her artwork in the background

Ngarrindjeri Wirangu woman and artist Jackie Saunders lives with FASD. Image source: SBS News website.

Funding boost for Indigenous healthcare provider

FIRST Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing has received nearly $2 million to expand its services. The Frankston-based Indigenous healthcare provider’s CEO, Karinda Taylor, said the funding would “ensure that first nations’ people are provided with culturally safe services that meet the health and wellbeing needs of local communities”. The funding was secured through the federal government’s Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme. and is expected to fund service expansion and minor capital costs until 2023.

Dunkley MP Peta Murphy said, “the City of Frankston is home to one of the fastest growing indigenous populations in Victoria. This funding will allow First Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing to continue their crucial work and expand their local services. I’m proud to have lobbied the federal government for this additional funding”.

To view the full article click here.

FIRST Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing’s Naaz Stojkova and Karinda Taylor with MPs Peta Murphy & Paul Edbrooke standing outside FPH&WS shopfront

FIRST Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing’s Naaz Stojkova & Karinda Taylor with MPs Peta Murphy & Paul Edbrooke. Image source: Bayside News.

Crusted scabies NT study

Scabies is listed as a neglected tropical disease by the World Health Organization. Crusted scabies affects vulnerable and immunosuppressed individuals and is highly contagious because of the enormous number of Sarcoptes scabiei mites present in the hyperkeratotic skin. Undiagnosed and untreated crusted scabies cases can result in outbreaks of scabies in residential facilities and can also undermine the success of scabies mass drug administration programs.

Crusted scabies became a formally notifiable disease in the NT in 2016. A 2-year prospective study of crusted scabies cases notified between March 2016 and February 2018, with subsequent follow up for 22 months has been conducted. Demographics, clinical and laboratory data, treatment and outcomes were analysed, with cases classified by severity of disease.

The study concluded that crusted scabies can be successfully treated with aggressive guideline-based therapy, but high mortality remains from underlying comorbidities. Reinfection on return to community is common while scabies remains endemic.

To view the research article in full click here.

crusted scabies manifestation on feet & sarcoptes scabiei mite under the microscope

Sarcoptes scabiei mite under a microscope. Image source: Managing Crusted Scabies in Remote Communities 2017 Edition.

The Lucky Country – but not for all

Australia’s lack of action on climate change, treatment of Indigenous people and the ongoing detention of refugees have been singled out for criticism in Amnesty International’s annual report into the state of human rights around the world: Amnesty International Report 2020/21 – The State of the World’s Human Rights. The report highlighted widespread public support for raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, and Australian law makers reluctance to move on an important reform which would have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous children. “Australians like to see ourselves as living in the lucky country, and that’s true for the privileged among us, but there are swathes of our community who are unable to access justice and the basic rights to which we’re all entitled,” Amnesty International Australia National Director, Samantha Klintworth, said.

To view Amnesty International Australia’s media release in full click here.

remote Aboriginal community with multiple beds in the open outside a dwelling

Image source: Street Smart Action Against Homelessness website.

Check yourself, before you wreck yourself

A major push to improve the health of the Indigenous community was launched by the Australian Government last month, with a focus on increasing Annual health checks. Backed by a new radio advertising campaign delivered in five Aboriginal languages: Kriol, Yolngu Matha, Warlpiri, Arrernte and Burarra, the Government is encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to see their GP and have a 715 health check.

The health check, listed as item 715 on the Medicare Benefits Schedule, is tailored specifically to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages. It is free and available every nine to twelve months. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said the health checks are an opportunity for early intervention, prevention and chronic disease management for all age groups.

In one of the campaign’s latest resources comedian Sean Choolburra urges mob to get a regular 715 health check. After completing his 715, Sean says there’s nothing to be afraid of. “It was what I expected – I had my hearing checked, my eyesight checked, and I thought my eyesight has been getting worse, but apparently Dr. Prabash says I have great eyes. No joke, I do have great eyes,” says Sean. “I’d love to bring my kids in because they seem to not hear me. And they don’t seem to see their clothes all over the floor and their empty cups. I think they’re the ones who need their eyes and hearing checked!” Sean jokes.

Further information, including resources for patients and health practitioners is available here.

To view the Minister for Health’s media release click here and to view the Sean Choolburra case study click here.

Aboriginal comedian Sean Choolburra getting ear check by health professional - Sean's mouth is wide open

Comedian Sean Choolburra. Image source: Department of Health.

Suicide rises linked to disasters

NSW suicide deaths data released today highlights the need for immediate action to address distress in our community and future-proof against disasters. According to the NSW Suicide Monitoring and Data Management System there have been 104 suspected or confirmed suicide deaths reported in NSW from 1 January to 31 January 2021. This is significantly more than the number of deaths reported within the same period in 2019 (75) or 2020 (81). Suicide Prevention Australia, CEO, Nieves Murray said, “Any increase in deaths by suicide is a tragedy. The ripple affect across families, workplaces and communities is unfathomable. “The past year has presented many trying circumstances across NSW communities including droughts, bushfires and COVID-19. This has increased risk factors for suicide such as financial distress and unemployment.

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia media release click here.

split image of a tree, half green & lush, half bare branches grey skys

Image source: Psychiatric Times.

COVID-19 vaccine priority groups

In this video, Professor James Ward explains why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be some of the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Professor Ward says he’s heard some concerns regarding which vaccine people will get and why the vaccine is being rolled out to our mob first. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, like other Indigenous peoples around the world, will be some of the first to receive the vaccines. This is solely to protect our Elders and those in our communities with underlying health conditions. Without the vaccine, our population will remain susceptible to COVID-19. When it’s your turn to be vaccinated, you’ll have access to whichever vaccine is available at that time. There’ll be enough vaccine doses for everyone in Australia.

VIC or ACT – Melbourne or Canberra – Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) 

Senior Advisor – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health  x 1 PT (4 days/week)- Melbourne or Canberra

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) is the peak body representing the interests of over 28,000 physiotherapists in Australia. It does so by advocating for access to quality physiotherapy services, providing leadership in the wider health landscape, creating lifelong learning opportunities for members, and promoting the value of physiotherapy to the community.

The Senior Advisor – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (ATSIH) is responsible for the development and implementation of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health policy and advocacy initiatives, including the implementation of our Reconciliation Action Plan (2021-23), Physiotherapy Cultural Safety Action Plan and our involvement in the Close the Gap (CtG) Campaign.

To view the job description and to apply click here. Applications close Wednesday 14 April 2021.logo: text 'Australian Physiotherapy Association' & triangular blue shape with cursive letters APA, all in blue & white

NSW – Sydney – The University of Sydney 

Senior Ad (identified) x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Sydney – CLOSING DATE EXTENDED

The Centre for Kidney Research are seeking a Research Assistant (Identified) to work on a project alongside a team of researchers and educators. This project aims to develop clinical practice guidelines on the management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the management of kidney stones.

You will join the project at an interesting stage and will be responsible for actively contributing to research activities for the project including, building relationships and engaging with Aboriginal people and communities to ensure that the clinical guidelines are incorporating community needs and promoting awareness of the guidelines to improve the management and prevention of kidney disease.

This role is primarily located at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney but will be required to spend short periods in rural and regional Australia.

To view position descriptions and to apply click here. Applications close midnight Sunday 18 April 2021.

drawing of cross-section of kidney & kidney stones

Image source: Kettering Health Network website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health sector racism a key barrier to medical care

feature tile: RACISM is a key barrier to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people's access medical care; image Aboriginal flag colours black top half, red bottom half, yellow map of Australia is words 'No Room for Racism'

Racism a key barrier to health care

Racism within the NSW public health service has been identified as a key barrier for Aboriginal people trying to access medical care. A state parliamentary inquiry into remote, rural and regional healthcare has been given examples of Aboriginal residents who say they have been mistreated and disrespected. The submissions state that this is the reason why Aboriginal people do not always trust or feel safe in the public health service.

The CEO of the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS), Jamie Newman and the spokeswoman, Ariane Dozer for the civil rights and legal service, National Justice Project say there are still racist attitudes among some staff, despite the rollout of cultural sensitivity programs, awareness campaigns and training. “What we would like to see is health services dedicated to working with the local Aboriginal communities to develop strong localised models for culturally safe care because not all Aboriginal communities are the same,” said Ms Dozer.

The way Aboriginal health services are funded is also a key issue. “The levels of funding have to change, the length of funding has to change,” said Mr Newman. He said that unlike the public health system, Aboriginal medical services in NSW have a three-year funding cycle. “We can’t recruit GPs, specialists, allied health services when we only guarantee a three-year contract based on the funding arrangements. We’re not going to get health outcomes in the next three years. We’re talking about generational change over 10–15 years and if we don’t have that approach we will fail in the next three years to Close the Gap.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

doctor having consult with Aboriginal man

Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation website.

A related article says the state parliamentary inquiry has been told racist attitudes within the NSW public health system are stopping Indigenous people from seeking medical help. The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council says figures show Indigenous patients are five times more likely to discharge themselves early from hospital. Ariane Dozer from the National Justice Project says First Nations people did not trust the public health service, which they said had provided them with “derogatory” and “degrading” treatment. [They are] essentially dismissed and turned away without proper assessment,” she said. “People’s individual concerns and views of their concerns and their suffering can be ignored.”

To view this article click here.

emergency hospital entrance

Image source: ABC News website.

BLM spurs Linda Burney to change Australia

Thousands of protesters took to the streets chanting “Black Lives Matter” in June last year, exasperated at high incarceration rates and deaths in custody. But this was 10,000 miles from New York, Washington and Los Angeles, on the other side of the globe – in Australia. While conservative PM Scott Morrison claimed the protests Down Under showed there was a risk of “importing the things that are happening overseas,” for Linda Burney, the first Indigenous woman elected to the nation’s lower house, the anger was justifiable.

Mirroring the U.S., where the Black imprisonment rate is more than five times than that of Whites, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up just 2% of the population but 29% of all prison inmates in Australia. “The Black Lives Matter movement very seriously resonated here because Australia has had such a denial of its history,” Burney, 63, said in an interview. “It clicked because of the extraordinary large numbers of Aboriginal people incarcerated and the hundreds of deaths in custody.”

To view the full article click here.

Linda Burney in house or representatives during Morrison's CtG ministerial statement 14.2.19

Linda Burney during Morrison’s Closing the Gap ministerial statement at Parliament House in Canberra, on 14 February 2019. Photo: Tracey Nearmy. Image source: Bloomberg Equality.

NDIS independent assessments

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has released a joint paper with the Department of Social Services about independent assessments. The paper is the Government’s submission to the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) inquiry on independent assessments. The NDIA’s submission sets out a picture of the planned reforms and why they are necessary to deliver a simpler, faster, fairer and more flexible NDIS that will benefit all Australians. The paper released provides a summary of the background, the key reasons independent assessments are being introduced and clarifies the intent of independent assessments.

The concerns raised in the recent reforms consultation process indicate that there are misconceptions and misunderstandings about the details of independent assessments and how they will be implemented. The submission paper is the Government’s clear statement of independent assessments and is an opportunity for us to clarify details about the planned reforms.

The NDIA says it is committed to actively seeking feedback on independent assessments and other reform proposals through an ongoing and comprehensive consultation program and encourages you to read the joint submission paper here.

torso of a person in a wheelchair view from side

Image source: Disability Insider website.

Second lowest COVID-19 case rate in OECD

The Government will invest more than $1.1 billion to extend its national COVID-19 health response and suppression strategy until 31 December 2021. Australia is leading the world out of the global COVID-19 pandemic and recession. As COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the nation, protecting Australians from the ongoing threats of the pandemic remains a priority. This $1.1 billion is in addition to more than $22 billion spent in these areas to date, including more than $6 billion to support the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Australia’s suppression strategy has been extremely successful to date, particularly when compared with the devastation caused by the virus in many places overseas. Australia’s remarkable performance in saving lives is evident – we have the second lowest case rate and third lowest mortality rate amongst countries in the OECD.

To view the media release click here.

gloved hands holding pink piece of paper with text 'COVID-19'

Image source: AMA website.

Vaccine rollout to include more Aboriginal Australians

Just over a week out from the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccinations for the phase 1b priority group, the Australian government has quietly changed the parameters to include more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and remote residents. The ABC understands the decision has been made to assist the logistics of delivering the vaccines to remote communities.

It would mean vaccination teams who head to remote Aboriginal communities can immunise all adults over the age of 18 who want the vaccine, rather than just people over 55 or those who met the previous criteria for phase 1b. The changes would not be targeting, for instance, young Aboriginal people living in urban areas.

The federal Department of Health website has changed its phase 1b category to say, “beginning to vaccinate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”. A spokeswoman from the department confirmed the change would also include non-Indigenous remote residents. “All remote and very remote residents [inclusive of both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and the non-Indigenous population] over the age of 18 will be considered a priority group, due to logistical requirements,” she said. “This will limit the need to transfer workforce and relevant materials and will assist with issues associated with distribution and access.”

Previously it was “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 55” or who met other phase 1b criteria, like having an underlying medical condition, being a healthcare worker, critical or high-risk worker. There was no change to this for people living in urban and regional locations.

To view the media release in full click here.

medical tray of COVID-19 vaccine syringes

Image source: Surf Coast Times.

Countering vaccine misinformation

The Australian Government is ramping up its campaign against misinformation on the COVID-19 vaccines, as the vaccination program ramps up moving into Phase 1B. Australians can get all their questions answered on the health website to find out what they want – and need – to know about the COVID-19 vaccines. The new material on the website, called Is it true? will help answer questions people may have about the vaccine, and respond to vaccine misinformation they may have heard. This new function will provide trusted, credible information on COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in Australia. It will sort the fact from the fiction. The information on the website will be clear, accurate and timely. This will help reassure Australians about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and answer commonly asked questions and misinformation relating to the COVID-19 Vaccination program.

To view the media release in full click here.

blackboard with arrow to left & word myths, arrow to right & word facts

Image source: The Irish Times.

Self-identification sufficient for vaccine

The AMA has received advice from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Advisory Group that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking vaccination in the 1b and 2a rollout, self-identification is sufficient proof of Indigenous status – no other documentation in required.  The advisory group re-affirmed that no proof beyond self-identification is required and this is consistent with the RACGP standards. While there is the potential for non-indigenous people to take advantage of this system, it was thought the greater harm was in potential racism towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking vaccination and of having to prove one’s identity.

To view the full article click here.

gloved hand administering vaccine to upper arm

Image: SBS website.

Cancer research priorities survey

Are you interested in contributing to cancer in primary care research?

PC4, the Primary Care Collaborative Cancer Clinical Trials Group, is undertaking a prioritisation study that aims to explore the views of different stakeholders to identify their perspective on what the top research priorities should be in the field of cancer in primary care research. PC4 is funded by Cancer Australia to support the development of cancer in primary care trials.

The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete and will give you an opportunity to advocate for the areas of cancer in primary care research you feel should be addressed most urgently.

You can access the link to survey for health care professionals, researchers etc. here and the link to the consumer survey here.

This survey is being distributed nationally and is set to close on Friday 16 April 2021.
PC4 banner text 'help rank the top 10 research priorities for cancer in primary care research' photo of a woman at a table, man writing on whiteboard & woman running brain-storming session, text 'Have Your Say with arrow to box containing words Priority 1, Priority 2., priority 3'

National Bowel Cancer Screening Program promotion

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. If found early, up to 90% of cases can be treated successfully. Bowel cancer often has no obvious early warning signs. The good news is, a bowel screening test can detect changes in the bowel long before your patient notices any problems.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program provides free bowel screening kits for eligible people aged 50–74. So, have the bowel screening chat with your patients. An A4-sized poster (for display in staff only access areas) encouraging health professionals to talk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about bowel screening as well as other resources can be accessed here.

poster text 'bowel screening can save lives have you discussed bowel screening with patients?'

JobSeeker cuts will widen health gaps

The Federal Government’s failure to provide a liveable income through JobSeeker payments will harm the health of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and contribute to widespread distress as people and families struggle to afford healthy food and housing. Health groups have also warned that the new base rate for JobSeeker will contribute to growing health inequalities and have consistently highlighted evidence of the link between poverty and sickness.

More than 500 submissions were made to the Senate inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Income Support) Bill 2021, with many testimonials of hardship from families and individuals choosing between food and medications, and forced into homelessness. Economic modelling by The Grattan Institute predicts that 40,000 more jobs will be lost when the Government axes the Coronavirus Supplement (currently $75 a week) at the end of March and replaces it with a $25 a week increase to JobSeeker payments.

To view the full article in Croakey click here.

platter of fruit & vegetables, lettuce, apples, ginger, cucumber, broccoli, celery

Demand soared for fresh fruit and vegetables when Aboriginal communities received the Coronavirus Supplement. Photo by k15 on Unsplash. Image source: Croakey.

Innovative post suicide support program

An innovative trial will give children and young people access to community-based, non-clinical support following an attempted suicide, thanks to a $3.8 million investment from the NSW Government. Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the service will be designed by young people with lived experience of suicide alongside families and carers, youth mental health and suicide prevention experts. “Growing evidence tells us that following up and increasing community support for people after a suicide attempt can reduce the likelihood of a further attempt,” Mrs Taylor said. “We know that young people are often reluctant to reach out for help and don’t always engage well with clinical services – what works well for adults often doesn’t work well for young people.

To view the NSW Government media release in full click here.

young Aboriginal girl's hands with chipped nail polish holding another Aboriginal child's hands

Image source: Amnesty International website.

Close The Gap Report Launch 2021

The Close the Gap Campaign aims to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation. The campaign is built on evidence that shows significant improvements in the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be achieved by 2030.

The Australian Institute is delighted to invite you to the launch of the 2021 Close the Gap Campaign report “Leadership & Legacy Through Crises: Keeping Our Mob Safe”, written by the Lowitja Institute. 

The report will be launched via webinar, on National Close the Gap Day from 12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 18 March 2021 – hosted by the Australia Institute in support of the Close the Gap Campaign.

The webinar is free, but registration is essential. To book click here.

You can also view an invite to the Close the Gap & Mental Health Awareness Event here.banner 'close the gap report launch 2021 leadership & Legacy Through Crises: Keeping Our Mob Stafe' June Oscar AO, Karl Briscoe, Dr Janine Mohamed, Sir Michael Marmot

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Vaccine rollout commences next week

feature tile - get ready vaccine rollout commences next week, image of gloved hand administering vaccine

Vaccine rollout commences next week

Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program will commence from next week. People in priority groups who are most at risk and who need protection the most – will receive a vaccine first. The rollout will begin with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and following the approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) earlier this week, will include the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine from early March. The initial priority groups include aged care and disability care residents and workers, frontline healthcare workers, and quarantine and border workers. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt reaffirmed that Australia’s vaccine strategy is strong and on schedule, saying “Australia will begin rolling out the COVID-19 Vaccination program from next week.”

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.

9 vials of COVID-19 vaccine with syringe on a mirrored surface

Image source: Human Resources Director.

Facebook blocks Indigenous health groups

Indigenous health and media groups fear Facebook’s shutdown of community pages could have a dangerous impact on regional communities during the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Crucial sources of information have been lost as small media outlets, community noticeboards and health services have been caught up in Facebooks’ sweeping shutdown of Australian news. Facebook has blocked the feeds of Australian news companies on its site and is preventing users from sharing Australian news content. The tech giant is pushing back against the federal government’s plans to make it and Google pay for publishing Australian news content — a world-leading initiative the companies have fiercely resisted.

But the effect of Facebook’s ploy has extended well beyond major media companies. Several Aboriginal community-controlled health services have had their posts blocked, including organisations such as the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT), Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and Danila Dilba Health Service. CAAC, a community-controlled primary health care provider, vented its frustration on Twitter at the timing of Facebook’s move, given the impending COVID-19 vaccine rollout to Indigenous communities, “A primary vehicle for health promotion, disabled at a crucial time,” it tweeted.

To view the full ABC News story click here.

screen shot of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Facebook page

CAAC is a community-controlled health organisation for people living in Central Australia. Image source: ABC News website.

Removing information sources is corporate bullying

Tech giant Facebook’s decision to remove official sources of information, including Federal and State Government health pages, is irresponsible corporate bullying during a global pandemic, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said yesterday. Dr Khorshid outlined his concern over Facebook’s actions, “The world is battling the COVID-19 crisis, and Australia is days away from beginning the biggest mass vaccination program in our nation’s history. Yet, to save itself from having to pay a few million dollars to Australian news organisations for the work their journalists do, Facebook has decided to punish all Australians by removing their access to news on its platform. This irresponsible action – taken with no notice – has clearly had unintended consequences, with some health department pages taken down, but not others; with people unable to access the Bureau of Meteorology’s page on a day of bushfire and flood warnings. Facebook play a huge part in the lives of ordinary Australians and the company must take its responsibilities seriously.”

“It is truly ironic that Facebook has allowed health misinformation to be spread via its platform throughout this pandemic, yet today much of this misinformation remains on Facebook while official information sources are blocked. The AMA calls on Facebook to restore public access to official information, and to stop putting the health of Australians at risk in order to bully the Australian Government.”

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

hand holding piece of ripped carboard with text 'BULLYING' in capitals

Image source: Corporate Bully Facebook page.

Be vaccine ready – link digital government services

The Morrison Government is encouraging Australians to get ready for their COVID-19 vaccination by linking their digital government services, particularly their myGov and Medicare accounts. The call to link digital services follows the announcement that the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) will be the record for all vaccinations for Australians and that record will form the basis of the vaccination certificate that all Australians will be able to use, including visa holders. The AIR has undergone significant upgrades in preparation for COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Almost 5.5 million immunisation history statements were securely accessed by individuals between October 2019 and August 2020. Your immunisation history statement will record your COVID-19 vaccinations.

To view the media release in full click here.

thumb clicking mobile phone screen with myGov app showing

Image source: The Grenfell Record.

COVID-19 symptoms – get tested

Dr Kelvin Kong has produced a new COVID-19 video clip for the Australian Government Department of Health. He reminds everyone that anytime you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms, get tested immediately for COVID-19 and stay home until you get a negative test result. It is the best way to protect yourself and your community. To access the NSW Government Keep Our Mob Safe webpage click here.

image from COVID-19 DoH video featuring Associate Professor Kelvin Kong in scrubs talking about getting tested if you have COVID-19 system, even if you have previously been tested

Image source: Department of Health Facebook page.

Tailored vaccine information for Mob

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have been identified as a priority group for the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out program. This is because of the higher risk of getting and developing serious illness from COVID-19 due to a number of factors. This may include a higher rate of chronic health conditions and in some cases crowded-living conditions, which increases the risk of spreading the infection.

COVID-19 can cause serious health issues. Getting a vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting yourself from getting really sick from COVID-19. Encourage your family, Elders and community to get vaccinated so that they are protected from serious illness from COVID-19.

The COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary, available to everyone in Australia and free.

For more information you can access the Australian Government’s Department of Health’s Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about COVID-19 vaccines webpage here.Department of Health's Stay Informed About COVID-19 Vaccines poster with Aboriginal green blue orange Aboriginal dot painting air border

Free on-line training to keep staff COVID-19 safe

COVID-19 has brought new challenges in the way we work, particularly for people who care for others day-to-day. You want to stay on top of current and relevant information to keep care recipients, staff and visitors safe. That’s why the Australian Government Department of Health has created online COVID-19 infection control training.

This program is free to everyone and especially recommended for people working in the healthcare sectors. People like Rachael Phillips, Manager of Birrelee Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Service – a long day care centre in Tamworth, NSW – have already seen results. Biralee’s staff are feeling more confident and able to carry out the centre’s policies to keep everyone safe. For them the reliable nature of the training made it essential. The short length and being able to do it online on a phone made it easy. And the interesting information made it stick.

For further information about the training click here.banner 'COVID-19 infection control training' Australian Government Department of Health, blue green image of COVID-19 cell

Food insecurity post-pandemic

Wide-ranging systemic and structural changes are needed to ensure food and economic security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to University of Queensland academics, Professor Bronwyn Fredericks and Dr Abraham Bradfield. Socioeconomic factors and the affordability of fresh food significantly impact what Indigenous peoples consume and what they are able to access. Dr Megan Ferguson and her colleagues conducted a study comparing the price of food baskets in urban supermarkets in Darwin and Adelaide and remote stores in the NT and SA, finding that products from remote locations cost an average of 60% more. In addition to this, Indigenous peoples earn an average weekly income of $250 less than non-Indigenous Australians. This means that in remote Australia – where employment opportunities are scarce and reliance on welfare a necessity – people must stretch their income just to feed themselves and their family. Purchasing cheaper and often unhealthy processed foods is one way to achieve this.

In the wake of the pandemic, we find ourselves in a situation where Indigenous health – which is often compromised by pre-existing (and preventable) health conditions – is placed at greater risk because the underlying issues informing food insecurity and wider socioeconomic disparities haven’t been addressed. Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), observes this in relation to Outback Stores, a government-owned company servicing 39 food and general stores across remote NT, WA and SA. In an interview for the ABC, Turner spoke of the government’s delayed and reactive response to food security that in some cases contributed to food shortages during the early days of the pandemic: “Given the fact that we have had Outback Stores for a long time and so on, I’m just really disappointed that the pre-planning wasn’t done to ensure ready access to healthy and affordable food. Our people need access to fresh produce and they need, now more than ever, healthy food to keep their immunity system up.”

To view the full Croakey article click here.

 Professor Bronwyn Fredericks & Dr Abraham Bradfield in an office holding a copy of the publication containing their food insecurity essay

Professor Bronwyn Fredericks & Dr Abraham Bradfield. Image source: Griffith Review.

Battle for the Kimberley

The Kimberley is set to be hotly contested at the upcoming March election, with a record number of Aboriginal candidates in the running for the 2.5 million square kilometre seat. The seat has been held by an Aboriginal person since 1980, when Ernie Bridge took the seat from Liberal incumbent Keith Ridge and became the State’s first Aboriginal member of Parliament.

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

map of seat of Kimberley, portrait photos of Divina D'Anna, Millie Hills & Naomi Pigram

Clockwise: map of the seat of Kimberley, WA, Divina D’Anna (Labor), Naomi Pigram (Greens) & Millie Hills (Nationals). Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

1,000+ with cognitive disability detained each year

“Is the justice system being used as a de facto disability service, one that proceeds by punitive rather than therapeutic measures?” That was one of the questions posed by Senior Counsel Assisting Dr Kerri Mellifont at the opening day of two weeks of hearings by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability into the experiences of people with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system.

The focus has been broadly welcomed, however the First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) has said that the over-representation of First Nations People with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system – acknowledged by Commission Chair Ronald Sackville in his opening remarks – warrants its own dedicated First Nations hearing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability are 14 times more likely to be imprisoned with one third reporting a disability, 50%  reporting a history of psychosocial disability, and 25–30% of prisoners having an intellectual disability, said FPDN CEO Damian Griffis in a statement.

To view the full Croakey article click here.

Aboriginal person's hands gripping bars of jail cell

Image source:

No shame is asking for an STI test

The Australian Government Department of Health is promoting NACCHO’s work to support and educate communities on practising safe and consensual sex via its website. To view the webpage in full click here.

close up image of pair of white hands & Aboriginal hands holding across a desk

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Cashless debit card a paternalistic response

Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead, Nolan Hunter said: “The cashless debit card was always just another paternalistic response to addressing issues that affect Indigenous people in this country. Approaches that have failed to make significant inroads into addressing intractable issues like poverty and discrimination. The report into the trial, conducted at great expense, found that people involved in the trial of the CDC felt discriminated against and shamed for receiving welfare payments. Shaming people doesn’t improve anyone’s situation, but condemns them to the same discriminatory treatment they’ve experienced for generations.”

To view Amnesty International Australia’s media statement in full click here.

3 Aboriginal woman & two Aboriginal children holding No Cashless Debit Card placards

The cashless debit card trial in Ceduna in 2016 was met with some community resistance. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

SA pilot suicide prevention program

South Australia’s most vulnerable now have better access to support services thanks to a new pilot program to help survivors of attempted suicide. Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade, said the Way Back Support Service, a Beyondblue initiative delivered in collaboration between AnglicareSA and Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN), provides one-on-one support to survivors after they leave hospital. “We are committed to tackling our suicide rate through offering appropriate services to those who need support and ensuring that people at increased risk of suicide don’t fall through the gaps, Minister Wade said. “Suicide is a complex issue, however we know raising awareness, breaking down stigma and encouraging help-seeking behaviours can save lives.”

To view the joint media release from the SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing and the SA Premier’s Advocate for Suicide Prevention and Community Resilience  click here.

photo of Ingrid Cumming's face with body paint, looking into the distance, blurred foliage in the background

Aboriginal campaigner and suicide survivor Ingrid Cumming. Photo credit: Amelia Searson. Image source: Western Independent Stories from Curtin University’s Journalism Program website page.

Aboriginal Ear Health webinar

The Academy of Child and Adolescent Health (ACAH) The Academy of Child and Adolescent Health promotes the health and wellbeing of every newborn, child and young person in order that they may meet their maximum potential.

As part of the ACAH 2021 webinar series Associate Professor Kelvin Kong will deliver via Zoom a FREE special WHO World Hearing Day presentation on Aboriginal ear health from 7:00–8:00 PM (AEDT) Wednesday 3 March 2021. To register click here.

Associate Professor Kong is an amazing Australian and part of Australian medical history as the first Aboriginal surgeon, other than the tens of thousands of years of Ngangkari healers. He is one of Australia’s leading ear health experts as part of the Centre of Research Excellence in Indigenous Children’s Healthy Ears and the Australian delegation to the WHO World Hearing Forum. Join his webinar to hear about his journey, his work and the current innovations in ear health in Australia.

health professional checking a small Aboriginal child's ear

Image source: the social photographer website.

NSW – Wyong – Yerin Aboriginal Health Services Limited

Family Time / Case Work Support Worker x 1 FT (identified) – Wyong

Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Service Ltd. is an Aboriginal Community Controlled organisation, which aims is to deliver holistic, comprehensive and culturally responsive health care, integrated social, emotional and community programs to the Aboriginal community.

Yerin is seeking a suitably qualified Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander individual to join their Ngaliya PSP team. In this role you will support child focused quality contact between a child, young person and their parent/family/kin who are in statutory Permanency Support Program Placements.

To view the position description and to apply click here. Applications close 5:00 PM Thursday 4 May 2021.Yerin Aboriginal Health Services Limited logo, 7 purple & yellow concentric circles surrounded by 14 flower-like petals with purple & yellow Aboriginal dots

Random Acts of Kindness Week – 14–20 February 2021

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a small non-profit organisation that believes all people can connect through kindness and that kindness can be taught. Scientific evidence shows the positive effects of doing kind acts for others as well as receiving or even witnessing kindness. Even the smallest act of kindness can change a life. Seemingly insignificant moments where a stranger helps another stranger can impact the rest of someone’s life. When a person tunes into kindness happening around them, the day seems a little bit brighter. The week seems a little more manageable.

Aboriginal Adelaide Crows star Eddie Betts is spreading the word about kindness with his book My Kind. The book’s main purpose is to convey messages about diversity, equality, acceptance, anti-bullying, caring for the environment and, most of all, kindness. You can view Eddie’s website Eddies’ Lil’ Homies spreading kindness & culture here.

In 2021, the foundation in encouraging everyone to Explore the Good and Make Kindness the Norm. For more information about the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation click here.

Adelaide Crows star Eddie Betts reading his book My Kind to twin babies & two young boys

Adelaide Crows star Eddie Betts. Image source: The Advertiser.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Disability and #NDIS : Understanding the “purple shirt mob”: New web based app aims to bridge gap between NDIA and Indigenous people with disability

A new web-based app targeting Aboriginal Australians has been developed to help connect people with disability in remote Indigenous communities, and their carers, with the NDIS.

The app was informed by research examining people’s understanding of disability and the NDIS in remote communities and the need for tools that help them understand the supports available. Indigenous Australians experiencing disability at twice the rate of those who are non-Indigenous.

The Disability in the Bush app delivers plain language, culturally relevant information and video stories via mobile phones and other devices to bridge the knowledge gap about disability, and help Indigenous Australians connect with the NDIS.

The free app was created by and Ninti One and Interplay, and funded by the National Disability Insurance Agency, and includes translations in two central Indigenous languages – Arrernte and Pitjantjatjara – with plans for a further three Top End languages in the coming months.

The Disability in the Bush app was developed following research across five Indigenous communities which examined people’s understanding of disability and their awareness of the NDIS. The interviews found that official information is delivered using unfamiliar language and concepts, or via channels that communities don’t use.

Ninti One Aboriginal Community Researchers found that many community members knew of ‘the purple shirt mob’– a reference to the purple shirts worn by NDIS staff – but few people knew what supports were available, and in some cases didn’t know they were eligible.

“Aboriginal Australians are twice as likely to have a disability as non-Aboriginal Australians, but too many don’t understand the NDIS. We need to shape the system around the end users, not the other way around,” said Professor Sheree Cairney, Director of Interplay.

“By bringing government, science and community together in a shared space, we have created a tool to get vital information to people in remote communities. This app combines knowledge translation principles and technology and is designed by, and for, Aboriginal people,” said Tammy Abbott, Community Engagement Officer and Indigenous lead for the project.

Indigenous people led the development of the app from the research stage, identifying challenges for people trying to access the NDIS, right through to the language used on the site and the look and feel.

“People in remote Indigenous communities have particular information needs due to their culture, environment and isolation, and for people with disability these needs are even more specific,” said Rod Reeve, Managing Director of Ninti One

“The Disability in the Bush app brings together culturally relevant ideas, video stories of more than 20 Aboriginal people and translations to create a one-stop-shop for Aboriginal people, their carers and family, and support workers,” he said.

Disability in the Bush :

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and @NDIS : Download @LowitjaInstitut 13 recommendations Report : Understanding disability through the lens of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people – challenges and opportunities

” The 2011 Census indicated that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience profound or severe disability at higher rates than non-Indigenous Australians at all ages, with 6.1% of Indigenous males and 5.4% of Indigenous females reporting a profound or severe disability.1

 The Australian Bureau of Statistics found in 2015 that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were 1.8 times more likely than non-Indigenous people to be living with a disability.2

 The First People Disability Network (FPDN) estimates that the current number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationally eligible for participation in the NDIS is around 60,000.3 “

From project background see part 2 below

Read over Aboriginal and health and NDIS articles published by NACCHO Here

Part 1 Download 13 recommendations report


Representing a major change in the way supports for people living with disability are funded, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) presents both opportunities and significant challenges.

This project, Understanding disability through the lens of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people – challenges and opportunities, was developed to examine the:

  • Implementation of the NDIS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Strategy1
  • Interaction between National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) staff, local area co-ordinators (LACs) and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
  • Experiences of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in accessing the NDIS, planning, and receiving disability supports through the scheme

The research was conducted in collaboration with the MJD Foundation (MJDF) and Synapse, organisations which have longstanding connections with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities in the Northern Territory and Queensland respectively

Part 2 Background to project


The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) represents a major change in the way the services and supports for people with disability are funded.

It presents both tremendous opportunity yet significant challenges.

Ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive the same care as other Australians is an important human rights obligation. This project will improve the ability of the NDIS to achieve this.

At this stage, with the exception of an evaluation conducted in Barkly, very little is known about the roll-out of the NDIS to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This project will examine:

  • the implementation of the NDIS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement strategy
  • the interaction between the National Disability Agency (NDIA) staff, local area co-ordinators and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) and NGOs
  • the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in accessing the NDIS program, planning and receiving the supports/services through the program.

Recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities are not well served by mainstream services has led to strong advocacy and the development of culturally competent service models by the community controlled and NGO sector.

This project is a collaboration of 3 such organisations; Machado Joseph Disease Foundation (MJDF), Synapse and First Peoples Disability Network and the University of Melbourne.

The project will take a co-design approach to developing a study of the roll out of the NDIS for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Co-­design, or experience-based co-design, is not only a way to actively involve consumers in the design, delivery and/or evaluation of services but also enables the design of systems where consumer and carer experiences are central.4

Our approach to the project will bring together expertise from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations working to provide services to people with disabilities, with researchers and policy makers.

The approach to design and data collection will support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, optimise existing data and knowledge, and develop local research capacity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It will bring together community, researchers, providers, policy makers and NDIA staff and develop an evidence informed approach to improving the NDIS and developing a workforce to support it.

The project will involve four phases:

  1. Establishment of a project reference group
  2. Co-design
  3. Interviews
  4. Reporting and review.

It is expected that the project will identify strengths and weaknesses of the NDIS implementation. It will identify promising strategies to improve the ways the NDIA works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations.

Related resources:

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Conferences and Events #SaveADate : This weeks feature : @fam_matters_au #BecauseOfThemWeMust #FamilyMatters Plus #NRW2019 and #FPDN #community#humanrights

This weeks featured NACCHO SAVE A DATE events

20 – 26 May Family Matters Week of Action 

29th  – 30th  August 2019 NACCHO OCHRE DAY

4 November NACCHO Youth Conference -Darwin NT

5 – 7 November NACCHO Conference and AGM  -Darwin NT

Download the 2019 Health Awareness Days Calendar 

2May First Peoples Disability Network, Is hosting a Human Rights Literacy forum

24 May National Sorry Day Bridge Walk Canberra

24-26 May AMA NATIONAL CONFERENCE – #amanatcon

25 May The Long Walk Melbourne

27 May to 5 June National Reconciliation Week #NRW2019

18 -20 June Lowitja Health Conference Darwin

2019 Dr Tracey Westerman’s Workshops 

5 July NAIDOC week Symposium

6 July National NAIDOC Awards Canberra

7 -14 July 2019 National NAIDOC Grant funding round opens

2-5 August Garma Festival 

29th  – 30th  August 2019 NACCHO OCHRE DAY

23 -25 September IAHA Conference Darwin

24 -26 September 2019 CATSINaM National Professional Development Conference

9-10 October 2019 NATSIHWA 10 Year Anniversary Conference

16 October Melbourne Uni: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Wellbeing Conference

4 November NACCHO Youth Conference -Darwin NT

5 – 7 November NACCHO Conference and AGM  -Darwin NT

5-8 November The Lime Network Conference New Zealand 

Featured Save a dates date

20-26 May 2019 Family Matters Week of Action

SNAICC congratulates the returning Coalition Government, and is ready to work alongside a new Indigenous Affairs Minister and Social Services Minister to prioritise better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

We believe that this most urgently requires a national strategy, with generational targets, to eliminate over-representation of our children in out-of home care and address the causes of child removal, as well as ensure all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have adequate access to quality education in the early years of their lives.

The complexity and depth of the issue – spanning both federal and state government powers – requires a holistic national strategy if we are to make any real dents. The incoming Federal Government has a responsibility to demonstrate commitment and leadership by starting this process, premised on the principles of self-determination and partnership agreed under the Closing the Gap refresh process.”

Muriel Bamblett, SNAICC Chairperson

Download the Full Press Release

Family Matters Press Release

We need to see better commitment from our federal leaders to break the cycle of trauma for our children and families, and support evidence-based, community-led solutions.

So many Aboriginal children aren’t able to access early years education, which is such a crucial time in their education journey. It’s clearly an area that Australia should and must be doing better.

There are over 17,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-ofhome care at this very minute, having been removed from their families; there’s no denying that’s a national crisis. Through the Closing the Gap refresh, the government has shown a clear desire to work with communities to address this crisis, and we’re hopeful that a strong relationship with a new minister can produce some real change for our children and families.

Muriel Bamblett, SNAICC Chairperson

This week SNAICC is leading the Family Matters campaign National Week of Action, to raise awareness of the causes and solutions to the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the out-ofhome care system.


Throughout the National Week of Action, from 20-26 May, child welfare organisations and individual supporters from across the country are encouraged to play their part in raising awareness about the escalating number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being removed from family.


“Family Matters seeks to foster an environment where there is wellbeing, safety and stability for all children. For Aboriginal children this means fostering a greater sense of belonging by growing up in family and community, and in a society that respects and values who they are as Aboriginal people.”


  • Muriel Bamblett, SNAICC Chairperson

During this week, we highlight the fundamental issues that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Most importantly, we’re working to shine a light on the disconnection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from community, culture and country.

Take action!

Together, we’ll:

  • inform service providers, policy decision makers, and the Australian public of the national crisis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander over-representation in out-of home care
  • garner support to ensure that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people grow up safe and cared for within family, community and culture
  • ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, communities and organisations are empowered to exercise their responsibilities for the safety and wellbeing of their children

Find out more about what you can do and use our resources below to take action

What you can do

As a Family Matters supporter, we are calling on your organisation to further support Family Matters by hosting an event and promoting the National Week of Action via your organisation’s website, social media and other communications channels.

Our policy asks

Learn more about the policy changes we’re asking for

Join us in demanding for political action.


Hold an event in your workplace, engage your supporters, members and staff in discussions about the escalating number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being removed from their family, and the power you have to influence change.


Take a photo of you and your mob holding our campaign sign and share it on social media.

Use our resources to promote on social media.

Social media

Share our election priorities on social media.

Share this video: Let’s Start the Conversation

And copy and paste the following messaging to use on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


Check back soon for a Facebook frame so you can change your profile to show your support for the campaign.


On Twitter, use the hashtag #BecauseOfThemWeMust

[I / We / your organisation] believe/s that #FamilyMatters. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 11x more likely to be removed from their families than other Australian children. Our children deserve better. #BecauseOfThemWeMust

Without real change now, the story remains the same. It’s time for a new approach. Together, we can break the cycle of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child removal.

Download the NACCHO 2019 Calendar Health Awareness Days

For many years ACCHO organisations have said they wished they had a list of the many Indigenous “ Days “ and Aboriginal health or awareness days/weeks/events.

With thanks to our friends at ZockMelon here they both are!

It even has a handy list of the hashtags for the event.

Download the 53 Page 2019 Health days and events calendar HERE

naccho zockmelon 2019 health days and events calendar

We hope that this document helps you with your planning for the year ahead.

Every Tuesday we will update these listings with new events and What’s on for the week ahead

To submit your events or update your info

Contact: Colin Cowell

NACCHO Social Media Editor Tel 0401 331 251

Email :

21 May First Peoples Disability Network, Is hosting a Human Rights Literacy forum. #FPDN #community#humanrights #Indigenous #culture

All welcome, Catering will be provided.
Location: Aboriginal Advancement League
THORNBURY, Tuesday 21 May 2019


24 May National Sorry Day Bridge Walk Canberra

24-26 May AMA NATIONAL CONFERENCE – #amanatcon

25 May The Long Walk Melbourne

Reconciliation Australia is proud to sponsor  again in 2019. Head down to  in Melbourne on 25 May for food, activities, and musical performances by , and more. Learn more: 

27 May to 5 June National Reconciliation Week #NRW2019 

At the heart of reconciliation is the relationship between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. To foster positive race relations, our relationship must be grounded in a foundation of truth.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have long called for a comprehensive process of truth-telling about Australia’s colonial history. Our nation’s past is reflected in the present, and will continue to play out in future unless we heal historical wounds.

Today, 80 per cent of Australians believe it is important to undertake formal truth telling processes, according to the 2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer. Australians are ready to come to terms with our history as a crucial step towards a unified future, in which we understand, value and respect each other.

Whether you’re engaging in challenging conversations or unlearning and relearning what you know, this journey requires all of us to walk together with courage. This National Reconciliation Week, we invite Australians from all backgrounds to contribute to our national movement towards a unified future.

What is National Reconciliation Week?

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

The dates for NRW remain the same each year; 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively.

Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Resources HERE

18 -20 June Lowitja Health Conference Darwin

At the Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2019 delegates from around the world will discuss the role of First Nations in leading change and will showcase Indigenous solutions.

The conference program will highlight ways of thinking, speaking and being for the benefit of Indigenous peoples everywhere.

Join Indigenous leaders, researchers, health professionals, decision makers, community representatives, and our non-Indigenous colleagues in this important conversation.

More Info 

2019 Dr Tracey Westerman’s Workshops 

More info and dates

5 July NAIDOC week Symposium

Symposium: Our Voice, Our Truth
Kick off NAIDOC week in Canberra with a Symposium event with keynote speakers and expert panel on the topic of good governance through strong leadership. A daylong event, fully catered with morning and afternoon tea, lunch and post-event drinks and canapes with entertainment to conclude.
This is an exclusive ticketed event in a stunning lakeside venue with limited seats available. Save the date – July 5 – and follow on Facebook to be the first in line to book tickets
6 July National NAIDOC Awards Canberra

7 -14 July 2019 National NAIDOC Grant funding round opens


We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

The Indigenous voice of this country is over 65,000 plus years old.

They are the first words spoken on this continent. Languages that passed down lore, culture and knowledge for over millennia. They are precious to our nation.

It’s that Indigenous voice that include know-how, practices, skills and innovations – found in a wide variety of contexts, such as agricultural, scientific, technical, ecological and medicinal fields, as well as biodiversity-related knowledge.  They are words connecting us to country, an understanding of country and of a people who are the oldest continuing culture on the planet.

And with 2019 being celebrated as the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, it’s time for our knowledge to be heard through our voice.

For generations, we have sought recognition of our unique place in Australian history and society today. We need to be the architects of our lives and futures.

For generations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have looked for significant and lasting change.

Voice. Treaty. Truth. were three key elements to the reforms set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. These reforms represent the unified position of First Nations Australians.

However, the Uluru Statement built on generations of consultation and discussions among Indigenous people on a range of issues and grievances. Consultations about the further reforms necessary to secure and underpin our rights and to ensure they can be exercised and enjoyed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

It specifically sequenced a set of reforms: first, a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution and second, a Makarrata Commission to supervise treaty processes and truth-telling.

(Makarrata is a word from the language of the Yolngu people in Arnhem Land. The Yolngu concept of Makarrata captures the idea of two parties coming together after a struggle, healing the divisions of the past. It is about acknowledging that something has been done wrong, and it seeks to make things right.)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want their voice to be heard. First Nations were excluded from the Constitutional convention debates of the 1800’s when the Australian Constitution came into force.  Indigenous people were excluded from the bargaining table.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have always wanted an enhanced role in decision-making in Australia’s democracy.

In the European settlement of Australia, there were no treaties, no formal settlements, no compacts. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people therefore did not cede sovereignty to our land. It was taken away from us. That will remain a continuing source of dispute.

Our sovereignty has never been ceded – not in 1788, not in 1967, not with the Native Title Act, not with the Uluru Statement from the Heart. It coexists with the sovereignty of the Crown and should never be extinguished.

Australia is one of the few liberal democracies around the world which still does not have a treaty or treaties or some other kind of formal acknowledgement or arrangement with its Indigenous minorities.

A substantive treaty has always been the primary aspiration of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander movement.

Critically, treaties are inseparable from Truth.

Lasting and effective agreement cannot be achieved unless we have a shared, truthful understanding of the nature of the dispute, of the history, of how we got to where we stand.

The true story of colonisation must be told, must be heard, must be acknowledged.

But hearing this history is necessary before we can come to some true reconciliation, some genuine healing for both sides.

And of course, this is not just the history of our First Peoples – it is the history of all of us, of all of Australia, and we need to own it.

Then we can move forward together.

Let’s work together for a shared future.

Download the National NAIDOC Logo and other social media resources.

2-5 August Garma Festival 

Garma Website

29th  – 30th  Aug 2019 NACCHO OCHRE DAY

Venue: Pullman Hotel – 192 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne Vic 3000

Website to be launched soon

23 -25 September IAHA Conference Darwin

24 September

A night of celebrating excellence and action – the Gala Dinner is the premier national networking event in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health.

The purpose of the IAHA National Indigenous Allied Health Awards is to recognise the contribution of IAHA members to their profession and/or improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The IAHA National Indigenous Allied Health Awards showcase the outstanding achievements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health and provides identifiable allied health role models to inspire all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to consider and pursue a career in allied health.

The awards this year will be known as “10 for 10” to honour the 10 Year Anniversary of IAHA. We will be announcing 4 new awards in addition to the 6 existing below.

Read about the categories HERE.

24 -26 September 2019 CATSINaM National Professional Development Conference



The 2019 CATSINaM National Professional Development Conference will be held in Sydney, 24th – 26th September 2019. Make sure you save the dates in your calendar.

Further information to follow soon.

Date: Tuesday the 24th to Thursday the 26th September 2019

Location: Sydney, Australia

Organiser: Chloe Peters

Phone: 02 6262 5761


9-10 October 2019 NATSIHWA 10 Year Anniversary Conference

SAVE THE DATE for the 2019 NATSIHWA 10 Year Anniversary Conference!!!

We’re so excited to announce the date of our 10 Year Anniversary Conference –
A Decade of Footprints, Driving Recognition!!! 

NATSIHWA recognises that importance of members sharing and learning from each other, and our key partners within the Health Sector. We hold a biennial conference for all NATSIHWA members to attend. The conference content focusses on the professional support and development of the Health Workers and Health Practitioners, with key side events to support networking among attendees.  We seek feedback from our Membership to make the conferences relevant to their professional needs and expectations and ensure that they are offered in accessible formats and/or locations.The conference is a time to celebrate the important contribution of Health Workers and Health Practitioners, and the Services that support this important profession.

We hold the NATSIHWA Legends Award night at the conference Gala Dinner. Award categories include: Young Warrior, Health Worker Legend, Health Service Legend and Individual Champion.

Watch this space for the release of more dates for registrations, award nominations etc.

16 October Melbourne Uni: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Wellbeing Conference

The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health are pleased to advise that abstract
submissions are now being invited that address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and

The Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference is an opportunity for sharing information and connecting people that are committed to reforming the practice and research of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander health and celebrates Aboriginal knowledge systems and strength-based approaches to improving the health outcomes of Aboriginal communities.

This is an opportunity to present evidence-based approaches, Aboriginal methods and models of
practice, Aboriginal perspectives and contribution to health or community led solutions, underpinned by cultural theories to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.
In 2018 the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference attracted over 180 delegates from across the community and state.

We welcome submissions from collaborators whose expertise and interests are embedded in Aboriginal health and wellbeing, and particularly presented or co-presented by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and community members.

If you are interested in presenting, please complete the speaker registration link

closing date for abstract submission is Friday 3 rd May 2019.
As per speaker registration link request please email your professional photo for our program or any conference enquiries to E.

Kind regards
Leah Lindrea-Morrison
Aboriginal Partnerships and Community Engagement Officer
Department of Rural Health, University of Melbourne T. 03 5823 4554 E.

4 November NACCHO Youth Conference -Darwin NT

Darwin Convention Centre

Website to be launched soon

Conference Co-Coordinator Ben Mitchell 02 6246 9309

5 – 7 November NACCHO Conference and AGM  -Darwin NT

Darwin Convention Centre

Website to be launched soon

Conference Co-Coordinator Ben Mitchell 02 6246 9309

5-8 November The Lime Network Conference New Zealand 

This years  whakatauki (theme for the conference) was developed by the Scientific Committee, along with Māori elder, Te Marino Lenihan & Tania Huria from .

To read about the conference & theme, check out the  website. 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Pre- #Budget2019 -2020 : #RefreshTheCTGRefresh :The following #ClosingTheGap policy proposals are informed by NACCHO’s consultations with its Affiliates and our 145 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services:


The proposals included in this submission are based on the extensive experience NACCHO member services have of providing many years of comprehensive primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We have long recognised that closing the gap on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and disadvantage will never be achieved until primary health care services’ infrastructure hardware is fit for purpose; our people are living in safe and secure housing; culturally safe and trusted early intervention services are available for our children and their families; and our psychological, social, emotional and spiritual needs are acknowledged and supported.=

If these proposals are adopted, fully funded and implemented, they provide a pathway forward where improvements in life expectancy can be confidently predicted. “  

Pat Turner AM NACCHO CEO on behalf of our State and Territory Affiliates and 145 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services operating 302 ACCHO Clinics

Download this 20 Page NACCHO Submission

NACCHO Budget Submission 2019-20 FINAL

NACCHO is the national peak body representing 145 ACCHOs across the country on Aboriginal health and wellbeing issues.

In 1997, the Federal Government funded NACCHO to establish a Secretariat in Canberra, greatly increasing the capacity of Aboriginal peoples involved in ACCHOs to participate in national health policy development. Our members provide about three million episodes of care per year for about 350,000 people. In very remote areas, our services provide about one million episodes of care in a twelve-month period.

Collectively, we employ about 6,000 staff (56 per cent whom are Indigenous), which makes us the single largest employer of Indigenous people in the country.

The following policy proposals are informed by NACCHO’s consultations with its Affiliates and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services:

  1. Increase base funding of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services;
  2. Increase funding for capital works and infrastructure;
  3. Improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing and community infrastructure;
  4. Reduce the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in out-of-home care and detention; and
  5. Strengthen the Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NACCHO is committed to working with the Australian Government to further develop the proposals, including associated costings and implementation plans and identifying where current expenditure could be more appropriately targeted.

1. Increase base funding of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services


That the Australian Government:

  • Commits to increasing the baseline funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to support the sustainable delivery of high quality, comprehensive primary health care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.
  • Works together with NACCHO and Affiliates to agree to a new formula for the provision of comprehensive primary health care funding that is relative to need.


The Productivity Commission’s 2017 Indigenous Expenditure Report found that per capita government spending on Indigenous services was twice as high as for the rest of the population. The view that enormous amounts of money have been spent on Indigenous Affairs has led many to conclude a different focus is required and that money is not the answer. Yet, the key question in understanding the relativities of expenditure on Indigenous is equity of total expenditure, both public and private and in relation to need.

The Commonwealth Government spends $1.4 for every $1 spent on the rest of the population, while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have 2.3 times the per capita need of the rest of the population because of much higher levels of illness and burden of disease. In its 2018 Report Card on Indigenous Health, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) states that spending less per capita on those with worse health, is ‘untenable national policy and that must be rectified’.1 The AMA also adds that long-term failure to adequately fund primary health care – especially Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) – is a major contributing factor to failure in closing health and life expectancy gaps.

Despite the challenges of delivering services in fragmented and insufficient funding environments, studies have shown that ACCHSs deliver more cost-effective, equitable and effective primary health care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and are 23 per cent better at attracting and retaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients than mainstream providers.2 ACCHSs continue to specialise in providing comprehensive primary care consistent with clients’ needs.

This includes home and site visits; provision of medical, public health and health promotion services; allied health, nursing services; assistance with making appointments and transport; help accessing child care or dealing with the justice system; drug and alcohol services; and providing help with income support.


1 th_1.pdf?file=1&type=node&id=49617, page 6.

2 Ong, Katherine S, Rob Carter, Margaret Kelaher, and Ian Anderson. 2012. Differences in Primary Health Care

Delivery to Australia’s Indigenous Population: A Template for Use in Economic Evaluations, BMC Health

Services Research 12:307; Campbell, Megan Ann, Jennifer Hunt, David J Scrimgeour, Maureen Davey and

Victoria Jones. 2017. Contribution of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to improving Aboriginal

There are limits, however, to the extent that ACCHSs can continue to deliver quality, safe primary health care in fragmented and insufficient funding environments. This is particularly challenging to meet the health care needs of a fast-growing population.3 There is an urgent need to identify and fill the current health service gaps, particularly in primary health care, and with a focus on areas with high preventable hospital admissions and deaths and low use of the Medical Benefits Scheme and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

An appropriately resourced Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector represents an evidence-based, cost-effective and efficient solution for addressing the COAG Close the Gap and strategy and will result in gains for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health and wellbeing.

Strengthening the workforce

NACCHO welcomes COAG’s support for a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Medical Workforce Plan. A long-term plan for building the workforce capabilities of ACCHSs is overdue. Many services struggle with the recruitment and retention of suitably qualified staff, and there are gaps in the number of professionals working in the sector.

NACCHO believes that the plan will be strengthened by expanding its scope to include:

  • metropolitan based services;
  • expanding the range of workforce beyond doctors and nurses; and
  • recognising that non-Indigenous staff comprise almost half of the workforce. While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health staff are critical to improving access to culturally appropriate care and Indigenous health outcomes, consideration to the non-Indigenous workforce who contribute to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health outcomes should also be given.

An increase in the baseline funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, as set out in this proposal will enable our sector to plan for and build workforce capabilities in line with the Health and Medical Workforce Plan objectives.

2. Increase funding for capital works and infrastructure upgrades


That the Australian Government:

  • Commits to increasing funding allocated through the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme for capital works and infrastructure upgrades, and  Telehealth services; noting that at least $500m is likely to be needed to address unmet needs, based on the estimations of 38.6 per cent of the ACCHO sector, and we anticipate that those needs may be replicated across the sector (see Table A below).


There is a current shortfall in infrastructure with a need for new buildings in existing and outreach locations, and renovations to increase amenities including consultation spaces. Additional funding is required for additional rooms and clinics mapped against areas of highest need with consideration to establishing satellite, outreach or permanent ACCHSs.

Many of the Aboriginal health clinics are 20 to 40 years old and require major refurbishment, capital works and updating to meet increasing population and patient numbers. The lack of consulting rooms and derelict infrastructure severely limits our services’ ability to increase MBS access.

Further, whilst there may be some scope to increase MBS billing rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, this cannot be achieved without new services and infrastructure. A vital priority is seed funding for the provision of satellite and outreach Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will access, and which provide the comprehensive services needed to fill the service gaps, to boost the use of MBS and PBS services to more equitable levels, and to reduce preventable admissions and deaths.

Improvements to the building infrastructure of ACCHSs are required to strengthen their capacity to address gaps in service provision, attract and retain clinical staff, and support the safety and accessibility of clinics and residential staff facilities. However, the level of funding of $15m per annum, under the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme allocated for Capital Works – Infrastructure, Support and Assessment and Service Maintenance, is not keeping up with demand.

In our consultations with Affiliates and ACCHSs, NACCHO is increasingly hearing that

Telehealth services,[1] including infrastructure/hardware and improved connectivity, is required to support the provision of NDIS, mental health and health specialist services. A total of 22 out of 56 survey responses (see Table A below) identified the need for Telehealth to support service provision.

NACCHO believes that insufficient funding to meet capital works and infrastructure needs is adversely impacting the capacity of some ACCHSs to safely deliver comprehensive, timely and responsive primary health care; employ sufficient staff; to improve their uptake of Medicare billing; and to keep up with their accreditation requirements. In January 2019, we surveyed ACCHSs about their capital works and infrastructure needs, including Telehealth services. We received 56 responses, representing a response rate of 38.6 per cent.


Survey respondents estimated the total costs of identified capital works and infrastructure upgrades (see Table A below). The estimated costs have not been verified; however, they do

suggest there is a great level of unmet need in the sector. Please note that not all respondents were able to provide estimates.

Table A. Estimated costs of capital works and infrastructure upgrades identified by ACCHSs

Type Number of respondents Percentage of respondents Total estimated costs
Replace existing building 43 76.7% 207,559,043
New location/satellite clinic 21 37.5% 53,480,000
Extension 24 42.8% 18,310,000
Refurbishment 29 51.7% 35,251,000
Staff accommodation 25 44.6% 39,450,000
Telehealth services 22 39.2% 6,018,763
Total estimated costs of capital works and infrastructure upgrades $361,068,806


37 survey respondents applied for funding for infrastructure improvements from the Australian Government Department of Health during 2017 and/or 2018. Of the 11 that were successful, four respondents stated that the allocated funds were not sufficient for requirements.

ACCHSs believe that the current state of their service infrastructure impedes the capacity of their services as depicted in Table B, below:

Table B: Impact of ACCHSs’ infrastructure needs on service delivery

Infrastructure impeding service delivery Highly affected Somewhat affected
Safe delivery of quality health care 48.1% 51.9%
Increase client numbers 74.1% 25.9%
Expand the range of services and staff numbers 83.3% 16.7%
Increase Medicare billing 66% 34%


An extract of feedback provided by ACCHSs relating to their capital works and infrastructure needs is at Appendix A.

3. Improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing and community infrastructure


That the Australian Government:

  • Expand the funding and timeframe of the current National Partnership on Remote Housing to match AT LEAST that of the former National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing.
  • Establish and fund a program that supports healthy living environments in urban, regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, similar to the Fixing Houses for Better Health program. Ensure that rigorous data collection and program evaluation structures are developed and built into the program, to provide the Commonwealth Government with information to enable analysis of how housing improvements impact on health indicators.[2]
  • Update and promote the National Indigenous Housing Guide, a best practice resource for the design, construction and maintenance of housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.[3]


Safe and decent housing is one of the biggest social determinants of health and we cannot overlook this when working to close the gap in life expectancy.

1. Remote Indigenous Housing

The National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing 2008-2018 was a COAG initiative that committed funding of $5.4b towards new builds, refurbishments, housing quality, cyclical maintenance, and community engagement and employment and business initiatives.

In 2016, the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing was replaced by the National Partnership on Remote Housing. Under this new partnership, the Commonwealth Government committed:

  • $776.403m in 2016, to support remote housing in the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory over a two-year period; and
  • $550m in 2018, to support remote housing in the Northern Territory, over a five-year period.

New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania are not part of discussions with the Commonwealth Government on housing needs.

A review of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (2018) found that:

  • An additional 5,500 homes are required by 2028 to reduce levels of overcrowding in remote areas to acceptable levels
  • A planned cyclic maintenance program, with a focus on health-related hardware and houses functioning, is required.
  • Systematic property and tenancy management needs to be faster.
  • More effort is required to mobilise the local workforces to do repairs and maintenance work.[4]

There is currently a disconnect between the levels of government investment into remote housing and the identified housing needs of remote communities. This disconnect is increasingly exacerbated by population increases in Aboriginal communities.[5]

There is a comprehensive, evidence-based literature which investigates the powerful links between housing and health, education and employment outcomes.[6] Healthy living conditions are the basis from which Closing the Gap objectives may be achieved. Commonwealth Government leadership is urgently needed to appropriately invest into remote housing.

2.Environmental health

The importance of environmental health to health outcomes is well established. A healthy living environment with adequate housing supports not only the health of individuals and families; it also enhances educational achievements, community safety and economic participation.10

Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments have a shared responsibility for housing. Overcrowding is a key contributor to poor health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In addition to overcrowding, poor and derelict health hardware (including water, sewerage, electricity) leads to the spread of preventable diseases for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Healthy homes are vital to ensuring that preventable diseases that have been eradicated in most countries do not exist in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and homes.

4. Reduce the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in out-of-home care and detention


That the Australian Government:

  • Establishes an additional elective within the existing Aboriginal Health Worker curriculum, that provides students with early childhood outreach, preventative health care and parenting support skills
  • Waives the upfront fees of the first 100 Indigenous students to undertake the Aboriginal Health Worker (Early Childhood stream) Certificate IV course.
  • Funds an additional 145 Aboriginal Health Worker (early childhood) places across ACCHSs.


The overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the child protection system is one of the most pressing human rights challenges facing Australia today.[7]

Young people placed in out-of-home care are 16 times more likely than the equivalent general population to be under youth justice supervision in the same year.[8]

Government investment in early childhood is an urgent priority to reduce the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out of home care and youth detention. Research reveals that almost half of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who are placed to out of home care are removed by the age of four[9] and, secondly, demonstrates the strong link between children and young people in detention who have both current and/or previous experiences of out of home care.[10] There is also compelling evidence of the impact of repetitive, prolonged trauma on children and young people and how, if left untreated, this may lead to mental health and substance use disorders, and intergenerational experiences of out-of-home care and exposure to the criminal justice system.15

Despite previous investments by governments, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people remain overrepresented in the children protection and youth detention systems. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Protecting Children is Everyone’s Business National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–2020 (‘National Framework’) was established to develop a unified approach for protecting children. It recognises that ‘Australia needs a shared agenda for change, with national leadership and a common goal’.

One of the six outcomes of the National Framework is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are supported and safe in their families and communities, with this overarching goal:

Indigenous children are supported and safe in strong, thriving families and communities to reduce the over-representation of Indigenous children in child protection systems. For those Indigenous children in child protection systems, culturally appropriate care and support is provided to enhance their wellbeing.16

Findings presented in the 2018 Family Matters Report reveal, however, that the aims and objectives of the National Framework have failed to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up just over 36 per cent of all children living in out-of-home care; the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-ofhome care is 10.1 times that of other children, and disproportionate representation continues to grow (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [AIHW], 2018b). Since the last Family Matters Report over-representation in out-of-home care has either increased or remained the same in every state and territory.17

Furthermore, statistics on the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in detention facilities reveal alarmingly high trends of overrepresentation:

  • On an average night in the June quarter 2018, nearly 3 in 5 (59%) young people aged 10– 17 in detention were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, despite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people making up only 5% of the general population aged 10–17.
  • Indigenous young people aged 10–17 were 26 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people to be in detention on an average night.
  • A higher proportion of Indigenous young people in detention were aged 10–17 than non-Indigenous young people—in the June quarter 2018, 92% of Aboriginal and Torres

Strait Islander young people in detention were aged 10–17, compared with 74% of non-

Indigenous Islander young people.18


NACCHO believes an adequately funded, culturally safe, preventative response is needed to reduce the number and proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection and youth detention systems. It is vital that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families who are struggling with chronic, complex and challenging circumstances are able to access culturally appropriate, holistic, preventative services with trusted service providers that have expertise in working with whole families affected by intergenerational trauma. The child protection and justice literature are united in that best practice principles for developing solutions to these preventable problems begin with self-determination, community control, cultural safety and a holistic response.[11] For these reasons, we are proposing that the new Aboriginal Health Worker (Early Childhood) be based within the service setting of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service.

The cultural safety in which ACCHSs’ services are delivered is a key factor in their success. ACCHSs have expert understanding and knowledge of the interplays between intergenerational trauma, the social determinants of health, family violence, and institutional racism, and the risks these contributing factors carry in increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ exposure to the child protection and criminal justice systems.

Our services have developed trauma informed care responses that acknowledge historical and contemporary experiences of colonisation, dispossession and discrimination and build this knowledge into service delivery.

Further, they are staffed by health and medical professionals who understand the importance of providing a comprehensive health service, including the vital importance of regular screening and treatment for infants and children aged 0-4, and providing at risk families with early support. Within the principles, values and beliefs of the Aboriginal community controlled service model lay the groundwork for children’s better health, education, and employment outcomes. The addition of Aboriginal Health Workers with early childhood skills and training will provide an important, much needed role in preventing and reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young peoples’ exposure to child protection and criminal justice systems.


Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory, Submission to the Royal  

Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, 2017

NACCHO supports the position and recommendations of Aboriginal Peak Organisations in the NT, that:

•        Aboriginal community control, empowerment and a trauma informed approach should underpin the delivery of all services to Aboriginal children and their families. This applies to service design and delivery across areas including early childhood, education, health, housing, welfare, prevention of substance misuse, family violence prevention, policing, child protection and youth justice.

•        The Australian Government develops and implements a comprehensive, adequately resourced national strategy and target, developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, to eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care.

•        There is an urgent need for a child-centred, trauma-informed and culturally relevant approach to youth justice proceedings which ultimately seeks to altogether remove the need for the detention of children.

•        Early childhood programs and related clinical and public health services are provided equitably to all Aboriginal children (across the NT) through the development and implementation of a three-tiered model of family health care – universal, targeted and indicated – to meet children’s needs from before birth to school age. Services should be provided across eight key areas:  o quality antenatal and postnatal care;

o clinical and public health services for children and families; o a nurse home visiting program; o parenting programs; o child development programs; o two years of preschool; o targeted services for vulnerable children and families; and o supportive social determinants policies.

•        These services need to be responsive to, and driven by, the community at a local level.

5. Strengthen the mental health and social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples


That the Australian Government:

  • Provide secure and long-term funding to ACCHSs to expand their mental health, social and emotional wellbeing, suicide prevention, alcohol and other drugs services, using best practice trauma informed approaches.
  • Urgently increase funding for ACCHSs to employ staff to deliver mental health and social and emotional wellbeing services, including psychologists, psychiatrists, speech pathologists, mental health workers and other professionals and workers; and
  • Urgently increase the delivery of training to Aboriginal health practitioners to establish and/or consolidate skills development in mental health care and support, including suicide prevention; and
  • Return funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention, health and wellbeing and alcohol and other drugs from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy to the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme.


The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has estimated that mental health and substance use are the biggest contributors to the overall burden of disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Indigenous adults are 2.7 times more likely to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress than other Australians.[12] They are also hospitalised for mental and behavioural disorders and suicide at almost twice the rate of non-Indigenous population and are missing out on much needed mental health services.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for Aboriginal people aged 5-34 years, the second leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men. In 2016, the rate of suicide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was 24 per 100,000, twice the rate for non-Indigenous Australians.[13] Aboriginal people living in the Kimberley region are seven times more likely to suicide than non-Aboriginal people.

Many Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services deliver culturally safe, trauma informed services in communities dealing with extreme social and economic disadvantage that are affected and compounded by intergenerational trauma and are supporting positive changes in the lives of their members. The case study provided by Derby Aboriginal Health Service demonstrates not only the impact that this ACCHS is having on its community. It also illustrates the rationale for each of the proposals described in this pre-budget submission.

Case Study: Derby Aboriginal Health Service, WA

Derby Aboriginal Health Service’s Social and Emotional Wellbeing Unit (SEWB) have partnered with another organisation to employ someone in our SEWB unit to work directly with families on issues that contribute to them losing their children to Department of Child Protection (DCP). This program is designed to help prevent the children from being removed by DCP by working one to one with families on issues such as budgeting, education, substance misuse, a safe and healthy home etc.

Our SEWB unit has a community engagement approach which involves working directly with clients and their families, counselling with the psychologist and mental health worker, the male Aboriginal Mental Health Worker taking men out on country trips as part of mental health activities for men, the youth at risk program (Shine), the Body Clinic, the prenatal program working directly with mums, dads and bubs around parenting, relationships between mums, dads and children etc. The team work directly with the community.

We are now introducing a new SEWB designed program into the Derby prison which focuses on exploring men and women’s strengths and abilities rather than looking at their deficits. Using a strengths based program was very successfully delivered with a group of 22 Aboriginal men and 16 Aboriginal women where, for many of the participants, they were told for the first time in their lives that they matter and that they have good things about them and they are strong men and women (this naturally brought in some behavior modification that they could attempt in making changes in their lives; e.g. one participant said that when he went home, he was going to make his wife a cup of tea instead of expecting her to make him tea – he said he had never thought of that before). The SEWB team presented this at the National Mental Health Conference in Adelaide, August last year.

Given the deep and respectful footprint the SEWB team has in the town and surrounding communities, they, and the people, deserve and need a new building in which to continue their important work. If we can help people deal with the issues above, then they will be much more empowered to prevent/deal with their own health issues – perhaps then we can Close the Gap.

Given the burden of mental, psychological distress and trauma that our communities are responding to and the impact this has on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ life expectancy, educational outcomes, and workforce participation, NACCHO believes it is imperative that a funded implementation plan for the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing

2017-2023 (‘the Framework’) be developed as a priority. The following Action Areas of the Framework relate to this proposal:

  • Action Area 1 – Strengthen the foundations (An effective and empowered mental health and social and emotional wellbeing workforce);
  • Action Area 2 – Promote wellness (all outcome areas);[14] and
  • Action Area 4 – Provide care for people who are mildly or moderately ill (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with a mild or moderate mental illness are able to access culturally and clinically appropriate primary mental health care according to need).

As the above case study suggests, our trusted local Aboriginal community controlled services are best placed to be the preferred providers of mental health, social and emotional wellbeing, and suicide prevention activities to their communities. Australian Government funding should be prioritised to on the ground Aboriginal services to deliver suicide prevention, trauma and other wellbeing services. Delivering these much-needed services through ACCHSs, rather than establishing a new service, would deliver economies of scale and would draw from an already demonstrated successful model of service delivery.

Further, NACCHO believes that the current artificial distinction between separating mental health, social and emotional wellbeing and alcohol and drug funding from primary health care funding, must be abolished. Primary health care, within the holistic health provision of ACCHS, provides the sound structure to address all aspects of health care arising from social, emotional and physical factors. Primary health care is a comprehensive approach to health in accordance with the Aboriginal holistic definition of health and arises out of the practical experience within the Aboriginal community itself having to provide effective and culturally appropriate health services to its communities.

The current artificial distinction, as exemplified by program funding for ACCHS activities being administered across two Australian Government Departments, does not support our definition of health and wellbeing. It also leads to inefficiencies and unnecessarily increases red tape, by imposing additional reporting burdens on a sector that is delivering services under challenging circumstances.     


Qualitative feedback from Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services  capital works and infrastructure needs 

The following comments from ACCHSs have been extracted from a survey administered by NACCHO in January 2019:

  • Currently at capacity and as the government focusses more on Medicare earnings and less on funding we need the ability to expand into this area as well as the NDIS in order to meet our client service needs and build sustainability.
  • The facility that our service currently occupies is state government owned, on state crown land, is over 40 years old and is ‘sick’ – it is not fit for purpose with an irreparable roof, significant asbestos contamination, water ingress, mould and recurrent power outages. The maintenance costs are an unsustainable burden, it is unreliable, unsuitable and unsafe for clients and staff, and there is no room for expansion for program and community areas. We applied for funding from the Australian Government Department of Health, but the application was not successful. This figure is inclusive of early works transportable – temporary accommodation, building works, demolition works, services infrastructure, external works, design development contingency, construction contingency, builder preliminaries and margin, loose furniture and equipment, specialist/medical equipment, ICT & PABX, AV equipment, professional including.

disbursements (to be confirmed), statutory fees, locality loading, and goods and services tax.

  • We are in need of kitchen renovations to each of our community care sites that do meals on wheels. The WA Environmental Health unit has informed us that we need to upgrade all our kitchens to meet Food Safety requirements or they will enforce closure of some of our kitchens, which would then mean we are unable to do our Meals on Wheels service in some communities
  • Currently limited by space to employ support staff and increase our GP’s, our waiting room is around 3x4m and we are always having clients standing up or waiting outside until there is space for them. We currently have three buildings in the one township with two being rentals, if we could co-locate all services, we could offer a higher level of integrated care and save wasted money on rent.
  • Not currently enough space to house staff and visiting clinicians.
  • Have been applying for grants in infrastructure and included in Action Plan for quite a few years and still not successful.
  • We need a multi-purpose building to bring together our comprehensive range of services in a way that enables community to gather, express their culture and feel safe and welcome whilst receiving a fully integrated service delivery model of supports. We have more than doubled in staffing and program delivery and are still trying to operate out of the same space. The need for further expansion is inevitable and the co-operative welcomes the opportunity to bring more services to our community, but infrastructure

is a barrier and we have taken the strategic decision to acquire vacant land near our main headquarters with the view to obtaining future infrastructure funding – it is much needed.

  • The three sites we currently lease are all commercial premises and we have to make our business fit, the buildings are not culturally appropriate nor are they designed for a clinical setting.
  • For eight years we have struggled to grow in line with our community service needs and the requirement to become more self-sufficient in the face of a funding environment which is declining in real terms (not keeping pace with CPI and wages growth). Further to this, every time we add a building our running costs go up so even capital expansion comes at a cost to the organisation as it takes time to build up to the operating capacity that the new/improved buildings provide. This is the ongoing struggle in our space.
  • Our service was established in 1999 and has been operating from an 80 year old converted holiday house, with a couple of minor extensions. The clinic does not meet the contemporary set up for an efficient clinic from viewpoint of staff, medical services and for community members. Space is very limited, and service delivery is also limited due to room availability. Demand for services both for physical and mental health/SEWB is growing strongly. We have 425 Community Members (with 70 currently in prisons in our region) and our actual patient numbers accessing services over 12 months have increased 50%.
  • We never received support or funding to acquire a purpose-built facility from the outset and as there was no suitable accommodation for rent or lease, we acquired two small houses to deliver our services from. These were totally inadequate but all we could acquire at the time. We have 31 staff accommodated through three locations and require a purpose-built facility to deliver quality primary health care to our Community.
  • Over the last two years we have been able to purchase the site it is currently located on. This site is based on five contiguous residential properties, with each property containing a 2-3 bedroom, approximately 40 year old house. Two of these houses have been joined together to form the Medical Clinic, the other three houses have all been renovated and upgraded to various levels in order to make them usable by the service. The next step in the plan is to redevelop the entire site to build an all-in-one centre to replace the current four separate buildings. In our 12 years of service we have moved from renting at a number of locations to being able to purchase our current site. The current site of old, converted residential buildings while viable in the short term, does not allow for efficient use of the site nor capacity for growth. Parking is scattered around the site, staff are scattered and continually moving from building to building to serve clients. There is no excess accommodation capacity to allow for growth of services. Our intention is to re-develop the site to house all staff in one building, which will be configured for growth over the long term and allow efficient use of the available grounds for parking, an Elders shed, and so on.
  • We have run out of room. Every office is shared, including the CEO’s office. We can’t hire any staff – nowhere to house them. Whenever a visiting service is operating – GP clinic, podiatry, optometry, audiology, chiropractor etc, offices have to be vacated to house

them, displaced staff basically have nowhere to go. Fine balancing act to schedule things to displace as few people as possible.

  • We are currently located in two refurbished community buildings as there is no suitable accommodation for lease. Our organisation is growing very quickly, and we need all services located under one roof – one identity, one culture.
  • Rapidly reaching the point where services will be diminished because of failing infrastructure or insufficient housing for the nursing staff required.
  • Some clinical rooms are not fit for purpose. Clinicians working from rooms without hand washing facilities. Medical Clinic is old, out of date, some rooms not fit for purpose, ineffective air conditioning, clinical staff sharing rooms, no room for expansion, difficult to house students due to lack of appropriate space.
  • We have made a number of applications to improve infrastructure, and to replace current infrastructure, all have been unsuccessful, in some cases we have purchase buildings & land to try and demonstrate a commitment to ongoing growth and servicing of clients. We get little feedback in relation to funding applications.
  • Spread across three sites with some providers having to share rooms and staff being required to work outside on laptops at times. Desperately needing to build a purposebuilt facility in order to stop paying high amounts of rent and allow effective primary health care to an increasing client number.

Derby Aboriginal Health Service

The Derby Aboriginal Health Service (DAHS) Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) unit is housed in a 60+ year old asbestos building that was originally a family home. It has an old and small transport unit connected to the house by an exposed verandah. There are 6 staff working from the house who provide individual and family counselling and support. The clients who come to SEWB experience mental health issues, family violence, poverty, Department of Child Protection (DCP) issues around removal of children, alcohol and other drug issues and supporting those released from the Derby local Prison (approx. 200 prisoners). It is difficult to safely secure SEWB to the extent it is required given the age and asbestos nature of the building (security alarms etc). In the photos, you can see the buildings are old and are of asbestos. The transportable out the back houses the manager who is also the psychologist – this means she is in a vulnerable position when counselling should the session not go as planned (potential for a violent situation – see photo showing external verandah connecting to the donga).

The size of the house means that counselling clients privately is difficult as everything happens in close quarters. The number of clients the team work with exceeds the capacity of the building which impacts on the number of Aboriginal clients the team can help. The SEWB building has been broken into a number of times the last being during the long weekend in September 2018 where significant damage was done. Given the age of the house, during the past 18 months, parts of the internal ceiling including cornices have been falling away from the structures creating potential issues of asbestos fibre being released into the air. In addition, there are plumbing problems and the wooden floor is becoming a safety issue in one area of the building.

SEWB runs a vulnerable youth programme (the Shine Group) and a Body Shop clinic for youth who will not attend the main clinic for shame and fear reasons (special appointments are made with a doctor so that the young person doesn’t have to wait in the waiting area. In addition, a doctor runs a monthly session at the SEWB building with youth around health education and also sees them if there is a clinical need). These programmes run out of another 60+ year old asbestos family house some distance from the main SEWB house. Not only is the house not suitable but there may be security risks for the staff member working with vulnerable youth.  The Shine House was also broken into in September 2018 where significant damage was done (see photos).

The DAHS main building has no further office or other space to house staff.  This is particularly the case for 2019 as DAHS takes on new programmes (e.g. 2 staff for the new Syphilis Programme).  DAHS is acutely aware of the need to source funding to build new administration offices in order to release current admin offices for clinical and programme purposes.

DAHS requires a new or upgraded SEWB building. DAHS first applied for service maintenance funding in March 2017 but were unsuccessful. DAHS applied in June 2018 for Capital Works but were unsuccessful because it didn’t fit in with IAHP Primary Health Care as it was about mental health. DAHS also paid for an Architect to draw up the plans for a new SEWB building.  It is my view that one of the main issues is that the government separates SEWB from primary health care.

Social and emotional wellbeing issues CANNOT be separated from primary health care.  As is well known, a person’s SEWB impacts on the physical health of an individual.  Physical illhealth is frequently caused by the SEWB condition of an individual (i.e. historical and current experiences of trauma frequently commencing in the pre-natal phase of a child’s life, family violence, alcohol and other drug use, smoking, anxiety, removal of children, mental health issues etc). Aboriginal people suffer greatly from SEWB issues which impacts on their overall physical health.  Mental health in all its forms is part and parcel of physical health so it must be included in primary health care.

However, both state and commonwealth governments do not seem to prioritise or even support funding for SEWB (such as service and maintenance work, capital works or funding to continue key positions in the SEWB team – in fact, the government actively separates funding for SEWB and primary health care).  DAHS also provides clinical services to 7 remote communities most of whom are up to 400 kms away with Kandiwal Community 600kms away where we supply a fly in/fly out clinical service. There are many demands placed on a team of SEWB workers stationed in a working environment that does not allow them to function to the best of their abilities or offer increased services to our clients. Passion for the cause alone does not help in Closing the Gap. Working with one hand tied behind one’s back is not effective in reducing mental health issues and chronic diseases.

Part of an upgrade we requested was to renovate reception to make it safer for receptionist staff and to increase confidentiality when clients speak with reception staff (it also doesn’t meet the needs of disabled clients). There are a number of times throughout the year when receptionist staff are verbally abused with threats of physical harm. The current reception was designed prior to more recent events of aggression exhibited by clients under the influence of drugs.  The design now enables abusive clients to quite easily reach across the reception counter and hurt staff or can jump over the same counter to gain access to staff.  In addition, given there is no screen and the current open nature of the reception area, sharing confidential information can be compromised. DAHS applied for services and maintenance funding to make the changes but were unsuccessful.

[1] ACCHSs may apply for Telehealth funding through the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme, Governance and System Effectiveness: Sector Support activity.


[3] 2/housing_guide_info_intro.pdf  

[4], page 3.


[6];;;; 10  

[7] Australia Human Rights Commission Social Justice and Native Title Report 2015, cited in the Australian Law

Reform Commission publication, Pathways to JusticeInquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (ALRC Report 133)



[10]; 15;

[11]; Thorburn, Kathryn and Melissa Marshall. 2017. The Yiriman Project in the West Kimberley: an example of justice reinvestment? Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse, Current Initiatives Paper 5; McCausland, Ruth, Elizabeth McEntyre, Eileen Baldry. 2017. Indigenous People, Mental Health, Cognitive Disability and the

Criminal Justice System. Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse. Brief 22; AMA Report Card on Indigenous Health 2015. Treating the high rates of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as a symptom of the health gap: an integrated approach to both; Richards, Kelly, Lisa Rosevear and Robyn Gilbert. 2011.

Promising interventions for reducing Indigenous juvenile offending. Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse, Brief 10.

[12] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2018. Australia’s Health 2018. Australia’s health series no. 16. AUS 221. Canberra: AIHW.

[13] Ibid

[14] Outcome areas: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and cultures are strong and support social and emotional wellbeing and mental health; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are strong and supported; Infants get the best possible developmental start to life and mental health; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people get the services and support they need to thrive and grow into mentally healthy adults.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the #NDIS : New @ozprodcom report calls for New agreement on #disability needed to improve the wellbeing of people with disability

” This Productivity Commission report was released on 1 February 2019.

It has found that a new National Disability Agreement (NDA) between the Australian, State and Territory Governments is needed to facilitate cooperation, enhance accountability and clarify roles and responsibilities.

We have made a number of recommendations for a new NDA that has at its core the wellbeing and needs of all people with disability and their families and carers. See Part 2 Below

Download the report HERE

NDIS disability-agreement

“Did you know the current National Disability Agreement is outdated and doesn’t reflect either the or the National Disability Strategy? A new is needed as a strong positive force to guide future policy.”

Read our report at

 ” NACCHO lodged a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into NDIS Readiness on 22 February 2018. When appropriately resourced, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) are uniquely placed to support Aboriginal people through the NDIS to improve health and wellbeing outcomes.

However, there are barriers for ACCHSs becoming providers of the NDIS including cost, thin markets as recognised by the Productivity Commission and limited Aboriginal workforce.

See Part 4 below

Part 1 : The Productivity Commission Press Release :New agreement on disability needed to improve the wellbeing of people with disability

The Productivity Commission has called for a new National Disability Agreement (NDA) between all Australian governments to promote cooperation, enhance accountability and clarify roles and responsibilities. A new agreement would help to improve the wellbeing of people with disability, particularly those not covered by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), as well as their families and carers.

Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald said, “With so much focus on the NDIS, limited attention has been placed on achieving better outcomes for the many people with disability who are not supported through the NDIS. There’s about 3.8 million people with disability in Australia who are not supported by the NDIS. Most people with disabilities are not and never will be covered by the NDIS yet their rights, needs and aspirations matter”.

The Productivity Commission identified in a report released today that the disability policy landscape has changed dramatically since the current agreement commenced a decade ago and much of what is in it is now outdated and irrelevant. In particular, the current agreement does not reflect the implementation of the NDIS or the National Disability Strategy.

“There has been very little progress in meeting previously agreed goals such as raising labour force participation rates for people with disability or improving the wellbeing of carers. We have identified key gaps in the areas of advocacy services, support for carers, and supports for people with disabilities arising from mental health conditions, as well as access to community and inclusion programs,” Commissioner Fitzgerald said.

The Commission’s report concludes that a new, reinvigorated NDA could be a strong positive force to guide future disability policy, to promote better access to mainstream and disability services and to improve outcomes for people with disability.

The Commission recommends that the new NDA clearly set out the responsibilities of governments to provide disability services outside the NDIS, and to affirm the commitment of governments to address service gaps and barriers that people with disability face in accessing mainstream services.

“Improving the wellbeing of all people with disability, their families and carers requires a collaborative response from all levels of government, extending well beyond the NDIS to many other service systems such as housing, transport, health, justice and education,” Commissioner Fitzgerald said.

The Commission also recommends that the new NDA set out a single, strengthened national performance reporting framework, with progress towards the outcomes of the new NDA publicly disseminated via a new National Disability Report, to be tabled in Parliament every two years.

The full study report about the National Disability Agreement Review can be accessed from the Commission’s website at This is the first of the Commission’s reviews of nationally significant sector-wide agreements between the Australian and State and Territory Governments.


In 2008, the Australian and State and Territory Governments agreed on a new framework for federal financial relations, to provide a foundation for collaboration on policy and service delivery, and to facilitate the implementation of reforms in areas of national importance. The centrepiece of this arrangement was the establishment of six National Agreements covering disability, education, health, housing, Indigenous reform, and skills and workforce development.

The Australian Government has asked the Productivity Commission to review nationally significant sector‑wide agreements, beginning with the National Disability Agreement (NDA) (box 1). The Commission was asked to consider the relevance of the agreement in the context of contemporary policy settings and whether it needs updating in light of these.

Read over articles Aboriginal Health and NDIS published over past 7 years

See also Community Planning for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in the
Northern Territory

Engaging Aboriginal Communiy Controlled Organisations in Disability Service Provision

Key points
The current National Disability Agreement (NDA) no longer serves its purpose, has a weak influence on policy, and its performance targets show no progress in improving the wellbeing of people with disability. A new agreement is needed to promote cooperation, enhance accountability and clarify roles and responsibilities of governments.

The disability policy landscape has changed markedly since the NDA was signed in 2008.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) commenced in 2013, focusing on supports for approximately 475 000 people with significant and permanent disability. And the National Disability Strategy (NDS), which covers all people with disability (approximately 4.3 million), was endorsed by all Australian Governments in 2011.

Improving the wellbeing of people with disability and carers across the nation requires a collaborative response from all levels of government, extending well beyond the NDIS to many other service systems, such as housing, transport, health, justice, and education.

There is an important role for a new NDA that has at its core, the wellbeing and needs of all people with disability and their families and carers. The purpose of a new NDA would be to provide an overarching agreement for disability policy, to clarify roles and responsibilities, to promote cooperation and to enhance accountability.

The new NDA should:

  • set out the aspirational objective for disability policy in Australia — people with disability and their carers have an enhanced quality of life and participate as valued members of the community — and acknowledge and reflect the rights committed to by Australia under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • outline the roles and responsibilities of governments in progressing that objective; the outcomes being sought for people with disability; and a nationally consistent performance reporting framework for tracking progress against those outcomes.

The NDS should continue to play the essential role of articulating policy actions, with these actions explicitly linked to the new NDA’s outcomes.

  • The agreements governing the NDIS would remain separate to the NDA, but should be referenced throughout so that the NDA is reflective of the whole disability system.
  • Roles and responsibilities in the NDA need to be updated to reflect contemporary policy settings, to reduce uncertainty and to address gaps in several areas — including in relation to advocacy, carers, and the interface between the NDIS and mainstream service systems.
  • To facilitate greater clarity in responsibilities, governments should articulate and publish which programs they are rolling into the NDIS and how they will support people with disability who are not covered by the NDIS. They should also (through the COAG Disability Reform Council (DRC)) undertake a comprehensive gap analysis, with the new NDA outlining responsibilities for addressing any gaps. A gap analysis should be undertaken every five years.
  • NDA performance reporting needs strengthening to improve transparency and accountability.
  • There should be a single person‑centred national performance reporting arrangement across the NDA and NDS, with performance indicators and targets agreed to by the DRC.

A ‘National Disability Report’ should be tabled in Parliament biennially, outlining progress against the NDA’s outcomes and performance metrics, and including the perspectives of people with disability and findings from policy evaluations undertaken as part of the NDA.

A new NDA should be agreed by the start of 2020. It should be a living document, with updates made to schedules as required, and should be independently reviewed every five years.

Part 2 :The Federal Government has welcomes the release of the Productivity Commission’s Final Report of its Review of the National Disability Agreement.

The National Disability Agreement is a high-level accord between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments that sets out roles and responsibilities for the funding and provision of specialist services for people with disability.

“The Australian Government will continue to work with all governments, people with disability and the disability sector to consider the findings and recommendations of the Report as we develop a new strategy,” Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher, said.

“With one-in-five Australians living with disability, it is critical for governments to work together to help people with disability take control of their lives and have equal access and opportunity.

“We recognise the disability policy landscape has changed significantly since the agreement was first signed in 2008.

“The findings from this review are highly relevant for informing the design of a new National Disability Strategy for beyond 2020.”

Mr Fletcher said work has already started on developing the new National Disability Strategy for beyond 2020, with public consultation starting later this year.

“We understand the need for a renewed commitment between the Commonwealth and the states and territories,” Mr Fletcher said.

“It is imperative that states and territories continue to provide equal access to mainstream services, such as health, education and transport, so that people with disability can benefit from the same services that are available to, and to which all Australian rely.”

Assistant Minister for Social Services, Housing and Disability Services, Sarah Henderson, said the report reflects the enormous commitment to people with disability by all levels of government, providers, families and carers, and the community.

“We can all acknowledge that people with disability can face challenges with accessing and navigating mainstream services and the report highlights the need for all governments to focus more on overcoming these challenges,” Ms Henderson said.

“The NDIS is one of the biggest social reforms in Australian history and represents a very significant change to the way people with disability access support.”

The NDIS was never intended to replace all services that state and territory governments provide for people with disability, nor does it remove state and territory responsibility for providing disability support for people under 65 (under 50 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) who are not eligible for the NDIS.

More than 250,000 Australians are now being supported by the NDIS including 78,000 receiving life-changing supports for the first time. As at 30 September 2018, 91 per cent of NDIS participants were also accessing mainstream services and supports.

Part 3 : The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) fully supports the recommendations and commends the Productivity Commission in its latest review outcomes into the National Disability Agreements (NDA).

AFDO urges the Federal Government and every State & Territory government to adopt these recommendations and through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) commence building these recommendations into a new NDA inclusive of relevant funding, outcomes and reporting.

“I commend the work and the depth of consultation which Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald and the Productivity Commission team have undertaken which is reflected in the richness of the recommendations, they have nailed it!, said Mr Joyce, CEO of AFDO.

“We have been very concerned about the ongoing confusion over responsibilities and service provision across jurisdictions following the implementation and roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) particularly for the 4+ million Australians with disability who are not and never will be covered by the NDIS. The NDIS is essential and will cover 460 thousand Australians at full roll-out, those outside of this and ineligible to join still need relevant supports across all communities. All State & Territory Governments have an ongoing responsibility to people with disability to provide relevant services and supports, no different to anyone else”, advised Mr Joyce.

“The Productivity Commission has investigated and provided key, pertinent and practical recommendations which will ensure that new National Disability Agreements will be an overarching agreement covering all people with disability. The new Agreements need to be about meeting the rights, needs and aspirations, of all people with disability in Australia, and reflect the role of the National Disability Strategy and the NDIS. This is welcomed and would create a new dynamic for people with disability and bring about greater inclusion.”

“We need the Federal Government and all State/Territory Governments to get on board, endorse these and ensure that agreed funding is provided to enable implementation in an effective and timely manner”, said Mr Joyce.

The full review by the Productivity Commission is available here.

Part 4

NACCHO lodged a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into NDIS Readiness on 22 February 2018. When appropriately resourced, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) are uniquely placed to support Aboriginal people through the NDIS to improve health and wellbeing outcomes.

However, there are barriers for ACCHSs becoming providers of the NDIS including cost, thin markets as recognised by the Productivity Commission and limited Aboriginal workforce. The submission also highlights the barriers many Aboriginal people face in accessing NDIS services which include not fitting the assumed client model, limited NDIS service providers in rural and remote areas and not catering for the specific needs of Aboriginal culture.

NACCHO is supportive of the NDIS and understands it is a complex and highly valued national reform. If implemented well, the NDIS will substantially improve the health and wellbeing of people with a disability and Australians more generally. We are keen to collaborate with the Commonwealth Government to develop better solutions for Aboriginal people with a disability.

The full submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry including recommendations for improvement can be found here – NACCHO NDIS submission

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #NDIS News : 1. Aboriginal people with disabilities and their families need our support and 2. the Ombudsman releases report into the National Disability Insurance Agency’s handling of reviews

 ” In 2014 the Australian government commenced rolling out the NDIS. But Aboriginal participation in the new scheme remains unacceptably low.

This means that despite increases in the funding available, there is a real danger that without culturally appropriate services, supports and pathways the Aboriginal community will not get access to all of the opportunities that the NDIS represents.

Daily our mob lives with the impacts of disability more than any other section of the Australian population: almost half of our Indigenous population aged 15 years and over live with disability or a restrictive long-term health condition and experience disability at more than twice the rate of the general Australian population which increases further with the inclusion of psychosocial disability (mental health).

We need solutions to ensure that all Aboriginal people and their families have access to quality disability services that respect their culture and meet their needs.”

Joseph Archibald is a Gamilario man living on Birpai country mid-north NSW coast. He is manager of Windaan Aboriginal Services. Joseph has worked in the disability sector across areas including sector capacity building for Aboriginal engagement and Aboriginal employment and workforce strategy with industry peak National Disability Services (NDS) and NDIS service development with Galambila Aboriginal Health Service

Read over 20 recent NACCHO Aboriginal Health and NDIS articles HERE

Commonwealth Ombudsman Michael Manthorpe today released a report into the National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA) handling of reviews of decisions under the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 highlighting complaints and stakeholder feedback including significant backlogs, delays in decision making and poor communication practices.”

In releasing the report, Mr Manthorpe acknowledged the considerable pressure the NDIA has been under to meet bilateral targets since the national rollout of the NDIS, which began in July 2016.

Download a copy of report Here


However, the Ombudsman stressed this must not be used as a reason to deprioritise or delay other work, including reviews.

“It is clear from this report there are a number of areas in which the NDIA can, and should improve its administration of participant-initiated reviews. Without significant efforts to improve the timeliness of its approach and its communication with participants, there remains a risk that participants’ rights to review will be challenged and the review process will continue to be unwieldy, unapproachable and the driver of complaint volumes” Mr Manthorpe said.

Since mid-2016, complaints to the Commonwealth Ombudsman about the NDIA’s review process have represented around 32 per cent of all NDIA complaints.

The report makes 20 recommendations aimed at improving the NDIA’s administration of reviews, all of which were accepted by the NDIA. The Ombudsman’s Office will continue to monitor the implementation of the recommendations in the report, which is available at:

Media Part 2

People with disabilities are facing delays of up to nine months when they attempt to have their bungled National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plans fixed, an investigation has found.

From the ABC Report

Key points:

  • NDIS participants seek reviews when their plan does not fit with their needs, for example if they receive funding for fewer hours of care than needed
  • Ombudsman’s report found up to 8,000 people are still waiting for an outcome on their reviews
  • Agency accepted finding that it was not prioritising urgent cases, where people could be at risk of harm or homelessness

People seek reviews for many reasons, including when their plan includes wrong or inadequate equipment and support, for example if they receive funding for fewer hours of care than needed.

“[Delays] pose a particular risk to those who may be at risk of losing services or experiencing deterioration in their capacity if their plan is not adjusted quickly,” the report said.

The Ombudsman said it received 400 complaints about the National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA) review processes over the 18 months to January.Reports to the watchdog included:

“In one case, a participant did not know why her plan was changed because the NDIA had not told her it had accepted (and given effect to) her request for a plan review,” the report said.

“Some participants have told us they have been waiting for up to eight or nine months for a decision on their review request, without any update on its progress or explanation of the time taken.”

The Ombudsman described the review processes as “unwieldy”, “unapproachable”, and lacking “fairness and transparency”.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s report into the NDIS’s plan review system has revealed up to 8,000 people are stuck waiting for an outcome.

  • The agency not prioritising urgent cases where, for example, people could be at risk of harm or homelessness
  • NDIA staff and contractors discouraging people from seeking a review
  • The NDIA not acknowledging requests for review or responding to enquiries

The NDIA has accepted the Ombudsman’s 20 recommendations.

“The NDIA has established a dedicated team to manage outstanding reviews.

Social Services Minister Dan Tehan reinforced the message that the NDIA was dealing with the issues outlined in the report.

“Obviously when you undertake a reform of this scale there will always be issues that we need to work through … we’re doing everything we can to speed up the process.

“”These problems need to be fixed, and fixed right now,” Ms Macklin said.

“Get peoples’ plans right the first time so we just don’t need all these reviews done, and people waiting for much-needed support.”

Federal Labor’s social services spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said it was “an absolutely damning report”.

“This was something that was identified some months ago and special teams have been put in place to address this issue,” he said.

“The NDIS is a world-first reform, the size and scale of which means the scheme will not be without challenges.”

“[The agency] has started determining the most practical way to implement responses,” a spokesman said in a statement.

More than 140,000 Australians are now covered by the NDIS — a number expected to reach 475,000 by early next decade.

Example of AWABAKAL ACCHO NDIS Promotion

You are invited to our FREE information sessions to learn more about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

14 June 2018
• 10am to 12pm at Wickham Office
• 2pm – 4pm at Cardiff Office

We will explain:
• What is the National Disability Insurance Scheme?
• Accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
• What is funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme?
• What supports are available if I am not eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme?
• Your Consumer Rights when accessing Service Providers
• What is a service agreement?

Yarn to people who have been National Disability Insurance Scheme participants for several years about exercising their rights as consumers.

LOCATION: 10am to 12pm 64 Hannell st Wickham
2pm to 4pm 15 Kelton St Cardiff

For further information contact Suzy Trindall – CDAH
M: 0428 840 953 E:

Part 3 Aboriginal people with disabilities and their families need our support


Before I worked in the sector, I didn’t know much about disabilities and felt it had little to no relevance to my personal life. How wrong I was. I have been a carer for immediate and extended family and have grown up around family members with disability, but as in many of our Indigenous communities across the country, care and acceptance were our cultural norm and labels were not required.

Pictured above : Editor of NACCHO Communique and Stroke Foundation Consumer Council Co chair & Board Member 2017 Colin Cowell (left ) with fellow stroke survivor Tania Lewis at an NDIS workshop in Coffs Harbour conducted by Joe Archibald (right )

Read Tania’s story HERE

The question of how much of a difference access to quality formal disability supports could have made to the lives of my family members with disability, as well as our lives as carers, is more relevant now then ever.

We need solutions to ensure that all Aboriginal people and their families have access to quality disability services that respect their culture and meet their needs.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) boasts some pretty impressive statistics, including the largest social reform since Medicare, increased funding in the sector from about $8bn per year to $22bn in 2019-20, and providing supports to about 475,000 people.

In 2014 the Australian government commenced rolling out the NDIS. But Aboriginal participation in the new scheme remains unacceptably low. This means that despite increases in the funding available, there is a real danger that without culturally appropriate services, supports and pathways the Aboriginal community will not get access to all of the opportunities that the NDIS represents.

Daily our mob lives with the impacts of disability more than any other section of the Australian population: almost half of our Indigenous population aged 15 years and over live with disability or a restrictive long-term health condition and experience disability at more than twice the rate of the general Australian population which increases further with the inclusion  of psychosocial disability (mental health).

Research and statistics demonstrate the overwhelmingly adverse intersectional impact of being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and having disability across a range of wellbeing and social indicators including health, educational attainment, employment participation, personal safety and exposure to the out of home care and criminal justice systems. Indigenous youth in juvenile detention are recorded as having very high rates of significant intellectual disabilities or mental health conditions.

Aboriginal people living with disability, their carers and families need our support.

Every day Indigenous families enter the NDIS system and service marketplace, many with little support and knowledge of what to do and where to go. This will continue as the NDIS evolves and adapts its generic approach, after having already acknowledged more culturally appropriate strategies and pathways are needed to create equity.

There are cohorts of participants for which supply shortages are high-risk due to the increased cost of service provision and limited availability of workforce, including those who: are in outer regional, remote or very remote areas; have complex needs; are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians; or have acute care needs such as in crisis situations.”

For those who have knowledge of the NDIS space you don’t have to look hard to identify the significant risks in becoming a participant or service provider within an evolving scheme. Acknowledging NDIS is a tough market and costs are yet to reflect the “high risk” and specialist service delivery required to achieve effective outcomes, so it is essential to identify what you do well.

We need culturally appropriate services with sustainable models that can compete in the NDIS open market and be around for our communities for the long term.

Seek to collaborate with existing culturally appropriate services.

Our mob still requires a lot of advocacy in the disability space, and services cannot meaningfully address the needs of Aboriginal communities alone. Adopting models that work closely with Aboriginal families and local partner organisations is important, such as our partnership with Galambila Aboriginal Health Services. It complements existing strengths and services pathways to provide comprehensive care coordination across disability, primary health and allied health services. We know that isolating disabilities from our other services does not work in achieving the positive engagement and outcomes for overall health and wellbeing of our communities.

Historically culture and community supports have been excluded from formal disability service provision, but the right supports and services can empower our families to maintain community and culture in services as much as possible.

At Windaan we have made a commitment to weather the storm of NDIS service delivery and seek out partners where our values and vision align. This allows our Indigenous communities to receive services they’re entitled to and deserve.

  • Guardian Australia is proud to partner with IndigenousX to showcase the diversity of Indigenous peoples and opinions from around the country.