NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Coniston NT massacre 1928 descendants reunite to push for national truth-telling process , a theme of the #UluruStatement from the Heart.

We expect up to 400 people to join us for a chance to share the truth about our colonial past with the families of the victims and the murderers.

We want everyone to know that these massacres didn’t happen during some distant past but 10 years after the end of the First World War.

We remember those who lost their lives in that war every year, in every town around Australia. We have a special public holiday for it and lots of memorials everywhere.

What about our fallen loved ones?

Truth telling, along with agreement making and an Aboriginal voice to parliament, is a theme of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Central Land Council chair Francis Kelly.

Download the 12 Page PDF 

Coniston-Brochure-2018

Families affected by the Coniston Massacre from around Australia have gathered at a meeting of the Central Land Council outside Yuendumu, getting ready to remember the innocent men, women and children killed during a series of massacres in 1928.

Today they will travel to the remote outstation of Yurrkuru (Brooks Soak), approximately three hours north west of Alice Springs, to commemorate with songs, dances, speeches and prayers the 90th anniversary of the killings.

Yurrkuru is the site of the murder of the dingo trapper Fred Brooks which triggered the revenge parties led by Police Constable George Murray between August and October 1928 that have become known as the Coniston Massacre.

The families of an estimated 100 murder victims are planning to speak at the event, alongside members of Constable Murray’s family and political leaders such as Senator Patrick Dodson and NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner.

Their families unveiled a plaque at Yurrkuru in 2003 and plan to call for annual events commemorating the massacres and for interpretive signs at the many massacre locations.

They also want all school children to be taught about the frontier wars.

Mr Kelly, one of the creators of the documentary Coniston which will be shown at the CLC meeting tonight, said he is particularly pleased to welcome students from surrounding Aboriginal communities to the commemoration.

“Until all Australians know about the crimes committed against our families we can’t move forward as one mob, one country,” he said.

“Other countries with murderous pasts have managed to come together by speaking the truth. If they can do it, why can’t we?”

The Aboriginal man on the 2 dollar coin.His name was Gwoya Jungarai and he was one of the only survivors of one of the last recognised massacres of Aboriginal people, the 1928 Coniston Massacre in Central Australia.

Almost every Australian has seen his face, held his likeness in their hands but how many know his story?

Today Friday the 24th of August 2018 will mark the 90th anniversary of that atrocity. We will remember him as well as those others who did not survive.Lest we forget the Frontier Wars.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion Press Release

The anniversary was a solemn commemoration from or the families and descendants of the victims as well as for the entire Central Australian community.

Today community members from Central Australia gathered at Yurrkuru to commemorate 90 years since the Coniston massacre.

The Coniston massacre was a series of killings between August and October 1928, with large numbers of Aboriginal people from the Warlpiri, Anmatyerre and Kaytetye nations killed.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said that the anniversary was a solemn commemoration for the families and descendants of the victims as well as for the entire Central Australian community.

“It is important that we remember the Aboriginal men, women and children who were killed during this dark chapter of Australian history and acknowledge the impact on families and communities that these crimes have on First Nations peoples,” said Minister Scullion.

“Today we also reflect on the resilience of the local Traditional Owners in more recent history. In 2014 I was honoured to join Traditional Owners and deliver a deed of grant to the Yurrkuru Aboriginal Land Trust – handing back land which was central to the Coniston massacre.

The Central Land Council hosted an event to commemorate the massacre at Yurrkuru (Brooks Soak), approximately 60 kilometres from Yuendumu.  The event brought together Aboriginal families from across Central Australia, as well as descendants of those responsible.

“I commend the Central Land Council for this work to ensure that the Coniston massacre is never forgotten.”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health supports our First Nations Media @FNMediaAust #OurMediaMatters Campaign : Download nine calls for action that the Government needs to address

We are asking Governments to be part of growing and sustaining our sector for the benefit of First Nations peoples as well as developing greater understanding of our cultures for the benefit of non- Indigenous Australia

Our national network includes more than 40 organisations that service 235 broadcast locations. Collectively those radio services reach nearly 50% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country with audiences of around 320,000 listeners each week

We are producing and broadcasting content in over twenty languages. We’ve been making media through film, television, radio and print for more than four decades and in recent years diversified to on-line platforms.

People watch and listen and interact because our media tell positive stories about First Nations people relevant to their community and lives, and in many places, it’s in their first language.

Our media engages our audiences in a two-way dialogue that is both culturally appropriate and relevant.

Our media is an essential service, particularly in the many areas across Australia where it is the only means of receiving emergency information and health messages, including local languages.

Our media saves lives in the immediate sense as a primary source of information, but also through the stories we tell and the impact those stories have on our people’s social and emotional wellbeing.

That’s why our media has impact and that’s why we want Governments to recognise that our media matters.

First Nations Media Australia chair Dot West

#OurMediaMatters was the message First Nations media organisations from around the country  took directly to politicians and policy makers in Canberra this week from Monday 20 August .

FNMA’s goals in calling for action are to close the gap on disadvantage, to inform, connect and empower communities, to provide meaningful jobs, skills and business opportunities, and to provide our children with opportunities, a strong sense of identity, inclusion and pride in their languages and culture.

Download the full call to action

Calls-For-Action-2018-Consolidated-CFA-Documents

Peak body First Nations Media Australia (FNMA) showcased the work of member organisations and how First Nations media services play a crucial role in increasing community cohesion, building community resilience and creating meaningful employment and economic opportunity

Picture below 2017 Conference

The Festival theme was Lutjurringkulala Nintiringama Ngapartji Ngapartji meaning ‘come together to learn and share’.

Over 100 delegates travelled the long red desert highway to be welcomed to Country, culture, big night skies and Tjukurrpa by Irrunytju traditional owners and community leaders. The opening ceremony featured a Turlku (dance) performance of the Minyma Kutjara (Two Sisters) story that passes Irrunytju community. The week-long event affirmed the remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media industry as a powerful and connected voice for generations to come.

Broadcasters

Imparja Television

Indigenous Community Television (ICTV)

National Indigenous Radio Service (NIRS)

National Indigenous Television (NITV)

Broadband for the Bush Alliance

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN)

Australian Smart Communities Association

Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association

Central Desert Shire Council

Central Land Council (CLC)

Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT)

Centre for Remote Health (CRH)

Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA)

Ethos Global Foundation

Frontier Services

Indigenous Remote Communications Association

Infoxchange

Mid West Development Commission

National Centre of Indigenous Excellence

National Rural Health Alliance

Ninti One

Regional Development Australia, Northern Territory

Remote Area Planning and Development (RAPAD)

Swinburne Institute for Social Research

TelSoc

FNMA has identified nine calls for action to Government that address four key aims

  • To increase jobs and skills
  • To improve the sector’s capacity and sustainability
  • To enhance social inclusion, and
  • To preserve culture and language.

Some of the calls for action are budget neutral and simply ask for policy amendments to recognise First Nations broadcasters as a separate license category under the Broadcasting Services Act.

  1. Broadcasting Act Reform for First Nations Broadcasting. Download
  2. Increase in Operational and Employment Funding. Download
  3. Live and Local Radio Expansion Program. Download
  4. Strengthening of First Nations News Services. Download
  5. Expanding Training and Career Pathway Programs. Download
  6. Upgrading Infrastructure and Digital Networks. Download
  7. Recognising First Nations Broadcasters as the Preferred Channel for Government Messaging. Download
  8. Preserving First Nations Media Archives. Download
  9. Establishing an Annual Content Production Fund. Download

Other calls for action would require a funding commitment, for example to underpin First Nations media capacity to act as training and employment hubs.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Racism Debate #itstopswithme : Download @AusHumanRights Report, Anti-Racism in 2018 and Beyond : “Aboriginal people experience racism in systemic and institutional ways “

“The causes of racism are multiple. It can be caused not just by ignorance but also by arrogance; it can be caused by malice as well as by lazy assumptions.

While is some cases, the causes lay in attitudes and behaviour, in others, they lay within systems and institutions,”

The outgoing Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane, has this week called for urgent action on measures to reduce racism at the  launch of his final report before stepping down this week.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience racism in systemic and institutional ways.

In 2016, 46 per cent of Indigenous respondents reported experiencing prejudice in the previous six months, compared to 39 per cent for the same period two years before.

Thirty-seven per cent reported experiencing racial prejudice in the form of verbal abuse, and 17 per cent reported physical violence

In 2015-16, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounted for 54 per cent of complaints received by the Commission under the Racial Discrimination Act.

Download report here Anti-Racism in 2018 and Beyond

For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, systemic racism is bound up in historical disadvantage and mistreatment. Practices such as that of removing Aboriginal children from their families have caused huge amounts of hurt and pain for individuals, families and communities. This shows up in lots of different ways – poor health, high rates of mental illness and family breakdowns.”

See Section 2 Below 

“On an individual level, exposure to racism is associated with psychological distress, depression, poor quality of life, and substance misuse, all of which contribute significantly to the overall ill-health experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Prolonged experience of stress can also have physical health effects, such as on the immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems.”

Pat Anderson is chairwoman of the Lowitja Institute,  (and a former chair of NACCHO) see her opinion article below link ” This article has been read over 22,000 times in past 4 years 

NACCHO Aboriginal health and racism : What are the impacts of racism on Aboriginal health ?

There is an underbelly of racism in this country, of ignorance, and of fear” Senator Pat Dodson responds to maiden senate speech by Senator Anning WATCH VIDEO

True or False? We fact-check Senator Fraser Anning on his comments regarding Muslims, crime and welfare. http://bit.ly/2PdDH8H

Human Rights Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Website

 

 

The Report, Anti-Racism in 2018 and Beyond, is part of the National Anti-Racism Strategy – a partnership-based strategy –  which was launched in 2012.

Watch Video

Today’s report reveals the increasing need for strong anti-racism policies and leadership, given the rise of anti-immigration and far-right populism.

“Since 2015, race has dominated headlines and driven public debates in a way that many would not have anticipated when the National Anti-Racism Strategy was last evaluated,” said Dr Soutphommasane.

“Anti-racism efforts must give voice to the individuals and communities who experience it. Racial prejudice and discrimination have profound silencing effects on those who are their targets,” he said.

The Report looks at the multiple causes of racism and the need for organisations, communities and individuals to not only identify racism, but call it out and build strategies that change behaviours.

Dr Soutphommasane says each and every one of us can make a difference.

 1.What is Racism 

Racism takes many forms and can happen in many places. It includes prejudice, discrimination or hatred directed at someone because of their colour, ethnicity or national origin.

People often associate racism with acts of abuse or harassment. However, it doesn’t need to involve violent or intimidating behaviour. Take racial name-calling and jokes. Or consider situations when people may be excluded from groups or activities because of where they come from.

Racism can be revealed through people’s actions as well as their attitudes. It can also be reflected in systems and institutions. But sometimes it may not be revealed at all. Not all racism is obvious. For example, someone may look through a list of job applicants and decide not to interview people with certain surnames.

Racism is more than just words, beliefs and actions. It includes all the barriers that prevent people from enjoying dignity and equality because of their race.

Many people experience racist behaviour.

The Challenging Racism Project has found that 20 per cent of Australians surveyed had experienced racial discrimination in the form of race hate talk, and about 5 per cent had been attacked because of their race. According to the Scanlon Foundation’s Mapping Social Cohesion survey in 2016, 20 per cent of Australians had experienced racial or religious discrimination during the past 12 months.

Some groups experience racism at higher rates. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and those from culturally diverse backgrounds, often have to deal with systemic forms of discrimination. Such experiences limit the access that members of these groups enjoy to the opportunities and resources offered to many people from Anglo-Australian backgrounds.

For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, systemic racism is bound up in historical disadvantage and mistreatment. Practices such as that of removing Aboriginal children from their families have caused huge amounts of hurt and pain for individuals, families and communities. This shows up in lots of different ways – poor health, high rates of mental illness and family breakdowns.

Migrants and refugees also regularly experience racism, in particular those who have recently arrived. Media reports and commentary that use negative stereotypes about refugees and migrants can fuel prejudice against these groups in the wider community. These attitudes can make it difficult for new arrivals to find housing and jobs, and to feel connected to their communities.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the #StolenGeneration : Download #ActionPlanForHealing @AIHW and @HealingOurWay Report that has uncovered an alarming and disproportionate level of #StolenGenerations disadvantage

We now know that around 17,000 members of the Stolen Generations are living across Australia today and that they experience higher levels of adversity in relation to most of the 38 key health and welfare outcomes analysed in the report,” 

Even compared to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the same age group, who are already at a disadvantage, Stolen Generations members are suffering more.

It’s important to remember that behind all the data, are real people who are living with adversity every day and who have shared their stories many times over the past decade.

Healing Foundation Board Chair Professor Steve Larkin says the report, which was commissioned by The Healing Foundation, has uncovered an alarming level of social and economic disadvantage for our Stolen Generations and their descendants. See full press release Part 1 below 

Download full report HERE 

aihw-ihw-Stolen Generation Report

While the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Government failed to commission this important work following the National Apology in 2008, I am pleased that we now have a comprehensive understanding of the demographics and needs of surviving members of the Stolen Generations.

The Stolen Generations have experienced a lifetime of trauma, grief and loss, a legacy which is still felt in families and communities across Australia,

The results are significant and illustrate the enduring devastation of past government policies.

I thank the AIHW and the Healing Foundation for their comprehensive work on this report, the first analysis of its kind.

“These findings will help all governments to better support the Stolen Generations and their families.

Minister of Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion see full Press Release Part 2

A Shorten Labor Government will respond to the legacy of pain and trauma that the Stolen Generations, their families and their communities continue to experience today. A Shorten Labor Government will establish a Stolen Generations Compensation Scheme.

To each of the survivors removed from their families, country and culture we will offer an ex gratia payment of $75,000. As well as a one-off payment of $7000 to ensure the costs of their funeral are covered.

See Labor Party Press Release HERE 

Labor Party Stolen Generation response Press Release

 

A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare highlights the urgent need to overhaul policies and services for Australia’s Stolen Generations and tackle the impact of Intergenerational Trauma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, according to The Healing Foundation Board Chair Steve Larkin.

According to today’s report the Stolen Generations are more than three times as likely to have been incarcerated in the last five years, almost twice as likely to rely on government payments and 1.5 times as likely to experience poor mental health. They are also more likely to suffer chronic health conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

“For the first time, we have comprehensive data to illustrate a direct link between poor health and welfare outcomes and the forced removal of tens of thousands of children from their families,” said Professor Larkin

“And we can also see the ongoing impact on subsequent generations.”

The AIHW report shows that the descendants of the Stolen Generations consistently experience poorer health and social outcomes, compared to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For example, they are almost twice as likely to have experienced violence, 1.5 times as likely to have been arrested by police (in the last 5 years) and 1.2 times as likely to have used substances (in the preceding 12 months).

Professor Larkin said the level of disadvantage outlined in the report was appalling but should not come as a surprise.

“The Stolen Generations were denied a proper education or a decent wage, which put them at a financial loss right from the start. But more fundamentally, they endured significant childhood trauma when they were taken from their families, isolated, institutionalised and often abused.

“If people don’t have an opportunity to heal from trauma, it continues to impact on the way they think and behave, which can lead to a range of negative outcomes, including poor health, substance abuse, suicide and violence.

“This leads to a vicious cycle of trauma, and its many insidious symptoms, and increasing levels of social and economic disadvantage, across generations,” said Professor Larkin.

“This report shows us that one third of today’s adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community are descendants of the Stolen Generations and that number is going to keep growing.

“If we don’t break the trauma cycle soon, adversity for our people will keep increasing, the gaps with non-Indigenous Australians will keep widening and so will the cost to the Australian taxpayer.”

Today’s demographic report is the first step in The Healing Foundation’s Action Plan for Healing project, which the federal government funded last year.

Professor Larkin said we need to act quickly to scale up appropriate services, address reparations at a national level and deal with the complex aged care needs that have been outlined in the report.

“We also need a National Intergenerational Trauma Strategy to halt the spread of trauma and attack the root cause of many social and health problems.

“It’s too late for many of the Stolen Generations who died young and tragically because of the poor health and welfare issues outlined in this report, but we can do better for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still experiencing the impacts,” he said.

The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that partners with communities to heal trauma caused by the widespread and deliberate disruption of populations, cultures and languages over 230 years. This includes specific actions like the forced removal of children from their families.

Download the Above as a PDF 

HF_Stolen_Gererations_2Page_Infographics_Aug2018_V1 (1)

Part 2 Government  Press Release

The Turnbull Government has today released a landmark analysis conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in partnership with the Healing Foundation into the outcomes and current needs of the Stolen Generations.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations and descendants: Numbers, demographic characteristics and selected outcomes report found that there are an estimated 17,000 members of the Stolen Generations alive in 2018 who continue to experience significant social and economic disadvantage compared to other Indigenous Australians.

The report estimated that an average of 11 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people born before 1972 were removed from their families.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion said this report was a critical analysis needed to enable governments to better meet the contemporary needs of members of the Stolen Generations.

“The Turnbull Government will consult with the Indigenous Advisory Council and continue to work with members of the Stolen Generations to ensure that the Stolen Generations and their families receive the support they require.”

The Commonwealth has provided around $50 million to the Healing Foundation since 2009 to support their work and is currently delivering more than $44 million to over 100 organisations to provide social and emotional wellbeing activities including to support members of the Stolen Generations and their families.

The report was commissioned by the Australian Government in partnership with the Healing Foundation. This work was undertaken in response to the Healing Foundation’s Report titled Bringing them Home 20 years on: an action plan for healing,  which recommended a comprehensive analysis to understand the current needs of the Stolen Generations.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and local #Adoption : @CAACongress @SNAICC and @AbSecNSW streamed live today August 14 from Canberra , public hearing local adoption : Plus @AMSANTaus full submission

 

We are aware that this Inquiry was called in the wake of recent media coverage relating to the issue of adoption of Aboriginal children, including the Minister’s own comments that adoption policies should be changed to allow more Aboriginal children to be adopted by non-Aboriginal families.

AMSANT would like to emphasise the importance of informed discussion on this issue and draws the Committee’s attention to the following, put forward in March of this year as part of a joint statement from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in response to media coverage:

We need to have a more rational and mature discussion aimed at achieving better social, community, family and individual outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people. We must work to ensure that the drivers of child protection intervention are addressed, rather than continuing with a poorly designed and resourced system that reacts when it’s too late, after families have already reached breaking point and children have been harmed1

See Full AMSANT Submission Part 2 Below

 

“As detailed in our submission, AbSec is strongly opposed to the coerced adoption of Aboriginal children by statutory child protection systems. Adoption orders are characterised by the absence of key safeguards to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal children.

They fail to uphold an Aboriginal child’s fundamental rights to family, community and culture, and the importance of these connections to our life long wellbeing and resilience. They are not in the best interests of our children.

In particular, it must be noted that past policies of the forced separation of Aboriginal children and young people from their families, communities, culture and Country is regarded as a key contributor to this ongoing over-representation. It is not a solution.

AbSec, alongside QATSICPP and SNAAICC, call for the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led approaches to the care of our children “

ABSEC Submission Download Here

ABSEC Adoption submission

SNAICC Submission Download Here

Snaicc Adoption submission

 Part 1 Next public hearing for local adoption inquiry

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs will hold a public hearing into a nationally consistent framework for local adoption in Australia.

The Committee will hear from the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care – National Voice for our Children (also known as SNAICC), and the Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat (NSW) (also known as AbSec).

A detailed program for the hearing is available from the inquiry webpage (www.aph.gov.au/localadoption).

Public hearing details: Tuesday 14 August, 4.40pm (approx) to 6.00pm, Committee Room 1R2, Parliament House, Canberra

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

SNAICC (Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care) – National Voice for our Children

AbSec – the Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat (NSW)

The hearings will be streamed live in audio format at aph.gov.au/live.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the hearing however there will be limited seating available.

Further information about the inquiry, including the terms of reference and submissions published so far, is available on the inquiry webpage.

Part 2 AMSANT submission to The Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs: Inquiry into local adoption

AMSANT welcomes the opportunity to provide a submission to the Inquiry into Local Adoption. As the peak body for the community controlled Aboriginal primary health care sector in the Northern Territory AMSANT advocates for equity in health, focusing on supporting the provision of high quality comprehensive primary health care services for Aboriginal communities.

This submission provides an overview of AMSANT’s position in relation to Aboriginal children in Child Protection, including Out of Home Care (OOHC) and potential adoption, and also responds directly to Terms of Reference 1 and 2 of the Inquiry.

Overview

AMSANT embraces a social and cultural determinants of health perspective which recognises that health and wellbeing are profoundly affected by a range of interacting economic, social and cultural factors. Accordingly, we advocate for a holistic and child-centred approach to Child Protection that seeks first and foremost to address the underlying causes of abuse and neglect through prevention and early intervention.

We are aware that this Inquiry was called in the wake of recent media coverage relating to the issue of adoption of Aboriginal children, including the Minister’s own comments that adoption policies should be changed to allow more Aboriginal children to be adopted by non-Aboriginal families.

AMSANT would like to emphasise the importance of informed discussion on this issue and draws the Committee’s attention to the following, put forward in March of this year as part of a joint statement from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in response to media coverage:

We need to have a more rational and mature discussion aimed at achieving better social, community, family and individual outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people. We must work to ensure that the drivers of child protection intervention are addressed, rather than continuing with a poorly designed and resourced system that reacts when it’s too late, after families have already reached breaking point and children have been harmed1.

As captured in this statement it is essential that efforts to improve outcomes for children and families in contact with the Child Protection System stem from an understanding that abuse and neglect of children are most often the result of deeper family conflict or dysfunction, arising from social, economic and/or psychological roots.

In cases where children do need to be removed from family, decisions about what kind of placement, including adoption, is most appropriate for that child should occur in line with the following principles:

 Child-centred approach that allows for children to have a say in decisions that affect them

 OOHC for Aboriginal children delivered by Aboriginal Community Controlled Services (ACCSs)

 Adoption of a set of national standards for the rights of children in care

 Maintaining connection to family, community, culture and country, including prioritising adoption by extended family or if that is not possible, Aboriginal families who are not related.

 Improved support for kinship carers

1 See full statement here: http://www.snaicc.org.au/snaicc-statement-14-march-2018-joint-statement-aboriginal-torres-strait-islander-leaders-recent-media-coverage-around-child-protection-children/ Inquiry into local adoption

Stability and permanency for children in out-of-home care with local adoption as a viable option

Transition of OOHC to Aboriginal Community Control

Evidence clearly demonstrates that culturally competent services lead to increased access to services by Aboriginal children and their families2. Aboriginal led and managed services are well-placed to overcome the many barriers that exist for Aboriginal families and children to access services3, such as:

 a lack of understanding of the OOHC system and how to access advice and support;

 a mistrust of mainstream legal, medical, community and other support services;

 an understanding of the cultural or community pressures not to seek support, in particular perceptions of many Aboriginal families that any contact with the service system will result in the removal of their child4.

As the evaluation of child and family service delivery through the Communities for Children program identifies, “Indigenous specific services offer Indigenous families a safe, comfortable, culturally appropriate environment that is easier to access and engage with.”5 In addition, they are also going to be better at locating, training and supporting Aboriginal foster carers. This provides the opportunity to increase the quality of OOHC for Aboriginal children at significant lesser cost than the current “professional” foster care arrangements that are too often being put in place for Aboriginal children.

Following the lead of NSW, who in 2012 commenced a process of transfer to community control, there is a project currently being undertaken by the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT), in collaboration with the NT Government, to develop a strategy for the transition of OOHC to Aboriginal community control in the NT. Victoria has also confirmed that all OOHC service provision for Aboriginal children and families will be provided by community controlled services, with Queensland and Western Australia both exploring similar shifts.

AMSANT supports APO NT’s vision that Aboriginal children and young people in out of home care, as a priority, are placed with Kinship or Aboriginal foster carers and supported to retain culture, identity and language.

Strengthening the voice of children in decisions that affect them

Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states; “Children have the right to say what they think should happen when adults are making decisions that affect them and to have their opinions taken into account” 6.

There is a need for Child Protection proceedings to be more responsive to the child’s aspirations and needs. An approach taken in Family Law known as child-inclusive family dispute resolution has been shown to produce better outcomes for families with parenting disputes, including greater stability of care and contact patterns, and greater contentment of children with those arrangements7. Central to this approach is the use of an independent, specially trained child health professional to conduct interviews before any decision is made about them.

There is no reason why a similar approach couldn’t be taken in terms of long term care arrangements for children but with specific provisions for continuing contact with family and community.

Maintaining connection with family, kin and country

In line with international convention, Aboriginal children and families have the right to enjoy their cultures in community with their cultural groups (UNCRC, article 30; UNDRIP, articles 11-13). This right has been enshrined in these conventions to reflect the wealth of evidence that show culture, language and connection to country are protective factors for at-risk communities8.

The Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Placement Principle (ATSIPP) has been developed to ensure recognition of the value of culture and the vital role of Aboriginal children, families and communities to participate in decisions about the safety and wellbeing of children.

Despite the commitment from all States and Territories to fully implement this principle under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children, in 2015 only 34.7% of Aboriginal children in the NT were placed in care in accordance with the Child Placement principle, compared with a national average of 65.6%, and only 3.3% of children were placed with relatives or kin, compared with 48.8% at the national average9.

This reflects the need for better practice relating to kinship care in the NT including;

– early identification of kinship networks when the child first comes to the attention of Child Protection, rather than when a crisis point has been reached;

– increased access to supports and training for kinship carers (see below);

– support services to birth parents to strengthen the option for reunification;

– development of cultural support plans for all Aboriginal children to ensure meaningful connection to family, culture and community is maintained.

Improved support for kinship carers

A lack of adequate support for kinship carers can contribute to placement breakdown, and escalation for children and young people in the statutory OOHC system, including entry into residential care.

Conversely, home based care and placement stability are associated with a range of better health, education, economic and wellbeing outcomes.

Improved access to the following would support kinship carers in maintaining more stable placements for the children in their care:

– Ensure a comprehensive assessment of the child has been conducted and a care plan, incorporating cultural supports for Aboriginal children, is developed and fully implemented.

– Ensure access to training courses across a broad range of issues (parenting solutions, behavioural management, understanding and responding to trauma etc.)

– Increased financial support to bring payments in line with foster carers.

It is important to note that even for many long-term, stable care arrangements, including for children in kinship care, adoption may not be seen as a viable option due to the loss of supports that would be incurred in transitioning from ‘carer’ to ‘parent’.

In this way it is clear that the type of placement reflects neither stability and permanency nor wellbeing for the child, but rather the particular vulnerabilities and needs of the child and their carer. Adequately meeting these needs should remain the paramount focus of any efforts to create stable, loving homes for children in care.

Appropriate guiding principles for a national framework or code for local adoptions within Australia

In order to ensure that the rights and needs of the child remain central to all Care and Protection operations, AMSANT advocates that Australia adopt a set of national standards that set out the rights of children in care, which would be modelled on the Council of Europe’s 2005 Recommendation on the Rights of Children Living in Residential Institutions10.

This recommendations sets out a list of basic principles, specific rights of children living in residential institutions and guidelines and quality standards in view of protecting the rights of children living in residential institutions, irrespective of the reasons for and the nature of the placement. It advocates that the placement of a child should remain the exception and that the placement must guarantee full enjoyment of the child’s fundamental rights.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #childtrauma2018 : New Aboriginal-led project,aims to learn how to identify and support #Indigenous parents who have experienced complex trauma in their own childhoods.

 ” Complex trauma can have profound and ongoing impacts on development and physical, social and emotional wellbeing.

 The long-lasting relational effects can impede the capacity of parents to nurture and care for their children, leading to ‘intergenerational cycles’ of trauma “

This blog entry was authored by Dr Catherine ChamberlainSenior Research Fellow at the Judith Lumley Centre; Dr Graham Gee, Clinical Coordinator, Victorian Aboriginal Health Service; and Professor Stephanie Brown, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

An exciting new Aboriginal-led project, funded by the Lowitja Institute (2017-2018) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (2018-2021), aims to learn how to identify and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents who have experienced complex trauma in their own childhoods.

This project will run over four years with the phase one now underway. Those co-ordinating the project will be presenting a paper at the 2018 International Childhood Trauma Conference, and ahead of that presentation, have been invited to share with the professional network of Prosody readers about the project context, aims and opportunities.

Cultures Child, Ink on paper, 2018 © Shawana Andrews 

A father, mother and child wearing possum skin cloaks sitting by a myrnong daisy, the father holds the stem and looks to the daisy as it holds history and knowledge of the ancestors, this gives him strength.  The mother holds a newborn and rests against the stem, it supports her.  Mother and father are on different sides of the stem representing their different paths and roles in caring and nurturing for children. The daisy is in flower but also has a new bud and speaks of future generations and continuity.  The stones below represent a strong foundation of many generations and the stitching on the cloaks represent the relational connectedness of Aboriginal people and worldview. The mother’s hair blows in the wind, representing change.

Context

Complex trauma can have profound and ongoing impacts on development and physical, social and emotional wellbeing.4 The long-lasting relational effects can impede the capacity of parents to nurture and care for their children, leading to ‘intergenerational cycles’ of trauma.2 Attachment theory is often used to explain how disrupted primary carer relationships impact on the capacity to develop the social, emotional and cognitive skills necessary to form healthy interpersonal relationships throughout life.2 It proposes that, in a secure care-giving relationship, a parent responds sensitively to an infant’s cues and the infant’s needs for food, security and comfort.

In times of distress, an infant relies on support from its parent or caregiver. If the parent withdraws or the response is confusing or hostile, conflicting attachment and defense systems are activated, leading to internal confusion and maladaptive behavioural and relational responses. These include structural dissociation, or experiential avoidance and other behaviours that attempt to manage distress and self-regulate but instead create more confusion and harm.

These maladaptive responses can be maintained into adulthood as part of the complex trauma experience,5 with serious effects including smoking, eating disorders, unplanned pregnancies, adverse birth outcomes, psychological illness and adverse birth outcomes.5Broader societal factors can interact and amplify or counteract these effects,2 with the factors experienced by Aboriginal communities having a generally net negative effect.

How might complex trauma impact on the transition to becoming a parent?

It is important for professionals working with parents who have experienced complex trauma to understand what the specific issues for the critical perinatal period, which includes the process of pregnancy and birth and the transition to becoming a parent.

Firstly, the nature of many procedures and experiences associated with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding leads to a high risk of triggering trauma responses among women who have experienced physical or sexual abuse. In addition, becoming a parent is a major developmental and emotional challenge, particularly for those maltreated as a child.4Parents can experience fear as they respond to their own child’s distress.

Due to structural dissociation and avoidance, their responses are often shaped by re-experiencing conflicting sensations and emotions rather than a thought-out narrative.4 The parent then needs to simultaneously try to manage distress associated with relational trauma, and the child’s attachment needs, and this is turn can give rise to hostile or helpless responses to the growing child’s needs.5 It can lead to an increased risk of victimisation and perpetuating violence.2

The perinatal period offers a unique life-time opportunity for healing from complex trauma

Despite these risks, the transition to parenthood during the perinatal period (pregnancy to two years postpartum) offers a unique life-course opportunity for healing and emotional development 7. Most parents who have experienced maltreatment themselves are able to provide nurturing care for their children 4 especially in a supportive environment. A positive strengths-based focus during this often-optimistic period has the potential to disrupt the ‘vicious cycle’ of intergenerational trauma into a ‘virtuous cycle’ that contains positively reinforcing elements that promote healing.8 Experts suggest that examining these ‘cycles of discontinuity’ demonstrated by most parents experiencing complex trauma is a good place to start to try to understand what support strategies might be acceptable, effective and feasible.2

However, despite these risks and opportunities for healing, particularly during frequent scheduled contacts with health care providers during pregnancy, birth and early parenting years – there are currently no systematic perinatal strategies for identifying and supporting parents who have experienced complex trauma themselves.  This project will begin to address this critical gap.

Aims
The aims of this study are to:

1. Assess the acceptability, validity, safety and feasibility of screening Aboriginal parents during the perinatal period to identify those who have experienced complex trauma.
2. Develop acceptable, safe and feasible intervention strategies that could be offered during the perinatal period (pregnancy to 24 months postpartum) to support Aboriginal parents who have experienced complex trauma, with the goal of promoting healing for the parent and preventing transmission of intergenerational trauma to the child.

These aims will be achieved using community-based participatory action research (CBPAR) approach with four main ‘plan, act observe and reflect’ phases.

Want to know more?


If you are attending the 2018 International Childhood Trauma Conference, please attend our paper presentation!

If you can’t, you can also contact the Principal Investigator:
Dr Catherine Chamberlain
email: c.chamberlain@latrobe.edu.au
We are in the process of setting up a website and regular newsletters three times a year and would love people to get in touch to be included in the list. We also welcome feedback and suggestions at any time.

About the authors:

Catherine Chamberlain, PhD, is a Senior Research Fellow at the Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University and National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career Fellow (1088813).  A descendant of the Trawlwoolway People (Tasmania), her research focus’ on applied public health research to improve health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in the perinatal period.

Graham Gee, PhD, has worked at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service in Melbourne, Australia since 2008. He is the Clinical Coordinator and a senior psychologist at the Family Counselling Services. In 2016, Dr Gee completed his PhD on resilience and recovery from trauma among Aboriginal help-seeking clients.

Stephanie Brown, PhD, is a social epidemiologist, health services researcher and Head of the Intergenerational Health Research Group at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. A major focus of her work is improving the health, wellbeing and resilience of Aboriginal children and families, women and children of refugee background, and women and children experiencing family violence.

References

1. World Health Organisation. Child maltreatment factsheet. Geneva: WHO; 2016. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs150/en/

2. Alexander P. Intergenerational cycles of trauma and violence:  An attachment and family systems perspective. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company; 2016.

3. (Kezelman & Stavropoulos, 2012)

4. McCrory E, De Brito S, Viding E. Research review: The neurobiology and genetics of maltreatment and adversity. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2010;51(10):1079-95.

5. Cloitre M, Garvert DW, Weiss B, Carlson EB, Bryant RA. Distinguishing PTSD, Complex PTSD, and Borderline Personality Disorder: A latent class analysis. Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2014;5.

6. Amos J, Segal L, Cantor C. Entrapped Mother, Entrapped Child: Agonic Mode, Hierarchy and Appeasement in Intergenerational Abuse and Neglect. J Child Family Studies. 2015;24(5):1442-50.

7. Fava NM, Simon VA, Smith E, Khan M, Kovacevic M, Rosenblum KL, et al. Perceptions of general and parenting-specific posttraumatic change among postpartum mothers with histories of childhood maltreatment. Child Abuse Negl. 2016;56:20-9.

8. Segal L, Dalziel K. Investing to Protect Our Children: Using Economics to Derive an Evidence-based Strategy. Child Abuse Review. 2011;20(4):274-89.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #TopEndFASD18 : “Let’s Make #FASD History” says Top End Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) forum with 6 key messages to be taken into account addressing FASD:

 ” The forum delegates agreed that there was an urgent need for action to prevent FASD in our Top End communities, and across the Northern Territory.

It is essential that our responses do not stigmatise women or Aboriginal people.

It is important that we don’t lay blame, but instead work together, to support our women and young girls.

Everyone is at risk of FASD, so everyone must be informed the harmful effects of drinking while pregnant.

Our men also need to step up and support our mothers, sisters, nieces and partners, to ensure that we give every child the best chance in life.”

A landmark Top End Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) forum* was held in Darwin on 30-31 May 2018

Read over 25 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and FASD articles published over 6 years

“ Territorians want and deserve access to high quality health services,” Ms Fyles said.

Alcohol abuse impacts on individuals, families, businesses and our community in many different ways, including the risk of causing permanent and irreversible damage to a baby if alcohol is consumed during pregnancy.

That’s why reducing alcohol related harm is a key priority of the Territory Labor Government.

Our Government will develop a whole of government framework to prevent FASD with universal and targeted strategies to address FASD “

Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, today welcomed 180 delegates to the inaugural Top End Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Forum in Darwin see Ministers Press Release Part 2 below

#TopEndFASD18  Bringing together Aboriginal leaders, FASD experts, Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, government representatives, medical professionals, and Non-Government organisations. Approximately 180 delegates representing 37 organisations across the Northern Territory.

FASD is often considered to be a ‘hidden’ disability, because more often than not, the physical characteristics of the individual are not easily recognised. Instead, an individual may present with learning and behavioural difficulties, which may present for a range of disorders.

As a result, FASD is not easily identified and individuals can go undiagnosed and receive inadequate treatment and support.

The forum heard from the NT Minister for Health and the Attorney General Natasha Fyles, NT Children’s Commissioner, Colleen Gwynne, Professor Elizabeth Elliott, Dr James Fitzpatrick, NOFASD and FASD Hub.

The forum also heard from Aboriginal community controlled organisations Danila Dilba, Wurli Wurlinjang, Anyinginyi Health Services, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory and the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency.

Over two days, the forum delegates discussed the impacts of FASD on individuals, families and communities and acknowledged that alcohol misuse and its consequences are an issue for all Territorians, particularly our most vulnerable. Delegates also heard the evidence on how the prevalence of FASD impacts many of our services, including health, education and justice. Delegates learnt that trauma runs deep, and healing and making the right connections is crucial.

The delegates raised the following key messages to be taken into account in addressing FASD:

 1.Prevention and raising awareness

FASD is entirely preventable, much of its impacts are also irreversible. The harms caused by alcohol in our communities are not acceptable and we will all work together to develop prevention and intervention strategies that are culturally appropriate and relevant for our 2

people and communities. It is acknowledged that current and proposed alcohol control measures in the NT are a critical component of prevention.

2. Collaborative Approaches

The forum identified an urgent need for Aboriginal organisations, government agencies, NGOs and local communities to work together to develop policies and programs for women, men, children and communities in the Top End communities and to contribute to the development of an NT FASD Strategy. This needs to be Aboriginal community-led by the health, education, justice and child protection sectors.

 3.Access to FASD resources

It was evident that there is a need for more investment in developing culturally appropriate tools and resources for local Aboriginal communities and key stakeholders working on the frontline and also at the strategic level.

4.Assessment and Treatment services

An identified priority need is for the establishment of multi-disciplinary neuro-developmental assessment and treatment services that are strategically linked with existing service settings, including primary health care, education, child protection and the justice system.

5.Support for children and families

Research is needed to better understand how best to support children and families with FASD and other related issues that also often affect families, such as trauma. We refer to the Fitzroy Valley as a best practice model, as many strong women and leaders in the community worked in partnership with FASD experts and research institutes.

6.Workforce

The skilling and expansion of the workforce needed for prevention, assessment and treatment of FASD, particularly the community based remote Aboriginal workforce, was identified as an important need.

From this forum, we have heard the experiences about the high levels of despair and sense of disempowerment and hurt of our people and these are sad stories. We were also enlightened by the enthusiasm, dedication, passion and hope from local communities, all professions and services, that want to do more and can do more to make FASD History!

*APO NT will be producing a full report on the outcomes of the FASD Forum over the coming weeks.

Generational Change: Putting the spotlight on Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

30 May 2018

Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, today welcomed 180 delegates to the inaugural Top End Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Forum in Darwin.

“Territorians want and deserve access to high quality health services,” Ms Fyles said.

“Alcohol abuse impacts on individuals, families, businesses and our community in many different ways, including the risk of causing permanent and irreversible damage to a baby if alcohol is consumed during pregnancy.

“That’s why reducing alcohol related harm is a key priority of the Territory Labor Government.

“Our Government will develop a whole of government framework to prevent FASD with universal and targeted strategies to address FASD.

“This strategy was supported by recommendations in the recent Riley Review into Alcohol Policy and Legislation Alcohol Report and is now an important part of the Territory Labor Government’s Alcohol Harm Minimisation Action Plan to deliver sweeping alcohol reforms for generational change.”

The NT Department of Health funded the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APONT) to deliver the 2 day forum.

The themes of the Forum are:

  • Increase knowledge and raise awareness about FASD in Top End communities and the impact of alcohol during pregnancy on the developing baby;
  • Understand the impact of FASD on children, youth and their families
  • Identify the challenges, issues and solutions for governments, service providers and other key stakeholders;
  • Identify culturally appropriate resources, tools and protocols
  • Establish a Top End FASD Network.

Minister Fyles said that Forum provides an important consultation opportunity with the health sector and community to feed into the development of the NT’s FASD Strategy, for release later this year.

“Stories will be shared and ideas and actions generated to inform the Strategy, which in turn will help guide communities and Government to work together in partnerships to prevent FASD,” Ms Fyles said.

“The NT FASD Strategy will promote the screening of alcohol use before and during pregnancy; appropriate multi-disciplinary assessment; early intervention, support and case management; and will develop targeted education campaigns for those who are most at risk from alcohol-related harms.

“This work is supported in our Government’s 10-Year Early Childhood Development Plan to lead cultural change in reducing alcohol consumption and harms in the community.

“Our whole of government approach to respond to FASD will be crucial to preventing this completely preventable lifelong and permanent condition.”

 

@NACCHOChair Aboriginal Health Press Release #Apology10 #StolenGeneration Reflections from national Aboriginal community controlled health organisations

The Apology Excerpt  – 13 February, 2008

 ” The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.”

1.1 National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Mr John Singer reflects on the momentous day

2.1 Vic: Ten years ago, VACCHO CEO  Ian Hamm welcomed words he had been waiting a lifetime to hear

2.2 Vic Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative (BADAC) commemorates Apology – Ten Years anniversary

2.3 VIC : VAHS community commemorates the 10th Anniversary of the National Apology of the Stolen Generation 

3.NSW:  AHMRC reflects on progress that has been made since the National Apology was delivered by the Prime Minister in 2008

4. WA : Treasurer and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, says his father never recovered from being a Stolen Generations child

5. ACT : For a community to make any kind of good, strong progress, the solutions need to come says Harry Williams

6. NT : Danila Dilba ACCHO staff Darwin came out in force to attend the 10th Anniversary of the Apology Day

7. QLD : Apunipima ACCHO : Coen Well Being Centre FNQ hold their annual acknowledgement of Sorry Day/ Apology Day

7.2 QLD Wuchopperen ACCHO Cairns Helping to Close the Gap

8.Tas : A decade on from the national apology to the Stolen Generations, Aboriginal children in Tasmania continue to be removed at unacceptable rates.

Warning Intro Picture above and The ‘Stolen Generations’ Testimonies’ project website

The ‘Stolen Generations’ Testimonies’ project is an initiative to record on film the personal testimonies of Australia’s Stolen Generations Survivors and share them online.

The Stolen Generations’ Testimonies Foundation hopes the online museum will become a national treasure and a unique and sacred keeping place for Stolen Generations’ Survivors’ Testimonies.

By allowing Australians to listen to the Survivors’ stories with open hearts and without judgment, the foundation hopes more people will be engaged in the healing process.

View HERE

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers should exercise caution when viewing this website as it contains images of deceased persons.The people speaking in this website describe being removed from family and community. They regard themselves as belonging to the Stolen Generations.

1.1 National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Mr John Singer reflects on the momentous day.

“2008 was a time that the Government seriously committed to doing better by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the future, where we committed to Closing the Gap in life expectancy between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

Today we commemorate this significant milestone whilst reflecting on the work that still needs to be done – the truth that still needs to be told and the work that still needs to happen to Close the Gap,”

We also welcome a commitment to convene a national summit on First Nation’s Children to address the very high rates of Indigenous children in out-of-home care, and prevent the emergence of another generation of children living away from family, community and culture,”

Marking the tenth anniversary of the Apology, the Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Mr John Singer reflected on the momentous day.

Download the full NACCHO Press Release

NACCHO media release apology – 13 Feb 18 – FINAL

Still more needs to be done to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live strong, proud and healthy lives, ten years after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued the Apology to the Stolen Generations and more than 20 years after the Bringing Them Home report.

NACCHO knows that closing the gap depends on putting Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal hands so they can guide dealing with the trauma and pain of the past.

“We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need to be in charge of their own development, health and wellbeing. And that is why Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) are so important.”

ACCHOs put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the driving seat of their own health. They consistently demonstrate better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than mainstream health services, at better value for money.

“Forty years on from the first community controlled service in Redfern, there are still regions where there is low access to health services and elevated levels of disease experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Government needs to fund what is working in improving Aboriginal health and provide funding for new ACCHOs in these regions.

“We could also do better if more funding for disease specific initiatives was provided by Government.

“We need to get serious about Closing the Gap and that means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their organisations co-designing policies and service delivery,” Mr Singer said.

NACCHO acknowledges the streamlined funding from the Australian Government, signed on 1 July 2017 and mentioned by the Prime Minister in his recent Closing the Gap Statement to Parliament. The new funding arrangement streamlines the provision of our health service support funding so that we can better represent the needs of ACCHOs in our policy development and advice.

The anniversary of the apology is a day to reflect on the past but also to recommit to a brighter future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

2.1 Vic: Ten years ago, VACCHO CEO  Ian Hamm welcomed words he had been waiting a lifetime to hear.

“For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry,” Kevin Rudd, then prime minister, said in parliament.

The apology on 13 February, 2008, referred to a shameful national chapter in which indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families.

Mr Hamm was among them.

As a three-week-old baby in 1964, he was taken from his Aboriginal family by government officers and adopted into a white community.

Tens of thousands of other indigenous children were removed over successive generations until 1970, under policies aimed at assimilation.

Mr Hamm said Mr Rudd’s historic apology helped changed his own sense of identity.

“My country doesn’t argue about me any more – it gave me peace that my story, like so many others, wasn’t a matter of debate,” he told the BBC.

“I remember writing out my feelings the day after the speech and I called it: ‘Today is the day I wake up.'”

An estimated 20,000 members of the Stolen Generations are alive today. Many have described the apology as a watershed moment.

“It was a day I will never, ever forget in my life because we were being acknowledged as a group of people,” Aunty Lorraine Peeters told the Special Broadcasting Service.

Michael Welsh told the Australian Broadcasting Corp: “It’s made a big difference to me in my life, through my life, where I’ve journeyed.”

A woman watches the Australian government’s apology to indigenous peopleImage copyright Getty Images

A landmark 1997 report, titled, Bringing Them Home, estimated that as many as one in three indigenous children were taken and placed in institutions and foster care, where many suffered abuse and neglect.

A government-funded survivors group, the Healing Foundation, said it had a “profoundly destructive” impact on those removed and their families, many of whom had carried lifelong trauma.

‘Keep going’

Indigenous Australians, who comprise about 3% of the population, continue to to experience high levels of disadvantage.

On Monday, the government released an annual report showing that Australia is failing four of seven measures aimed at improving indigenous lives.

Mr Hamm said that much optimism about addressing inequality had not been fulfilled since the apology. However, he urged Australians not to give up.

“It’s easy to give in to despair and say it’s too hard, but for us, remembering a moment like [the apology] is a boost,” he said.

“It’s a breath of air into our lungs to revive you and keep you going.”

2.2 Vic Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative (BADAC) commemorates Apology – Ten Years anniversary

February 13 2018 marks ten years since the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples.

Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative (BADAC) attended a ceremony this morning to mark the occasion at Child and Family Services (CAFS) in Ballarat.

BADAC CEO Karen Heap acknowledged the deep significance of the day for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in the broader Ballarat area.

‘This is such an important occasion. There are many current members of the regional Ballarat Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community who were either members of the Stolen Generations themselves, or have family members who were affected.

‘The broader community may not be aware that many of the Stolen children who were removed from families all around Victoria and even interstate, were brought here to the Ballarat orphanage.

‘These Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have grown up without knowing their families, their culture, their language or where they belong.’

Ms Heap said that BADAC currently runs programs which help to support members of the Stolen Generations.

‘Many have stayed in Ballarat, and brought up their own families here. The Stolen Generations people are here and part of our community.

‘So thank you CAFS for hosting the event this morning, and thank you to everyone who came to commemorate this occasion. It was so heartening to see so many present, and to stand together, both Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people of Ballarat and district.’

2.3 VIC : VAHS community commemorates the 10th Anniversary of the National Apology of the Stolen Generation 

Today we gathered as a community to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the National Apology of the Stolen Generation Event. We had some amazing guest speakers. Thank you to everyone who shared their journeys, it truly showed great strength.

3.NSW:  AHMRC reflects on progress that has been made since the National Apology was delivered by the Prime Minister in 2008.

On the 10th anniversary of the National Apology, we take time to reflect on progress that has been made since the National Apology was delivered by the Prime Minister in 2008.

The National Apology was a public acknowledgement of the pain and suffering caused by the Australian Government with the effort to build new relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians with the aim of addressing social injustice. This had a profound effect on many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as it was the first public commitment to engaging and working together with Australia’s Indigenous communities.

The Apology was a step in the right direction and since then we have seen the Redfern Statement launched during the 2016 Federal Election, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and services came together to call for better resources and real reconciliation. It was an inspiring display of self-determination and strength for these organisations and services to demand for a say on how the Government’s decisions affect their lives.

“We still have work to do. The Government must ensure the social determinants of health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a priority.” said Stephen Blunden, Acting CEO at the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AHMRC) of NSW.

In reviewing the Closing the Gap initiative, with only one of the seven national targets being on track, we need to do better. We must do better.

As the former Prime Minister mentioned in the National Apology: “A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.”

If we are to make any real and lasting change, we must accept our history, put aside our differences and come together and really listen to the needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

4. WA : Treasurer and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, says his father never recovered from being a Stolen Generations child

West Australian Treasurer and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, who says his father never recovered from being a Stolen Generations child, has warned that well-meaning policy will fail if indigenous Australians are excluded from its design and implementation.

In a speech to mark the 10th anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations, Mr Wyatt said the historic moment in federal parliament was still cause for celebration because it put to bed “that vexed, sometimes cruel, debate about the legitimacy of the Stolen Generations”.

Mr Wyatt — a former army lawyer, graduate of the London School of Economics and cousin of federal Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt — said young indigenous leaders now had opportunities his late father Cedric could only have dreamt of.

“(But) the reality is that when you have policies … designed to remove their identity, designed to disconnect them from family and culture … those impacts will be felt for generations and we are seeing that,” Mr Wyatt said.

He said efforts towards Closing the Gap could not succeed unless Aboriginal people were part of the change.

“Without Aboriginal involvement … we will continue to have the infuriating and frustrating figures that we’ve seen in our jails and children in care,” he said.

Mr Wyatt’s father was born at the Moore River Native Settlement, which gained international notoriety in Phillip Noyce’s 2002 film Rabbit Proof Fence.

“It was a journey that defined him because of what happened to him and his mother, a journey that he was never able to recover from,” Mr Wyatt said yesterday.

“He was a determined guy but he also had a fundamental weakness as a result of that disconnection with his own mother and his own family.”

5. ACT : For a community to make any kind of good, strong progress, the solutions need to come says Harry Williams

Ten years may be a lifetime in politics, but for many indigenous Australians, 2008’s national apology to the stolen generations feels like yesterday.

Harry Williams was just 15 when he stood in the hall of Parliament House in Canberra, and watched then prime minister Kevin Rudd deliver the country’s apology as emotions ran high all around him.

“It was overwhelming”:.

“People were crying, some people were angry – it was overwhelming at the time,” he said.

“I didn’t really understand exactly what was going on, but I did really.”

Now 25, Mr Williams is passionate about educating Australians about indigenous history, and says change in the country’s relationship with its first peoples had to come from within.

“For a community to make any kind of good, strong progress, the solutions need to come

6. NT : Danila Dilba ACCHO staff Darwin came out in force to attend the 10th Anniversary of the Apology Day .

A great day organised by the NT Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation and held at Larrakia Nation.

It was a great turnout to remember a great moment in our history

7. QLD : Apunipima ACCHO : Coen Well Being Centre FNQ hold their annual acknowledgement of Sorry Day/ Apology Day .

The day was held at the centre with other community organisations sharing their acknowledgements of this special event with Elders and community members

7.2 QLD Wuchopperen ACCHO Cairns Helping to Close the Gap

Wuchopperen Health Service Limited Chairperson Donnella Mills said the 2018 Close the Gap statement demonstrates much more needs to be done to achieve health, education and employment parity between Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

Ms Mills said it was time that the government seriously committed to doing better by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, now and into the future, through real partnerships which are community driven and community led.

‘It is very good news that a range of targets, including child mortality, early childhood education and year 12 attainment are on track. The challenge is that other targets, life expectancy, literacy and numeracy, and employment, remain out of reach,’ Ms Mills said.

‘Wuchopperen echoes the call of our peak body, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, for dedicated disease specific funding to be made available to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation where populations are particularly vulnerable.’

‘In this, the tenth year since the Apology, it is timely to recognise that historical trauma, dispossession, government control and loss of culture, are just some of the social determinants which impact on people’s health, and the ability for people to manage their own health. Wuchopperen recognises the complexity of peoples’ lives and the range of factors which impact health, and provide a comprehensive suite of services to address these.’

‘Wuchopperen is looking forward to being part of the conversation regarding the Close the Gap targets which cease in 2018, and contributing our experience and expertise to formulating new, national goals in real partnership with government

‘These goals must be underpinned by the principles of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander self – determination, freedom to plan our lives; control, a voice and decision making powers over our own affairs; and finding solutions to the issues that affect us.’

Closing the Gap: What Wuchopperen Health Service Limited Is Doing

TARGET: Close the gap in life expectancy within a generation (by 2031)

Wuchopperen’s health team consists of a multi-disciplinary team of health workers, doctors, registered nurses, allied health professionals, counsellors, psychologists, wellbeing workers indigenous liaison officers, and visiting specialists.

TARGET: Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade (by 2018)

Wuchopperen’s Child Health service provides health education and support to families to make healthy lifestyles choices for their children by keeping immunisations up to date, scheduling appointments for continuity of care health checks, and 100% implementation of care plans for all our patients to ensure they receive the best possible care.

This allows us to:

  • Identify risk factors through the increased uptake of Child Health Checks and develop appropriate intervention strategies in conjunction with parents and/or carers;
  • Reduce the adverse intermediate health outcomes in relation to children with chronic diseases; and
  • Improve and enhance education and awareness of the importance of immunisation to families.

Wuchopperen also provides a dedicated program for mum’s having their first Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander baby. The Australian Nursing Family Partnership Program is available to first-time mothers of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children who are under 26 weeks in their pregnancy. The Program runs from pregnancy until the child is two. The focus is to provide home visiting program to mothers, babies and significant family members to ensure that the child has the best possible start to life.

Staff support:

  • Safe sleeping using PEPI pods;
  • Implementation of the Circle of Security;
  • Parent group meetings; and
  • Support for fathers to become involved in their child’s life.

TARGET: 95 percent of all Indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education (by 2025) – renewed target

TARGET: Close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school attendance within five years (by 2018)

TARGET: Halve the gap for Indigenous children in reading, writing and numeracy achievements within a decade (by 2018)

Wuchopperen’s Children and Family Centre is an early intervention and prevention program providing a holistic approach to bringing together education, health and family support. The programs are tailored to suit our community to best support our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with children from birth to nine years of age and include:

  • Delivery of play based early childhood activities to nurture developmental pathways and life trajectory of children;
  • Capacity and resiliency support to enable families to support their children and access early childhood education and care; and
  • Delivery of parenting programs and family support services to enable connections and strengthen linkages of families to appropriate support services.

Program in focus

Wuchopperen supports early education in a range of ways including running the HIPPY (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters) Program, a free, family friendly, two year program which helps children achieve at school.

HIPPY benefits pre-Prep children by:

  • Encouraging a love of learning
  • Maximising their chance of enjoying and doing well at school
  • Promoting language and listening skills and developing concentration
  • Building self-esteem and confidence in learning
  • Improving relationships between parents and children.

TARGET: Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade (by 2018).

Wuchopperen currently has 68% staff identifying from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent. Only 31% of Wuchopperen roles are Identified, reflecting the fact that many non-Identified positions are being filled by applicants identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

Placements

Wuchopperen values its relationship with the community and the opportunity for students to gain experience in the workplace is an element of this commitment.

During the 2016-17 financial year Wuchopperen supported eight students to participate in a work placement in a variety of disciplines, including health workers, and fifth year medical students.

8.Tas : A decade on from the national apology to the Stolen Generations, Aboriginal children in Tasmania continue to be removed at unacceptable rates.

Commenting on the most recent statistics about the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Manager Ms Lisa Coulson said in Launceston today,

“Aboriginal children in Tasmania are over 3 times more likely than other children to be the subject of child protection orders, to be removed from their families, and to be placed in out of home care (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Child Protection Australia 2015-16, Tables 4.4 and 5.2). The 1997 Report of the Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal Children from Their Families, the Bringing Them Home report, made 54 recommendations about how to stop that unacceptable situation.

Many of those recommendations found further support in our own Tasmanian study of child protection issues but Tasmanian authorities have ignored all our efforts to stop the trend of removals.

Minister Jacquie Petrusma most recently has ignored our calls for greater Aboriginal community involvement in child protection decisions, flying in the face of changes made in most other Australian States.”

Ms Coulson said that closing the gap in social outcomes and avoiding a repetition of the stolen generations “must have Aboriginal community decision making at its core, but that is exactly what is still lacking in Tasmania. Consistently with the most recent calls for a “refresh” of the COAG targets to close the gap by ensuring greater Aboriginal decision making in governmental processes, we are calling on the Tasmanian government to restore jurisdiction for child safety to the Aboriginal community.

Having destroyed our community structures and taken our children away, governments need to fund these new processes to ensure both a healthier future for our children and more empowered Aboriginal community structures for the future. We are up to the challenge”.

Lisa Coulson
Northern Regional Manager and Children and Families Spokesperson
Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Saveadate and The #Apology10 :The fact is that most of the social and health problems we see in communities today are linked to Intergenerational Trauma says Richard Weston CEO @HealingOurWay

 ”  The fact is that most of the social and health problems we see in communities today, from family violence and suicide to high rates of incarceration and child protection, can be linked to Intergenerational Trauma

So if we want to create a different future and close the gaps that still exist between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians, we need to stop putting Intergenerational Trauma in the too-hard basket.

The National Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008 was a landmark event. It was a moment of truth telling which is critical when you’re trying to heal from trauma. But it was a starting point not a solution. The latest progress report on Closing the Gap shows that efforts to address appalling levels of disadvantage have made marginal improvements, in spite of billions of dollars in government funding.

Closing the Gap is complicated, but it’s not impossible. We just need to invest in strategies that have been proven to work and be prepared to invest beyond political cycles and social fads.

We also need to listen to what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities tell us will work.”

Richard Weston, a Meriam man who was born on Gadigal country and grew up on Noongar Boodja and is now on Ngunnawal Country, is this week’s host on the @IndigenousX Twitter account and is tweeting with the #Apology10 hashtag. See Full Croakey article below

Communities across Australia, from Kununurra to Mildura, Casuarina to Logan, the Mornington Peninsula to Cherbourg and Muswellbrook to Adelaide, will come together this month to commemorate todays 10th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations on 13 February 2008.

See this list of events.

In this anniversary article for Croakey, The Healing Foundation CEO Richard Weston says Australia must understand that the impacts of the Stolen Generations policies, and other brutal acts of colonisation, are not consigned to the past, but “very much part of the here and now”. He says we need a serious commitment to tackle unresolved and intergenerational trauma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

#Apology10 is also hosting a free community concert in Canberra to mark #Apology10, featuring Archie Roach, Shellie Morris, The Preatures, Busby Marou and Electric Fields, hosted by Myf Warhurst and Steven Oliver.

See also this video series marking the National Apology being published by IndigenousX – featuring Uncle Jack Charles, Amnesty Australia’s Roxanne Moore, and Gavan Moor and Chris Dunk.

 Download the 6 Page 2018 Aboriginal / Health  days and events calendar updated 6 February  HERE

NACCHO Aboriginal Health 2018 Save a date Feb 6

National Apology was starting point, not solution: Stolen Generations trauma continues

Anniversaries are a good time for reflection and as we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the National Apology today, I hope we can use the momentum to achieve something we’ve never managed to realise before—a serious commitment to tackle unresolved and Intergenerational Trauma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ten years on from the Apology, and 20 years on from the tabling of the Bringing Them Home report that recommended that apology in the first place, there are still thousands of our people held back by the impact of trauma. Almost every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family is affected in some way.

To give you an idea of what I mean, more than 12 per cent of the people who gave evidence of abuse to the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Sexual Abuse were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. But we’re not just talking about events of the past. A study in Western Australia found that one in five Aboriginal children were living in families now, where between seven to 14 major life stress events had occurred in 12 months.

Most Australians prefer to think about the Stolen Generations—and other brutal episodes in 230 years of colonisation—as a phenomenon of the past. But the impacts are very much part of the here and now.

Trauma affects the way people think and act and overwhelms their ability to cope and engage. If people don’t have the opportunity to heal from trauma, it’s likely that their experiences and negative behaviours will start to impact on others, particularly children who are susceptible to significant developmental damage when they experience trauma at a young age.

This has created a cycle of trauma, where the impact is passed from one generation to the next, creating a snowball effect of cumulative damage. Research backs this up. The Stolen Generations and their children and grandchildren are twice as likely to be arrested by police and a third less likely to be in good health, compared to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are already at a disadvantage.

 

The Healing Foundation is finalising the first full analysis of current needs for the Stolen Generations, particularly as they enter the aged care sector, and to address issues like national reparations. When we talk to members of the Stolen Generations, they tell us over and over again that re-building families through culture and healing is a key priority.

Why? Because a traumatised person can’t benefit from programs around education and training.  Healing strategies must be implemented alongside enablers like employment, education and economic empowerment, otherwise we will keep wasting taxpayer dollars focusing on symptoms alone.

The Healing Foundation has shown that investment in the right programs will create long term change and reduce the burden on public funds.  Over the last eight years we’ve seen reductions in violence, juvenile justice rates and out-of-home care for children where healing programs have been implemented.  For example, our men’s healing programs have led to a 50% reduction in contact with Corrective Services and a drop in family violence, while programs for young people have potentially reduced contact with the protection system by 18.5% and the juvenile justice system by nearly 14%.

To replicate these successes across Australia, we need to scale-up our healing efforts and focus on families and communities, rather than individuals.

Today will be a day of celebration to mark a major step forward in the process of healing and reconciliation.  But it’s also a day when we need to take stock of what’s working and what’s not. Over the past few weeks I’ve been reminded by young people in our communities that the future holds a great deal of hope. Despite the wrongs of the past, many of them are optimistic and motivated to create change. This gives me hope that we will have something more positive to report after the next decade—and a different future, built on a foundation of healing.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Apology10 #ClosingTheGap Refresh : NACCHO and @RACGP and call for recommitment to Indigenous health as life expectancy gap widens PLUS Prof Ian Ring #ClosingtheGap, money myths and widening mortality gap

“To find out we are going backwards when it comes to health equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is extremely disappointing,”

“It is particularly upsetting to learn of this regress on the 10th Anniversary of the National Day of Apology. I encourage all Australians, not just our political leaders, to reflect upon what we have achieved since then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology, and to consider where we need to be.”

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara in a joint media release by the RACGP and NACCHO ” Leading health bodies call for recommitment to Indigenous health as life expectancy gap widens

View full RACGP and NACCHO Press Release

“The Apology is an important part of healing for Indigenous Australians. It acknowledged the significant trauma and grief suffered as a result of past policies, particularly the removal of children from their families.

“However, the Close the Gap strategy has never been fully implemented. There has been a decrease in funding over the past five years to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services; the biggest impact has been to our members and affiliates.

The Close the Gap refresh being considered by the COAG provides an opportunity to reflect upon and reform current policy settings and institutionalised thinking,”

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chair, John Singer said the National Day of Apology takes on special significance this year as governments attempt to ‘refresh’ the Closing the Gap Strategy.

Download ctg-report-2018

This is a great opportunity for people to share their ideas and opinions”

Andrea Mason, Co-Chair Indigenous Advisory Council and CEO of NPY Women’s Council

Share your views

Submissions close 5pm 31 March 2018

 ” Mortality for the indigenous population has flatlined since 2008 and the inevitable result is that mortality gaps are widening rather than closing.

This is not surprising since the government’s own reports clearly show that preventable admissions for Indigenous people, funded by the States and territories, are three times as high as for the rest of the population yet, use of the main medical and pharmaceutical health schemes, MBS and PBS, funded by the Commonwealth, appears at best to be a half and a third respectively of the needs based requirements for Indigenous people.

It is simply impossible for the mortality gaps to close under these conditions.”

Closing the Gap, money myths and  widening mortality gap . An endorsed media article from NACCHO by Professor Ian Ring . See In Full Part 2 below

Or Download Here Closing the Gap, money myths and widening mortality gaps

Closing the Gap, money myths and  widening mortality gaps

Part 1 Leading health bodies call for recommitment to Indigenous health as life expectancy gap widens

 This is a joint media release by the RACGP and NACCHO

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) are calling for all levels of government to work with, not for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to reduce health disparity, after a recent report found the gap in life expectancy is widening.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report found the gap is widening due to accelerated increases in the non-Indigenous population.

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara said the increasing gap in life expectancy shows a disengagement from the national strategies to improve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

A/Prof O’Mara said governments have committed to ‘working with, not to’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but this commitment has not translated into meaningful engagement.

“The lack of action in response to The Redfern Statement and Uluru Statement from the Heart reflect this failure,” A/Prof O’Mara said.

“The engagement and participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will decide the success or failure of future policy decisions.”

The Close the Gap refresh being considered by the COAG provides an opportunity to reflect upon and reform current policy settings and institutionalised thinking,” Mr Singer said.

The RACGP and NACCHO are calling on the government to acknowledge the critical role of primary healthcare, particularly the culturally responsive care offered by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, as it considered the Closing the Gap Strategy this year.

“This will play a vital role in addressing health disparity and ensure we finally make progress,” A/Prof O’Mara said.

Closing the Gap, money myths and  widening mortality gaps

Ian Ring AO is an Honorary Professorial Fellow at the Research and Innovation Division at the University of Wollongong

Ten years on from the start of Closing the gap, the mortality gaps are widening, and money myths play a role.

The recent Productivity Commission Report found that per capita government spending on Aboriginal services was twice as high as for the rest of the population.

The view that enormous amounts of money have been spent on Indigenous Affairs has led many to conclude a different focus is required and that money is not the answer.

But higher spending on Aboriginal people should hardly be a surprise. We are not surprised, for example, to find that per capita health spending on the elderly is higher than on the healthier young because the elderly have higher levels of illness.

Nor is it a surprise for example, that welfare spending is higher for Indigenous people who lag considerably in education, employment and income and there would be something very wrong with the system if it were otherwise.

The key question in understanding the relativities of expenditure on Indigenous is equity  of total expenditure, both public and private, in relation to need, but the Productivity Commission’s brief is simply to report on public expenditure.

But what of government expenditure on health services? The picture is quite different for State and Territory governments on the one hand which spend on average $2.0 per capita on Indigenous people for every $1 spent on the rest of the population.

By contrast, the Commonwealth spends $1.2 for every $1 spent on the rest of the population, notwithstanding that, the burden of disease and illness for Indigenous Australians is 2.3 times the rate of the rest of the population.

This is massive market failure. The health system serves the needs of the bulk of the population very well but the health system has failed to meet the needs of the Indigenous population.

Mortality for the indigenous population has flatlined since 2008 and the inevitable result is that mortality gaps are widening rather than closing.

This is not surprising since the government’s own reports clearly show that preventable admissions for Indigenous people, funded by the States and territories, are three times as high as for the rest of the population yet, use of the main medical and pharmaceutical health schemes, MBS and PBS, funded by the Commonwealth, appears at best to be a half and a third respectively of the needs based requirements for Indigenous people.

It is simply impossible for the mortality gaps to close under these conditions.

And yet it is within the grasp of the current government to turn things around. It has been shown that the nonviolent death rate for Aboriginal people can be halved in just over three years by systematic application of knowledge we already have.

But it has also been shown that there are no short cuts and these beneficial results require high quality services and these individual examples of success must become the norm.

So, what needs to be done? A key requirement is Commonwealth seed funding for the provision of satellite and outreach Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) that Indigenous people will access, and which provide the comprehensive services needed  to fill the service gaps, boost use of MBS and PBS services to more equitable levels, and reduce preventable admissions and deaths.

Much more attention needs to be paid to the quality of services, with much needed investment in the training of clinicians, managers and public servants for the difficult  and complex roles they have to play.

Additional funding is also required for mental health and social and emotional wellbeing services which were neglected in the Closing the Gap initiatives. On the broader front, culture, racism and social, political and economic issues also cry out for attention.

\It is not that the Commonwealth is deliberately underfunding health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people but there are decades of experience establishing beyond all doubt, that demand driven services designed to meet the needs of the bulk of the population, will not adequately meet the needs of a very small minority of the population with very special needs.

In recognition of that, for over 40 years, the Commonwealth has been funding ACCHSs which evidence shows, better meet those needs, but the coverage
of those services is patchy and needs to be expanded.

A pressing need is to address the shortfall in spending for out of hospital services, for which the Commonwealth is mainly responsible, and which is directly and indirectly responsible for excessive preventable admissions funded by the jurisdictions – and avoidable deaths.

There is little point in having mortality goals which are clearly in jeopardy, when the causes are not hard to define and the remedies clear, if there is insufficient action taken to actually achieve the Goals.

The funds required for such services, together with the others described above, spread over a carefully prepared 5-year plan are likely to be modest, and would make a real and substantial improvement to the health of Indigenous people.

There is no call for some kind of special deal, but simply the same level of expenditure by both Commonwealth and State governments for Australia’s Indigenous peoples that anyone else in the population with equivalent need would receive.