NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Housing and #Socialdeterminants Debate : @NACCHOChair urges Federal Government to invest in remote housing

Closing the Gap in health disadvantage requires action on many fronts.

One of these is to improve living conditions for Indigenous people. Housing facilities needs to improve to raise Indigenous health outcomes.

I have been to many communities where the housing for Indigenous people is actually a driver of poor health and creates a cycle of disadvantage .

 Ministers from South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia have recently expressed concern that the Federal government will not renew the current Commonwealth State funding agreement for Indigenous Housing.

We call on the Federal government to invest in remote Indigenous housing.”

 Mr John Singer, Chairperson of NACCHO see in full Part 1 below

Picture above : The community of Mimili in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands, an Aboriginal local government area in northwest South Australia. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen

Download the NACCHO Press Release HERE

NACCHO URGES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO INVEST IN INDIGENOUS HOUSING 5 2018

 

 ” The Federal Coalition Government of Malcolm Turnbull has turned its back on the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing (NPARH) – leaving Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland facing a funding shortfall totalling hundreds of millions of dollars.

The pre-Christmas decision of Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion leaves some of Australia’s most vulnerable communities with dramatically reduced funding for housing and other essential services – creating an increased risk of marginalisation.

Notably, the decision flies in the face of the Commonwealth’s own review into remote housing and directly contravenes the ‘Closing the Gap’ report which clearly states that safe and appropriate housing is fundamental to achieving the COAG targets.

The Commonwealth had previously committed $776 million over two years to the NPARH but will now only fund the Northern Territory component of the agreement. Mr Scullion is a NT Senator. “

Download the WA QLD and SA press release or read in full Part 2 below

21 Dec Combined WA QLD SA Response to Aboriginal Housing CRISIS

”  Any decision to cut funding by the Turnbull government will contribute to an increase in chronic disease, and inevitably lead to poorer health outcomes, more indigenous deaths and widening of the gap between the general community and indigenous communities.

Safe and healthy housing is fundamental to the wellbeing of all Australians and contributes to providing shelter, privacy, safety and security, supports health and education, and has a significant impact on workforce participation.

Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Nigel Scullion must take immediate steps to ensure the continuation of funding for remote and indigenous housing. Failure to do so will be another example of a government that is out of touch and only concerned with their internal disputes and dysfunction.

Rather than $65 billion in tax cuts for big business and the banks, the Turnbull government should immediately commit to the recommendations in its own report and close the gap by continuing funding of the National Partnership on Remote Housing.”

Download Federal Labor Party press release or read in full part 3 below  

22 Dec Federal Labor Response to Aboriginal Housing CRISIS

We share the concern of state governments, the Close the Gap campaign and the National Congress of First Peoples at the recent cuts by the Australian Government to the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing’

The cut will see funding from the federal government drop from $776 million over two years to just $100 million, with that $100 million going only to the Northern Territory.

Our major concern is that overcrowded housing in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is the primary cause of rheumatic fever in Australia.

Indigenous Australians suffer from this completely preventable disease at 26 times the rate of non- Indigenous Australians. Australia is one of the few countries in the world where rheumatic fever is still a serious problem, and it’s a national disgrace.”

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association Strategic Programs Director Dr Chris Bourke

Full Press Release 22 Dec AHHA Response to Aboriginal Housing CRISIS

 ” Misleading and outrageous statements from Western Australian Labor Housing Minister Peter Tinley as well as South Australian Labor Housing Minister Zoe Bettison are undermining good faith negotiations between the Commonwealth and state governments about the future of remote housing.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said despite claims by the state Labor ministers, and despite the fact that housing still remains a state responsibility (last time we checked) no announcement or decision has been made by the Commonwealth Government to cease funding for remote housing.

“It is complete and utter nonsense to suggest that Commonwealth funding for housing is ceasing. This is a fiction created by certain Labor state ministers who are clearly trying to abrogate their own responsibility to their Indigenous housing tenants and it should be called out “

 Download Minister Nigel Scullion Press Release or read in full Part 4 Below

21 Dec Response from Minister Scullion Aboriginal Housung Crisis

Part 1 NACCHO press release 8 January 2018

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) which represents 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations across Australia today urged the Federal government to invest in remote Indigenous housing.

Mr John Singer, Chairperson of NACCHO said, “the recent review of the current agreement provided to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet highlights the key role of safe and effective housing for Indigenous health.

In fact, it makes this point in its very first sentence,” said John Singer. The review documents progress in the provision of Indigenous housing by the current funding agreement.

It stresses the need for funded long-term maintenance programs to sustain the gains made as well as further investment to address the continued need.

It also proposes ways to better monitor whether new funding is making a difference.

As acknowledged by the Turnbull government last month in their publication My Life, My Lead housing is just one well known and understood social cultural determinant factor along with education, employment, justice and income that impact on a person’s health and wellbeing at each stage of life.

“NACCHO believes that the evidence both in Australia and from international experts such as the UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples is very clear, that a lack of adequate and functional housing as well as overcrowding remains a significant impediment to improving all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. It is critical to fix this situation now,” said John Singer

Background 1 : My Life My Lead – Opportunities for strengthening approaches to the social determinants and cultural determinants of Indigenous health: Report on the national consultations December 2017, 2017 Commonwealth of Australia December 2017.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : @KenWyattMP #MyLifeMyLead Report: Tackling #SocialDeterminants and Strengthening Culture Key to Improving #Indigenous Health

 Background 2 : Housing Issues Background ( PMC Charts above )

SOURCE PMC

Housing is an important mediating factor for health and wellbeing. Functional housing encompasses basic services/facilities, infrastructure and habitability.

These factors combined enable households to carry out healthy living practices including waste removal; maintaining cleanliness through washing people, clothing and bedding; managing environmental risk factors such as electrical safety and temperature in the living environment; controlling air pollution for allergens; and preparing food safely (Bailie et al. 2006; Nganampa Health Council 1987; Department of Family and Community Services 2003).

Children who live in a dwelling that is badly deteriorated have been found to have poorer physical health outcomes and social and emotional wellbeing compared with those growing up in a dwelling in excellent condition (Dockery et al. 2013).

Comparisons between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) show improvements in housing can be expected to translate into gains for Indigenous children’s health, social and learning outcomes (Dockery et al. 2013).

As expected, housing variables are closely associated with socio­ economic status, including: crowding, renting rather than owning, and being in financial stress (see measures 2.01 and 2.08).

Infectious diseases are more common in households with poor housing conditions. For example, trachoma and acute rheumatic fever are present almost exclusively in the Indigenous population in remote areas (see measures 1.06 and 1.16). Domestic infrastructure, along with overcrowding and exposure to tobacco smoke increases the risk of otitis media in children (Jervis-Bardy et al. 2014) (see measures 1.15, 2.01 and 2.03).

Background 3  NPARIH/NPARH

  • The Commonwealth Government provided $5.4 billion over ten years to 2018 through the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing and the National Partnership for Remote Housing. This was a one-off National Partnership Agreement to assist states to undertake their own responsibilities for the delivery of housing to reduce overcrowding and increase housing amenity.
  • Expires 30 June 2018

Part 2 WA SA and QLD Govt : Commonwealth abandons indigenous Australia; axes remote housing deal

  • ​Federal Government’s decision will create a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars
  • States demand Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister reverse decision
  • McGowan Government calls on Federal WA Ministers, Julie Bishop, Christian Porter, Mathias Cormann and Michaelia Cash to exert influence in Turnbull Cabinet

The Federal Coalition Government of Malcolm Turnbull has turned its back on the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing (NPARH) – leaving Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland facing a funding shortfall totalling hundreds of millions of dollars.

The pre-Christmas decision of Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion leaves some of Australia’s most vulnerable communities with dramatically reduced funding for housing and other essential services – creating an increased risk of marginalisation.

Notably, the decision flies in the face of the Commonwealth’s own review into remote housing and directly contravenes the ‘Closing the Gap’ report which clearly states that safe and appropriate housing is fundamental to achieving the COAG targets.

The Commonwealth had previously committed $776 million over two years to the NPARH but will now only fund the Northern Territory component of the agreement. Mr Scullion is a NT Senator.

Housing Minister Peter Tinley has demanded senior figures in the Turnbull Cabinet from WA – notably Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, Attorney-General Christian Porter, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Jobs and Innovation Minister Michaelia Cash and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt, as well as WA’s Nationals Party, stand up for their State and get the decision reversed.

The original 10-year NPARH, brokered by the Federal Labor Rudd government, has seen an average annual Federal Government contribution of about $100 million to WA.

A recent expert panel review commissioned by the Federal Government acknowledged the Federal Government had an ongoing role as a key funding partner with the States and Territory for housing in remote communities.

Comments attributed to Housing Minister Peter Tinley:

“This latest decision, especially the way the Turnbull Government has tried to sneak it through during the festive season, is absolutely appalling and demonstrates its lack of concern for indigenous Australia.

“The Commonwealth has a responsibility to support Australians living in isolated and remote areas. They cannot just walk away from this duty of care.

“This situation is yet another test for those Western Australian MPs with senior positions in the Turnbull Cabinet who are habitually missing in action when it comes to protecting the interests of WA.

“Further, all Western Australian Nationals MPs, both State and Federal, need to stand up for regional WA and send a clear message to their Canberra colleagues that these cuts are unacceptable. WA Nationals leader Mia Davies must outline her position.

“I sincerely hope the Liberals and Nationals will step up their game and get this decision reversed.

“The McGowan Government inherited a financial disaster from the previous Liberal National Government that governed WA so incompetently for eight years.

“Because of that mess, there is no way we can afford to pick up a funding shortfall from the Commonwealth that will equate to hundreds of millions of dollars over the coming years.

“The Commonwealth has a responsibility to help fund essential services in remote communities and in doing so to protect an important element of our national cultural heritage.

“If Turnbull, Scullion and the rest of them fail to fulfil this fundamental duty they will be demonstrating to the entire nation, and to other countries around the globe, exactly how much they value Australia’s First People.”

Part 3 Federal Labour CUTTING REMOTE HOUSING FUNDING UNFAIR AND UNJUSTIFIED

Media reports and comments by the Western Australian Housing Minister Peter Tinley indicate that the Turnbull government is proposing massive cuts to the National Partnership on Remote Housing, which has replaced the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing and the Remote Housing Strategy (2008- 2018).

The reports indicate that the financial commitment by the Commonwealth will be reduced from $776 million to $100 million and will only be available to remote communities in the Northern Territory.

The Turnbull government must immediately clarify these reports and, if true, reconsider this cruel and outrageous cut to housing and homelessness funding in remote and indigenous communities.

In recognition of the serious problems in indigenous housing, $5.4 billion of funding has been invested since 2008 by Commonwealth governments in an attempt to close the gap in indigenous housing.

The Turnbull government’s own remote housing review demonstrated that this long term strategy had delivered over 11,500 more liveable homes in remote Australia, 4000 new houses, and 7500 refurbishments. This has resulted in a significant but necessary decrease in the proportion of overcrowded households.

The report also estimates that an additional 5500 homes are required by 2028 to reduce levels of overcrowding in remote areas to acceptable levels. The report shows that 1,100 properties are required in Queensland, 1,350 in Western Australia, and 300 in South Australia by 2028 to address overcrowding and meet population growth.

“If these reports are true, remote communities in Western Australia will continue to be overcrowded for the decade to come,” Senator Dodson said.

The report debunks the myth that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families cause the majority of damage to remote indigenous housing. The report shows that only nine percent of household damage is caused by tenants, with the majority of damage coming from lack of programmed maintenance and in 25 per cent of cases the cause is poor specifications or faulty workmanship in the original build.

Rather than cutting funding, the Turnbull government’s own report has concluded that capital plans should be set for a minimum five years. This is on the basis that government procurement practices would support small, emerging businesses, and provide greater opportunities for training and employment of local people.

Key recommendations to the government in the report include:

  • That there be a recurrent program funded to maintain existing houses, preserve functionality and increase the life of housing assets.
  • The costs of a remote Indigenous housing program to be shared 50:50 between the Commonwealth and the other jurisdictions.
  • Investment for an additional 5500 houses by 2028 is needed to continue efforts on closing the gap on indigenous disadvantage.
  • Additional recommendations include improved governance structures, increased transparency, the development of the local workforce, and tenancy education programs.

The report also found overcrowding and poor quality housing leads to poor health outcomes and makes it harder to manage chronic disease. In addition, the report indicates that indigenous communities experience high rates of infectious diseases.

As such, any decision to cut funding by the Turnbull government will contribute to an increase in chronic disease, and inevitably lead to poorer health outcomes, more indigenous deaths and widening of the gap between the general community and indigenous communities.

Safe and healthy housing is fundamental to the wellbeing of all Australians and contributes to providing shelter, privacy, safety and security, supports health and education, and has a significant impact on workforce participation.

Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Nigel Scullion must take immediate steps to ensure the continuation of funding for remote and indigenous housing. Failure to do so will beanother example of a government that is out of touch and only concerned with their internal disputes and dysfunction.

Rather than $65 billion in tax cuts for big business and the banks, the Turnbull government should immediately commit to the recommendations in its own report and close the gap by continuing funding of the National Partnership on Remote Housing.

Part 4 Minister Scullion More Labor lies on remote housing

Thursday 21 December 2017
Misleading and outrageous statements from Western Australian Labor Housing Minister Peter Tinley as well as South Australian Labor Housing Minister Zoe Bettison are undermining good faith negotiations between the Commonwealth and state governments about the future of remote housing.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said despite claims by the state Labor ministers, and despite the fact that housing still remains a state responsibility (last time we checked) no announcement or decision has been made by the Commonwealth Government to cease funding for remote housing.

“It is complete and utter nonsense to suggest that Commonwealth funding for housing is ceasing. This is a fiction created by certain Labor state ministers who are clearly trying to abrogate their own responsibility to their Indigenous housing tenants and it should be called out for what this is,” Minister Scullion said today.

“In fact, the Commonwealth commenced discussions with Western Australian Government officials only yesterday about a future funding contribution to remote Indigenous housing – clearly the hapless Peter Tinley is unaware of what his own department is doing.

“It is disappointing that after the first day of discussion, this incompetent Minister has decided to play politics rather than work cooperatively on future funding arrangements.

“The Commonwealth already supports public housing, which is a state and territory responsibility, to the tune of $6 billion per year including $1.5 billion per annum in direct payments to states and around $4.5bn per annum through Commonwealth rent assistance.

“The states should prioritise some of the social housing funding for remote Indigenous residents. Why is there one standard for Indigenous residents and another for non-Indigenous residents?

“The National Partnership on Remote Housing was always scheduled to cease on 30 June 2018. Under the NPARH the Commonwealth paid the states $5.4 billion to reduce overcrowding yet they abjectly failed to achieve this – this is why we are once again in negotiation with the states.

“But the Commonwealth does not believe that the Western Australian Government should not take it’s responsibility for housing in Indigenous communities just like it does for housing of every other citizen in its state.

“Why is there one approach for Indigenous citizens and another for every other community?”

In contrast, the Northern Territory Government has taken responsibility and committed ongoing funding to remote Indigenous housing. That commitment, and the severe overcrowding in the Northern Territory, has meant the Commonwealth has been able to offer longer term funding.

Instead of playing politics with ‘indigenous Australia’, Peter Tinley and Zoe Bettison should take the time to work constructively with the Commonwealth on future funding arrangements.

Background on NPARIH/NPARH

  • The Commonwealth Government provided $5.4 billion over ten years to 2018 through the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing and the National Partnership for Remote Housing. This was a one-off National Partnership Agreement to assist states to undertake their own responsibilities for the delivery of housing to reduce overcrowding and increase housing amenity.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health CEO Pat Turner 20 minute Interview with @abcspeakingout where she offers some guarded optimism and some advice for 2018.

“I think everything is so low, bottom of the scale, that 2018 can only be better in my view.

“I think that what our people and our communities have to do is just take total control of their own affairs. Don’t wait for government, don’t wait for them to provide the solutions. Work it out ourselves and just move on.”

Pat Turner AM CEO NACCHO 20 Minute interview ABC Speaking Out

” Despite there being a number landmark occasions in 2017, one of the country’s most senior Aboriginal Bureaucrats says there has been little to celebrate in the Indigenous Affairs sector in 2017.

In a frank and honest Discussion, Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) reflects on the key advances and shortcomings over the past 12 months.

We talk Aboriginal Health, Northern Territory Royal Commission, Deaths in Custody and Indigenous funding.”

On Speaking Out with Larissa Behrendt

Duration: 20min 40sec

Listen HERE

 
2017 forced us to ask how far we have come in Indigenous affairs

2017 was a year of several significant anniversaries in Indigenous affairs.

The 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum.

The 25th anniversary of the High Court’s Mabo decision.

The 20th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report.

The 10th anniversary of the NT Intervention.

An auspicious combination of anniversaries, each giving pause to reflect on the impacts of these events, and to ask the obvious question — how far have we come in 50 years? In 25, 20 or 10 years?

The age-old Western belief in the inexhaustible march towards progress would make many assume that these issues have been addressed, or at the very least improved.

This belief is evident every time you see someone say, “I can’t believe this is happening in 2017!” in reference to something they believe should now be a relic of a bygone era.

It was hoped that 2017 would enter the history books as another significant year in Indigenous affairs, with the passing of a referendum to ‘recognise’ Indigenous people in the Australian constitution.

Not only did this not come to pass, but the relationship between government and Indigenous groups feels like it may have reach a new low, unseen in decades.

Australia’s most successful referendum

In 1967 Australia passed its most successful ever referendum, with 90.77 per cent of Australians voting “Yes for Aborigines”. This allowed for Aboriginal people to be counted in the census, and the Federal Government was given the power to make laws for Indigenous people.

Right Wrongs

Up until that point, Indigenous people were the responsibility of the states, who each had their own laws and legislation defining and controlling the lives of Aboriginal people.

Fifty years later, many people believe that this momentous occasion gave Indigenous people citizenship rights and the right to vote. It did not.

It was also believed that the Federal Government would use their new powers solely to the benefit of Indigenous people. This too would prove to be false.

Larissa Behrendt wrote in detail about these myths as part of the ABC’s Right Wrongs site, which explored the impacts of the 1967 referendum.

Twenty-five years later, in 1992, the High Court handed down the Mabo decision determining that Australia was not Terra Nullius in 1770 when Captain Cook claimed the east coast of Australia.

Terra Nullius was the legal justification for the very existence of the Australian state, so it as hoped this decision would bring about significant Aboriginal land rights.

But it led to Native Title legislation instead.

The Mabo case itself took over a decade, and the man who instigated it, Eddie Koiki Mabo, would not live to see its conclusion.

Twenty-five years later though, his family are still fighting to keep his story alive and strong.

Bringing Them Home

Bringing Them Home was the name of the final report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families.

It was tabled in Parliament on the May 26, 1997. The following year this date would become known as Sorry Day, and would provide a call to action for governments to implement the 54 recommendations of the report.

The surviving members of the Stolen Generations still hold the stories from that shameful era. And members of each new generation of Aboriginal people forcibly removed from their families have their trauma compounded by this unaddressed history.

The recommendations from the Bringing Them Home report are still largely unimplemented, and the rate of child removal has steadily grown in the 20 years since.

The rate has doubled in the past decade, and every other month we see a headline warning of a “second Stolen Generation”. It’s a news story that has been on repeat for almost 20 years.

The NT Intervention

The NT Intervention has largely failed to bring about positive changes around the issues raised in the Little Children Are Sacred report, which was used as the key justification for the NT Emergency Response Act.

A group of eminent Australians from law, health, academia and the arts have called on the Federal Government to bring an immediate end to the Northern Territory Intervention and Stronger Futures policies.

Listen to Speaking Out

This disconnect between stated goals of respect, inclusion and Closing the Gap, and the actions and outcomes actually achieved, has come to embody Indigenous affairs in 2017.

This has been personified by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, since he took over the reins of government in September 2015. The end of 2017 seems to show a very different Mr Turnbull than the one who shed tears for the Stolen Generations at the start of 2016.

Despite his inclination to open Indigenous affairs speeches speaking in Indigenous languages, this has failed to translate to an ability to listen to Indigenous people. Given the long history of government failure to listen to Indigenous peoples, few held out hope that Mr Turnbull would make good on his stated desire to do things with Indigenous people, instead of to them.

At the release of the ninth Closing the Gap report, six of the seven targets were not on track to meet their goals.

“It has to be a shared endeavour. Greater empowerment of local communities will deliver the shared outcomes we all seek,” Mr Turnbull said, at the time.

Now, months before the 10th report is due, the Federal Government has put out a call for community input into Closing The Gap.

This prompted Referendum Council member Megan Davis to ponder on Twitter: “If they didn’t listen to what community said on Uluru and meaningful recognition, why would the government listen to input on this?”.

The call for consultation coincides with a decision to remove over $600 million in federal funds for remote housing.

Safe and appropriate housing is regarded as an essential criteria for governments to meet the Closing the Gap targets.

While 2017 may not have given much hope for the immediate future of Indigenous affairs, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation chief executive officer Pat Turner, offered some guarded optimism and some advice for 2018.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : @KenWyattMP #MyLifeMyLead Report: Tackling #SocialDeterminants and Strengthening Culture Key to Improving #Indigenous Health

“My Life My Lead is an opportunity to build on the work we are doing and the progress we have made, for instance in cutting smoking, reducing infant mortality and chronic disease deaths, and achieving higher immunisation rates.

Seven priority areas have been identified in My Life My Lead, which will be integral to the next iteration of the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan. It will also help inform our Closing the Gap refresh agenda.

While governments have a critical role in setting policies and implementing programs, true and lasting gains are made when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a say in those areas that impact on their health and wellbeing.”

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM

The Turnbull Government has released ( December 21 2017 ) results of national consultations that highlight the importance of culture and tackling the social determinants of health, to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, said the wide-ranging My Life My Lead: Opportunities for strengthening approaches to the social determinants and cultural determinants of Indigenous health (My Life My Lead) report will help inform the whole-of-government approach to better Indigenous health.

 The seven priorities are:

    1. Culture at the centre of change
    2. Success and wellbeing for health through employment
    3. Foundations for a healthy life
    4. Environmental health
    5. Healthy living and strong communities
    6. Health service access
    7. Health and opportunity through education

Report

My Life My Lead: Opportunities for strengthening approaches to the social determinants and cultural determinants of Indigenous Health: Report on the national consultations December 2017 – PDF 4.7 MB

My Life My Lead: Opportunities for strengthening approaches to the social determinants and cultural determinants of Indigenous Health: Report on the national consultations December 2017 – Word 13 MB

Infographics – PDFs only, these are available via the report in word and PDF

Priority Area One: Culture at the centre of change – PDF 413 KB
Priority Area Two: Success and wellbeing for health through employment – PDF 483 KB


Priority Area Three: Foundations for a health life – PDF 496 KB
Priority Area Four: Environmental health – PDF 479 KB


Priority Area Five: Healthy living and strong communities – PDF 464 KB
Priority Area Six: Health service access – PDF 515 KB
Priority Area Seven: Health and opportunity through education – PDF 517 KB

The report was compiled from wide-ranging community consultations conducted during March-May 2017. Approximately 600 people attended 13 forums across Australia, and more than 100 written submissions were received. The report was also informed by literature reviews.

“A consistent theme from the consultations was the importance of including parents, Elders and Aboriginal communities in maintaining our people’s connections with culture and country,” Minister Wyatt said.

“While governments have a critical role in setting policies and implementing programs, true and lasting gains are made when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a say in those areas that impact on their health and wellbeing.

“To have strong, healthy children who grow into healthy adults leading fulfilling and long lives, we need to have effective and accessible childhood health care and education, wrapped with positive employment, housing and economic development opportunities.”

Minister Wyatt extended his deep gratitude and respect to the hundreds of individuals and organisations who contributed to the consultations, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from so many parts of Australia, who often travelled significant distances to participate.

Copies of ‘My Life My Lead’ can be found at www.health.gov.au/mylifemylead

Aboriginal Health and #CDP Debate : Download Senate Report : Are Aboriginal voices finally being heard on #CDP failure

 

 ” The inquiry heard the voices of Indigenous CDP participants, their organisations and other concerned Australians and revealed the deep-seated flaws with this top-down, punitive and discriminatory program.

Finally, our concerns have been heard.

APO NT has put considerable effort into developing an alternative to the CDP (APO NT alternative to CDP).  

 We are extremely pleased that the committee has recognized this Indigenous-led work and drawn on many key elements of the APO NT proposal.

John Paterson, from APO NT See full press release Part 1

The Senate inquiry report released last week  into the fraught Community Development Program (CDP) calls for a total overhaul of the unfair CDP system

Download Senate CDP report 2017

“Labor is deeply disappointed with Minister Scullion’s response to the Senate Inquiry into the Community Development Program (CDP).

Labor secured the Inquiry into the CDP in March after communities across the Northern Territory and Western Australia told us that they were trapped in a cycle of poverty, waiting on the end of a phone line for hours and then giving up, feeling hopeless and still struggling with an infuriating bureaucratic reporting process.

Minister Scullion’s response to the inquiry has been outrageously cynical

His response to the inquiry is insulting to all the organisations and individuals who gave substantial and significant evidence to the Senate Committee, telling of disrespectful consultation, poor program design and unfair penalties that has led not to jobs, but to poverty, pain and hunger.”

Labor Press Releases see 2 Part and 4 below

 ” Just like it’s failed Remote Jobs and Communities Program, Labor’s partisan report into the successful Community Development Program is not accurate and does nothing to promote better employment outcomes in remote Australia.

I am committed to a broad consultation and will continue to engage on remote employment widely, including with remote communities, job seekers, the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, Empowered Communities leaders and CDP providers.

This consultation has been ongoing since I became Minister and I will continue to consult in the months ahead,

The Remote Employment and Participation discussion paper is available at: www.pmc.gov.au/cdp.

Submissions to the consultation are open until 5:00pm EST, Friday 9 February “

Senator Nigel Scullion see Part 3.1 and 3.2 below

 

Part 1  : The Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT)[1] today welcomed the release of the Senate inquiry report into the Community Development Program (CDP), which found that ‘CDP cannot and should not continue in its current form’[2].

In particular, the inquiry found:

  • The committee is broadly supportive of an effective program for remote jobseekers that provides the opportunity for job placement and community development.
  • there should be a move away from the compliance and penalty model towards the provision of a basic income with a wage-like structure to incentivise participation.
  • a jobseeker program must create and sustain real local jobs.
  • A new program needs to be developed which moves away from a centralised, top-down administration in which communities are told what to do and move towards a model where the local communities are empowered to make decisions that are best for them[3].

It also explicitly recommends that any reform process give consideration to the APO NT model.”

“It is extremely disappointing that the Minister for Indigenous Affairs has already labelled the report misleading and partisan.  On the contrary, it provides valuable evidence and recommendations that should inform the CDP reform process,” said Mr Paterson.

The Government committed to consulting with remote communities in May 2017 and just hours before the release of the senate inquiry report the Minister finally released a Discussion Paper outlining very broad reform models for CDP.

“The consultation process announced by the Minister does not answer our calls for a transparent, independent review process conducted in partnership with Indigenous people.

The review process is being conducted by the department that currently administers the program, does not appear to include any external oversight or the creation of a high level reform committee to guide and inform the process, and is being undertaken during the wet season and hot summer months when cultural business occurs in many communities,” said Mr Paterson.

“CDP affects the lives of around 29,000 Indigenous people and has caused immense harm.

We will continue to work hard to shape the development of a new program to replace CDP that is non-discriminatory, ensures access to the social security safety net, empowers local communities, creates jobs with proper entitlements, and drives development in remote communities.

In the meantime, as recommended by the Senate committee, there must be immediate reform of the compliance and penalty regime of the CDP.”

KEY FACTS ABOUT THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT SCHEME

  • The CDP is the main program of job related assistance for unemployed people in remote areas of Australia.  It is the equivalent of jobactive (formerly JSA) and Disability Employment Services in the rest of the country.
  • The CDP has around 35,000 participants, around 83% of whom are identified as Indigenous.
  • People with full time work capacity who are 18-49 years old must Work for the Dole, 25 hours per week, 5 days per week, at least 46 weeks per year (1150 hours per year).
  • Under jobactive Work for the Dole only starts after 12 months, and then for 390-650 hours per year.
  • Despite having a caseload less than a twentieth the size of jobactive, more penalties are applied to CDP participants than to jobactive participants.
  • In the 21 months from the start of CDP on 1 July 2015 to the end of March 2017, 299,055 financial penalties were applied to CDP participants. Over the same period, 237,333 financial penalties were applied to jobactive participants.

Part 2 : Labor is deeply disappointed with Minister Scullion’s response to the Senate Inquiry into the Community Development Program (CDP).

Labor secured the Inquiry into the CDP in March after communities across the Northern Territory and Western Australia told us that they were trapped in a cycle of poverty, waiting on the end of a phone line for hours and then giving up, feeling hopeless and still struggling with an infuriating bureaucratic reporting process.

Minister Scullion’s response to the inquiry has been outrageously cynical.

  • He rebuffed Labor’s attempts to engage the Minister in a bipartisan way throughout the entire committee process.
  • He refused to provide a public submission to the inquiry, but then sent his own partisan, confidential, embargoed report on the eve the Senate Committee was due to report.
  • In an attempt to save face the on the day the Senate Committee released its report into the failed CDP the Minister released his own report – which makes recommendations for wage like conditions which parallel Labor’s report.

The Minister has claimed that only one of the public hearings of the inquiry took place in a Community Development Program Area – the fact is three of the hearings took place in a CDP region – Alice Springs, Papunya and Palm Island. Kalgoorlie also sits within one of the regions impacted by the CDP.

His response to the inquiry is insulting to all the organisations and individuals who gave substantial and significant evidence to the Senate Committee, telling of disrespectful consultation, poor program design and unfair penalties that has led not to jobs, but to poverty, pain and hunger.

The Senate inquiry heard from NGOs, community members, Indigenous leaders and employment providers who were not consulted by the Minister about the CDP.

The reality is the Minister was pushed by Labor to reform the CDP and his tardy and belated efforts to do so will leave many people in communities hungry this Christmas because of the Minister’s failure to deal with this discriminatory and punitive CDP program.

It is seriously disappointing that Minister Scullion would prefer to play political one-upmanship than address the real issue of reforming this deeply flawed, cruel and poorly administered CDP program.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions have condemned the Minister for his handling of the CDP and called for total reform:

‘This Abbott/Turnbull program should shame all Australians. Minister Nigel Scullion, whose lack of action despite a mountain of evidence that his program has failed and is causing harm, is alarmingly negligent.

We further condemn the decision of the Minister to release a review of the program.

We don’t need a review. We need the program scrapped.’

Labor could not agree more.

 

Part 3.1 Senator Nigel Scullion Press Release

Just like it’s failed Remote Jobs and Communities Program, Labor’s partisan report into the successful Community Development Program is not accurate and does nothing to promote better employment outcomes in remote Australia.

Of the 46 organisations or individuals who appeared before the enquiry, only around 35 per cent were Indigenous organisations based in Community Development Program areas. Even more concerning, only one of the public hearings of the enquiry took place in a Community Development Program Area.

This lack of direct feedback is reflected in the findings of the report which is based on anecdotal reports rather than proper evidence – for example claims by Labor Senators that Indigenous communities will go hungry this Christmas despite there being no evidence of changes to the revenue of remote community stores.

It is disappointing that today’s report has ignored the success of the Community Development Program:

  • An increase in attendance from under 7 per cent to over 70 per cent since the end of Labor’s Remote Jobs and Communities Program.
  • Remote job seekers have been supported into around 20,000 jobs including a remarkable 72 per cent increase in the number of 13 week outcomes and an even more remarkable 227 per cent increase in the number of 26 week outcomes in comparison to Labor’s Remote Jobs and Communities Program.
  • More local Indigenous organisations delivering the program with their community rather than the big mainstream non-Indigenous companies that former Minister Macklin forced on to the Remote Jobs and Communities Program.

The Government strongly believes that all Australians can make a contribution to their community and that the best form of welfare is practical support to find a job. This includes holding welfare recipients to account for turning up to their work for the dole activities and addressing the scourge of passive welfare.

Unfortunately, this report is another example of Labor’s approach to social policy – doing and saying what is needed to fend off Greens’ candidates in inner city seats rather than doing what remote communities want and need.

Instead of reading this deeply partisan and misleading report, I encourage those genuinely interested in learning more about the Community Development Program to read the Independent Australian National Audit Office report which found that the transition to the Community Development was largely effective and supported by an external review – https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/design-and-implementation-community-development-programme.

Or better yet, I encourage people to listen to the stories of the job seekers who have benefited from the training and work experience they needed to transition into work (for example see http://www.indigenous.gov.au/news-and-media/announcements/minister-scullion-cdp-participants-bring-ngukurr-community-closer-vital).

The Coalition Government has already committed to further reforms to the Community Development Program based on feedback from communities which called for a wages like payment, support for real jobs, more local control and more incentives to encourage job seekers to transition into work.

We will consider the recommendations of the report as part of these reforms and consult across Australia including with remote communities and Community Development Program providers and participants.

While Labor is intent on playing petty political games we are getting on with the job of making the CDP even more successful.

To read the Remote Employment and Participation discussion paper which will inform future options for improving the CDP, visit www.pmc.gov.au/cdp.

Part 3.2 Improving employment and participation in remote Australia : Senator Nigel Scullion

Thursday 14 December 2017
The Coalition Government has announced options to further improve employment and participation in remote communities with the release of a discussion paper on future arrangements for the Community Development Program (CDP).

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, today announced the start of a formal consultation on a new employment and participation model for remote Australia.

“Supporting people in remote Australia to gain skills and find jobs delivers many benefits – for themselves, their families and the broader community,” said Minister Scullion.

“I am committed to ensuring job seekers in remote Australia are supported to get the training and work experience they need to transition into a job and make a contribution to their community.

“It is essential that reforms are developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and remote communities, so I encourage people to share their views.

“The discussion paper explores how to grow the remote labour market, provide more incentives to job seekers, give communities more control and greater decision-making, and improve the support available to job seekers so they can move from welfare and into work.

“Options include a tiered remote job service model that includes:

  • A more simplified system, relying less on a national welfare system, and more on local control and decision making.
  • Reinvesting any efficiencies back into communities, for example through ‘top up’ arrangements for job seekers.
  • A wage-based or ‘wage-like’ model providing weekly payments to job seekers.
  • Streaming jobseekers to enable tailored assistance according to need.
  • Establishing better arrangements for job training and a pathway to real employment.
  • Encouraging businesses to hire and invest in local people.
  • Delivering subsidised labour for contracting opportunities, while not crowding out existing investment and jobs.
  • Increasing the number of Indigenous owned and controlled organisations providing services under CDP.
  • Supporting Indigenous enterprise development, particularly in the delivery of Commonwealth contracts.

The consultation will help guide the development of a new employment and participation model expanding on the success of the CDP.

“The CDP has supported remote job seekers into over 21,000 jobs and overturned the failures of Labor’s Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP) which saw attendance under the program drop to 6 per cent.

“However, more needs to be done to maintain the momentum to get people into work.

The discussion paper outlines three potential options to for discussion. These are an improved version of the current CDP to provide more tailored support, a model based on the CDP Reform Bill introduced in 2015 and a wage-based model.

“I am committed to a broad consultation and will continue to engage on remote employment widely, including with remote communities, job seekers, the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, Empowered Communities leaders and CDP providers.

“This consultation has been ongoing since I became Minister and I will continue to consult in the months ahead,” Minister Scullion said today.

The Remote Employment and Participation discussion paper is available at: www.pmc.gov.au/cdp.

Submissions to the consultation are open until 5:00pm EST, Friday 9 February

Part 4 Labor Press Release

 The report has called on the Government to ensure that CDP participants have the same legal rights and other responsibilities as other income support participants.

Currently CDP remote participants must do 25 hours of “work-like” activities per week to receive welfare payments. This is up to three times longer than the requirement for unemployed people living in towns.

The report also called for a new program to be developed in consultation with First Nations people, so that people doing real work in their community can be properly paid.

CDP participants do not currently receive award wages and cannot access leave, superannuation and workers compensation.

The Senate inquiry and its findings have forced the Government to review the failure of the CDP program.

Less than six weeks ago the Minister was praising CDP as a success but in a complete turnaround, reports of a CDP discussion paper released today show the Government has conceded the multiple failings of CDP.

The Minister’s belated discussion paper on proposed changes does not take into account the damage the discriminatory CDP continues to cause on communities.

The reality is many people on communities will still go hungry this Christmas because of the Minister’s failure to deal with this discriminatory and punitive CDP program.

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

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

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

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

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

See NACCHO Uluru Statement earlier this year

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

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

From todays Australian

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

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

See our NACCHO post for COAG Communique earlier this week

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aboriginal Health and #Disability #NDIS : $3 million plan to address the cultural barriers and disadvantage

7

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 1.8 times more likely to have a disability than other Australians

“We are announcing today up to $3 million in funding over three years for two targeted projects that will support the Plan; a research project to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners and ex-prisoners with disability as well as a trial on integrated health and education approaches to support students with disability in remote communities.”

Federal Government Press Release 17 October 2017

Read 23 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Disability Articles

Read 18 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and NDIS Articles

A $3 million plan has been unveiled to address the cultural barriers and disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, Assistant Minister for Disability Services, Jane Prentice and Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said the Australian Government Plan to Improve Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with Disability (the Plan) will drive better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, their families and carers.

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Or for persons requiring Listen or Easy to Read

“We are announcing today up to $3 million in funding over three years for two targeted projects that will support the Plan; a research project to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners and ex-prisoners with disability as well as a trial on integrated health and education approaches to support students with disability in remote communities.”

Assistant Minister Prentice said consultations over the last three years show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability face unique challenges.

“The Plan recognises the importance of supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, particularly in remote locations.

“We need to ensure services are delivered within a cultural framework that is appropriate for the community’s customs and practices.”

The plan identifies five key priority areas for action:

  • Housing – access to appropriately designed shelter and accessible, well-designed communities that are fully inclusive of all residents.
  • Justice System – the right to be free from racism and discrimination and a disability-inclusive justice system
  • Education – an inclusive high quality education system that is responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability
  • Economic security – including employment and business ownership opportunities
  • Health Services – that meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability to ensure the highest possible health and wellbeing outcomes.

See Detail Below or in the Plan

“By addressing these issues head on, this Plan aims to achieve improved outcomes and overall social, emotional, cultural, and economic wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability and their families and carers,” Minister Porter said.

Extract- Executive Summary

The Australian Government is committed to building an environment that enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability to achieve improved life outcomes and overall social, emotional, cultural and economic wellbeing.

The development of a dedicated Australian Government plan to improve outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability seeks to build the capacity of service systems, including disability services and Indigenous programs, to better meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability in a culturally safe and appropriate way. The Plan also aims to support workers and carers in their continuing efforts in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The Plan acknowledges that disability is everyone’s responsibility:

• Australian Government

• state/territory government

• local government

• business and industry sectors

• not–for–profit and community organisations

• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and organisations.

The Plan is the first of its kind and will be built on over time. The Plan will build on significant work currently being undertaken by the Australian Government to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability. Consultations on the Plan have been undertaken over the last three years across government agencies together with community stakeholders, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, their representative organisations, researchers and community organisations.

The Plan highlights five key areas that stakeholders view as priorities for future consideration by the Australian Government, highlighting work that is already underway in these areas, along with potential strategies to address each of the areas:

1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability have access to appropriately designed shelter and live in accessible, well designed communities that are fully inclusive of all their residents.

2. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability have the right to:

• be free from racism and discrimination

• have their rights promoted

• a disability inclusive justice system.

3. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability achieve their full potential through participation in an inclusive, high quality education system that is responsive to their needs. People with disability have opportunities for lifelong learning.

4. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, their families and carers have opportunities to gain economic security through employment and business ownership, enabling them to plan for the future and exercise choice and control over their lives.

5. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability attain the highest possible health and wellbeing outcomes throughout their lives, enabled by all health services capabilities to meet the needs of people with disability.

6 .To ensure that the Plan leads to substantive and meaningful change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, any actions or strategies under the Plan must be:

Measurable The priorities and actions outlined in the Plan must be measurable to track progress and outcomes.

Replicable While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities are diverse, there needs to be some consistency in approach and general principles for success that can be applied across different communities.

Sustainable The Plan represents a starting point in the development of a new approach for improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a disability. The Plan seeks to outline reform and action that will be sustainable over the long-term.

Flexible The Plan recognises that different people and different communities have different needs. While adhering to principles of sustainability and best practice in the delivery of services, implementation needs to be responsive to the unique requirements of individuals and communities.

Cultural The Plan recognises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability will have similar physical and structural requirements as non–Indigenous people, but that service delivery needs to be undertaken in a cultural context to achieve success.

Area 5: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability attain the highest possible health and wellbeing outcomes throughout their lives, enabled by all health and disability services having the capability to meet their needs.

Why is it important?

Holistic health care and coordination between health and disability services are paramount for those with disabilities. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those with a disability and those without, access Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health services as they deliver holistic, comprehensive and culturally appropriate health care, and have an understanding of the cultural needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

While these services meet general health needs through comprehensive primary health care, there is still a need for health workers to receive appropriate training on disability issues. Workers aware of disability needs are able to facilitate appropriate referral pathways for clients to receive any required additional disability services and supports.

Access to disability services is limited by cultural considerations as well as by geographical location, environmental factors, capacity and level of need. Cultural safety can be at risk where the only service within geographic reach is designed for the general population without achieving cultural competency for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander care.

Summary of press release

The Australian Government is committed to working in a spirit of collaboration with states and territories, local government, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and communities and organisations to deliver real outcomes and foster greater opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, their families and carers.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Alcohol and other Drugs #GAPC2017 Download @AIHW National drug household survey

  ” The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) have released the National drug household survey: detailed findings 2016 report.

The report aims to provide insight into Australians’ use of, and attitudes to, drugs and alcohol in 2016.

A key finding of the report is around mental health and alcohol and other drug (AOD) use. ( see Part 2 below for full details )

Download the full 168 page report

National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016

Read over 186 NACCHO Alcohol and other Drug articles published over 5 years

This report expands on the key findings from the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) that were released on 1 June 2017.

It presents more detailed analysis including comparisons between states and territories and for population groups. Unless otherwise specified, the results presented in this report are for those aged 14 or older.

Indigenous Australians

As Indigenous Australians constitute only 2.4 per cent of the 2016 NDSHS (unweighted) sample (or 568 respondents), the results must be interpreted with caution, particularly those for illicit drug use.

Smoking

In 2016, the daily smoking rate among Indigenous Australians was considerably higher than non-Indigenous people but has declined since 2010 and 2013 (decreased from 35% in 2010 to 32% in 2013 and to 27% in 2016) (Figure 8.7). The NDSHS was not designed to detect small differences among the Indigenous population, so even though the smoking rate declined between 2013 and 2016, it was not significant.

The Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) were specifically designed to represent Indigenous Australians (see Box 8.1 for further information).

After adjusting for differences in age structures, Indigenous people were 2.3 times as likely to smoke daily as non-Indigenous people in 2016 (Table 8.7).

Read over 113 NACCHO Smoking articles published last 5 years

Alcohol

Overall, Indigenous Australians were more likely to abstain from drinking alcohol than non-Indigenous Australians (31% compared with 23%, respectively) and this has been increasing since 2010 (was 25%) (Figure 8.8).

Among those who did drink, a higher proportion of Indigenous Australians drank at risky levels, and placed themselves at harm of an alcoholrelated injury from single drinking occasion, at least monthly (35% compared with 25% for non-Indigenous).

The (rate ratio) gap in drinking rates was even greater when looking at the consumption of 11 or more standard drinks at least monthly. Indigenous Australians were 2.8 times as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to drink 11 or more standard drinks monthly or more often (18.8% compared with 6.8%).

About 1 in 5 (20%) Indigenous Australian exceeded the lifetime risk guidelines in 2016; a slight but non-significant decline from 23% in 2013, and significantly lower than the 32% in 2010. The proportion of non-Indigenous Australians exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines in 2016 was 17.0% and significantly declined from 18.1% in 2013.

Illicit drugs

Other than ecstasy and cocaine, Indigenous Australians aged 14 or older used illicit drugs at a higher rate than the general population (Table 8.6). In 2016, Indigenous Australians were: 1.8 times as likely to use any illicit drug in the last 12 months; 1.9 times as likely to use cannabis; 2.2 times as likely to use meth/amphetamines; and 2.3 times as likely to misuse pharmaceuticals as non-Indigenous people. These differences were still apparent even after adjusting for differences in age structure (Table 8.7). There were no significant changes in illicit use of drugs among Indigenous Australians between 2013 and 2016.

Read over 64 NACCHO Ice drug articles published last 5 years

1 in 8 Australians smoke daily and 6 in 10 have never smoked

  • Smoking rates have been on a long-term downward trend since 1991, but the daily smoking rate did not significantly decline over the most recent 3 year period (was 12.8% in 2013 and 12.2% in 2016).
  • Among current smokers, 3 in 10 (28.5%) tried to quit but did not succeed and about 1 in 3 (31%) do not intend to quit.
  • People living in the lowest socioeconomic areas are more likely to smoke than people living in the highest socioeconomic area but people in the lowest socioeconomic area were the only group to report a significant decline in daily smoking between 2013 and 2016 (from 19.9% to 17.7%).

8 in 10 Australians had consumed at least 1 glass of alcohol in the last 12 months

  • The proportion exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines declined between 2013 and 2016 (from 18.2% to 17.1%); however, the proportion exceeding the single occasion risk guidelines once a month or more remained unchanged at about 1 in 4.
  • Among recent drinkers: 1 in 4 (24%) had been a victim of an alcohol-related incident in 2016; about 1 in 6 (17.4%) put themselves or others at risk of harm while under the influence of alcohol in the last 12 months; and about 1 in 10 (9%) had injured themselves or someone else because of their drinking in their lifetime.
  • Half of recent drinkers had undertaken at least some alcohol moderation behaviour. The main reason chosen was for health reasons.
  • A greater proportion of people living in Remote or very remote areas abstained from alcohol in 2016 than in 2013 (26% compared with 17.5%) and a lower proportion exceeded the lifetime risk guidelines (26% compared with 35%).

About 1 in 8 Australians had used at least 1 illegal substance in the last 12 months and 1 in 20 had misused a pharmaceutical drug

  • In 2016, the most commonly used illegal drugs that were used at least once in the past 12 months were cannabis (10.4%), followed by cocaine (2.5%), ecstasy (2.2%) and meth/amphetamines (1.4%).
  • However, ecstasy and cocaine were used relatively infrequently and when examining the share of Australians using an illegal drug weekly or more often in 2016, meth/amphetamines (which includes ‘ice’) was the second most commonly used illegal drug after cannabis.
  • Most meth/amphetamine users used ‘ice’ as their main form, increasing from 22% of recent meth/amphetamine users in 2010 to 57% in 2016.

Certain groups disproportionately experience drug-related risks

  • Use of illicit drugs in the last 12 months was far more common among people who identified as being homosexual or bisexual; ecstasy and meth/amphetamines use in this group was 5.8 times as high as heterosexual people.
  • People who live in Remote and very remote areas, unemployed people and Indigenous Australians continue to be more likely to smoke daily and use illicit drugs than other population groups.
  • The proportion of people experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress increased among recent illicit drug users between 2013 and 2016—from 17.5% to 22% but also increased from 8.6% to 9.7% over the same period for the non-illicit drug using population (those who had not used an illicit drug in the past 12 months).
  • Daily smoking, risky alcohol consumption and recent illicit drug use was lowest in the Australian Capital Territory and highest in the Northern Territory.

The majority of Australians support policies aimed at reducing the acceptance and use of drugs, and the harms resulting from drug use

  • There was generally greater support for education and treatment and lower support for law enforcement measures.

‘In 2016, 42% of meth/amphetamine users had a mental illness, up from 29% in 2013, while the rate of mental illness among ecstasy users also rose from 18% to 27%,’ said AIHW spokesperson, Matthew James. ‘Drug use is a complex issue, and it’s difficult to determine to what degree drug use causes mental health problems, and to what degree mental health problems give rise to drug use.’

About 1 in 20 Australians reported misusing pharmaceuticals, with 75% of recent painkiller users reporting misusing an ‘over the counter’ codeine product in the past 12 months. The AIHW will be publishing more detailed data on pharmaceutical misuse later in 2017.

In addition to illicit drugs, the report also provides insights into Australians’ use of alcohol and tobacco, and notes some improvements in risky behaviour (such as driving while under the influence of alcohol), as well as improved smoking rates among people living in lower socioeconomic areas.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

 Part 3 Mental illness rising among meth/amphetamine and ecstasy users

Mental illnesses are becoming more common among meth/amphetamine and ecstasy users, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, National Drug Strategy Household Survey: detailed findings 2016, builds on preliminary results released in June, and gives further insight into Australians’ use of, and attitudes to, drugs and alcohol in 2016.

The report shows that among people who had recently (in the last 12 months) used an illicit drug, about 27% had been diagnosed or treated for a mental illness—an increase from 21% in 2013. Rates of mental illness were particularly high—and saw the most significant increases—for meth/amphetamine and ecstasy users.

‘In 2016, 42% of meth/amphetamine users had a mental illness, up from 29% in 2013, while the rate of mental illness among ecstasy users also rose from 18% to 27%,’ said AIHW spokesperson Matthew James.

‘Drug use is a complex issue, and it’s difficult to determine to what degree drug use causes mental health problems, and to what degree mental health problems give rise to drug use’.

Similarly, the report also reveals a complex relationship between employment status and drug use.

‘For example, people who were unemployed were about 3 times as likely to have recently used meth/amphetamines as employed people, and about 2 times as likely to use cannabis or smoke tobacco daily. On the other hand, employed people were more likely to use cocaine than those who were unemployed,’ Mr James said.

Today’s report also shows higher rates of drug use among people who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, with the largest differences seen in the use of ecstasy and meth/amphetamines.

‘Homosexual and bisexual people were almost 6 times as likely as heterosexual people to use each of these drugs, and were also about 4 times as likely to use cocaine as heterosexual people, and 3 times more likely to use cannabis or misuse pharmaceutical drugs.’ Mr James said.

Overall, about 1 in 20 Australians reported misusing pharmaceuticals, with 75% of recent painkiller users reporting misusing an ‘over the counter’ codeine product in the past 12 months. The AIHW will be publishing comprehensive data on pharmaceutical misuse later in 2017.

‘Our report also shows that more Australians are in favour of the use of cannabis in clinical trials to treat medical conditions—87% now support its use, up from 75% in 2013. We also found that 85% of people now support legislative changes to permit its use for medical purposes in general, up from 69% in 2013,’ Mr James said.

In addition to illicit drugs, today’s report also provides insights into Australians’ use of alcohol and tobacco, and notes some improvements in risky behaviour (such as driving while under the influence of alcohol), as well as improved smoking rates among people living in lower socioeconomic areas.

The report also contains data for each state and territory in Australia, and shows differences in drug use between the jurisdictions. For example, recent use of meth/amphetamine was highest in Western Australia, but the use of cocaine was highest in New South Wales.

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

 

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

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

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

There was overwhelming consensus around three proposals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch NACCHO TV Video of full speech

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

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

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

Good evening everyone,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They married and settled at Parap Camp.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She hesitated for a moment.

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

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

I can still see her face and hear her voice.

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

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

This sounds like an ordinary domestic, family event.

And it is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That much is clear from our history.

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

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

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

Was it her own brand of passive resistance?

I don’t know.

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

This moment has stayed with me over all these years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This nation has never properly dealt with that damage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voice.

Treaty.

Truth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is

• 50 years since the 1967 Referendum;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The overwhelming majority of those incarcerated are Aboriginal.

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

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

Family violence is out of control.

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

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

These type of figures are echoed across the country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I say again: it has utterly failed.

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

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

This has to change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was a passionate process.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There was overwhelming consensus around three proposals.

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

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

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

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

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

These are not abstract notions, or intellectual constructs.

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

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

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

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

And that is not good enough anymore.

We need more than that.

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

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

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

Why is this important?

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

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

It formally acknowledges our place here.

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

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

But such a body will also provide substantive benefits.

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

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

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

(No wonder it has failed!)

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

It could also play a valuable monitoring role.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is an agreement between equals.

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

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

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

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

Because, this is still not the case.

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

It can be hard to hear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is important work.

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

Why is this not part of the national conversation?

Our communities know about the massacres.

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

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

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

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

The statue was shown holding a gun.

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

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

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

What I’m talking about is respect and acknowledgment.

As one participant in the Regional Dialogues in Broome said:

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

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

Then we can move forward together.

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

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

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

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

• those people who came in 1788 and after,

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

Three waves of people.

So, this where we stand now in 2017.

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

Voice.

Treaty.

Truth.

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

I respectfully disagree.

None of these issues are new.

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

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

Again, I respectfully disagree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the truth is that this is our place.

We, the First Nations, are not going anywhere.

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

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

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

Simply this:

Voice.

Treaty.

Truth.

And I want to add:

Justice.

Hear us. Acknowledge us.

Thank you all for coming.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Children #SNAICC2017 : Download : UN Report Recommends : Reducing rates of Indigenous child incarceration and removal

 ” The United Nations has criticised Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government for the soaring rates at which Australia locks up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

In her new report, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, said “the routine detention of young Indigenous children” was “the most distressing aspect of her visit” to Australia.

The report found that Australia locks up Indigenous children, as young as 10 years old, at 24 times the rate of non-Indigenous children.”

Download the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 

UN The Australia Report

 ” The lack of progress to improve education, health and employment standards for Indigenous people had fuelled “escalating” rates of incarceration and child removal.

The Special Rapporteur’s report said a plan of action to address high rates of Indigenous incarceration was a “national priority”.

The current claim by the Government that matters relating to incarceration remain the sole prerogative of states is untenable in the severe “

See ABC Report Part 3 Below  Australia’s progress on Closing the Gap ‘woefully inadequate’, UN says

 ” Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services have achieved remarkable success in delivering culturally appropriate services for primary health care.

However, the Special Rapporteur was informed by multiple stakeholders during her visit about inequalities in the resources available for rural and remote service delivery and of cuts to community managed primary health care, which play an essential role, for example in the prevention of chronic diseases.”

See Part 2 Below Close the Gap and ACCHO Health Services

Update September 20

CTG Press Release : Australian governments urged to act on scathing UN report

The Close the Gap Campaign urges Australian governments to act on the recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Special Rapporteur, Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, said it is “woefully inadequate” that, after more than two decades of sustained economic growth, governments have failed to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The co-chairs of the Close the Gap Campaign, Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar and National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Co-Chair, Mr Rod Little, call on Federal, State and Territory governments to make Indigenous health reform a top priority at the next COAG meeting and in their 2018 Budgets

Download the CTG press Release HERE CTG Special Rep MR Final

Ms Tauli-Corpuz emphasised that PM Turnbull’s Government, not states and territories, is responsible under international law for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s “national detention crisis”.

She called for the Federal Government to adopt a National Action Plan to address the crisis.

Tammy Solonec, Indigenous Rights Manager at Amnesty International Australia, said today:

Download Report from Amnesty Amnesty Aboriginal Austrlia

“Locking up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids in children’s prisons is a national shame. Children are being abused not only in Don Dale in the NT, but in Cleveland in Queensland, in Bimberi in the ACT, in Banksia Hill in WA. This problem is nationwide.”

“The good news is that we already know what will keep Indigenous kids out of children’s prisons and safe in their communities.”

“PM Turnbull must commit to a National Action Plan to fix the youth ‘injustice’ system. That plan must fund Indigenous-led community programs, which are the best at keeping Indigenous kids safe and thriving.”

 Other concerns and recommendations in the Special Rapporteur’s report include

  • The application of criminal responsibility as low as at the age of 10 years across the country is deeply troubling and below international standards. This situation is aggravated by the failure to apply diversion measures and community programmes and the placement of children in high-security facilities.
  • It is wholly inappropriate to detain children in punitive, rather than rehabilitative, conditions. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are essentially being punished for being poor and, in most cases, prison will only perpetuate the cycle of violence, intergenerational trauma, poverty and crime.
  • Allegations of serious abuses, including violent strip-searches, teargassing, hooding and prolonged isolation committed against Aboriginal children in custody.
  • The focus urgently needs to move away from detention and punishment towards rehabilitation and reintegration. Locking up people costs tax payers vast amounts of money. For instance, the Special Rapporteur was told that detaining a child costs between $A170,000 and $A200,000 per year.
  • The Government must ensure that community-led early intervention programmes invest in families, rather than punish them, in order to prevent children from being in contact with the child protection system.

 

Part 2 Closing the Gap strategy

  1. The “Closing the Gap” strategy has been in existence for nearly a decade. However, in its 2017 report on health, education and unemployment targets,17 the Government recognizes that only one of the seven targets — to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment rates — is on track. The Government did not expect to meet targets to close or reduce the gap in the remaining six targets, including on life expectancy, infant mortality, education and employment. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to die on average 10 years younger than other Australians, with no major improvements being recorded. In the Northern Territory, the life expectancy of Aboriginal people is the lowest in the nation and the gap between the non-indigenous population is 16 years for men and 14 years for women.
  2. It is woefully inadequate that, despite having enjoyed over two decades of economic growth, Australia has not been able to improve the social disadvantage of its indigenous population. The existing measures are clearly insufficient as evidenced by the lack of progress in achieving the “Close the Gap” targets.

Health services

  1. Social and cultural determinants explain almost one third of the health gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people. In 2015, nearly 45 per cent of indigenous peoples reported having a disability or long-term health condition. Understanding the impacts of intergenerational trauma and racism are essential factors in order to address the health situation of indigenous peoples effectively.
  2. The Government has taken steps to improve the health of indigenous peoples through the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023, and the Special Rapporteur notes as positive that the plan adopts a human rights-based approach informed by the Declaration.18
  3. In order for the Implementation Plan for the Health Plan to be successful, the Government must invest in partnerships that recognize the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The workforce of indigenous Australian medical professionals has expanded in the past decade and developed valuable expertise. However, parity is still lagging as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders still make up less than 1 per cent of the national health workforce. Support for training more indigenous health professionals is therefore required.
  4. Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services have achieved remarkable success in delivering culturally appropriate services for primary health care. However, the Special Rapporteur was informed by multiple stakeholders during her visit about inequalities in the resources available for rural and remote service delivery and of cuts to community managed primary health care, which play an essential role, for example in the prevention of chronic diseases.
  5. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders also told the Special Rapporteur about their feelings of powerlessness, loss of culture and lack of control over their lives. Suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are escalating at a shocking rate and are double that of non-Indigenous Australians. The current situation was described to the Special Rapporteur as a suicide epidemic. While visiting the Kimberley region in Western Australia, she learned about youth-developed and -driven projects to prevent suicide among Aboriginal adolescents. She strongly urges that such initiatives be supported and replicated. Adopting a holistic approach to social and emotional well-being that recognizes the need for cultural connection is essential to achieve sustainable improvement in health indicators.
  6. Aboriginal-led health research capacity has been established and should be drawn upon to inform policies. Strengthened financial and political support for Aboriginal- and Torres Strait Islander-led expertise, professional development and research is crucial in order to close the gap in relation to key health inequalities faced by indigenous peoples. In order for such measures to be sustainable, longer-term funding agreements are necessary.

Part 3 Australia’s progress on Closing the Gap ‘woefully inadequate’, UN says

The United Nations has described Australia’s lack of progress on Closing the Gap as “woefully inadequate”, saying the over-incarceration of Indigenous people is a major human rights concern

Key points:

  • The UN supported the call for a referendum to establish a First Nations advisory body in the constitution, the report said
  • It also recommended the Federal Government adopt new targets to reduce the rate of Indigenous incarceration
  • A plan of action to address high rates of incarceration was a “national priority”, it added

UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz visited Australia earlier this year, and today released her report detailing her concerns on the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Ms Tauli-Corpuz said it was unacceptable that despite two decades of economic growth, Australia had not been able to improve the social disadvantage of its Indigenous population.

She said the United Nations supported the call for a referendum to establish a First Nations advisory body in the constitution and urged the Federal Government to establish a treaties and truth-telling commission.

“Such measures would carry momentous significance to resetting the relationship with the First Peoples of Australia,” Ms Tauli-Corpuz said.

The Special Rapporteur’s report also recommended the Federal Government adopt new targets to reduce violence against women and rates of incarceration and child removal.

Ms Tauli-Corpuz said the detention of young Indigenous children was “the most distressing aspect of her visit” to Australia.

“Detention of those children has become so prevalent in certain communities that some parents referred to it as an achievement that none of their children has been taken into custody so far,” she wrote.

“The extraordinarily high rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, including women and children, is a major human rights concern.

“There have been allegations of serious abuses, including violent strip-searches, teargassing, hooding and prolonged isolation committed against Aboriginal children in custody.”

She said the lack of progress to improve education, health and employment standards for Indigenous people had fuelled “escalating” rates of incarceration and child removal.

The Special Rapporteur’s report said a plan of action to address high rates of Indigenous incarceration was a “national priority”.

“The current claim by the Government that matters relating to incarceration remain the sole prerogative of states is untenable in the severe,” she said.

Ms Tauli-Corpuz praised the Children’s Koori Court in Victoria, which brings young offenders in front of a panel of elders and aims to reduce imprisonment and recidivism.

“Such culturally sensitive processes could significantly reduce recidivism rates if extended to other jurisdictions,” she said.

Aboriginal Health and the @AusLawReform inquiry into the incarceration rate of Aboriginal peoples

 

” The Terms of Reference for this Inquiry ask the ALRC to consider laws and legal frameworks that contribute to the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and inform decisions to hold or keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody.

ALRC Home page

Download this 236 page discussion paper

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Full Terms of reference part B below

The ALRC was asked to consider a number of factors that decision makers take into account when deciding on a criminal justice response, including community safety, the availability of alternatives to incarceration, the degree of discretion available, and incarceration as a deterrent and as a punishment

The Terms of Reference also direct the ALRC to consider laws that may contribute to the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples offending and the rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Submissions close on 4 September 2017.

Make a submission

Part A Proposals and Questions

1. Structure of the Discussion Paper

1.40     The Discussion Paper is structured in parts. Following the introduction, Part 2 addresses criminal justice pathways. The ALRC has identified three key areas that influence incarceration rates: bail laws and processes, and remand; sentencing laws and legal frameworks including mandatory sentencing, short sentences and Gladue-style reports; and transition pathways from prison, parole and throughcare. These were the focus of stakeholder comments and observations in preliminary consultations.

1.41     Part 3 considers non-violent offending and alcohol regulation. It provides an overview of the detrimental effects of fine debt on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including the likelihood of imprisonment in some jurisdictions. Fine debt can be tied to driver licence offending, and the ALRC asks how best to minimise licence suspension caused by fine default. Part 3 also looks at ways laws and legal frameworks can operate to decrease alcohol supply so as to minimise alcohol-related offending in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

1.42     Part 4 discusses the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. It contextualises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female offending within experiences of trauma, including isolation; family and sexual violence; and child removal. It outlines how proposals in other chapters may address the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and asks what more can be done.

1.43     Part 5 considers access to justice, and examines ways that state and territory governments and criminal justice systems can better engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to prevent offending and to provide better criminal justice responses when offending occurs. The ALRC places collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations at the centre of proposals made in this Part, and suggests accountability measures for state and territory government justice agencies and police. The remoteness of communities, the availability of and access to legal assistance and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interpreters are also discussed. Alternative approaches to crime prevention and criminal justice responses, such as those operating under the banner of ‘justice reinvestment’, are also canvassed.

2. Bail and the Remand Population

Proposal 2–1        The Bail Act 1977 (Vic) has a standalone provision that requires bail authorities to consider any ‘issues that arise due to the person’s Aboriginality’, including cultural background, ties to family and place, and cultural obligations. This consideration is in addition to any other requirements of the Bail Act.

Other state and territory bail legislation should adopt similar provisions.

As with all other bail considerations, the requirement to consider issues that arise due to the person’s Aboriginality would not supersede considerations of community safety.

Proposal 2–2        State and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to identify service gaps and develop the infrastructure required to provide culturally appropriate bail support and diversion options where needed.

3. Sentencing and Aboriginality

Question 3–1        Noting the decision in Bugmy v The Queen [2013] HCA 38, should state and territory governments legislate to expressly require courts to consider the unique systemic and background factors affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when sentencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders?

If so, should this be done as a sentencing principle, a sentencing factor, or in some other way?

Question 3–2        Where not currently legislated, should state and territory governments provide for reparation or restoration as a sentencing principle? In what ways, if any, would this make the criminal justice system more responsive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders?

Question 3–3        Do courts sentencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders have sufficient information available about the offender’s background, including cultural and historical factors that relate to the offender and their community?

Question 3–4        In what ways might specialist sentencing reports assist in providing relevant information to the court that would otherwise be unlikely to be submitted?

Question 3–5        How could the preparation of these reports be facilitated? For example, who should prepare them, and how should they be funded?

4. Sentencing Options

Question 4–1        Noting the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

(a)     should Commonwealth, state and territory governments review provisions that impose mandatory or presumptive sentences; and

(b)     which provisions should be prioritised for review?

Question 4–2        Should short sentences of imprisonment be abolished as a sentencing option? Are there any unintended consequences that could result?

Question 4–3        If short sentences of imprisonment were to be abolished, what should be the threshold (eg, three months; six months)?

Question 4–4        Should there be any pre-conditions for such amendments, for example: that non-custodial alternatives to prison be uniformly available throughout states and territories, including in regional and remote areas?

Proposal 4–1        State and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to ensure that community-based sentences are more readily available, particularly in regional and remote areas.

Question 4–5        Beyond increasing availability of existing community-based sentencing options, is legislative reform required to allow judicial officers greater flexibility to tailor sentences?

5. Prison Programs, Parole and Unsupervised Release

Proposal 5–1        Prison programs should be developed and made available to accused people held on remand and people serving short sentences.

Question 5–1        What are the best practice elements of programs that could respond to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples held on remand or serving short sentences of imprisonment?

Proposal 5–2        There are few prison programs for female prisoners and these may not address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners. State and territory corrective services should develop culturally appropriate programs that are readily available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners.

Question 5–2        What are the best practice elements of programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners to address offending behaviour?

Proposal 5–3        A statutory regime of automatic court ordered parole should apply in all states and territories.

Question 5–3        A statutory regime of automatic court ordered parole applies in NSW, Queensland and SA. What are the best practice elements of such schemes?

Proposal 5–4        Parole revocation schemes should be amended to abolish requirements for the time spent on parole to be served again in prison if parole is revoked.

6. Fines and Driver Licences

Proposal 6–1        Fine default should not result in the imprisonment of the defaulter. State and territory governments should abolish provisions in fine enforcement statutes that provide for imprisonment in lieu of unpaid fines.

Question 6–1        Should lower level penalties be introduced, such as suspended infringement notices or written cautions?

Question 6–2        Should monetary penalties received under infringement notices be reduced or limited to a certain amount? If so, how?

Question 6–3        Should the number of infringement notices able to be issued in one transaction be limited?

Question 6–4        Should offensive language remain a criminal offence? If so, in what circumstances?

Question 6–5        Should offensive language provisions be removed from criminal infringement notice schemes, meaning that they must instead be dealt with by the court?

Question 6–6        Should state and territory governments provide alternative penalties to court ordered fines? This could include, for example, suspended fines, day fines, and/or work and development orders.

Proposal 6–2        Work and Development Orders were introduced in NSW in 2009. They enable a person who cannot pay fines due to hardship, illness, addiction, or homelessness to discharge their debt through:

  • work;
  • program attendance;
  • medical treatment;
  • counselling; or
  • education, including driving lessons.

State and territory governments should introduce work and development orders based on this model.

Question 6–7        Should fine default statutory regimes be amended to remove the enforcement measure of driver licence suspension?

Question 6–8        What mechanisms could be introduced to enable people reliant upon driver licences to be protected from suspension caused by fine default? For example, should:

(a)     recovery agencies be given discretion to skip the licence suspension step where the person in default is vulnerable, as in NSW; or

(b)     courts be given discretion regarding the disqualification, and disqualification period, of driver licences where a person was initially suspended due to fine default?

Question 6–9        Is there a need for regional driver permit schemes? If so, how should they operate?

Question 6–10      How could the delivery of driver licence programs to regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities be improved?

7. Justice Procedure Offences—Breach of Community-based Sentences

Proposal 7–1        To reduce breaches of community-based sentences by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, state and territory governments should engage with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to identify gaps and build the infrastructure required for culturally appropriate community-based sentencing options and support services.

8. Alcohol

Question 8–1        Noting the link between alcohol abuse and offending, how might state and territory governments facilitate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, that wish to do so, to:

(a)     develop and implement local liquor accords with liquor retailers and other stakeholders that specifically seek to minimise harm to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, for example through such things as minimum pricing, trading hours and range restriction;

(b)     develop plans to prevent the sale of full strength alcohol within their communities, such as the plan implemented within the Fitzroy Crossing community?

Question 8–2        In what ways do banned drinkers registers or alcohol mandatory treatment programs affect alcohol-related offending within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities? What negative impacts, if any, flow from such programs?

9. Female Offenders

Question 9–1        What reforms to laws and legal frameworks are required to strengthen diversionary options and improve criminal justice processes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female defendants and offenders?

10. Aboriginal Justice Agreements

Proposal 10–1       Where not currently operating, state and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to renew or develop Aboriginal Justice Agreements.

Question 10–1      Should the Commonwealth Government develop justice targets as part of the review of the Closing the Gap policy? If so, what should these targets encompass?

11. Access to Justice Issues

Proposal 11–1       Where needed, state and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to establish interpreter services within the criminal justice system.

Question 11–1      What reforms to laws and legal frameworks are required to strengthen diversionary options and specialist sentencing courts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Proposal 11–2       Where not already in place, state and territory governments should provide for limiting terms through special hearing processes in place of indefinite detention when a person is found unfit to stand trial.

Question 11–2      In what ways can availability and access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services be increased?

Proposal 11–3       State and territory governments should introduce a statutory custody notification service that places a duty on police to contact the Aboriginal Legal Service, or equivalent service, immediately on detaining an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person.

12. Police Accountability

Question 12–1      How can police work better with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to reduce family violence?

Question 12–2      How can police officers entering into a particular Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community gain a full understanding of, and be better equipped to respond to, the needs of that community?

Question 12–3      Is there value in police publicly reporting annually on their engagement strategies, programs and outcomes with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that are designed to prevent offending behaviours?

Question 12–4      Should police that are undertaking programs aimed at reducing offending behaviours in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities be required to: document programs; undertake systems and outcomes evaluations; and put succession planning in place to ensure continuity of the programs?

Question 12–5      Should police be encouraged to enter into Reconciliation Action Plans with Reconciliation Australia, where they have not already done so?

Question 12–6      Should police be required to resource and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment strategies, where not already in place?

13. Justice Reinvestment

Question 13–1      What laws or legal frameworks, if any, are required to facilitate justice reinvestment initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Part B The Term of reference

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

I, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General of Australia, refer to the Australian Law Reform Commission, an inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our prisons.

It is acknowledged that while laws and legal frameworks are an important factor contributing to over‑representation, there are many other social, economic, and historic factors that also contribute. It is also acknowledged that while the rate of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and their contact with the criminal justice system – both as offenders and as victims – significantly exceeds that of non‑Indigenous Australians, the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people never commit criminal offences.

Scope of the reference

  1. In developing its law reform recommendations, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) should have regard to:
    1. Laws and legal frameworks including legal institutions and law enforcement (police, courts, legal assistance services and prisons), that contribute to the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and inform decisions to hold or keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody, specifically in relation to:
      1. the nature of offences resulting in incarceration,
      2. cautioning,
      3. protective custody,
      4. arrest,
      5. remand and bail,
      6. diversion,
      7. sentencing, including mandatory sentencing, and
      8. parole, parole conditions and community reintegration.
    2. Factors that decision-makers take into account when considering (1)(a)(i-viii), including:
      1. community safety,
      2. availability of alternatives to incarceration,
      3. the degree of discretion available to decision-makers,
      4. incarceration as a last resort, and
      5. incarceration as a deterrent and as a punishment.
    3. Laws that may contribute to the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples offending and including, for example, laws that regulate the availability of alcohol, driving offences and unpaid fines.
    4. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their rate of incarceration.
    5. Differences in the application of laws across states and territories.
    6. Other access to justice issues including the remoteness of communities, the availability of and access to legal assistance and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language and sign interpreters.
  2.  In conducting its Inquiry, the ALRC should have regard to existing data and research[1] in relation to:
    1. best practice laws, legal frameworks that reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration,
    2. pathways of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through the criminal justice system, including most frequent offences, relative rates of bail and diversion and progression from juvenile to adult offending,
    3. alternatives to custody in reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and/or offending, including rehabilitation, therapeutic alternatives and culturally appropriate community led solutions,
    4. the impacts of incarceration on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including in relation to employment, housing, health, education and families, and
    5. the broader contextual factors contributing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration including:
      1. the characteristics of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison population,
      2. the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offending and incarceration and inter‑generational trauma, loss of culture, poverty, discrimination, alcohol and drug use, experience of violence, including family violence, child abuse and neglect, contact with child protection and welfare systems, educational access and performance, cognitive and psychological factors, housing circumstances and employment, and
      3. the availability and effectiveness of culturally appropriate programs that intend to reduce Aboriginal; and Torres Strait Islander offending and incarceration.
  3. In undertaking this Inquiry, the ALRC should identify and consider other reports, inquiries and action plans including but not limited to:
    1. the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody,
    2. the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (due to report 1 August 2017),
    3. Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration’s Inquiry into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Experience of Law Enforcement and Justice Services,
    4. Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs’ inquiry into Indefinite Detention of People with Cognitive and Psychiatric impairment in Australia,
    5. Senate Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs inquiry into Harmful Use of Alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities,
    6. reports of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,
    7. the ALRC’s inquiries into Family violence and Family violence and Commonwealth laws, and​
    8. the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

The ALRC should also consider the gaps in available data on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and consider recommendations that might improve data collection.

  1. In conducting its inquiry the ALRC should also have regard to relevant international human rights standards and instruments.

Consultation

  1. In undertaking this inquiry, the ALRC should identify and consult with relevant stakeholders including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their organisations, state and territory governments, relevant policy and research organisations, law enforcement agencies, legal assistance service providers and the broader legal profession, community service providers and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Timeframe

  1. The ALRC should provide its report to the Attorney-General by 22 December 2017.