NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Climate change and First Nations health

The image in the feature tile is from the Croakey Health Media article Governments urged to act on greenwashing, as COP27 puts spotlight on health and climate justice published on Thursday 10 November 2022.

Climate change and First Nations health

Many of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (more commonly referred to as Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, or COP27) events are putting a focus on climate justice and health-related issues, including air pollution, extreme heat, effective climate and health communications, food insecurity, the role of psychology, disaster responses, and the experiences of countries in building climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems.

First Nations people, academics and representatives of Doctors for the Environment Australia and the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) are attending COP27, including proud Gumbaynggirr nyami woman Amba-Rose Atkinson, from the mid-north coast of NSW. Ms Atkinson said “I join the largest contingent of First Nations Peoples from all over the world, to advocate and fight for Country. Representation is an important first step; however, we must now strive for an empowered voice and the redistribution of asymmetric power structures. It is time global leaders and governments recognise that First Nations Peoples and Knowledges are powerful solution-oriented forces that need to be heard, respected and empowered, for the benefit of Country and all the biodiversity that exists within Country.”

Ms Atkinson referred to the work Professor Kerry Arabena, a proud Meriam woman from the Torres Strait Islands, “who has written about how destroying the relationship between First Nations peoples and Country destroys our holistic health and wellbeing; Country is our life source, we are inextricably linked to Country, and Country to us. My presence in Egypt is to uphold these teachings and advocate alongside many other First Nations peoples and reinforce the message, now is the time to act!”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Governments urged to act on greenwashing, as COP27 puts spotlight on health and climate justice in full click here.

Gumbaynggirr nyami Amba-Rose Atkinson joins First Nations Peoples from around the world in Eqypt for COP27. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Powerful 2022 Dr Charles Perkins Oration

As the world watches COP27 negotiations, it’s timely that Larissa Baldwin-Roberts, a Widjabul Wia-bul woman from the Bundjalung Nations, and longstanding campaigner for climate justice has delivered the 2022 Dr Charles Perkins Oration at the University of Sydney. In a wide-ranging address Ms Baldwin-Roberts paid tribute to generations of First Nations activists and community mobilisers, and urged support for a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.

She said: “If you want to understand how to deal with the climate crisis, we must first situate ourselves within an Indigenous worldview. To do that, we need to be thinking about three generations behind you, and three generations in front of you. Make decisions that will benefit the people in front of you, and take lessons from the people behind you. Governments can’t do that, but the leadership from our communities can.”

Ms Baldwin-Roberts wants the wider Australian community to recognise the crises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face, not just climate, but the issues with housing, guns in remote communities, over-policing, deaths in custody, health. She said people need to understand that breadth of context.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Powerful oration builds on legacy of Dr Charles Perkins with a vision for climate justice, accountable governments and community leadership in full click here.

RACGP Top End visit ‘important step’

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) leaders have joined NT General Practice Education (NTGPE) representatives on a four-day of the Top End in an effort to strengthen long-term training in the region and find solutions for rural and remote GP shortages. RACGP President-Elect Dr Nicole Higgins and Vice President Dr Bruce Willett are part of a group that will meet with doctors and other health professionals, as well as traditional owners, Aboriginal Elders and key local figures, in seven different NT remote communities from 7–10 November 2022.

Dr Higgins told newsGP it has been a ‘humbling privilege’ to visit the communities and meet with the lands’ traditional owners and gain first-hand experience of the region’s healthcare challenges. “They have welcomed the RACGP as the new mob who will be delivering GP training in their communities,’ she said. ‘We have also met with registrars, supervisors and the teams that support them – cultural mentors and educators, remote nurses and practice staff. We have listened and they have been heard.”

To view the newsGP article RACGP Top End visit an ‘important step’ in full click here.

RACGP President Elect Dr Nicole Higgins and Vice President Dr Bruce Willett during their visit to remote communities in the NT. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Koories need radiotherapy too

NSW’s New Chief Cancer Officer, Professor Tracey O’Brien, is visiting Southern NSW Local Health District (LHD). Professor O’Brien said of her visit “NSW is recognised as a global leader in cancer care, with survival rates among the best in the world, but there is still much more we can do to lessen the impact of cancer. However, cancer continues to impact too many people in our community with one in two people across NSW diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.”

“There are also communities that continue to experience poorer cancer outcomes, including Aboriginal communities and people living in regional rural and remote NSW. “While cancer survival for Aboriginal people continues to improve, there is still a disproportionate gap in cancer outcomes.  Aboriginal people are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, are likely to be younger when they are diagnosed and are more likely to die of cancer than non-Aboriginal people. Closing the gap in cancer outcomes for Aboriginal communities is a key priority of the NSW Cancer Plan.”

The NSW Cancer Plan says the reason for inequities in cancer outcomes for Aboriginal people are multiple and complex, including:

  • Fear and capacity issues around leaving community or country for treatment and lack of culturally safe and responsive care are also major barriers for Aboriginal people to access health services.
  • Fear and stigma about cancer, due to a lack of understanding about the disease, can prevent Aboriginal people from participating in cancer screening or having symptoms checked. This can lead to later diagnosis causing poorer outcomes.
  • Aboriginal people and communities are also often dealing with complex personal and familial issues and lower levels of health literacy, which impact their health seeking behaviours.
  • These barriers can also contribute to higher prevalence of certain lifestyle behaviours, such as tobacco use and alcohol consumption which can contribute towards higher cancer incidence.

To view The Beagle article Koories need radiotherapy too: where is our facility in the new hospital? in full click here. In the below video Aboriginal Cancer Health Practitioner Lynne Thorne describes the barriers Aboriginal cancer patients in SA and NT face in accessing radiotherapy. These barriers are similar across Australia.

Skin conditions among urban-living young mob

A systematic analysis in Pediatric Dermatology that included all relevant studies published since 1990 indicates that many urban-living Indigenous children and young people in high-income countries are burdened with atopic dermatitis (or eczema) and bacterial skin infections (including skin sores). Investigators note that these conditions are intertwined, in that poorly managed atopic dermatitis predisposes to recurrent bacterial skin infections, and secondary infection of atopic dermatitis contributes to more severe disease. Both conditions adversely impact general health, school performance, and overall quality of life. Untreated bacterial skin infections can also lead to serious complications such as sepsis, kidney disease, and rheumatic heart disease.

In this recent analysis, current and severe symptoms of atopic dermatitis were more common in urban-living Indigenous children and young people compared with their non-Indigenous peers, with children having a higher prevalence than adolescents. Urban-living Indigenous children and young people also had a higher incidence of bacterial skin infections compared with their non-Indigenous peers.

To view the Mirage Science article Scientists examine rates of skin conditions among urban-living Indigenous children and young people in full click here.

Young students at the Redfern Jarjum College (RJC). Image source: RJC website.

Using practice data to find kidney disease webinar

At 7:30PM (AEST) Tuesday 15 November 2022, join Kidney Health Australia with GP Consultant, Dr Chris Bollen and General Practice Pharmacist, Mr Tim Perry as they discuss and show how to utilise your practice data to find evidence of chronic kidney disease. Using electronic clinical software as an example, learn how to collect practice data and analyse gaps in diagnosis and correctly stage chronic kidney disease. Learn how to develop a practice plan to identify patients at risk without a coded diagnosis, and create an individualised clinical action plan for a patient with chronic kidney disease.

RACGP CPDA 2 points per hour Activity # 367776 (pending approval)

If you have a Zoom account you can register here.

Image of diabetes educator with a patient. Image source: Moreton Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service’s Diabetes education webpage.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Everyone needs to be represented

The image in the feature tile is of Pat Turner presenting at the National Press Club. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 September 2020.

Everyone needs to be represented

An interview with NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks regarding her views on the Voice to Parliament was aired on multiple radio stations yesterday. In the interview Ms Turner said “the national voice has to be elected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives from each jurisdiction so that everybody is represented.” Ms Turner said “there will be cases put forward for the Torres Strait Islands to have their own representative and there will be large areas in states like NSW, Queensland, NT and WA that will want to have at least different areas of those states and territories represented. So the top end for example of the NT is very different to Central Australia, and the Kimberley is very different to the south-west of WA and likewise with outback NSW versus people who live in Sydney and along the coast.”

Ms Turner said she knows people are rushing on this, but an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island representative group needs to work with the Australian government on the nitty gritty of going to a referendum – the issues of what the referendum question should be, what approach the government takes and timing all need be sorted out first.

The interview appears from 3:05 to 3:29 of the ABC Radio Overnights with Rod Quinn recording here.

Image source: Institute of Public Affairs website.

Australia fails to deliver on UNDRIP

It is now well recognised that Indigenous peoples worldwide have a binding relationship to Earth and Nature which is integral to their health and wellbeing. In 2007 the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), was announced. It was expected to lead to improved understanding and delivery of the spiritual and cultural needs of Aboriginal peoples in relation to their attachment and ownership of lands. In turn this would benefit the health and wellbeing of Indigenous communities.

In 2007 a majority of 144 nations voted for the Declaration. There were 4 votes against, Australia, Canada, NZ and the USA, all with a history of colonisation. Australia was reticent to sign, but eventually did in 2009. We are committed to implement the Declaration and promote indigenous people’s enjoyment of rights on an equal basis. However an Australian Human Rights report in 2021 shows the Australian Government  has not taken steps to implement the UNDRIP into law, policy and practice; has not negotiated with Indigenous peoples a National Action Plan to implement the UNDRIP; and has not audited existing laws, policies and practice for compliance with the UNDRIP.

These need to be addressed urgently in the context of Aboriginal health and well being, which has been a laggard in the Closing the Gap assessments, and in the spirit of moving forward in the context of the new Prime Minister’s commitment to constitutional change.

To read the National Tribune article Australia is failing to deliver on the UN Rights of Indigenous people in full click here.

National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Co-Chair Jackie Huggins delivered an intervention at the UN in New York on 19 April 2018 during the 17th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Image source: The Mandarin.

Booze bans ‘not a long-term fix’

Early intervention and reducing community demand for alcohol is the key to tackling problem drinking in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions, the head of an Aboriginal health and rehabilitation service said last Friday. Earlier this week new WA police commissioner Col Blanch said he would support a ban on takeaway alcohol apart from light beer in the Pilbara and Kimberley if it is deemed to be the most effective option for reducing alcohol-related harm.

Milliya Rumurra Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Andrew Amor said he understood police and others were frustrated with the issue of problem drinking which he said was getting worse in Broome. “This is part of a complex issue that has been evolving over many generations. It will take generations to appropriately address,” he said. “Supply reduction measures do provide short-term relief and potential respite for frontline services, however, it is not a long-term solution. “The most effective approach is to reduce the community demand for alcohol. This must be a whole of government and community priority.”

To read the National Indigenous Times article Kimberley and Pilbara booze bans ‘not a long-term fix’, Aboriginal health group warns in full click here.

All booze except light strength may be banned in WA’s North West. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Wounds a costly health system sore point

A new report from the AMA shows the crippling cost of medical dressings and treating chronic wounds could be mitigated through targeted investment which would save the health system $203.4 million over the next four years. The report — Solutions to the chronic wound problem in Australia — says chronic wound care is a poorly understood and under-funded public health issue, despite studies indicating chronic wounds affect 450,000 Australians and cost $3 billion each year.

The AMA is calling on the Commonwealth to provide more support for GPs to provide high quality wound care for patients through the establishment of a national scheme to fund medical dressings for chronic wounds and extra Medicare funding to cover the unmet costs of providing care for patients suffering chronic wounds. AMA modelling shows chronic wounds treated in hospitals place an additional burden on an already stretched system, with the AMA’s modelling indicating they resulted in close to 32,000 hospital admissions in 2019–20 costing $352 million and 249,346 patient days. The report provides costed solutions to improve wound management in general practice and estimated savings associated with the proposed MBS items.

To read the AMA media release Wounds a Costly Sore Point for the Health System in full click here.

Image source: AMA website.

Caring for your kidneys

Looking after yourself includes keeping your kidneys healthy and having Kidney Health Checks. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 4 times more likely to have chronic kidney disease (CKD) and develop End Stage Renal Disease (ESRN). In remote communities ESRN is especially high, with rates almost 20 times higher than non-Indigenous people. Getting a regular Kidney Health Check is important because often there are no warning signs for sick kidneys. That’s why kidney disease is sometimes called a ‘silent disease’.

Healthy kidneys filter waste from your body; keep good blood pressure; maintain salt and water balance; keep your bones strong; and help make strong blood. If you have sick kidneys, your body can’t filter your blood properly and that means you can get really sick and even die. When you go to the doctor for a Kidney Health Check, one of the things they will ask you is how you feel and how you live. They will also check your height and weight and measure the size of your waist.

You should have a Kidney Health Check at least once a year! Yarn to your local healthcare worker about your Kidney Health Check today. For more information visit the Kidney Health Australia website here. To view The National Tribune article Chronic Kidney Disease click here.

Image source: Department of Health and Aged Care.

Stay COVID-19 safe!

Masks help protect people from viruses like COVID-19 and help stop them from spreading between people. Wearing a mask is something easy that you can do to protect yourself. Wearing a mask when in crowded places like public transport or at the supermarket is strongly recommended. Encouraging your loved ones to do the same will help protect them too.

Help stop the spread:

  • Wash or sanitise your hands
  • Maintain physical distancing (1.5m or two big steps)
  • Keep your COVID-19 vaccinations up to date, and
  • Stay at home and get tested if you’re unwell.

When wearing a mask:

  • Wash (or sanitise) your hands before putting on the mask
  • Make sure it covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face
  • Do not touch the front of the mask while wearing it or when removing it. If you do touch the mask, wash or sanitise your hands immediately
  • Do not allow the mask to hang around your chin or neck
  • Wash or sanitise your hands after removing the mask, and
  • Wash cloth masks after each use, or daily at a minimum.

Important: People with chronic respiratory conditions should seek medical advice before wearing a mask.

You can find more Stay COVID-19 safe! resources on the Department of Health and Aged Care’s website here and view Dr Ngiare Brown explaining how to correctly wear a face mask in the video below.

Red Lily installs defibrillator

The Red Lily Team have installed an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) at the community hall in Warruwi. It will certainly play a significant role in saving lives if someone has a sudden cardiac arrest in the community. The community has 24/7 access to this device.

Support for the AED was received from the Warruwi Community, TOs, West Arnhem Regional Council – Warruwi Team, the Warruwi Health Centre, Yagbani Aboriginal Corporation, ALPA for their advice to select the installation spot and also the St. John Ambulance who partnered with Red Lily.

You can view the West Arnhem Regional Council article 24 hours access to lifesaving device here.

Red Lily Transition Manager Steve Hayes is with Red Lily Health Board Director from Warruwi Mary Djurundudu in front of the newly installed Warruwi community AED (Automated External Defibrillator). Image source: Red Lily Health Facebook page.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: PM’s Voice to Parliament proposal

Image in the feature tile is PM Anthony Albanese with Yothu Yindi Foundation chair Galarrwuy Yunupingu at the Garma festival in the NT. Photo: Carly Earl. Image source: The Guardian, 30 July 2022.

PM’s Voice to Parliament

The PM, Anthony Albanese, acknowledged we have been here before as a nation: at a crossroads, about to decide a path that will affect the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Islander people for generations to come. But for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this time the stakes are so much higher, because the past is littered with the broken promises of politicians.

The PM said as much in his stirring speech at the Garma festival in Arnhem Land on Saturday. Anthony Albanese spoke of “over 200 years of broken promises and betrayals, failures and false starts”. “So many times, the gap between the words of balanda [whitefella] speeches and the deeds of governments has been as wide as this continent,” Albanese told a packed crowd.

In response to comments about addressing urgent, critical matters before any referendum, the lead convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations, Pat Turner, said it was possible to do more than one thing at a time. Turner said the voice and improving the lives of Aboriginal and Islander people was “not an either-or prospect”. “Our members undertake service delivery across Australia to some 500,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait people,” Turner said. “Our members are on country, working in and for our communities, to make a difference in our people’s lives.”

To view The Guardian article Indigenous voice campaigners say ample detail already available in wake of PM’s stirring speech in full click here. You can also view a transcript of PM Anthony Albanese’s speech at Garma on The Voice published in WAtoday here.

Goodbye Archie, who gave voice to many

Songman Archie Roach has been remembered as the voice of generations and a truth-teller whose death is a loss to his community and the world. The Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung), Bundjalung Senior Elder, songman and storyteller died at the age of 66 after a long illness. His sons said Uncle Archie died surrounded by his family and loved ones at Warrnambool Base Hospital in Victoria. His family has granted permission for his name and image to be used so that his legacy will continue to inspire.

Gunditjmara woman Jill Gallagher, CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), said it felt like “a little bit of hope has gone”. “Uncle Archie, through his music, brought that hope, because he told the world … Australia does have a dark history,” she told the ABC. “And he showed the world that Aboriginal people are still here. And we have a story to tell.”

To view the ABC News article Archie Roach remembered as a truth-teller and activist who gave voice to many click here.

Pharmacist guideline for supporting mob

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has launched guidelines for pharmacists supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with medicines management, as part of PSA22. The principles included in the guideline are relevant to all current and future pharmacists, from those just starting their professional journey to those with years of experience working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector.

PSA National President Dr Fei Sim said that the guidelines were a vital part of the pharmacy profession’s effort to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians. “PSA is proud to have worked with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) to develop these guidelines, which will help pharmacists around Australia, in all practice settings, deliver the best care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients,” she said.

Deputy CEO of NACCHO, Dr Dawn Casey, says that the guidelines offer practical and detailed information, as well as some challenging ideas. “All pharmacists have Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander patients as well as colleagues, business partners or family who we interact with, know and work alongside,” she said.

To view The National Tribune article Guideline for pharmacists supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples launched at PSA22 click here and to view the Guideline for Pharmacists Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples with Medicines Management click here.

Image source: Pharmaceutical Society of Australia website.

Ideally placed to help family violence victims

Health systems play a key role in addressing gender-based violence, particularly domestic and sexual violence, but have not been given adequate resources to respond in a way that benefits victims/survivors and children, according to the authors of a Narrative Review published today by the Medical Journal of Australia.

Gender-based violence includes physical, psychological, sexual or economic behaviour causing harm for reasons associated with people’s gender. Women are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence, with Indigenous women and girls facing particularly high risk.

Victims/survivors are more likely to access health services (eg, general practice, sexual health, mental health, emergency care, Aboriginal community-controlled health services and maternity services) than any other professional help. Health practitioners are ideally placed to identify domestic and sexual violence, provide a first line response, and refer on to support services. However, domestic and sexual violence continue to be under-recognised and poorly addressed by health practitioners. It is essential for practitioners to have the skills to ask and respond to domestic and sexual violence, given that victims/survivors who receive positive reactions are more likely to accept help.

To view the Medical Journal of Australia’s media release Transforming health settings to address gender‐based violence in Australia in full click here.

Image source: MamaMia article ‘Indigenous women are the unheard victims of domestic violence. It’s time to break the silence.’ – 26 January 2022.

Mob with disability a double disadvantage

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) began a full national rollout in July 2016 with a fundamental objective to give those with a disability choice and control over their daily lives. Participants can use funds to purchase services that reflect their lifestyle and aspirations. People with disability living in remote communities may receive money for supports, but that doesn’t mean there’s anywhere to purchase them.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with severe disability face many barriers to fully accessing the support offered by the NDIS. This group of people has already experienced long-standing isolation and are particularly vulnerable to being left behind, again. The prevalence of disability among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is twice that experienced by other Australians. It is more complex in terms of more than one disability or health issue occurring together, and it is compressed within a shorter life expectancy.

The latest NDIS quarterly states 9,255 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are participating in the NDIS (roughly 5.4% of the total). Though, being a “participant” means they have been signed up to an insurance policy. It doesn’t necessarily mean the policy has been paid out. And many others aren’t on the scheme at all.

To view the NewsServices.com article Indigenous people with disability have a double disadvantage and the NDIS can’t handle that in full click here. A related article Making everyone count: it is time to improve the visibility of people with disabilitiy in primary care published in the Medical Journal of Australia today is available here.

Willie Prince, a founding member of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Network of Queensland. Image source: Queenslanders with Disability Network.

Complexity of GP role needs respect

General practice is at a tipping point, and besides root-and-branch reform of models of funding, experts say attitudes to general practice need to change, and change now. With rising costs of providing care, increasing burnout rates of doctors and low number pursuing GP training, there are repeated calls across the industry to dump universal bulk billing and fund primary care in a different way. But it’s not just about the money. GPs want wide-ranging changes for the sustainability of their profession.

Dr David King, Senior Lecturer in General Practice at the University of Queensland said “We need to be included in decisions that involve health care, and the nation needs to realise that we’re the foundation of health care in Australia, particularly primary health care.”

Dr Karen Price, President of the Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) went further saying there needs to be a funding model that integrates other services. “We need to look at different models like the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) have done. They’ve got a great model for Aboriginal medical services. We need to look at centres like that in some of the lower socio-economic areas where they can’t afford a gap. We need to look at how that might work with access to physiotherapy and social work and occupational therapy and psychologists in a way that is equitable and supported.

To view the InSight article GPs at “top of the medical hierarchy” crying out for respect in full click here.

Image source: General Practice Training Queensland.

Healing power of the arts

A young woman dying of cancer wanted music to soothe her in the final moments of life. So a harpist went to her bedside at a Brisbane hospital, where she and her family were preparing for the end. “She wanted to be played to the other side,” said Peter Breen who curates the Stairwell Project, a Queensland charity that organises musical performances in hospitals to calm and distract patients and staff.

Stairwell Project is one of many arts organisations featured at this week’s National Rural Health Conference in Brisbane, where hundreds of professionals will gather for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Deadly Weavers founder Felicity Chapman, a Wiradjuri businesswoman who used traditional craft to rehabilitate after a brain aneurysm, will also feature alongside other Indigenous artists.

To view the Health Times article ‘Like Narnia’: the healing power of music in full click here.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Health Minister’s to-do list is packed

Note: the mage in the feature tile is of Winston, a traditional owner, land manager, artist and Aboriginal Health Worker from Blackstone (Papulankutja) community in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands of WA, who was first diagnosed at Kings Canyon during an outreach screening service for Aboriginal rangers. His dense cataract caused him to go blind in his left eye, which he kept shut to keep out the painful glare. Image source: The Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Health Minister’s to-do list is packed

Dr Tim Woodruff, a specialist working in private practice, has written an article for Croakey Health Media arguing that when it comes to delivering better healthcare and better health for Australians, the new Federal Government has a lot of work to do. Dr Woodruff  says the government’s intention to review the NDIS is desperately needed, and if improvements introduced are the right ones, this will also help public hospitals by limiting unnecessary admissions and time in hospitals. It will also make primary healthcare for those with disability much easier to access and co-ordinate.”

Dr Woodruff goes on to note that “Primary healthcare is in increasing disarray. The GP workforce is aging and unable to provide adequate timely access. Co-ordination of care is chaotic even when access to the spectrum of care is available. Primary Health Networks are improving but have quite limited capacity, and fee for service funding is inappropriate for chronic disease.”

Dr Woodruff points out that ACCHOs and 80 Community Health Centres in Victoria who have demonstrated the success of different models of primary healthcare provision need to be supported and expanded. Co-ordination and integration are key elements for these services, rather than optional add-ons as they often are in standard GP-led practices, and primary prevention is an integral part of such practices.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Memo to Minister Mark Butler and colleagues: your to-do list is packed in full click here.

Image source: Croaky Health Media.

Labor’s Indigenous affairs agenda

Alongside reforms in Indigenous health, housing, welfare and the justice system, Labor is committing to a referendum on the voice to parliament in their first term of government, all spearheaded by the first Aboriginal woman in cabinet – the new Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney.

Guardian Australia’s Indigenous affairs editor, Lorena Allam, spoke to Linda Burney about how Labor intends to keep these promises in a podcast available here.

Linda Burney. Phto: Blake Sharp-Wiggins, The Guardian.

Pat Dodson on the Uluru Statement

Yawuru man Patrick Dodson has been at the forefront of change for much of his life. Well-known for his role at the helm of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in the 1990s, the Broome-based Labor Senator has also played significant roles in the fields of Aboriginal deaths in custody, native title and research. In 2019 he was widely tipped to become Australia’s first Aboriginal Federal Indigenous affairs minister before a shock result delivered the election to the Liberals and Ken Wyatt was elevated to the job.

Now, finally part of a government in office, Mr Dodson has been appointed a new role as Special Envoy for Reconciliation and the Implementation of the Uluru Statement. From the Heart campaign director Dean Parkin said Mr Dodson’s appointment was well-deserved, “having his wisdom, experience and expertise involved in this in a very direct way is a great development and hugely encouraging for our prospects of success.” Mr Parkin, who is of the Quandamooka peoples of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) in Queensland, said Indigenous-led decision making was vital to making progress. “A voice to parliament making sure people from those communities are sitting at the table advising the politics and the bureaucrats is the best way to make progress in Closing The Gap,” he said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Father of reconciliation Pat Dodson turns eye to Uluru Statement in new role in full click here.

Senator Pat Dodson. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Mob in city for medical care risk homelessness

Aboriginal people from regional WA visiting Perth for medical care are at risk of homelessness and relying on aged care facilities for accommodation in the city, a parliamentary inquiry has heard. During a recent inquiry into the financial administration of homelessness services in WA, Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation told the panel chaired by Liberal MLC Peter Collier there was a “terrible increase” in individuals and families facing homelessness.

Moorditj Koort deputy chief executive Annie Young said at least one in every 10 clients was at risk of or already of homeless. “We have people with other issues including justice issues, they are involved with the Department of Child Protection, there are compounding issues as well,” she said. Ms Young said rental stress was acute for those accessing Centrelink and on low incomes. She encouraged the inquiry to also examine overcrowding and its impact on health of residents.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Aboriginal people visiting Perth for healthcare forced to rely on aged care system, inquiry told in full click here.

Raymond Ward (right) talks with Freddie in his shelter which he shares with up to six other people at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth. Image source: Daily Mail Australia.

Top 3 questions – flu vax and pregnancy

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Professor Alison McMillan has given a presentation on why it’s important for women to get the flu vaccine when they are pregnant. In the presentation Professor McMillan answers the following questions:

  • Is it safe for women to receive a flu vaccination at any stage of their pregnancy?
  • What potential adverse reactions should pregnant women be aware of following the flu vaccination?
  • Does getting the flu vaccination while pregnant protect unborn babies from flu?

For further information you can access the Australian Government Department of Health’s webpage Top 3 questions – Flu vaccination & pregnancy with Professor Alison McMillan here.

Clinical Yarning program about trust

Clinical Yarning — a Mid West-led approach to build more trusting relationships between patients and clinicians — is set to keep spreading the word after receiving a funding injection. The research program, a patient-centred healthcare framework that marries Aboriginal cultural communication preferences with biomedical understandings of health and disease, will receive a share of $2.3 million in funding after being awarded an Implementation Science Fellowship.

Dr Ivan Lin, senior lecturer at the Geraldton-based WA Centre for Rural Health (WACRH), which is part of the University of WA, was one of four recipients of the fellowship, which are conducted in partnership with the WA Country Health Service (WACHS). “(Clinical Yarning is) designed to address long identified issues reported by Aboriginal people when accessing health services, by improving health providers communication with these communities,” Dr Lin said.

To view the Sound Telegraph article Mid West-led Clinical Yarning program receives State Government funding boost thanks to fellowship in full click here. You can also view Professor Dawn Bessarab in the video below introducing the Clinical Yarning eLearning Program.

Jimmy Little’s early death to kidney disease

Dr James “Jimmy” Oswald Little AO was born on 1 March 1937. The eldest of seven children, he was raised on Cummeragunja Mission Station on the Murray River. The Yorta Yorta/Yuin man first picked up a guitar at 13, taking to it quickly he was playing local concerts in just a year. In 1955 he took the leap and moved to Sydney, pursuing a country music career. By 1956, he had signed to Regal Zonophone Records and recorded his first single Mysteries of Life/Hearbreak Waltz.

In 1963, Little hit the big time with his cover of gospel song Royal Telephone which hit #1 Sydney and #3 in Melbourne. Its success made history, being the first song by an Indigenous artist to hit the mainstream. Little was hitting his stride at a time when his people weren’t counted as citizens. In 1989, Little received the National Aboriginal Day of Observance Committee’s Aboriginal of the Year award, in 2002 he was named NSW Senior Australian of the Year, and in 2004 he was the recipient of the Australia Council Red Ochre Award. The same year he received an Order of Australia for his health and education advocacy and was recognised as a “living Australian treasure” via public vote.

In 1990, Little was diagnosed with kidney disease which led to kidney failure and Type II diabetes. In 2006 he established The Jimmy Little Foundation. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get check-ups often enough or soon enough to realise the possibility that my kidneys could fail,” he said. “I have seen too much fear and sadness caused by the early death and suffering from potentially preventable chronic illnesses by my Indigenous brothers and sisters. “I started The Jimmy Little Foundation to do something positive to curb the rate of chronic disease.” On April 2, 2012 Little died at Dubbo home, aged 75.

To view the NITV article Google pays homage to Indigenous music icon, Jimmy Little in full click here.

Dixon Patten’s Jimmy Little dedicated graphic for Google. Image source: SBS NITV website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #VOICE #ClosingtheGap : Read Minister @KenWyattMP ‘LOOKING FORWARD, LOOKING BACK’ – 19TH ANNUAL VINCENT LINGIARI MEMORIAL LECTURE Darwin 15 August 

” What are you going to do tomorrow, in three months’ time and in a year’s time? – good will, while important, will not allow us to complete this journey and positively shift the pendulum.

How can we elevate our successes?

How can we give voice to those who feel voiceless?

And, how can we make sure their voices are heard as loudly as those who come from Canberra and in the media?

I want you to remember these words from Vincent Lingiari:

“Let us live happily together as mates, let us not make it hard for each other… We want to live in a better way together, Aboriginals and white men, let us not fight over anything, let us be mates.”

Minister Ken Wyatt ‘LOOKING FORWARD, LOOKING BACK’ – 19TH ANNUAL VINCENT LINGIARI MEMORIAL LECTURE Darwin 15 August

The Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP

Kaya wangju – hello and welcome, in Noongar.

As a Noongar, Wongi and Yamatji man standing before you, I thank Bilawara for her warm welcome this evening.

I formally acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand, the Larrakia people, and pay, my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

Good evening to all of you who have joined us this evening and in particular, I want to acknowledge my brothers and sisters who, many that I’ve walked, the challenges of change with.

The words of a song that was sung by the much-loved Slim Dusty of Looking Back and Looking Forward was the basis for what I wanted to cover tonight because of several reasons but Slim in particular was loved by Indigenous Australians – Slim was a storyteller.

Since the beginning of our time our nation’s sacred knowledge and identity has been kept and shared in song and in transmission through our stories.

Song is important to our culture, and to Australian culture. Music and the stories presented through songs are understood and loved by all Australians.

In Slim’s case, his songs were heard drifting throughout Australia’s living rooms, pubs, town halls, on the old wireless radio and through the records we played.

Through his songs and storytelling, Slim brought Indigenous Australia into suburbia, into the minds and hearts of the nation and the wider Australian culture.

The words you would’ve heard in his song ‘Looking Forward, Looking Back’ – are very poignant – and help paint an image of modern-day Australia.

I won’t sing it to you, because that’ll sort of distract from the quality of the music, but as Slim says:

Looking Forward, Looking Back.

We’ve come a long way down the track.

We’ve got a long way left to go.

Indigenous Australians, in everything we do, draw on the insights of our journey, the knowledge and wisdom of the past, and use that to embrace our future generations.

As we look back, we see the tracks of those who’ve walked before us.

For each of us, looking back evokes different memories and experiences, but I want us to be able to Look Forward – together – with a united purpose and determination for our children and grandchildren. And whilst for us as well – we have lived our time.

That’s why I’m here, with you, at the 19th annual Lingiari Lecture.

Tonight I will outline how I see us walking together, to advance:

  • Local truth-telling;
  • Constitution Recognition of Indigenous Australians;
  • Giving voice to local communities; and
  • Addressing disadvantage in Indigenous Australia.

So why did I start with Slim?

I’m told that, back in the day, there were juke-boxes here in the Territory that had nothing but Slim Dusty records on them. And as a Slim Dusty and Country Western music fan, I can certainly understand that sentiment.

But the thing that I really admired about him was that he sang about the land, about country, about people and our Australian way of life.

He sang about us, and to us, travelling in the old purple with his caravan to many remote communities and country towns across Australia.

Slim once said the most valuable performance fee he ever received in his entire career was the fee paid by a young girl called Miriam from Daly River here in the Territory.

Miriam and the children of the Daly River Mission wanted to see Slim perform but they couldn’t travel to Darwin to see him.

So together they saved up some money and wrote to Slim offering him an attractive performance fee if he came to their town.

The performance fee they offered was five dollars. But that was good enough for Slim.

He came to Daly, accepted the fee, and put on a show.

Over the course of his life, he visited that community many times. He’d go out to the mustering camp for dinner and share their black tea and bully beef sandwiches.

He’d watch and learn as the women and children showed him how to look for minnamindi.

He learnt how to cook with the honey-bag the kids brought back from the wild bees.

He fished with them; he went shooting with them.

He was invited to corroborees and learned how to make ochre paint.

Knowing us – and really knowing us – meant he could sing about us. He could share our stories in ways we didn’t have the means to and he could tell us stories of other places and people that helped us to understand our neighbours around us.

He sang of Trumby the ringer who couldn’t read or write…he sang of The Tall Dark Man in the Saddle…and of the painter Albert Namatjira.

He sang of a man called Bundawaal, “a King without subjects or crown”; a tribal elder reflecting on past struggles and glories, who couldn’t stop “an alien race without pity or grace” eradicating his people.

The song was based on a story that the local Aboriginal people told Slim while he was on tour.

He was singing about this when hardly anyone else in Australia was talking about us in the same way that he sang.

Slim opened the door for Indigenous people themselves to share the stage in the Australian country music industry, some of these early Indigenous pioneers in the Country Music Industry were people like Auriel Andrew, Jimmy Little and Gus Williams, just to name a few.

Picture a time in Australia, and this is for all the young ones out there, because for many of us here tonight know what it’s like to be told:

Where we could – and could not – sit.

Where we could – and could not – go.

You couldn’t sit on a seat at the cinema – you had to sit on a milk crate at the front of the auditorium or the old chairs.

You couldn’t enter a pub.

But Slim Dusty’s concerts were open to all, and we could sit wherever we liked.

People like Slim helped shift the pendulum.

Throughout our history, advancements in Indigenous affairs have swung like a pendulum.

This pendulum has shifted, back and forth, sometimes bringing meaningful advancement for Indigenous Australians, through events and actions of our own people, such as:

  • Albert Namatjira becoming the first Indigenous Australian to be given restricted citizenship,
  • Charlie Perkins Freedom Ride,
  • The election of Neville Bonner in 1971 to our nation’s Parliament, the first Indigenous Australian to serve in the Australian parliament. If you ever get the opportunity, go to the old museum at the parliament, the Old Parliament, and read his diary entry. He has a pillow on display and the diary entry says “I was never invited to any event, any function. At the end of a day, I would leave my office, go home to my trusted friend, my pillow, and would lay my head down to rest.”
  • Eddie Mabo’s fight and victory for Native Title and land rights, and of course
  • Vincent Lingiari’s Wave Hill walk-off and a strike which led to the Native Land Rights Act in 1976.

These significant achievements shifted the pendulum positively, however this hasn’t always meant the pendulum stayed that way.

While we have succeeded in some areas, in others we have not.

Looking forward, we must address where we have failed.

Where we have failed to permanently shift the pendulum on fundamental disadvantage with Indigenous Australia, on factors such as;

  • The basic right to an education,
  • The value of a full-time job,
  • Access uniformly to health care – and the need to address alarming rates of suicide and mental illness in our community,
  • And much, much more.

As I stand here tonight, looking forward, I am optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead for us – and equally as realistic about the challenges we must overcome.

LOCAL TRUTH-TELLING

As we embark on this journey – I am above all else wanting to have and encourage conversations across this nation – through these conversations we become more comfortable with each other, our shared past, present and future.

Truth-telling to me is not a contest of histories; it’s an understanding of history. It’s an acceptance that there can be shared stories around events in our nation’s history.

I recently spoke with an elderly woman who expressed her dismay that her childhood and education hadn’t featured the stories or history of Indigenous Australians.

In particular, she spoke about learning of massacres later in life and used the words to say that she had been lied to as a child.

I responded by saying that she wasn’t lied to, but she didn’t hear or have the opportunity to hear about our history through our eyes.

This is why we share and we need to share our history because it is important that the history of this nation is paralleled to the events that have occurred.

It is not about guilt. It is about acknowledging that there were events that occurred.

And we need to acknowledge that people will come to this debate from various angles, and perceptions of history – none of this is wrong, or should be dismissed or discouraged.

We cannot simply tell our truth through yelling.

It must be done through conversation.

For me, one of the most indelible moments that sparked a national conversation was that in December 1992 when the then Prime Minister Paul Keating delivered, what is now known as the Redfern Speech.

I had the fortune of being there.

The crowd was electrified and noisy, charged with energy and emotion.

I remember a bunch of balloons in the colours of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags bobbed on the roof above Keating’s head, and children dressed in red as they sat on the grass at the foot of the stage, trying to keep still but mostly failing.

Keating’s words that day have entered the history books, so has that speech.

The words most often quoted are his accounting of the deeds of non-Aboriginal Australians. He said:

We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol. We committed the murders.”

But it was the next line that caused the strongest reaction from the audience. You couldn’t miss it.

We took the children from their mothers.

Those seven words drew a loud outburst from the crowd.

It was raw emotion.

Yet, it was both positive and negative – but most of all it was a significant moment of truth-telling, by none other than our nation’s Prime Minister of the day.

That shifted the pendulum – and from that shift, in 2008 we saw Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issue an apology on behalf of the Commonwealth Government to the Stolen Generations.

And any one of us here tonight could probably remember where we were, who we were with and the way in which we watched that speech being delivered. But the reactions that were portrayed on the screens, the tears running down the faces of those who were most affected, and the sense of relief became a glaringly obvious moment based on the fact: the truth of the past had been acknowledged.

Whilst this was regarded by some as merely a symbolic gesture, as of 2015 the fact is that there are an estimated 13,800 surviving Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over who had been removed from their families and communities and considered part of the Stolen Generation.

The healing that resulted from this act of truth-telling cannot be quantified.

And while this took time, it does demonstrate that truth-telling today can lead to significant moments of reconciliation in the future.

If we walk together and acknowledge our shared history we can achieve permanent positive change.

Truth-telling is not best served by a national commission or similar interrogation of truth.

We all should know detailed stories of the areas in which we lived. All Australians – sharing the one history.

I personally would rather see an organic and evolving truth-telling, in which we share our stories, our acknowledgement of the events of the past, but the way in which we as a nation of people are melding together for a better future.

There has to be local storytelling of the history of the past. And it must be local, otherwise we gloss over those very elements that are important in country, within region, and we will only tend to focus on national stories.

Every story to do with our country is as equally important as the national stories.

Around kitchen tables, over the BBQ and in the backyard, down at the local football and netball clubs and in pubs – this is where permanent change will come from – not from loud voices in Canberra and the media.

The 2018 Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition heard this first hand, and reported the following:

“A large number of stakeholders agreed that truth-telling is best implemented at local and regional levels.”

A key component of this local truth-telling is the fact that we must be comfortable having these conversations.

And comfortability is a two way street – for Indigenous Australians it means having the ability to speak our truth and have it heard; and for those seeking to understand, we must allow them to ask questions and contribute to the rigour of the conversation – whilst at all times maintaining respect for one another.

Until this happens, we won’t see the shift in the pendulum that we want to see and achieve.

Importantly, truth-telling is also an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Indigenous Australians – we must stand proud and celebrate the progress we’ve made.

Too often the pictures painted are that of setback and failure, which simply reinforces the negative elements of our history.

I want us to lead in a positive manner – I want all of us to lead in a positive manner. And, I want to celebrate our successes and champion those who achieve and do great things. In sport we do that exceptionally well – we acknowledge Ash Barty, we acknowledge Cathy Freeman, and many of our high-level achieving sports men and women.

But we also need to do it for the things that we achieve personally, those matters that we achieve as a community, but as equally important is the success of a child at each stage of schooling. And I’m not talking about achieving significant reform here, which is certainly important.

What I’m referring to is the kid who didn’t finish school getting their first job, and keeping it, and finding themselves contributing member to their community.

We need to celebrate every child who goes to school and receives an education, the foundation of a more meaningful and purposeful life.

These quiet achievements are as much about what defines Indigenous Australia in 2019 as the differences, we all too often allow those differences to divide us.

CONSTITUTIONAL RECOGNITION OF INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS

Looking forward to our opportunity to shift the pendulum – let’s talk about Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Whilst the Constitution belongs to all Australians, it is important for the purpose of the conversations that I’ve spoken about tonight are so critical in achieving what we set out to do.

As I’ve said before – this is too important to rush, and it’s too important to get wrong.

On eight occasions, the Australian people have voted to change our founding document.

The Constitution is like the rule book for sport; it is the rule book of our nation.

On 36 other occasions they’ve been lost – and there 36 issues that have not come back to the Australian people to consider again in a referendum.

The most recent example of this being the 1999 Republic and Preamble Referendum – a campaign that saw a rift in our nation’s fabric – and result where not a single State carried a Yes vote – and often forgotten, is the fact that the vote on the Preamble was rejected by a greater margin than the question of the Republic.

This is not to say we can’t achieve Constitutional Recognition within the term of this Parliament.

But it is important that we learn from the 1999 Referendum, and reflect on how challenging it can be to translate good will into a positive outcome.

Looking back to 1967, and the Referendum put forward by the Coalition Holt Government, 90.77% of Australians voted to embrace our people as part of Australia.

Key to this was bi-partisan support, the simplicity of the question and a clear purpose for holding the Referendum.

I want to be very clear – the question we put to the Australian people will not result in what some desire, and that is a enshrined voice to the Parliament – on these two matters, whilst related, need to be treated separately.

This is about recognising Indigenous Australians on our Birth Certificate.

And I’ll talk about voice later on.

When I was elected in 2010, I was appointed to the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians – we held public conversations in 84 urban, regional and remote locations and in every capital city – as well as the hundreds of meetings and around 3,500 submissions were received.

From this, the Panel reported to government in 2012, and subsequently we had three more reports to government on the same matter.

Each of these reports have looked at a set of words to put to the Australian people.

The words are there in those documents.

Our challenge now is finding a way forward that will result in the majority of Australians, in the majority of states, overwhelmingly supporting Constitutional Recognition. We must be pragmatic.

The Constitution belongs to all Australians, from those in Slim’s home town of Kempsey to those in my childhood town of Corrigin, no one of us can lay claim to the Constitution.

It belongs to us collectively, and it belongs to those who came before us, and most importantly, it will belong to our children and our grandchildren.

I’m not thinking about what I can achieve for myself, or concerned about my legacy, I’m focused on realising recognition for my children, your children and generations to come.

Let me challenge the loudest voices in this debate – now is our opportunity to do this, and it will require understanding and tolerance of all views.

If we don’t seize the opportunity now, it may be lost for all of time – we must not allow this to happen – so I invite you to walk with all Australians on this journey.

It’s not about walking with me, or walking the path of any one individual – it’s about walking in the footsteps of those who’ve come before us, to create a new path for all Australians.

This is not an issue that can be viewed through the prism of political ideologies and all Australian politics have a way to go.

I ask my colleagues, from all sides, to remember what is your first duty as a Member of Parliament – and that is to listen to and represent the views of your community.

There is a lot of work to do on this journey – we haven’t had a referendum since 1999 – and we must educate a new generation on the importance of the Constitution and the significance of the change we are asking for.

This will require all of us to lay the foundation through education and conversation – that is the first step.

I had a young Australian ask me the other day when to expect their ballot to arrive in the mail to post back and wanted to be part of this change.

I had to explain to her the difference between the recent postal plebiscite to recognise same-sex Marriage and the difference between what a referendum is and how it works.

Having these conversations are as important as the conversations we have about why we need to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution and demonstrates the steps we need to consider to achieve this.

Let’s start these conversations, which may seem very basic to us, but are very important to realising success.

The pendulum will shift – but it’s up to us to determine which way.

VOICE

Let me now turn to voice and being heard.

Having your voice heard is going to look very different to how your neighbour sees their voice being heard.

In Australia today, there are almost 800,000 Indigenous voices – all of equal importance and relevance.

Therein lies the complexity of defining ‘a voice’.

The voice is multi-layered and multi-dimensional.

I see rooted in our elders, who are the basis for our knowledge, culture and lore, and rooted in our communities, and extending through the ways in which all levels of government, service providers and corporations engage and work with our people.

Too often I visit communities and I’m told that their voice isn’t being heard because needs are not being met on the ground and we certainly heard that at Garma for those who were in attendance.

And others, who say that they want their local member of parliament to hear their voice.

How we give voice to these Australians is through conversation and understanding.

Knowing what is happening, knowing what needs to happen – and work with leaders and individuals within our communities to develop the practical solutions that see a shift in the pendulum at the most local of levels.

Having these voices heard is not only a matter for the Commonwealth government – it’s a matter for State and Territories, local governments and service providers.

That’s why I’ve tasked the National Indigenous Australians Agency with changing the way they engage – to ensure that the priority is meeting the needs of local communities first.

I’m often asked about the commitment of the Morrison Government but let me assure you that the Morrison Government is committed to a co-design process so we ensure we have the best possible framework in place to hear those voices at the local, regional and national level.

More will be said in the months to come, and much like Constitutional Recognition, it’s too important to rush, or to get wrong.

This is about ensuring Indigenous voices are heard as loudly as any other Australian voice is.

Again – this is a journey for all Australians to walk, and through conversations we must respect, understand and address all perspectives on this matter.

Giving voice to Indigenous Australians, and realising Constitutional Recognition are the greatest opportunities in our lifetime, but they are not mutually-exclusive.

This must be remembered if we are to shift the pendulum.

SHIFTING THE PENDULUM

But what about shifting the pendulum tomorrow?

There are things that we can be doing, as individuals, as parts of organisations and as members of communities to positively shift the pendulum.

Don’t think that any one action you can take won’t lead to meaningful change – the individual actions of those here tonight, let alone all those across this nation, has the potential to improve lives and outcomes for our people.

We can all shift the pendulum.

And that’s what I’m focused on every single day.

I will be judged as equally on my ability and this government’s ability to create jobs, improve access to healthcare, have young people attend school and succeed, and reduce suicide rates as I will be on delivering Constitutional Recognition.

And this is what drives me.

Every Indigenous Australian who finds a job, every young person that gets to school in the morning, every prevented suicide and instances of Otitis Media for example being treated is what I will celebrate.

And that’s something you should celebrate too. It’s something you can have a direct impact upon.

How do you play a role in shifting the pendulum? Consider that proposition tonight and leave here motivated to shift the pendulum for one person, one family, one community or more.

Many of you will be doing that already, so the question becomes, how can we grow and share that? How can we celebrate that?

We must look at what we do and the good we have the potential for – and to then share these successes as loudly and widely as possible.

By celebrating success, we’re not blinding ourselves to the challenges at hand, or dismissing the levels of disadvantage within Australian Indigenous communities.

We know that people are dying earlier.

We know that our people are committing suicide.

We know that children are being born into a lifetime of poverty.

And, that’s on us as well.

I don’t discount or diminish this in any way.

We owe it to our children, and to future generations to come to create an environment and culture of opportunity and of positivity so that when an Indigenous Australian children is born, they see a world where their dreams can be realised, and where each day is filled with hope and optimism.

Where the face they see in the mirror, doesn’t limit their aspirations.

Where the face they see in the mirror is the face they see reading the 5 o’clock news, the face they see exploring space or one day the face they see leading our nation.

To achieve this future, we must change how we look at ourselves – and we must have others view Indigenous Australians through our successes and not our failings.

Just as disadvantage should not be viewed through colour – success should not be limited by colour.

I asked what we can do tomorrow to shift the pendulum – well, start by celebrating success, by sharing success and by ensuring that one person’s success today is the hope for someone else’s success tomorrow.

But to emphasise the importance of acting and listening at a local level, I want to take us back to the 1967 referendum.

As the referendum votes were being tallied and the nation’s ‘Yes’ vote was starting to emerge, Vincent Lingiari, a Gurindji man and his stockmen were several months into their famous Wave Hill walk-off and strike.

The strike although initially an employee rights action had soon become a national issue as the relationship between Indigenous Australians and the wider community and our national idioms were once again being challenged.

The strike lasted 8 years and that eventually led to the Native Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

This shifted the pendulum, legislating the right for Indigenous people of the Northern Territory to negotiate over any developments on their lands.

LINGIARI

Lingiari’s actions at a local level, culminated in the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s pouring the red dirt of our land through the hands of Vincent.

While this act was symbolic, it put in train a series of events that defines the land rights movement to this day.

The courage shown by Lingiari was not only for him, but for future generations, as recognised by what Whitlam said. And I won’t repeat what Sue shared with us earlier but it was a sign of possession of our lands for our children forever.

I am truly humbled to be here in front of you, delivering the 19th annual Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture – and I thank Charles Darwin University for the opportunity to contribute to this series of lectures, which has helped in its own way, be a form of truth-telling and spark the conversations that we’ve needed since 1996.

To be in the company of such distinguished voices truly is an honour.

And, I don’t want tonight to be about me, but if I could take one moment to say that the significance of being appointed the first Indigenous Minister for Indigenous Australians is not lost on me.

And I thanks the Gurindji people for their faith and for their commitment and I will certainly walk with you to deliver on the things that are important to our people but I will walk with our people across this nation and other Australians.

For young Indigenous Australians out there, across this great nation, dreaming of a career in politics, I hope that my journey can give you hope.

Many of you here know my journey, but just let me share it again for that young person who’s hearing from me for the first time tonight.

I was born in 1952 and raised in Roelands Mission near Bunbury in Western Australia, and the oldest of 10 kids.

My father was a railway ganger. My mother was a member of the Stolen Generations.

And, we lived in a tiny place called Nannine, just west of Meekatharra.

My schooling at first was by correspondence – working a radio with a foot pedal, like an old sewing machine, for two hours at a time.

Soon afterwards, my parents moved to Corrigin.

Education was my turning point, and by going to school, my drive for knowledge and desire to learn is something that I retain and value today.

I have a few other fragments of memory from when I was a skinny-ankled kid running around Corrigin.

There was the time that some people in our town started circulating a petition to get the Aboriginal family that had just moved in kicked out.

The petition failed. The townspeople wanted us to stay and have a fair go.

I also remember a time when I was about ten years old and somebody said to me: you might end up being a politician one day.

And I thought “not in this country will I ever have that opportunity”.

As I grew into a teenager in the mid-60s, I became enterprising.

I worked on farms, I’d catch rabbits, sell the meat to the butcher (certainly not the ones I bruised; I’d cook those) and I’d sell the skins as well.

I used to work on farms too. I’d earn money by chopping wood, doing the fencing, driving tractors during harvesting.

But, it gave me money for myself. I’d keep half my earnings and buy a few things and put some away in the bank. The other half I’d give to mother to help put food on the table for all of us.

This is not a sob story.

To me it sort of felt like freedom.

It gave me a sense of personal responsibility and an attitude of enterprising thinking.

Those experiences living in a country town probably shaped me.

While I was busy skinning rabbits and making a buck, Australia was growing and changing.

I hope collectively we can fulfil the expectation I feel each day, to continue to grow and shape a better future for all Indigenous Australians, and continue the healing of our nation.

I know I don’t walk alone – but I also acknowledge there are many expectations placed on me. And I feel the weight of expectation.

But, I want to take this weight – and turn it into an optimism for what we can achieve – together when we swing the pendulum.

CONCLUSION

And, I’ll repeat again – everything I have spoken about tonight, from truth-telling to Constitutional Recognition is too important to rush, and too important to get wrong.

I need everyone in this room, and all of those out there who want us to succeed to ask yourselves – what can I do to help us realise our goals?

What are you going to do to shift that pendulum?

What are you going to do tomorrow, in three months’ time and in a year’s time? – good will, while important, will not allow us to complete this journey and positively shift the pendulum.

How can we elevate our successes?

How can we give voice to those who feel voiceless?

And, how can we make sure their voices are heard as loudly as those who come from Canberra and in the media?

I want you to remember these words from Vincent Lingiari:

“Let us live happily together as mates, let us not make it hard for each other… We want to live in a better way together, Aboriginals and white men, let us not fight over anything, let us be mates.”

Let this be the basis for conversations we have. And, remember these important words of Vincent Lingiari.

Take stock every so often and ask yourself – are your actions working for or against shifting the pendulum – on any of the measures we’ve discussed tonight, or on any other significant measures through which we define success and progress.

Let’s remember the importance of learning, listening and understanding when we look back – and through this, we will be able to look forward.

Look forward and work towards realising

  • Local truth-telling;
  • Constitution Recognition of Indigenous Australians;
  • Giving voice to our local communities; and
  • Addressing disadvantage in Indigenous Australia.

Together we can shift the pendulum, help every child out there realise their dreams, and leave a more unified, understanding and tolerant Australia for the generations to come.

Success for me, will be to look back, after all is said and done, and be able to say, as Slim once sang:

We’ve done us proud.

To come this far,

Down through the years,

To where we are,

Side by side,

Hand in hand,

We’ve lived and died for this great land,

We’ve done us proud.

Let us walk together.

Let us shift the pendulum together.

I thank you for the privilege of being here with you this evening.

Thank you.

[ENDS]

AUTHORISED BY KEN WYATT, LIBERAL PARTY, CANBERRA.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the #Makarrata : Two essential reports to understand #NAIDOC2019 #VoiceTreatyTruth , a factual account of the #UluruStatement dialogues and the process

“In Aboriginal culture, healing after a conflict begins with a process of truth-telling.

The Yolngu Matha term for this is Makarrata — a peacemaking process. In Aboriginal ways of being, recognition of wrongs of the past sparks greater understanding on both sides of the conflict.

 From this, we can develop a resolution, and a coming together of the parties involved in peace.

As we celebrate NAIDOC week this year, the Morrison government has a unique opportunity to make history by dealing with our troubled history.

The time is ripe to address Australia’s problematic past between settler colonials and the Aboriginal peoples through the process of Makarrata.

When we speak of Makarrata, what we’re talking about is a process that ultimately allows the restitution of wellbeing and happiness.

The kind of healing that addresses the deep wounds created by unresolved colonial history.

And we begin by acknowledging that this isn’t just an ‘Aboriginal problem’ but a shared scar that’s worn by the nation as a whole.”

Victoria Grieve-Williams is a Warraimaay historian and Adjunct Professor, Indigenous Research, RMIT University from NITV Makarrata: The Aboriginal healing process we should all know about : Full report below part 3

Part 1 : Download below the final report from the Referendum Council 

“ A Declaration of Recognition should be developed, containing inspiring and unifying words articulating Australia’s shared history, heritage and aspirations.

The Declaration should bring together the three parts of our Australian story: our ancient First Peoples’ heritage and culture, our British institutions, and our multicultural unity.

It should be legislated by all Australian Parliaments, on the same day, either in the lead up to or on the same day as the referendum establishing the First Peoples’ Voice to Parliament, as an expression of national unity and reconciliation.

In addition, the Council reports that there are two matters of great importance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as articulated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, that can be addressed outside the Constitution.

The Uluru Statement called for the establishment of a Makarrata Commission with the function of supervising agreement-making and facilitating a process of local and regional truth telling.

The Council recognises that this is a legislative initiative for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to pursue with government. “

Download the 183 page report HERE

Referendum_Council_Final_Report

Or read online

Part 2

ULURU STATEMENT FROM THE HEART

We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart:

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?

With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

Part 3 Marching for Makarrata: The Aboriginal healing process we should all know about

The progress so far

Originally published Here

The recent appointment of Ken Wyatt as our first Minister for Indigenous Affairs has been a step towards the right direction. His mother is a member of the Stolen Generation so he knows firsthand the impact of history. Wyatt is also a steady and productive force who commands respect across many groups. He has a knowledge of customary law and the power it can wield to restore wellbeing. He is also proactive about meeting with Aboriginal cultural leaders.

Wyatt’s leadership could show that peacemaking practices can be powerful. The call for peacemaking is not new. For decades, there has been an official call for a Makarrata, most recently in the Uluru Statement From The Heart.

“Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle,” says the 2017 Uluru statement, “It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.”

Indeed, it has been clear to the First People that this customary Aboriginal way of ensuring the differences and wrongs of the past are addressed appropriately has been way overdue.

The bias of ‘history’

History as we know it is a concept developed out of the West or the Global North. It’s often told through the lens of a colonial past and has evolved as a means to record the deeds of great white men. In this sense, western history serves a function to legitimise the building of nation states.

In this limited, inherently biased approach, incidences of murder, rape and other genocidal acts were often covered up or kept secret. They are minimised by the fact that the current nation-state was born of them. In some cases, these acts of cruelty and genocide are erroneously seen as ‘necessary’ and best forgotten.

This is not to say that there are only such biased accounts of history in Australia. The institution of history in Australia is marked by the large number of historians who have championed the Aboriginal case for a just and proper settlement over recent decades. They have worked on revising earlier inaccuracies, using documents and oral testimony to provide alternate histories that highlight the impact of colonial racist violence and the impacts of racial segregation.

But it can be argued that they are still working within the parameters of western history-making until they can incorporate Aboriginal ways of dealing with history. And we cannot hope for foundational changes to our relationship to the settler colonial state until we properly integrate Aboriginal theory, ethics, values and methodologies into this. This is what “Aboriginal history” is truly about.

The need for Aboriginal history

Aboriginal philosophy incorporates a very different theory and approach to history. For Aboriginal people, any difficult history is not forgotten until it is dealt with — and then it is truly left behind.

History is with us, it impacts on our lives now, until it is addressed. And we will not belong to the nation state until our history is incorporated into the narrative of the nation and resolved.

Culturally, Aboriginal people have engaged in history in a functional way, in that it has not been used as a celebratory or foundational narrative. Stories are retained to ensure historical wrongs are addressed and when they are, they are no longer told. People with authority and knowledge lead the resolution of disputes, the wrongs are righted, including through ceremony, and then everyone can move on. The business of the past is then declared to be finished.

Aboriginal approaches to time and history are instructive. In this way, the methodology of the Makarrata is a way to address the injuries of the past – in order for all parties to move on.

Makarrata is about self-determination

The process of Makarrata needs to be led by Aboriginal cultural leadership across the nation, by those who understand the true spirit of this process that can go by many other names. It is important that the whole difficult history be revealed, that every Aboriginal person has the chance to speak to a Makarrata commissioner, whether in public or in private, be heard and with permission be recorded for later reference.

Aboriginal commissioners need to oversee the ways in which this information is managed. The end product should allow those events in which Aboriginal people were truly victims to be balanced by the development of other stories, of friendships, co-operation and understanding into the future. Self-determination is key.

Makarrata success stories

An example of this process is demonstrated in the documentary  Dhakiyarr vs. The King whereby the Yolngu descendants of Dhakiyarr who disappeared, presumed dead, (on his way home from Darwin) retold and reinvestigated the events leading up to his death. They included the family of the policemen who he had killed, the Court House in Darwin where he had been denied justice. They told the story in full, incorporating the descendants of the people involved and performed ceremony at specific important locations, to acknowledge the true history and put it to rest.

The documentary has since been shown around the world to critical acclaim. It continues to be a powerful example of the way Aboriginal people can deal with the wrongs of history and allow everyone to move on with increased wellbeing.

Another example is the annual pilgrimage to the site of the Myall Creek Massacre in New England NSW, where Aboriginal and settler colonial Australians come together to acknowledge a very difficult history and put it to rest. This has proven to be a profound experience of resolving the injuries of the past for all who have made the journey.

As an Aboriginal historian, the prospect of using Makarrata to right historical wrongs is exciting  — a once-in-the-lifetime-of-a-nation-opportunity that would potentially lead to greater wellbeing, hope, and most importantly –- true healing.

Victoria Grieve-Williams is a Warraimaay historian and Adjunct Professor, Indigenous Research, RMIT University

National NAIDOC Week runs 7 – 14 July 2019. For information head to the official site. Join the conversation #NAIDOC2019 & #VoiceTreatyTruth 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #NRW2019 and the Referendum News :  Communiqué from Cairns and Yarrabah workshop on 24-26 May 2019 regarding the #UluruStatement from the Heart

“ We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish.They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.”

Uluru Statement from the Heart, 26 May 2017 : See full Statement part 2 below

 ” On the second anniversary of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, First Nations representatives from across the country met in Cairns and gathered at the Tree of Knowledge in Yarrabah, to renew the invitation forged at Uluru.

We pay tribute to the men and women whose heroic efforts led to the successful 1967 Referendum 52 years ago. We met with two of those heroes – Ms Ruth Hennings, aged 85, and Mr Alf Neal, aged 94 – both of whom were awarded the Order of Australia in 2019 for their services to our people.

We thank the growing movement of Australians from all walks of life who have pledged their support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart. This is a movement that is growing and will continue to grow.

Australia has an opportunity to honour and build upon the legacy of 1967. The Australian people united then and we can do it again.

We welcome the Australian Government’s commitment of $7.3 million for the design of the Voice proposed at Uluru, and $160 million for a referendum to achieve it. We seek to meet with the Prime Minister as soon as possible about how best to proceed. The way forward must be informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout Australia.

We invite all Australians to walk with us on this journey, thoughtfully and with purpose, and to support our voice being heard.”

This communique is issued on behalf of participants at an Uluru Dialogue workshop convened in Cairns and Yarrabah on 24-26 May 2019 by the Indigenous Law Centre UNSW and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council

Download copy of this Communique in full

FNQ Communique Uluru Statement, May 2019

Alfie Neal and Ruth Wallace Hennings – brave the tropical rain at Yarrabah where they sat and planned the vote for Australia’s indigenous population. Picture: Brian Cassey

” More than 50 years ago, Ruth Hennings sat with Alfred Neal day after day under the “Tree of Knowledge” in Yarrabah, near Cairns, plotting the protest movement across Queensland’s conservative north that helped bring the beginnings of equality for ­Aboriginal Australians.

It was from there that the mission-raised pair led the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League, in its struggle to win support for the successful 1967 referendum, enabling laws for indigenous people and including them in the census.

The only survivors of the league, Ms Hennings, 85, and Mr Neal, 94, reunited yesterday on the beach near where the tree stood after learning they — had been awarded Order of Australia Medals for services to the indigenous community.”

From NACCHO Post 26 January 2019

Megan Davis, Pat Anderson and Noel Pearson holding the Uluru Statement

” We were right to gift the Uluru Statement from the Heart two years ago to the people of Australia, rather than to the politicians or the government.

Its sentiments and its passion and its sincerity have appealed to a wide cross-section of society.

Just as with the long campaign that led to the successful 1967 vote dealing with First Nations in the constitution, people are standing up ready to join us on this journey.

Corporate support is growing. The big law firms, the finance sector, theAustralian Medical Association and a whole host more are already on board. Support is growing from ordinary Australians.

This support gives me hope that there’s a real chance for structural change that gives us a say in the business of the Parliament for policies that affect us. “

Patricia Anderson was co-chair of the Referendum Council and a former NACCHO Chair : She is an Alyawarr woman. See Part 3 Below

” The idea is that if you have direct Indigenous input into law and policy making, the quality of advice will be vastly better than contemporary decision making which is primarily done by non-Indigenous people making decisions about communities they have never visited and people they do not know.

This is why so many communities are not flourishing. This is why so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are struggling. The decisions made about their lives are crafted by people in Canberra or other big cities. Apples and Oranges.

The reform is constitutional, meaning it requires a referendum so that the proposal can be put to the Australian people to approve. This is why the Uluru Statement was issued to the Australian people. Because it is only we exclusively, as Australians united, who can make an alteration to the text.”

 Professor Megan Davis is a constitutional lawyer and Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous UNSW. She is an Aboriginal woman from the Cobble Cobble clan from south-west Queensland. See Part 4 below for full text

“This is a historic agreement that he reached with us [on ‘closing the gap’ between indigenous and non-indigenous well-being] and because of his superb leadership on it we are going to work closely with him. Constitutional recognition was a complementary parallel process and “it’s important both get done.”

Pat Turner NACCHO CEO and co-chair of a new joint council formed between Indigenous peak bodies and state and federal governments to re-design ‘Closing the Gap’ targets, said she had been impressed with the Prime Minister so far.

FROM SMH / The AGE May27 Deborah Snow

On Sunday morning, many travelled to the historic Tree of Knowledge at Yarrabah, outside Cairns, a site closely associated with the launching of the successful 1967 referendum which gave Indigenous Australians the right to be counted in the census and allowed federal laws to be made for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Monday marked the 52nd anniversary of that referendum – one of only 8 to be carried out of 44 referendum proposals ever put to the country. ( 90 % said YES )

1967

2019

Senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders gathering in far north Queensland this weekend called for a meeting with Mr Morrison “as soon as possible” to try to make progress on constitutional recognition:

They were marking the second anniversary of the solemnly-worded Uluru Statement from the Heart, which was adopted in May 2017 at an unprecedented summit of Indigenous leaders from around the country.

The communique of around 40 Indigenous leaders at the weekend welcomed the Liberal party’s promise made during the election campaign of $7.3 million to develop a proposal to take to a referendum, and the budget allocation of $160 million to bring that referendum about.

But it said the way forward “must be informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people throughout Australia”, saying the movement for recognition was “growing, and will continue to grow”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has “committed to getting an outcome” on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, paving the way for a national discussion on the best way to achieve it.

But he has given no timeframe on how long the process might take.

It was in the shadow of this magnificent natural wonder that the Uluru Statement was born.

It was in the shadow of this magnificent natural wonder that the Uluru Statement was born.

The freshly elected Mr Morrison told the Herald that “we need to work together across the aisle and across our communities to get an outcome that all Australians can get behind and we’ll take as long as is needed to achieve that.”

Labor had committed to a referendum in the current parliamentary term had it been elected.

Mr Morrison said “my priorities for Indigenous Australians are to ensure Indigenous kids are in school and getting an education, that young Indigenous Australians are not taking their own lives and that there are real jobs for Indigenous Australians so they can plan for their future with confidence like any other Australian.”

His comments coincide with his appointment of Western Australian MP Ken Wyatt as the country’s first Indigenous cabinet minister, with the title of Minister for Indigenous Australians.

Mr Morrison’s predecessor Malcolm Turnbull dismissed the idea of the Voice saying it would amount to a third chamber of parliament.

A Liberal party policy document released in the last days of the campaign said more work was needed on “what model we take to a referendum and what a Voice to parliament would be.” It talked broadly of “comprehensive co-design of models to improve local and regional decision making and options for constitutional recognition.”

Indigenous leaders are rapidly re-calibrating expectations after the shock election victory of the coalition.

A bipartisan parliamentary committee last December recommended that the Voice “should become a reality”, after a co-design process between government and First Nations peoples.

A range of industry and other organisations have also come out in support of the Uluru statement, including the Law Council of Australia, the AMA, the business council, ACOSS, major law firms, big miners BHP and Rio Tinto and – as of last week – 21 leaders of investment banks, super funds and accounting firms.

Some Indigenous leaders told the Herald on Sunday that Mr Morrison’s re-election might not slow the momentum for constitutional recognition.

Lawyer and human rights advocate Teela Reid, a Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, told the Herald that the election result “does not really change much for blackfellas. We have always had this kind of experience with the left and the right. History has proven that change is not easy.”

She said if anything, a re-election of a coalition government “motivates us more”. But she said the Morrison government should get a referendum done “as soon as possible. Our old people don’t have time, they deserve the question to be resolved in their lifetimes”.

Many of those behind the Uluru statement want a referendum to embed the principle of a Voice first, with detailed design taking place after a successful vote. But some indigenous leaders, such as Tom Calma, co-chair of Reconciliation Australia, worry that a too-vague proposal will not command majority support.

A government source told the Herald, “The Prime Minister is intensely pragmatic. He will get a result on this. He just wants the right one.” A referendum without an agreed model risked getting “very Brexity” the source said, adding that a fixed timeframe could put pressure on a fragile process.

Labor’s putative leader-elect Anthony Albanese told the Herald that “if there is one area where we can put aside partisanship and work together in the national interest, it must be to advance the agenda of the Uluru statement.”

Mr Morrison said recognition must be achieved alongside “practical goals” which made Indigenous Australians “safe in their communities” and enjoying the same access to services as any other Australian.

Part 2

ULURU STATEMENT FROM THE HEART

We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart:

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation,according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than60,000 years ago.

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’,and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?

With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

Part 3 : We are again asking the Australian people to walk with us ( continued )

A First Nations Voice enshrined in the constitution. That’s what the Uluru Statement calls for.

The days are long gone of that old colonial-type thinking, that somebody else, somewhere else, knows what’s best for us.

It’s important that we can talk directly to Parliament about issues that affect us. The Voice to Parliament is a modest and conservative ask but it would truly be a nation-building development, one that is long overdue.

First Nations people have always been aware that we stand on the shoulders of those who went before us.

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So I was privileged to catch up in Cairns this past weekend with two people who were part of the campaign in the 1967 referendum, Auntie Ruth Hennings, who’s 85, and Uncle Alf Neal, who’s 94.

Auntie Ruth came to a meeting where some of us were planning next steps in our journey. She was tearful when she saw the actual Uluru Statement painting hanging on the wall to inspire us. She’d never seen it before.

It really was a powerful moment.

And then we visited Yarrabah, an hour’s drive from Cairns, because that’s the old mission where Auntie Ruth and Uncle Alf began planning with others how they were going to organise the campaign that became the 1967 referendum.

They were both awarded the Order of Australia this year for their efforts.

We are again asking the Australian people to walk with us, to accept our gift of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and change the constitution so that it makes our nation complete.

Patricia Anderson was co-chair of the Referendum Council. She is an Alyawarr woman.

Part 4 Professor Megan Davis is a constitutional lawyer and Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous UNSW. She is an Aboriginal woman from the Cobble Cobble clan from south-west Queensland.

The process that led to the Uluru Statement From the Heart and the proposal to amend the Australian constitution to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament was a watershed moment in Australian history.

For the first time in our living memory, a representative group of Australia’s First Nations people met in the heart of Australia at Uluru on May 26, 2017, and agreed to endorse a sequence of reforms aimed at doing what bureaucracy and politicians have been unable to do, empower Indigenous communities to take control of their future.

The reforms known as Voice, Treaty, Truth are deliberately sequenced. A carefully crafted response to the problems that plague our communities and lead to large numbers of child removals and youth detention.

The first reform in the sequence of reforms is a First Nations Voice to the Parliament and that is the focus of our advocacy energies. The Voice to Parliament is a common feature in many liberal democracies around the world. It is a very simple proposition: that Indigenous peoples should have a say in the laws and policies that impact upon their lives and communities.

The idea is that if you have direct Indigenous input into law and policy making, the quality of advice will be vastly better than contemporary decision making which is primarily done by non-Indigenous people making decisions about communities they have never visited and people they do not know.

This is why so many communities are not flourishing. This is why so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are struggling. The decisions made about their lives are crafted by people in Canberra or other big cities. Apples and Oranges.

The reform is constitutional, meaning it requires a referendum so that the proposal can be put to the Australian people to approve. This is why the Uluru Statement was issued to the Australian people. Because it is only we exclusively, as Australians united, who can make an alteration to the text.

This was done in 1967 to provide the Commonwealth with the power to make laws for Indigenous peoples. The highest “Yes” vote in Australian history was recorded in this referendum. On this occasion we are returning to the Australian people to ask them to empower us to make decisions about our own lives.

The amendment to the constitution is as simple as the proposal. We are asking Australians to approve a new provision that enables the federal Parliament to create a new representative body that will be known as the Voice to Parliament. It is an enabling provision similar to how the High Court of Australia was set up, the Australian population voted on a provision that proposed a High Court be created but the legislation was passed three years later.

Post-Uluru there has been two years of work conducted on what the Voice might look like. The work ahead now is to agree to the amount of detail that is required for Australians to feel fully informed when voting at the ballot box. The full blown Voice design can be legislated for after a successful referendum. The deferral of this detail is a common constitutional and political strategy around the world.

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Changing the constitution is no mean feat in Australia. There are two key reasons that Indigenous people, via the dialogues that led up to the May 26 meeting, are seeking constitutional reform. First, the insecurity of Indigenous people’s status in the machinery of government when it comes to laws and policies and institutions. It is a area of public policy that is constantly and continually interrupted and disrupted from one political party to the next, from one three year term to the next, and constantly the subject of experimentation by bureaucracy and governments as new policy trends and buzz words develop and tested on Indigenous communities.

This state of disruption means that people’s lives and communities and the programs and policies that impact upon them are constantly chopping and changing. People on the ground have little control over the longevity of programs and policies. The Voice to Parliament reform is intended to bring security and certainty to people’s lives that we believe will manifest in better outcomes for communities. Being constitutionally enshrined, the Voice will be sustainable and durable well beyond political timetables. It means that Indigenous empowerment and active participation in the democratic life of the state is not dependent on which political party is in power.

The second reason for constitutional entrenchment is that it is intended to compel government to listen. At the moment, the government and policy makers are not compelled to listen or hear what First Nations have to say about the laws and policies that impact upon them. Entrenchment will mean listening to mob is compulsory and allowing Indigenous input into policy will be mandated. This will mean that laws and policies are more likely to be targeted and tailored to community problems and needs and it will mean laws and policies are less likely to fail.

Every working group in the dialogues endorsed the “Voice to Parliament” as a reform priority. The dialogues understood that the Voice to Parliament would operate as a “front end” political limit on

the Parliament’s powers to pass laws that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In particular, the Voice would be empowered to give input into laws contemplated by the Parliament under two sections of the Constitution, the race power and the territories power.

These are the two powers, s51(xxvi) and s122, that impact upon Indigenous peoples the most. This input will be provided in an efficient and timely manner. The dialogues discussed in a nuanced way parliamentary sovereignty and other constitutional limitations of the Voice and all appreciated that this model would be no guarantee that these powers would not be used against them in the future in a negative way by Parliament but that it would create a limit through political empowerment, which would achieve better designed policies in the future.

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The reform is urgent. The deliberative dialogue process that led to the historic consensus at Uluru and the call for a Voice to Parliament is being lauded around the world as a best practice process for eliciting Indigenous views. The United Nations Special Rapporteur told the UN Human Rights Council this in 2017 and 2018. This is an Australian innovation. The Uluru statement is an offer of friendship and peace. Many of our old people are dying and they want some peace for their country.

Despite all of Australia’s history, the Uluru dialogue participants acknowledged that while the law can oppress, the law can also redeem. And the Voice to Parliament is about fairness and using the highest Australian law to empower our people so they can take their rightful place in the nation.

We issued Uluru to the Australian people and not to the politicians. It is an offer to the Australian people and the consideration, a constitutional Voice, is a small price for the benefit that it will unlock for all Australians.

Professor Megan Davis is a constitutional lawyer and Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous UNSW. She is an Aboriginal woman from the Cobble Cobble clan from south-west Queensland.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @RecAustralia and #Racism : New Australian #ReconciliationBarometer Report shows some increased support but 33% of our mob have still experienced at least one form of verbal racial abuse in the last 6 months

Significantly, almost all Australians (95%) believe that ‘it is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in matters that affect them’ and 80% believe it is important to ‘undertake formal truth telling processes’, with 86% believing it is important to learn about past issues.

But disturbingly the barometer found that 33% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have experienced at least one form of verbal racial abuse in the last 6 months.”

Reconciliation CEO, Karen Mundine launching today The 2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer, a national research study conducted every two years to measure and compare attitudes and perceptions towards reconciliation:

Download the full Report HERE

Reconcilation Aust 158 pages Barometer -full-report-2018

Download the brochure HERE

ra_2019-barometer-brochure_web.single.page_

Download the 2018 Workplace RAP Barometer 

WorkPlace RAP Barometer -2018_-final-report

Read over 110 Aboriginal Health and Racism articles published by NACCHO in the last 7 years 

Australians’ support for reconciliation and for a greater Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander say in their own affairs continues to strengthen according to the latest national survey conducted by Reconciliation Australia.

The 2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer, a national research study conducted every two years to measure and compare attitudes and perceptions towards reconciliation, has found that an overwhelming number of Australians (90%) believe in the central tenet of reconciliation – that the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is important.

The 2018 Barometer surveyed a national sample of 497 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and 1995 Australians in the general community across all states and territories.

Reconciliation CEO, Karen Mundine, said that this latest Barometer once again showed a steady strengthening of the indicators for reconciliation and improved relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

“Among these indicators is the encouraging fact that 90% of Australians believe in the central tenet of our reconciliation efforts, that the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is important, and that 79% agree that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are important to Australia’s national identity,” said Ms Mundine.

“Significantly, almost all Australians (95%) believe that ‘it is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in matters that affect them’ and 80% believe it is important to ‘undertake formal truth telling processes’, with 86% believing it is important to learn about past issues.

“More Australians than ever before feel a sense of pride for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; this has risen to 62% from 50% in 2008 when the first barometer was conducted,” she said.

Conducted by Reconciliation Australia the Australian Reconciliation Barometer is the only survey undertaken in Australia which measures the progress of reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

Ms Mundine said she was heartened by the 2018 results which indicated that the work of Reconciliation Australia and other organisations which promoted reconciliation, the richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and the need to truthfully present Australia’s history, was having a positive impact.

“In welcoming these latest results, I must acknowledge the hard work undertaken by so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people to share the incredible beauty and complexity of our cultures across this continent.”

Ms Mundine said that while it was encouraging to see support for reconciliation grow again in the past two years, “there was still plenty of room for improvement”.

“Disturbingly the barometer found that 33% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have experienced at least one form of verbal racial abuse in the last 6 months.”

Ms Mundine said that there were a number of actions that should be taken to further improve the situation for Australia’s First Nations and take the next steps towards a reconciled nation.

These include:

  • Developing a deeper reconciliation process through truth, justice and healing, including supporting a process of truth telling, the establishment of a national healing centre, formal hearings to capture stories and bear witness, reform to the school curriculum, and exploration of archives and other records to map massacre sites and understand the magnitude of the many past wrongs;
  • Support for addressing unresolved issues of national reconciliation including through legislation setting out the timeframe and process for advancing the issues proposed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart;
  • Supporting the national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples – and these efforts must be underpinned by the principles of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly the right to self-determination;
  • Recommitting to the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) Closing the Gap framework that involves renewing and increasing investments and national, state/territory and regional agreements to meet expanded Closing the Gap targets that are co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
  • Investing in, and supporting, anti-racism campaigns and resources including maintaining strong legislative protections against racial discrimination and taking leadership to promote a zero-tolerance approach to racism and discrimination.

Read the Summary Report

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Referendum #Ulurustatement : Indigenous campaigners awarded Australia Day honours for role in 1967 referendum Ruth Hennings, Diana Travis, Alfred Neal and Dulcie Flower honoured for service to their communities

 ” Ruth Henning, Diana Travis, and Alfred Neal were awarded the medal of the order of Australia (OAM) on Saturday for their service to their communities and work on the 1967 referendum.

Aunty Dulcie Flower, who was granted the OAM in 1992, was made a member of the order of Australia (AM) for her work on the referendum, her role in the establishment of the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, and her work as a nurse.

From the Guardian 26 January 2019

Alfie Neal and Ruth Wallace Hennings – brave the tropical rain at Yarrabah where they sat and planned the vote for Australia’s indigenous population. Picture: Brian Cassey

 ” More than 50 years ago, Ruth Hennings sat with Alfred Neal day after day under the “Tree of Knowledge” in Yarrabah, near Cairns, plotting the protest movement across Queensland’s conservative north that helped bring the beginnings of equality for ­Aboriginal Australians.

It was from there that the mission-raised pair led the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League, in its struggle to win support for the successful 1967 referendum, enabling laws for indigenous people and including them in the census.

The only survivors of the league, Ms Hennings, 85, and Mr Neal, 94, reunited yesterday on the beach near where the tree stood after learning they — had been awarded Order of Australia Medals for services to the indigenous community.”

From the Australian 26 January 2019

Campaigners mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum on 24 May 2017, including Alfred Neal, left, and Dulcie Flower, second right, who have both been recognised in the 2019 Australia Day honours. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian

On the day of the 1967 referendum, Ruth Hennings was handing out “vote yes” flyers at a local school in Cairns.

It was the first sign she had that the campaign to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were included in the census, and to give the federal government power to make laws specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, had won the support of a majority of Australian citizens.

“Nearly everyone who was there, they all said good luck and hoped everything would turn out good,” Hennings said. “So they gave me a good feeling of ‘it will change’.”

When the votes were counted, that feeling was confirmed: 91% of Australians voted yes.

The next step, Hennings said, was a plan to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were recognised in the constitution as the First Peoples of Australia.

See Ruths story Brisbane Times

Fifty-two years later that still has not happened and the Uluru Statement, which sets out a path forward, was rejected by the federal government.

Hennings is 85 now, a celebrated elder. On Saturday she was one of four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people honoured for their role in the 1967 referendum, and for a lifetime of other community work.

She was a founding member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League in Cairns, which began in 1958, and attended meetings while working as a cleaner around the town for 15 shillings a day.

She told Guardian Australia constitutional recognition was still badly needed.

“We really need to get a body together where we can talk in one voice,” she said. “All of these things have been happening, money is being thrown around, and there’s no result … the main thing is getting that constitution right and making sure that we are all one people, we are all one Australia.”

Travis was just 19 when her grandfather Sir Douglas Nicholls, one of the most revered figures in Victoria, drove her to Canberra to take part in the referendum alongside her heroes: Charlie Perkins, Chicka Dixon, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, and Faith Bandler.

“They were all wonderful leaders, wonderful workers, focused and aware, so I was just in my joy being there, mingling and being amongst them all in Canberra,” she said.

Travis is now involved in native title work as a Dja Dja Wurrung claimant and a member of the Dhuudora native title group, and is an active participant in the Victorian treaty process.

“It may be a different time now but I still believe that there’s good people out there,” Travis said. “Some of them may not understand, but I just say: listen please, listen to us, talk to us. We’re not targeting you, it’s all about the government.”

She said she was in “two or three minds” about accepting the Australia Day honour, both because she does not support the celebration of Australia Day on 26 January – she will spend the morning in protest in Melbourne, as she does every year – and because she was not sure she had done enough to earn it.

Both Hennings and Travis said the singular focus and united purpose behind the 1967 referendum campaign was absent from modern reform debates.

“At that time we all had that one goal,” Henning said. “We all knew what we wanted, we were focused and willing and happy and we had FCAATSI (Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders) … But today there’s nothing.”

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #selfdetermination #International day of the #WorldsIndigenousPeople 9 August : #WeAreIndigenous and we Walk for Makarrata –  One Message, One Goal, Many Voices #ulurustatement

On this annual observance, let us commit to fully realizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the rights to self-determination and to traditional lands, territories and resources.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres See Part 2 below 

Our desire for Makarrata is about self-determination, genuine partnership and moving beyond survival.  It’s about putting our future into our own hands,

Makarrata was needed because the Apology and successive reforms from both sides of politics have not on their own delivered healing and unity for the nation, or enough progress for Aboriginal people.” 

NSWALC Chairman, Cr Roy Ah-See Part 1 Below 

What is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

A declaration is a statement adopted by governments from around the world. Declarations are not legally binding, but they outline goals for countries to work towards.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration) represents 20 years of negotiation between Indigenous peoples, governments and human rights experts, and argues that Indigenous peoples all around the world are entitled to all human rights, including collective rights.

The rights within the Declaration, which was formally adopted by Australia in 2009, set standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples.

Why have a Declaration for Indigenous peoples?

The Declaration is necessary to combat the policies of assimilation and integration employed by colonisers throughout the world that have uprooted, marginalised and dispossessed First Nation peoples. This common history of dispossession created many circumstances that remain unique to Indigenous cultures. These groups bear similar marks of colonisation, while continuing to practice their incredibly diverse cultures and traditions.

The rights of all people are protected through international law mechanisms. However, what these fail to provide to Indigenous peoples are the “specific protection of the distinctive cultural and group identity of indigenous peoples as well as the spatial and political dimension of that identity, their ways of life.”[1] Prior to the Declaration there was a lack of a legal guarantee of Indigenous communities to their collective rights, such as ownership of traditional lands, the return of sacred remains, artefacts and sites, and the guarantee of governments to honour treaty obligations.

What does the Declaration mean for Australia?

The Declaration sets out rights both for individuals and collective groups. This reflects the tendency of Indigenous groups around the world, to organise societies as a group (a clan, nation, family or community). An example of these group rights is the acknowledgment that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have the right to own country, hold cultural knowledge as a group and the right to define their groups.

Some other rights secured in the document include, the right to equality, freedom from discrimination, self-determination and self-government. Many of these rights are already secured through Commonwealth and State legislation. However, the Declaration is Australia’s promise that mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be able to benefit from these rights.

The significant disadvantages currently faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia only serve to highlight the ongoing relevance and importance of the Declaration.

What is self-determination and why is it important?

Self-determination is a key part of the Declaration, and is a right unique to Indigenous communities around the world. Self-determination can only be achieved through the consultation and participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the formation of all policies and legislation that impacts upon them. Self-determination is characterised by three key elements that require Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have:
 Choice to determine how their lives are governed and the paths to development
 Participation in decisions that affect the lives of First Nation peoples.
 Control over their lives and futures, including economic, social and cultural development.

A campaign for Makarrata launches in Sydney today Thursday August 9, when Aboriginal people and their supporters will walk from Hyde Park to the NSW Parliament.

Led by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) and Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations (CAPO), the walk will call on Parliamentarians to join a movement for a better future for Aboriginal people, and all Australians.

NSWALC Chairman, Cr Roy Ah-See said that the walk will promote a positive alternative agenda for Aboriginal affairs in the state. .

Makarrata is gift from the Yolngu language. It means coming together after a struggle. It has been used nationally since the National Aboriginal Conference in the late 1970’s and featured prominently in the historic Uluru Statement from the Heart.

 

“What we have seen to date are disconnected stepping stones towards a vague future focused on survival. What we need is a clear pathway for Aboriginal people to thrive, and for all Australians to walk with us on this journey.

“Our successes have been many, but we still face significant challenges.  We want to see increased prosperity for Aboriginal families across the state, with more of our people going to university and getting better jobs.

“We want to see our children flourishing; walking proudly and successfully in two worlds. Taking part in the economy and enriching the country with their culture.

“By walking with us we are asking all political parties to commit to genuine partnership, to face our challenges together, and grow and support our successes.

“NSW is where the struggle started, and it is right that the largest state, with the largest population of Aboriginal people in the country takes genuine steps towards Makarrata,

“We are looking for all Australians to join us on our journey towards Makarrata,” Cr Ah-See said.

Walk with us, join us at www.makarrata.org.au

 

Part 2

There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.

Indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Despite their cultural differences, indigenous peoples from around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples.

Indigenous peoples have sought recognition of their identities, way of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources for years, yet throughout history their rights have always been violated. Indigenous peoples today, are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world. The international community now recognizes that special measures are required to protect their rights and maintain their distinct cultures and way of life.

2018 Theme: Indigenous peoples’ migration and movement

As a result of loss of their lands, territories and resources due to development and other pressures, many indigenous peoples migrate to urban areas in search of better prospects of life, education and employment.

They also migrate between countries to escape conflict, persecution and climate change impacts. Despite the widespread assumption that indigenous peoples live overwhelmingly in rural territories, urban areas are now home to a significant proportion of indigenous populations. In Latin America, around 40 per cent of all indigenous peoples live in urban areas — even 80 per cent in some countries of the region. In most cases, indigenous peoples who migrate find better employment opportunities and improve their economic situation but alienate themselves from their traditional lands and customs. Additionally, indigenous migrants face a myriad of challenges, including lack of access to public services and additional layers of discrimination.

The 2018 theme will focus on the current situation of indigenous territories, the root causes of migration, trans-border movement and displacement, with a specific focus on indigenous peoples living in urban areas and across international borders. The observance will explore the challenges and ways forward to revitalize indigenous peoples’ identities and encourage the protection of their rights in or outside their traditional territories.

The observance of the International Day will take place on Thursday 9 August 2018 from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm in the ECOSOC Chamber at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The programme can be found in Events. More information in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) page.

International Year of Indigenous Languages

View above interactive map HERE

Languages play a crucially important role in the daily lives of all peoples, are pivotal in the areas of human rights protection, peace building and sustainable development, through ensuring cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. However, despite their immense value, languages around the world continue to disappear at an alarming rate due to a variety of factors. Many of them are indigenous languages.

Indigenous languages in particular are a significant factor in a wide range of other indigenous issues, notably education, scientific and technological development, biosphere and the environment, freedom of expression, employment and social inclusion.

In response to these threats, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a Resolution (A/RES/71/178) on ‘Rights of Indigenous Peoples’, proclaiming 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

On Twitter, follow #WeAreIndigenous#IndigenousDay#IndigenousPeoplesDay, and #UNDRIP