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

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

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

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

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

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

Indigenous people are not a problem to be solved.

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

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

Download full copy Garma 2017 PM full Speech

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

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

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

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

Coming together, after a struggle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A call for:

– A voice enshrined in the Constitution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download full speech Garma 2017 PM full Speech

Part 1 Media Coverage

View NITV Media coverage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Above AAP

 

 Part 2 PRIME MINISTER Garma SPEECH :

Ngarra buku-wurrpan bukmak nah! Nhuma’lanah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those same principles are guiding us toward Constitutional Recognition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there are still many questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And we are empowering communities through our Indigenous Procurement policy.

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

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

And the land is returning to its traditional owners.

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

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

As a nation we’ve come a long way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s so much more work to be done.

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

Thank you so much.

Part 3 Opposition Leader’s Garma Speech

Good morning everybody.

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

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

I acknowledge the Prime Minister and his wife Lucy.

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

We are very grateful to be part of this gathering.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coming together, after a struggle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A call for:

– A voice enshrined in the Constitution

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

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

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

First Australians:

– A proper acknowledgment of Aboriginal histories and the dispossession that

followed upon the arrival of the Europeans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Parliament needs to be engaged.

The Parliament needs to be engaged now.

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

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

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

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

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

But in 1901, they did.

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

But in 1901, they did.

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

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

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

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

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

Aboriginal people were here first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You have lived that struggle, every day.

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

Think of the Freedom Riders

Think of the Bark Petition, which Gallarwuy was witness to

Think of the Gurindji at Wave Hill

Eddie Mabo and his fight for justice

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

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

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

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

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

This committee will have two key responsibilities.

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

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

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

The issues have been traversed for a decade.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the test I set isn’t what we say here, in this beautiful place.

It’s what we do when we leave.

It’s the honesty of admitting that after the event, what is it that we do.

The test I set for myself is can I come here at future Garmas and look you in the eye and say I have done everything I can, because if I cannot say to you that I have done everything I that I can, then I can’t be truthful with my heart.

Yesterday Gallarwuy spoke with a tongue of fire, he told a powerful truth.

He said that for more than two centuries we had been two peoples – living side-by-side, but not united.

I think that is the challenge for politics too.

Djapirri who just spoke up before me, she’s talked about hope. There is the hope that you refer to, you have the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. We are here side-by-side, and now we need to be united, not to kick the can down the road, but united on a process that says this parliament will respect what we have heard from Aboriginal people.

Not just at Uluru, but for decades.

In 1967, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were counted. In 2017, you are being heard.

There is no reason why we can’t enshrine a voice for Aboriginal people in our Constitution.

Djapirri said, she told me of a dream of a canoe, paddled by the Prime Minister and myself. That in itself is an arresting image. Two captains. But in all seriousness, we appreciated I think the power of that illusion, the power of that dream.

My party is ready.

I think Australia is ready.

The fine words that we heard at the opening yesterday, they remind me of the fire dreaming symbol, which is in the front of the Parliament of Australia.

Fire.

That fire dreaming symbol is from central Australia but it is connected isn’t it, by the word of Djapirri yesterday.

Again, that spirit of fire it is a gift from Indigenous people to all Australians and I sincerely will endeavor to make sure that spirit of fire infuses our Parliament.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health :@IPAAACT After 50 years of #Indigenous affairs, ‘We need to do better’

 

” 50 years on from the referendum that made Indigenous affairs a Commonwealth concern, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s new deputy secretary, Professor Ian Anderson, sets out a clear and comprehensive vision of a better way forward.

The 50th anniversary of the referendum that made Indigenous affairs a federal policy concern has prompted a lot of reflection on what governments have done with that role and, more importantly, consideration of how policymakers and public servants can do better.”

From Stephen Easton journalist at The Mandarin 

In the view of Australian Public Service head Martin Parkinson, the 90.77% affirmative vote both “provided opportunities for us to begin to right the wrongs” caused by British colonisation and assured the prime minister that nearly every citizen wanted the national government to try and do so.

“We may have created the opportunity in ’67 but we haven’t actually delivered on it,” Parkinson added on Friday, opening a public administration seminar at Old Parliament House marking half a century of Indigenous policy.

The keynote address came from his new deputy secretary for Indigenous affairs, Ian Anderson, an Aboriginal University of Melbourne professor who became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) last week for “distinguished service to the Indigenous community” as a doctor, health researcher and role model.

Ian Anderson

Anderson was brought in to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in February to lead a “root and branch” review of Closing the Gap targets, replacing Richard Eccles, who quietly moved across to the Department of Communications and the Arts.

“There is a shared sense among Indigenous leaders, governments and the wider community that despite the significant progress in some areas, we need to do better,” said Anderson.

He sees enough progress to prove solutions do exist, but also consistent themes behind the failures: too many “one size fits all” approaches, “chopping and changing” goals, and governments “overreaching” in terms of what is realistic, while failing to “significantly” engage with Indigenous communities.

The highly regarded professor is seen as a brilliant quiet achiever who has led by example rather than taking to the barricades. He acknowledged “the activist generation” who fought for their rights and built a robust Indigenous-led community sector “from the ground up” but also pointed out Aboriginal society had changed.

“We now have an Indigenous middle class, working at all levels of government, the private sector, universities, and of course continuing to lead in the community sector,” said Anderson, who thinks this group will play a key role in the future of their people.

He also sees a role for new joined-up approaches to public administration, but believes “wicked problems” like Indigenous disadvantage can’t be solved by government alone; they require “the active participation of citizens” as well.

“We, as the Australian Public Service, have to do a damn sight better than we’re doing now.”

“We, as the Australian Public Service, have to do a damn sight better than we’re doing now.”

“The key to Indigenous disadvantage is not just what governments do, but what Indigenous people and communities do,” Anderson said, arguing public servants must create “an environment that helps solutions be found by a much wider range of actors”.

Regional planning in healthcare and the Empowered Communities initiative supported by PM&C were both good examples, he said. Government agencies would need to keep working collaboratively with Indigenous Australia “at a scale and depth we haven’t seen before” — and learn to share leadership and accountability in new ways that might be uncomfortable at first.

A new joined-up vision

Invoking the principle of subsidiarity, Anderson displayed his deep knowledge of the challenges of Indigenous affairs and set out a clear and comprehensive vision for how the federal and state governments could improve outcomes.

“The current approach to building the public sector Indigenous workforce is well past its use-by date,” he added later.

“It’s focusing only on entry-level programs and assumes a sort of trickle-up model that looks increasingly constrained, given the growing numbers of skilled and experienced Indigenous professionals working across … many sectors outside government.”

Martin Parkinson

The newly recruited deputy secretary, who will have a hand in a $10 million per year evaluation program, also spoke for the importance of rigorous evidence-based policy, using “high quality, granular data” to empower better regional and governmental decision-making.

“In the past, we have tended to rely too heavily on gut-feel and ideas that sound good but don’t have anything to back them up beyond their ability to generate enthusiasm,” said Anderson.

He thinks Australia has “one of the best Indigenous data collection systems in the world” but said data quality issues were common, especially for areas where Indigenous people are a tiny minority. Much of this is “not collated transparently, burying important information about Indigenous outcomes in population-wide trends and averages”.

In his admittedly “ambitious” vision for the future, the operating model is a “collaborative partnership” with Indigenous Australia, “founded on robust, accountable and professional working relationships” that feature shared decision-making and mutual accountability as core principles.

“At the same time, higher quality and more transparent data platforms will give us better tools for understanding the problems in our communities and Indigenous cohorts, measuring our successes and our failures and keeping ourselves accountable,” Anderson said.

“And on these foundations and the new capabilities and insight that will give, we will build an Indigenous policy system that is much more dynamic, much more responsive to diversity and innovation, and much better able to negotiate a place-based context, and create solutions with authority and with buy-in.”

‘Fire in the belly’

Anderson was followed by National Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisation CEO Patricia Turner, who in some ways represented the activist generation.

Pat Turner

Having worked in senior APS roles herself, she believes Aboriginal public servants still need a bit of “fire in the belly” and should constantly advocate for their people within the administration — because support for Closing the Gap within mainstream Australia is not guaranteed.

Indigenous affairs is not a top-order political issue among the general population, judging by its absence from recent debates. Turner reminded the audience that the Redfern Statement she helped launch during the last election was a direct response to this.

Turner argued for more targeted public service recruitment and mentoring to increase Indigenous representation at senior level, better engagement with Indigenous-led groups like NACCHO, and more collaboration between departments. She criticised the lack of progress towards Closing the Gap targets, questioning why they are not an explicit concern of every cabinet submission and calling on individual public servants to think about how they personally could contribute to achieving them.

Turner was followed by the architect of the Close the Gap targets, University of Canberra professor Tom Calma, who spent 45 years in the APS. Calma said the media often obscured the role of governments in Indigenous policy failures and suggested they were the fault of communities themselves.

Tom Calma

“Now this is not the case, and we need a better understanding of the role and effectiveness of the APS in Australian Indigenous affairs, and their consistent contribution to failure,” he said.

Calma also pointed to the financial and opportunity costs of machinery of government changes, pointing out there have been 21 different ministers for the portfolio in the past 50 years and 10 different administrative structures — nine of those within the past 30 years.

This had led to the same old ideas being recycled with little learning from the mistakes of the past, he said, fuelling a destructive cynicism and lethargy among those who had watched the government spin its bureaucratic wheels through several policy and MOG changes.

The full speeches — and the panel’s responses to pre-written questions asked by Department of Human Services secretary Kathryn Campbell, ACT Public Service head Kathy Leigh and Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews — are all worth listening to in the full video of the two-hour event.

A flurry of discussion, but where will it lead?

Held in partnership with the Institute of Public Administration Australia (ACT Division), the event was just one of many ways PM&C, as the current home of Indigenous affairs, is actively encouraging a discussion about the way forward. The department’s Indigenous affairs group has also partnered with the Australia New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) to deliver several more academic forums and publications this year.

The first, a discussion paper that also came out on Friday, considers “two constant underlying problems” that have persisted ever since the Commonwealth first set up an Indigenous affairs bureaucracy in 1967.

“They had to ask what government structure or instrument would be best suited to this effort,” Parkinson explained. “And they had to ask how best to bring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the national decision-making process.”

“They” were the original Council for Aboriginal Affairs set up shortly after the referendum, comprising inaugural Reserve Bank governor Herbert Cole “Nugget” Coombs, senior diplomat Barrie Dexter and the famous anthropologist William Stanner.

“50 years after Coombs’ original questions, I think those questions are as salient today as they were then,” said the PM&C secretary.

The event was also a moment to admit that in many ways, federal policymakers have struggled to work out what to do and where to stand with regard to Indigenous Australians for most of that 50 years.

“We, as PM&C, have to do better. But we, as the Australian Public Service, have to do a damn sight better than we’re doing now,” said Parkinson.

While the IA group in his department plays a leading a role, he said it only spends about 7% of funding for services directed to Indigenous Australians.

“The vast bulk of monies spent in this country actually rest in your hands and the hands of states and territories,” Parkinson said, with a line of federal secretaries seated front and centre.

“And ask yourself a question: do you pay enough attention to the impact of the policies that you design and you implement and you deliver on Indigenous Australians?

“And I think if you ask that question and you’re honest with yourself, the answer is pretty clear.”

Going back to first principles

Much of the progress that has occurred has come through protest, grass-roots activism and community organisations built by Indigenous people, as Turner reminded the audience. The years before the referendum were much darker times for Aborigines and, she recalled, the outcome of the vote was a joyous occasion.

“However, we have always had to fight for our basic rights as Aboriginal people, the original owners and occupiers of this land for some 60,000 years,” she added.

Turner had high praise for some of the past “giants of the APS” whose frank, impartial advice led to big nation-building projects and successful responses to national crises — and for the “bold vision of the future” set out by Coombs, Dexter and Stanner.

“Those three wise, white men did so much for my people in a short space of time,” she said, suggesting there might be value in revisiting some of the CAA”s “seminal” report.

“Today we can bear witness to the fact that very few professional public servants seek an entire career at the coal-face of Indigenous policy advice.”

It is up to all public servants, she said, to make sure their ministers hear “frank and fearless” advice on the “political hot potato” of Indigenous affairs that reflects the views of Aboriginal people “about the decisions made in government for them” and comes through their own representative organisations.

“In the past, we have tended to rely too heavily on gut-feel.”

“In the past, we have tended to rely too heavily on gut-feel.”

Turner believes in Indigenous self-determination and public servants using their positions to advocate for their people, in line with cultural expectations. She said doing this made her an “unusual” public servant who often challenged her superiors — but encouraged current public servants with an Indigenous background to do more or less the same.

Current policy targets a certain level of Indigenous representation in the APS generally, as a sign of fairness and diversity reflecting the population, while initiatives like special mentoring networks are being revived, but it’s not clear if or how public service leaders expect this to translate into more consideration of Indigenous perspectives, in a practical sense.

Meanwhile, the PM&C discussion paper reminds us that conservative views remain and, across the whole population, not everyone agrees that there should even be Indigenous-specific arms of government — or affirmative action to reverse “the lack of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices in the government executive and administration” for that matter.

Going all the way back to the questions Coombs wrestled with in 1967, the paper explains the other view is that governments should demand better outcomes for Indigenous Australians from all mainstream agencies as part of their normal work — not cast Indigenous people as a special class of citizens with special policies and special public servants to administer them.

“We may have created the opportunity in ’67 but we haven’t actually delivered on it.”

“We may have created the opportunity in ’67 but we haven’t actually delivered on it.”

As wise as those white men of the CAA were, it was also their view that Indigenous people should call the tune through their own organisations as soon as practical. 50 years later, it is still up to APS to figure out “the structural challenge that Nugget Coombs outlined” decades ago, according to Parkinson.

“One thing I am absolutely sure of is that setting the agenda for how we approach the second 50 years of Commonwealth public administration in Indigenous affairs is going to test our values,” he added.

“It’s going to test our technical expertise, and it’s going to test, importantly, our leadership — both our capacity to lead but more importantly, our willingness to lead. There’s no question; we have to do things differently.”

Parkinson’s closing comments reflect the current policy mantra to do things “with” Aboriginal people, not “to” them. But it is much easier to put this principle into words than into practice, although in Anderson, the department seems to have found someone who truly understands the challenges and can plot a realistic path forward.

“We will be asking Indigenous communities to step up, to take on leadership and to hold themselves accountable, but we, as public servants, also then have to let go,” Parkinson said.

Top image: Department of the Environment and Energy secretary and IPAA ACT president Gordon De Brouwer with the panellists and Martin Parkinson. All images by RLDI.

From #Mabo25 to #UluruStatement and #Treaty : Mabo Commemoration Oration : Senator Patrick Dodson

 ” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will continue to call for a treaty and a strong Indigenous voice if nothing is done.

These calls only highlight the need for constitutional reform.

Australia cannot move forward while our founding document, our birth certificate, embodies our racist past. The stubborn stains in our racist Constitution must be erased.

  • Eddie Koiki Mabo would expect nothing less.
  • Eddie Koiki Mabo was a great Australian.

We can find the Mabo spirit within each of us, and work together to build a great Australia, free from racism, honorable and just.”

Part 2

 “Last month at Uluru, in the spirit of constitutional conventions from which we had previously been excluded, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people gathered.

Their one page document, Uluru Statement from the Heart, issues a series of challenges to the Parliament and the people of Australia.

  • It calls for constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country.
  • It calls for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.
  • It calls for a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

A treaty or agreement, whether one or many, would be an acknowledgment flowing from the Mabo decision that terra nullius is a discredited, outmoded legal fiction and that this land was taken from Aboriginal people.”

Senator Patrick Dodson on June 16 delivered  this year’s 2017 ANU Mabo Commemoration Oration at University House. The Mabo Commemoration Oration was held to recognise the 25th anniversary of the Mabo ruling.

In June 1992, the High Court of Australia recognised that a group of Torres Strait Islanders, led by Eddie Mabo, held ownership of Mer (Murray Island). In acknowledging the traditional rights of the Meriam people to their land, the Court also held that native title existed for all Indigenous people. This landmark decision gave rise to important native title legislation the following year and rendered terra nullius a legal fiction.

Senator Patrick Dodson is a Yawuru man from Broome in Western Australia. He has dedicated his life work to being an advocate for constructive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples based on mutual respect, understanding and dialogue. He is a recipient of the Sydney International Peace prize

Image above : On display at Parliament House Canberra in a careful hand with coloured pencils, Eddie Mabo drew this map in the shape of the Island of Mer, noting the family names associated with tracts of the Island, including his own family name.

Full Oration

Thank you very much Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt and thank you for the Welcome to Country. I too join in the appreciation of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people for their welcome to their lands.

It is a great honour for me to be here at the Australian National University tonight to deliver a speech in honour of the late Eddie Koiki Mabo.

  • Mr Mabo was a man of history.
  • He celebrated his Mer and Torres Strait Islander history.
  • He made Australian history.

So it is to history that I will turn to start my remarks.

On 26 January 1788, the British flag was raised at Botany Bay.

The land, now part of the City of Sydney, was the territorial property of the Gadigal and Bidigal people of the Eora nation. It was held and looked after by them, for countless generations.

With a cheer and a tot of rum, to the sounds of fife and drums, the colony of New South Wales was proclaimed.

Over time, other colonies were established in other parts of Australia or by separation of their territory from New South Wales.

• Queensland was one of those.

Over time, the boundaries of the Queensland colony were stretched to include offshore northern islands around 1859.

The lines on the map between Papua New Guinea and Australia included the Murray Islands, the largest of which is Murray Island or Mer.

  • In 1912, the Island of Mer was declared a Reserve under the Land Act 1910 (Qld).
  • In 1936, Eddie Mabo was born in Mer.
  • In 1982, Eddie Koiki Mabo and four other Murray Islanders commenced proceedings against the State of Queensland.

They claimed ownership of parcels of land on Mer as the holders of native title under their customary law.

This litigation, bearing the name of the man we commemorate tonight, transformed the modern Australian common law.

• The case changed our History.

• For the good. On the first floor of our Parliament, I walk past a display of foundation documents of  Australia’s law and society.

This week I watched a group of school children walk through the area on their tours of Parliament House, under a banner that reads, “Parliament is the law-making body which determines the rules of the society by which people live.”

A couple of young boys were looking at a case where a page out of an old-school notebook was on display.

In a careful hand with coloured pencils, Eddie Mabo had drawn the shape of the Island of Mer, noting the family names associated with tracts of the Island, including his own family name.

On the same floor, there are other important documents and paintings on display: The Yirrkala bark petition, the Barunga petition, the Kevin Rudd apology.

Each of these artefacts talks to our most significant national historical challenge.

How can we recognise and acknowledge the fact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prior ownership of this land we now call Australia?

Mr Mabo’s map and the petitions call for all of us to recognise and acknowledge the fact  of occupation.

• to re-think the received colonial settler narrative. They remind us of the exertion of force by and on behalf of the British authorities.

  • The fact is: the British did not ask permission to settle.
  • The fact is: no-one consented, no-one ceded.
  • The fact is: the judiciary and the legislature have become less generous since The Mabo ruling.
  • The fact is: we need an agreement or treaty to settle not only the ongoing legacy of terra nullius but also the legacy of its existence.

The first peoples were in this land as owners and governors of their respective countries before and when the colonists ‘arrived’ and began to gradually occupy their territories and rule over them. Today those native title holders under the Native Title Act are evidence of their descent from their ancestors and are the living testimony of their prior occupation of their lands and waters.

They and their people proclaim continuing occupation. This land was not, and is not, terra nullius.

The only thing that threatens this is the application of extinguishment written into the Native Title Act. It is more sinister than its existence as a legal mechanism, because in most cases it requires the consent of the very people that hold the Native Title.

This is neither honourable, nor generous.

This is treachery and brings shame to the Mabo name. It belittles the vision and motives of Mr Mabo and the other families who fought and won a seminal victory in the High Court.

The Chief Justice of Australia who heard the Mabo case, Justice Sir Gerard Brennan made this determination on 3rd June 1992 :

  • The common law of Australia rejects the notion that, when the Crown acquired sovereignty over territory which is now part of Australia it thereby acquired the absolute beneficial ownership of the land therein, and
  • accepts that the antecedent rights and interests in land possessed by the indigenous inhabitants of the territory survived the change in sovereignty.
  • Those antecedent rights and interests thus constitute a burden on the radical title of the Crown.

His decision in the Mabo case ruled that:

• the Meriam people are entitled as against the whole world to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of the island of Mer.

Rejecting the notion of “terra nullius”, native title was found to have survived the acquisition of sovereignty.

Of course the High Court as an instrument of our Constitution cannot rule on the issue of sovereignty.

It took ten long years to resolve the Mabo claim. It is a poignant tragedy that Koiki Mabo did not live long enough to hear the decision of the High Court.

  • To celebrate the recognition of what he knew in his heart and mind to be the truth
  • His country was in Mer.

From our viewpoint in history, we see the Case that bears his name as a major landmark, a signpost for our future. But the road is long and at times the travelling is hard going.

The Mabo decision led to an eruption of controversy and alarm, in much of mainstream Australia.

Mabo was an affront to the security provided by the lie of terra nullius.

The Commonwealth Parliament, in 1993, under the Labor Government of Paul Keating, enacted the Native Title Act.

The Act sought to build on the common law as defined in the Mabo case.The integrity around this today raises serious questions.

In my own State of Western Australia, in which more than half of the land was legally unalienated and mineral rich, the Government objected. The State Parliament in Perth passed a law to extinguish native title from the moment of colonisation and challenged the Commonwealth Act.

The High Court upheld the validity of the Native Title Act and found the Western Australian law to be invalid.

On a personal note, that decision enabled the Yawuru people to pursue our own native title interests and reclaim our country. My brother Mick and I have good reason to be forever grateful to Koiki Mabo and his pioneering vision and courage.

Another major milestone took place in 1996. The High Court in the Wik case found that Native Title and pastoral leases could co-exist.

The pastoral leases were a feature of the colonial period, trying to reign in the peacocking of the best lands by squatters.

  • There was at least some consideration by the Colonial authorities of the rights of Aboriginal people to travel over the leases.
  • Such rights themselves became caveats on the pastoral lease until gradually modified.

The Wik case was a simple matter of concurrent and co-existing rights but with the Native Title rights yielding to the leaseholder if there is a conflict. The public reaction by some sectors was ill informed and disgraceful.

So the generosity of the Court already had begun to harden somewhat in the qualification they put on the notion of “concurrent and coexistent” rights.

The Government of Prime Minister John Howard, could have used this decision as a positive step, as an opportunity for advancing reconciliation.

The Howard “Ten Point Plan” led to the 1996 amendments to the Native Title Act, and in the words of his Deputy Tim Fischer, delivered ‘bucket-loads of extinguishment’.

That legislation was in my view intended to reinstate terra nullius or to remove what Justice Brennan called the ‘burden on the radical title of the Crown’.

As a sweetener they also delivered opportunity previously denied except under a statutory land rights Act.

They opened the opportunity for Agreement Making, which unfortunately is too often structurally tied to extinguishment. Indigenous Land Use Agreements could be negotiated under the Act whereby Native Title Holders and other parties could agree on the use of Native Title lands, for mutual benefit and economic development.

Far too often, the price of that opportunity has been too high, in my view, leading to the extinguishment of Native Title, forever and a day, leaving a lingering burden on the shoulders of the native title holders.

Nevertheless, hundreds of agreements have been negotiated and signed across the nation, especially in Queensland, but also in my state of Western Australia, where an ILUA Agreement for the Noongar people, had been hailed as a major landmark, a Treaty in all but name for the people of the South West.

In the Senate this week, the validation of Indigenous Land Use Agreements has been under debate. There is a tension between law-making in the Parliament, the decisions of the Courts and the aspirations of Aboriginal people to negotiate agreements that retain their rights.

The concept of separation of powers is not always empathetic to the sense of justice held by Aboriginal people.

The Noongar agreement came unstuck with the McGlade decision. With the recent amendments in the Parliament this Agreement will go back to the process of registration, for the Noongars to settle.

At every step, the Labor Party has pushed for consultation on these Bills, through a Senate Committee, through submissions and through consultations with representatives of the Native Title Representative bodies.

At every step, we have remembered the legacy of Koiki Mabo and understand the fact that Native Title rights, now recognised in the common law, should not be changed, extinguished or modified at the whim of Government.

They do not exist as a gift of the Parliament, or an act of largesse by the Government of the day.

Native Title rights are ongoing rights, with deep roots into our common law held exclusively by Native Title holders. Amending legislation should always require the ‘free, prior and informed consent of Native Title holders.

The Native Title Act, much amended over time, has evolved in complexity and function. Koiki Mabo would probably have some difficulty understanding how his vision has become brutalised by Parliament.

The Australian Law Reform Commission, in its 2015 review, Connection to Country, has identified key areas of reform that are yet to be implemented by the Government. Indeed, we still await a formal response from the Government to its recommendations.

From my own perspective, as a native title holder, and now as a legislator, I see five key areas where the functioning of the Act requires rework, not least to better align it to the vision of Eddie Koiki Mabo. These are, in summary:

  • The need to rethink the presumption that an Agreement for alternative uses of native title land requires extinguishment of native title rights;
  • The need to rethink the decision-making process required under the Act;
  • The need to improve the fungibility for native title land without needing extinguishment or loss of communal title;
  • The need to address the rights of compensation for the loss of enjoyment, access and use of Native Title lands.
  • The need to change the onus of proof burden from native title applicants to the Crown
  • The Native Title Act can be refashioned to shift the point of balance towards the ongoing rights, interest, needs and concerns of Indigenous Australians. Doing so would restore the Act to its fundamental purpose: to recognise and protect native title, in the interests of Indigenous Australians, and our shared national future.

Last month at Uluru, in the spirit of constitutional conventions from which we had previously been excluded, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people gathered.

They set out to deliberate and report back to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, through the Referendum Council, on Constitutional recognition.

Their one page document, Uluru Statement from the Heart, issues a series of challenges to the Parliament and the people of Australia.

  • It calls for constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country.
  • It calls for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.
  • It calls for a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

From a Parliamentary perspective, we look forward to the report on those consultations from the Referendum Council at the end of the month. Hopefully working through these issues in the Parliament, in the time ahead, will take place in the spirit of constructive optimism.

To formulate a successful referendum outcome, especially in the next year a bipartisan, indeed, cross party consensus will need to be carefully shaped.

In my personal view, Constitutional reform, a treaty and a strong Indigenous voice have never been mutually exclusive—one does not come at the expense of the others.

• Of course I support an Agreement making process

A treaty or agreement, whether one or many, would be an acknowledgment flowing from the Mabo decision that terra nullius is a discredited, outmoded legal fiction and that this land was taken from Aboriginal people.

It would also pick up the opportunity that was lost when the Native Title negotiations focused solely upon land tenure.

I have never held the view that Mabo was only about land tenure. In fact when my views clashed with the then negotiators I was asked to discontinue any involvement in the process and dutifully left it to those who settled the issues with Prime Minister Keating.

There was no treaty when this land was colonized. In the future a treaty will be a strong step for a mature and harmonious nation. The work of Labor Governments in our States of Victoria and South Australia show it can be done.

Of course we need a strong Indigenous voice.

For too long Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been denied a voice, excluded from decision making processes about their own lives.

Indigenous people want to reset our relationship with government.

  • We want to be heard.
  • We have been calling for this for a long time.

Working to make a Voice effective within the processes of Parliament and capable of support from the whole Australian population in a referendum is a key challenge. A challenge Labor will consider carefully.

We look forward to more information on how the idea of an entrenched Voice can become a systemic, secure and successful legislative reality.

• We need to address the systemic racism that exists in our nation’s founding document, Australia’s Constitution.

We want our past to be acknowledged and we want to be involved in decisions about our future.

The Uluru Statement called for a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution and a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First nations and truth-telling about our history.

Many rejected the  idea of any ‘symbolic’ acknowledgement in what they saw as a racist document, the  Constitution.

This may well have been a statement from the heart.

It is time we acknowledged that Indigenous people were not included in the Constitutional Conventions that were held all over Australia in the lead up to Federation.

The Australian Constitution was written by people who thought Indigenous people were lesser beings; a dying race with no sense of land use and development.

  • The dynamic of racism in Australia is institutional and it is structural.
  • The foundations of racism are entrenched, persistent, in this nation’s founding  document.

The question we need to work through is not about choosing between a treaty, a voice or constitutional recognition.

The question is whether Australia is able to move forward towards reconciliation —be that in the form of a Treaty, or an Indigenous voice enshrined in the Constitution —while the nation’s foundation document remains, in its DNA, a flawed and racist document.

I understand this because I was a member of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians, which was tasked to report to the Government on possible options for constitutional change to give effect to indigenous constitutional recognition and to assess any legal consequence that might flow.

In 2012, the Expert Panel delivered our report , which made a series of recommendations including:

  • a statement of acknowledgment in the Constitution, relevant to the lawmaking power in indigenous affairs (new Section 51 A);
  • a modification to the wording of the Commonwealth’s lawmaking power in

Indigenous affairs (s 51 (26);

  • a constitutional prohibition on racial discrimination (new S 116A); and
  • the removal of a provision that contemplates states disqualifying people from voting based on their race (s 25).

These recommendations recognise that the Government has the power to make laws about Indigenous people, but the laws must be beneficial and give the Parliament guidance.

It would be a mistake to consider this constitutional reform as merely ‘symbolic’.

Nothing about our Constitution is symbolic. There is not even a preamble that could point us to something symbolic.

The words in the Constitution reference powers that the Parliament uses to make laws.

They are words with real power. They are words that guide the Parliament in making laws and the Courts when they judge the validity of those laws.

Changing powers in the Constitution and giving clarification around how such powers can be used is not mere symbolism, “pretty words”.

Having an Indigenous voice enshrined in the Constitution, without amending the Constitution to remove racially entrenched ideologies, is puzzling.

It seems to assume that an Indigenous voice in the Constitution could be strong enough to challenge the entrenched structural racism which shapes the policies and laws that affect the lives of Aboriginal people without removing the racist elements of the Constitution.

We know these policies and laws. They are the policies of assimilation, of forced social and cultural change. These are the policies that continue to remove Aboriginal people from their families, country and culture.

These are the policies that have caused Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to  make up approximately one quarter of Australia’s prison population, despite making up  just 3 per cent of the total population.

These are the policies which have led to Indigenous Australians dying a decade earlier than non-Indigenous Australians.

  • Policies that repeatedly fail Aboriginal people.
  • Policies that Koiki Mabo challenged with his life and would do so today if he were alive.

It is no coincidence that these policies exist alongside a constitution that is the legacy of a colonial settler narrative, a narrative that saw Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people as lesser beings and Australia as a land belonging to nobody. If we are going to clean up the mess that racism has made in Australia, in the hope that we might one day achieve reconciliation, we have to do it properly and honorably.

The report of the Referendum Council at the end of this month deserves and requires weighty consideration. If the Referendum Council’s recommendations do not get broad parliamentary support it will fail and there will be no referendum.

If there is broad support then, it requires careful consideration of a Bill and Explanatory Memorandum that can pass through this challenging and complicated parliament.

It requires a question that can be put to the Australian people that will pass the high bar of a referendum.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will continue to call for a treaty and a strong Indigenous voice if nothing is done.

These calls only highlight the need for constitutional reform.

Australia cannot move forward while our founding document, our birth certificate, embodies our racist past. The stubborn stains in our racist Constitution must be erased.

  • Eddie Koiki Mabo would expect nothing less.
  • Eddie Koiki Mabo was a great Australian.

We can find the Mabo spirit within each of us, and work together to build a great Australia, free from racism, honorable and just.

Kaliya. Thank you.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Priorities : 1st Anniversary of the #RedfernStatement

 

” One year ago today, Aboriginal leaders marked the Redfern Speech by launching the Redfern Statement, which asked governments to re-engage with Australia’s first peoples in a meaningful and constructive way to deal with the appalling health and social conditions experienced by far too many of Australia’s First Peoples.

The Redfern Statement was initially created as an election manifesto but our determination now is for it to become a roadmap for positive and effective engagement between Aboriginal peoples and Governments.”

The co-chairs of the National Congress of Austraia’s First Peoples, Dr Jackie Huggins and Mr Rod Little pictured above with NACCHO CEO Pat Turner June 9 2016 ( See First Peoples Health Priorities below )

The Redfern Statement

Download the 18 Page document here

Redfern Statement June 2016 Elections 18 Pages

First Peoples call for urgent action to tackle home-grown poverty

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Redfern Speech by Prime Minister Paul Keating, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders from peak representative organisations are calling on Australian governments at all levels to redouble their efforts to address the unacceptable poverty and disadvantage experienced by Australia’s First Peoples.

The co-chairs of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, Dr Jackie Huggins and Mr Rod Little, said mounting evidence suggests that Australia is failing to meet the ‘Close the Gap’ targets. Despite this, governments are still unwilling to make the necessary commitments to bring about positive change.

“We are after an improved relationship with Federal, State and Territory Governments. We acknowledge the work that has been done to date however we can no longer afford to wait a generation for the change that is necessary now for our people”.

“Far too many First Peoples attend funerals of young and middle-aged people. This is because the Government’s Closing the Gap targets are failing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as shown by the latest 2017 report,” the co-chairs said.

“We are seeking a new relationship with the Federal, State and Territory Governments through COAG, to bring about a paradigm shift that stops the policy drift and amnesia which has impacted negatively on Australia’s First People.”

“We want to engage with Federal, State and Territory Governments in a positive way to develop an enduring framework which would feed into the 2018 Federal Budget and the COAG Closing the Gap Policy”.

The Redfern Statement outlined how the many reports released since 1992 called for real reconciliation based on facing the truths of the past and creating a just and mature relationship between the non-Indigenous Australian community and the First Peoples. But today, First Peoples face the same struggles as they did in 1992.

55 leaders met  9th of June 2016, in Redfern where in 1992 Prime Minister Paul Keating spoke truth about this nation – that the disadvantage faced by First Peoples affects and is the responsibility of all Australians.

An urgent call for a more just approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs

“When we drafted the Redfern Statement we wanted to remind the nation of Prime Minister Keating’s historic Redfern Speech in 1992, which spoke so many truths about our history and the reality we face today,” the co-chairs said.

“The Federal Government and each of the State and Territory Governments, share responsibility to right this nation’s past injustices. The current Government has an unprecedented nation-building opportunity to meaningfully address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. They have the mandate to act”

First Peoples Health Priorities

Closing the Gap in health equality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians is an agreed national priority. The recognised necessity and urgency to close the gap must be backed by meaningful action.

All parties contesting the 2016 Federal Election must place Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs at the heart of their election platforms, recognising the health equality as our national priority.

Despite the regular upheaval of major policy changes, significant budget cuts and changes to Government in the short election cycles at all levels, we have still managed to see some encouraging improvements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes. But much remains to be achieved and as we move into the next phase of Closing the Gap, enhanced program and funding support will be required.

We appeal to all political parties to recommit to Closing the Gap and to concentrate efforts in the priority areas in order to meet our goal of achieving health equality in this generation.

We call on the next Federal Government to commit to:

  1. Restoration of funding

The 2014 Federal Budget was a disaster for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This is not an area where austerity measures will help alleviate the disparity in health outcomes for Australia’s First Peoples.

The current funding for Aboriginal health services is inequitable. Funding must be related to population or health need, indexed for growth in service demand or inflation, and needs to be put on a rational, equitable basis to support the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (2013–2023).

  1. Fund the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (2013–2023)

Future Budgets must adequately resource the Implementation Plan’s application and operation. As a multi-partisan supported program, the Implementation Plan is essential for driving progress towards the provision of the best possible outcomes from investment in health and related services.

  1. Make Aboriginal Community Controlled Services (ACCHS) the preferred providers

ACCHS should be considered the ‘preferred providers’ for health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Where there is no existing ACCHS in place, capacity should be built within existing ACCHS to extend their services to the identified areas of need. This could include training and capacity development of existing services to consider the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health strategy to self-fund new services. Where it is appropriate for mainstream providers to deliver a service, they should be looking to partner with ACCHS to better reach the communities in need.

  1. Create guidelines for Primary Health Networks

The next Federal Government should ensure that the Primary Health Networks (PHNs) engage with ACCHS and Indigenous health experts to ensure the best primary health care is delivered in a culturally safe manner. There should be mandated formal agreements between PHNs and ACCHS to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership.

  1. Resume indexation of the Medicare rebate, to relieve profound pressure on ACCHS

The pausing of the Medicare rebate has adversely and disproportionately affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their ability to afford and access the required medical care. The incoming Federal Government should immediately resume indexation of Medicare to relieve the profound pressure on ACCHS.

  1. Reform of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy

The issues with the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) are well known. The recent Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee Report into the tendering processes highlighted significant problems with the IAS programme from application and tendering to grant selection and rollout.

The next Federal Government must fix the IAS as an immediate priority and restore the funding that has been stripped from key services through the flawed tendering process.

  1. Fund an Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy encompasses Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ holistic view of mental health, as well as physical, cultural and spiritual health, and has an early intervention focus that works to build strong communities through more community-focused and integrated approaches to suicide prevention.

The Strategy requires a considered Implementation Plan with Government support to genuinely engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, their organisations and representative bodies to develop local, culturally appropriate strategies to identify and respond to those most at risk within our communities.

  1. Develop a long-term National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Determinants of Health Strategy

The siloed approach to strategy and planning for the issues that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face is a barrier to improvement. Whilst absolutely critical to closing the gap, the social determinants of health and wellbeing – from housing, education, employment and community support – are not adequately or comprehensively addressed.

The next Federal Government must prioritise the development of a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Determinants of Health Strategy that takes a broader, holistic look at the elements to health and wellbeing for Australia’s First Peoples. The Strategy must be developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through their peak organisations.

Please note the balance of document can be read here

Redfern Statement June 2016 Elections 18 Pages

Aboriginal Health #Redfernstatement : First Peoples #RSDisability Network workshops #WeHaveTheSolutions

” By any measure, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability are among some of the most disadvantaged Australians often facing multiple barriers to their meaningful participation within their own communities and the wider community. Meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability is one the most critical social justice issues in Australia today.

The prevalence of disability among Aboriginal and Torres Islander people is significantly higher than that of the general population.

There is a significant opportunity to address the disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability in coming years.”

The time has come to revisit our 10 point plan and update it in light of the ongoing rollout of the NDIS and the changing disability sector. The ten-point plan must apply to all First Peoples with disability as many will not be eligible for the NDIS.”

First Peoples Disability Network is the peak organisation representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with disability will be meeting in Sydney today with the Redfern Statement members including Congress ( Represented by Rod Little, Gary Oliver and Jackie Huggins ) and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) represented by Dawn Casey.

Download this document in a PDF

The Redfern Statement – Disability Workshop Statement FPDN FINAL

Then there will be a National Conference at the end of the month

 

FPDN’s vision is a just and inclusive society, in which First Peoples living with disability are respected and valued for their culture, history and contribution to contemporary life, and in which their human rights are recognised, respected, protected and fulfilled. First Peoples Disability Network is governed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with disability. FPDN is a member of the Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO) alliance.

The Redfern Statement

The Redfern Statement was released during last year’s Federal Election campaign on 9 June 2016 by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders from health, justice, children and families, disability, and family violence prevention sectors.

The statement calls for changes across these sectors through structured engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and is supported by more than 30 major mainstream organisations including the Australian Medical Association and Law Council.

It includes the following recommendations for disability:

1. Work to address intersectional discrimination

2. Equitable access to the NDIS by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

3. Establish disability access targets as part of the Closing the Gap framework and the NDIS Quality Assurance and Outcomes framework

4. Invest in research and development to build an evidence-base of data

5. Address the imprisonment rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a cognitive or psychosocial disability

6. Fund training and community leadership initiatives

Introduction

By any measure, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability are among some of the most disadvantaged Australians often facing multiple barriers to their meaningful participation within their own communities and the wider community. Meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability is one the most critical social justice issues in Australia today.

The prevalence of disability among Aboriginal and Torres Islander people is significantly higher than that of the general population.

There is a significant opportunity to address the disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability in coming years. The disability sector is going through substantial change and reform, due to the National Disability Strategy (NDS) and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and associated sector reforms.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with disability have limited access to services and supports for a range of reasons. A specific strategy targeting the key challenges is required to ensure that the disability support system is accessible and responsive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability and their families.

This strategy must build the capacity of individuals with disability and their families, and the disability support system. A specific strategy mitigates the risk of entrenching and exacerbating the disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability and their families.

This workshop aims to identify and document solutions and to produce a 10-point plan that provides clear recommendations.

Snapshot of Policy Framework

National Disability Strategy

The National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 provides an overarching national policy approach to improving access to support services and social outcomes for people living with disability, their families and carers. It was endorsed by COAG in 2011.

There are six priority areas under the National Disability Strategy:

  • Inclusive and accessible communities – including the physical environment, transport, communications, social and cultural life.
  • Rights protection, justice and legislation – including anti-discrimination, interaction with justice systems
  • Economic security – including employment, income support
  • Personal and community support – including provision of disability support services
  • Learning and skills – including early childhood, education (all levels)
  • Health and wellbeing – access to health, interaction between the health and disability services.

There is an action item under the National Disability Strategy for the development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Action Plan, which the Australian Government has been progressing, in consultation with FPDN and other disability organisations, for some time.

Closing the Gap Framework

Historically disability has been inappropriately included as a health issue. The Redfern Statement Leadership has acknowledged the importance of delineating disability from health.

This outdated approach to disability is referred to as the medical model of disability, where the focus is diagnosis.

The contemporary understanding of disability is the social model of disability which interprets disability as a product of social and environmental attitudes and responses to impairment.

‘Disability’ has the status of ‘Headline indicator’ under the Closing the Gap Framework, together with chronic diseases. This means that when there is a section on disability in Government service reports thereis a relatively narrow focus, often upon particular disability types such as the known incidence of psychical and sensory impairments.

There is no Closing the Gap target for disability. This means that there is no concentrated policy focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disability, supported by a national partnership agreement.

In 2012, First Peoples Disability Network was invited by the Government to be involved in the development of a Closing the Gap target for disability. A target of 90% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people eligible for the NDIS to have access to the Scheme was recommended. This is yet to be included in the framework.

NDIS – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Strategy

The NDIS will provide about 460,000 Australians under the age of 65 with a permanent and significant disability with the reasonable and necessary supports they need to live an ordinary life.

As an insurance scheme, the NDIS takes a lifetime approach, investing in people with disability early to improve their outcomes later in life.

The NDIS helps people with disability to:

Access mainstream services and supports

Access community services and supports

Maintain informal support arrangements

Receive reasonable and necessary funded supports

In late 2015, FPDN and other disability organisations consulted with the NDIA to produce an engagement strategy for the implementation of the NDIS in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This was released in March 2017.

The NDIS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Strategy document is intended as a guide to NDIA staff on the respectful engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly on cultural dimensions to understanding disability and respect for ways of doing business in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

It is not a comprehensive integrated strategy to improve access to the NDIS by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Disability and Justice

There have been several Inquiries by both Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments on cognitive disability and mental health in the justice system e.g. Senate Community Affairs References Committee Inquiry into the Indefinite detention of people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment in Australia (2015-2016), Review of the West Australian Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Accused) Act 1996 (2014-2016), Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (2016-), or Indigenous incarcerations e.g. see Australian

Law Reform Commission inquiry into the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (2016-).

The limitations of these Inquiries are:

A focus on judicial processes and client support, so the social issues and ‘downstream’ determinants such disability which lead to the poor justice outcomes are outside the scope of such inquiries;

They don’t acknowledge or address the intersectional impact of Aboriginality and disability.

Disability and Health

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan – Implementation Plan contains a linkage objective to disability, without listing any specific activities or initiatives. Recent consultations on the Implementation Plan by the Department of Health do not include disability as a social determinant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

The National Health Performance Framework contains a very short reference to disability, although there has been no engagement with Health Department from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disability sector on the content and analysis.

The Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Action Plan focuses on efforts to finalise and disseminate the National FASD Diagnostic Tool, and prevention of FASD.

Disability and Education

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy, endorsed by Education Ministers in September 2015, has no specific reference or strategies to address to the intersectional impact of disability on education outcomes.

The changing disability sector

The introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has the potential to deliver significant improvements and aims to give people with disability, who qualify for the scheme, access to ‘an ordinary life’.

The national discussion around disability, supports and disability rights that has ensued has highlighted the existing gaps in access to services and supports and infrastructure that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face.

Closing these gaps must be part of the rollout of the scheme and the associated sector changes to achieve the equitable rollout of the scheme, and ensure equitable access to services and supports for people not eligible for the scheme.

The following key issues must be strategically addressed:

Information and communication failures

Inability to engage with volition-based models of disability support

Lack of disability supports in remote areas

Lack of cultural competence in mainstream disability support services

Lack of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific services

Lack of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disability support staff

Responding to these challenges

Without specific community and service development strategies targeted at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population groups and communities, national the disability reforms will do little if anything, to address the aggravated disadvantage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with disability and their families.

A national implementation strategy addressed at these challenges is required

This national strategy ought to include at least the following components:

A dedicated, continuing, communication strategy based on direct outreach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and their communities utilising culturally sensitive materials and culturally appropriate/competent communication methods.

Active linking of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with disability and their families with NDIS implementation agencies and services.

Culturally specific individual advocacy support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with disability and their families.

Capacity-building of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with disability and their families in relation to person-centred services and self-directed supports.

Development and dissemination of good practice culturally appropriate models of person centred, self-directed disability support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with disability and their families.

Culturally specific systemic advocacy oversight of NDIS implementation to provide early warning of emerging difficulties and propose solutions;

Sustained cultural competence training and other capacity building for mainstream disability support services in relation to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with disability.

Development and dissemination of good practice culturally appropriate models of remote service delivery.

A recruitment, qualification, professional development, retention and career development strategy targeted at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders entering the disability sector.

Capacity-building of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service delivery organisations to provide disability support services under the NDIS.

It is essential that this proposed national implementation strategy is developed and implemented in close consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with disability and their families, and with their representative groups.

The establishment of a national advisory structure comprised of appropriate representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with disability and family members would be one key means of achieving this.

It is also essential that, as far as practicable, this strategy is led and implemented by appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific organisations, including the First Peoples Disability Network (Australia). This is key to the strategy being viewed as legitimate by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with disability.

#WeHaveTheSolutions

Four years ago, FPDN launched its ten-point plan for the implementation of the NDIS in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities at Parliament House, Canberra.

The time has come to revisit the plan and update it in light of the ongoing rollout of the NDIS and the changing disability sector. The ten-point plan must apply to all First Peoples with disability as many will not be eligible for the NDIS.

 

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 #Redfernstatement Parliamentary Event @Congressmob Invite 14 February

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Background to the Redfern Statement

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55 leaders met today  9th of June 2016, in Redfern where in 1992 Prime Minister Paul Keating spoke truth about this nation – that the disadvantage faced by First Peoples affects and is the responsibility of all Australians.

Photo above NACCHO CEO Pat Turner addressing the national media

An urgent call for a more just approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs

“Social justice is what faces you in the morning. It is awakening in a house with adequate water supply, cooking facilities and sanitation. It is the ability to nourish your children and send them to school where their education not only equips them for employment but reinforces their knowledge and understanding of their cultural inheritance. It is the prospect of genuine employment and good health: a life of choices and opportunity, free from discrimination.”

Mick Dodson, Annual Report of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, 1993.

The Redfern Statement

Download the 18 Page document here

Redfern Statement June 2016 Elections 18 Pages

Redfern Statement

A call for urgent Government action

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Human Rights : Nomination open 2017 National Indigenous #HumanRights Awards

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 ” The National Indigenous Human Rights Awards recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons who have made significant contribution to the advancement of human rights and social justice for their people.”

The awards were established in 2014, and will held annually. The inaugural awards were held at NSW Parliament House, and were welcomed by the Hon Linda Burney, MP and included key note speakers Dr Yalmay Yunupingu, Ms Gail Mabo, and Mr Anthony Mundine. A number of other distinguished guests such as political representatives, indigenous leaders and others in the fields of human rights and social justice also attended.

The Awards were presented by leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders, and leading Indigenous figures in Indigenous Social Justice and Human Rights. All recipients of the National Human Rights Award will be persons of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage.

To nominate someone for one of the three awards, please go to https://shaoquett.wufoo.com/forms/z4qw7zc1i3yvw6/
 
For further information, please also check out the Awards Guide at https://www.scribd.com/document/336434563/2017-National-Indigenous-Human-Rights-Awards-Guide

AWARD CATEGORIES:

 

DR YUNUPINGU AWARD – FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
 
To an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of Human Rights for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. Dr Yunupingu is the first Aboriginal from Arnhem Land to achieve a university degree. In 1986 Dr Yunupingu formed Yothu Yindi in 1986, combining Aboriginal (Yolngu) and non-Aboriginal (balanda) musicians and instrumentation.

In 1990 was appointed as Principal of Yirrkala Community School, Australia’s first Aboriginal Principal. Also in that year he established the Yothu Yindi Foundation to promote Yolngu cultural development, including Garma Festival of Traditional Cultures Dr Yumupingu was named 1992 Australian of the Year for his work in building bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across Australia.

THE EDDIE MABO AWARD FOR ACHIEVEMENTS IN SOCIAL JUSTICE

In memory of Eddie Koiki Mabo (1936-1992), this award recognises an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of Social Justice for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Eddie Koiki Mabo was a Torres Straits Islander, most notable in Australian history for his role in campaigning for indigenous land rights.

From 1982 to 1991 Eddie campaigned for the rights of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to have their land rights recognised. Sadly, he died of cancer at the age of 56, five months before the High Court handed down its landmark land rights decision overturning Terra Nullius. He was 56 when he passed away.

THE ANTHONY MUNDINE AWARD FOR COURAGE

 

To an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of sports among Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Anthony Mundine is an Australian professional boxer and former rugby league player. He is a former, two-time WBA Super Middleweight Champion, a IBO Middleweight Champion, and an interim WBA Light Middleweight Champion boxer and a New South Wales State of Origin representative footballer. Before his move to boxing he was the highest paid player in the NRL.

In 2000 Anthony was named the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Person of the Year in 2000. He has also won the Deadly Award as Male Sportsperson of the Year in 2003, 2006 and 2007 amongst others.

He has a proud history of standing up for Indigenous peoples, telling a journalist from the Canberra Times: “I’m an Aboriginal man that speaks out and if I see something, I speak the truth.”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: @AMSANTaus and Redfern #ACCHO welcomes @KenWyattMP appointment

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Aboriginal medical services have proved the longevity of Aboriginal people, so we need the bigger spread and more Aboriginal medical services probably in the next 5-10 years.

We probably need another 100 to 150 Aboriginal medical services throughout the whole country, in cities and remote communities as well, so we’ll be pressuring Ken to make available more funds for the establishment of Aboriginal Medical Services.”

Sol Bellear AM, Chair  of the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern

It’s absolutely critical, we need people who understand our health and wellbeing and some of the important illnesses Aboriginal people get that say their non-Aboriginal counterparts don’t,

We have every confidence in Minister Wyatt, he has the experiences, the necessary qualifications, and the contacts and understanding, particularly with his expertise and knowledge having worked in Indigenous health in his past career.

He also knows a lot of leaders around the country and he knows where to get the correct information if he requires it, and we’re certainly willing, ready and able to help him if he requires it and calls upon us.”

AMSANT’S Executive Officer, John Paterson, explained it’s extremely important the minister for Indigenous Health is Indigenous.

The Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory are pleased to have Ken Wyatt as the new Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health, but have called for improvement.

Ken Wyatt was appointed yesterday as the Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health after a cabinet reshuffle brought about by the resignation of Susan Ley.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Mr Wyatt’s previous experience as a bureaucrat within the Indigenous Health area makes him an ideal appointment to role.

Sol Bellear AM, Chair  of the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, acknowledged Minister Wyatt’s long commitment to Indigenous health, but also recognised there is always room for improvement.

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VIEW recent NITV NACCHOTV interview with Sol Bellear

These comments from the Indigenous medical community have not been lost on the first ever Indigenous Federal Minister, who has already called for a new approach to addressing the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Mr Wyatt says it will take a whole of government approach to create lasting change.

Mr Wyatt  told the ABC:

“There’s this construct around Aboriginal health that is based on Aboriginal Community-controlled health services and organisations and specific programs that have been funded by the Commonwealth.

But if we’re truly serious, then what we should be doing is saying, ‘alright, how does the health sector, including all the ACCHOs then tackle this issue collectively to make sure that 800 thousand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country have their health conditions improved?… the levels of, and prevalence rates of certain illnesses, tackled in a way that sees a reduction?”

AMSANT Lending a helping hand

AMSANT has been working on creating programs that tackle mental health issues, with a particular focus on intergenerational trauma.

Mr Paterson said he wants to meet with the minister as soon as possible, to present AMSANT’s research and get government support to start implementing the programs.

“We’ve done enough research, now it’s about implementation and action and that’s where we want to encourage governments,” he said.

“We have two experienced psychologists, one Indigenous psychologist, that have been working and looking at all different models overseas and internationally and we believe there are a couple of models that could be implemented in our Aboriginal communities here in our nation,” he said.

“There’s plenty of data and plenty of information, all we require is a willingness of governments and ministers to put the appropriate resources in that area.”

He added that tackling intergenerational trauma in communities could start to change the face of First Nations health entirely.

“You’ll see an increase in children’s attendance at school, their confidence, their general health and wellbeing, and you’ll see people having the confidence to approach issues that they may have been reserved or hesitant about in the past,” The Executive Officer said.

“This underlying trauma and stress that families have experienced because of whatever reasons you know – government policy back in the day, the stolen generation, the removal of kids, you know some families have never ever had some of those experiences treated,” he continued.

“And you can see it being played out now so we really need to focus and invest in some wrap around programs and the right counsellors and psychologists for those families and individuals that are experiencing this intergenerational trauma and stress.

“There is a way forward here and there is a process that can help tackle the underlying issues that many of us still face.”

Paterson said he also wants to talk to Minister Wyatt about ensuring specialist services are available in the NT, that Aboriginal Australians stop dying years earlier than their non-Aboriginal counterparts, and that preventative programs are implemented to tackle chronic diseases.

NACCHO #Health Press Release : #AIHW reveals the extent of the health crisis facing Aboriginal communities

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“In a wealthy country such as Australia, I am appalled by the unacceptable gap in the health of Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people.  More than one-third (37%) of the diseases or illness experienced by Aboriginal people are preventable.

“We need to act before another generation of young Aboriginal people have to live with avoidable diseases and die far too young.

If we are serious about turning this crisis around we need sustained investment in evidence-based programs for Aboriginal people, by Aboriginal people, through Aboriginal community controlled health services –  a model we know works.

Matthew Cooke Chair of NACCHO pictured above with Vice Chair Sandy Davies 

New figures show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience ill health at more than double that of non-Indigenous Australians.

The peak Aboriginal health organisation, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) said the report highlights the urgent need for a rethink on actions to address the already known and growing crisis in Aboriginal health.

The report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released today shows Aboriginal Australians experience a burden of disease at 2.3 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians.

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Download the report aihw-australian-burden-of-disease-study

NACCHO Chair, Matthew Cooke, said it is the first ever in-depth study of the scale of disease in Indigenous communities.

See AIHW Press Release

“It’s given us a clearer picture of the real impact for Aboriginal communities of poor health in terms of years of health lives lost, quality of life and wellbeing and what the risks factors really are,” Mr Cooke said.

“It’s shown that we still have a massive challenge to address the overwhelming level of non-fatal burden in mental health in particular – which makes up 43 per cent of non-fatal illness in men and 35 per cent of these conditions in women.

The AIHW report found that injuries, including suicide, heart disease and cancer are the biggest causes of death in Aboriginal people. Levels of diabetes and kidney disease are five and seven times higher in Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people.

Mr Cooke said the report must trigger a rethink on how health programs are funded and delivered to Aboriginal people.

“The risk factors causing health problems include tobacco use, alcohol use, high body mass, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high blood glucose and dietary factors – all of which can be addressed with the right programs on the ground and delivered by the right people.

“All levels of government should urgently act on this evidence; we need to see these findings translated into programs, policies and funding priorities that are proven to work. Too many programs aimed at addressing Aboriginal health are still fragmented, out of touch with local communities, unaffordable or inaccessible.

“If we are serious about turning this crisis around we need sustained investment in evidence-based programs for Aboriginal people, by Aboriginal people, through Aboriginal community controlled health services –  a model we know works.”

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