NACCHO #NAIDOCWEEK #BecauseofherWeCan #WeCan18 @RecAustralia Interview with NACCHO CEO Pat Turner “A reconciled nation will be when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have self-determination over their own lives without the constraints of poverty and the burden of disease “

“ A reconciled nation will be when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have self-determination over their own lives without the constraints of poverty and the burden of disease. We will be in charge of our own affairs and in control over decisions that impact on us.

Our past will be fully acknowledged and our collective future celebrated without reservation. There will be no more debates over our shared history and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ land ownership.

Racism will not be a barrier to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing education, employment and health services.

There will be complete acceptance of our unique cultural heritage and identities by all Australians enabling our languages, our connection to land and our cultural practices to flourish without restraint and be incorporated in all aspects of our nationhood “

Pat Turner AM NACCHO CEO interview with Reconciliation Australia when asked  : What does a reconciled Australia look like to you?

“They’ve allowed us to retain our identity”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Australia CEO Pat Turner tells National Rural Health Alliance  Di Martin about the importance of Aboriginal grandmothers guarding language and culture #BecauseOfHerWecan

VIEW HERE

Background Pat Turner AM

Ms Pat Turner AM is the daughter of an Arrernte man and a Gurdanji woman, and was born and raised in Alice Springs.

After her father’s death in an accident at work, Ms Turner’s family experienced extreme financial hardship. Her mother’s courage and leadership in the face of such difficult circumstances was a constant inspiration.

Ms Turner joined the Australian Public Service in the early 1970s and joined the senior executive ranks by the mid-1980s. She worked in a range of prominent roles, including as Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet during 1991-92, where she had oversight of the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. In 1994-98, Ms Turner was the CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, making her the most senior Indigenous government official in the country.

Over the years, Ms Turner became more committed to the politics of self-determination. At a professional level, this meant being a firm supporter of community-based service delivery of health and welfare programs for Aboriginal people.

Today, Ms Turner is the CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). NACCHO is the peak body representing 144 Aboriginal community-controlled health services across the country on Aboriginal health and wellbeing issues.

Interview continued: What or who got you involved in reconciliation? 

I first started thinking about reconciliation and the place of Aboriginal people in Australia after attending the graduation ceremony of Uncle Charlie Perkins from Sydney University with Nanna Hetty Perkins. I was thirteen at the time, and listening to Charlie speak, I started to understand the importance of education if I wanted to make a difference.

After joining the Australian Public Service and moving from Alice Springs to Canberra, I was later appointed Deputy Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. It was here I had a specific role in working for the Government on the legislation and establishment of the Council of Aboriginal Reconciliation. I was the inaugural National Secretary to the Council.

After returning to Alice Springs in 2006 I held the position of CEO of National Indigenous Television where I supported the celebration of Indigenous culture and helped challenge perceptions and fears of many non-Indigenous Australians about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that are a continuing barrier to reconciliation.

What do you see as the biggest challenges to national reconciliation?

Our biggest challenges are twofold:

Firstly, making both Federal and State Governments truly accountable to eliminate poverty and disadvantage endured by our people.

Secondly, acceptance and respect by all Australians of our unique cultural heritage and identities, our relationship with land, our languages and our cultural practices, so that those areas and the essence of our beings are incorporated into all aspects of Australian life and government efforts to eliminate our disadvantage.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : @theMJA Publishes special @naidocweek #IndigenousHealth #CloseTheGap #Ulurustatement #FirstNations open access edition

 ” While Closing the Gap has become an iconic representation of Indigenous advocacy, it remains essential to maintain focus on the individual components of disease processes, epidemiology, intervention delivery, and cultural mechanisms that influence the achievement of significant change.

The MJA will ensure it strengthens its role in delivering the relevant data to clinicians, policy developers, and the Australian community.

Indigenous health: One gap is closed See Part 1 Below

“DESPITE a slight narrowing over the past decade, the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and the general population remains significant.

On average, the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are around a decade shorter than those of non-Aboriginal Australians – a shocking statistic for a high income country.

This gap has been attributed to many factors, most of which relate to high levels of socio-economic disadvantage.

Now, new research points to multimorbidity as a significant driver of higher mortality rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.”

See Part 2 Below Multimorbidity as a significant driver of higher mortality rates

  ” Aboriginal people are under stress and we need to take some of that away by recognising their existence and their self-determination. The Uluru Statement is a good place to start.”

He says that he’s no hand wringer and he’s optimistic that the cultural change can happen.

The government won’t take constitutional recognition to a referendum yet because it doesn’t think the public has come around to it. But I think the public is ahead of the government here, just as it was for same-sex marriage. There’s an enormous willingness in the public to embrace First Nations people. I think there’s a huge capacity for change.”

The Uluru Statement is a good place to start SEE Part 3 Below

Read full edition Here

Part 1 Indigenous health: one gap is closed

The 2017 MJA Indigenous health issue explored the social determinants of health that are essential to closing the gap between health outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, specifically targeting cultural awareness and communication.1

The issue also placed recent gains in the life expectancy of Indigenous Australians in perspective,2 and recognised achievements by an often silent yet dedicated clinical community.

The Journal has continued to develop these themes. In this year’s Indigenous health issue, four research papers and the accompanying editorials underline the progress we are making as a journal and as a medical community in bringing about meaningful change.

In this respect, the report by Hendry and colleagues,3 documenting the effective closure of the gap in vaccination rates, is particularly heartening. Vaccination is recognised by the World Health Organization as one of the most cost-effective interventions in public health.4 Hendry and her co-authors describe a program in which Aboriginal Immunisation Healthcare Workers identify and follow up Indigenous children due or overdue for vaccinations, a program that has achieved equality of full vaccination coverage for Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in New South Wales at 9, 15 and 51 months of age.

This remarkable outcome is especially significant given the high background susceptibility of Indigenous children to vaccine-preventable diseases. While it is not clear whether the improvement in vaccination rates is attributable to the dedicated program structure or to the deployment of culturally aware health workers, it is certain that partnerships between modern clinical methods and traditional cultural awareness will continue to be the model of choice for improving Indigenous health.

Also noteworthy is the authors’ combination of high quality research with statistically sound methodology in a culturally appropriate setting, a mix essential to the Journal, as detailed in the 2017 Indigenous health issue.1,5 Banks and colleagues6 applied similarly robust and culturally appropriate methodology to draw attention to the substantial undertreatment with lipid-lowering therapies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

They found that 4.7% of Indigenous people aged 25–34 years are at high primary risk, but this age group is not assessed for cardiovascular disease risk under current national guidelines. The accompanying editorial7 summarises a suite of targeted interventions that build on these and other findings published in the Journal.8 While these approaches are no doubt important, adapting the successful approach of Hendry and colleagues’ to vaccination,3 to provide a similarly structured intervention for lipid-lowering therapy, could be a game-changing strategy for closing the gap in cardiovascular disease.

The MJA recognises the power of big data and data linkage studies. Randall and colleagues9 analysed linked hospital and mortality data to explore in depth multimorbidity in Indigenous patients in NSW.

The necessary policy and clinical responses are placed in perspective by Broe and Radford10 in their editorial. They note the especially higher level of comorbidities among Aboriginals in mid-life age groups than in non-Aboriginals of the same age, and that this difference is correlated with the age-group peak in the mortality gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, highlighted in this Journal last year.2 While the wealth of information made available by big data-based research can sometimes be overwhelming, the MJA prioritises analyses that can change practice..

Finally, Gunasekera and colleagues11 report the high degree of agreement between diagnoses by audiologists and otolaryngologists of otitis media in Aboriginal children, suggesting that audiologists could triage cases in areas where specialist services are limited.

The false negative rate was low — in 3.0% of children, audiologists did not diagnose otitis media subsequently detected on image review by an experienced otolaryngologist — and the most serious form, tympanic membrane perforation, was never missed. These findings may open pathways for children in high risk settings — where otitis media is common (prevalence of 29% in this study) but otolaryngologists are few — to more efficiently receive specialist care.

The articles in this issue show that progress in medical and research methodology can be meaningfully combined with cultural sensitivity. The Journal welcomes submissions that further develop these approaches. More broadly, the MJA will continue to highlight emerging issues of significance to Indigenous health, and is leading a global collaboration with major overseas medical journals to publish a joint issue on the health of indigenous peoples around the world in 2019.

While Closing the Gap has become an iconic representation of Indigenous advocacy, it remains essential to maintain focus on the individual components of disease processes, epidemiology, intervention delivery, and cultural mechanisms that influence the achievement of significant change. The MJA will ensure it strengthens its role in delivering the relevant data to clinicians, policy developers, and the Australian community.

Part 2

Published in the MJA, the study linked hospital and mortality data for around five and half million New South Wales residents, from 2003 to 2013.

The authors from the University of New South Wales, led by Dr Deborah Randall, found a much higher prevalence of multimorbidity (defined as two or more medical conditions) among people with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background than among the non-Indigenous population.

After adjusting for age, sex and socio-economic status, the rate of multimorbidity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was more than 2.5 times that of the non-Aboriginal population.

The relatively higher rates were found across all age groups, and peaked at around the age of 40 years. In younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this was largely driven by mental health issues, while in those aged over 60 years, it was mostly due to physical conditions.

A secondary endpoint for the study was one-year all-cause mortality after 2013. The rate for this was also around 2.5 times greater for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and was significantly associated with multimorbidity.

According to Professor Tony Broe, Conjoint Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of NSW and co-author of an editorial on the study, the research has two major implications, one for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the other for chronic disease control in general.

“First, there’s the much higher rate of multimorbidity in Aboriginal people, which is no mystery, but what the study authors have done is to show the data and put a figure on the issue. That’s important.”

Professor Broe, whose recent research work has focused on Aboriginal health and ageing, says that the second lesson from the study is that Australia is not managing multimorbidity and chronic disease very well, whether it’s in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or across the general population.

“The current approach to chronic disease is that we treat by specific disease and specialty. So, the respiratory physician will deal with lung disease and the cardiologist will deal with heart disease et cetera. That’s the wrong approach. What those of us involved in Aboriginal health have done is to say, well, these diseases all have the same risk factors. So, we decided to look at hypertension, smoking, mental health disorders and other risk factors as a group of things to tackle.”

Professor Broe says that in order to reduce multimorbidity prevalence, there needs to be a switch of focus away from episodic medical care towards preventive medicine.

“You come in with pneumonia and they give you a treatment, but what we want to do is to prevent you coming in with pneumonia in the first place. We need more focus on preventive medicine and we should be getting the GPs to do it, not the specialists. The specialists can help out with chronic disease programs, but it should be GPs who are running them.”

But Professor Broe says that the preventive approach won’t be enough on its own to improve the health and mortality rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. A large part of the solution is non-medical, he says, and requires a major cultural change.

“A lot of the comorbidities of younger Aboriginal people relate to mental health issues, driven by stress and trauma. In fact, a study we’ve just published shows that even the high rates of late-life dementia in Aboriginal people are associated with childhood stress and adversity. Aboriginal people are under stress and we need to take some of that away by recognising their existence and their self-determination.

Perspectives

PODCASTS

James S Ward, Karen Hawke and Rebecca J Guy

Med J Aust 2018; 209 (1): 56 Free

John A Stevens, Garry Egger and Bob Morgan

Med J Aust 2018; 209 (1): 68 Free

Multimorbidity in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people

GA (Tony) Broe and Kylie Radford

Med J Aust 2018; 209 (1): 16-17 Free

Part 3 THE Medical Journal of Australia and MJA InSight endorse the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The Statement, a consensus from the First Nations National Constitutional Convention held in May 2017, calls for “establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution” and seeks “a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history”.

It affirms the connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with the land, and highlights the social difficulties and ongoing suffering faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The MJA accepts the invitation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to join with them “in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”.

The MJA has been at the forefront of striving for health equity and equality for all Australians, including our First Nations peoples. We know the legacy of the MJA over 104 years is but a tiny fraction of the history of our nation, although our contribution in this short time has helped to spotlight our First Nations peoples’ health, including, all too often, the astounding and continuing inequities.

We recognise there is an ongoing health crisis that is clearly felt in the hearts of the First Nations peoples.

The 2018 Indigenous issue of the Journal, like those before it, continues to expand knowledge of Indigenous health determinants and issues and, even more crucially, begins presenting practical solutions to improve First Nations peoples’ health by harnessing modern medical understanding integrated with uncompromising cultural awareness. The task is far from complete. The Journal commits not only to support the Uluru Statement but to continue to prioritise publications that will integrate the statement into a health care and societal movement.

Health is integral to the spirit of all cultures; it is underpinned by social determinants obligating recognition, understanding and complete cultural awareness as identified in the Uluru Statement. If health equity and equality are to be achieved for all Australians, and if Australians all agree this is a fundamental human right and that it is un-Australian to think otherwise, then we must join hands and move forward to create a better future for us all.

Laureate Professor Nick Talley, AC, is editor-in-chief of the Medical Journal of Australia.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #UluruStatement from the Heart : #UpholdandRecognise says Past failures demand we open our hearts to #Indigenousvoices

” We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. In 1967, we were counted. In 2017, we seek to be heard.”

The Uluru Statement from the Heart

” The key contribution of Upholding the Big Ideas is that it presents us with models for how the Australian Parliament might hear Aboriginal voices and do so more effectively.

Two options are suggested. The speaking for country option, which would require the Commonwealth to establish and recognise local entities for Indigenous people who would speak for their communities. The second option is where the Commonwealth would establish a national Indigenous advisory body whose members would be chosen by delegates from local indigenous organisations.

Whether you agree or disagree with the proposals advanced, they invite us all to think afresh especially about what it would mean to implement the call for Parliament to hear Indigenous voices more effectively.”

Michael Kirby is a former High Court judge and was the recipient of the Australian Human Rights Medal 1991

Uphold and Recognise, an organisation committed to reconciling two imperatives: to uphold the Australian Constitution and to recognise Indigenous Australians, has joined with the Australian Catholic University to produce a policy document: Upholding the Big Ideas.

UPHOLDING THE BIG IDEAS

Options for Discussion Downloads

A fuller declaration of Australia’s nationhood

Hearing Indigenous voices

Journey from the heart

Makaratta

To download each paper as a PDF file, click the titles above. To download all four papers via a single Zip file, click here.

Just over a year ago, 250 Aboriginal representatives from all parts of Australia met at Uluru and issued what they called the “Statement from the Heart”.

Rachel Perkins launching Upholding the Big Ideas of the Uluru Statement from the Heart

At its core was the call for the Australian Constitution to be amended to provide for a First Nations’ Voice to Parliament.

The Prime Minster, Malcolm Turnbull, subsequently remarked that the Uluru Statement contained “big ideas” but was short on detail as to how the ideas might be implemented.

A year later, it is time for Australians to respond thoughtfully to the voice of our Aboriginal people. This is necessary to spell out exactly what is needed in the here and now.

At first, I probably had concerns similar to those that caused our Prime Minister to reject the big ideas of Uluru.

He did so, however, before there had been any real discussion, or an opportunity for Australians at large to debate the options for implementing them.

His response was intuitive. But we need to do better than that. Intuitive responses to new ideas are sometimes sound. But not always. Thoughtful people, with a sense of justice, will sometimes reconsider their intuitive
reactions. They will think again. This is such an occasion.

Most fair-minded Australians would agree that, so far, we have not done such a good job of listening to the voices of our Indigenous people. Their persisting disadvantages are a stain on our country’s nationhood.

Given the initial failure after 1788 to agree to a treaty with our Indigenous peoples (as occurred in New Zealand and other colonies of the British Crown), and the failure to engage in any consultation with the Indigenous people a century later, when our national Constitution was adopted, it is surely
appropriate for us to think again about what our First People are proposing to us.

The failure to recognise their rights over their traditional lands was a long-lasting source of economic deprivation. It contributed significantly to the disadvantages that Indigenous people still experience in Australia in so many aspects of their lives —including in housing, healthcare and education.

So, when representatives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia came together to make a serious proposal to their fellow citizens, it behoves us all to give their proposal careful consideration. Not to reject it out of hand.

Rejection was the attitude that led to the original denial of land rights—an injustice that took us 200 years to correct. This time we need to do things better and quicker.

In recent years, many leading citizens of Australia have begun to ask what we can do to ensure that our country and all its citizens will be reconciled fully and justly with our Indigenous peoples.

The key to real progress lies in going beyond mere symbolic acts, like acknowledging the traditional
custodians of the land on public occasions or inserting poetic recitals in all our constitutions federal or state (so long as they have no legal consequences).

The key to making real progress lies in listening to the voices of our Indigenous people whenever important issues arise that affect them and their communities in a special way.

Listening is always important. But it matters most of all in the federal Parliament, where our country’s most important laws are debated and adopted.

That is what the Uluru Statement from the Heart requests: it does not ask for special reserved Aboriginal seats or proportional Indigenous representation in federal parliament; it does not ask for a veto on legislation; it does not expect that what the Indigenous voices say will always be agreed to or accepted.

After 230 years of substantially ignoring their voices; after 200 years of rejecting their land rights until the High Court’s Mabo decision in 1992; after 150 years of representative government, substantially without hearing such voices; and in the light of so many persisting problems and injustices, the request for a non-binding voice to the federal Parliament, on matters that are
important to our Indigenous people, does not seem an excessive or unreasonable demand.

It is one that a self-confident and just parliamentary democracy should be willing to deliver.

If we had adopted this big idea much earlier, we might have avoided the many mistakes and injustices that have marred Australia’s relationship with its Indigenous peoples until now.

Parliament has not made such a good fist of things that it can fairly reject this proposal as unnecessary or premature.

The best place to locate an obligation to hear such voices in Parliament would be in our national Constitution — where many other provisions concerning the Parliament are found.

That would ensure that the proposal could not be abolished or diluted through the vicissitudes of partisan politics.

It would emphasise the unique, historical and corrective character of the reform that marks off our Indigenous people from other groups and minorities in Australia. The proposal for a direct voice to Parliament is the central call of the Uluru Statement.

If constitutional change is considered too much to ask, however, the very least we should do immediately is to urge our Parliament, acting out of its own powers, to respond, from the Heart of our Democracy, and to afford a unique voice to our Indigenous fellow citizens to speak directly to the Parliament on matters that specially concern them.

That said, we also need to hear them when they remind us that our Parliament has set up such a voice for them before, and then proceeded to silence that voice because there was no constitutional obligation requiring Parliament to hear their voices.

We should listen to their voices. We should open our ears to their voices. And we should open our hearts to what they say.

Michael Kirby is a former High Court judge and was the recipient of the Australian Human Rights Medal 1991.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Saveadate Events and Conferences : @SenatorDodson Constitutional Recognition hearings #ACT #NSW #SA #WA Plus NACCHO launches its National #OchreDay2018 Men’s Health Summit program and registrations

June 25 – July 6 Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition

The Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples has just concluded hearings at the Barunga Festival and in the Kimberley.

The Committee conducted hearings at Barunga, Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing, Kununurra and Broome. The Committee heard from organisations and individuals about how constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples might be implemented.

The Committee will be conducting hearings in Canberra on 25 June 2018.

It will be conducting further hearings in:

• Dubbo – 2 July 2018;

• Sydney/ Western Sydney – 3/4 July 2018;

• Adelaide – 5 July 2018; and

• Perth – 6 July 2018.

For location details etc

In particular the Committee is interested in hearing from witnesses about the design of the Voice proposal including proposals for constitutional change which emerged from the Uluru Statement from the Heart. This includes:

• Should the Voice be national, regional or local?

• How should its members be chosen?

• What functions should it have?

To make a submission on these issues please contact the secretariat on jsccr@aph.gov.au.

The Committee is due to present its interim report to Parliament on 30 July and the final report on 29 November 2018.

19 June 21 St Century Aboriginal Health Research

21st Century Aboriginal Health Research

The Aboriginal Health College is thrilled to be hosting a showcase of Aboriginal Health Research projects. This event is the first in a series of educational seminars promoting best practice in Aboriginal Health Research by exploring community engagement, Aboriginal Governance, evidence-based practice and how researchers achieved success working with community.

Please join us to hear from the SEARCH team at the Sax Institute, the POCHE Centre’s Adjunct Associate Professor Kylie Gwynne and University of Wollongong’s Professor Kathleen Clapham.

Bookings

2 – 4 July 2018 First Nations Governance Forum; :  Canberra

Museum of Australian Democracy
Old Parliament House, Canberra

As Australia’s national university, ANU has an obligation to constructively contribute to the discussion of policy reform and processes of significant issues concerning Indigenous Australia.

The University seeks to reignite national debate about Australia’s First Nations governance models and their contribution to policy. We are in a unique position to facilitate an International Indigenous-led discussion, with academic rigour, on some of the most challenging issues affecting the country.

We recognise that the academic expertise on these issues is distributed among universities around Australia and the world and welcomes contributions from interested parties.

Forum details

In 2018 ANU will host the First Nations Governance Forum with a goal to provide a series of policy options relevant to Australia through learning from models in other colonial settler states that demonstrate Indigenous peoples leadership in the governance of their affairs. The Forum will include a welcome dinner, keynote presentations, a series of high-level panel discussions and workshop sessions.

The Forum will be hosted with the support of Australia’s Federal Indigenous parliamentarians, Indigenous leaders, academics, government, leading international policy makers and other interested stakeholders. The Forum will consider First Nations governance reform in Australia and, share the experiences of Indigenous people in comparable jurisdictions including Aotearoa (New Zealand), Canada, USA and Scandinavian countries. The Forum will build on the extensive work undertaken on this issue including the Report of the Expert Panel on Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution (2012), the Report of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (2015) and the Uluru Statement from the Heart (2017).

Attendance options

Broad participation in the Forum from across the community is encouraged and supported. The Forum is a public event. Attendance is free (though attendees will be responsible for their own expenses including travel, accommodation and meals). The Forum will also be live-streamed and recorded to ensure remote access.

The following attendance options are available:

  1. Onsite
    An Expression of Interest process will be conducted for a limited number of seats available at the Museum of Australian Democracy. Complete the Expression of Interest form by 13 June. Applicants will be selected across representative groups and notified in the first week of June.
  2. Live-stream at ANU
    A facilitated, live-streamed broadcast will be hosted at Llewellyn Hall on the ANU campus. Those who are unsuccessful in registering a place at the Museum of Australian Democracy are encouraged to register to attend this event at Llewellyn Hall.
  3. Remote live-streaming
    The Forum will also be live-streamed across the internet, ensuring access for everyone. Register your interest to participate in the national live-stream.

* Note: the Forum is a public event and will be live-streamed and recorded, and research may be conducted using data obtained from the event. Live-stream analytics data from the event may be collected and used in research.

EVENT WEBSITE

Dr Tracy Westerman’s 2018 Training Workshops
For more details and July dates

8 July : Because of Her, We Can! – NAIDOC Week 2018 will be held nationally from Sunday 8 July and continue through to Sunday 15 July.

As pillars of our society, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played – and continue to play – active and significant roles at the community, local, state and national levels.

As leaders, trailblazers, politicians, activists and social change advocates, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women fought and continue to fight, for justice, equal rights, our rights to country, for law and justice, access to education, employment and to maintain and celebrate our culture, language, music and art.

They continue to influence as doctors, lawyers, teachers, electricians, chefs, nurses, architects, rangers, emergency and defence personnel, writers, volunteers, chief executive officers, actors, singer songwriters, journalists, entrepreneurs, media personalities, board members, accountants, academics, sporting icons and Olympians, the list goes on.

They are our mothers, our elders, our grandmothers, our aunties, our sisters and our daughters.

Sadly, Indigenous women’s role in our cultural, social and political survival has often been invisible, unsung or diminished.

For at least 65,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have carried our dreaming stories, songlines, languages and knowledge that have kept our culture strong and enriched us as the oldest continuing culture on the planet.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were there at first contact.

They were there at the Torres Strait Pearlers strike in 1936, the Day of Mourning in 1938, the 1939 Cummeragunja Walk-Off, at the 1946 Pilbara pastoral workers’ strike, the 1965 Freedom Rides, the Wave Hill walk off in 1966, on the front line of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 1972 and at the drafting of the Uluru Statement.

They have marched, protested and spoken at demonstrations and national gatherings for the proper recognition of our rights and calling for national reform and justice.

Our women were heavily involved in the campaign for the 1967 Referendum and also put up their hands to represent their people at the establishment of national advocacy and representative bodies from the National Aboriginal Congress (NAC) to ATSIC to Land Councils and onto the National Congress for Australia’s First Peoples.

They often did so while caring for our families, maintaining our homes and breaking down cultural and institutionalised barriers and gender stereotypes.

Our women did so because they demanded a better life, greater opportunities and – in many cases equal rights – for our children, our families and our people.

They were pioneering women like Barangaroo, Truganini, Gladys Elphick, Fannie Cochrane-Smith, Evelyn Scott, Pearl Gibbs, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Celuia Mapo Salee, Thancoupie, Justine Saunders, Gladys Nicholls, Flo Kennedy, Essie Coffey, Isabel Coe, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Eleanor Harding, Mum Shirl, Ellie Gaffney and Gladys Tybingoompa.

Today, they are trailblazers like Joyce Clague, Yalmay Yunupingu, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Nova Peris, Carol Martin, Elizabeth Morgan, Barbara Shaw, Rose Richards, Vonda Malone, Margaret Valadian, Lowitja O’Donoghue, June Oscar, Pat O’Shane, Pat Anderson Jill Milroy, Banduk Marika, Linda Burney and Rosalie Kunoth-Monks – to name but a few.

Their achievements, their voice, their unwavering passion give us strength and have empowered past generations and paved the way for generations to come.

WEBSITE

Because of her, we can!

Download the National NAIDOC Logo and other social media resources.

July 11-12 National NAIDOC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Woman’s Conference in Sydney.

When the National NAIDOC Committee announced the 2018 Theme: Because of Her, We Can in November 2017 there was a huge round of applause around Australia particularly from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women.

Amongst those women were Christine Ross, Sharon Kinchela and Chris Figg who all agreed we needed to celebrate this fabulous theme.

So, with great excitement Ngiyani Pty Ltd announced they would host a National NAIDOC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Conference to be held on 11 – 12 July 2018 at UNSW Kensington Campus Sydney. They are utlising the services of Christine Ross Consultancy as the Project Manager.

For all event enquires please call 1300 807 374 or email christine.ross@live.com.au

Only 200 spots left. Go to the Registration Site

4 August National Children’s Day

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (Children’s Day) is a time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate the strengths and culture of their children. The day is an opportunity for all Australians to show their support for Aboriginal children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that community, culture and family play in the life of every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child.

Children’s Day is held on 4 August each year and is coordinated by SNAICC – National Voice for our Children. Children’s Day was first observed in 1988, with 2017 being the 29th celebration. Each year SNAICC produces and distributes resources to help organisations, services, schools, and communities celebrate.

The theme for Children’s Day 2018 is SNAICC – Celebrating Our Children for 30 Years.

Our children are the youngest people from the longest living culture in the world, with rich traditions, lore and customs that have been passed down from generation to generation. Our children are growing up strong with connection to family, community and country. Our children are the centre of our families and the heart of our communities. They are our future and the carriers of our story.

This year, we invite communities to take a walk down memory lane, as we revisit some of the highlights of the last 30 years. We look back on the empowering protest movements instigated by community that had led to the establishment of the first Children’s Day on 4 August 1988. We look back at all of the amazing moments we’ve shared with our children over the years, and how we’re watching them grow into leaders.

We look back to see what we’ve achieved, and decide where we want to go from here to create a better future for our children. If you have celebrated Children’s Day at any time during the past 30 years, we would love to hear from you.

Website

Download HERE

The recent week-long #MensHealthWeek focus offered a “timely reminder” to all men to consider their health and wellbeing and the impact that their ill health or even the early loss of their lives could have on the people who love them. The statistics speak for themselves – we need to look after ourselves better .

That is why I am encouraging all men to take their health seriously, this week and every week of the year, and I have made men’s health a particular priority for Indigenous health.”

Federal Minister for Indigenous Health and Aged Care Ken Wyatt who will be a keynote speaker at NACCHO Ochre Day in August

To celebrate #MensHealthWeek NACCHO has launches its National #OchreDay2018 Mens Health Summit program and registrations

The NACCHO Ochre Day Health Summit in August provides a national forum for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male delegates, organisations and communities to learn from Aboriginal male health leaders, discuss their health concerns, exchange share ideas and examine ways of improving their own men’s health and that of their communities

More Details HERE

All too often Aboriginal male health is approached negatively, with programmes only aimed at males as perpetrators. Examples include alcohol, tobacco and other drug services, domestic violence, prison release, and child sexual abuse programs. These programmes are vital, but are essentially aimed at the effects of males behaving badly to others, not for promoting the value of males themselves as an essential and positive part of family and community life.

To address the real social and emotional needs of males in our communities, NACCHO proposes a positive approach to male health and wellbeing that celebrates Aboriginal masculinities, and uphold our traditional values of respect for our laws, respect for Elders, culture and traditions, responsibility as leaders and men, teachers of young males, holders of lore, providers, warriors and protectors of our families, women, old people, and children.

More Details HERE

NACCHO’s approach is to support Aboriginal males to live longer, healthier lives as males for themselves. The flow-on effects will hopefully address the key effects of poor male behaviour by expecting and encouraging Aboriginal males to be what they are meant to be.

In many communities, males have established and are maintaining men’s groups, and attempting to be actively involved in developing their own solutions to the well documented men’s health and wellbeing problems, though almost all are unfunded and lack administrative and financial support.

To assist NACCHO to strategically develop this area as part of an overarching gender/culture based approach to service provision, NACCHO decided it needed to raise awareness, gain support for and communicate to the wider Australian public issues that have an impact on the social, emotional health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Males.

It was subsequently decided that NACCHO should stage a public event that would aim to achieve this and that this event be called “NACCHO Ochre Day”.

The two day conference is free: To register

 

October 30 2018 NACCHO Annual Members’ Conference and AGM SAVE A DATE

Follow our conference using HASH TAG #NACCHOagm2018

This is Brisbane Oct 30—Nov 2

The NACCHO Members’ Conference and AGM provides a forum for the Aboriginal community controlled health services workforce, bureaucrats, educators, suppliers and consumers to:

  • Present on innovative local economic development solutions to issues that can be applied to address similar issues nationally and across disciplines
  • Have input and influence from the ‘grassroots’ into national and state health policy and service delivery
  • Demonstrate leadership in workforce and service delivery innovation
  • Promote continuing education and professional development activities essential to the Aboriginal community controlled health services in urban, rural and remote Australia
  • Promote Aboriginal health research by professionals who practice in these areas and the presentation of research findings
  • Develop supportive networks
  • Promote good health and well-being through the delivery of health services to and by Indigenous and non-Indigenous people throughout Australia.

More Info soon

6. NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health Ochre Day 27-28 August

More info

7. NATSIHWA National Professional Development Symposium 2018

We’re excited to release the dates for the 2018 National Professional Development Symposium to be held in Alice Springs on 2nd-4th October. More details are to be released in the coming weeks; a full sponsorship prospectus and registration logistics will be advertised asap via email and newsletter.

This years Symposium will be focussed on upskilling our Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners through a series of interactive workshops. Registrants will be able to participate in all workshops by rotating in groups over the 2 days. The aim of the symposium is to provide the registrants with new practical skills to take back to communities and open up a platform for Health Workers/Practitioners to network with other Individuals in the workforce from all over Australia.

We look forward to announcing more details soon!

8.AIDA Conference 2018 Vision into Action


Building on the foundations of our membership, history and diversity, AIDA is shaping a future where we continue to innovate, lead and stay strong in culture. It’s an exciting time of change and opportunity in Indigenous health.

The AIDA conference supports our members and the health sector by creating an inspiring networking space that engages sector experts, key decision makers, Indigenous medical students and doctors to join in an Indigenous health focused academic and scientific program.

AIDA recognises and respects that the pathway to achieving equitable and culturally-safe healthcare for Indigenous Australians is dynamic and complex. Through unity, leadership and collaboration, we create a future where our vision translates into measureable and significantly improved health outcomes for our communities. Now is the time to put that vision into action.

AIDA Awards
Nominate our members’ outstanding contributions towards improving the health and life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

9.CATSINaM Professional Development Conference

Venue: Hilton Adelaide 

Location:  233 Victoria Square, Adelaide, SA 

Timing: 8:30am – 5:30pm

We invite you to be part of the CATSINaM Professional Development Conference held in Adelaide, Australia from the 17th to the 19th of September 2018.
The Conference purpose is to share information while working towards an integrated approach to improving the outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The Conference also provides an opportunity to highlight the very real difference being made in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by our Members.
To this end, we are offering a mixed mode experience with plenary speaker sessions, panels, and presentations as well as professional development workshops.

More info

The CATSINaM Gala Dinner and Awards evening,  held on the 18th of September, purpose is to honour the contributions of distinguished Members to the field.

10.Healing Our Spirit Worldwide

Global gathering of Indigenous people to be held in Sydney
University of Sydney, The Healing Foundation to co-host Healing Our Spirit Worldwide
Gawuwi gamarda Healing Our Spirit Worldwidegu Ngalya nangari nura Cadigalmirung.
Calling our friends to come, to be at Healing Our Spirit Worldwide. We meet on the country of the Cadigal.
In November 2018, up to 2,000 Indigenous people from around the world will gather in Sydney to take part in Healing Our Spirit Worldwide: The Eighth Gathering.
A global movement, Healing Our Spirit Worldwidebegan in Canada in the 1980s to address the devastation of substance abuse and dependence among Indigenous people around the world. Since 1992 it has held a gathering approximately every four years, in a different part of the world, focusing on a diverse range of topics relevant to Indigenous lives including health, politics, social inclusion, stolen generations, education, governance and resilience.
The International Indigenous Council the governing body of Healing Our Spirit Worldwide has invited the University of Sydney and The Healing Foundation to co-host the Eighth Gathering with them in Sydney this year. The second gathering was also held in Sydney, in 1994.
 Please also feel free to tag us in any relevant cross posting: @HOSW8 @hosw2018 #HOSW8 #HealingOurWay #TheUniversityofSydney

NACCHO Aboriginal health and #Barunga30years #TreatyNow : Can we achieve an #UluruStatement #Voice and #Treaties in a reconciled republic of Australia : Plus Indigenous deride Scullion for his offer: ‘Take my job’

Australian states have taken steps towards the nation’s first treaties with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Australia is the only Commonwealth country that does not have a treaty with its indigenous populations.

Many indigenous Australians have cited a treaty or treaties as the best chance of bringing them substantive as well as symbolic recognition – the subject of a long-running national debate.

In an Australian first, a bill committing to a treaty was approved in Victoria’s lower house of parliament on Thursday.

The Northern Territory and Western Australia have pledged their own, separate actions in recent days.

All of this has intensified discussion about whether others, including the Australian government, will follow suit

From BBC Treaty report

Treaty Score board Image above from Kyam Maher MLC

Polling commissioned by the Australia Institute, of 1417 people, found there was 51 per cent support for a treaty and 55 per cent backed a truth telling commission.

There was 46 per cent support for enshrining an indigenous voice in the constitution and 29 per cent of those surveyed opposed the move, the rest were unsure

The Northern Territory’s four Land Councils and the Northern Territory Government have today signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding (the “Barunga Agreement”), paving the way for consultations to begin with Aboriginal people about a Treaty.

A joint meeting of the four Land Councils at Barunga this week voted to empower their Chairmen to sign the MOU “

Combined Land Councils and the Northern Territory Government Prees Release see Part 1 Below

And we also need to make clear that if we can establish a Voice for our first Australians – the decisions made about them are made with them and by them.

This is not a radical concept. It is nothing less than we should expect in any other circumstances.

We should not be afraid either, of the using our voice and the voice of first Australians to talk about treaties and agreement-making between our first Australians and levels of government within Australia.

I believe that Australians have the goodwill to reconcile this country. What they don’t have is the leadership in this country to drive proper and meaningful reconciliation.”

Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten see full speech Part 2 below

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said it was “irresponsible” for supporters of the indigenous voice concept to leave it open and undefined.

He said it was his personal opinion that it would be more effective to have indigenous people having direct influence and power through the office of minister for indigenous affairs.

“Whether or not you can run my job by a committee, well it hasn’t been done before,” Senator Scullion said.

“Don’t just get on the voice like it’s a life ring, it’s the only thing we’ve got, stick our head in it, start paddling, hope there’s no sharks.”

From the Australian June 11 Indigenous deride Scullion for his offer: ‘Take my job’

The proposal to replace a minister of the crown with a group of unelected indigenous leaders is far more radical than what the Uluru reform calls for, a voice to the parliament .It suggests a lack of understanding of how cabinet government works.”

Aboriginal activist and constitutional law professor Megan Davis was highly critical of Senator Scullion’s idea see part 3 below

 

 “What does the Victorian bill say?

If passed in the upper house, it will legislate a process for establishing a state Aboriginal representative body and a treaty, or treaties.

The bill will also require the Victorian government to provide annual updates on progress.

“It is about the recognition of us as the first people of this country,” said Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner Jill Gallagher.

Aboriginal history Prof Richard Broome, from La Trobe University, told the BBC: “It is very significant because it is the first move from any government in the country.”

See Full Guardian Coverage

The South Australian Government has scrapped a process to negotiate treaties with the state’s Aboriginal nations.

It comes on the same day the Northern Territory pledged to work towards a treaty with its Indigenous peoples.

Premier Steven Marshall said his government was instead in the process of developing a “state-wide plan with a series defined outcomes for Aboriginal people across areas including education, child protection, health and jobs”.

“Treaty commissioner Roger Thomas pictured above has provided advice to the incoming government regarding the positives and negatives of the treaty consultation,” Mr Marshall, who is also Aboriginal Affairs Minister, said.

See SA Coverage HERE

 

Part 1

The Northern Territory’s four Land Councils and the Northern Territory Government have today signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding (the “Barunga Agreement”), paving the way for consultations to begin with Aboriginal people about a Treaty.

A joint meeting of the four Land Councils at Barunga this week voted to empower their Chairmen to sign the MOU.

“This is a momentous day in the history of the Territory, a chance to reset the relationship between the Territory’s First Nations and the Government,” Northern Land Council Chairman Samuel Bush-Blanansi said. “We’ve got big journey ahead of us. The MOU gives us high hopes about the future and I hope the Government stays true to spirit of the MOU.”

 

Central Land Council Chairman Francis Jupurrurla Kelly said: “I hope a treaty will settle us down together and bring us self-determination. Today we bounced the ball but we don’t want to stay the only players in this game. The next steps must be led by Aboriginal people across the Territory so that everyone can run with the ball and have their say.”

Anindilyakwa Land Council Chairman Tony Wurramarrba said: “We celebrate the highly significant step that has been achieved today and will work with the Northern Territory Government and other Land Councils to continue the important work required to achieve the goal of a Northern Territory Treaty.”

Tiwi Land Council Gibson Farmer Illortaminni said: “We’ve got to be careful and understand each other about what we want, because we don’t want to have the same problems we’ve had in the past. The MoU is a good start, but we’ve got a long way to go. The Government needs to be honest and transparent.”

Chief Minister Michael Gunner, who signed on behalf of the Government, said: “This is the first day of a new course for the Northern Territory. The MoU we have signed today commits us to a new path of lasting reconciliation that will heal the past and allow for a cooperative, unified future for all.

“A Territory where everyone understands our history, our role in a modern society and our united and joint future will be an important achievement for all Territorians.”

The Territory Labor Government promised soon after the election in 2016 to advance a Treaty, and the MoU is the result of intensive discussions and negotiations between the Land Councils and the Government.

Significantly, the MoU was signed on the first day of the Barunga Sport and Cultural Festival – the 30th anniversary of the presentation of the Barunga Statement to Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who went on to promise a Treaty between the Commonwealth and Australia’s Indigenous peoples, but has remained undelivered.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson was at the signing of the agreement with Senator Dodson

Under the terms of the MOU NT Government will appoint an independent Treaty Commissioner who will lead the consultations with Aboriginal people and organisations across the Territory, and develop a framework for Treaty negotiations. The Commissioner will be an Aboriginal person with strong connections to the Territory, and expressions of interest will be called for the position.

The Land Councils and the Northern Territory Government will make their extensive regional staffing networks available to the Treaty Commission to organise consultations in communities.

The MoU prescribes that all Territorians should ultimately benefit from any Treaty, which must provide for substantive outcomes. It’s founded on the agreement that there has been “deep injustice done to Aboriginal people, including violent dispossession, the regression of their languages and cultures and the forcible removal of children from their families, which have left a legacy of trauma and loss that needs to be addressed and healed”.

“The process will begin with an open slate. We will start with nothing on or off the table,” Mr Gunner said.

The MoU acknowledges that there is a range of Aboriginal interests in the Territory, and that all Aboriginal people must have the opportunity to be fully engaged. It further acknowledges that non-Aboriginal people “need to be brought along in this process.”

The document leaves open the possibility of multiple treaties, and lays out a timetable for the work of the Treaty Commissioner.

Part 2 Bill Shorten Speech at Barunga

I acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.

It’s true everywhere on this mighty continent but no more so than here and now: this is, was and always will be Aboriginal land.

I also want to acknowledge, amongst all of the distinguished guests, including Nigel Scullion, I want to acknowledge all the leaders and the Land Council members.

Not just now but those who were here 30 years ago making such significant decisions. And we should remember those who have passed between then and now.

I thank the Bagala mob for having us on their land.

I also want to acknowledge members of the Stolen Generations who are here with us.

And to you, I wish to reiterate the commitment of my party that if we are elected we will provide overdue compensation to the remaining survivors of the Stolen Generations here in the Northern Territory and everywhere else in Australia.

Thirty years ago, the Barunga Statement was made. It was only 327 words but they were powerful.

But let me acknowledge that in the intervening 30 years not enough of the words, or the spirit,  have been kept.

I’m embarrassed the Barunga Statement hangs on a wall in Parliament House and too many members of parliament wouldn’t even know it was there. And too many walk past it, their eyes looking the other way.

But I’m not here today to talk about failure, I want to add words of hope.

When I see and meet the elders and the leaders of the Land Councils, I see hope.

When I see Senator Pat Dodson, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, Linda Burney – first Australians in the Parliament – I see hope.

When I see so many of you here, here for the music and the sport, here to listen and to learn, I see hope.

Yesterday at Katherine High School, remarkable young teenage girls from the Stars Foundation, I saw hope. Remarkable young Aboriginal boys, teenagers at the Clontarf Foundation, I see hope.

I see hope but I also acknowledge there is unfinished business.

Not unfinished business here but unfinished business across our nation. We have not come far enough.

We need to reset the relationship between our first Australians and all other Australians, we need to change the way we do business.

Not until we are a reconciled nation can any of us help fulfil the destiny this nation has.

We need to change the way we talk to each other and act to each other.

I see that we need to use honour, equality, respect and recognition.

For me coming here is a privilege but it is also a reminder. We need to take the Barunga Statement and use it as a map on our journey to deliver a voice for our first Australians in the parliament and in the constitution.

We need to work towards a Makarrata Commission, a truth-telling commission.

Because until our communities can reconcile a joint narrative about the history of this country, we cannot truly be reconciled.

And we also need to make clear that if we can establish a Voice for our first Australians – the decisions made about them are made with them and by them.

This is not a radical concept. It is nothing less than we should expect in any other circumstances.

We should not be afraid either, of the using our voice and the voice of first Australians to talk about treaties and agreement-making between our first Australians and levels of government within Australia.

I believe that Australians have the goodwill to reconcile this country. What they don’t have is the leadership in this country to drive proper and meaningful reconciliation.

I say to the people who fear the concepts of agreement-making, of a Voice, of treaties.

I say to these people who fear this: you have nothing to lose.

You still will be able to play football on the MCG, your backyard hills-hoists will not be part of any claim, the chickens will still lay eggs.

We are not giving a special deal to our first Australians – because they don’t get a special deal in our country.

A famous man once said, it’s all very well that to say that you lift yourself up by your bootstraps but if you don’t own a pair of boots, you’re not starting from the same position.

So I regard the spirit of Barunga as a reminder to trust the better angels of the nature of the Australian people, to recognise that we can’t honour our country unless we honour our first Australians.

Unless we recognise and respect and have equality this nation will not be the country it should be when – because of the colour of your skin – your life expectancy, your access to healthcare, your educational opportunity, your access to housing and to justice are discriminated against.

So I understand very keenly not just the obligation here but the obligation elsewhere for leadership and I thank you very much for inviting me to be part of this great festival today.

Part 3 Indigenous deride Scullion for his offer: ‘Take my job’

Aboriginal leaders and constitutional lawyers have slammed a proposal from Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion to replace his job with an indigenous committee, arguing it is “far more radical” than their proposal for a constitutionally enshrined indigenous voice to parliament.

Senator Scullion made the call during an interview at the Barunga Festival near Katherine in the Northern Territory yesterday, declaring the voice to parliament was “nothing” next to the decision-making and policymaking powers that come with his office.

The voice to parliament has been championed by the Referendum Council and would involve an indigenous representative voice being enshrined in the constitution, as called for by indigenous leaders from across Australia in last year’s Uluru Statement.

Aboriginal activist and constitutional law professor Megan Davis was highly critical of Senator Scullion’s idea.

“The proposal to replace a minister of the crown with a group of unelected indigenous leaders is far more radical than what the Uluru reform calls for, a voice to the parliament,” Professor Davis said. “It suggests a lack of understanding of how cabinet government works.”

Indigenous academic Marcia Langton said she believed Aboriginal people were “perfectly well aware” of the power held by the Indigenous Affairs Minister.

“The Uluru Statement from the Heart calls for a voice to ­parliament, and I’m pretty sure this was not what was meant by the Uluru indigenous Convention delegates,” Professor Langton said.

Former Kimberley Land Council CEO Nolan Hunter said the idea was unworkable.

“If you applied the same thinking to all the other portfolio areas, how would that work?” he said.

Mr Hunter said Senator Scullion’s idea was a distraction from constructive work the indigenous community had been doing towards the voice to parliament.

Constitutional law professor Cheryl Saunders, who is not indigenous, was also sceptical, tweeting: “So much for the Parliament. And, for that matter, the cabinet.”

Senator Scullion accused the Referendum Council of being “irresponsible” in proposing the voice to parliament without also proposing a question to put to a referendum.

A parliamentary committee co-chaired by Labor senator Pat Dodson and Liberal MP Julian Leeser is examining recognition for indigenous Australians in the constitution, with submissions due today.

Senator Scullion said a voice to ­parliament was “all fluff” compared with the power his job holds.

“It’s my job, mate. It’s my job,” he told Sky News. “I have the money and I have the capacity, not me, but the job has the capacity to allocate funds, to create policy, to create change and to do stuff … Now if you don’t have that you’re just fluffing around the edges. You don’t want a voice to parliament, you don’t want a third chamber … it is nothing next to the decision-making, the policymaking, that comes with my office”.

Asked whether he was proposing putting the powers of his job in the hands of indigenous Australians, Senator Scullion said: “Absolutely. Because they would run their own thing.”

He knew from his interactions with Aboriginal people “that part of what they want is more control. So this should be a part of the conversation, a wider conversation.”

He had not “specifically” discussed his idea with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. “My utterances are not necessarily the views of government,” he said.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the #UluruStatement promoted during #NRW18 and @TheLongWalkOz Thanks to @AMAPresident @EssendonFC @VAHS1972 @quitvic @DeadlyChoices

” What you (Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews ) said about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advancement being led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is absolutely right,

The great Australian Chris Sarra said very wisely … governments have got to stop doing things to Aboriginal people and start doing things with them and that is my commitment.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has told a Reconciliation event The Long Walk he is committed to following the lead of Indigenous people, less than a year after rejecting their call for an enshrined voice in parliament.

After Premier Daniel Andrews spoke of his government’s efforts to create a state Treaty at the Long Walk event at Melbourne’s Federation Square, Mr Turnbull said the two leaders were “starting to agree on more things all the time”.

During a summit at Uluru in May 2017, Indigenous leaders rejected symbolic constitutional recognition in favour of an elected parliamentary advisory body and a treaty.

But in October, Mr Turnbull said a new representative body was not desirable or capable of winning acceptance at a referendum

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #treaty : #Uluru Summit calls for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution

Australian Medical Association has thrown its support behind last year’s Uluru Statement from the Heart: It was a fairly clear-cut decision for us to make.

We recognise the issue regarding the will to want to have the right to self-determination. We recognise the health inequities, the social justice inequities, the wellness inequities that confront our Indigenous population.

And this Statement is just another way of trying to ensure that we can continue to work and get all governments, both State, Federal, and Territory, to work towards closing the gap, improving the social determinants of health, and recognising the need and the required improvements that are necessary to address the gap that currently exists.

The ACCHOs, or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, are a very important part of the health delivery process. It recognises that the usual relationships, when it comes to health facilities in a different way, it’s a different connectivity. “

The recently elected Australian Medical Association’s President, Tony Bartone, who participated in the Long Walk spoke with ABC Radio reporter, Dan Conifer . See full interview and AMA press release Part 1 and 2 below

 

 ” Politicians, footballers and campaigners have joined thousands of Australians in the Long Walk event to support moves to improve Indigenous health and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

It has been 14 years since AFL champion Michael Long’s momentous journey from his home in Melbourne to the Prime Minister to get the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people back on the national agenda.

Indigenous health is focal point of this year’s walk, with the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Quit Victoria both throwing their support behind the event.

Ill health forced Essendon great Michael Long to miss this year’s Long Walk.

Part 1 : Australian Medical Association has thrown its support behind last year’s Uluru Statement from the Heart

The AMA Federal Council has endorsed the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which calls for a First Nations’ voice in the Australian Constitution.

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today that the AMA has for many years supported Indigenous recognition in the Australian Constitution, and that the Uluru Statement is another significant step in making that recognition a reality.

“The Uluru Statement expresses the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in regard to self-determination and status in their own country,” Dr Bartone said.

“The AMA is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“Closing the gap in health services and outcomes requires a multi-faceted approach.

“Cooperation and unity of purpose from all Australian governments is needed if we are to achieve meaningful and lasting improvements.

“This will involve addressing the social determinants of health – the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age.

“Constitutional recognition can underpin all these endeavours, as we work to improve the physical and mental health of Indigenous Australians.”

Dr Bartone said the AMA was proud to announce its endorsement of the Uluru Statement during National Reconciliation Week.

Part 2 :The recently elected Australian Medical Association’s President, Tony Bartone, who participated in the Long Walk spoke with ABC Radio reporter, Dan Conifer

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Within the next couple of years, your local doctor’s surgery could be adorned with posters supporting Indigenous Constitutional change. The highly influential

Australian Medical Association has thrown its support behind last year’s Uluru Statement from the Heart. The peak body says including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the nation’s founding document could help make Indigenous patients healthier. The AMA’s President Tony Bartone has told our political reporter Dan Conifer the organisation is unequivocal in its support.

TONY BARTONE: It was a fairly clear-cut decision for us to make. We recognise the issue regarding the will to want to have the right to self-determination. We recognise the health inequities, the social justice inequities, the wellness inequities that confront our Indigenous population. And this Statement is just another way of trying to ensure that we can continue to work and get all governments, both State, Federal, and Territory, to work towards closing the gap, improving the social determinants of health, and recognising the need and the required improvements that are necessary to address the gap that currently exists.

DAN CONIFER: Can you just explain for us how something like the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and the changes that it calls for, would support health outcomes, would improve life expectancy and so on?

TONY BARTONE: They’re fairly fundamental aspirations that are part of the Uluru Statement, and those aspirations and recognitions really speak to a number of emotional, physical, and broader social, environmental issues that really will address, as we say, the social determinants of health. We can’t really seek to close the gap when it comes to health outcomes until we address the fundamental building blocks.

DAN CONIFER: Now, one of the key elements of the Uluru Statement is about involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in decision-making processes. In the medical profession, how has involving Indigenous Australians driven improvements?

TONY BARTONE: The ACCHOs, or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, are a very important part of the health delivery process. It recognises that the usual relationships, when it comes to health facilities in a different way, it’s a different connectivity. Put another way, it recognises the inherent qualities and behavioural patterns of our Indigenous population, and that is different from a traditional Western-type setting which we’ve become experienced with.

DAN CONIFER: And if a referendum were to be held on any of the elements of the Uluru Statement, how would the AMA, individual doctors and specialists around the country, take part or be involved in that campaign?

TONY BARTONE: We would use all avenues open to us, both in terms of our advocacy and communication with our members, to ensure that the information and the sharing of that information, in terms of the wider community, patients who come to our surgery, the access points that we do have, are used to the fullest in terms of ensuring a proper address of the Statement’s initiatives.

DAN CONIFER: So we could see Vote Yes posters or pamphlets or badges in GP surgeries when this, or if this comes to a vote?

TONY BARTONE: What we’d see is the Association taking a front foot in our communication and advocacy on behalf of members. Of course, each individual member is free and would be wanting to participate to perhaps even a fuller extent, which would lead to putting up of posters and sharing that material in a surgery environment. But we would take a front foot more at an Association level to ensure that we communicate with our stakeholders, with our leaders in Parliament, and with the community in general through our media connectivity to communicate that wish and desire.

Part 3 The Long Walk ,VAHS and Quit Victoria promotes Indigenous health

Smoking rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are almost three times the national average of non-Indigenous people, although the prevalence in Indigenous communities is falling steadily.

In Victoria, 41 per cent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are smokers.

Quit Victoria’s Aboriginal Tobacco Control Program Coordinator Jethro Pumirri Calma-Holt told SBS News the health of Indigenous Australians should be kept at the top of the agenda.

“Indigenous health is something that needs to be invested in by everyone and that’s part of national reconciliation week.”

“What Michael Long did all those years ago has created a really big legacy for everyone to follow in his footsteps,” he said

Check it out the legend himself Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti wearing the VAHS Deadly Choices Shirt out during the warm up for Dream Time at the G. The other players also wore the shirts as well… What a moment !

If you want your very own VAHS Deadly Choices Shirt just like Tippa the only way you can get one is to complete a health check at VAHS. So call us and book your health check on 03 9419 3000

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rather, it’s about creating a shared identity.

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

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

Victorian Treaty an opportunity to heal and overcome intergenerational trauma

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

Originally published in Croakey

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

Working towards Treaty

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

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

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

Intergenerational trauma

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

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

in our community as a result of that disempowerment.

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

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

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

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

Social and emotional wellbeing

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

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

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

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

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

A Treaty for healing

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the Referendum #Ulurustatement : PM rejects ‘#Indigenousvoice’ to parliament

 ” The Referendum Council said the Voice to Parliament was a “take it or leave it” proposal for the Parliament and the Australian people. We do not agree.

The Council’s proposal for an Indigenous representative assembly, or Voice, is new to the discussion about constitutional change, and dismissed the extensive and valuable work done over the past decade – largely with bipartisan support.

We are confident that we can build on that work and develop Constitutional amendments that will unite our nation rather than establish a new national representative assembly open to some Australians only.”

Prime Ministers Press Release Response to Referendum Council’s report on Constitutional Recognition see in full Part 3 Below or Download HERE

PM response

“Yet again after a decade of discussions and millions of dollars spent on Constitutional Recognition it is unfortunate we have come to this. We have come to a point where seemingly no action will be taken.”

The Prime Minister already understands that a minimalist approach will not satisfy many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

The Uluru Statement Working Group (USWG) is clearly disappointed about the news of the Turnbull Cabinet rejecting the Referendum Council’s blueprint.  says USWG Co-Chair Josephine Crawshaw See full release Part 2

‘The Prime Minister is still committed to recognition within the constitution.

‘We are not at a point of despair, it is a point of opportunity that still prevails and will still exist in options that are available to both the government and the opposition that recognises Aboriginal people as being a part of the history of this nation.’

Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt told Sky News a voice for Indigenous Australians is still feasible within other ways and means

 

” We are pleased to release the Final Report of the Referendum Council, a body established in 2015 to provide guidance on constitutional change to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

This is an issue of importance to all Australians, and one that deserves careful and thorough consideration.”

Malcolm Turnbull  and Bill Shorten Joint Press Release (see separate comments below part 2 and 3 ) July 17

Download Here  Referendum_Council_Final_Report

Part 1 Media Coverage ABC

The Prime Minister has dashed hopes for a referendum to establish a new Indigenous advisory body, saying the idea is neither “desirable or capable of winning acceptance”.

The decision has been met by anger among Indigenous people from across the country who endorsed the landmark Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The Uluru proposal was rejected at Cabinet five months on from the historic constitutional summit in Central Australia.

The Government has now formally rejected the key recommendation of the Referendum Council — a report it commissioned to consult widely with Indigenous people on constitutional change.

Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday said in a statement a new advisory body “would inevitably become seen as a third chamber of Parliament”.

“Our democracy is built on the foundation of all Australian citizens having equal civic rights, all being able to vote for, stand for and serve in either of the two chambers of our national Parliament — the House of Representatives and the Senate,” the statement said.

“A constitutionally enshrined additional representative assembly for which only Indigenous Australians could vote for or serve in is inconsistent with this fundamental principle.”

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt denied the Government had been cowardly.

“It’s a pragmatic level of thinking about the reality of what will fly with the Australian people and what won’t,” he said.

“That’s a real kick in the guts for the Referendum Council and certainly a slap in the face of those proponents,” shadow assistant minister Pat Dodson said.

Senator Dodson said he hoped the Uluru convention’s other main proposal — for a treaties commission outside of the constitution — was not junked.

He pointed to reports earlier this decade that called for racial sections of the constitution to be removed, along with a statement acknowledging First Peoples.

Senator Dodson co-chaired an expert panel, which in 2012 suggested repealing a section that allows Parliament to make laws for racial groups, and scrapping another part that contemplates excluding specific races from voting.

Timing on Uluru anniversary ‘unfortunate’, Minister concedes

The Government’s announcement it would reject the proposal came on the 32nd anniversary of Uluru being handed over to its traditional owners.

Indigenous Affair Minister Nigel Scullion said the timing was unfortunate and was only because information was leaked to the media.

He said Cabinet had no choice but to block the proposal.

“We know it would have absolutely zero chance of success … the only other alternative would be death by process,” Mr Scullion said.

“I don’t need evidence … we have done a lot of polling, not on this particular is matter, but on other matters.

“Evidence is a long string, I’m not going to point that we do or don’t have. It’s our instincts.”

‘Turnbull has broken our hearts’

Mr Turnbull said he would establish a joint parliamentary committee with the Opposition to examine alternative proposals for constitutional change to benefit Indigenous people.

But the Referendum Council’s Noel Pearson described the decision as devastating for the Indigenous community.

“I think Malcolm Turnbull has broken the First Nations hearts of this country, expressed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart,” Mr Pearson said.

“He accused John Howard of doing that in 1999 and he has done the same thing in relation to recognition of Indigenous Australians.”

Victoria’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister Natalie Hutchins said the Federal Government had turned its back on Aboriginal people.

“To have gone to the lengths of setting up an advisory council and then totally rejecting what has come forward, it just makes you wonder where their commitment to Aboriginal Australians is,” she said.

Joe Morrison from the Northern Land Council said the Government had taken a step backwards.

“I think the Parliament’s failed the nation in terms of providing the requisite level of leadership here, and I think Prime Minister Turnbull needs to explain himself,” he said.

“The proposal that was created out of Uluru was … a key part but there was also the truth and justice-telling. But they were also laying the foundations for the substantial changes to the constitution.”

Josie Crawshaw, a child protection advocate and a delegate at Uluru, said she was deeply disappointed.

“While our children are languishing in the jails and our communities are poverty-stricken, they’ve just wasted 10 years of a conversation, and tens of millions of dollars, to shelve this,” she said.

Rod Little, co-chairman of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, said: “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been let down once again.”

Part 2 The Uluru Statement Working Group (USWG) is clearly disappointed about the news of the Turnbull Cabinet rejecting the Referendum Councils blueprint.

USWG Co-Chair Josephine Crawshaw expressed a sense of this situation being like ground hog day for the First Nations People. That disappointment is shared by USWG Co-Chair Suzanne Thompson, although Thompson said that “her people were patient people.”

“Yet again,” Crawshaw said “after a decade of discussions and millions of dollars spent on Constitutional Recognition it is unfortunate we have come to this. We have come to a point where seemingly no action will be taken.”

The Prime Minister already understands that a minimalist approach will not satisfy many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Kirribilli Statement made this abundantly clear in past years.

Our aspirations are high, but the Prime Minister appears to believe that the Australian people will not support these aspirations. This is a very unfortunate view for the Prime Minister to hold, particularly when he has the highest platform to inspire all Australians to achieve great things for this country and for all its people.

The Uluru Statement Working Group has a mandate. This mandate came from 250 delegates that participated in a comprehensive series of dialogues around the country. These delegates have entrusted the USWG with ensuring that the government does not overlook what they have asked.

The Referendum Council may have finished it’s task, but the USWG certainly has not. We fight on to ensure that the aspirations in the Uluru Statement from the Heart be progressed. USWG seeks to establish a Makaratta Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

Thompson points out how lopsided many of the current Governments priorities and funding commitments appear to be at present. “When looking at the other big issues, such a Marriage Equality,” Thompson stated, “it seems that considerable time, money and effort can be found by the current government.”

In contrast, a commitment to address the fundamental issue of Constitutional recognition appears to be waning. Worse still, political “leaders” are not taking onboard the ideas and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We are being pushed aside, time and time again.

Part 3 Press Release

Prime Minister – The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP

Attorney General – Senator The Hon. George Brandis QC

Minister for Indigenous Affairs – Senator The Hon. Nigel Scullion

The Turnbull Government has carefully considered the Referendum Council’s call to amend the Constitution to provide for a national Indigenous representative assembly to constitute a “Voice to Parliament”.

The Government does not believe such an addition to our national representative institutions is either desirable or capable of winning acceptance in a referendum.

Our democracy is built on the foundation of all Australian citizens having equal civic rights – all being able to vote for, stand for and serve in either of the two chambers of our national parliament – the House of Representatives and the Senate.

A constitutionally enshrined additional representative assembly for which only Indigenous Australians could vote for or serve in is inconsistent with this fundamental principle.

It would inevitably become seen as a third chamber of Parliament. The Referendum Council noted the concerns that the proposed body would have insufficient power if its constitutional function was advisory only.

The Referendum Council provided no guidance as to how this new representative assembly would be elected or how the diversity of Indigenous circumstance and experience could be fairly or democratically represented.

Moreover, the Government does not believe such a radical change to our constitution’s representative institutions has any realistic prospect of being supported by a majority of Australians in a majority of States.

The Government believes that any proposal for constitutional change should conform to the principles laid down by the 2012 Expert Panel, namely that any proposal should “be capable of being supported by an overwhelming majority of Australians from across the political and social spectrums”.

The Referendum Council said the Voice to Parliament was a “take it or leave it” proposal for the Parliament and the Australian people. We do not agree.

The Council’s proposal for an Indigenous representative assembly, or Voice, is new to the discussion about constitutional change, and dismissed the extensive and valuable work done over the past decade – largely with bipartisan support.

We are confident that we can build on that work and develop Constitutional amendments that will unite our nation rather than establish a new national representative assembly open to some Australians only.

The challenge remains to find a Constitutional amendment that will succeed, and which does not undermine the universal principles of unity, equality and “one person one vote”.

We have listened to the arguments put forward by proponents of the Voice, and both understand and recognise the desire for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to have a greater say in their own affairs.

We acknowledge the values and the aspirations which lie at the heart of the Uluru Statement. People who ask for a voice feel voiceless or feel like they’re not being heard. We remain committed to finding effective ways to develop stronger local voices and empowerment of local people.

Our goal should be to see more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians serving in the House and the Senate – members of a Parliament which is elected by all Australians.

The Government has written in response to Mr Shorten’s call for a Joint Select Committee, and have asked that the committee considers the recommendations of the existing bodies of work developed by the Expert Panel (2012), the Joint Select Committee on Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (2015) and the Referendum Council report (2017).

The Coalition continues to aim to work in a bipartisan way to support Constitutional recognition.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Ulurustatement #COAG : Pat Anderson expresses dismay over political silence on #Ulurustatement

As a health professional it beggars belief that COAG can meet on this yet the Referendum Council work and Uluru outcome ‘Voice Treaty Truth’ is not raised,

It highlights that politicians and policy makers do not understand Closing the Gap is inextricably linked to Voice Treaty Truth.

Structural reform is the missing ingredient in addressing disadvantage and the fact that no one at COAG acknowledged that shows they have no idea what they are doing.”

Ms Anderson will use the ­annual Charles Perkins oration ­tonight (October 25 ) to say the ­almost complete silence from government — five months after the Uluru constitutional convention recommended the advisory body — proves its urgent need.

See NACCHO Uluru Statement earlier this year

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #treaty : #Uluru Summit calls for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution

Establishing a proposed Indigenous parliamentary advisory body would mean Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were “at last in the main building, not in the demountable out the back”, a frustrated Lowitja Institute chair Pat Anderson will say.

From todays Australian

Her address will come on the heels of Cape York lawyer Noel Pearson furiously lashing out at white Australia’s failure “to take responsibility for your country” on the issue. “I’m angry about the intransigence and the lack of responsibility taken, angry that our people are constantly seeking the sentiment of Australia and not getting a response,” Mr Pearson told a packed Sydney Institute gathering on Monday.

Ms Anderson will question why a COAG meeting this week specifically addressing indigenous issues, including recalibrating the Closing the Gap targets, failed to address constitutional reform.

See our NACCHO post for COAG Communique earlier this week

Aboriginal Health #COAG #ClosetheGap :’Historic’: Sweeping overhaul of #Indigenous #ClosingtheGap strategy welcomed

She­ ­co-chaired the council appointed by Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten to make concrete proposals. The ‘Voice Treaty Truth’ slogan refers to the three key issues identified in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, formalised at the end of the three-day convention in May.

They were the constitutionally enshrined body to provide an indigenous “voice” to parliament, as well as formal treaty-making and truth-telling processes.

The Law Council of Australia yesterday threw its “full and unqualified support” behind the call for a parliamentary body, which would have no veto powers and would not constitute an extra chamber of parliament, but whose role would be merely to advise governments.

“We are calling for genuine commitment from all parliamentarians to implement the Referendum Council’s recommendations swiftly,” Law Council president Fiona McLeod SC said. “The Law Council considers (them) to be a necessary and important step towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ self-determination.”

Referendum Council member and East Arnhem Land leader Galarrwuy Yunupingu warned Mr Turnbull at the Garma cultural festival in August that he would press him to act on the Referendum Council recommendations. Mr Turnbull has questioned whether the plan was delivered with enough detail, but Ms Anderson will say tonight that “the details of how to establish such a body would need to be carefully negotiated with the parliament once its establishment was agreed through referendum”.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Pat Anderson AO 17 th Vincent Lingiari Lecture ” Our Hope for the Future: Voice. Treaty. Truth “

 

” When delegates from the Dialogues assembled at Uluru in May this year, the exhaustive deliberations and informed participation through the Regional Dialogues led to a broad consensus, as articulated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart which was adopted by the Convention.

Specifically, Australia’s First Peoples overwhelmingly rejected any purely symbolic changes to the Constitution, such as through a ‘statement of recognition’.

……..Dialogue participants and the Uluru Convention showed significant agreement.

There was overwhelming consensus around three proposals.

First, for a constitutionally established representative body that would give First Nations a Voice directly to the Federal Parliament.

Second, for the establishment of a Makarrata Commission to supervise the making of Treaties with us.

Third, for a process of local and regional Truth-telling which could form the basis for genuine reconciliation.”

Ms Pat Anderson AO  delivered the 17th Annual Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture at Charles Darwin University on Wednesday, 16 August.Full Text and video below

The lecture commemorated the historic walk-off from Wave Hill Station by Indigenous stockmen and their families, planting the seeds for Aboriginal land rights in Australia.

For her lecture titled: “Our Hope for the Future:  Voice. Treaty. Truth” Ms Anderson reflected on her personal history and experience as an advocate for social justice during the last half-century of struggle for the recognition of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Chair of the Lowitja Institute and co-chair of the former Prime Minister’s Referendum Council, former Chair of NACCHO and CEO of Danila Dilba ACCHO and AMSANT ,  Ms Anderson is a campaigner for advancing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in education, health, early childhood development, and violence against women and children. She is an Aboriginal advocate for social justice and winner of the 2016 Human Rights Medal.

Watch NACCHO TV Video of full speech

Or full speech transcript download in 16 Page PDF or read below

patanderson-lingiari-lecture-final2-16-august-2017

Ms Pat Anderson AO delivered the 17th Annual Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture at Charles Darwin University on Wednesday, 16 August, which commemorated the historic walk-off from Wave Hill Station by Indigenous stockmen and their families, planting the seeds for Aboriginal land rights in Australia.

Good evening everyone,

I acknowledge and pay respects to the Larrakia people, traditional custodians of the land on which we are meeting tonight.

I want to thank Charles Darwin University for asking me to deliver this Lecture. This is huge honour for me. It’s always hard presenting in your home town.

I was feeling a bit anxious about that because you all know everything about me.

I would like to acknowledge Wendy Ludwick who I think put my name forward for this honour.

We are here to honour the memory of Vincent Lingiari and his leadership in the 1966 Wave Hill strike.

I will return to that story, and to the place of the Gurindji in the contemporary struggle for the rights of Australia’s First Peoples shortly.

But first, I’d like to share another story with you, a personal story.

This story is from the 1950s, a decade before the Wave Hill Walk Off, and is set at Parap Camp a few miles from here (in the suburb now called Stuart Park), where I and my sisters grew up with our mum and dad.

For those who don’t know the history, Parap Camp was home to many Aboriginal and some Torres Strait Islander families in those harsh post-War years.

Many of those families had a Stolen Generations heritage, with the parents of Parap camp families having grown up in the nearby Kahlin Compound. Kids were rounded up from all over the Territory.

My mother was one of those, taken as a young girl sometime in the 1930s by white men on horseback from her Alyawarre family north east of Alice Springs.

She was brought here to the Compound, fifteen hundred kilometres away.

After growing up at Kahlin, she was sent to work as a young teenager on a farm on the other side of the Darwin harbour, near Belyuen.

Later, she met my dad, a Swedish merchant seaman who had jumped ship in Fremantle, and made his way to Darwin.

They married and settled at Parap Camp.

My story is from when I was about 9 or 10 years old, when I was in Grade 3 or 4 – like almost all children from Parap Camp, I and my sisters attended school without fail.

School attendance was non-negotiable in those days – we all just went.

Every year the class would have a Christmas Party at the end of the final term, and the idea was that all the kids would bring food from home for the party.

I was excited because I knew my mum made the best sponge cakes ever: great high, fluffy things.

I pictured myself taking one of these cakes into school – I was a bit vain, and wanted to show off what a great cook mum was.

But when I asked her to make the cake, she flatly refused.

No matter what I said, how I nagged at her, she just said no.

Finally, in frustration, I just burst out: “But why mum? Why won’t you make one of your cakes and let me take it to the school party?”.

She hesitated for a moment.

And then she said quietly: “I don’t like white people eating my food”.

I knew immediately from the way she said it that not only was this the end of the argument, but also that she was telling me something more.

I can still see her face and hear her voice.

I haven’t forgotten this: although I didn’t understand how at the time, it was clearly important.

And so I had to trudge off to my Christmas party with a packet of store bought biscuits, while all the other kids brought scones, cakes and biscuits baked by their mothers – none of which, I might add, were as good as what my mum could have made.

This sounds like an ordinary domestic, family event.

And it is.

But like so many stories that are part of every Aboriginal family in this country, there is a lot packed into this little scenario.

For a start, how did my mum get to be so good a cook?

I see now that her skill with cooking was something she had learnt from the white women she worked for as domestic, unpaid labour.

Her ability to cook a beautiful sponge cake was a direct consequence of the policy of assimilation by which all Australian governments aimed to eradicate us as distinct cultural groups.

At the same time, there were other skills that were withheld from her and so many other Stolen Generations.

Most importantly, growing up in Kahlin Compound she was never taught to read or write.

Despite the rhetoric about Aboriginal children being taken away to improve their chances in life, literacy was one skill that the administration clearly thought was of no use to a young Aboriginal woman.

That much is clear from our history.

However, on a personal level, much about my mother’s motivations in the story about the cake remains curious to me.

Did she not want white people to eat her food as an act of defiance?

Was it a reluctance – or a refusal – to place herself in a situation of being judged by them?

Was it her own brand of passive resistance?

I don’t know.

However, I do know it was a profound moment in our relationship as she revealed something of herself to me.

This moment has stayed with me over all these years.

And I believe this little incident points to the great gulf in experience between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australia.

It points towards an experience carried by so many of our families: the experience of having been treated unjustly, but of that injustice not being acknowledged.

This experience has been analysed by Jill Stauffer in her 2015 book, Ethical loneliness: the injustice of not being heard1.

Stauffer describes the profound isolation and loneliness that arises as a consequence of such an experience.

Calling it ‘ethical loneliness’ she says that it is a condition undergone by persons who have been unjustly treated … who emerge from that injustice only to find that the surrounding world will not listen to or cannot properly hear their testimony. … ethical loneliness is the experience of having been abandoned by humanity, compounded by the experience of not being heard.

There is something of this ethical loneliness in my mother’s experience, and even in the story of the cake she would not make.

I believe that experience is common to many if not all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

It stems from the complex, often damaged and damaging relationship between our First Nations and those who colonised this place from 1788 onwards.

Much of that damage remains embedded in the relationship between black and white Australia.

This nation has never properly dealt with that damage.

It has never properly acknowledged it, and acted upon that acknowledgement.

I believe we now, in 2017, all of us over the age of 18, this generation, have an historic opportunity to do that, to begin the process of repair, to re-set that relationship on a foundation of equality, justice and truth.

That opportunity is presented by the prospect of genuine and substantive reform to the Australian Constitution, and that is the topic I want to talk to you about this evening.

I would like to take you on the journey that I have been recently on as a member of the Referendum Council, which was tasked with making recommendations to the Federal Government on constitutional reform.

I would like to share with you our experience of the unique regional Dialogues with First Peoples and communities, and what we heard in them, culminating in the National Convention of First peoples at Uluru in May this year, and the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

And most importantly I want to describe the three essential demands to come from this process, which I summarise with these three words:

Voice.

Treaty.

Truth.

Before we trace that journey from the world of the Parap Camp in the 1950s, to where we stand today in 2017, I would like to acknowledge the importance of the Wave Hill Walk Off in 1966 in our history.

Mr Lingiari and the other Gurindji men and women first walked off their jobs on the Wave Hill station to demand fair pay and conditions, but ended up sitting down at Wattie Creek and demanding the return of their traditional lands.

They were demanding proper acknowledgment of the injustice done to them, and proper restitution of the harms done.

In doing so, they began the modern land rights movement.

But they were also re-asserting the struggle for self-determination, as summed up so elegantly by Mr Lingiari himself when he said:

“We want to live on our land, our way”

In those nine words, he captured the essence of what have been and continue to be the central demands of our First Nations since 1788.

First, recognition of our sovereignty, never ceded, of the land, of Country.

Second, acceptance of our right to continue in our unique and diverse cultures.

The Gurindji and Mr Lingiari powerfully re-asserted those demands, just as our First Nations have done since the beginning of the colonisation of Australia, and just as we have continued to do since.

This year, 2017, is a year of anniversaries of events which built upon and extended the rights of First Peoples as so clearly stated by the Gurindji.

It is

• 50 years since the 1967 Referendum;

• 25 years since the Mabo decision overturned the lie of ‘terra nullius’ in 1992; and

• 20 years since the Bringing Them Home Report in 1997.

It is also, crucially, 10 years since the Intervention was unleashed on our communities here in the Northern Territory.

The Intervention was the counter-revolution, the attempt to turn back the clock to the times before the Gurindji and Wave Hill, and the 1967 Referendum, and all the other achievements.

The Intervention was the attempt to take us back to the world of Parap Camp in the 1950s, when the powers of the nation-state reached into every aspect of how we lived our lives.

Now, ten years on, it is clear how profoundly and utterly the Intervention and the thinking behind it has failed.

It continues, however, to create much heartache and pain.

As John Lawrence in his recent Castan Centre Address3 has stated, tem years on, the Northern Territory gaols more people per capita than any country in the world.

The overwhelming majority of those incarcerated are Aboriginal.

The number of children being removed from their families is soaring: it rose by an average of 16% per year between 2011 and 2015.

This frightening increase is entirely due to the removal of Aboriginal children from their families4.

Family violence is out of control.

These figures – which many of you will know – are profoundly disturbing.

They demonstrate the tsunami of anger, frustration, despair and sadness that is engulfing our communities and families.

These type of figures are echoed across the country.

They reflect the kind of Intervention-thinking that has informed policy making over the last ten years, based on the idea that the nation-state knows best what is good for us.

Let us remember that the Intervention was trumpeted by its instigators as necessary to protect Aboriginal women and children.

It marked a shift in policy-making not just here but across the country.

Intervention-thinking sees self-determination as a failed idea, and blames us for the situation in which we find ourselves.

It believes that we do not have anything to offer, that we are at best ‘risks’ to be managed.

It ignores or condones or covers up the abuse of young people in detention, or our lack of housing or access to education.

I say again: it has utterly failed.

We can see this through the statistics, but more importantly through visiting many of our communities and listening to the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over these last few months.

I’ve been working in this field all of my adult life, and I can say honestly say that I have never seen things so bad.

This has to change.

We now sit in 2017 at what I believe is a critical junction in our history, not just for the First Nations of this country, but for the nation-state as a whole.

Six weeks ago, the Referendum Council of which I was Co-Chair handed a report to the Prime Minister, recommending what constitutional change should look like if it is to be acceptable to our First Peoples.

The report documents what we were told in a series of regional dialogues with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities across the country.

Going out and talking to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was our first priority under our terms of reference.

These twelve regional Dialogues were held from Thursday Island to Hobart, from Perth, to Ross River outside Alice Springs, to Sydney and Melbourne. People from across the regions came to these centres.

We also held a one-day information session in Canberra.

Each Dialogue was attended by around one hundred people, including Traditional Owners, representatives of local organisations, and individuals.

Each was held over three days to allow full consideration of a number of proposals for Constitutional reform. It was the same format and same agenda for each Dialogue. We needed a methodology which could, in some way, be empirically measured.

The reforms that each Dialogue considered had been inherited by the Referendum Council from the work of the Expert Panel on the Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution (co-chaired by Patrick Dodson and Mark Leibler) and the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (co-chaired by Senators Ken Wyatt and Nova Peris).

They were:

• first, a statement acknowledging us as the First Australians, either inside or outside the Constitution;

• second, amending or deleting that part of the Constitution which empowers the Commonwealth to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;

• third, inserting a guarantee against racial discrimination into the Constitution; and

• fourth, deleting that part of the Constitution which contemplates the possibility of a state government excluding some Australians from voting on the basis of their race.

The Dialogues also considered a fifth option, that of a First Peoples’ Voice to be heard by Parliament, and the right to be consulted on legislation and policies that affects us.

The Dialogue process was unprecedented in Australia’s history: never before have we as First Nations sat down across the nation in such an intensive, structured manner to deliberate on constitutional matters.

It was a passionate process.

Delegates grappled with the technical and legal implications of these proposals, as well as with their political viability.

There were disagreements, there were even arguments: how could it be otherwise when 1,200 people from all the diversity of our Nations were brought together to talk about matters so closely connected with the experiences and history of their families, clans and communities?

But there was also an extraordinary level of agreement on some matters.

When delegates from the Dialogues assembled at Uluru in May this year, the exhaustive deliberations and informed participation through the Regional Dialogues led to a broad consensus, as articulated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart which was adopted by the Convention.

Specifically, Australia’s First Peoples overwhelmingly rejected any purely symbolic changes to the Constitution, such as through a ‘statement of recognition’.

There were two reasons behind the rejection of this narrow model of Constitutional recognition.

First, there was a concern that formal recognition in the Constitution might interfere with sovereignty – and all Dialogues were steadfast in asserting the fact that we as First Nations had never ceded our sovereignty.

In re-asserting the fact of sovereignty, the delegates echoed the conclusions of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples five years ago, which stated that5:

The … occupation of the country … proceeded on the fiction of terra nullius. It follows that ultimately the basis of settlement in Australia is and always has been the exertion of force by and on behalf of the British Crown. No-one asked permission to settle. No-one consented, no-one ceded. Sovereignty was not passed from the Aboriginal peoples by any actions of legal significance voluntarily taken by or on behalf of them.

Second, and more simply, participants in the Dialogues and at Uluru simply did not trust the likely process for drafting a constitutional statement of recognition

The concern was that by the time the lawyers were through with it, such a statement would end up being so bland as to be incompatible with the duty to recognise the difficult truths of Australia’s past.

Instead, our mob wanted substantive change, structural reform, for their communities on the ground.

And if it didn’t fit that criteria, they weren’t interested.

And this is where Dialogue participants and the Uluru Convention showed significant agreement.

There was overwhelming consensus around three proposals.

First, for a constitutionally established representative body that would give First Nations a Voice directly to the Federal Parliament.

Second, for the establishment of a Makarrata Commission to supervise the making of Treaties with us.

Third, for a process of local and regional Truth-telling which could form the basis for genuine reconciliation.

These three things – Voice – Treaty – Truth – were the key consensus demands that arose from the Dialogues, were captured in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and form the core of the Referendum Council’s report.

I’d now like to turn to each of these three crucial concepts and unpack them, give you my view why they are important, what they might mean, and how they might provide a pathway out of our current situation.

These are not abstract notions, or intellectual constructs.

Changing the Constitution, many of us believe, is the only place left for us to go.

We have sat on the Committees, we have set up our own organisations, we have changed national policy agendas, but we still haven’t been able to achieve the substantive change demanded by our communities.

As Marcia Langton said at Garma recently, we have been Royal Commission-ed out, we have been committee-ed out, and we have been panel-ed out.

We still have to rely on other people’s good will.

And that is not good enough anymore.

We need more than that.

We need once and for all for our sovereignty to be recognised and our voices to be heard.

The recommendation for substantive constitutional change was for the establishment of a “representative body that gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament”.

We believed – following the consensus at Uluru – that this is the only constitutional reform which would accord with the wishes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Why is this important?

Establishing such a body in the Constitution has both substantive and symbolic value.

Symbolically, it recognises the unique place of First Peoples in Australian history and in contemporary Australian society.

It formally acknowledges our place here.

In asking Australians to vote ‘yes’ to such a proposal we would be asking us all to reflect on who we are, on what values and principles we hold dearest.

It would establish a significant national narrative about working together – about a genuine two-way conversation.

But such a body will also provide substantive benefits.

A constitutionally entrenched Voice to Parliament could address Australia’s poor history of consultation with our Peoples by government.

All too often we have been excluded from the key decisions that are made about our lives.

The Intervention itself is a key example, designed over three days6, in some offices in Canberra by people who took little account of the evidence, had no understanding of the realities of our lives and most significantly didn’t talk to any of us.

(No wonder it has failed!)

The Voice to Parliament would ensure we have input at the highest level into the policy-making that affects us.

It could also play a valuable monitoring role.

Properly resourced, it could hold Government to account, regularly reviewing and reporting on the implementation of recommendations from the host of inquiries and reports from the Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody onwards.

It could also monitor the use of the Constitution’s ‘race power’ or attempts to suspend racial discrimination legislation so that measures like the Intervention could be properly scrutinised before their implementation.

Embedding the establishment of the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution is vital because the body’s existence would not then be at the whim of whichever government was in power in Canberra.

You know, every time there is a change of government, or a new Minister, or even a Head of Department, we all have to troop down to Canberra yet again and justify our existence. Pretty much, start all over again.

The Voice to Parliament would be a permanent and enduring feature of the nation’s body-politic.

It could only be abolished by going back to you, the people, in a new referendum.

To date, all our national organisations have disappeared with the stroke of a Minister’s pen.

We would be, at last, in the main building, not in the demountable out the back.

Of course, the details of how to establish such a body would need to be carefully negotiated with Parliament once its establishment was agreed through Referendum.

My vision – and that of many people we spoke to during the dialogues and at Uluru – is for a body that include representation from all the diversity of First Nations across Australia.

It would be a place for dialogue, a meeting place for us and with us.

And in my opinion, it is this diversity that would enrich the body-politic.

After 65,000 years or more on this continent, with all our different languages, histories and cultures, I think we would have something powerful and unique to offer the nation-state through such a body.

Let me turn to second proposal to come from the Dialogues and from Uluru: Treaty.

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

It is something we have demanded since at least the mid-nineteenth century.

Despite the hard-won gains, such as through the Land Rights Act following the Gurindji Walk Off, and the Native Title Act sparked by Eddie Mabo, there is unfinished business that we need to resolve.

We used the word ‘Makaratta’ to describe this process of agreement or Treaty-making.

Makaratta is the process that guides the Yolngu Nation in North East Arnhem Land through difficult disputes, and its workings have been recently described by Galarrwuy Yunupingu in this way7:

… each party, led by their elders, must speak carefully and calmly about the dispute. They must put the facts on the table and air their grievances … The leaders must always seek a full understanding of the dispute: what lies behind it; who is responsible; what each party wants, and all things that are normal to peacemaking efforts. When that understanding is arrived at, then a settlement can be agreed upon.

Following the Uluru Statement, this means the establishment of a ‘Makarrata Commission’ to set up a national Framework and principles for negotiating treaties, and a possible a national settlement document.

A Treaty is a pathway to the recognition of sovereignty and to the achievement of self-determination.

It is an agreement between equals.

Such treaties could be regional or State-wide, and it would be the Makarrata Commission’s job to provide a national framework for, and supervise, these two-way processes.

Critically, treaties are inseparable from the third demand from the Dialogues and Uluru: Truth.

You cannot make a lasting and effective agreement unless you have a shared, truthful understanding of the nature of the dispute, of the history, of how we got to where we stand.

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

Because, this is still not the case.

This is difficult and painful territory – for us as well as for mainstream Australia.

It can be hard to hear.

As Jill Stauffer says in her book ‘Ethical Loneliness’ that I quoted from at the beginning of tonight:

Responding well to others, especially survivors of wrongdoing, may require that we open ourselves to hearing something other than what we expect or want to hear

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

I was reminded of this just last month when I read media stories about an online digital map of more than 150 massacres developed by Professor Lyndall Ryan at the University of Newcastle8.

Through meticulous examination of the records, the map seeks to provide the evidence for those who still question whether massacres happened.

Professor Ryan has started documenting these facts for the eastern coast of Australia but plans to extend this to the rest of the country.

This is important work.

But I question how it is that we have had to wait until 2017 for this?

Why is this not part of the national conversation?

Our communities know about the massacres.

Our families know about the children being forcibly removed from their families.

But it seems that there is a need for many in mainstream Australia to pretend that all this didn’t happen, that it’s all just part of a ‘black armband’ view of history, made up to make you feel guilty.

One of the most moving episodes in the regional dialogues for me personally came at Ross River near Alice Springs.

There the Elders spoke of the distress they felt at the recent placement of a statue of the explorer John McDouall Stuart in Alice Springs to mark the the 150th anniversary of his attempt to reach the Top End from Adelaide.

The statue was shown holding a gun.

The Elders felt legitimately that this showed a painful lack of respect, given the fact that Stuart’s journey led directly to a series of massacres in the region as control of the land was wrested from the traditional owners.

Let me be clear: this process of truth–telling is not about guilt.

Guilt is a debilitating emotion that stops us moving forward or doing anything.

What I’m talking about is respect and acknowledgment.

As one participant in the Regional Dialogues in Broome said:

[We are] people who worked as stockmen for no pay, who have survived a history full of massacres and pain. We deserve respect.

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

Then we can move forward together.

The Dialogues opted for the development of a ‘Declaration of Recognition’ to be passed by all Australian Parliaments.

This declaration – outside the Constitution – would be free to articulate that difficult shared history.

It could provide a unifying statement about the three waves of people who make up the Australian story:

• our ancient First Peoples (65,000 years or more),

• those people who came in 1788 and after,

• the peoples who have come from out of Europe and Asia and who continue to try to come us today, often fleeing persecution and seeking a better life.

Three waves of people.

So, this where we stand now in 2017.

The unprecedented process of deliberation by Australia’s First peoples, through the regional Dialogues and at Uluru, led to the formulation of three clear demands:

Voice.

Treaty.

Truth.

Some commentators and others have expressed concern that these are new proposals, the examination of which will need yet more new processes to consider.

I respectfully disagree.

None of these issues are new.

We have been talking about these things for a long time.

Other commentators believe that these are impractical, left-field proposals.

Again, I respectfully disagree.

I believe these changes are challenging but achievable, and are proportionate to the level of distress, anger and powerlessness being felt in our communities.

In the international landscape of recognising Indigenous peoples, what we are asking for is modest, conservative even.

Many of our First Nation communities and families are plagued by a myriad of challenges including poverty, suicide, youth detention, family breakdown, and all kinds of health problems.

Worse, in my view, than any of this, is that too many of us feel hopeless.

To reverse this and to take our rightful place in this country, we need to create new places, new ways by which we can speak and get things done to deal with our complicated 21st century lives.

At the same time we will strongly and even fiercely guard who we are and our right to be different.

We need to create a future when we, and our children and grandchildren, are recognised as having something powerful and unique to offer this nation.

This needs to happen now, and not just for us as First Nations.

This is about the social and emotional wellbeing of the country as a whole.

It is a time of reflection, a time for all Australians to consider what kind of a society we are today, what are our values and our principles.

Surely, we are not the same people as we were in 1901 when the Constitution was drawn up.

Eventually we will have to sit down together, black and white in this nation, and deal with this.

For the truth is that this is our place.

We, the First Nations, are not going anywhere.

They can put it off for another ten years, twenty years fifty years.

But eventually you will have to sit down with as respectful equals and sort out this relationship.

But right now, we have an opportunity, a roadmap for doing that.

Simply this:

Voice.

Treaty.

Truth.

And I want to add:

Justice.

Hear us. Acknowledge us.

Thank you all for coming.