Aboriginal Health ” managing two worlds ” : How Katherine Hospital, once Australia’s worst for Indigenous health, became one of the best

 

” Katherine Hospital in the Northern Territory has gone from one of the worst facilities in the country when it comes to Indigenous health care to one of the best.

Their secret: engaging with Indigenous patients and supporting doctors.”

Dr Quilty his high level of specialist training has meant that patients who would have had to be evacuated to Royal Darwin Hospital can now receive treatment in Katherine. Full Story below

Photo above : Gaye is a 50 year-old cancer patient from Mataranka in the NT. Supplied: Simon Quilty

NACCHO support INFO

Aboriginal Patient Journey Mapping Tools Project:

Communicating complexity

The Managing Two Worlds Together project aims to add to existing knowledge of what works well and what needs improvement in the system of care for Aboriginal patients from rural and remote areas of South Australia (and parts of the Northern Territory). It explores their complex patient journey.

The relationship between patients and health care providers is the foundation of care and requires communication across cultures, geography and life experiences. As a staff member in one rural Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service put it: ‘It’s like managing two worlds together, it doesn’t always work’.

Download Stage 3 Study Managing Two World Study Report

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert :

Do we need to close the gap on Aboriginal hospital experiences ?

How Katherine Hospital, once Australia’s worst for Indigenous health, became one of the best

As published ABC NEWS  By Hagar Cohen for Background Briefing

When physician Simon Quilty arrived at the hospital, it was going through a major crisis.

“What had happened in 2010 is that the hospital found itself in a situation where things were falling apart,” he says.

A number of doctors complained to the NT Medical Board about a lack of supervision and the impractical workload. The hospital was on the verge of shutting down.

More than one in four Indigenous patients left Katherine Hospital before completing treatment, often without informing staff, the worst rate in the nation. These “take own leave” cases are complex, but one factor is Indigenous patients’ perception of inadequate treatment.

It’s an issue plaguing the health system nationally: a 2014 Federal Health Department report found that racism contributes to the low rates of access to health services by Aboriginal people.

Similarly, the number of patients who “discharge against medical advice” is recorded and recognised by health departments as a key indicator for the quality of Aboriginal healthcare.

In the NT, 11 per cent of all Indigenous patients discharge themselves against medical advice.

“These people have very complex illnesses,” says Dr Quilty. “Many of them are highly likely, if not treated well, to resolve in significant injury or death. Hospitals in remote locations really need high expertise to deal with the very sick patients that turn up here.

“Thirteen and 15-year-olds are developing type 2 diabetes, they’ve got kidney impairment by the time they’re 22 and they’re on dialysis in their early 30s. It’s a bit terrifying really.”

Back from the brink

The NT Department of Health conducted an investigation into the staffing crisis at the Katherine Hospital. Its findings weren’t released publicly.

Background Briefing can reveal that the final report concluded that there were “significant deficiencies in nearly all the essential dimensions of safe clinical service provision”, adding that the “root cause is that the medical service model is unsustainable and becomes more unsustainable with each passing year”.

Six years ago, a new general manager and a group of new doctors arrived with an ambition to turn things around.

Katherine Hospital

They’ve brought highly trained specialist doctors who are invested in the community, interpreters are used regularly and families of Indigenous patients are consulted on complex treatment plans.

In the past, interpreters were available but rarely used. Families weren’t a part of the consultation process. Many of the doctors were junior, and staff turnover was high.

The new management has made huge inroads in the way the hospital cares for Aboriginal patients.

This year, only 4 per cent of the Indigenous patients “took own leave”, making Katherine one of the best performing hospitals in the nation when it comes to caring for Aboriginal patients.

Systematic use of interpreters

In 2006, when respected Indigenous lawman Peter Limbunya, from the remote community of Kalkarindji, stayed in the hospital for 10 days, he did not have access to an interpreter, despite not speaking English.

At the end of his treatment, Mr Limbunya, who was part of the legendary Wave Hill walk off in the 60s, was flown to a remote airstrip 5 kilometres away from his community.

His family wasn’t told he’d be back that day and nobody was there to meet him. He died of dehydration.

During the inquest into his death, the coroner found that interpreters were not in use at the hospital.

His cousin, lifetime activist and advocate for Aboriginal people Josie Crawshaw, remains outraged. She says her uncle would have known “absolutely nothing” about his treatment and what was going on.

But things have come along way since then. The hospital’s Aboriginal liaison officer, Theresa Haidle, says improving the way doctors communicate is the key to developing Indigenous patients’ trust in their treatment plans.

Regular use of interpreters has been an essential part of Ms Haidle’s work. She says they’ve been key in making sure patients understand their illnesses and treatment options.

“English isn’t their first language. It may not even be their second or third either. If there’s any doubt, we get interpreters in, or even on the phone.”

The systematic use of interpreters is a big change at Katherine Hospital.

Ms Haidle says the hospital has a lot further to go when it comes to providing a culturally safe environment, but overall, the relationship with the Aboriginal community is getting better all the time.

“It’s like a big learning process for everybody,” she says.

“We have to break it down as simple as we can,” she says. “There’s not an Aboriginal word that means cancer, so how do you explain those things?

“I remember one day a lady had this fungus, and there’s no words for those things on women’s bodies, or inside. So I heard the interpreter telling her: ‘You know, like mushrooms growing?’ They got her to stay and get it treated.”

Changing doctors’ attitudes

Pip Tallis, who is training to be a physician at Katherine Hospital, has worked in hospitals in Alice Springs and Darwin, where she says many of her Indigenous patients left before their treatment was complete.

“I found it really hard to understand why,” she says.

“It was frustrating as a doctor, and there was a lot of frustration among the staff and no-one really took the time to understand why people were taking their own leave, or really did anything to change it.

“I think, there was a bit of hands up in the air. ‘Whatever, what can we do about it? It’s their problem.'”

The NT town of Katherine, seen from the air

Dr Tallis says that her perspective has changed since coming to work at Katherine Hospital.

“I’ve spent six months working with the team here and observing how they engage with the patients, and I think that they do significant things to result in people not taking their own leave,” she says.

“Previously I was very inflexible. Now I spend a lot more time appreciating why people take their own leave.

“I’m also picking up the subtle signs on a patient who’s starting to not engage. I’ll sit down with them and explore their issues. And if they say they want to just go for a walk, you just say, ‘Would you like to take some medicine with you just in case you don’t come back?'”

Care plans to lower ‘take own leave’ rates

The introduction of weekly meetings to go over care plans for the Indigenous patients means everyone in the hospital can keep up with what’s happening with individual patients

These meetings are attended by social workers, doctors, nurses and admin staff.

At one such meeting, Dr Tallis mentions Jason, a 30-year-old patient from the remote community of Ngukurr, 330 kilometres south-east of Katherine.

Jason has tuberculosis, and has left the hospital during treatment once before. His family has convinced him to return. Dr Tallis explains at the meeting that Jason doesn’t like the hospital food, and that special food is being provided for him.

“We tried really hard to engage him,” she says. “We even got bacon and eggs for him in the mornings so he doesn’t complain about porridge, he’s got a DVD player, USB drive, he got pizza the other day. So we tried really hard to make it possible.”

But there’s still a cultural divide. At the end of the meeting, Jason explains to another doctor that he thinks “white fella” medicine is too slow.

“I want to go back to bush medicine,” he says. “It’s better and works fast because we learned it from old people.”

More support for staff

The hospital’s general manager, Angela Brannelly, says the 2010 investigation into the staffing crisis recommended major changes to the way the hospital operates, its level of staffing and supervision.

She says supporting the medical staff was one of her first priorities.

“We took it very seriously and made some really serious changes to the way that the medical team was supported here. It was around ensuring that someone’s got their back,” she says.

Dr Quilty, who joined the hospital in 2012, was the first physician to have ever been employed at the hospital. Last year he won the Royal Australian College of Physicians’ medal for clinical service in rural and remote areas.

A dark-skinned doll

His high level of specialist training has meant that patients who would have had to be evacuated to Royal Darwin Hospital can now receive treatment in Katherine. Since 2012, there has been a decrease of 43 per cent in the number of total aeromedical evacuations to Darwin.

Many Indigenous patients who live in remote communities don’t like going to Darwin to receive medical treatment because it’s far from family and the hospital is bigger and less personal.

Gaye, 50, a cancer patient who was transferred to Darwin for chemotherapy says she felt lonely in Darwin. “In Darwin I was always sad and crying a lot,” she says.

No-one in Darwin had realised that Gaye was deaf, which made communication with medical staff virtually impossible. In Katherine her deafness was recognised by the nurses and she was given a hearing aid, which she says made a huge difference to her mental health.

Katherine Hospital now employs two full-time physicians.

Still no Aboriginal doctors

Katherine Hospital employs 24 doctors but none of them are Indigenous.

Ms Brannelly admits the hospital hasn’t done enough to attract Aboriginal doctors.

“That’s good advice for us, and it’s probably where we need to go in that space around seeking out Aboriginal medical officers to come and work for us,” she says.

“I think we have some work to do there, absolutely.”

NACCHO Press Release : Aboriginal Health #18C and #Racism : Proposed changes to #18C will throw Reconciliation out the window

It is so disappointing that after all the talk in Canberra in February and the goodwill that was generated, the Government is sending such a poor message to Aboriginal people about acceptance in our own country,

“Racism and discrimination have well documented negative impacts on mental health. If we fail to deal with the alarming rates of poor Mental Health in Aboriginal people, it will have ongoing detrimental impacts in preventing and managing chronic disease

 Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people take their own lives at a rate five times that of other Australians and infant mortality rates are going backwards “

NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke said just a month after the Prime Minister committed to a new partnership with Aboriginal people through the Redfern Statement, he has put forward measures that would have potentially devastating impacts on the health and well-being of Aboriginal people.

Download a copy of the NACCHO Press Release or read in full below

NACCHO Press Release response to 18c amendments

Download NACCHO full submission to #RDA #18c enquiry here

submission-to-inquiry-into-freedom-of-speech-and-rda-draft

The Kenbi land claim was a hard-fought land rights battle, but it represents so much more than a battle over land. It was a story that epitomised the survival and the resilience of the first Australians, the survival and resilience of the Larakia people“.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Great photo opportunity above for the PM during the 2016 election campaign , but what would be the #healthyfutures for these children with increased racial hate speech ?  

 ” In question time today, I asked Senator Brandis about the watering down of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

What insulting, offensive or humiliating comments does the Prime Minister think people should be able to say to me?

It’s sad that on Harmony Day, a day that celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity, inclusiveness and builds a sense of belonging for everyone, the Government wants to give permission for more racial hate speech

  Being the target of racist, hurtful comments is deeply distressing and causes deep harm “

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy addressing the Senate see video and text below

Along with powerful videos of MPs Linda Burney and Tony Burke addressing Parliament over 18C

“The challenging thing with regard to proposals to change the act is that they are being put forward by those who have never felt vulnerable. These are the people who have never been on the receiving end of racist comments or attacks.

“Our first Australians hold a special place in the Australian community. Our government should be taking action to empower, rather than to disempower them. To be serious about ‘Closing the Gap’, the evidence is clear around racism and all Australian governments should be doing everything in their power to address these issues .”

Members of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) were shocked by the Government’s announcement being made on World Harmony Day the intention to change Section18c of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, according to PHAA CEO Michael Moore.

”  The government’s reforms should, as the Inquiry recommended, address that problem specifically, and not be distracted with an abstract ideological debate, divorced from the social realities.

Section 18C is not needed to protect members of minority groups who are popular in the wider community. It is needed to protect members of unpopular minorities, and also vulnerable minorities, especially our First Peoples, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders.

We support the idea of improving the process for handling section 18C complaints, so that trivial or spurious complaints are terminated quickly.”

Rod Little and Dr Jackie Huggins, Co-chairs, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

As leaders of 10 organisations representing a wide range of culturally diverse communities in Australia, we are profoundly disappointed at today’s announcement by the Federal government of its intention to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

The Government’s planned changes to the Racial Discrimination Act and the Human Rights Commission will weaken the protection of Aboriginal Australians from racial abuse in this country at a time when suicide rates in Indigenous communities are among the worst in the world, the peak body for Aboriginal medical services said today.

NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke said just a month after the Prime Minister committed to a new partnership with Aboriginal people through the Redfern Statement, he has put forward measures that would have potentially devastating impacts on the health and well-being of Aboriginal people.

Mr. Cooke said all Senators must carefully consider the issues and rise above petty point scoring politics to defeat these amendments – which are based on an hysterical media campaign about the merits of the legislation due to a single court case and a recently published cartoon.

“Any changes to section 18C will alienate the very Aboriginal people the government says it is trying to support, and create even deeper divisions in our community,” he said.

“I urge all Senators to respect the voice of the first Australian peoples in this debate, listen to Aboriginal people about what needs to be done to close the gap, and vote down changes to laws that are likely to make it even wider.”

Mr Cooke said it was outrageous that watering down racial hate laws is a priority for the Government when the latest Closing the Gap report showed just one of seven targets are on track, and the Don Dale Royal Commission is shining a light on the treatment of Aboriginal children in detention.

Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people take their own lives at a rate five times that of other Australians and infant mortality rates are going backwards.

“It is so disappointing that after all the talk in Canberra in February and the goodwill that was generated, the Government is sending such a poor message to Aboriginal people about acceptance in our own country,” Mr Cooke said.

“Racism and discrimination have well documented negative impacts on mental health. If we fail to deal with the alarming rates of poor Mental Health in Aboriginal people, it will have ongoing detrimental impacts in preventing and managing chronic disease.

“The Government’s priorities should be on positive measures like the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, which recognises the impacts of racism and discrimination inherent in the health system, and supporting the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector to fix the national crisis in Aboriginal health.”

PHAA urges all MPs and Senators to leave 18c alone

“Members of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) were shocked by the Government’s announcement being made on World Harmony Day the intention to change Section18c of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975,” according to PHAA CEO Michael Moore.

Earlier this week Mr Moore attended a meeting on Aboriginal and Torres Islander Health where the issue of impact of racial discrimination on health was discussed at length. “The challenging thing with regard to proposals to change the act is that they are being put forward by those who have never felt vulnerable. These are the people who have never been on the receiving end of racist comments or attacks”.

“Our first Australians hold a special place in the Australian community. Our government should be taking action to empower, rather than to disempower them. To be serious about ‘Closing the Gap’, the evidence is clear around racism and all Australian governments should be doing everything in their power to address these issues”.

“A similar impact on health will be experienced by anyone who is discriminated against on the grounds of their racial or ethnic background,” said Mr Moore.

“It really is those who are vulnerable, and those who have been subjected to hateful jibes and vilification, who should be the ones making suggestions for change rather than those who are in the dominant group,” added Mr Moore.

“The PHAA calls on all MPs and Senators to leave the Act as it is”.

“People who already feel exposed to inappropriate comments do not need to be made even more vulnerable,” Mr Moore added.

The Report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights “Freedom of Speech in Australia” set the tone. Over ten thousand submissions were made and the Committee did not recommend changes. Of the twenty two recommendations, there was no consensus about a change to Section 18c.

Mr Moore concluded that “MPs and Senators should be taking guidance from the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights that examined the issue rather than kowtowing to a small hump of ultraconservatives who have played political games in order to get the numbers for a proposal that will undermine the health of the most vulnerable groups in Australia”.

Harmony Day 21 March 2017

As leaders of organisations representing a wide range of culturally diverse communities in Australia, we are profoundly disappointed at today’s announcement by the Federal government of its intention to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

If implemented, these proposals will weaken, perhaps emasculate, existing legal protections against racist hate speech. They will give a free pass to ugly and damaging forms of racial vilification which do not satisfy the stringent legal criteria of harassment and intimidation. The publication of virtually any derogatory generalisation about an entire community group would, of itself, be permissible.

To offend, insult or humiliate a person or group because of their race or ethnic background necessarily sends a message that such people, by virtue of who they are, and regardless of how they behave or what they believe, are not members of society in good standing.

This cannot but vitiate the sense of belonging of members of the group and their sense of assurance and security as citizens, and constitutes an assault upon their human dignity. This has nothing to do with a contest of ideas or free speech – which is in any event protected under section 18D – and falls far short of the mutual respect about which we have heard.

Under the government’s proposals vulnerable community groups will now have no peaceful, legal means of redress against these kinds of attacks against their dignity. This would send a signal from government of a more lenient attitude to racism and would damage social cohesion. It is especially ironic that the government has put forward these proposals on Harmony Day.

The proposal to insert a generic “reasonable person” standard into the legislation has superficial appeal, but is unfair and unworkable. The proverbial person in the pub or on the “Bondi tram” does not have the background knowledge and insight into the particularities of a minority group that would be needed to make a fair and informed assessment of what is reasonably likely to “harass or intimidate” members of that group.

Under the existing law, the assessment is made by a reasonable member of the targeted community, that is, by a member of that community who is neither overly sensitive nor overly thick-skinned. This is both more logical and more just.

A generic reasonable person test would also create the possibility that members of a group that happens to be unpopular at any time for any reason would be unfairly treated. Section 18C is not needed to protect members of minority groups who are popular in the wider community. It is needed to protect members of unpopular minorities, and also vulnerable minorities, especially our First Peoples, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders.

We support the idea of improving the process for handling section 18C complaints, so that trivial or spurious complaints are terminated quickly.

We note that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights was unable to reach a consensus, or even a majority opinion, in favour of any of the government’s proposals to amend the substantive law. Its recommendations were all limited to suggested reforms to the complaints-handling process.

This is the sensible way forward. The problems identified by the QUT case and the Bill Leak complaint all related to deficiencies of process. The government’s reforms should, as the Inquiry recommended, address that problem specifically, and not be distracted with an abstract ideological debate, divorced from the social realities.

Rod Little and Dr Jackie Huggins, Co-chairs, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

John Kennedy, President, United Indian Association

George Vellis, Co-ordinator, and George Vardas, Secretary, Australian Hellenic Council NSW

Peter Wertheim AM, Executive Director, Executive Council of Australian Jewry

Patrick Voon, Immediate Past President, Chinese Australian Forum

Tony Pang, Deputy Chair/Secretary, Chinese Australian Services Society

Randa Kattan, CEO, Arab Council Australia

Vache Executive Director, Armenian National Committee of Australia

 

Senator McCarthy:  My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. The Prime Minister has on at least 16 occasions ruled out his government amending section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Today, on Harmony Day, we learned that the Turnbull government is proposing the removal of the words ‘insult’, ‘offend’ and ‘humiliate’ from section 18C. What insulting, offensive or humiliating comments does the Prime Minister think people should be able to say to me?

Senator Brandis: Might I begin by correcting the premise of your question: the Prime Minister has never, not on 16 occasions and not once, said that the government would never reform section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. He did say, as was the case at the time, that it was not a priority for the government.

Nevertheless, I think we all know that events have happened in this country in the recent past, in particular, the treatment of the QUT students, which was disgraceful, and the treatment of the late Bill Leak, which was disgraceful. The report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, to which Labor senators and members of the House of Representatives continue, proposed beneficial law reform. What the Prime Minister and I announced a short while ago was a strengthening of the antivilification provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act.

What you did not mention in your question, which I think is a very important consideration, is the insertion, into section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, of a prohibition against racial harassment. Did you know that in 1991, when the then—

Senator Brandis: If your leader, Senator Wong, would just control herself, I might be able to address your question. You may or may not know that in 1991 the then Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission—

Senator Cameron: On relevance. The question was: ‘What insulting, offensive or humiliating comments does the Prime Minister think that people should be able to say to the senator?’ That was the question, and he has not gone near it. He should actually take off that Harmony Day badge. It is absolutely crazy that he has that on.

The PRESIDENT: On the point of order, the Attorney-General has been giving a detailed response to a detailed question. He is aware of the question.

Senator BRANDIS: In 1991, when the current part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act was recommended, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission actually recommended to the parliament that one of the grounds of racial vilification should be harassment. That was one of the grounds recommended by the predecessor body of the Human Rights Commission. For some unaccountable reason that was not done by the then Labor government.

The PRESIDENT: Senator McCarthy, a supplementary question.

Senator McCarthy:  Minister Wyatt has twice indicated he would cross the floor to vote against changes to section 18C. What consequences will there be for members of the coalition who vote against the Turnbull government’s attempt to water down protections against racism?

Senator Brandis: I am absolutely certain that every member of the coalition will be voting for these changes to strengthen section 18C, every last one of them.

The PRESIDENT:  Senator McCarthy, a final supplementary question.

Senator McCarthy:  When asked why the government had no plans to amend section 18C, the Prime Minister said, ‘We did not take an 18C amendment proposal to the election.’ Why is Prime Minister Turnbull willing to cave in to the Right of his party room on section 18C, while he continues to refuse a free vote on marriage equality, despite the defeat of his proposed plebiscite?

Senator Brandis: Although I am a little loath to dwell on internal politics, may I say that strengthening protections against racial vilification and vindicating freedom of speech are causes that are embraced by all elements of the Liberal Party and the coalition. You may say that section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and the complaint-handling procedures of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act are perfect and incapable of reform. You may say that, but if you do you would be alone because there is no serious person in this country who has followed human rights debate who says that section 18C in its current form, which actually omits to prohibit racial harassment, or the complaint-handling procedures of the Human Rights Commission cannot be improved. Certainly, that is what Professor Gillian Triggs has said, and I agree with her. (Time expired)

 

QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS

Racial Discrimination Act 1975

Senator McCarthy:  The answer was incredibly disappointing, in particular on this day, Harmony Day. As we reflect on Harmony Day, I want to go to some of the answers to me and my questions by Senator Brandis. I want to begin with Senator Brandis’s response in terms of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. I asked, first up, about the fact that Mr Turnbull has said on at least 16 occasions that he had ruled out his government amending section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Senator Brandis said that he had not said that—certainly not that many times. I just want to point out some very important media coverage of the moments when Mr Turnbull denied that it was a distraction for his government. In news.com, on 31 August 2016: ‘The government has no plans to make changes to section 18C’. He said it again on 30 August in The Australian:

It’s filled the op-ed pages of newspapers for years and years but the government has no plans to make any changes to section 18C. We have other more pressing, much more pressing priorities to address.

Then again on 14 November 2016, on ABC 7.30, Mr Turnbull said:

18(C) is talked about constantly on the ABC. It’s talked about constantly in what’s often called the ‘elite media’. I’ve focused overwhelmingly on the economy.

It appears that Prime Minister Turnbull has changed tack. Today is one of the most significant days in Australia and across the world. The purpose behind Harmony Day is to reflect on the diversity of culture across this country, something that unfortunately has been really stained by the Prime Minister’s move to change the Racial Discrimination Act on this day in particular. It is incredibly sad. It really is a watering down of protections against racial vilifications. The irony of it being done on this day! The Attorney-General says he does not believe the Australian people are racist.

Senator Brandis: No, I do not.

Senator McCarthy:  As a white man growing up in Petersham, attending private schools, I am sure you have never been denied access or service in a shop. You have never had taxis drive past, pretending not to see you. You have never received hateful letters and emails because of your race or the colour of your skin. I really wish I could believe there are not any racists in Australia. But certainly my personal experience, and my family’s experience, informs me of the reality that I live in this country. It is deeply unfortunate.

I asked you in my question: what else do you need to say to me and to many other people of different races in this country that you cannot say now? What is it that you are so determined to say that you cannot say to people now?

My predecessor, Senator Nova Peris, had a disgraceful time in this Senate, standing here, being called all sorts of things—in fact, even on her Twitter account today—in terms of what racism she received from the general public. Just to clarify, in case you were thinking I meant it occurred in the Senate; I meant this is where she raised the issue about the racism that was displayed against her by the general public across Australia. It is really important to put this on the record. She stood courageously here to point out from her own personal experiences that racism is very much alive and strong in this country. We as parliamentarians in both the Senate and the House of Representatives must show leadership about the importance of harmony, diversity and cultural respect. That is something that is not happening now today in the Turnbull government.

Being the target of racist, hurtful comments is deeply distressing and causes deep harm. expired)

 

Aboriginal Health #18C #RDA and International Day for the Elimination of #Racial Discrimination 21 March

  ” In an extraordinary case of timing, the Coalition will debate on March 21 (today ) removing protections in Australia’s race hate laws on what is also the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.”

James Massola Canberra Times 21 March HERE

  ” The theme in 2017 for is Racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration.

Australia has continuing challenges regarding racial abuse and discrimination, evidenced for example by the disproportionate incarceration rates for Indigenous Australians, the current Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory and the treatment of asylum seekers in detention centres both onshore and offshore.”

Posted 20 March Australian Parliament Website see in full below

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination \

“ Surveys suggested racism was already a near-universal experience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, with 97% having experienced it in the past year and more than 70% reporting eight or more incidents in that period. Almost one-third said they had experienced racism in the health setting.

By settings standards of conduct, the law had an important role in containing the spread of racism and race hate, and described the watering down of sections 18c & d of the RDA as a “major risk” for the effective implementation of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.

The Plan envisages a health system free of racism, offering effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable health services to Indigenous Australians “

Matthew Cooke Chair of NACCHO

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #FU2racism :

Research shows majority of Australians believe #18C protections should stay

” Groundhog Day this week and that hoary old favourite of the clearly oppressed and downtrodden right-wing commentariat, section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Let’s start with the latter, which is a touchstone for conservatives who, as Attorney-General George Brandis once put it, want to enshrine their legal rights to be bigots.

Put aside for a minute that none of the people who claim 18C is the gravest threat to free speech Australia has ever faced can actually answer the following question: “What exactly is it that you want to say, but the law as it stands prohibits you from saying now?”

Paul Syvret is assistant editor at The Courier-Mail 21  March

Instead realise that the RDA has some fairly iron-clad protections in the form of section 18D.

This is a section you don’t often hear the free-speech warriors discussing a lot, and it reads as follows:

“Section 18C does not render unlawful anything said or done reasonably and in good faith:

(a) in the performance, exhibition or distribution of an artistic work; or

(b) in the course of any statement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuine purpose in the public interest; or

(c) in making or publishing: (i) a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest; or (ii) a fair comment on any event or matter of public interest if the comment is an expression of a genuine belief held by the person making the comment.”

As Queensland MP and deputy chairman of the bipartisan Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights Graham Perrett points out, that committee – after a 112-day inquiry with 11,000 submissions – decided NOT to recommend any changes to the RDA.

As the forests of newsprint continue to be devoted to lionising The Australian’slate and controversial cartoonist Bill Leak, an aggressive crusader for repealing section 18C, Perrett has this to say: “The untimely passing of cartoonist Bill Leak is very distressing for his family and friends.

“Most Australians, including me, recognise his undoubted creative talent. Nevertheless, Mr Leak’s cartoons are not relevant to any discussion about changing section 18C.

“Indeed, the legislation makes it very clear that Leak’s cartoons would not be caught by section 18C due to the exemptions in section 18D.”

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

 

The United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed with a series of worldwide events on 21 March every year.

Proclaiming the Day on 26 October 1966, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination (resolution 2142 (XXI)).The date of 21 March was chosen to commemorate that day in 1960 when police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid ‘pass laws’.

Since those earlier days, the UN observes there has been progress:

… the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled. Racist laws and practices have been abolished in many countries, and we have built an international framework for fighting racism, guided by the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Convention is now nearing universal ratification, yet still, in all regions, too many individuals, communities and societies suffer from the injustice and stigma that racism brings.

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination was adopted on 21 December 1965 and entered into force on 4 January 1969.

2017 theme: Racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration

Every year the International Day is held under one specific theme. The theme in 2017 is Racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration.

Racial and ethnic profiling is defined as ‘a reliance by law enforcement, security and border control personnel on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin as a basis for subjecting persons to detailed searches, identity checks and investigations, or for determining whether an individual is engaged in criminal activity’ according to a report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism of 20 April 2015.

Refugees and migrants are particular targets of racial profiling and incitement to hatred. In the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants adopted in September 2016, United Nations Member States strongly condemned acts and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance against refugees and migrants, and committed to a range of steps to counter such attitudes and behaviours, particularly regarding hate crimes, hate speech and racial violence.

Campaigns and events

The UN is promoting the following campaigns and events in relation to the International Day:

Together is a United Nations initiative to promote respect, safety and dignity for refugees and migrants. It was initiated during the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September 2016.

Stand up for someone’s rights today is a campaign launched by the UN Human Rights Office on Human Rights Day, 10 December, 2016. It aims to: encourage, support and amplify what you do in your everyday life to defend human rights.

The Week of solidarity with the peoples struggling against racism and racial discrimination begins on 21 March each year. It was first established as part of the Programme for the Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination adopted by the General Assembly in 1979 (A/RES/34/24).

To commemorate the 2017 International Day, on 17 March the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva held a debate on racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration. In New York. there will be a General Assembly plenary meeting in observance of the International Day, on 21 March 2017.

Australia’s action

In Australia the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) was a landmark in race relations. The Act was a legislative expression of a new commitment to multiculturalism and it reflected the ratification by Australia of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

As the first Commonwealth legislation concerning human rights and discrimination, the Racial Discrimination Act set an important precedent. As described by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam at a ceremony for its proclamation in October 1975, the Act was ‘a historic measure’, which aimed to ‘entrench new attitudes of tolerance and understanding in the hearts and minds of the people’.

Since 1999, 21 March in Australia has also been celebrated as Harmony Day. Timed to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Harmony Day is dedicated to celebrating Australia’s cultural diversity. Harmony Day events are supported by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and each year a wide range of community sporting and cultural organisation have held events including sporting activities, food festivals, dance and music performances  or simply bringing people together to talk and share stories.

While Harmony Day has shifted Australia’s commemorative focus to the more positive celebration of cultural diversity and racial harmony, the UN International Day with its focus on the prevention and eradication of racism is still relevant. Australia has continuing challenges regarding racial abuse and discrimination, evidenced for example by the disproportionate incarceration rates for Indigenous Australians, the current Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory and the treatment of asylum seekers in detention centres both onshore and offshore.

Parliament too, has more recently been involved in a debate on whether racial vilification laws impose unreasonable restrictions on freedom of speech and the Joint Standing Committee on Human Rights has recently completed an inquiry into free speech and Australia’s laws against racial vilification.

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s view, which was also supported by the majority of submissions to the Committee, is that ‘the laws against racial vilification have served Australia well over the last 20 years in sending the message that racial abuse will not be tolerated in our multicultural society’. Ultimately, there was no consensus from the Committee on whether any reform was necessary and, for the moment, the laws remain as they are.

NACCHO #ClosetheGapday Editorial Comment and Download #CTG 2017 Progress and Priorities Report

 ” Achieving health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be impossible without a sincere, committed effort to understand and address racism in this country. That is why the Close the Gap Campaign continues to call for a national inquiry into the prevalence of racism and its impact.

The old cliché about persisting with the same failure in the hope of a different outcome is sadly the lived reality of much of the government policies regarding our people.

It is time to do something different.”

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM and Co- Chair Close the Gap Campaign

Opinion editorial 16 March see below in full ” It’s time to re-think Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

Closing the gap in health equality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians is an agreed national priority but governments are failing to meet nearly every key measure. This has to change.”

That’s the blunt assessment delivered by Close the Gap Campaign co-chairs, Jackie Huggins and Patricia Turner :

Photo : NACCHO CEO Pat Turner and #CTG co chair Dr Jackie Huggins launch 2017 #CloseTheGap Progress & Priorities Report

Dr Huggins, who is also co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, and Ms Turner, who is chief executive of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, released the Close the Gap Campaign 2017 Progress and Priorities Report in Sydney today (  16 March ) to mark National Close the Gap Day.

Download the report HERE     CTG Report 2017

CTG 2017 report : 15 Recommendations :  “We have the Solutions

New Engagement ( The remaining 12 below )

  1. The Federal, State and Territory governments renew the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, by engaging with sector leaders on the series of calls in the Redfern Statement, and that they participate in a National Summit with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in 2017, to forge a new path forward together.
  2. The Federal Government restore previous funding levels to the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples as the national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and work closely with Congress and the Statement signatories to progress the calls in the Redfern Statement.
  3. The Federal Government hold a national inquiry into racism and institutional racism in health care settings, and hospitals in particular, and its contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inequality, and the findings be incorporated by the Department of Health in its actioning of the Implementation Plan of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.

It’s time to re-think Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

Op-ed by Patricia Turner, CEO, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and co-chair of the Close the Gap Campaign.

Today [16 March 2017] is National Close the Gap Day. It is a day to acknowledge our resilience and a day to focus attention on the significant gap in health equality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

The facts are indisputable. Governments at all levels are failing Australia’s First Peoples. We have shorter lifespans and we are sicker and poorer than the average non-Indigenous Australian.

The Close the Gap Campaign began in 2006. One of the Campaign’s first accomplishments was to convince the Federal Government of the need to plan and set targets to improve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We’ve now had almost a decade of Closing the Gap Strategy by successive federal governments. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s most recent report to Parliament, in February 2017, was not good news. Most of the Closing the Gap targets are unlikely to be met by 2030. Frustratingly, child mortality rates are going backwards.

Today, the Close the Gap Campaign’s Progress and Priorities Report 2017 reflects on the continuing failure of the Government’s Closing the Gap Strategy and outlines a series of recommendations that can begin to turn the tide.

As a co-chair of Close the Gap Campaign and CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, I see the impact of a lack of coordination between federal, state and territory governments on addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The Federal Government’s recent announcement to refresh the strategy is timely and a dialogue should begin with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak health organisations on how to address the health challenges our people face.

We expect much more from the state and territory governments. The Federal Government has a clear leadership role but the states are simply not doing enough to address inequality in their jurisdictions.

New arrangements between state, territory and federal governments must begin with a clear focus on addressing the social and cultural determinants of health.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs should not be managed in siloes. Instead, we need to take account of the factors that contribute to good health: housing, education, employment and access to justice. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders from across these sectors are already working together to make these policy connections – governments must follow suit.

Cultural determinants matter. There is abundant evidence about the importance of self-determination, freedom from the grind of casual and systemic racism, discrimination and poverty. For over 200 years we have been burdened with laws, systems and institutes that perpetuate disadvantage.

But our cultures and traditions still endure; we remain the traditional custodians of the land you walk on.

Last year, 140 Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations (ACCHOs) provided nearly 3 million episodes of care to over 340,000 clients by more than 3,000 Indigenous staff. It is clear that putting Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands works.

Recently, Flinders University highlighted the success of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress in Alice Springs, noting its ability to provide a one stop-shop with outreach services, free medicine and advocacy.

The benefits of having Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands are evident in other case studies which show reductions in the numbers of young smokers, increased immunisations rates, and increased numbers of child health checks in our local communities.

The Federal Government’s rhetoric about economic empowerment and opportunity should be replaced with significant public policy initiatives and the delivery of specific outcomes. Politicians often speak about the optimism, resilience and determination of our people but how about speaking today, right now, about meaningful actions, engagement and self-determination for us all.

CTG 2017 report 15 Recommendations :  “We have the Solutions

Prime Minister, and all Members of Parliament I say to you that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the solutions to the difficulties we face.

Consider for a moment the 2.5 million episodes of care delivered to our people by Aboriginal Community Controlled Heath Organisations each year.

This community-controlled work is echoed by many of our organisations here today, and amplified by countless individual and community efforts working for change.

Imagine this work stretching out over decades as it has.

We need a new relationship that respects and harnesses this expertise, and recognises our right to be involved in decisions being made about us.

A new relationship where we have a seat at the table when policies are developed.”

Dr Jackie Huggins Redfern Statement Parliamentary Event, 14 February 2017

Reinvigorating the national approach to health inequality

4.     State and Territory governments recommit to the Close the Gap Statement of Intent, and develop and implement formal partnerships with the Federal Government with agreed roles, funding and accountability with the provision of annual reports on their efforts to close the gap from each jurisdiction.

 

5.     The Federal, State and Territory governments work together to develop a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategy to meet the vision of the National Health Plan.

Social and Cultural Determinants of Health

6.     The Federal Government develop a long-term National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Cultural Determinants of Health Strategy.

Implementation Plan

The Implementation Plan is a major commitment by the Federal Government and must be adequately resourced for its application and operation. As such, the Government should:

7.     Identify geographic areas with both high levels of preventable illnesses and deaths and inadequate services, and development of a capacity-building plan for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) in those areas.

8.     Fund the process required to develop the core services model and the associated workforce, infrastructure, information management and funding strategies required.

9.     Ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health funding is maintained at least at current levels until the core services, workforce and funding work is finalised, when funding should be linked directly with the Implementation Plan.

10. Ensure the timely evaluation and renewal of related frameworks upon which the Implementation Plan relies.

 

11. Finalise and resource the National Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing. This plan should incorporate and synthesise the existing health, mental health, suicide and drugs policies and plans – and should be an immediate priority of all governments.

12. Ensure that the consultation process for the next iteration of the Implementation Plan be based on genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in a way that is representative and properly funded so that First Peoples can be full and equal development partners.

Primary Health Networks

13. The Federal Government mandate formal agreements between Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and ACCHOs in each region that:

a.     specify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership on Indigenous issues and identify the specific roles and responsibilities of both the PHNs and the ACCHOs.

b.     include workforce targets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals and include mandatory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation on the clinical committees of every PHN.

14. The Federal Government mandate ACCHOs as preferred providers of health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people provided through PHNs.

15. The Federal Government develop and implement agreed accountability, evaluation and reporting arrangements to support the provision of primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in each PHN area.[i]

Summary

The Campaign believes that the PHN program has the potential to make a significant positive difference in health outcomes for all Australians if they are culturally safe and properly engaged with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community within their network area.

The ability of PHNs to deliver culturally safe, high-quality primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be seen in the lived experience of the people.

Engagement

It is essential that Federal Government ensure that the PHNs are engaging with ACCHOs to ensure the best primary health care is afforded to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as the broader community. Competitive tendering processes for PHNs that award contracts to organisations that are able to write the best proposal may well be at the expense of organisations that can provide the best services in terms of access, quality and outcomes.

However, formal partnerships between PHNs and ACCHOs should reduce rather than exacerbate current funding inequities and inefficiencies.

It is the Campaign’s view that ACCHOs must be considered the ‘preferred providers’ for health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Where there is either no existing ACCHO or insufficient ACCHO services, capacity should be built by the establishment of new ACCHOs or within existing ACCHOs (or have capacity development of existing ACCHOs) within the PHN area to extend their services to the identified areas of need.

Where it is appropriate for mainstream providers to deliver a service, they should be looking to partner with ACCHOs to better reach the communities in need.[i]

The Campaign welcomes the collaboration between the Department of Health and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation to develop the Primary Health Networks (PHNS) and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOS) – Guiding Principles which are intended to provide:

…guidance for actions to be taken by each party across six key domains: Closing the Gap; cultural competency; commissioning; engagement and representation; accountability, data and reporting; service delivery; and research.[ii]

Having a shared understanding of the key domains of focus and the principles of engagement and collaboration are a good start, however, more can be done to formalise the relationship between PHNs and ACCHOs.

Cultural Safety

The need for culturally safe services, with safe spaces that support the holistic concept of health is well established.

ACCHOs continue to be the exemplar for cultural safety standards as they are, by their very existence, best placed to respond to the health needs of the community based on implicit cultural understanding.[iii]

Again, it is encouraging to see some indications that the PHNs are looking to incorporate culturally safe practices as evidenced by the Guiding Principles document between PHNs and ACCHOs. The Guiding Principles state:

‘An understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is important to partners who wish to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people effectively and as equals.

Underpinning the Guiding Principles is a shared knowledge that will ensure:

  • respectful culturally sensitive consultation
  • recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes will be achieved when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people control them, and
  • that commissioned service delivery will be a strengths-based approach reflecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.’[iv]

Respect of culture must be embedded in all PHN practice and management, from formalised cooperation with ACCHOs, the delivery of services and the investments made in the non-Indigenous workforces so that they understand and value Cultural Safety and its importance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking care.

 The Close the Gap Campaign

Close the Gap Campaign co-chair Jackie Huggins highlighted the resilience of Indigenous people and cautioned against feeling disheartened by the slow pace of change.

“When Tom Calma started the Close the Gap Campaign in 2006, he set a 25-year goal to achieve health equality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples,” Dr Huggins said.

This was an intentionally ambitious time frame. Nevertheless, Tom and the other early Campaign members knew that every inch the gap closed between First Australians and non-Indigenous Australians translated into lives saved and lives improved.

The Australian community agreed. Since then more than 220,000 Australians have signed the close the gap pledge for change.

“Despite the significant challenges we face to make health equality a reality in this country, it is the commitment of the hundreds of thousands of people that have pledged their support to closing the gap that give us courage and strength to press on.

“In communities across Australia we are seeing more and more of our people rising above the obstacles of institutional racism, generational trauma and low expectations to become nurses, doctors, social workers, youth workers, health workers, administrators, teachers and community leaders.

Our people, with the support of the many non-Indigenous people committed to health equality, are best placed to lead the changes needed today, tomorrow and over the next decade,” Dr Huggins said.

 

 

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Alcohol : Draft terms of reference for a another comprehensive review of alcohol policy in the #NT

 ” The Northern Territory has the second highest alcohol consumption in the world. Misuse of alcohol has devastating health and social consequences for NT Aboriginal communities.

APO NT believes that addressing alcohol and drug misuse, along with the many health and social consequences of this misuse, can only be achieved through a multi-tiered approach.

APO NT supports evidence based alcohol policy reform, including:

  • Supply reduction measures
  • Harm reduction measures, and
  • Demand reduction measures.

To address alcohol and drug misuse within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the social and structural determinants of mental health must be addressed,

Parliamentary Inquiry into the Harmful use of Alcohol in Aboriginal Communities

On 17 April 2014, APO NT submitted their written evidence to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs on the Inquiry into the harmful use of alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities.

The APO NT submission made 16 recommendations to the committee: SEE INFO Here

Read  NACCHO Alcohol and other drugs 164 Articles over 5 years HERE

RESPONSIBLE ALCOHOL POLICY =

A SAFER COMMUNITY :  NT Government Press Release 10 March 2017

The Health Minister Natasha Fyles today released draft terms of reference for a comprehensive review of alcohol policy in the Northern Territory.

Minister Fyles said the Government was determined to tackle the cost of alcohol abuse on our community and the review will give all Territorians an opportunity to have their voices heard.

“We recognise that, while everyone has the right to enjoy a drink responsibly, alcohol abuse is a significant cause of violence and crime in our community,” Ms Fyles said.

“All Territorians have the right to feel safe, to have their property, homes and businesses secure from damage and theft.

“They also have the right to access health, police and justice services, without having critical resources diverted by the crippling effects of alcohol abuse.

“That’s why Territory Labor has consistently advocated, and implemented, a range of policies to reduce the harm caused by alcohol abuse.

“When last in Government we implemented the Banned Drinker Register (BDR), described by Police as the best tool they had to fight violent crime.

“In Opposition we were clear we would reinstate the BDR and impose a moratorium on new takeaway licences.

“Since coming to Government we have:

  • worked efficiently across agencies to bring back the BDR by September 1
  • imposed a moratorium on new takeaway liquor licences (except in exceptional circumstances) – October 2016
  • strengthened legislation to ensure Sunday trade remains limited – November 2016
  • limited the floor space for take away alcohol stores – December 2016
  • introduced new Guidelines for liquor licensing to allow for public hearings – 2 February 2017

“While some of these policies aren’t popular, their effectiveness is backed by evidence.

“This review is an important chance for the community to have their say and to ensure that all facets of alcohol policy complement our determination to make the Territory safer.

“An expert panel will be commissioned to look at alcohol policies and alcohol legislation, reporting to government on:

  • evidence based policy initiatives required to reduce alcohol fuelled crime
  • ensuring safe and vibrant entertainment precincts
  • the provision of alcohol service and management in remote communities
  • decision-making under the Liquor Act
  • the density of liquor licences (concentration, type, number and location of liquor licences ) and the size of liquor outlets

“Broad public consultation will be undertaken as part of the review, with multiple avenues for interested people, groups and communities to put forward their views.

“I look forward to hearing from not only the loudest and most powerful voices in our community, but also the many women, children, families and communities who all too often bear the cost of alcohol abuse in the Northern Territory.”

The review will start in April with a report and recommendations delivered to government in late September 2017.

The government will then develop a response to the recommendations for the development of the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy and legislative reform agenda.

These will be released publicly along with the Expert Advisory Panel’s final report.

To view the draft terms of references go to: https://health.nt.gov.au/professionals/alcohol-and-other-drugs-health-professionals/alcohol-policies-and-legislation-review

Submissions are now being accepted at:  AODD.DOH@nt.gov.au

NACCHO #IWD2017 Aboriginal Women’s #justjustice :Indigenous, disabled, imprisoned – the forgotten women of #IWD2017

 

” Merri’s story is not uncommon. Studies show that women with physical, sensory, intellectual, or psychosocial disabilities (mental health conditions) experience higher rates of domestic and sexual violence and abuse than other women.

More than 70 per cent of women with disabilities in Australia have experienced sexual violence, and they are 40 per cent more likely to face domestic violence than other women.

Indigenous women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of domestic violence than non-Indigenous women. Indigenous women who have a disability face intersecting forms of discrimination because of their gender, disability, and ethnicity that leave them at even greater risk of experiencing violence — and of being involved in violence and imprisoned

Kriti Sharma is a disability rights researcher for Human Rights Watch

This is our last NACCHO post supporting  International Women’s Day

Further NACCHO reading

Women’s Health ( 275 articles )  or Just Justice  See campaign details below

” In-prison programs fail to address the disadvantage that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners face, such as addiction, intergenerational and historical traumas, grief and loss. Programs have long waiting lists, and exclude those who spend many months on remand or serve short sentences – as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often do.

Instead, evidence shows that prison worsens mental health and wellbeing, damages relationships and families, and generates stigma which reduces employment and housing opportunities .

To prevent post-release deaths, diversion from prison to alcohol and drug rehabilitation is recommended, which has proven more cost-effective and beneficial than prison , International evidence also recommends preparing families for the post-prison release phase. ‘

Dying to be free: Where is the focus on the deaths occurring post-prison release? Article 1 Below

Article from Page 17 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper out Wednesday 16 November , 24 Page lift out Koori Mail : or download

naccho-newspaper-nov-2016 PDF file size 9 MB

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, this week  I think of ‘Merri’, one of the most formidable and resilient women I have ever met.

A 50-year-old Aboriginal woman with a mental health condition, Merri grew up in a remote community in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. When I met her, Merri was in pre-trial detention in an Australian prison.

It was the first time she had been to prison and it was clear she was still reeling from trauma. But she was also defiant.

“Six months ago, I got sick of being bashed so I killed him,” she said. “I spent five years with him [my partner], being bashed. He gave me a freaking [sexually transmitted] disease. Now I have to suffer [in prison].”

I recently traveled through Western Australia, visiting prisons, and I heard story after story of Indigenous women with disabilities whose lives had been cycles of abuse and imprisonment, without effective help.

For many women who need help, support services are simply not available. They may be too far away, hard to find, or not culturally sensitive or accessible to women.

The result is that Australia’s prisons are disproportionately full of Indigenous women with disabilities, who are also more likely to be incarcerated for minor offenses.

For numerous women like Merri in many parts of the country, prisons have become a default accommodation and support option due to a dearth of appropriate community-based services. As with countless women with disabilities, Merri’s disability was not identified until she reached prison. She had not received any support services in the community.

Merri has single-handedly raised her children as well as her grandchildren, but without any support or access to mental health services, life in the community has been a struggle for her.

Strangely — and tragically — prison represented a respite for Merri. With eyes glistening with tears, she told me: “[Prison] is very stressful. But I’m finding it a break from a lot of stress outside.”

Today, on International Women’s Day, the Australian government should commit to making it a priority to meet the needs of women with disabilities who are at risk of violence and abuse.

In 2015, a Senate inquiry into the abuse people with disabilities face in institutional and residential settings revealed the extensive and diverse forms of abuse they face both in institutions and the community. The inquiry recommended that the government set up a Royal Commission to conduct a more comprehensive investigation into the neglect, violence, and abuse faced by people with disabilities across Australia.

The government has been unwilling to do so, citing the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguard Framework as adequate.

While the framework is an important step forward, it would only reach people who are enrolled under the NDIS. Its complaints mechanism would not provide a comprehensive look at the diversity and scale of the violence people with disabilities experience, let alone at the ways in which various intersecting forms of discrimination affect people with disabilities.

The creation of a Royal Commission, on the other hand, could give voice to survivors of violence inside and outside the NDIS. It could direct a commission’s resources at a thorough investigation into the violence people with disabilities face in institutional and residential settings, as well as in the community.

The government urgently needs to hear directly from women like Merri about the challenges they face, and how the government can do better at helping them. Whether or not there is a Royal Commission, the government should consult women with disabilities, including Indigenous women, and their representative organizations to learn how to strengthen support services.

Government services that are gender and culturally appropriate, and accessible to women across the country, can curtail abuse and allow women with disabilities to live safe, independent lives in the community.

Kriti Sharma is a disability rights researcher for Human Rights Watch

 

croakey-new

How you can support #JustJustice

• Download, read and share the 2nd edition – HERE.

Buy a hard copy from Gleebooks in Sydney (ask them to order more copies if they run out of stock).

• Send copies of the book to politicians, policy makers and other opinion leaders.

• Encourage journals and other relevant publications to review #JustJustice.

• Encourage your local library to order a copy, whether the free e-version or a hard copy from Gleebooks.

• Follow Guardian Australia’s project, Breaking the Cycle.

Readers may also be interested in these articles:

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #RDA #18C and #Racism News Alerts : 22 Recommendations : Download 189 Page Inquiry Report

18c

 ” In fact, many Aboriginal people feel the RDA is not strong enough. It has been bypassed three times in its history – and every time it was to undermine the rights of Aboriginal people (the Hindmarsh Island affair, watering down of native title, and the Northern Territory intervention).

Nevertheless, today the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has tabled its recommendations on proposed changes to the RDA (and the government is expected to respond in due course). The Sydney Morning Herald reports that one of the key recommendations is the replacement of the words “offend, insult and humiliate” with the word “harass”.

Another proposed option is to change the way the Australian Human Rights Commission (HRC) functions, such as allowing it to knock back so-called vexatious complaints earlier in the process. ”

Fighting words Reform of section 18C is back on the agenda By Amy McQuire see full report 2 below

Download or Read the Full Freedom of Speech Report Here

inquiry-report-rda

 “Surveys suggested racism was already a near-universal experience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, with 97% having experienced it in the past year and more than 70% reporting eight or more incidents in that period. Almost one-third said they had experienced racism in the health setting.

By settings standards of conduct, the law had an important role in containing the spread of racism and race hate, and described the watering down of sections 18c & d of the RDA as a “major risk” for the effective implementation of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.

The Plan envisages a health system free of racism, offering effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable health services to Indigenous Australians “

Matthew Cooke Chair of NACCHO

From post 21 December 2016 Aboriginal Health and #Racism : NACCHO submission to #SavetheRDA #18C Inquiry into #Freedomofspeech

Download our full submission here

submission-to-inquiry-into-freedom-of-speech-and-rda-draft

ammc

Photo Above :Federal Labor MPs are speaking out against the Turnbull Govt attempts to weaken & water down Section of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Download or Read Labor Press Release

labor-18-c

Plus Download or Read Greens Press Release

greens-defend-protections-against-hate-speech-fed

Parliamentary inquiry sidesteps making recommendation on 18C

 ” Malcolm Turnbull had hoped that throwing the controversial section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act to a parliamentary inquiry would help resolve an issue that has become totemic for conservatives in the increasingly vitriolic culture wars.”

Writes Michelle Grattan in the Conversation

As is his luck these days, it has done no such thing. The joint committee on human rights has provided extensive and sensible advice on how to improve the processes for dealing with complaints, including to weed out vexatious ones early. But on the core question of the section’s wording, it has tossed that very hot potato right back into the laps of the Prime Minister and his cabinet.

In a search for maximum consensus among its members the committee, after hearing extensive evidence for the status quo on the one hand and various changes on the other, has presented a “range of proposals that had the support of at least one member of the committee”.

No one can say it’s not been comprehensive. But the list could have been written without the inquiry.

The current 18C outlaws actions “reasonably likely … to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” someone or a group of people, on the basis of race, colour or national or ethnic origin.

Section D provides exemptions and defences, including that of “good faith”, “public interest” and “fair comment”.

The options the committee has put are:

  • No change in wording of 18C and 18D.
  • Amending the act to ensure that the effect of it “is clear and accessible” by codifying the judicial interpretation. This would deal with the problem of the gap between what words like “offend” and “insult” mean in legal cases and their everyday meaning.
  • Removing the words “offend”, “insult” and “humiliate” and replacing them with “harass”.
  • Amending 18D to also include a “truth” defence similar to that of defamation law.
  • Changing the objective test, from assessing the likely effect of the conduct on a “reasonable member of the relevant group” to “the reasonable member of the Australian community”; and
  • Further investigating criminal provisions on incitement to racially motivated violence on the basis that existing state and federal laws have been ineffective.

The 18C debate is a microcosm of the divisions within the present Liberal Party. Even Liberal members of the committee are split and, as the report was released, were arguing their separate cases in the media.

Committee chair Ian Goodenough, a Liberal from Western Australia, says his personal opinion is that the bar is too low – he would favour replacing “offend” and “insult” with “harass”, leaving “humiliate” and “intimidate” as is.

But fellow Liberal Julian Leeser, from NSW, argues the current wording is satisfactory and sufficient reform can be achieved by altering the processes.

Those conservatives – politicians and vocal sections of the media – who have their teeth into this issue will put strong pressure on Turnbull to rework the wording.

The Human Rights Commission and its outgoing president Gillian Triggs have become high profile and symbolic targets for the conservatives; the case involving QUT students and the controversy over the Leak cartoon gave them bountiful ammunition.

Cory Bernardi, who recently quit the Liberal party, has a private member’s bill to which last year he signed up almost all Coalition senators; the bill, removing the words “insult” and “offend”, has gone to a committee and is expected to be debated this year.

Former Senate leader Eric Abetz reminded the government about the bill, saying he hoped it progressed changes to 18C and D “in line with the private senators bill, supported by all backbench senators, and with our values”.

The critics won’t be satisfied with just the better processes that have been recommended. This has been set up as a test of Turnbull’s credentials with the “base”.

Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce injected a real-world reality check into the debate when he told Sky on Tuesday that in his recent travels in regional areas people hadn’t been raising 18C with him. Conservative Victorian senator James Paterson acknowledged Joyce had a specific constituency but said he was “disappointed” to hear his comment. Apparently in circles in which Paterson (a member of the committee) moves there is a “very high community expectation that we address this issue”.

Turnbull originally did not want to touch 18C. Under pressure from the agitators, he became more amenable to overhaul – hence the inquiry.

But a glance through the summary of evidence to the committee shows this is another issue on which he can’t win, because feeling runs high on each side of the public debate. It’s also a dangerous issue in marginal seats with big ethnic votes.

Meanwhile Triggs’ term ends mid-year. The government will be searching for a replacement. Turnbull will not adopt the Abbott advice to scrap the commission. Whoever is chosen will have the task of overseeing not only significant changes to the processes for complaints under the Racial Discrimination Act but also, one would expect, to the commission more broadly. It will be an appointment closely watched.

Article 2

Fighting words Reform of section 18C is back on the agenda By Amy McQuire

It is telling that those who claim section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) is an assault on freedom of speech have the largest microphones. Despite their claims of victimhood, what they say is heard in the most powerful halls of the country. Why else are we still having a debate around the RDA?

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Australia, everytime it talks about repealing the racial discrimination act. #18C #auspol

The fact that we are still talking about it shows that their fears are completely unfounded. They have not been silenced, so what else could be motivating them?

It’s been more than two years since Senator George Brandis announced that people had the right to be bigots, and Tony Abbott was forced to back down from abolishing section 18C following outrage from ethnic and minority groups.

Aboriginal groups in particular have been vocal in their condemnation of the proposed changes, and for good reason – it was the legal victory against News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt’s vitriol that first sparked the furore.

In fact, many Aboriginal people feel the RDA is not strong enough. It has been bypassed three times in its history – and every time it was to undermine the rights of Aboriginal people (the Hindmarsh Island affair, watering down of native title, and the Northern Territory intervention).

Nevertheless, today the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has tabled its recommendations on proposed changes to the RDA (and the government is expected to respond in due course). The Sydney Morning Herald reports that one of the key recommendations is the replacement of the words “offend, insult and humiliate” with the word “harass”.

Another proposed option is to change the way the Australian Human Rights Commission (HRC) functions, such as allowing it to knock back so-called vexatious complaints earlier in the process.

Speaking on behalf of the HRC today, Gillian Triggs told Senate Estimates that the complaint against News Corp cartoonist Bill Leak, one of the conservatives’ favourite causes, could have been dropped earlier if Leak had worked in “good faith”.

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He apparently hadn’t taken up the HRC’s invitation to demonstrate good faith.

Conservatives have already responded to the 18C recommendations: Dennis Shanahan for instance argues somewhat predictably [possible paywall] that the HRC should be reformed.

The general conservative consensus is that the RDA as it stands represents an unwarranted obstacle to free speech and therefore must be changed.

Aboriginal Labor MP Linda Burney is concerned that changes to the RDA would unleash racists, while Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce says it is a distraction and voters “do not invite me into their shed … and then say ‘Barney, sit down in this chair, I want to talk to you about the Racial Discrimination Act’. They are thinking about bigger issues, he says.

Those issues played out against the backdrop of Senate Estimates today, where it was perhaps ironic that South Australian Liberal Senator David Fawcett compared asylum seekers to “fleas” during an immigration hearing.

Meanwhile the “debate” around the RDA and the HRC is likely to dominate, while the people who deal with its fallout are pushed to the back of the papers.

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #FU2racism : Research shows majority of Australians believe #18C protections should stay

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 ” While debate over the merits of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act continues to rage, new research shows that an overwhelming majority of Australians support legislation that prevents insults on the basis of race, culture or religion.

We found that just 10% of Australians believe people should have the freedom to “insult” and “offend” people on the basis of race, culture or religion.

Over 75% are opposed. The poll, conducted by Essential Research for the Cyber Racism and Community Resilience (CRaCR) and our other Challenging Racism research projects, undermines other claims that nearly 50% of Australians want the key words removed from Section 18C.

Authors Professor of Sociology, University of Technology Sydney ,Dean of the School of Social Science and Psychology, Western Sydney University Research Assistant, Challenging Racism Project, Western Sydney University

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Download research from last nights Is Australia racist  challenging_racism_report_3

Download cyber-racism-and-community-resilience-cracr

“ Surveys suggested racism was already a near-universal experience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, with 97% having experienced it in the past year and more than 70% reporting eight or more incidents in that period. Almost one-third said they had experienced racism in the health setting.

By settings standards of conduct, the law had an important role in containing the spread of racism and race hate, and described the watering down of sections 18c & d of the RDA as a “major risk” for the effective implementation of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.

The Plan envisages a health system free of racism, offering effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable health services to Indigenous Australians “

Matthew Cooke Chair of NACCHO

From post 21 December 2016 Aboriginal Health and #Racism : NACCHO submission to #SavetheRDA #18C Inquiry into #Freedomofspeech

Download our full submission here

submission-to-inquiry-into-freedom-of-speech-and-rda-draft

Over 5 years we have NACCHO has published over 70 artiicles

Aboriginal health and Racism

Australians believe 18C protections should stay

A parliamentary inquiry into 18C is moving towards its climax, with the committee due to report by February 28. It has been a mammoth task for the committee members, with thousands of submissions and dozens of witnesses.

Section 18C makes it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate someone on the basis of race and culture. It has been under attack from conservative commentators and politicians after News Ltd columnist Andrew Bolt was found to have breached 18C without an acceptable defence under the related Section 18D.

In the 2013 election, then prime minister Tony Abbott pledged to get rid of the section. Attorney-General George Brandis attempted to do this in 2014. A strong push-back by community groups forced Abbott to abandon the changes.

After the 2016 election, conservatives such as Cory Bernardi, in tandem with the Institute for Public Affairs, reactivated the campaign to remove section 18C, though limiting their reach to excising the words “insult” and “offend”.

As we reported on February 1, the “truth” about what Australians think of and want to happen with 18C has been a matter of critical interest. The Australian newspaper has been a sustained campaigner for removing 18C. It argues the law is too great a threat to freedom of speech.

CRaCR commissioned Essential to include four questions in its February 8 omnibus poll. We asked whether people agreed or disagreed with the propositions that “people should be free to offend/ insult/ humiliate/ intimidate someone on the basis of their race, culture or religion”. The finding is that Australians do not support this proposition. Only 5 to 10% champion such “freedoms”.

Our simple question formats eschewed any prelude points concerning “competing freedoms” or double-barrel questions as in the Galaxy poll.

After we gave evidence to the parliamentary inquiry, and were questioned on the apparently conflicting findings, we set out to generate transparent and valid data. We developed a simple test to discover the extent to which Australians believe that people should be free to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate others on the basis of race, culture or religion. This would be the consequence of removing Section 18.

Our research in 2014 asked if people thought it should be unlawful to do what 18C covered. On the insult and offend questions, support for the law was 72% and 66%, while on humiliate and intimidate it rose to 74% and 79%. The IPA claimed since then there had been a major shift towards accepting the removal of these first two conditions of vilification.

Our new research demonstrates this is not the case. Our Essential sample was representative (by age, gender, region and so on).

Our four questions were aimed to test whether people supported removing insult and offend from 18C. We found that Australians have increased their support for protections from insulting and offensive attacks on the basis of race, culture and religion.


 


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Only 5 to 10% of Australians support the right to offend on the basis of race, culture or religion. Those who are younger, and males, are more likely to support these freedoms.

In our other surveys over the past decade, we have found that about the same proportion of Australians (one in ten) hold negative views about diversity and “races”. For example, around 10-12% believe that some races are superior to others, and that groups should not intermarry. These are indicators of racial supremacism and racial separatism.

There may well be those who support these freedoms from a Voltaire-inspired conviction about the right to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate. However, analysis of the 2014 CRaCR survey data has found statistical associations between authors of online racism, racist dispositions and a preference for the freedom to offend. Authors of racism, with racist views, most want the right to be racist.

The political implications are also of interest. Focusing just on “offend” and “insult”, the spread confirms that the left of the political spectrum is more opposed to licensing hate than the right.

Support for the freedom to offend ranges from 7% (ALP and Greens) to 11% (LNP) and up to 16% with Others and Independents. Opposition to the freedom to offend peaks with the Greens (86%), but still sits at 70% for Independents.

Support for the freedom to insult ranges from 5% (ALP) and 8% (Greens) to 12% (LNP) and up to 13% with Others and Independents. Opposition to the freedom to insult peaks with the Greens (88%), but still sits at 72% for Independents.

This evidence suggests that over the past three years, despite incessant campaigning by pro-vilification proponents, Australians’ appetite for the “right to be bigots” has declined.

The impression we gain is that civility remains a high value. Whatever peoples’ valuing of freedom of speech, which is very high, they do not think that such a freedom should encompass the insulting and offending of people on the basis of race, culture or religion.

Moreover, this trend reverberates with the finding of another Essential poll in late 2016, where Australians worry that insulting people on the basis of race and religion is rising.

Now it’s over to the committee, parliament and the people

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NACCHO #FU2Racism Aboriginal Health and Face Up To #Racism Week media coverage

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 Is Australia racist? Face up to racism with a season of stories and programs challenging preconceptions around race and prejudice on SBSTV Starts 26 February

“ Surveys suggested racism was already a near-universal experience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, with 97% having experienced it in the past year and more than 70% reporting eight or more incidents in that period. Almost one-third said they had experienced racism in the health setting.

By settings standards of conduct, the law had an important role in containing the spread of racism and race hate, and described the watering down of sections 18c & d of the RDA as a “major risk” for the effective implementation of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.

The Plan envisages a health system free of racism, offering effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable health services to Indigenous Australians “

Matthew Cooke Chair of NACCHO

From post 21 December 2016 Aboriginal Health and #Racism : NACCHO submission to #SavetheRDA #18C Inquiry into #Freedomofspeech

Download our full submission here

submission-to-inquiry-into-freedom-of-speech-and-rda-draft

Over 5 years we have NACCHO has published over 70 artiicles

Aboriginal health and Racism

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Take the depth #Racism in Australia Survey

 ” Whenever there is a racist incident in Australia we hear people talk about the need for more education. And, to be fair, a lot of racism that exists does stem from a lack of education but that is only true for those who soak up the racist rhetoric that is ever present in Australian media and politics, not those who create and exploit that racism in the first place,

Luke Pearson NITV and Founder of IndigenousX ( see article 2 below )

Article 1:  Croakey Under the skin’ – Australian health groups condemn proposed changes to hate speech law

 ” With the Northern Territory’s anti-discrimination commissioner Sally Sievers warning this week that casual racism could literally make people sick, we’ve taken a look at some of the health group submissions to the government’s inquiry into amending section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Aboriginal health groups have rejected the proposed changes, warning that physical harm from race discrimination began at an early age – “quite literally can get under the skin and make our children and young people sick” – with racism a key determinant of access to and experiences of health.

We’ve digested some of the major submissions, which make for compelling reading in full, and present a summary below.

Editor: Amy Coopes  Author Under the skin’ – Australian health groups condemn proposed changes to hate speech law

Original Published in Croakey 23 February

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO)

Pointing to the Aboriginal definition of health as the “social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the whole community in which each individual is able to achieve their full potential”, NACCHO argues that any watering down of hate speech legislation will work in direct opposition to existing government programs and strategies to improve Indigenous health.

It describes combating racial discrimination as a key strategy in closing the gap on health outcomes, and details key evidence on the link between racism and health including:

Link between racism and reduced access to education, employment, housing and medical care, especially the deterrent effect of institutionalised racism in the health care system

Association between racism, psychological distress and risk behaviours such as substance abuse and self-harm, as well as physical injury from race-motivated assaults

Stress and cortisol dysregulation resulting from experiences of racism leading to mental health problems and physical impacts to the immune, endocrine & cardiovascular systems, beginning in childhood

Discriminatory health policies and practices including lack of language & culturally competent care, excessive wait times and unequal access to emergency and other services

Young people who experience high levels of racial discrimination were also found to have increased sleep difficulties, cellular ageing, inflammation and psychological wear and tear… Racial discrimination quite literally can get under the skin and make our children and young people sick.

NACCHO said surveys suggested racism was already a near-universal experience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, with 97% having experienced it in the past year and more than 70% reporting eight or more incidents in that period. Almost one-third said they had experienced racism in the health setting.

By settings standards of conduct, NACCHO said the law had an important role in containing the spread of racism and race hate, and described the watering down of sections 18c & d of the RDA as a “major risk” for the effective implementation of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.

The Plan envisages a health system free of racism, offering effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable health services to Indigenous Australians:

“Together with strategies to address social inequalities and determinants of health, this provides the necessary platform to recognise health equality by 2031.”

Lowitja Institute

The Lowitja Institute echoes NACCHO’s concerns, saying the 2013-2023 health plan “went a significant way in identifying racism as a social determinant for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health” and amendments to 18c would undermine “hard fought policy gains”.

It said institutionalised racism, lack of cultural safety and distrust in the health sector was already affecting access and outcomes for Indigenous people, with high rates of discharge against medical advice contributing to chronic ill health including diabetes, kidney disease and cancer.

Asking at what cost so-called free speech:

Allowing people to ‘offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or another group of people’ based on race can potentially cause harm and thus widen the health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

Changes to the Act could cause potential erosion of hard-fought health policy gains for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

As a nation together we should strive for dignity, respect, equity and a deeper understanding of one another.

National Health Leadership Forum

NHLF describes racism as a key social and cultural determinant of health and said legislative protections were an essential component in addressing it.

It said freedom from racism and right to the highest attainable standard of health were fundamental human rights, and racism not only undermined health (noting a 17-year gap in life expectancy) but the realisation of these rights for Indigenous Australians.

NHLF also quoted from the government’s 2013-2023 health plan, and described the proposed RDA amendments as counterintuitive to its bipartisan support:

Racism is a key social determinant of health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and can deter people from achieving their full capabilities by debilitating confidence and self worth which in turn leads to poorer health outcomes.

cohealth

cohealth, Australia’s largest non-for-profit community health service, says health is impacted by many factors including social inclusion and participation, with stigma and racism contributing to health inequalities.

It cited Australian and global research identifying:

  • The link between self-reported discrimination and depression & anxiety, both of which are major contributors to disease burden
  • Emerging evidence linking race-based discrimination with poor physical health including diabetes,obesity and hypertension
  • Association between discrimination, stress and chronic conditions (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer), as well as smoking, substance use, harms from abuse and violence, poor self-assessed health status and high psychological distress among Indigenous Australians

Importantly, cohealth noted that research had also shown that state intervention such as legislative change and the signalling that discriminatory behaviour was acceptable itself contributed to poor health:

The very holding of this inquiry, and the questioning of whether race hate protections should be reduced, sends a message to ethnic and rcial groups that in the eyes of the government they are less important, less included, less valued and less protected than other members of Australian society. This has the potential to contribute to significantly reduced health and wellbeing.

Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance

The peak professional group for Australia’s media questions the government’s “free speech” motivations for the RDA inquiry, arguing that it occurred against a backdrop of much graver threats (many directly due to government legislation), including:

Persecution and prosecution of whistleblowers in the public and private sectors and threat of up to 10 years jail under the ASIO Act

Anti-corruption bodies’ “star chamber” powers bypassing journalist shield laws

Use of warrants to secretly access journalists’ information and discover confidential sources

Use of defamation, contempt of court and suppression orders to intimidate or muzzle legitimate public interest reporting

The veil of “operational security” by government ministers & departments to refuse disclosure of information or to answer questions and narrowing of application of FOI laws

MEAA Media members are left to ponder the apparent limitations of the Parliament’s free speech agenda.

It said the rise of digital technology had seen hate speech increase in Australia since the 1995 introduction of the RDA, and described such speech as “antithetical to ethical journalism”.

We believe media outlets should take appropriate measures to speedily and thoroughly deal with complaints from the public, and to do so publicly. Too often the public turns to a third party without first raising a complaint with the specific media outlet that has published or broadcast the item in question. Media outlets must be willing to be held accountable for their failings by the consumers who put their trust, and their time and money into supporting the media outlet.

Whenever there is a racist incident in Australia we hear people talk about the need for more education. And, to be fair, a lot of racism that exists does stem from a lack of education but that is only true for those who soak up the racist rhetoric that is ever present in Australian media and politics, not those who create and exploit that racism in the first place, Luke Pearson says.

Article 2 COMMENT: Racism is not simply an education issue

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By

Luke Pearson

We talk about racism in the 21st Century as an anomaly, a throwback to the outdated ideas of yesteryear that for some unknown reason still manage to linger in the hearts and minds of too many, otherwise lovely, white Australians.

We talk about how racism impacts on our health, how it limits education and employment opportunities, and we talk a lot about how it feels to be on the receiving end of it. We still try to get people to develop empathy and we still ask, “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” as though Shakespeare wasn’t making that exact point about racism back sometime around the 1590s. Personally, I am sick of being asked to rip the band-aid off every time to show that I bleed blood as red as anyone else.

What we don’t talk about, however, is that racism drives profits and power. Not just the One Nation type of political power either, but all of it. Major political parties tread lightly on these issues and although some may provide lovely sound bites about multiculturalism or ‘progress’, they still too often support racist policies, from the NT Intervention through to watering down the Native Title Act or the Racial Discrimination Act.

The reality is that racism has always been a useful and effective tool for power, profit, and control.

I read somewhere, many years ago, that ‘Europeans didn’t become slave traders because they were racist. They became racists because they were slave traders’. The argument being that in order to sustain such a brutally horrific, but highly profitable, practice as slavery while also being able to maintain a self-image of being ‘good Christians’ it was necessary to dehumanize and demonise those who were being enslaved. This led to ‘scientific’ arguments of black people being less evolved and not really human, and Biblical arguments of black people being the ‘sons of Ham’ and as such cursed by God, in need of punishment for perceived sins, and thereby justifying their exploitation, murder, and enslavement.

The history of racism is too often explored through the lens of it being a lack of education, empathy, or understanding. Instead, it should be looked at as a highly effective and complex tool for the acquisition of land, exploitation of resources, sourcing free or cheap labour, and as a convenient scapegoat to avoid blame for those in power.

There is not a lot of racism that exists today that doesn’t in some way still serve one or more of the above stated  needs, and no amount of feel-good anti-racism education for those who use racism to gain power and/or make profit is going to change this.

When we look at racism in this light we no longer feel compelled to say ‘I can’t believe this is still happening in 2017!’, because we understand that racism is not just a throwback to outdated scientific beliefs of social Darwinism, and we also understand that human and civil rights are not on a slow but steady incline towards greater understanding and inevitable equality.

Racism has not reduced or disappeared over the years on this; it has simply become more elusive; more sophisticated. Overt racism may have slowed down for a few decades after the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, and it must be acknowledged that significant wins have since enshrined in law; particularly concerning segregation and other exclusionary practices and policies.

However, the strategically made argument that these policies represented not just a decrease in racism but that it actually went too far and created ‘reverse racism’ ensured that the shift in racism was limited to the shift from overt to covert, and not in its actual dismantling. This process has actively blurred the social understanding of what constitutes racism to the point that there are those who argue that any acknowledgement of race constitutes racism, particularly when it involves using the word ‘white’ in any context whatsoever.

The only purpose the colour-blind racism theory serves is making conversations about racism impossible. Racism gets reduced to merely being prejudice, and the role of societal power and privilege is completely ignored. Any argument, no matter how shallow, is used to claim that racism doesn’t exist; is not a factor in a given incident; or only exists because people keep mentioning it. If that does not suffice then finding any Aboriginal person who will agree that racism doesn’t exist is used to argue against all those who think it does (this strategy works for climate change against 97% of the scientific community, so it isn’t too surprising to see how effective it can be on issues of racism).

The shift from overt to covert racism meant that the statistics that once demonstrated without question the impacts of racism are once again being used to justify it. Incarceration rates, child removal rates, unemployment rates and other statistics that highlight the impacts and consequences of discrimination and inequality are now more commonly used to justify an unspoken but clearly hinted at belief in innate criminality, a lack of paternal and maternal instincts, and moral and cultural deficits.

 Beyond Blue survey

Findings from Beyond Blue’s 2014 survey: Discrimination against Indigenous Australians

The catch cry of ‘We need to keep Australia white’ was replaced with ‘We need to protect our way of life’. The slavery of Aboriginal people in Australia has been replaced with ‘work for the dole’ and prison labour. The displacement of Aboriginal people on reserves and missions for land grabs has been replaced with closing remote communities because of ‘lifestyle choices’, the forcing of remote Aboriginal communities onto long term leases, and the constant watering down of native title rights. These changes are only in branding not in substance, and certainly not in impact and effect. The end result is always the same; dispossession, disempowerment, regulation, and control.

Overt racism still exists of course, and has become increasingly popular in politics over the past few years. Asians are apparently ‘swamping’ again, this time along with Muslims as well. Asylum seekers have all become illegal immigrants. Any mention of difference or diversity or inequality is now labelled ‘divisive’. And it is now acceptable again to argue that all non-white Australians need to assimilate.

Despite this, the national dialogue about racism in Australia still ignores this and is too often limited to ‘casual racism’, and education aimed at building empathy is all too often the only solution that we are interested in putting forward at a national level. The goal of anti-racism is aimed at making white people feel good and alleviating themselves of any sense of responsibility or culpability rather than looking at how we dismantle the systems that perpetuate racism as the status quo. Even that seemingly lofty goal would still be insufficient. We cannot simply dismantle existing systems, we must replace them with new ones that empower Indigenous people within them and do what Malcolm Turnbull has become very fond of saying but refuses to actually do – systems that do things with us and not to us, and that are driven by Indigenous people ourselves. And just for the record, no… having an Indigenous friend or partner isn’t ‘reconciliation in action’.

Acknowledging white privilege is not the same thing as giving it up, or fighting against it.

And whenever we encounter racism we are expected to calmly and rationally explain why it is racist, and provide solutions that do not require anything more than a superficial change or acknowledgement to fix it.

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As long as this remains, we can rest assured that the systems in place that maintain racism and inequality will remain unchallenged, and our grandchildren will one day say to each other, “Wow, I can’t believe racism is still a thing in 2077!”

Acknowledging white privilege is not the same thing as giving it up, or fighting against it.

Racism is not simply borne of ignorance, and no amount of walking across bridges or photos of a white hand shaking a black hand will make it less appealing to those who exploit it for profit and power.

There is definitely a role in education for reducing the symptoms of racism, but I don’t think it will be enough to ever address its root causes.

I don’t know how (or if) we can eradicate racism, but I hope recognising racism as more than just misguided attitudes, hurt feelings, and the purported mental health status of political correctness might be a good start.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #prisons #JustJustice : Terms of references released Over-representation of Aboriginal peoples in our prisons

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 ” 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.”

Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General of Australia,

Refering to the Australian Law Reform Commission, an inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our prisons:

Senator Siewert Greens Senator moved the following motion in the Senate

(a) notes that the adult incarceration rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples increased by 77.4 per cent from 2000 to 2015;

(b) acknowledges the growing incarceration rates of our First Peoples is shameful;

(c) notes the Redfern Statement, which was released in 2016 by over 55 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organisations and peak bodies, sets out a plan for addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ disadvantage;

(d) notes that the Redfern Statement calls for justice targets to help focus the effort to reduce Aboriginal incarceration; and

(e) calls on the Government to listen to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and adopt justice targets as a matter of urgency.

NACCHO NOTE :

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will tomorrow deliver the ninth Closing the Gap address to Parliament.

The annual report card tracks progress against targets in a range of areas, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and life expectancy.

But it does not include any targets around incarceration rates — despite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people making up a quarter of Australia’s prison population

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

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) welcomes the appointment by Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, of His Honour Judge Matthew Myers AM as an ALRC Commissioner.

Judge Myers will lead the new ALRC Inquiry into the high incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, announced by the Attorney-General in October 2016.

Judge Myers was appointed to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in 2012. He is a member of the Board of Family and Relationship Services Australia, the CatholicCare Advisory Council (Broken Bay Dioceses), Law Society of New South Wales Indigenous Issues Committee, Federal Circuit Court of Australia Indigenous Access to Justice Committee, Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Family Law Pathways Network, member of the Central Coast Family Law Pathways Network Steering Committee, member of the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, member of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council,  member of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and member of the Honoured Friends of the Salvation Army.

Judge Myers said “I am honoured by this appointment and the opportunity to build on the valuable work of past Commissions, Inquiries and successful community initiatives. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children are significantly over represented in the Australian criminal justice system. This is something that cannot and should not be acceptable to any Australian. I look forward to undertaking a broad consultation across the country, working closely with stakeholders and the community to develop meaningful and practical solutions through law reform.”

ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher AM said, “We are delighted by this appointment and welcome Judge Myers to lead this very important Inquiry. To echo the Attorney-General, the over representation of Indigenous Australians in our prison system is a national tragedy. This Inquiry, with the expertise and leadership of Judge Myers, is an important step in developing much needed law reform in this area.”

The Attorney-General’s Department released draft Terms of Reference for Inquiry into the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for community consultation, in December 2016.

The consultation included Indigenous communities and organisations and state and territory governments.

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.
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  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.

[1] It is not the intention that the Australian Law Reform Commission will undertake independent research or evaluation of existing programs, noting that this falls outside its legislative responsibilities and expertise.

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