NACCHO #ANZACday2018 tribute : Our black history: #LestWeForget Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans

 

” Over 1000 Indigenous Australians fought in the First World War. They came from a section of society with few rights, low wages, and poor living conditions. Most Indigenous Australians could not vote and none were counted in the census. But once in the AIF, they were treated as equals. They were paid the same as other soldiers and generally accepted without prejudice.”

From the Australian War Memorial Indigenous Defence Service Website

Private Miller Mack served in World War I from 1916-17 alongside fellow Australian troops among the 7th Reinforcements in France.

 ” Private Miller Mack’s image is iconic – frequently used as a symbol of Indigenous Australians’ important contribution to the ANZAC war effort. Yet for nearly a century, the soldier himself has lain forgotten, in an unmarked pauper’s grave. Now, says his grand-niece Michelle Lovegrove, he has finally been given the burial he deserves, as his body has been re-interred on Ngarrindjeri land. ”

Read full story here

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have served in every conflict and commitment involving Australian defence contingents since Federation, including both world wars and the intervals of peace since the Second World War.

Artwork via Lee Anthony Hampton from Koori Kicks Art.

Researching Indigenous service

Little was known publicly about the presence of Indigenous men and women in Australia’s armed forces prior to the 1970s. Subsequent research has established a record of Indigenous service dating back to the start of the Commonwealth era in 1901, and even a small number of individual enlistments in the colonial defence forces before that.

It is impossible to determine the exact number of Indigenous individuals who participated in each conflict, and this research is ongoing. New names are constantly emerging, while some have been removed after research identified them as non-Indigenous.

Before 1980, individuals enlisting in the defence forces were not asked whether or not they were of an Indigenous background. While service records sometimes contain information which may suggest Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage, many servicemen have been identified as Indigenous by their descendants.

Here you can find a list of known indigenous service people: https://www.awm.gov.au/indigenous-service

First World War

Over 1000 Indigenous Australians fought in the First World War. They came from a section of society with few rights, low wages, and poor living conditions. Most Indigenous Australians could not vote and none were counted in the census. But once in the AIF, they were treated as equals. They were paid the same as other soldiers and generally accepted without prejudice.

When war broke out in 1914, many Indigenous Australians who tried to enlist were rejected on the grounds of race; others slipped through the net. By October 1917, when recruits were harder to find and one conscription referendum had already been lost, restrictions were cautiously eased. A new Military Order stated: “Half-castes may be enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force provided that the examining Medical Officers are satisfied that one of the parents is of European origin.”

This was as far as Australia – officially – would go.

Why did they fight?

Loyalty and patriotism may have encouraged Indigenous Australians to enlist. Some saw it as a chance to prove themselves the equal of Europeans or to push for better treatment after the war.

For many Australians in 1914 the offer of 6 shillings a day for a trip overseas was simply too good to miss.

Indigenous Australians in the First World War served on equal terms but after the war, in areas such as education, employment, and civil liberties, Aboriginal ex-servicemen and women found that discrimination remained or, indeed, had worsened during the war period.

The post First World War Period

Only one Indigenous Australian is known to have received land in New South Wales under a “soldier settlement” scheme, despite the fact that much of the best farming land in Aboriginal reserves was confiscated for soldier settlement blocks.

The repression of Indigenous Australians increased between the wars, as protection acts gave government officials greater control over Indigenous Australians. As late as 1928 Indigenous Australians were being massacred in reprisal raids. A considerable Aboriginal political movement in the 1930s achieved little improvement in civil rights.

Second World War

Lieutenant (Lt) T.C. Derrick, VC DCM (right) with Lt R. W. Saunders

Hundreds of Indigenous Australians served in the 2nd AIF and the militia. Many were killed fighting and at least a dozen died as prisoners of war. As in the First World War, Indigenous Australians served under the same conditions as whites and, in most cases, with the promise of full citizenship rights after the war. Generally, there seems to have been little racism between soldiers.

In 1939 Indigenous Australians were divided over the issue of military service. Some Aboriginal organisations believed war service would help the push for full citizenship rights and proposed the formation of special Aboriginal battalions to maximise public visibility.

Others, such as William Cooper, the Secretary of the Australian Indigenous Australians’ League, argued that Indigenous Australians should not fight for white Australia. Cooper had lost his son in the First World War and was bitter that Aboriginal sacrifice had not brought any improvement in rights and conditions. He likened conditions in white-administered Aboriginal settlements to those suffered by Jews under Hitler. Cooper demanded improvements at home before taking up “the privilege of defending the land which was taken from him by the White race without compensation or even kindness”.

Enlistment Second World War

At the start of the Second World War Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders were allowed to enlist and many did so. But in 1940 the Defence Committee decided the enlistment of Indigenous Australians was “neither necessary not desirable”, partly because white Australians would object to serving with them. However, when Japan entered the war increased need for manpower forced the loosening of restrictions. Torres Strait Islanders were recruited in large numbers and Indigenous Australians increasingly enlisted as soldiers and were recruited or conscripted into labour corps.

In the front line

With the Japanese advance in 1942, Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders in the north found themselves in the front line against the attackers. There were fears that Aboriginal contact with Japanese pearlers before the war might lead to their giving assistance to the enemy. Like the peoples of South-East Asia under colonial regimes, Indigenous Australians might easily have seen the Japanese as liberators from white rule. Many did express bitterness at their treatment, but, overwhelmingly, Indigenous Australians supported the country’s defence.

The post Second World War period

Returned soldiers

Wartime service gave many Indigenous Australians pride and confidence in demanding their rights. Moreover, the army in northern Australia had been a benevolent employer compared to pre-war pastoralists and helped to change attitudes to Indigenous Australians as employees.

Nevertheless, Indigenous Australians who fought for their country came back to much the same discrimination as before. For example, many were barred from Returned and Services League clubs, except on Anzac Day. Many of them were not given the right to vote for another 17 years.

Enlistment after the war

Once the intense demands of the war were gone, the army re-imposed its restrictions on enlistment. But attitudes had changed and restrictions based on race were abandoned in 1949. Since then Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders have served in all conflicts in which Australia has participated.

Other services

Little is known about how many Indigenous Australians have served in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The numbers are likely lower than for the army but future research may tell a different story.

RAAF

Throughout the Second World War the RAAF, with its huge need for manpower, was less restrictive in its recruiting than the army. However, little is known about Aboriginal aircrew. Indigenous Australians were employed for surveillance in northern Australia and to rescue downed pilots.

Leonard Waters

Leonard Waters, a childhood admirer of Charles Kingsford-Smith and Amy Johnson, joined the RAAF in 1942. After lengthy and highly competitve training he was selected as a pilot and assigned to 78 Squadron, stationed in Dutch New Guinea and later in Borneo. The squadron flew Kittyhawk fighters like the one on display inthe Memorial’s Aircraft Hall.

Waters named his Kittyhawk “Black Magic” and flew 95 operational sorties. After the war he hoped to find a career in civilian flying but bureaucratic delays and lack of financial backing forced him to go back to shearing. Like many others, he found civilian life did not allow him to use the skills that he had gained during the war.

RAN

As well as an unknown number of formally enlisted Indigenous Australians and Islanders, the RAN also employed some informal units. For example, John Gribble, a coastwatcher on Melville Island, formed a unit of 36 Indigenous Australians which patrolled a large area of coast and islands. The men were never formally enlisted and remained unpaid throughout the war, despite the promise of otherwise.

Kamuel Abednego

The United States Army recruited about 20 Torres Strait Islanders as crewmen on its small ships operating in the Torres Strait and around Papua New Guinea. Kamuel Abednego was given the rank of lieutenant, at a time when no Indigenous Australian or Islander had served as a commissioned officer with the Australian forces.

Life on the home front

The war brought greater contact than ever before between the whites of southern Australia and the Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders of the north. For the whites it was a chance to learn about Aboriginal culture and see the poor conditions imposed on Indigenous Australians. For the Indigenous Australians the war accelerated the process of cultural change and, in the long term, ensured a position of greater equality in Australian society.

Labour units

During the Second World War the army and RAAF depended heavily on Aboriginal labour in northern Australia. Indigenous Australians worked on construction sites, in army butcheries, and on army farms. They also drove trucks, handled cargo, and provided general labour around camps. The RAAF sited airfields and radar stations near missions that could provide Aboriginal labour. At a time when Australia was drawing on all its reserves of men and women to support the war effort, the contribution of Indigenous Australians was vital.

The army began to employ Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory in 1933, on conditions similar to those endured by Aboriginal workers on pastoral stations: long hours, poor housing and diet, and low pay. But as the army took over control of settlements from the Native Affairs Branch during the war conditions improved greatly. For the first time Indigenous Australians were given adequate housing and sanitation, fixed working hours, proper rations, and access to medical treatment in army hospitals.

Pay rates remained low. The army tried to increase pay above the standard five shillings a week and at one stage the RAAF was paying Indigenous Australians five shillings a day. But pressure from the civilian administration and pastoralists forced pay back to the standard rate.

In some areas the war caused great hardship. In the islands of Torres Strait, the pearling luggers that provided most of the local income were confiscated in case they fell into Japanese hands. The Islanders enlisted in units such as the Torres Strait Light Infantry, in which their pay was much lower than whites and often not enough to send home to feed their families

Women

Aboriginal women also played an important role. Many enlisted in the women’s services or worked in war industries. In northern Australia Aboriginal and Islander women worked hard to support isolated RAAF outposts and even helped to salvage crashed aircraft.

Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker)

Oodgeroo Noonuccal joined the Australian Women’s Army Service in 1942, after her two brothers were captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore. Serving as a signaller in Brisbane she met many black American soldiers, as well as European Australians. These contacts helped to lay the foundations for her later advocacy of Aboriginal rights.

Torres Strait Islander units

Since early the early twentieth century proposals were made to train the Indigenous Australians of northern Australia as a defence force. In the Second World War these ideas were tried out.

In 1941 the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion was formed to defend the strategically-important Torres Strait area. Other Islander units were also created, especially for water transport and as coastal artillery. The battalion never had the chance to engage the enemy but some were sent on patrol into Japanese-controlled Dutch New Guinea.

By 1944 almost every able-bodied male Torres Strait Islander had enlisted. However, they never received the same rates of pay or conditions as white soldiers. At first their pay was one-third that of regular soldiers. After a two-day “mutiny” in December 1943 this was raised to two-thirds.

In proportion to population, no community in Australia contributed more to the war effort in the Second World War than the Torres Strait Islanders.

Donald Thomson and the Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance Unit

Donald Thomson was an anthropologist from Melbourne who had lived with the East Arnhem Land Indigenous Australians for two years in the 1930s. In 1941 he set up and led the Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance Unit, an irregular army unit consisting of 51 Indigenous Australians, five whites, and a number of Pacific and Torres Strait Islanders. Three of the men had been to gaol for killing the crews of two Japanese pearling luggers in 1932. Now they were told that it was their duty to kill Japanese.

The members of the unit were to use their traditional bushcraft and fighting skills to patrol the coastal area, establish coastwatchers, and fight a guerilla war against any Japanese who landed. Living off the country and using traditional weapons, they were mobile and had no supply line to protect. Thomson shared the group’s hardships and used his knowledge of Aboriginal custom to help deal with traditional rivalries. The unit was eventually disbanded, once the fear of a Japanese landing had disappeared.

The Indigenous Australians in the unit received no monetary pay until back pay and medals were finally awarded in 1992.

Kapiu Masai Gagai

Kapiu Gagai was a Torres Strait Islander from Badu Island. He was a skilled boatman and carpenter and was working on pearling luggers when he joined Donald Thomson in Arnhem Land during the 1930s. In 1941 he again joined Thomson, this time in the Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance Unit. As bosun of Thomson’s vessel, the Aroetta, he patrolled the coast to prevent Japanese infiltration. Later he accompanied Thomson on patrol into Japanese-held Dutch New Guinea, where he was badly wounded. Gagai never received equivalent pay to white soldiers, which was also difficult for his family during and after the war.

Indigenous personnel are known to have served in later conflicts and operations (including in Somalia, East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq, and on peacekeeping operations) but no numbers are available.

In the 1980s the Department of Defence began collecting information about Indigenous heritage, and these figures show that the number of Indigenous men and women serving in the Australian Defence Force has been increasing since the 1990s. The department claimed that in early 2014 there were 1,054 Indigenous service personnel (on both permanent and active reserve) in the Australian Defence Force, representing about 1.4 per cent of the ADF’s uniformed workforce.

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #CulturalSafety Debate : Media VS Health Sector : Should we have culturally appropriate spaces in hospitals ?

Once again the debate about cultural safety has escalated nationally thru News Ltd newspapers with the Daily Telegraph leading off on Tuesday (3 April ) with a front page “cultural safety expose “ and 4 hours nonstop coverage and commentary on SkyNews from the usual suspects Peta Credlin , Alan Jones , Andrew Bolt , Ben Fordham , Paul Murray, Troy Branston in addition to blanket radio coverage across Australia.

See 2 SkyNews Broadcasts below

The policy issue being heavily criticised by the media but not health authorities and experts is that the NSW Health has recommended its emergency departments to provide “culturally appropriate space’’ for the families of Aboriginal patients.

The new policy in NSW to provide a “culturally appropriate space’’ or “designated Aboriginal waiting room’’ was introduced after research found Indigenous patients were at least 1.5 times more likely to leave hospitals before emergency treatment.

In Victoria some hospitals and services have separate areas for Indigenous patients and their families to meet, rest or engage with specialist hospital staff.

See Part 1 Below for NSW Health policy extracts and download document

Above Editorial Daily Telegraph 3 April

Firstly those in favour of this cultural safety policy include

 ” Well, I think it’s good that issues like cultural safety are entering the popular narrative. We need to do better when it comes to delivering care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and I think we need to ask them what will and won’t work.

The truth is that health outcomes for Indigenous Australians are significantly worse than non-Indigenous Australians according to just about every possible metric.

The AMA strongly supports Aboriginal control when it comes to primary care and when it comes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders being in larger health facilities like our hospitals, I think we need to do everything we can to make them- the appropriate settings for them to seek care.

If that means spending a little bit of money on waiting areas, if that means making subtle changes to outpatient clinics or to inpatient wards to make Indigenous people feel more at home, I don’t think non-Indigenous people should find that threatening”

1.Dr Michael Gannon President AMA

For the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population born in 2010–2012, life expectancy was estimated to be 10.6 years lower than that of the non-Indigenous population.

“Indigenous patients are over-represented in requiring public hospital services.

“In 2013-14, there were 392,142 public hospital emergency department presentations by Indigenous people, accounting for 5.4% of all such presentations.

As a doctor working in south western Sydney and at an Aboriginal Medical Service, I see every day the barriers to accessing healthcare faced by our Indigenous patients.

“Hospitals are complex, overwhelming places and care is too often fragmented.

“For this reason, everyone involved in healthcare has an obligation to break down the barriers to accessing care and to improve health outcomes.

2. AMA (NSW) President, Prof Brad Frankum

“ It isn’t mandatory in the sense they’ve got to do it, it’s mandatory in the sense you’ve got to think about what is culturally appropriate (and) what might help the local community,”

3.Health Minister Brad Hazzard­ said many hospitals had already decided to introduce a culturally appropriate­ space.

“Among other benefits, culturally competent care increases accurate and timely diagnosis and increases attendance rates at follow-up appointments

Positive results such as these worked to overcome reluctance to engage with mainstream healthcare services, as well as improving rates of self-discharge against medical advice.”

4.President Simon Judkins the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine said it believed emergency departments must move towards a place of respect and acknowledgment of Indigenous culture

The college also called for a focus on increasing the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working across all health professions, including emergency medicine.

“All healthcare providers need to consider the cultural dimension of the services they are providing, and embrace culturally safe care which is determined to be safe by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and their families.

This includes making hospital waiting rooms a welcoming and supportive environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which will help to build trust between them and their healthcare providers and enhance cultural sensitivity in medical treatment.

It is vitally important that these waiting areas are designed and implemented in close consultation with relevant local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.”

5.Carmen Parter, PHAA Vice-President (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) affirmed PHAA’s support for such an initiative.

” The policy was about improving the health of Aboriginal people and people who are not Aboriginal should not be threatened by the fact we’re trying to look out for a very vulnerable part of our community ”

6.NSW Health deputy secretary Susan Pearce

” The policy is flexible, allowing local health districts to carry out initiatives in consultation with their local Aboriginal community to make their hospital settings more culturally inclusive, in ways that best suit the community,”

7.NSW Health spokeswoman .

“Within the hospital system Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face racist barriers to gaining appropriate health care. Despite the increased burden of disease they carry, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are only three-quarters (73%) as likely to undergo a procedure once admitted to hospital

Racism is a significant barrier to Aboriginal health improvement say Donna Ah Chee 2015 Read in full here or Part 4 Below

” Cultural safety requires embedding in not only course accreditation for each health profession — including measures to reduce resistance — but also in the standards governing clinical professionalism and quality, such as the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Standards for general practices,19 and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care National safety and quality health service standards.20

Such commitment will need investment in clinician education and professional development, together with measures for accountability. The stewards of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan5 (ie, the Department of Health and their expert implementation advisory group), accreditation bodies, and monitors of the existing frameworks of safety and quality standards in health care need to formally collaborate on a systematic revision of standards to embed culturally safe practice and develop health settings free of racism.”

Martin Laverty, Dennis R McDermott and Tom Calma see Part 5 Below

Part 1 NSW Policy

Download The Policy document in full

NSW Policy Doc

Local processes should be in place to monitor numbers of patients who ‘Did not Wait’ for treatment following triage, including rates for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal patients.

Strategies to address issues identified should be implemented and evaluated

2.1.3 Considerations for Aboriginal patients

 Section 4.1 acknowledges the higher rates of Aboriginal patients who choose not to wait for treatment in ED when compared to non-Aboriginal patients.

An important contributor to this issue is Aboriginal patients feeling safe to stay and wait. The use of local Aboriginal art in ED waiting rooms can provide links to culture and community; advice should be sought on appropriate art from the local Aboriginal community.

If available in the hospital, relatives may access the designated Aboriginal waiting room for families and carers. If no room exists, a culturally appropriate space within the local hospital should be identified.

Patients identifying as Aboriginal people should be provided with information regarding access to Aboriginal Health Workers that may be available. Access to any of these services may

4.1 Monitoring of rates of patients who ‘Did not Wait’

 EDs should maintain a local auditing system to monitor trends in rates of DNW. Review of data should also be undertaken by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal patients as there is significant evidence in the literature of higher rates of DNW among Aboriginal patients presenting to ED

Addressing this issue is in line with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare’s guidance on Improving care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

Locally designed strategies to manage identified reasons for patients who DNW should be implemented with outcomes reviewed. Consideration may be given to follow up of patients who DNW who are considered to have high risk issues or are from a vulnerable patient group.

Part 2 AMA (NSW) President: culturally appropriate spaces in EDs are a welcome addition to NSW public hospitals

Access to healthcare is critical to the wellbeing of all Australians and removing barriers to it is important, AMA (NSW) President, Prof Brad Frankum, said.

“It is essential that hospitals and all healthcare facilities make an effort to provide safe and welcoming spaces to facilitate access to care.

“Public hospitals try to do this in a range of ways, including the design of spaces, the provision of information in different languages, access to translators and other services to ensure patients get the best from their healthcare.

“For this reason, AMA (NSW) applauds the NSW Government for encouraging hospitals to ensure that they consider the needs of Indigenous patients in creating a safe and welcoming environment in hospitals,” Prof Frankum said.

“Indigenous patients continue to suffer unacceptably poorer health outcomes compared to other Australians.

“For the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population born in 2010–2012, life expectancy was estimated to be 10.6 years lower than that of the non-Indigenous population.

“Indigenous patients are over-represented in requiring public hospital services.

“In 2013-14, there were 392,142 public hospital emergency department presentations by Indigenous people, accounting for 5.4% of all such presentations,” Prof Frankum said.

“As a doctor working in south western Sydney and at an Aboriginal Medical Service, I see every day the barriers to accessing healthcare faced by our Indigenous patients.

“Hospitals are complex, overwhelming places and care is too often fragmented.

“For this reason, everyone involved in healthcare has an obligation to break down the barriers to accessing care and to improve health outcomes.

“It is disappointing to see those who clearly do not have the same personal experiences of navigating our healthcare system making inappropriate comments about such an important health policy,” Prof Frankum said

Part 3 : Culturally safe healthcare starts in the waiting room

The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) called for cultural safety in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare last week, along with a number of other leading health groups and medical practitioners.

As an extension of this, the PHAA supports all viable and suitable cultural safety measures in the provision of healthcare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including culturally appropriate waiting rooms.

Carmen Parter, PHAA Vice-President (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) affirmed PHAA’s support for such an initiative, saying, “All healthcare providers need to consider the cultural dimension of the services they are providing, and embrace culturally safe care which is determined to be safe by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and their families.”

 

“This includes making hospital waiting rooms a welcoming and supportive environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which will help to build trust between them and their healthcare providers and enhance cultural sensitivity in medical treatment,” she said.

Ms Parter continued, “It is vitally important that these waiting areas are designed and implemented in close consultation with relevant local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.”

“The history of the stolen generations and the role that Australian hospitals held during these events has left a strong effect on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and in order to overcome this and move toward Reconciliation we need to work together to ensure Australian hospitals are a safe space for all,” Ms Parter said.

Michael Moore, CEO of the PHAA supported Ms Parter’s statements, saying, “Evidence shows that healthcare has the best outcomes when the patient and provider can share knowledge and understanding in a respectful and welcoming environment.

We also know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are at least 1.5 times more likely to leave hospital before receiving treatment compared to non-Indigenous patients.”

“This resembles the gaps in health outcomes which Close the Gap campaigners are working hard to resolve, and a trial on the mid-north coast in NSW showed that culturally appropriate waiting rooms resulted in a 50% reduction in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients leaving before accessing treatment. This really demonstrates the strength of this type of cultural safety initiative in a tangible way,” Mr Moore said.

“We ensure that hospitals are safe environments for children, elderly people, disabled people, and other groups with certain needs, it’s now time we ensure that the cultural needs of patients are also taken into careful consideration,” Mr Moore said.

 

Part 4 Racism and the hospital system : Donna Ah Chee

 Read in full here

“Within the hospital system Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face racist barriers to gaining appropriate health care. Despite the increased burden of disease they carry, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are only three-quarters (73%) as likely to undergo a procedure once admitted to hospital (3).

This difference led one key study to conclude that ‘there may be systematic differences in the treatment of patients identified as Indigenous’ in Australia’s public hospitals (4), a conclusion supported by studies showing poorer survival rates for cancer for Indigenous people, due to their being less likely to have treatment, having to wait longer for surgery, and being referred later for specialist treatment (5). This is not good enough and we need to use the current spotlight on racism to look at these deeper issues as well”, she suggested.

“Such systemic differences in care provided by hospitals contribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s low level of trust for hospitals as institutions – the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey found that little more than 60% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people said that they felt hospitals could be trusted (6).

This level of distrust is reflected in the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are five times as likely to leave hospital against medical advice or be discharged at their own risk compared to other Australians (7).

“Addressing these institutional barriers to appropriate care is complex but possible and we can do it as a nation of we finally come to terms with the seriousness of the problem (8).

“It will take a strong commitment to action. There needs to be a greater awareness in the Australian community about the adverse health consequences of racism for Aboriginal people.

If any good is to come out of the racism shown towards Adam Goodes I hope it is an awareness of the harm this does to our people across the nation which is currently symbolised by the suffering of one man: Adam Goodes.

Racism is a serious problem that Australia is yet to properly address. It should never be trivialised. It needs to be dealt with”, she concluded.

References

  1. Paradies, Y., Harris, R. & Anderson, I. 2008, The Impact of Racism on Indigenous Health in Australia and Aotearoa: Towards a Research Agenda, Discussion Paper No. 4, Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health, Darwin.
  2. ANTaR website http://www.antar.org.au/node/2… accessed September 26 2011
  3. Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (2012). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2012 Report. AHMAC. Canberra. page 131
  4. Cunningham J (2002). “Diagnostic and therapeutic procedures among Australian hospital patients identified as Indigenous.” Medical Journal of Australia 176(2): 58-62
  5. Condon J R, Barnes T, et al. (2005). “Stage at diagnosis and cancer survival for Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory.” Medical Journal of Australia 182(6

 

 ” Cultural safety requires embedding in not only course accreditation for each health profession — including measures to reduce resistance — but also in the standards governing clinical professionalism and quality, such as the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Standards for general practices,19 and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care National safety and quality health service standards.20

Such commitment will need investment in clinician education and professional development, together with measures for accountability. The stewards of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan5 (ie, the Department of Health and their expert implementation advisory group), accreditation bodies, and monitors of the existing frameworks of safety and quality standards in health care need to formally collaborate on a systematic revision of standards to embed culturally safe practice and develop health settings free of racism.”

Martin Laverty, Dennis R McDermott and Tom Calma

Originally published by MJA here

Download a PDF of this Report Paper for references 1-20

MJA Cultural Safety

Read 20 + previous NACCHO articles Cultural Safety  

In Australia, the existing health safety and quality standards are insufficient to ensure culturally safe care for Indigenous patients in order to achieve optimum care outcomes.

Where “business as usual” health care is perceived as demeaning or disempowering — that is, deemed racist or culturally unsafe — it may significantly reduce treatment adherence or result in complete disengagement,1,2 even when this may be life-threatening.3

Peak Indigenous health bodies argue that boosting the likelihood of culturally safe clinical care may substantially contribute to Indigenous health improvement.4 It follows that a more specific embedding of cultural safety within mandatory standards for safe, quality-assured clinical care may strengthen the currently inadequate Closing the Gap mechanisms related to health care delivery.

The causes of inequitable health care are many. Western biomedical praxis differs from Indigenous foundational, holistic attention to the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing of the person and the community.5 An article published in this issue of the MJA6 deals with the link between culture and language in improving communication in Indigenous health settings, a critical component of delivering cultural safety.

Integrating cultural safety in an active manner reconfigures health care to allow greater equity of realised access, rather than the assumption of full access, including procession to appropriate intervention.

As an example of the need to improve equity, a South Australian study found that Indigenous people presenting to emergency departments with acute coronary syndrome were half as likely as non-Indigenous patients to undergo angiography.7 More broadly, Indigenous people admitted to hospital are less likely to have a procedure for a condition than non-Indigenous people.8

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Indigenous Australians.9 Cancer is the second biggest killer: the mortality rate for some cancers is three times higher for Indigenous than for non-Indigenous Australians.10 Clinical leaders in these two disease areas have identified the need for culturally safe health care to improve Indigenous health outcomes.

Cultural safety is an Indigenous-led model of care, with limited, but increasing, uptake, particularly in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It acknowledges the barriers to clinical effectiveness arising from the inherent power imbalance between provider and patient,11 and moves to redress this dynamic by making the clinician’s cultural underpinning a critical focus for reflection.

Moreover, it invites practitioners to consider: “what do I bring to this encounter, what is going on for me?” Culturally safe care results where there is no inadvertent disempowering of the recipient, indeed where recipients are involved in the decision making and become part of a team effort to maximise the effectiveness of the care. The model pursues more effective practice through being aware of difference, decolonising, considering power relationships, implementing reflective practice, and by allowing the patient to determine what safety means.11

Along with an emphasis on provider praxis, cultural safety focuses on how institutional care is both envisaged and delivered.12 Literature on cultural safety in Australia is scant but growing.13 Where evidence is available, it identifies communication difficulties and racism as barriers not only to access but also to the receipt of indicated interventions or procedures.11

There is evidence of means to overcome these barriers. An Australian study undertaken across ten general practices tested the use of a cultural safety workshop, a health worker toolkit, and partnerships with mentors from Indigenous organisations and general practitioners.13 Cultural respect (significant improvements on cultural quotient score, along with Indigenous patient and cultural mentor rating), service (significant increase in Indigenous patients seen) and clinical measures (some significant increases in the recording of chronic disease factors) improved across the participating practices.

In addition, a 2010 study by Durey14 assessed the role of education, for both undergraduate students and health practitioners, in the delivery of culturally responsive health service, improving practice and reducing racism and disparities in health care between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The study found that cultural safety programs may lead to short term improvements to health practice, but that evidence of sustained change is more elusive because few programs have been subject to long term evaluation..

Newman and colleagues10 identified clinician reliance on stereotypical narratives of indigeneity in informing cancer care services. Redressing these taken-for-granted assumptions led to culturally engaged and more effective cancer care. In a similar manner, Ilton and colleagues15 addressed the importance of individual clinician cultural safety for optimising outcomes, noting that provider perceptions of Indigenous patient attributes may be biased toward conservative care.

The authors, however, went beyond the clinician–patient interaction to stress the outcome-enhancing power of change in the organisational and health setting. They proposed a management framework for acute coronary syndromes in Indigenous Australians.

This framework involved coordinated pathways of care, with roles for Indigenous cardiac coordinators and supported by clinical networks and Aboriginal liaison officers. It specified culturally appropriate warning information, appropriate treatment, individualised care plans, culturally appropriate tools within hospital education, inclusion of families and adequate follow-up.

Willis and colleagues16 also called for organisational change as an essential companion to individual practitioner development. Drawing on 12 studies involving continuous quality improvement (CQI) or CQI-like methods and short term interventions, they acknowledged evidence gaps, prescribing caution, and argued for such change to be undertaken in the service of long term controlled trials, as these would require 2–3 years to see any CQI-related changes.

Sjoberg and McDermott,17 however, noted the existence of barriers to change: the challenge (personal and professional) posed by Indigenous health and cultural safety training may not only lead to individual but also to institutional resistance.17 Dismantling individual resistance requires the development of a critical disposition — deemed central to professionalism and quality18 — but in a context of strengthened and legitimating accreditation specific to each discipline. The barriers thrown up by institutional resistance, manifesting as gatekeeping, marginalisation or underfunding, may require organisational change mandated by standards.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Cultural Safety Media Debate : The Truth behind the Nurses Code of Conduct and the false claims enforcing #WhitePriviledge “to apologise to #Indigenous clients for being white’

 

” National media outlets ( Including Peta Credlin on SkyNews and News Corp Newspapers see Part 5 below plus Today Tonight SA ) have aired wrongful claims that the codes would force white nurses to ‘apologise to Indigenous clients for being white’.

The codes do not say that – that idea was invented and then pushed on these media programs.

These stories were not based in facts, but seem to have been driven by the partisan politics of a fringe nursing group, and conservative politicians who have been approached to comment on the wrongful claims.

I am sure that some of our nursing and midwifery members and community will be hearing disturbing claims.

Let me be clear, nurses and midwives under the new code do not have to announce their ‘white privilege’ before treating Indigenous clients.

 I am really proud of these new codes, and not only because the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) contributed to their development, which included extensive consultation across nursing and midwifery and at the time no one opposed the inclusion of cultural safety “

Janine Mohamed CEO CATSINaM see IndigenousX  Part 1 below

Read over 90 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Racism articles published last 6 Years

Read 30 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Cultural Safety published last 6 years

” It is clear from the 2018 Closing the Gap Report tabled by Prime Minister Turnbull in February 2018 that Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples still experience poorer health outcomes than non-Indigenous Australians.

It is well understood these inequities are a result of the colonisation process and the many discriminatory policies to which Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians were subjected to, and the ongoing experience of discrimination today.

All healthcare leaders and health professionals have a role to play in closing the gap.

The approach the NMBA has taken for nurses and midwives (the largest workforce in the healthcare system) by setting expectations around culturally safe practice, reflects the current expectations of governments to provide a culturally safe health system.

(For more information please see the COAG Health Council 4 August 2017 Communiqué).

Combined Press Release Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia ,The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, the Australian College of Nursing, the Australian College of Midwives and the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait see in full Part 2 Below

 ” I was stunned to read businessman Graeme Haycroft’s comments regarding nurses and indigenous Australians on the weekend, as part of his criticism of the new NMBA Codes and the term cultural safety which is defined in a glossary connected to the codes.

These codes were the subject of lengthy consultations with the professions of nursing and midwifery and other stakeholders including community representatives.

This review was comprehensive and evidenced-based. Our union and our national body the Australian Nursing Midwifery Federation (ANMF) were active participants in these consultations.

The codes, written by nurses and midwives for nurses and midwives, seek to ensure the individual needs and backgrounds of each patient are taken into account during treatment.”

QNMU Secretary Beth Mohle issued a statement clarifying misleading comments in the media around the NMBA’s new Codes of Conduct for nurses and midwives: See in Full part 3 Below

And just to reinforce that point, the entire premise for the segment was false.

There is no requirement for nurses to apologise for being white, which would be very awkward for the more the more than 1500 Indigenous nurses across Australia, and the countless others who also aren’t white to begin with. But, even for the nurses who are – THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT FOR THEM TO APOLOGISE FOR BEING WHITE.

So, why on Earth would Today Tonight run such a story?

Why would they base a story off the demonstrably false allegations of this Graeme Haycroft person? “

The truth behind the Nursing Code of Conduct lie ; Indigenous X Article Read in full Part 4

Watch Today Tonight TV

If you thought nursing was about quality health care, think again.

According to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, “’cultural safety’ is as important to quality care as clinical safety”. And there’s no objective test of ‘cultural safety’; it’s determined, so the Board says, by the “recipient of care”. You see, it’s not just what the nurse does that matters but “how a health professional does something”.”

Nurses’ Code of Conduct undermines those who care

 

So who is this Graeme Haycroft

Businessman . Director of Queensland Association Services Group (QAS Group), Political activist , Anti Unionist

And according to peak Nurses groups Graeme has has no previous health experience or qualifications

From a recent BIO

Graeme has spent a lifetime working in industrial relations and was the man who set up Haycroft Workplace Solutions, leading provider of workplace consulting and management that has nearly 2000 workers on the payroll.

He is chair of the Liberal National Party’s labour market policy committee, active in the HR Nicholls Society, is a regular commentator on labour market issues, and has published his thoughts in such places as the IPA Review, Courier Mail and Online Opinion. But Graeme’s most important contributions have come through what he has done, not what he has written or said.

In the 1990s Graeme famously fought the Australian Workers’ Union to set up sub-contracting for shearers in Charleville, and went on to battle the CMFEU in helping to set up union-free high-rise construction sites. When the Howard government allowed Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs), Graeme was instrumental in creating the most widely copied template in the country, and his business helped set up about 30,000 agreements.

Lately, Graeme has been working on a exciting new project with the potential to fundamentally change the role and power of unions in this country, while improving services for workers.

He is not waiting for politicians to act; he is changing the system himself… and after years of planning he is finally ready to show us how.

So who is this new Nurses Professional Association of Queensland ? 

Queensland Association Services Group QAS Group and Sajen Legal have established a new business model for Employee Associations Queensland Association Services Group (QAS Group), who are the contracted service providers for the  NPAQ, in conjunction with Sajen Legal have developed and set up a new association business  model.

Extract from NPAQ website

Working with a small group of dedicated and experienced nurses, they have built in a strict separation  between the money earned and spent on the one hand, and the control of the Association on the other.

To launch NPAQ, the  QAS Group , have backed the provision of services for ten years under contract. They have provided all of the seed funding for the administrative and legal services including the member  Professional Indemnity Insurance policy required of the Association..

Whilst it will be many years before all the seed funding is fully repaid, at the end of our second year, the membership income was sufficient to fund all the running expenses of the NPAQ

 ” And they quote no party politics

The NPAQ executive is resolute that there will be no party politics. Every cent of your NPAQ membership money is spent on nurse services and issues

When NACCHO pointed out that NursesPAQ was ”  using the definitions of two America right wing commentators to justify mounting a political membership campaign in which you sensationalise and falsely quote out of context  aspects of our Indigenous cultural safety in Australia ”

These videos were then removed from the NPAQ news page

http://www.npaq.com.au/news.php

Part 1 Janine Mohamed CEO CATSINaM

Originally Published Indigenous X

I rang my dad over the weekend. We’d hardly begun yarning before he asked me: “What’s this about white nurses having to apologise to us for being white?”

I could have just said, “Dad, you should know better than to believe what the mainstream media says about us.”

But instead I took the time to explain the truth behind recent misleading media reports on new codes of conduct for nurses and midwives.

Media outlets have aired wrongful claims that the codes would force white nurses to ‘apologise to Indigenous clients for being white’.

The codes do not say that – that idea was invented and then pushed on these media programs.

As Luke Pearson recently wrote for IndigenousX, these stories were not based in facts, but seem to have been driven by the partisan politics of a fringe nursing group, and conservative politicians who have been approached to comment on the wrongful claims.

I took the time to have the conversation with my Dad because it is important people understand how significant these new codes are for efforts to improve the care of our people, hence I thought it important to reach out to the readers of IndigenousX too.

I am sure that some of our nursing and midwifery members and community will be hearing disturbing claims.

Let me be clear, nurses and midwives under the new code do not have to announce their ‘white privilege’ before treating Indigenous clients.

I also had the conversation because, to be honest, I am really proud of these new codes, and not only because the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) contributed to their development, which included extensive consultation across nursing and midwifery and at the time no one opposed the inclusion of cultural safety.

We are delighted the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) listened to CATSINaM in developing these new codes, and took on board our advice that cultural safety should be recognised as an integral part of ethical and competent professional practice. Further, they cited some of our work at CATSINaM in materials supporting the code.

CATSINaM has been at the forefront of advocating for cultural safety training for health professionals at all levels of health systems in order to improve care for both Indigenous clients and their families. Improving the cultural safety of workplaces is also a vital strategy for improving the recruitment and retention of Indigenous health professionals and staff. We need more of our people in the health system.

Rather than being criticised by sensationalist, inaccurate reports, the NMBA deserves credit for showing leadership in the area of cultural safety. They have set a great example for other health professions and organisations. It wouldn’t be the first time that nurses and midwives have been at the forefront of leading change.

In fact, this is also not the first time this has happened. In many ways, Australia is playing a game of ‘catch up’.

In New Zealand, cultural safety is part of the nursing and midwifery code of conduct and also in the laws that nurses and midwives must follow to be registered to practice. This happened well over 10 years ago because many Maori nurses worked hard for many years to teach their non-Maori colleagues about cultural safety and gain their support so they could provide better care for their people. This is considered completely normal in New Zealand.

Under the new codes, which took effect on 1 March, nurses and midwives must take responsibility for improving the cultural safety of health services and systems for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and colleagues.

They are required to provide care that is “holistic, free of bias and racism”, and to recognise the importance of family, community, partnership and collaboration in the healthcare decision-making of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.

The codes advocate for culturally safe and respectful practice and require nurses to understand how their own culture, values, attitudes, assumptions and beliefs influence their interactions with people and families, the community and colleagues (for more information on our position on Cultural Safety please visit our website).

As part of such reflexive practice, nurses and midwives are encouraged to consider issues, such as white privilege, and how this can affect the assumptions and practices they bring to the care of clients and how they interact with their families. It must be said that privilege has been discussed in Australia for some time – although we are more used to talk about class privilege in Australia – those who have more financial resources compared to those who don’t.

Over time we have recognised there different forms of privilege – men have male privilege in contrast to women. Able-bodied people have able-bodied privilege compared to people living with different types of disabilities. Heterosexual people have heterosexual privilege compared to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer. Not to mention what we have been socialised to believe is normal!

Many people have campaigned for decades to help us learn about these different forms of privilege and do something to change inequity they cause. This has involved education, advocacy, legislation, policies and professional codes of conduct. The acknowledgement of these different forms of privilege and the non-acceptance of biased treatment has resulted in improved circumstances for women, people living with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer people. But there is still a long way to go in all of these areas, and especially so where they intersect.

There has been considerable work over the last 20-30 years to talk about white privilege and address the inequity that many white Australians don’t see or realise is there, although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians live this every day.

Cultural safety training does include examining how Indigenous people have been locked out of the opportunities that most white people take for granted by past policies and this has resulted in intergenerational exclusion and Indigenous disadvantage. This means that white privilege is one of the areas that people must explore and understand. This is what the codes are asking nurses and midwives to do – to think this through so they do not make incorrect and unhelpful assumptions based on their idea of what is normal for non-Indigenous Australians, particularly white Australians.

A glossary accompanying the new codes cites CATSINaM materials. It identifies that the concept of cultural safety was developed more than 20 years ago in a First Nations’ context (in New Zealand) and holds that the recipient of care – rather than the caregiver – determines whether care is culturally safe. That means you determine if the care you receive is culturally safe.

Instead of providing care regardless of difference, such as when people say ‘I treat everyone the same’, to providing care that takes account of peoples’ unique needs. This includes their cultural needs.

While this is important for Indigenous clients, it also has the potential to improve all clients’ care by encouraging health practitioners to be more reflexive and responsive to the needs of different clients.

Despite what recent headlines might have us believe, there is widespread support for cultural safety’s implementation across the health system.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan: 2013-2023 (2015) and its associated Implementation Plan (both available here) identify the importance of cultural safety in addressing racism in the health system, and many health services already provide cultural safety training for their staff.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, the Australian College of Nursing, the Australian College of Midwives are united with CATSINaM in strongly supporting the guidance around cultural safety in the new codes of conduct.

The Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery also considers cultural safety an integral part of competencies for registered nurses and midwives. Providing culturally safe care that is free from racism should be a normal expectation. All health professionals learning about cultural safety and building it into their codes of conduct is a very important step to this becoming a reality. Hence nurses and midwives are currently required to study Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, culture, history, and cultural safety as part of their study programs.

Cultural safety is talked about and implemented in other fields, including education, and family and community services, although people in these fields are still learning about it so it is not always standard practice yet. In fact, CATSINaM recommended cultural safety training for journalists in our submission to the recent Senate Inquiry into the future of public interest journalism, and the latest media fracas indicates just how sorely this is needed.

It is important that we continue these conversations about the importance of cultural safety for healthcare and other systems – they are potentially life-saving.

 

For readers who wish to contribute to the discussion, I suggest you read the joint statement from nursing and midwifery organisations and the codes of conduct, which can be downloaded here.

Part 2

In response to Graeme Haycroft’s recent comments, we welcome the opportunity to provide further information on how important cultural safety is for improving health outcomes and experiences for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

It is clear from the 2018 Closing the Gap Report tabled by Prime Minister Turnbull in February 2018 that Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples still experience poorer health outcomes than non-Indigenous Australians. It is well understood these inequities are a result of the colonisation process and the many discriminatory policies to which Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians were subjected to, and the ongoing experience of discrimination today.

All healthcare leaders and health professionals have a role to play in closing the gap.

The approach the NMBA has taken for nurses and midwives (the largest workforce in the healthcare system) by setting expectations around culturally safe practice, reflects the current expectations of governments to provide a culturally safe health system. (For more information please see the COAG Health Council 4 August 2017 Communiqué).

Culturally safe and respectful practice is not a new concept. Nurses and midwives are expected to engage with all people as individuals in a culturally safe and respectful way, foster open, honest and compassionate professional relationships, and adhere to their obligations about privacy and confidentiality.

Many health services already provide cultural safety training for their staff. Cultural safety is about the person who is providing care reflecting on their own assumptions and culture in order to work in a genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Nurses and midwives have always had a responsibility to provide care that contributes to the best possible outcome for the person/woman they are caring for. They need to work in partnership with that person/woman to do so. The principle of cultural safety in the new Code of conduct for nurses and Code of conduct for midwives (the codes) provides simple, common sense guidance on how to work in a partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The codes do not require nurses or midwives to declare or apologise for white privilege.

The guidance around cultural safety in the codes sets out clearly the behaviours that are expected of nurses and midwives, and the standard of conduct that patients and their families can expect. It is vital guidance for improving health outcomes and experiences for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

The codes were developed through an evidence-based and extensive consultation process conducted over a two-year period. Their development included literature reviews to ensure they were based on the best available international and Australian evidence, as well as an analysis of complaints about the conduct of nurses and midwives to ensure they were meeting the public’s needs.

The consultation and input from the public and professions included working groups, focus groups and preliminary and public consultation. The public consultation phase included a campaign to encourage nurses and midwives to provide feedback.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, the Australian College of Nursing, the Australian College of Midwives and the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives all participated in each stage of the development and consultation of the new codes. The organisations strongly support the guidance around cultural safety in the codes for nurses and midwives.

Lynette Cusack

Chair Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

Ann Kinnear

CEO
Australian College of Midwives (ACM)

Kylie Ward

CEO
Australian College of Nursing (ACN)

Janine Mohamed

CEO
Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses
and Midwives

Annie Butler

A/Federal Secretary Australian Nursing and Midwifery
Federation

For more information:

Part 3 QNMU Secretary Beth Mohle has issued a statement clarifying misleading comments in the media over the weekend around the NMBA’s new Codes of Conduct for nurses and midwives.



I was stunned to read businessman Graeme Haycroft’s comments regarding nurses and indigenous Australians on the weekend, as part of his criticism of the new NMBA Codes and the term cultural safety which is defined in a glossary connected to the codes.

These codes were the subject of lengthy consultations with the professions of nursing and midwifery and other stakeholders including community representatives. This review was comprehensive and evidenced-based. Our union and our national body the Australian Nursing Midwifery Federation (ANMF) were active participants in these consultations.

The codes, written by nurses and midwives for nurses and midwives, seek to ensure the individual needs and backgrounds of each patient are taken into account during treatment.

There’s no doubt cultural factors, including how a patient feels while within the health system, can impact wellbeing. For example, culture and background often determine how a patient would prefer to give birth or pass away.

Every day, nurses and midwives consider a range of complex factors, including a patient’s background and culture to determine the best treatment. These codes simply articulate what is required to support safe nursing and midwifery practice for all.

Mr Haycroft stated that the new code “has been sponsored and supported by the QNU to promote its party political social policy.”

This statement is disturbing on a number of levels. The Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) has repeatedly refuted Mr Haycroft’s allegations we donate to political parties. We do not. Nor are we affiliated with any political party. Yet Mr Haycroft continues to repeat these claims.

Secondly, this statement demonstrates a failure to understand the basics. It is the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) that regulates the practice of nurses and midwives through its standards, codes and guidelines.

The QNMU actively participates in NMBA consultations and represents the interests of our members individually and collectively.  However, the new codes have not been “sponsored” by our union.

As a not-for-profit organisation run by nurses and midwives for nurses and midwives, the QNMU will remain steadfastly focused on advancing the values and interests of our members and the safety of those in their care.  We will not be diverted by the political or business agendas of others.

Author Luke Pearson Indigenous X

But first tonight, the contentious new code telling nurses to say “sorry for being white” when treating their Indigenous patients.

That’s how Today Tonight Adelaide began last night.

It continued:

“Now, it’s the latest in a string of politically correct changes for the health industry, but this one has led to calls for the Nursing Board boss to resign.”

It was followed by a five minute story with the new code being condemned by someone you’ve probably never heard of, Graeme Haycroft, explaining that:

“According to how the code is written, the white nurse would come in and say, ‘before I deal with you, I have to acknowledge to you that I have certain privileges that you don’t have” followed by Cory Bernardi calling it divisive.

It goes on in this vein for a full five minutes before it cuts back to the presenter, who finally says, “The Nursing and Midwifery Board has told us that the code was drafted in consultation with Aboriginal groups and has been taken out of context as it’s not a requirement for health workers to declare or apologise for white privilege”.

And just to reinforce that point, the entire premise for the segment was false. There is no requirement for nurses to apologise for being white, which would be very awkward for the more the more than 1500 Indigenous nurses across Australia, and the countless others who also aren’t white to begin with. But, even for the nurses who are – THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT FOR THEM TO APOLOGISE FOR BEING WHITE.

So, why on Earth would Today Tonight run such a story?

Why would they base a story off the demonstrably false allegations of this Graeme Haycroft person?

To answer that, it might useful to cut back to a 2005 Sydney Morning Herald story about Mr Haycroft:

“A member of the National Party and the H.R. Nicholls Society, he (Mr Haycroft) boasts that, because of a tussle he had with the Australian Workers Union 15 years ago, the union does not have a single member shearing sheep in south-western Queensland today.

Now he runs a labour hire firm with a thriving sideline in moving small-business employees off awards and collective agreements and onto the Federal Government’s preferred individual contracts, Australian Workplace Agreements.

…Mr Haycroft’s business stands out because he is targeting lower-skilled, lower-paid workers, often with poor English – the people unions say have much to fear from individual contracts.”

Cut back to 2018, and Graeme Haycroft now runs the Nurses Professional Association of Queensland, which promotes itself as an alternative to the Qld Nurses Union.

So, a man with a long history of fighting Unions, who ‘saved’ the mushroom farming business by showing businesses how to move “small-business employees off awards and collective agreements and onto the Federal Government’s preferred individual contracts, Australian Workplace Agreements.”

According to the 2005 article, “Mr Haycroft said workers had been more than happy to sign on, most with their penalty rates, holiday pay and other conditions being rolled into a flat rate.”

“However, [there is always a ‘however’], Mr Haycroft was stripped of his preferred provider status with the Office of the Employment Advocate on Thursday, after a Sydney picker, Carmen Walacz Vel Walewska, said she was sacked after she contacted the Australian Workers Union for advice on AWAs.”

With that track record, it’s hard to imagine why nurses would want to leave their current union in favour of his ‘professional association’.

It seems as though, once again, Indigenous people have become a political football and a convenient scapegoat for issues that have nothing to do with us.

Queensland has a long history of political success found through anti-Aboriginal sentiment, so what better way to undermine a Union and recruit new members to a professional association than to accuse the Union of ‘racism against white people’ and ‘political correctness gone made’ by spreading the blatantly false and misleading accusation that white nurses now have to apologise to Aboriginal people for being white?

And just like Dick Smith’s anti-immigration campaign, Blair Cottrell’s anti-African ‘community safety group’, and Prue McSween’s call for a new Stolen Generation, it seems Channel 7 is always more than happy to ignore the facts and sensationalise issues about race and racism.

There is always one more thing.

We, and others, will soon publish articles explaining what the Code of Conduct actually calls for, and explain why cultural competence and cultural safety are important (editor’s note: we did, here’s one of them), but I can’t help but be reminded of this quote from Toni Morrison:

“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”

So, instead of working on the very real business of ensuring best practice within the nursing industry, our Indigenous experts in this area will have to take a few days away from this important work to explain that no one is asking for white nurses to apologise for being white.

Just like we have to explain that not all Aboriginal parents abuse their children, or that we don’t want to steal white people’s backyards, or that we had (and have) science, or that Australia wasn’t Terra Nullius, or, as Malcolm Turnbull suggested last year, that acknowledging Indigenous history and addressing the issue of colonial statues and place names across Australia is not a “Stalinist exercise of trying to wipe out or obliterate or blank out parts of our history”.

So long as Australian media and politics finds value, profit and opportunity in promoting racism, there will always be one more thing.

So, I might as well clear up a few others while I’m here, and empty a few more buckets out of the endless ocean of racist misinformation.

Child abuse isn’t a ‘cultural’ thing.

Police are not scared to arrest Aboriginal people out of fear of being called racist.

We don’t get free houses.

Aboriginal people using white ochre on their faces in dance and ceremony is not the same thing as white people dressing up in blackface.

We don’t get free university.

The Voice to Parliament is not a third chamber of parliament.

We are not the problem.

Anything else?

We aren’t vampires?

We don’t shoot laser beams out of our eyes?

We aren’t secretly developing a perpetual motion machine that runs on white tears?

I’m sure I, and countless others, will undoubtedly need to keep adding to this list because, as Toni Morrison tells us, there will always be one more thing.

If you thought nursing was about quality health care, think again.

According to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, “’cultural safety’ is as important to quality care as clinical safety”. And there’s no objective test of ‘cultural safety’; it’s determined, so the Board says, by the “recipient of care”. You see, it’s not just what the nurse does that matters but “how a health professional does something”.

According to the commissars at the Board, “’cultural safety’ represents a key philosophical shift from providing care regardless of difference, to care that takes account of peoples’ unique needs”.

Changes to the Code mark a philosophical shift in the industry. (Pic: supplied)

What this means is that nurses are no longer required to be colourblind; instead, they must see colour and treat patients differently because of it.

According to the Code, the Board declares, “cultural safety provides a decolonising model of practice based on dialogue, communication, power sharing and negotiation and the acknowledgment of white privilege” (no, I am not making this up — it’s on page 15 of the Code effective 1 March 2018).

The Board decrees that “non-indigenous nurses must address how they create a culturally safe work environment that is free of racism”. Now I know many nurses, including my sister who has spent 20 years working selflessly in indigenous communities, and the idea that they are subtly racist or even insensitive to their patients’ needs is as offensive as the leftist sanctimony that has infected their professional body.

The changes to the Code were endorsed by COAG. (Pic: iStock)

When a body representing some nurses had the temerity to complain about this, Board Chair Associate Professor Lynette Cusack disdainfully replied that it had been endorsed by COAG.

Well, I checked with the Federal health minister Greg Hunt and that’s not accurate. The Minister’s own advice from his Chief Nursing Officer and health department noted that “while the Commonwealth Department of Health provided feedback in the public consultation process, the final changes to cultural safety were made after (this) process. The Department did not see the final version until it was publicly released in March 2018.”

Greg Hunt is one of the smartest politicians I know; I didn’t think he would have let this get through, had he known about it, without a fight.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @SNAICC @NationalFVPLS respond to the Royal Commission Into Child Sex Abuse : 14.3% of survivors were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

“Strong cultural identity, connections to family and community, and cultural care practices are non-negotiable factors in keeping our children safe.

It is imperative that, especially following such a thorough process, all of the recommendations from this report are accepted and implemented,” said Ms Williams.

The pain and injustices of the past have been acknowledged, and must now be redressed. At the same time, we must tackle current challenges to ensure our children are kept safe in family and culture.”

Sharron Williams, SNAICC Chairperson. 14.3% of survivors were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Those that shared their stories with the Royal Commission spoke not only of sexual physical and emotional abuse, but also of racism and cultural abuse. See Part 2 below

 ” The National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum (National FVPLS Forum) welcomes the landmark findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The report identified the need for specific initiatives to be developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experience child sexual abuse, as well as to prevent the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families and communities.”

Antoinette Braybrook, Convenor of the National FVPLS Forum.See Part 3

” We must focus our efforts on the future, but we must also ensure we properly deal with the past. Perhaps the single most important aspect of this is the redress scheme.

What happens now with redress?

The national redress scheme is behind schedule and must be finalised with sufficient funding, and government and institutional commitment.

What happens now with redress? See Part 4 Below

Part 1 Here’s What The Royal Commission Into Child Sex Abuse Said About Survivors

From Buzzfeed

Thousands of stories, and statistical insights, about Australians who suffered as children at the hands of sexual abusers have come to light in the 1000-plus page, 17-volume final report of Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Childhood Sexual Abuse, handed down on Friday.

The report paid tribute to the bravery of survivors for speaking out, in more than 8,000 private hearings, about what had been done to them, and the destruction and chaos it had wrought upon their lives.

“Many spoke of having their innocence stolen, their childhood lost, their education and prospective career taken from them and their personal relationships damaged,” the report said. “For many, sexual abuse is a trauma they can never escape. It can affect every aspect of their lives.”

The commissioners wrote that without the personal stories of survivors they could not have done their work.

“These stories have allowed us to understand what has happened,” the report said. “They have helped us to identify what should be done to make institutions safer for children in the future.

“The survivors are remarkable people with a common concern to do what they can to ensure that other children are not abused. They deserve our nation’s thanks.”

The report published statistics based on the experiences, where information was available, of 6,875 survivors who testified at the commission up to May 31, 2017.

It found that the majority of survivors (64.3%) were male.

More than half said they were aged from 10 to 14 when they were first sexually abused.

Female survivors tended to be younger when they were first sexually abused than male survivors.

14.3% of survivors were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

4.3% of survivors said they had a disability at the time of the abuse.

3.1% of survivors were from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds.

93.8% of survivors said they were abused by a man.

83.8% of survivors said they were abused by an adult.

10.4% of survivors were in prison at the time they gave evidence to the royal commission.

The average duration of child sexual abuse in institutions was 2.2 years.

36.3% of survivors said they were abused by multiple perpetrators.

These stories were told in private sessions, with one or two commissioners present to give survivors as safe as possible an environment to share their distressing and traumatic stories.

Almost 4,000 of those stories have been published with the final report in the form of short, de-identified narratives.

One published narrative was about “Keenan”, an Aboriginal man who was abused as a child and has spent most of his adult life in prison.

He is one of the 10.4% of survivors who spoke to the commission from prison, where he was serving a lengthy sentence for attacking a man he thought was a paedophile.

“I’ve got a deadset hatred of sex offenders,” he told the commission. “An absolute hatred.”

Keenan told the commission that he was fostered by a “nice white family” in the mid-1980s when he was five, who he loved and who became his adoptive parents. But he felt different in the white neighbourhood as an Aboriginal child: “I was a bit worried about what people would think when my family is white and I was black.”

He started going to the local Catholic church when he was nine to learn about Holy Communion. It was here that the parish priest took an interest in him.

“He asked my parents if he could do private studies with me at the church and my parents thought, you know, the sun shined out of his arse, they thought he was the top bloke,” he said.

The priest abused Keenan when they were alone together, touching Keenan’s thigh and penis. Keenan said he didn’t want to do it, but the priest “roared” at him that no matter what he told his parents, they wouldn’t believe him.

After two more instances of abuse, Keenan tried to tell his father about what was happening, but was dismissed. “No, you’re probably looking at it the wrong way. He’s probably just mucking around with you”.

Keenan refused to go back to see the priest, and changed churches. The abuse shattered him — he lost faith in God, and felt betrayed by his father.

“The two main things I believed in the strongest weren’t there for me,” he said.

After that, Keenan decided to suppress the abuse, saying: “I’ll find a little part of my body I can fold it up into and I don’t have to talk about it anymore.”

But as with so many survivors, it dramatically changed the course of Keenan’s life. He said he became “a prick of a kid” and at 15 moved out of home with a girlfriend and lost touch with his adoptive family for years. In the ensuing years, he wound up in juvenile detention and later adult prison.

Keenan told his girlfriend about the abuse, and she was supportive. In his mid-20s, he told his mother, and she was upset he hadn’t told he earlier. His relationship with his father remained difficult.

Other than those conversations, sharing his story with the commission was the first time Keenan had spoken about the abuse in 30 years.

“Even now in court they asked if I’ve been touched as a kid I said ‘No’. ‘Cause it’s got nothing to do with them. It’s taken me a long time to talk about this. Opening up again today about it, it makes me feel like I’m a kid again. It’s bringing back a lot in my mind I’ve learnt how to put away,” he said.

“At the age I am now I’ve got to get rid of that burden that’s sitting inside me, I think that’s the thing that keeps bringing me back to jail. ‘Cause jail’s a good place to hide.”

The support services page for the Royal Commission is here.

If you or someone you know needs help contact your nearest ACCHO or , you can call 1800 Respect (1800 737 732) or visit www.1800respect.org.au, or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au.

Part 2 ROYAL COMMISSION REPORT RECOGNISES CULTURE AS A PROTECTIVE FACTOR FOR CHILDREN AND CALLS FOR HEALING FOR ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER SURVIVORS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

 SNAICC welcomes the release of the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. We take this opportunity to acknowledge those who bravely shared their stories with the Royal Commission, and the barriers to disclosure that prevent many other survivors from coming forward.

The Royal Commission’s final report confirms the lived pain of past and present effects of child removal. The Royal Commission heard from many survivors who had been forcibly removed from their families as children and then sexually abused in institutions that should have kept them safe.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survivors who shared their stories with the Royal Commission spoke not only of sexual physical and emotional abuse, but also of racism and cultural abuse.

It is clear that child sexual abuse in institutions is not only a thing of the past; it is still a problem today.

As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are significantly overrepresented in out-of-home care systems today, addressing vulnerabilities and implementing the Royal Commission’s recommendations must be guaranteed as a matter of urgency.

The Royal Commission recognised the alarming over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home and called for reform of the contemporary system ensure children are safe from abuse in the future. It recognised that culture is an important protective factor for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

The Royal Commission’s final report recognises the importance of the full and proper implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle, and recommends partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and community representatives to ensure this is met.

The Royal Commission also makes important recommendations to fund Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing approaches and improve support for kinship carers, including ensuring that financial support and training are equivalent to that provided to foster carers.

“It is imperative that, especially following such a thorough process, all of the recommendations from this report are accepted and implemented,” said Ms Williams.

“The pain and injustices of the past have been acknowledged, and must now be redressed. At the same time, we must tackle current challenges to ensure our children are kept safe in family and culture.”

The publication of the final report concludes an extensive and exhaustive process, spanning several years, thousands of private sessions with survivors, and close examination of traumatic personal experiences by six Commissioners, including Professor Helen Milroy, who has brought specific expertise and understanding to issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

SNAICC thanks the all those involved in the Royal Commission for their dedicated and sensitive approach to the examination of this national tragedy – one that has been unresolved for far too long.

Part 3 Greater investment into supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities’ essential to preventing institutional child sexual abuse, says landmark Royal Commission report

The National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum (National FVPLS Forum) welcomes the landmark findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The report identified the need for specific initiatives to be developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experience child sexual abuse, as well as to prevent the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families and communities.

“The Royal Commission has acknowledged the importance of culture and developing specific initiatives to keep our children safe,” said Antoinette Braybrook, Convenor of the National FVPLS Forum.

“We work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children nationally who have experienced family violence, the Royal Commission identified that many of those have been victims of child sexual abuse.”

The National FVPLS Forum played a pivotal role in raising awareness of the Royal Commission and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to share their stories, receiving Federal Government funding to work in partnership with Knowmore Legal Services.

“It’s the trust and confidence that our people have in us that takes us into those communities to raise awareness and provide support. We engage and work with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationally who experience ongoing trauma resulting from child sexual abuse” said Ms Braybrook. “Our people’s access to Aboriginal community controlled organisations, like FVPLSs, is essential”.

“Aboriginal community controlled organisations, like FVPLSs, are best placed to provide this support” said Ms Braybrook “Our services are holistic and culturally safe.”

“Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have shared their stories, now we need greater investment in Aboriginal community controlled organisations to provide the support that our people need.”

Part 4 The royal commission’s final report has landed – now to make sure there is an adequate redress scheme

From The Conversation

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has performed its task magnificently. Its scale, complexity and quality is unprecedented. Its work is already being acknowledged internationally as a model of best practice.

As a nation, we can be proud of the commissioners and their staff. We should acclaim the courage of all survivors, including those who informed the commissioners about their experiences, and we should honour those who have not lived to see this day.

We must recognise the integrity and strength of those who advocated for the inquiry, including survivors, their families, journalists and police. We should applaud former prime minister Julia Gillard for initiating the commission, and the current federal government for ensuring it was adequately resourced.

But this is not the end. The real work begins now. Australian governments and major social institutions now have not only the opportunity, but the responsibility, to create lasting social change. Their responses will be monitored here, including through requirements to report on their actions, and around the world.

The royal commission’s impact

This watershed inquiry has created the conditions for a seachange in how society deals with child sexual abuse in institutions, which can flow to our treatment of sexual abuse in other settings.

Our society’s leaders can build progress from the pain of former failings. Not meeting this responsibility would surely stick as a lifelong regret for those in positions to cement change. Fulfilling this imperative can leave a legacy of which these government and institutional leaders can be proud.

Substantial progress has already been made. The commission’s earlier reports have influenced important changes to civil justice systems, criminal justice systems, organisational governance, and prevention, including situational prevention in child and youth-serving organisations.

The Child Safe Standards now promoted by the commission are substantially embedded in legislation in several states, requiring organisations to adopt comprehensive measures to prevent, identify and respond appropriately to child sexual abuse.

Civil laws have been amended in most jurisdictions to allow claims for compensation, holding individuals and organisations accountable.

In some states, new requirements to report known and suspected cases apply through special “failure to report” and “failure to protect” offences in criminal laws. They also apply through separate reportable conduct schemes that add essential independent external oversight.


Read more: Royal commission recommends sweeping reforms for Catholic Church to end child abuse


Yet much remains to be done. The reforms already made in some states must be adopted elsewhere to create national consistency.

Accountability of individuals and organisations is essential to create cultural change, and needs to be achieved through both civil systems (such as following Western Australia’s recent bill enabling lawsuits against organisations that previously could not be sued, such as the Catholic Church), and criminal systems (for example, prosecuting those who harbour offenders, and removing criminal law principles that compromise criminal prosecutions).

Other state and territory mandatory reporting laws need to be harmonised, as recommended by the commission. Many of the commission’s new 189 recommendations are rightly directed towards prevention, especially through the Child Safe Standards, including their requirements for education, codes of conduct, situational prevention, and the commitment required of organisations’ leadership.

 

The bill for the scheme remains before parliament, awaiting a committee report due in March 2018. It is yet to receive the commitment of all states, territories, and relevant organisations.

The commission recommended the scheme be operational by July 1, 2017, with an upper cap of A$200,000 and an average redress payment of $65,000. Under the bill, the scheme’s cap is $150,000, substantially below the recommendation, and even further below the average payment awarded in Ireland of more than €60,000 (about A$92,200). In Ireland, the highest payment was more than €300,000 (about A$461,000).

The Australian scheme contains three elements. First, a monetary payment as tangible recognition of the wrong suffered by a survivor. Second, access to counselling and psychological services (estimated at an average of $5,500 per person). Third, if requested, a direct personal response from the responsible institution(s), such as an apology.

Not all survivors will apply to the scheme, as many are not financially motivated. However, it is an essential part of a healing response. This has been shown internationally in Canada, Ireland and elsewhere.

Redress schemes are more flexible and speedy, with less formality and cost, and less trauma and confrontation, than conventional legal proceedings. Payments are not intended to replicate the amount that would be payable under a formal civil compensation claim, and instead are far lower.

Accordingly, institutions should recognise the lower financial commitment required to discharge their ethical obligation to participate compared with their liability in formal civil compensation amounts, especially since recent reforms to civil statutes of limitation have removed time limits and allow a claim to be commenced at any time.

Ten key aspects of the proposed Australian scheme are:

  1. People are eligible to apply to the scheme if they experienced sexual abuse in an institution while they were a child, before July 1, 2018.
  2. A lower evidentiary threshold applies, meaning that eligibility for a redress payment is assessed on whether there was “a reasonable likelihood” the person suffered institutional sexual abuse as a child.
  3. Applicants who have received redress under another scheme or compensation through a settlement or court judgment are still eligible, but prior payments by the institution will be deducted from the amount of redress.
  4. Only one application per person can be made; where a person was abused in more than one institution, provisions enable the decision-maker to determine the appropriate share of each institution.
  5. Applicants can access legal assistance to help determine whether to accept the offer of redress.
  6. A person who accepts an offer of redress must sign a deed of release, meaning the institution(s) responsible for the abuse will not be subject to other civil liability.
  7. Payments are not subject to income tax.
  8. Reviews of decisions are limited to internal review, and not to merits review or judicial review.
  9. Criminal liability of offenders is not affected.
  10. The scheme is intended to open on July 1, 2018, and operate for ten years; applications need to be made at least 12 months before the closing date of June 30, 2028.

Read more: When it comes to redress for child sexual abuse, all victims should be equal


Five further factors need to be accommodated by the scheme to ensure it functions properly and complies with the clear recommendations of the royal commission.

  1. The upper cap should be $200,000 to ensure sufficient recognition of severe cases.
  2. To ensure equal access to the scheme, legal assistance must be made available to assist people in making applications.
  3. Governments and institutions should opt in as soon as possible and commit resources to discharge their duty to participate in the scheme.
  4. Governments – federal or state – should be the funder of last resort in all cases where the institution is unable to reimburse the Commonwealth (for example, where the institution no longer exists, or lacks resources to participate).
  5. The method of determining the amount of the payment, based on the severity of the abuse, its impact, and other relevant factors, must be made available as soon as possible so it can be adequately debated.

The commission’s work contributes a historic, international legacy. The sexual abuse of children in institutions will be revealed in more nations in coming years. This will involve some of the same religious institutions in which it has been found here to be so prevalent, and so heinously concealed and facilitated. Simply due to population, countless children will be shown to be affected.

For this reason, our governments and institutions must now ensure their actions add to the royal commission’s example, and demonstrate to other countries how civilised societies should respond.

Aboriginal Health, Healing , Self Determination Reconciliation and a #Treaty : @VACCHO_CEO Jill Gallagher AO named Treaty Advancement Commissioner

 

” Having a Treaty will be a positive step for our mob. It will change the way people think about us, formally recognise what has been done to us in the past, and it will help us heal and overcome so much of this hurt, to achieve better social, emotional, health and wellbeing outcomes for our people.

I want my grandchildren, everyone’s grandchildren, and the generations to come to be happier and healthier. I want us to Close the Gap in all ways possible, and reaching a Treaty in Victoria is part of achieving this critical goal.

Jill Gallagher AO, is CEO of VACCHO and Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group and now Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner.

Read Jill’s Opinion piece in full Part 2 below Victorian Treaty an opportunity to heal and overcome intergenerational trauma

 ” I believe a Treaty with the Victorian Government will pave the way for a lot of the work VACCHO does around the holistic approach to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal people.

VACCHO has this holistic approach because we know you can’t just deal with health without dealing with housing and other aspects of life. If you haven’t got a roof over your head you can’t be healthy. If you haven’t got a job, that is going to have a negative impact on your health.

If you or your family are unfairly caught up in the justice system it makes it hard to build a life.

The social determinants of health need to be addressed in a holistic way, and we advocate to Government for that. “

Aged 62, Jill Gallagher has lived long enough to have had her sense of the world shaped by some of the sorriest historical aspects of Victoria’s treatment of Aboriginal people.

As a child she accompanied her mother all over the state as she chased seasonal work picking vegetables on farms, one of few lines of employment Aboriginal people were permitted to do.

As Reported in the AGE  : Jill Gallagher has been named Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner.  Photo: Jason South

And she has an early memory, painful still, of her mother being asked to leave the whites-only Warrnambool hotel.

It was Australia in the early 1960s, before Aboriginal people had been recognised in the constitution or been given the right to vote.

On Tuesday Ms Gallagher took on a job that is meant to shape a much more equal future between the state’s first people and the rest of us, when she was named Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner.

It is the new, leading role in preparing to negotiate the first ever treaty between Aboriginal people and an Australian government.

“What’s happening in Victoria is history making,” Ms Gallagher says of the $28.5 million treaty process.

“It’s never happened before, for any government to actually be serious about wanting to talk to Aboriginal people about treaties.” As commissioner, Ms Gallagher will lead the task of bringing Aboriginal representatives to the negotiating table with government and ensuring everyday Aboriginal voices are heard.

“My role is not to negotiate a treaty or treaties,” she says. “My role is to establish a voice, or representative body, that government can negotiate with.”

By the time treaty negotiations commence, her work as commissioner will have been done and the role will have ceased to exist.

For now the treaty’s terms of reference is a blank sheet of paper.

Its eventual signing could involve years of negotiations between the Aboriginal community and state government.

Aspects of treaties from other nations, such as Canada or New Zealand, may be borrowed from but Ms Gallagher says she hopes Victoria’s model will “stay true to what the need is here in Victoria”. “Treaty is about righting the wrongs of the past but also having the ability to tell the truth,” Ms Gallagher says.

As head of Aboriginal health organisation VACCHO, Ms Gallagher grapples with the lingering failure to “close the gap” of disadvantage between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal Victorians, who statistically live shorter lives and in poorer health than the general population.

A report last month by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria acknowledged the inter-generational damage European colonisation did to Aboriginal people, entrenching poverty, racism and disadvantage.

“I see the devastation that colonisation had on my people,” she says.

“I see how it manifests today in many ways such as overrepresentation in the justice system, overrepresentation of children in out-of-home care … So for me treaty is trying to rectify that.”

And as for non-Aboriginals uncertain about what a treaty means for them, Ms Gallagher offers this piece of reassurance: we don’t want your backyard.

Rather, it’s about creating a shared identity.

“I think it will add value to the non-Aboriginal community here in Victoria,” Ms Gallagher says.

“Treaty is about us having the ability to share our very rich, ancient culture, so all Victorians can be proud of our culture.”

Victorian Treaty an opportunity to heal and overcome intergenerational trauma

*Jill Gallagher AO, is CEO of VACCHO and Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group

Originally published in Croakey

As the end of the year rapidly approaches there is a bright ray of hope on the horizon for Aboriginal people living in Victoria, in the form of Treaty.

Working towards Treaty

For almost two years we have been working as a community towards the goal of a Treaty between the First Nations people and the Victorian Government. It’s an historic process, and one that we hope will inspire and guide the rest of Australia, both at a state and national level.

I’ve been honoured to be a part of the process as Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group. Our role in this group is not to negotiate a Treaty, but to consult the Aboriginal community on what we would like to see in a representative structure.

We have consulted extensively, and continue to consult, with the Aboriginal Community Assembly meeting in recent weeks and releasing a second statement on Treaty.

Intergenerational trauma

As CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) I’ve been working for the past two decades towards improving the health and wellbeing outcomes of Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I see a Treaty as fundamental to reaching the goal of Closing the Gap on many of our poor health outcomes as Aboriginal people.

Our mob, as we well know, has been disempowered for many, many generations and with disempowerment comes distress, and comes a lack of resilience. Our self-esteem has suffered and there have been so many social, emotional and wellbeing issues

in our community as a result of that disempowerment.

I believe if we are successful in reaching a Treaty it will make a humongous difference in the wellbeing of our people across Victoria. This is about truth telling and healing the past for a better future for Aboriginal people.

Intergenerational trauma is deeply felt in our community from myriad past practices, including the relatively recent Stolen Generations – I work with people born to parents who were stolen, many of my friends were stolen or come from families affected by the woeful policies of the past. In fact, almost 50 per cent of Aboriginal Victorians have a relative who was forcibly removed from their family through the Stolen Generations.

Even right now you just have to consider the disproportionately high number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care, and the trauma they are suffering from being disconnected from their families, communities and culture. Thankfully the Victorian Government has worked with our communities to help overcome this with its new Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care program.

Without doubt intergenerational trauma and a lack of empowerment and resilience leads to inevitable mental illness; we currently have 32 per cent of the Victorian Aboriginal community suffering very high psychological distress, which is three times the non-Aboriginal rate.

Social and emotional wellbeing

But while improving mental health outcomes is incredibly important to our people, it is something that cannot be done in isolation; improving social and emotional wellbeing is also important.

The Aboriginal concept of social and emotional wellbeing is an inclusive term that enables concepts of mental health to be recognised as part of a holistic and interconnected Aboriginal view of health that embraces social, emotional, physical, cultural and spiritual dimensions of wellbeing.

Social and emotional wellbeing emphasises the importance of individual, family and community strengths and resilience, feelings of cultural safety and connection to culture, and the importance of realising aspirations, and experiencing satisfaction and purpose in life.

Importantly, social and emotional wellbeing is a source of resilience that can help protect against the worst impacts of stressful life events for Aboriginal people, and provide a buffer to mitigate risks of poor mental health.

Improving the social and emotional wellbeing of, and mental health outcomes for, Aboriginal people cannot be achieved by any one measure, one agency or sector, or by Aboriginal people alone. It needs to be shaped and led through Aboriginal self-determination with support from government, and that is where Treaty comes in.

A Treaty for healing

I know that many people will dismiss Treaty as a political or public relations stunt. Just look at how the Federal Government has dismissed us on Makaratta. Makarrata is a complex Yolngu word describing a process of conflict resolution, peacemaking and justice. It’s a philosophy that helped develop and maintain lasting peace among the Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem Land.

Reaching a Makarrata is the goal of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which was agreed in May this year. It’s hurtful and disrespectful to be asked your opinion on something as important as Makarrata and then to have your ideas and solutions be dismissed.

I am glad to say the Victorian Government is, however, listening to us. I believe a Treaty with the Victorian Government will pave the way for a lot of the work VACCHO does around the holistic approach to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal people.

VACCHO has this holistic approach because we know you can’t just deal with health without dealing with housing and other aspects of life. If you haven’t got a roof over your head you can’t be healthy. If you haven’t got a job, that is going to have a negative impact on your health. If you or your family are unfairly caught up in the justice system it makes it hard to build a life. The social determinants of health need to be addressed in a holistic way, and we advocate to Government for that.

Having a Treaty will be a positive step for our mob. It will change the way people think about us, formally recognise what has been done to us in the past, and it will help us heal and overcome so much of this hurt, to achieve better social, emotional, health and wellbeing outcomes for our people.

I want my grandchildren, everyone’s grandchildren, and the generations to come to be happier and healthier. I want us to Close the Gap in all ways possible, and reaching a Treaty in Victoria is part of achieving this critical goal.

 

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Racism : #UN #HRC36 told Australia must abandon racially discriminatory remote work for the dole program

Thank you Mr President,

Australia is denying access to basic rights to equality, income and work for people in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, through a racially discriminatory social security policy.

Australia should work with Aboriginal organisations and leaders to replace this discriminatory Program with an Aboriginal-led model that treats people with respect, protects their human rights and provides opportunities for economic and community development “

36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council 20 September see in full part 2 below

The program discriminates on the basis of race, with around 83 per cent of people in the program being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This is a racially discriminatory program that was imposed on remote communities by the Government and it’s having devastating consequences in those communities,”

John Paterson, a CEO of the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT, told the Council that the Government’s program requires people looking for work in remote communities to work up to 760 hours more per year for the same basic payment as people in non-Indigenous majority urban areas.

Picture above Remote work-for-the-dole scheme ‘devastating Indigenous communities’

The Australian Government is denying access to basic rights to equality, work and income for people in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, through its racially discriminatory remote work for the dole program.

In a joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council overnight, the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT and Human Rights Law Centre urged the Council to abandon its racially discriminatory ‘Community Development Program’ and replace it with an Aboriginal-led model.

Adrianne Walters, a Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said that the program is also denying basic work rights to many people in remote communities.

“Some people are required to do work that they should be employed to do. Instead, they receive a basic social security payment that is nearly half of the minimum wage in Australia. People should be paid an award wage and afforded workplace rights and protections to do that work.” said Ms Walters.

The statement to the Council calls for the Federal Government to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on a model that treats people with respect, protects their human rights and provides opportunities for economic and community development.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities want to take up the reins and drive job creation and community development. Communities need a program that sees people employed on decent pay and conditions, to work on projects the community needs. It’s time for Government to work with us,” said Mr Paterson.

The Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT has developed an alternative model for fair work and strong communities, called the Remote Development and Employment Scheme, which was launched in Canberra two weeks ago with broad community support.

“The new Scheme will see new opportunities for jobs and community development and get rid of pointless administration. Critically, the Scheme provides incentives to encourage people into work, training and other activities, rather than punishing people already struggling to make ends meet,” said Mr Paterson.

The Human Rights Law Centre has endorsed the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT’s proposed model.

“Aboriginal organisations have brought a detailed policy solution to the Government’s front door. The Scheme would create jobs and strengthen communities, rather than strangling opportunities as the Government’s program is doing,” said Ms Walters.

Part 2 36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Items 3 and 5

Human Rights Law Centre statement, in association with Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory, Australia

Thank you Mr President,

Australia is denying access to basic rights to equality, income and work for people in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, through a racially discriminatory social security policy.

The Council has received the report of the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous peoples’ rights following her mission to Australia in 2017. This statement addresses one area of concern in the Special Rapporteur’s report.

The Australian Government’s remote ‘Community Development Program’ requires people looking for work in remote communities to work up to 760 more hours per year for the same basic social security payment as people in non-Indigenous majority urban areas.

The program discriminates on the basis of race, with around 83 per cent of people covered by the program being Indigenous.

High rates of financial penalty are leaving families without money for the basic necessities for survival.

In addition, the program denies basic work rights. People are required to do work activities that they should be employed, paid an award wage and afforded workplace rights to do. Instead, they receive a basic social security payment that is nearly half of the minimum wage in Australia.

The program undermines self-determination and was imposed on Aboriginal communities with very little consultation.

Australia should work with Aboriginal organisations and leaders to replace this discriminatory Program with an Aboriginal-led model that treats people with respect, protects their human rights and provides opportunities for economic and community development.

Mr President,

Australia is a candidate for a seat on the Human Rights Council for 2018. We call on the Council and its members to urge Australia to respect rights to self-determination and non-discrimination, and to abandon its racially discriminatory remote social security program and replace it with an Aboriginal-led model.

Part 3 Fair work and strong communities

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT Proposal for a Remote Development and Employment Scheme

NACCHO is one of the many organisations that has endorsed this scheme

See full Story here

Download the brochure and full list of organisations endorsing

RDES-Summary_online

All Australians expect to be treated with respect and to receive a fair wage for work. But the Australian Government is denying these basic rights to people in remote communities through its remote work for the Dole program – the “Community Development Programme”.

Around 84 per cent of those subject to this program are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Most people in remote communities have to do more work than people in non-remote non Indigenous majority areas for the same basic social security payment.

In some cases, up to 760 hours more per year.

There is less flexibility and people are paid far below the national minimum wage.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also being penalised more because of the onerous compliance conditions.

In many cases, people are receiving a basic social security payment for work they should be employed to do.

The Government’s program is strangling genuine job opportunities in remote communities.

The Government’s remote Work for the Dole program is racially discriminatory and must be abandoned. Better outcomes will be achieved if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are given the opportunity to determine their own priorities and gain greater control over their own lives.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : #Indigenous groups say work for the dole scheme racially discriminatory and “unhealthy “

“ Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory (APONT ), and our members have received widespread concerns about the debilitating impacts that CDP is having on its participants, their families and communities.

Financial penalties were being imposed at an astonishing scale – causing families, including children, to go hungry.

Such consistent and strong concerns expressed by those at the coalface must be taken seriously and acted upon,

Onerous and discriminatory obligations applied to remote CDP work for the dole participants mean they have to do significantly more work than those in non-remote, mainly non-Indigenous majority areas, up to 670 hours more per year.”

The chief executive of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, John Paterson, said the program was causing significant harm to communities. He said financial penalties were being imposed at an astonishing scale – causing families, including children, to go hungry (see Guardian article in full below Part 2 )

In press conference picture below

  • John Paterson, CEO, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (APO NT)
  • David Ross, Director, Central Land Council (APO NT)
  • Rod Little, Co-Chair, National Congress
  • David Thompson, CEO, Jobs Australia
  • Ged Kearney, President, Australian Council of Trade Union
  • Maria Harvey, CEO, Tiwi Islands Training & Employment Board
  • Dickie Bedford, CEO, Marra Worra Worra

 

Part 1 Fair work and strong communities

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT Proposal for a Remote Development and Employment Scheme

NACCHO is one of the many organisations that has endorsed this scheme

Download the brochure and full list of organisations endorsing

RDES-Summary_online

All Australians expect to be treated with respect and to receive a fair wage for work. But the Australian Government is denying these basic rights to people in remote communities through its remote work for the Dole program – the “Community Development Programme”.

Around 84 per cent of those subject to this program are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Most people in remote communities have to do more work than people in non-remote non Indigenous majority areas for the same basic social security payment.

In some cases, up to 760 hours more per year.

There is less flexibility and people are paid far below the national minimum wage.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also being penalised more because of the onerous compliance conditions.

In many cases, people are receiving a basic social security payment for work they should be employed to do.

The Government’s program is strangling genuine job opportunities in remote communities.

The Government’s remote Work for the Dole program is racially discriminatory and must be abandoned. Better outcomes will be achieved if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are given the opportunity to determine their own priorities and gain greater control over their own lives.

A Fair Wage for Work

There is an opportunity for the Australian government to meaningfully partner with remote communities, rather than impose a “one size fits all” model from Canberra.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities want to take up the reins and drive job creation and community development initiatives.

Remote communities need a program that sees people employed to work on projects the community needs.

And to do so with decent pay and conditions, and the right to earn more for extra effort. The current program keeps people in the welfare system and excessive penalties see people just disengage. It provides no reward for effort and does not address the need to support people into the workforce.

Remote communities need a program that encourages school leavers to move straight into employment or training.

Not one that leaves young people trapped in a welfare cycle or disengaged.

Tailored community-led approaches are needed that reflect the diverse cultural, economic and social aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the realities of the remote job market.

A Fair and Positive Scheme for waged work and strengthening communities

Five Aboriginal organisations in the Northern Territory, working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remote service providers, have developed a new, fair and positive model for job creation and community building – the Remote Development and Employment Scheme.

The Scheme will see people placed into part time work with award wages and conditions.

People will be protected by the workplace rights so many Australians take for granted. It would reduce the role that the welfare system plays in people lives. It will see more time and money spent creating new opportunities for jobs, enterprise and community development and less on pointless administration.

The Scheme is a place-based and community-driven model.

It will establish long term collaboration across governments, employers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to increase opportunities in remote communities.

Critically, the Scheme provides incentives to encourage people into work, training and other activities, rather than punishing people already struggling to comply.

Keys features of the Remote Development and Employment Scheme :

  • Establish a wages fund to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other local organisations to create 10,500 part time jobs on award wages and conditions, working on services and projects important to their communities, with the ability to “top up” these wages from other funds when extra work is done.
  • Create 1,500 paid work experience and training places for young people, supported by locally driven youth development strategies.
  • Remove the discriminatory requirement for people in remote communities who remain on social security payments to work more hours than people in non- remote areas.
  • Create Remote Job Centres, with local governance bodies, focused on long term support to help people get into work, stay in work, and progress into better jobs based on their skills and aspirations.
  • Retain activity obligations for people who can work and receive social security but aren’t in a job. Obligations will be based on their capabilities and the needs and views of communities.
  • Support people with disabilities and family responsibilities to meet their gaols and contribute to their communities in a manner appropriate to their capabilities and aspirations.
  • Maintain and improve access to government services in remote communities, including Centrelink, and help people with disabilities access the right payment through the support of Remote Job Centres.
  • Ensure the Scheme is managed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through shared learning and evidence, by establishing an independent body with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led board.

Part 2 from The Guardian

Indigenous groups say work for the dole scheme racially discriminatory

An alliance of Indigenous groups has called the government’s remote work for the dole scheme a racially discriminatory, onerous and debilitating program that is causing children to go hungry.

The community development program was introduced in 2015, aiming to reduce welfare dependency in rural and remote areas.

The scheme relies heavily on private job service providers, and places more onerous requirements on jobseekers, who are required to work or engage in related activities for 25 hours a week across 46 weeks of the year.

Its 35,000 participants, who are 83% Indigenous, earn about $11 an hour, and those who fail to meet their obligations face financial penalties.

Witnesses told a Senate inquiry on Friday that a lack of job opportunities in remote communities made it unworkable and impractical.

Participants have been left to engage in “activity for activity’s sake” with little prospect for learning new skills or gaining a job.

If they fail to comply with rigid requirements, jobseekers face financial punishment. The government issued 35,122 financial penalties in the final quarter of last year, mostly through no show no pay penalties, usually of about $53.

An Australian National University study showed Indigenous people were 27 times more likely to be penalised by a loss of income than those on a similar program in a largely white area.

On Friday the Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory (Apont), an alliance of five groups, gave evidence to a Senate inquiry into the program.

One of the members, the chief executive of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, John Paterson, said the program was causing significant harm to communities. He said financial penalties were being imposed at an astonishing scale – causing families, including children, to go hungry.

“Apont and our members have received widespread concerns about the debilitating impacts that CDP is having on its participants, their families and communities. Such consistent and strong concerns expressed by those at the coalface must be taken seriously and acted upon,” Paterson said.

“Onerous and discriminatory obligations applied to remote CDP work for the dole participants mean they have to do significantly more work than those in non-remote, mainly non-Indigenous majority areas, up to 670 hours more per year.”

Apont, which was created to end the top-down approach of Indigenous policy, has proposed a new model, which focuses on increasing jobs, boosting community development, and lessening the welfare system’s intrusion into people’s lives.

“The CDP is racially discriminatory, and Apont believes it must be abandoned. In seeking this we are not just coming here armed with criticisms, but with a solution, an alternative.”

Cassandra Goldie, the chief executive of the Australian council of social service (Acoss), said the significant resources being spent on the CDP – about $268m in 2015-16 – would be better directed to creating employment in rural communities.

“When the term ‘welfare dependency’ is used, it’s often understood that it’s the social security payment that’s the problem,” Goldie said.

“But … the very important task of generating local employment, real employment opportunities, that is where the significant capabilities of the commonwealth, institutionally, should be coming in behind the deep desire by Atsi [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander] leadership, and also Indigenous people locally, to drive this agenda,” she said.

That was a position backed by non-profit job service providers, represented by the chief executive of Jobs Australia, David Thompson. “There’s been nothing done, nothing of any significant note, to actually increase the stock of jobs in those communities,” he said.

The Department of Social Services was questioned about why it imposed stricter requirements on participants of the CDP.

Labor senator Malarndirri McCarthy asked, “If there are less jobs in a remote and rural region and less opportunities, why would there be a higher expectation of the hours?”

The DSS’s Bronwyn Field said the government had heard significant concerns from community leaders about sit-down welfare. To resolve that, it had decided daily activities from participants would be required.

“The government, when they started consultation prior to introducing the CDP, spent a lot of time with communities. One of the clear pieces of feedback was the fact that many Indigenous community leaders were concerned about people … doing sit-down welfare,” Field said.

McCarthy responded, “So you’re saying that was a result of government consultations to have those hours – 25 in the community, and 15 in town?”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and @MHPNOnline free webinar : Reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration

NACCHO Member Alert speaker update August 30

 ” Our CEO Pat Turner and NACCHO staff would like to invite all health workers to be a part of this free webinar: Reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services.
 
Developed by NACCHO and produced by Mental Health Professionals’ Network (MHPN) the webinar features Q&A with a panel of experts and will explore the key issues and the impact that incarceration has on individuals, families and communities.”

Download FLYER HERE and share /promote this free webinar

No need to travel to benefit from this free PD opportunity.
Simply register and log in to participate from your home, work or anywhere you have a computer or tablet with a high speed internet connection.
 
Register now to attend this free webinar for health practitioners on
Wednesday 13 September 2017, from 4:30pm – 5:45pm AEST.
 
NACCHO also invites all Member services to ask staff to register now to access a free Mental Health Professionals’ Network webinar for their own professional development.
 
The Indigenous interdisciplinary panel will explore and discuss ways of reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services.
 
This professional development opportunity is free and the previous webinar conducted by the MHPN had 680 participants across Australia.
 
The webinar features a Q&A with a panel of experts and will explore the key issues and the impact that incarceration has on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The panel will discuss strategies to enhance cultural awareness and develop responsive services for Indigenous communities affected by incarceration.

WHO’S ON THE PANEL?
 
Julie Tongs OAM : CEO Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service ACT
Dr Louis Peachy : QLD-based rural medical advisor
Dr Marshall Watson : SA-based psychiatrist
Dr Jeff Nelson : QLD-based psychologist
 
Facilitator: Dr Mary Emeleus (QLD-based general practitioner and psychotherapist).
 
Simply register and log in to participate from your home, work or anywhere you have a computer or tablet with a high speed internet connection.
Registrations close at midnight on Tuesday 12th September, 2017.
 
Please find attached a flyer about the updated webinar and it would be appreciate if you could distribute this to your local network.
 
 

Aboriginal Health and the @AusLawReform inquiry into the incarceration rate of Aboriginal peoples

 

” The Terms of Reference for this Inquiry ask the ALRC to consider laws and legal frameworks that contribute to the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and inform decisions to hold or keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody.

ALRC Home page

Download this 236 page discussion paper

discussion_paper_84_compressed_no_cover

Full Terms of reference part B below

The ALRC was asked to consider a number of factors that decision makers take into account when deciding on a criminal justice response, including community safety, the availability of alternatives to incarceration, the degree of discretion available, and incarceration as a deterrent and as a punishment

The Terms of Reference also direct the ALRC to consider laws that may contribute to the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples offending and the rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Submissions close on 4 September 2017.

Make a submission

Part A Proposals and Questions

1. Structure of the Discussion Paper

1.40     The Discussion Paper is structured in parts. Following the introduction, Part 2 addresses criminal justice pathways. The ALRC has identified three key areas that influence incarceration rates: bail laws and processes, and remand; sentencing laws and legal frameworks including mandatory sentencing, short sentences and Gladue-style reports; and transition pathways from prison, parole and throughcare. These were the focus of stakeholder comments and observations in preliminary consultations.

1.41     Part 3 considers non-violent offending and alcohol regulation. It provides an overview of the detrimental effects of fine debt on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including the likelihood of imprisonment in some jurisdictions. Fine debt can be tied to driver licence offending, and the ALRC asks how best to minimise licence suspension caused by fine default. Part 3 also looks at ways laws and legal frameworks can operate to decrease alcohol supply so as to minimise alcohol-related offending in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

1.42     Part 4 discusses the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. It contextualises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female offending within experiences of trauma, including isolation; family and sexual violence; and child removal. It outlines how proposals in other chapters may address the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and asks what more can be done.

1.43     Part 5 considers access to justice, and examines ways that state and territory governments and criminal justice systems can better engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to prevent offending and to provide better criminal justice responses when offending occurs. The ALRC places collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations at the centre of proposals made in this Part, and suggests accountability measures for state and territory government justice agencies and police. The remoteness of communities, the availability of and access to legal assistance and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interpreters are also discussed. Alternative approaches to crime prevention and criminal justice responses, such as those operating under the banner of ‘justice reinvestment’, are also canvassed.

2. Bail and the Remand Population

Proposal 2–1        The Bail Act 1977 (Vic) has a standalone provision that requires bail authorities to consider any ‘issues that arise due to the person’s Aboriginality’, including cultural background, ties to family and place, and cultural obligations. This consideration is in addition to any other requirements of the Bail Act.

Other state and territory bail legislation should adopt similar provisions.

As with all other bail considerations, the requirement to consider issues that arise due to the person’s Aboriginality would not supersede considerations of community safety.

Proposal 2–2        State and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to identify service gaps and develop the infrastructure required to provide culturally appropriate bail support and diversion options where needed.

3. Sentencing and Aboriginality

Question 3–1        Noting the decision in Bugmy v The Queen [2013] HCA 38, should state and territory governments legislate to expressly require courts to consider the unique systemic and background factors affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when sentencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders?

If so, should this be done as a sentencing principle, a sentencing factor, or in some other way?

Question 3–2        Where not currently legislated, should state and territory governments provide for reparation or restoration as a sentencing principle? In what ways, if any, would this make the criminal justice system more responsive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders?

Question 3–3        Do courts sentencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders have sufficient information available about the offender’s background, including cultural and historical factors that relate to the offender and their community?

Question 3–4        In what ways might specialist sentencing reports assist in providing relevant information to the court that would otherwise be unlikely to be submitted?

Question 3–5        How could the preparation of these reports be facilitated? For example, who should prepare them, and how should they be funded?

4. Sentencing Options

Question 4–1        Noting the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

(a)     should Commonwealth, state and territory governments review provisions that impose mandatory or presumptive sentences; and

(b)     which provisions should be prioritised for review?

Question 4–2        Should short sentences of imprisonment be abolished as a sentencing option? Are there any unintended consequences that could result?

Question 4–3        If short sentences of imprisonment were to be abolished, what should be the threshold (eg, three months; six months)?

Question 4–4        Should there be any pre-conditions for such amendments, for example: that non-custodial alternatives to prison be uniformly available throughout states and territories, including in regional and remote areas?

Proposal 4–1        State and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to ensure that community-based sentences are more readily available, particularly in regional and remote areas.

Question 4–5        Beyond increasing availability of existing community-based sentencing options, is legislative reform required to allow judicial officers greater flexibility to tailor sentences?

5. Prison Programs, Parole and Unsupervised Release

Proposal 5–1        Prison programs should be developed and made available to accused people held on remand and people serving short sentences.

Question 5–1        What are the best practice elements of programs that could respond to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples held on remand or serving short sentences of imprisonment?

Proposal 5–2        There are few prison programs for female prisoners and these may not address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners. State and territory corrective services should develop culturally appropriate programs that are readily available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners.

Question 5–2        What are the best practice elements of programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners to address offending behaviour?

Proposal 5–3        A statutory regime of automatic court ordered parole should apply in all states and territories.

Question 5–3        A statutory regime of automatic court ordered parole applies in NSW, Queensland and SA. What are the best practice elements of such schemes?

Proposal 5–4        Parole revocation schemes should be amended to abolish requirements for the time spent on parole to be served again in prison if parole is revoked.

6. Fines and Driver Licences

Proposal 6–1        Fine default should not result in the imprisonment of the defaulter. State and territory governments should abolish provisions in fine enforcement statutes that provide for imprisonment in lieu of unpaid fines.

Question 6–1        Should lower level penalties be introduced, such as suspended infringement notices or written cautions?

Question 6–2        Should monetary penalties received under infringement notices be reduced or limited to a certain amount? If so, how?

Question 6–3        Should the number of infringement notices able to be issued in one transaction be limited?

Question 6–4        Should offensive language remain a criminal offence? If so, in what circumstances?

Question 6–5        Should offensive language provisions be removed from criminal infringement notice schemes, meaning that they must instead be dealt with by the court?

Question 6–6        Should state and territory governments provide alternative penalties to court ordered fines? This could include, for example, suspended fines, day fines, and/or work and development orders.

Proposal 6–2        Work and Development Orders were introduced in NSW in 2009. They enable a person who cannot pay fines due to hardship, illness, addiction, or homelessness to discharge their debt through:

  • work;
  • program attendance;
  • medical treatment;
  • counselling; or
  • education, including driving lessons.

State and territory governments should introduce work and development orders based on this model.

Question 6–7        Should fine default statutory regimes be amended to remove the enforcement measure of driver licence suspension?

Question 6–8        What mechanisms could be introduced to enable people reliant upon driver licences to be protected from suspension caused by fine default? For example, should:

(a)     recovery agencies be given discretion to skip the licence suspension step where the person in default is vulnerable, as in NSW; or

(b)     courts be given discretion regarding the disqualification, and disqualification period, of driver licences where a person was initially suspended due to fine default?

Question 6–9        Is there a need for regional driver permit schemes? If so, how should they operate?

Question 6–10      How could the delivery of driver licence programs to regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities be improved?

7. Justice Procedure Offences—Breach of Community-based Sentences

Proposal 7–1        To reduce breaches of community-based sentences by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, state and territory governments should engage with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to identify gaps and build the infrastructure required for culturally appropriate community-based sentencing options and support services.

8. Alcohol

Question 8–1        Noting the link between alcohol abuse and offending, how might state and territory governments facilitate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, that wish to do so, to:

(a)     develop and implement local liquor accords with liquor retailers and other stakeholders that specifically seek to minimise harm to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, for example through such things as minimum pricing, trading hours and range restriction;

(b)     develop plans to prevent the sale of full strength alcohol within their communities, such as the plan implemented within the Fitzroy Crossing community?

Question 8–2        In what ways do banned drinkers registers or alcohol mandatory treatment programs affect alcohol-related offending within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities? What negative impacts, if any, flow from such programs?

9. Female Offenders

Question 9–1        What reforms to laws and legal frameworks are required to strengthen diversionary options and improve criminal justice processes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female defendants and offenders?

10. Aboriginal Justice Agreements

Proposal 10–1       Where not currently operating, state and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to renew or develop Aboriginal Justice Agreements.

Question 10–1      Should the Commonwealth Government develop justice targets as part of the review of the Closing the Gap policy? If so, what should these targets encompass?

11. Access to Justice Issues

Proposal 11–1       Where needed, state and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to establish interpreter services within the criminal justice system.

Question 11–1      What reforms to laws and legal frameworks are required to strengthen diversionary options and specialist sentencing courts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Proposal 11–2       Where not already in place, state and territory governments should provide for limiting terms through special hearing processes in place of indefinite detention when a person is found unfit to stand trial.

Question 11–2      In what ways can availability and access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services be increased?

Proposal 11–3       State and territory governments should introduce a statutory custody notification service that places a duty on police to contact the Aboriginal Legal Service, or equivalent service, immediately on detaining an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person.

12. Police Accountability

Question 12–1      How can police work better with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to reduce family violence?

Question 12–2      How can police officers entering into a particular Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community gain a full understanding of, and be better equipped to respond to, the needs of that community?

Question 12–3      Is there value in police publicly reporting annually on their engagement strategies, programs and outcomes with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that are designed to prevent offending behaviours?

Question 12–4      Should police that are undertaking programs aimed at reducing offending behaviours in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities be required to: document programs; undertake systems and outcomes evaluations; and put succession planning in place to ensure continuity of the programs?

Question 12–5      Should police be encouraged to enter into Reconciliation Action Plans with Reconciliation Australia, where they have not already done so?

Question 12–6      Should police be required to resource and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment strategies, where not already in place?

13. Justice Reinvestment

Question 13–1      What laws or legal frameworks, if any, are required to facilitate justice reinvestment initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Part B The Term of reference

ALRC inquiry into the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

I, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General of Australia, refer to the Australian Law Reform Commission, an inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our prisons.

It is acknowledged that while laws and legal frameworks are an important factor contributing to over‑representation, there are many other social, economic, and historic factors that also contribute. It is also acknowledged that while the rate of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and their contact with the criminal justice system – both as offenders and as victims – significantly exceeds that of non‑Indigenous Australians, the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people never commit criminal offences.

Scope of the reference

  1. In developing its law reform recommendations, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) should have regard to:
    1. Laws and legal frameworks including legal institutions and law enforcement (police, courts, legal assistance services and prisons), that contribute to the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and inform decisions to hold or keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody, specifically in relation to:
      1. the nature of offences resulting in incarceration,
      2. cautioning,
      3. protective custody,
      4. arrest,
      5. remand and bail,
      6. diversion,
      7. sentencing, including mandatory sentencing, and
      8. parole, parole conditions and community reintegration.
    2. Factors that decision-makers take into account when considering (1)(a)(i-viii), including:
      1. community safety,
      2. availability of alternatives to incarceration,
      3. the degree of discretion available to decision-makers,
      4. incarceration as a last resort, and
      5. incarceration as a deterrent and as a punishment.
    3. Laws that may contribute to the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples offending and including, for example, laws that regulate the availability of alcohol, driving offences and unpaid fines.
    4. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their rate of incarceration.
    5. Differences in the application of laws across states and territories.
    6. Other access to justice issues including the remoteness of communities, the availability of and access to legal assistance and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language and sign interpreters.
  2.  In conducting its Inquiry, the ALRC should have regard to existing data and research[1] in relation to:
    1. best practice laws, legal frameworks that reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration,
    2. pathways of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through the criminal justice system, including most frequent offences, relative rates of bail and diversion and progression from juvenile to adult offending,
    3. alternatives to custody in reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and/or offending, including rehabilitation, therapeutic alternatives and culturally appropriate community led solutions,
    4. the impacts of incarceration on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including in relation to employment, housing, health, education and families, and
    5. the broader contextual factors contributing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration including:
      1. the characteristics of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison population,
      2. the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offending and incarceration and inter‑generational trauma, loss of culture, poverty, discrimination, alcohol and drug use, experience of violence, including family violence, child abuse and neglect, contact with child protection and welfare systems, educational access and performance, cognitive and psychological factors, housing circumstances and employment, and
      3. the availability and effectiveness of culturally appropriate programs that intend to reduce Aboriginal; and Torres Strait Islander offending and incarceration.
  3. In undertaking this Inquiry, the ALRC should identify and consider other reports, inquiries and action plans including but not limited to:
    1. the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody,
    2. the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (due to report 1 August 2017),
    3. Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration’s Inquiry into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Experience of Law Enforcement and Justice Services,
    4. Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs’ inquiry into Indefinite Detention of People with Cognitive and Psychiatric impairment in Australia,
    5. Senate Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs inquiry into Harmful Use of Alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities,
    6. reports of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,
    7. the ALRC’s inquiries into Family violence and Family violence and Commonwealth laws, and​
    8. the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

The ALRC should also consider the gaps in available data on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and consider recommendations that might improve data collection.

  1. In conducting its inquiry the ALRC should also have regard to relevant international human rights standards and instruments.

Consultation

  1. In undertaking this inquiry, the ALRC should identify and consult with relevant stakeholders including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their organisations, state and territory governments, relevant policy and research organisations, law enforcement agencies, legal assistance service providers and the broader legal profession, community service providers and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Timeframe

  1. The ALRC should provide its report to the Attorney-General by 22 December 2017.

 

Aboriginal Health #Garma2017 : #Makarrata ,canoes and the #UluruStatement @TurnbullMalcolm @billshortenmp Full Speech transcripts

 ” Djapiri said Bill and I are in the same canoe and on this issue we certainly are – but we are not alone, we are not alone in the canoe. We are in the same canoe with all of you as well and we need to steer it wisely to achieve our goal, to achieve that goal of Makarrata.

Beyond Constitutional Recognition, that work continues every day. I reflect on the Makarrata discussion of the late 70’s and 80’s. A list of demands was sent to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in 1981. It called for rights to land and resources, compensation, the creation of Aboriginal schools, medical centres and an Aboriginal bank.

Despite a final agreement not being reached at the time, we have achieved some of the policies called for. The Commonwealth provided $433 million to 137 Aboriginal Medical Services across the country last financial year.

As Prime Minister I will continue to do all I can to ensure that being an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian means to be successful, to achieve, to have big dreams and high hopes, and to draw strength from your identity as an Indigenous person in this great country.

That’s why, as we renegotiate the Closing the Gap targets with the various state and territory jurisdictions later this year, my Government has insisted on a strengths based approach.

Indigenous people are not a problem to be solved.

You are our fellow Australians. Your cultures are a gift to our nation.”

Selected extracts from the full Prime Minister Speech 5 August Garma see Part 2 Full Speech

Download full copy Garma 2017 PM full Speech

” Djapirri said, she told me of a dream of a canoe, paddled by the Prime Minister and myself.

That in itself is an arresting image. Two captains. But in all seriousness, we appreciated I think the power of that illusion, the power of that dream.

Here at Garma, on the lands of the Gumatj, we gather to talk about a Yolngu word. Makarrata.

It is not just now a Yolngu word – I put it to you it’s a national test.

Coming together, after a struggle.

And for the first Australians, it has been a very long struggle indeed.

– A struggle against dispossession and discrimination, exclusion and inequality.

– A struggle against violence and poverty, disease and diminished opportunity.

– A struggle for better health, for better housing, for safer communities, more jobs, for longer lives.

– A struggle against injustice and racism: from the sporting field to the courts of our land.

Above all, a struggle for a better future for their children: a struggle to be counted, to be heard, to be recognised.

At Uluru, you gave us the statement from the heart.

A call for:

– A voice enshrined in the Constitution

– A declaration to be passed by all parliaments, acknowledging the unique place of the first nations in Australian history, their culture, their connection.

And a Makarrata Commission to oversee a process of agreement-making and truth-telling.

All three of these objectives speak to the long-held and legitimate aspirations of our First Australians:

– A proper acknowledgment of Aboriginal histories and the dispossession that followed upon the arrival of the Europeans

– A bigger say in the issues which affect you – no more ‘solutions’ imposed without consultation or consent

And a more lasting settlement, a new way forward, a new pathway including through treaties.

These ideas are not new – but the Uluru statement did articulate these with new clarity, a new passion, a new sense of truth and purpose “

Selected extracts The Hon Bill Shorten speech  Garma 5 August 2017 see in full Part 3 Below

Download full speech Garma 2017 PM full Speech

Part 1 Media Coverage

View NITV Media coverage

When it comes to Aboriginal constitutional reform, picture Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten sitting in a canoe – and the opposition leader thinks he’s the only one paddling.

The Labor leader has backed a referendum question on an indigenous voice to parliament, while the prime minister has failed to commit bipartisan support.

The two politicians are moving together downstream, struggling to balance the boat to achieve reconciliation, Gumatj leader Djapirri Mununggirritj has told Garma Festival in northeast Arnhem Land.

Mr Shorten called it an “arresting image” but said he was disappointed Mr Turnbull dismissed his end of year referendum question deadline as “very ambitious”.

“We support a declaration by all parliaments, we support a truth telling commission, we are not confronted by the notion of treaties with our first Australians,” he said.

Mr Turnbull acknowledged many Aboriginal leaders were disappointed the government didn’t give “instant fulfilment” to the Referendum Council’s recommendations.

He described the Yolgnu elder’s canoe analogy as apt, saying his cabinet will give the matter careful consideration to keep the aspiration of Makarrata, or coming together after a struggle, from capsizing.

An “all or nothing approach” to constitutional change risks rocking the boat, resulting in a failed referendum, and Mr Turnbull called for time to develop a winnable question to put to Australian voters.

“We are not alone in the canoe, we are in the canoe with all of you and we need to steer it wisely to achieve that goal of Makarrata,” he said.

Mr Turnbull said there’s still many practical questions about what shape the advisory body would take, whether it would be elected or appointed and how it would affect Aboriginal people around the country.

Specifically, he questioned what impact the voice to parliament would have on issues like child protection and justice, which are largely the legislative domain of state and territory governments.

But Mr Shorten said debate over Aboriginal recognition in the nation’s founding document has dragged on for the past decade.

“I can lead Mr Turnbull and the Liberal party to water but I can’t make them drink,” he said.

Having led the failed 1999 republic referendum campaign, Mr Turnbull warned that Australians are “constitutionally conservative”, with just eight out of 44 successful since federation.

But Mr Shorten said “Aboriginal Australians do not need a balanda [white person] lecture about the difficulty of changing the constitution”.

Mr Shorten’s proposal of a joint parliamentary committee to finalise a referendum question has been met with cynicism by indigenous leaders.

The Above AAP

 

 Part 2 PRIME MINISTER Garma SPEECH :

Ngarra buku-wurrpan bukmak nah! Nhuma’lanah.

Ngarra Prime Minister numalagu djal Ngarra yurru wanganharra’wu nhumalangu bukmak’gu marrigithirri.

Ngarra ga nhungu dharok ga manikay’ ngali djaka wanga’wu yirralka.

I acknowledge and pay respect to your country, and your elders.

As Prime Minister, I’m here to talk to you and learn from you.

I acknowledge and respect your language, your song lines, your dances, your culture, your caring for country, and your estates.

I pay my respects to the Gumatj people and traditional owners past, present and future, on whose land we are gathered.

I also acknowledge other Yolngu people, First Peoples from across the country and balanda here today including Bill Shorten, Nigel Scullion and all other Parliamentary colleagues but above all I acknowledge our Parliamentary colleagues, Indigenous Parliamentary colleagues. Truly, voices of First Australians in the Parliament. Thank you for being here today and for the wisdom you give us, you together with my dear friend Ken, so much wisdom in the Parliament.

I offer my deep respect and gratitude to the Chairman of the Yothu Yindi Foundation, Dr Galarrwuy Yunupingu for hosting Lucy and me with your family. It was lovely to camp here last night and the last music was beautiful, serene and like a lullaby sending us all off to our dreams. Thank you. Emily was the last singer – beautiful.  And of course we woke here to the beautiful sounds of Gulkala.

I again as I did yesterday extend our deep condolences to the family of Dr G Yunupingu at this very sad time. He brought the Yolngu language to the people of Australia and his music will be with us forever.

I’ve come here to North East Arnhem Land to learn, participate respectfully and can I thank everyone so far I’ve had the chance to talk with. I am filled with optimism about our future together as a reconciled Australia.

Last month scientists and researchers revealed new evidence that our First Australians have been here in this land for 65,000 years.

These findings show that Indigenous people were living at the Madjedbebe rock shelter in Mirarr Country, at Kakadu east of Darwin, 18,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Among the middens, rock paintings, remains, plants and ochre, was the world’s oldest-known ground-edge axe head.

These findings place Australia on centre stage in the story of human origin, including mankind’s first long-distance maritime voyage – from Southeast Asia to the Australian continent.

Our First Peoples are shown as artistically, as technologically advanced, and at the cutting edge of technology in every respect.

Importantly, they confirm what Aboriginal people have always known and we have known – that your connection, your intimate connection to the land and sea are deep, abiding, ancient, and yet modern.

This news is a point of great pride for our nation. We rejoice in it, as we celebrate your Indigenous cultures and heritage as our culture and heritage – uniquely Australian.

As Galarrwuy said yesterday as he spoke in Yolngu, he said: “I am speaking in Australian.” Sharing, what a generosity, what a love, what a bigness he showed there as he does throughout his life and his leadership.

I want to pay tribute to the work of so many of you here today, who are leading the healing in communities, building bridges between the old and new, and looking for ways to ensure families and communities are not just surviving, but thriving.

Particularly the Indigenous leaders who every day wear many hats, walk in both worlds, and yet give tirelessly for their families and their communities. You often carry a very heavy load, and we thank you.

Where western astronomers look up at the sky and look for the light, Yolngu astronomers look also deep into the dark, using the black space to uncover further information, to unravel further mysteries.

So while we are both looking at the night sky, we are often looking at different parts. And yet through mutual respect, sharing of knowledge and an openness to learning, together we can see and appreciate the whole sky.

Those same principles are guiding us toward Constitutional Recognition.

The final Referendum Council report was delivered, as you know, on the 30th of June. Bill Shorten and I were briefed by the Referendum Council two weeks ago. The report was a long time coming and I know some would like an instant fulfillment of its recommendations.

Let me say, I respect deeply the work of the Referendum Council and all of those who contributed to it, and I respect it by considering it very carefully and the Government is doing so, in the first instance with my colleagues, including Ken Wyatt the first Indigenous Australian to be a Federal Minister, and together we consider it with our Cabinet. That is our way, that is our process, that is how we give respect to serious recommendations on serious matters.

And I do look forward to working closely and in a bipartisan way with the Opposition as we have done to date.

Djapiri said Bill and I are in the same canoe and on this issue we certainly are – but we are not alone, we are not alone in the canoe. We are in the same canoe with all of you as well and we need to steer it wisely to achieve our goal, to achieve that goal of Makarrata. Thank you again Galarrwuy for that word.

We share a sense of the significance of words. I love words and language. There is a great definition. What is the difference between poetry and prose? The best definition of poetry that I have ever found is that which cannot be translated, it can only be felt.

The Referendum Council’s report as Marcia reminded us is the fourth major report since that time and it adds immensely to the depth of knowledge. It gave us the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and I congratulate all those who attended on reaching an agreement. That was no small task.

It tells us that the priority for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is to resolve the powerlessness and lack of self-determination experienced – not by all, but certainly by too many.

I have been discussing it with leaders, the leaders of our First Australians and will continue to do so as we develop the next steps.

But there are still many questions:

What would the practical expression of the voice look like? What would the voice look like here for the Yolngu people? What would it look like for the people of Western Sydney, who are the largest population of Aboriginal peoples in Australia?

Is our highest aspiration to have Indigenous people outside the Parliament, providing advice to the Parliament? Or is it to have as many Indigenous voices, elected, within our Parliament?

What impact would the voice have on issues like child protection and justice, where the legislation and responsibility largely rest with state and territory governments?

These are important questions that require careful consideration. But the answers are not beyond us.

And I acknowledge that Indigenous Australians want deeper engagement with government and their fellow Australians, and to be much better consulted, and represented in the political, social and economic life of this nation.

We can’t be weighed down by the past, but we can learn from it.

Australians are constitutionally conservative. The bar is surmountable, you can get over it but it is a high bar. That’s why the Constitution has often been described as a frozen document.

Now many people talk about referendums, very few have experienced leading a campaign. The 1999 campaign for a Republic – believe me, now, one of the few subjects on which I have special knowledge – the 1999 campaign for a Republic has given me a very keen insight into what it will take to win, how hard it is to win, how much harder is the road for the advocate for change than that of those who resist change. I offer this experience today in the hope that together, we can achieve a different outcome to 1999. A successful referendum.

Compulsory voting has many benefits, but one negative aspect is that those who for one reason or another are not interested in an issue or familiar with it, are much more likely to vote no – it reinforces an already conservative constitutional context.

Another critical difference today is the rise of social media, which has changed the nature of media dramatically, in a decade or two we have a media environment which is no longer curated by editors and producers – but freewheeling, viral and unconstrained.

The question posed in a referendum must have minimal opposition and be clearly understood.

A vital ingredient of success is popular ownership. After all, the Constitution does not belong to the Government, or the Parliament, or the Judges. It belongs to the people.

It is Parliament’s duty to propose changes to the Constitution but the Constitution cannot be changed by Parliament. Only the Australian people can do that.

No political deal, no cross party compromise, no leaders’ handshake can deliver constitutional change.

Bipartisanship is a necessary but far from a sufficient condition of successful constitutional reform.

To date, again as Marcia described much of the discussion has been about removing the racially discriminatory provisions in the Constitution and recognising our First Australians in our nation’s founding document.

However, the Referendum Council has told us that a voice to Parliament is the only option they advise us to put to the Australian people. We have heard this, and we will work with you to find a way forward.

Though not a new concept, the voice is relatively new to the national conversation about constitutional change.

To win, we must all work together to build a high level of interest and familiarity with the concept of a voice, and how this would be different, or the same, as iterations of the past like the National Aboriginal Conference or the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

We also need to look to the experience of other countries, as we seek to develop the best model for Australia.

The historic 1967 Referendum was the most successful in our history because of its simplicity and clarity. The injustices were clearly laid out – Indigenous people were not enjoying the rights and freedoms of other citizens. The question was clearly understood – that the Commonwealth needed to have powers to make laws for Indigenous Australians. And the answer seemed obvious – vote yes to ensure the Commonwealth gave Indigenous people equal rights.

To succeed this time around, we need to develop enough detail so that the problem, the solution and therefore the question at the ballot box are simple, easily understood and overwhelmingly embraced.

One of the toughest lessons I learnt from the Referendum campaign of ‘99 was that an ‘all or nothing’ approach sometimes results in nothing. During the campaign, those who disagreed with the model that was proposed urged a “no” vote, arguing that we could all vote for a different Republic model in a few years. I warned that a “no” vote meant no republic for a very long time.

Now, regrettably, my prediction 18 years ago was correct. We must avoid a rejection at a referendum if we want to avoid setting Makarrata reconciliation back.

We recognise that the Uluru statement is powerful because it comes from an Indigenous-designed and led process. And because it comes from the heart, we must accept that it is grounded in wisdom and truth.

It is both a lament and a yearning. It is poetry.

The challenge now is to turn this poetry that speaks so eloquently of your aspiration into prose that will enable its realisation and be embraced by all Australians.

This is hard and complex work. And we need to take care of each other as we continue on this journey. We need to take care of each other in the canoe, lest we tip out of it.

Yesterday afternoon was a powerful show of humanity. As we stood together holding hands – Indigenous and non-Indigenous people – we stood together as Australians. As equals.

And we will have the best chance of success by working together. This cannot be a take it or leave it proposal. We have to come to the table and negotiate in good faith, and I am committed to working with you to find a way forward.

Galarrwuy – you gave us your fire words yesterday, thank you again. We will draw on them as we look to light the path forward for our nation.

And when considering how to do that, we are inspired by the success of the Uluru process. The statement that emerged from Uluru was designed and led by Indigenous Australians and the next steps should be too.

To go to a referendum there must be an understanding between all parties that the proposal will meet the expectations of the very people it claims it will represent.

Now we have five Aboriginal members of our Parliament. They will be vital in shaping and shepherding any legislation through the Parliament. They too are bridge builders, walking in both worlds, and their contribution to the Parliament enriches us all.

The Australian Parliament and the nation’s people – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – must be engaged as we work together to find the maximum possible overlap between what Indigenous people are seeking, what the Australian community overall will embrace and what the Parliament will authorise.

I have been learning that the word Makarrata means the ‘coming together after a struggle’— Galarrwuy told us a beautiful story this morning about a Makarrata here in this country. And a Makarrata is seen as necessary, naturally, if we are to continue our path to reconciliation.

But just like the night sky, reconciliation means different things to different people. This complexity convinces me that our nation cannot be reconciled in one step, in one great leap. We will only be reconciled when we take a number of actions, both practical and symbolic.

Beyond Constitutional Recognition, that work continues every day. I reflect on the Makarrata discussion of the late 70’s and 80’s. A list of demands was sent to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in 1981. It called for rights to land and resources, compensation, the creation of Aboriginal schools, medical centres and an Aboriginal bank.

Despite a final agreement not being reached at the time, we have achieved some of the policies called for. The Commonwealth provided $433 million to 137 Aboriginal Medical Services across the country last financial year. Indigenous Business Australia provides low interest loans to help Indigenous Australians secure economic opportunities including home ownership with 544 new housing loans made last year. The Aboriginal Benefits Account supports Northern Territory Land Councils and provides grants for the benefit of Aboriginal people living in the Territory.

We now spend $4.9 billion on the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

And we are empowering communities through our Indigenous Procurement policy.

I am pleased to announce today the Commonwealth has officially surpassed half a billion dollars in spending with Indigenous businesses all over Australia. I am looking forward to sharing the full two-year results in October. This is a spectacular increase from just $6.2 million being won by Indigenous businesses only a few years ago under former policies.

Since 2008 the Commonwealth has been helping improve remote housing and bring down rates of overcrowding, with $5.4 billion to build thousands of better homes over ten years.

And the land is returning to its traditional owners.

More than 2.5 million square kilometres of land, or about 34 per cent of Australia’s land mass is today recognised under Native Title. Another 24 per cent is covered by registered claims and by 2025, our ambition is to finalise all current Native Title claims.

So we are standing here on Aboriginal land – land that has been rightfully acknowledged as yours and returned to you. And we are standing here near the birthplace of the land rights movement. A movement of which the Yolngu people were at the forefront.

As a nation we’ve come a long way.

In the Northern Territory, more than 50 per cent of the land is now Aboriginal land, recognised as Aboriginal land.

Just like the land at Kenbi which, on behalf of our nation, I returned to the traditional owners, the Larrakia people last year.

Earlier this year I appointed June Oscar AO, who has been acknowledged earlier, as the first female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, who has agreed to report on the issues affecting Indigenous women and girls’ success and safety.

And all of that work contributes to a better future for our First Australians.

But there is much more to be done in not just what we do, but how we do it – as we work with our First Australians. We are doing things with our First Australians, not to them.

Now Galarrwuy – I have read and read again your essay Rom Watungu. It too is a story from the heart, of your father, of his life and when his time came, how he handed his authority to you, the embodiment of continuity, the bearer of a name that means “the rock that stands against time”

But rocks that stand against time, ancient cultures and lore, these are the strong foundations on which new achievements are built, from which new horizons can be seen – the tallest towers are built on the oldest rocks.

You, Galarrwuy, ask Australians to let Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders breathe and be free, be who you are and ask that we see your songs and languages, the land and the ceremonies as a gift.

As Prime Minister I will continue to do all I can to ensure that being an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian means to be successful, to achieve, to have big dreams and high hopes, and to draw strength from your identity as an Indigenous person in this great country.

That’s why, as we renegotiate the Closing the Gap targets with the various state and territory jurisdictions later this year, my Government has insisted on a strengths based approach. Indigenous people are not a problem to be solved. You are our fellow Australians. Your cultures are a gift to our nation.

There’s so much more work to be done.

But in doing so, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and all Australians, continue to connect with pride and optimism – with mabu liyan, in Pat’s language from the Yawuru people – the wellbeing that comes with a reconciled harmony with you, our First Australians, our shared history truthfully told and a deeper understanding of the most ancient human cultures on earth, and the First Australians to whom we have so much to thank for sharing them with us.

Thank you so much.

Part 3 Opposition Leader’s Garma Speech

Good morning everybody.

I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet, I pay my respects to elders both past and present.

I recognise that I stand on what is, was and always will be Aboriginal land.

I acknowledge the Prime Minister and his wife Lucy.

I wish to thank Gallarwuy and the Gumatj for hosting us – and on behalf of my Labor team who are here, Senator Pat Dodson, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, the Hon Linda Burney, the Hon Kyam Maher, supported also by local Members of Parliament the Hon Warren Snowden and Luke Gosling, and Territory Minister Eva Lawler.

We are very grateful to be part of this gathering.

Also Clementine my daughter asked me to thank you for letting her join in the bunggul yesterday afternoon, she loved it.

At the opening yesterday, we were privileged, all of us, to be at a powerful ceremony, where we remembered Dr G Yunupingu, a man who was born blind – but helped Australians see.

From his island, his words and his music touched the world.

But I also understand that the words of our host were about setting us a test, reminding all of us privileged to be here that there is serious business to be done.

Here at Garma, on the lands of the Gumatj, we gather to talk about a Yolngu word. Makarrata.

It is not just now a Yolngu word – I put it to you it’s a national test.

Coming together, after a struggle.

And for the first Australians, it has been a very long struggle indeed.

– A struggle against dispossession and discrimination, exclusion and inequality.

– A struggle against violence and poverty, disease and diminished opportunity.

– A struggle for better health, for better housing, for safer communities, more jobs, for longer lives.

– A struggle against injustice and racism: from the sporting field to the courts of our land.

Above all, a struggle for a better future for their children: a struggle to be counted, to be heard, to be recognised.

In 2015, the Referendum Council was created with a very clear mission.

To consult on what form Constitutional Recognition should take – how it should work.

To listen to Aboriginal people and to be guided by their aspirations.

And to finally give them a say in a document from which too long they been excluded.

Since then, thousands of the first Australians have explained to the rest us what

Recognition means – for all of us, for our children and indeed for all of our futures.

We asked for your views, we sought your counsel – and, in large numbers, it was answered.

At Uluru, you gave us the statement from the heart.

A call for:

– A voice enshrined in the Constitution

– A declaration to be passed by all parliaments, acknowledging the unique place of the first nations in Australian history, their culture, their connection.

– And a Makarrata Commission to oversee a process of agreement-making and truth-telling.

All three of these objectives speak to the long-held and legitimate aspirations of our

First Australians:

– A proper acknowledgment of Aboriginal histories and the dispossession that

followed upon the arrival of the Europeans

– A bigger say in the issues which affect you – no more ‘solutions’ imposed without consultation or consent

– And a more lasting settlement, a new way forward, a new pathway including through treaties.

These ideas are not new – but the Uluru statement did articulate these with new clarity, a new passion, a new sense of truth and purpose.

And let me speak truthfully on behalf of Labor, the Opposition.

I cannot be any more clear than this: Labor supports a voice for Aboriginal people in our Constitution, we support a declaration by all parliaments, we support a truth-telling commission.

We are not confronted by the notion of treaties with our first Australians.

For us the question is not whether we do these things, the question is not if we should do these things but when and how.

The Parliament needs to be engaged.

The Parliament needs to be engaged now.

The Parliament needs to start the process of engaging with the people of Australia now.

It does not come as a surprise to me, that following upon a report of the

Referendum Council, the Parliament’s next step must be to consider this report.

And in doing so, we must carry its message from the heart of Australia into our hearts as parliamentarians. With optimism, with understanding, not with a desire to find what is wrong, but to find the desire to make these concepts work in the interests of all.

If we were all gathered here now, back in 1891 and 1894 and 1897 to write the Constitution, we would never dream of excluding Aboriginal people from the Census.

But in 1901, they did.

If we were starting the Constitution from scratch, we would not diminish the independence of Aboriginal people – with racist powers.

But in 1901, they did.

And if we were starting on an empty piece of paper, we would, without question, recognise the First Australians’ right to a genuine, empowered voice in the decisions that govern their lives.

Now as you know, we cannot unmake history. We do not get the change to start all over again – but it doesn’t mean that we are forever chained to the prejudices of the past.

The Prime Minister’s observations though are correct about the difficulties of constitutional change. But I ask also that we cannot let the failure of 1999 govern our future on this question.

Voting for a constitutional voice is our chance to bring our Constitution home, to make it better, more equal and more Australian.

A document that doesn’t just pay respect to the weight of a foreign crown, but also recognises the power and value of the world’s oldest living culture, recognises that

Aboriginal people were here first.

And of course, let us reject those who say that symbolic change is irrelevant because dealing with these questions does not mean walking away from the real problems of inequality and disadvantage.

– Talking about enshrining a voice does not reduce our determination to eradicate family violence

– It doesn’t stop us creating good local jobs, training apprentices, treating trachoma or supporting rangers on country.

– It doesn’t distract us from the crisis in out-of-home care, youth suicide or the shocking, growing number of Aboriginal people incarcerated for not much better reason than the colour of their skin.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples don’t have to choose between historical justice and real justice, you don’t have to choose between equality in society and equality in the Constitution – you have an equal right to both.

The Uluru Statement has given us a map of the way forward – and today I finally want to talk about how we follow it, how we take the next step.

Not the obstacles ahead, not the problems, real as they are.

Aboriginal Australians don’t need a balanda lecture about the difficulty of changing the Constitution, our inspiration friends, should not be the 1999 referendum, it should be the 1967 referendum.

You have lived that struggle, every day.

Let me be very clear. In my study of our history, in my experience, nothing has ever been given to Aboriginal people – everything that is obtained has been fought for, has been argued for, has been won and built by Aboriginal people.

Think of the Freedom Riders

Think of the Bark Petition, which Gallarwuy was witness to

Think of the Gurindji at Wave Hill

Eddie Mabo and his fight for justice

Nothing was ever sorted by simply waiting until someone came along said let me do it for you. It is not the way the world is organised.

Every bit of progress has been driven by pride, by persistence by that stubborn refusal to not take no for an answer when it comes to the pursuit of equality.

Now making the case for change and encouraging Australians to vote yes for a recognition, reconciliation, and truth – this is not easy.

But before we can do that we surely must agree on the referendum question that has to be the long overdue next step.

I have written to our Prime Minister, we’ve proposed a joint parliamentary committee – which they’re taking on board, having a look at – to be made up of Government, the Opposition and crossbench MPs – to work with Aboriginal leaders right across Australia.

This committee will have two key responsibilities.

One – advising the Parliament on how to set-up a Makarrata Commission and create a framework for truth-telling and agreement making, including treaties.

Two – what would a voice look like. Whilst there are many questions, none of these are insurmountable.

And three, as a matter of overdue recognition – to endeavour to finalise a referendum question in a timely fashion. There’s no reason why that couldn’t be done by the end of this year.

The issues have been traversed for a decade.

Now friends this is not a committee for the sake of a committee, it’s not another mechanism for delay. It is the necessary process of engagement of the Parliament.

But we have had ten years plus of good intentions, but it is time now perhaps, for more action.

The Parliament does have a key role to play here, in setting the question.

The Parliament could agree on the question this year if we all work together so that the people could vote not long after that.

Voting to enshrine a voice in a standalone Referendum – free from the shadow of an election, or the politics of other questions.

It may seem very hard to imagine, it may seem very hard to contemplate.

But it is possible to imagine a great day, a unifying day, a famous victory, a Makaratta for all.

As I said yesterday, we’ve heard plenty of speeches, there are many fine words… but perhaps people have a right to be impatient after ten years – indeed after 117 years.

So the test I set isn’t what we say here, in this beautiful place.

It’s what we do when we leave.

It’s the honesty of admitting that after the event, what is it that we do.

The test I set for myself is can I come here at future Garmas and look you in the eye and say I have done everything I can, because if I cannot say to you that I have done everything I that I can, then I can’t be truthful with my heart.

Yesterday Gallarwuy spoke with a tongue of fire, he told a powerful truth.

He said that for more than two centuries we had been two peoples – living side-by-side, but not united.

I think that is the challenge for politics too.

Djapirri who just spoke up before me, she’s talked about hope. There is the hope that you refer to, you have the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. We are here side-by-side, and now we need to be united, not to kick the can down the road, but united on a process that says this parliament will respect what we have heard from Aboriginal people.

Not just at Uluru, but for decades.

In 1967, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were counted. In 2017, you are being heard.

There is no reason why we can’t enshrine a voice for Aboriginal people in our Constitution.

Djapirri said, she told me of a dream of a canoe, paddled by the Prime Minister and myself. That in itself is an arresting image. Two captains. But in all seriousness, we appreciated I think the power of that illusion, the power of that dream.

My party is ready.

I think Australia is ready.

The fine words that we heard at the opening yesterday, they remind me of the fire dreaming symbol, which is in the front of the Parliament of Australia.

Fire.

That fire dreaming symbol is from central Australia but it is connected isn’t it, by the word of Djapirri yesterday.

Again, that spirit of fire it is a gift from Indigenous people to all Australians and I sincerely will endeavor to make sure that spirit of fire infuses our Parliament.