Aboriginal Health and #Justjustice : @UNHumanrights finds Australia’s Aboriginal peoples face “tsunami” of imprisonment.

“It is alarming that, while the country has adopted numerous policies to address the socio-economic disadvantage of Aboriginal peoples and those from the Torres Strait Islands, it has failed to respect their rights to self-determination and to full and effective participation in society.

Government policies have failed to deliver on targets in the areas of health, education and employment and have led to a growing number of people being jailed, and have resulted in an increasing number of children being removed from their homes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.  

High rates of incarceration were described to me as a tsunami affecting indigenous peoples. It is a major human rights concern.

The figures are simply astounding. While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up only 3% of the total population, they constitute 27% of the prison population, and much more in some prisons,”

United Nations human rights expert the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz pictured above meeting the Opposition Aboriginal parliamentarians and below meeting the NT APO lead by John Paterson CEO of NACCHO Affiliate AMSANT

Australia must reduce the “astounding” rates of imprisonment for indigenous peoples and step up the fight against racism, a United Nations human rights expert has concluded, at the end of an official visit.

“The rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth is alarming,” Ms. Tauli-Corpuz said. “I visited Cleveland Youth Detention Centre in Townsville, Queensland, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children constitute 95% of the children detained.

Many have been going from out-of-home care into detention. “Aboriginal children are seven times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be in contact with the child protection system or to be subject to abuse or neglect, Ms. Tauli-Corpuz noted.

“As already recommended by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, I urge Australia to increase the age of criminal responsibility. Children should be detained only as a last resort.

“These children are essentially being punished for being poor and in most cases, prison will only aggravate the cycle of violence, poverty and crime. I found meeting young children, some only 12 years old, in detention the most disturbing element of my visit.

The UN expert expressed criticism of the Government programme known as the Indigenous Advancement Strategy which was initiated by the Government in 2014 and involved a large budget cut in funding for support programmes.

She said: “The implementation of the strategy has been bureaucratic, rigid and has wasted considerable resources on administration. Travelling across the country, I have repeatedly been told about its dire consequences.”

However, Ms. Tauli-Corpuz said: “I want to emphasise that during my visit I have been particularly impressed and inspired by the strength of spirit and commitment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to develop innovative measures to support their own communities.”

She pointed to the number of peak organisations across a range of areas led by indigenous people. “The Government could achieve significant progress in realising the rights of indigenous peoples if it consulted and worked much more closely with these organisations,” she said.

“I have also observed effective community-led initiatives in a range of areas including public health, housing, education, child-protection, conservation and administration of justice, which all have the potential of making immediate significant positive changes in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.”

She called on the government to forge a new relationship with the national representative body for indigenous peoples, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, and restore their funding.

She expressed concern that the Government would not meet targets to close the gap in areas such as life expectancy, infant mortality, education and employment. She called for a comprehensive approach including specific targets for the reduction of detention rates, child removal and violence against women.

“I call on the Government to adopt a participatory approach based on consultation with indigenous peoples and take into account the ‘Redfern statement’, launched by peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait organisations in 2016, as it sets out priority areas for action and recommendations on issues ranging from health, justice, violence prevention, disability, children and families,” the expert concluded.

Ms. Tauli-Corpuz ended her two-week visit to Australia with a press conference in Barton in the Australian Capital Territory where she presented her initial findings and recommendations. She will present a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Philippines), is a human rights activist working on indigenous peoples’ rights

. Her work for more than three decades has been focused on movement building among indigenous peoples and also among women, and she has worked as an educator-trainer on human rights, development and indigenous peoples in various contexts. She is a member of the Kankana-ey, Igorot indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region in the Philippines.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.

Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

See the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples UN Human Rights, country page: Australia


Aboriginal #Earlychildhood #Obesity Study : We need to reduce the prevalence of overweight/obesity in the first 3 years of life

“People who are obese in childhood are at increased risk of being obese in adulthood, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, diabetes, and arthritis,”

Research found reducing consumption of sugary drinks and junk food from an early age could benefit the health of Indigenous children, but that this is just one part of the solution to improving weight status.

“We know that Indigenous families across Australia – in remote, regional, and urban settings – face barriers to accessing healthy foods. Therefore, efforts to reduce junk food consumption need to occur alongside efforts to increase the affordability, availability, and acceptability of healthy foods,”

 Ms Thurber, PhD Scholar, from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at ANU.

A major study into the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children has found programs and policies to promote healthy weight should target children as young as three.

Lead researcher Katie Thurber from The Australian National University (ANU) said the majority of Indigenous children in the national study had a health body Mass Index (BMI), but around 40 per cent were classified as overweight or obese by the time they reached nine years of age.

Download the Report Here Thurber BMI Trajectories LSIC

Latest national figures show obesity rates are 60 per cent higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples compared to non-Indigenous Australians.

In 2013, around 30 per cent of Indigenous children were classified as overweight or obese, and two thirds of Indigenous people over 15 years old were classified as overweight or obese.

Key messages

•  The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children nationally have a healthy Body Mass Index
•  However, more than one in ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Footprints in Time were already overweight or obese at 3 years of age, and there was a rapid onset of overweight/obesity between age 3 and 9 years
•  We need programs and policies to reduce the prevalence of overweight/obesity in the first 3 years of life, and to slow the onset of overweight/obesity from age 3-9 years
•  Reducing children’s consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and high-fat foods is one part of the solution to improving weight status at the population level
•  To enable healthy diets, we need to (1) create healthier environments and (2) improve the social determinants of health (such as financial security, housing, and community wellbeing). Creating healthy environments is complex, and will require both increasing the affordability, availability, and acceptability of healthy foods and decreasing the affordability, availability, and acceptability of unhealthy foods
•  Programs and policy to promote healthy weight need to be developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
•  Despite higher levels of disadvantage, most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children maintain a healthy weight; we need programs and policies that cultivate environments and circumstances that will enable all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to have a healthy start to life

Ms Thurber said improving weight status would have a major benefit in closing the gap in health between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“Obesity is a leading contributor to the gap in health,” Ms Thurber said.

“We want to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities, as well as policy makers and service providers, to think about what will work best to promote healthy weight in those early childhood years.

“We want to start early, and identify the best ways for families and communities to support healthy diets, so that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children can have a healthy start to life.”

The research used data from Footprints in Time, a national longitudinal study that has followed more than 1,000 Indigenous children since 2008. It is funded and managed by the Department of Social Services.

Professor Mick Dodson, Chair of the Steering Committee for the Footprints in Time Study and Director of the ANU National Centre for Indigenous Studies, said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children deserve the best possible start in life.

“This study shows just how important it is to support them, their families and their communities to provide a healthy diet and opportunities for physical activity,” Professor Dodson said.

Ms Thurber said using the Footprints in Time study, researchers for the first time were able to look at how weight status changes over time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, enabling them to identify pathways that help children maintain a healthy weight.

The research has been published in Obesity.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Alcohol : Draft terms of reference for a another comprehensive review of alcohol policy in the #NT

 ” The Northern Territory has the second highest alcohol consumption in the world. Misuse of alcohol has devastating health and social consequences for NT Aboriginal communities.

APO NT believes that addressing alcohol and drug misuse, along with the many health and social consequences of this misuse, can only be achieved through a multi-tiered approach.

APO NT supports evidence based alcohol policy reform, including:

  • Supply reduction measures
  • Harm reduction measures, and
  • Demand reduction measures.

To address alcohol and drug misuse within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the social and structural determinants of mental health must be addressed,

Parliamentary Inquiry into the Harmful use of Alcohol in Aboriginal Communities

On 17 April 2014, APO NT submitted their written evidence to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs on the Inquiry into the harmful use of alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities.

The APO NT submission made 16 recommendations to the committee: SEE INFO Here

Read  NACCHO Alcohol and other drugs 164 Articles over 5 years HERE


A SAFER COMMUNITY :  NT Government Press Release 10 March 2017

The Health Minister Natasha Fyles today released draft terms of reference for a comprehensive review of alcohol policy in the Northern Territory.

Minister Fyles said the Government was determined to tackle the cost of alcohol abuse on our community and the review will give all Territorians an opportunity to have their voices heard.

“We recognise that, while everyone has the right to enjoy a drink responsibly, alcohol abuse is a significant cause of violence and crime in our community,” Ms Fyles said.

“All Territorians have the right to feel safe, to have their property, homes and businesses secure from damage and theft.

“They also have the right to access health, police and justice services, without having critical resources diverted by the crippling effects of alcohol abuse.

“That’s why Territory Labor has consistently advocated, and implemented, a range of policies to reduce the harm caused by alcohol abuse.

“When last in Government we implemented the Banned Drinker Register (BDR), described by Police as the best tool they had to fight violent crime.

“In Opposition we were clear we would reinstate the BDR and impose a moratorium on new takeaway licences.

“Since coming to Government we have:

  • worked efficiently across agencies to bring back the BDR by September 1
  • imposed a moratorium on new takeaway liquor licences (except in exceptional circumstances) – October 2016
  • strengthened legislation to ensure Sunday trade remains limited – November 2016
  • limited the floor space for take away alcohol stores – December 2016
  • introduced new Guidelines for liquor licensing to allow for public hearings – 2 February 2017

“While some of these policies aren’t popular, their effectiveness is backed by evidence.

“This review is an important chance for the community to have their say and to ensure that all facets of alcohol policy complement our determination to make the Territory safer.

“An expert panel will be commissioned to look at alcohol policies and alcohol legislation, reporting to government on:

  • evidence based policy initiatives required to reduce alcohol fuelled crime
  • ensuring safe and vibrant entertainment precincts
  • the provision of alcohol service and management in remote communities
  • decision-making under the Liquor Act
  • the density of liquor licences (concentration, type, number and location of liquor licences ) and the size of liquor outlets

“Broad public consultation will be undertaken as part of the review, with multiple avenues for interested people, groups and communities to put forward their views.

“I look forward to hearing from not only the loudest and most powerful voices in our community, but also the many women, children, families and communities who all too often bear the cost of alcohol abuse in the Northern Territory.”

The review will start in April with a report and recommendations delivered to government in late September 2017.

The government will then develop a response to the recommendations for the development of the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy and legislative reform agenda.

These will be released publicly along with the Expert Advisory Panel’s final report.

To view the draft terms of references go to: https://health.nt.gov.au/professionals/alcohol-and-other-drugs-health-professionals/alcohol-policies-and-legislation-review

Submissions are now being accepted at:  AODD.DOH@nt.gov.au

NACCHO #IWD2017 Aboriginal Women’s #justjustice :Indigenous, disabled, imprisoned – the forgotten women of #IWD2017


” Merri’s story is not uncommon. Studies show that women with physical, sensory, intellectual, or psychosocial disabilities (mental health conditions) experience higher rates of domestic and sexual violence and abuse than other women.

More than 70 per cent of women with disabilities in Australia have experienced sexual violence, and they are 40 per cent more likely to face domestic violence than other women.

Indigenous women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of domestic violence than non-Indigenous women. Indigenous women who have a disability face intersecting forms of discrimination because of their gender, disability, and ethnicity that leave them at even greater risk of experiencing violence — and of being involved in violence and imprisoned

Kriti Sharma is a disability rights researcher for Human Rights Watch

This is our last NACCHO post supporting  International Women’s Day

Further NACCHO reading

Women’s Health ( 275 articles )  or Just Justice  See campaign details below

” In-prison programs fail to address the disadvantage that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners face, such as addiction, intergenerational and historical traumas, grief and loss. Programs have long waiting lists, and exclude those who spend many months on remand or serve short sentences – as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often do.

Instead, evidence shows that prison worsens mental health and wellbeing, damages relationships and families, and generates stigma which reduces employment and housing opportunities .

To prevent post-release deaths, diversion from prison to alcohol and drug rehabilitation is recommended, which has proven more cost-effective and beneficial than prison , International evidence also recommends preparing families for the post-prison release phase. ‘

Dying to be free: Where is the focus on the deaths occurring post-prison release? Article 1 Below

Article from Page 17 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper out Wednesday 16 November , 24 Page lift out Koori Mail : or download

naccho-newspaper-nov-2016 PDF file size 9 MB

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, this week  I think of ‘Merri’, one of the most formidable and resilient women I have ever met.

A 50-year-old Aboriginal woman with a mental health condition, Merri grew up in a remote community in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. When I met her, Merri was in pre-trial detention in an Australian prison.

It was the first time she had been to prison and it was clear she was still reeling from trauma. But she was also defiant.

“Six months ago, I got sick of being bashed so I killed him,” she said. “I spent five years with him [my partner], being bashed. He gave me a freaking [sexually transmitted] disease. Now I have to suffer [in prison].”

I recently traveled through Western Australia, visiting prisons, and I heard story after story of Indigenous women with disabilities whose lives had been cycles of abuse and imprisonment, without effective help.

For many women who need help, support services are simply not available. They may be too far away, hard to find, or not culturally sensitive or accessible to women.

The result is that Australia’s prisons are disproportionately full of Indigenous women with disabilities, who are also more likely to be incarcerated for minor offenses.

For numerous women like Merri in many parts of the country, prisons have become a default accommodation and support option due to a dearth of appropriate community-based services. As with countless women with disabilities, Merri’s disability was not identified until she reached prison. She had not received any support services in the community.

Merri has single-handedly raised her children as well as her grandchildren, but without any support or access to mental health services, life in the community has been a struggle for her.

Strangely — and tragically — prison represented a respite for Merri. With eyes glistening with tears, she told me: “[Prison] is very stressful. But I’m finding it a break from a lot of stress outside.”

Today, on International Women’s Day, the Australian government should commit to making it a priority to meet the needs of women with disabilities who are at risk of violence and abuse.

In 2015, a Senate inquiry into the abuse people with disabilities face in institutional and residential settings revealed the extensive and diverse forms of abuse they face both in institutions and the community. The inquiry recommended that the government set up a Royal Commission to conduct a more comprehensive investigation into the neglect, violence, and abuse faced by people with disabilities across Australia.

The government has been unwilling to do so, citing the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguard Framework as adequate.

While the framework is an important step forward, it would only reach people who are enrolled under the NDIS. Its complaints mechanism would not provide a comprehensive look at the diversity and scale of the violence people with disabilities experience, let alone at the ways in which various intersecting forms of discrimination affect people with disabilities.

The creation of a Royal Commission, on the other hand, could give voice to survivors of violence inside and outside the NDIS. It could direct a commission’s resources at a thorough investigation into the violence people with disabilities face in institutional and residential settings, as well as in the community.

The government urgently needs to hear directly from women like Merri about the challenges they face, and how the government can do better at helping them. Whether or not there is a Royal Commission, the government should consult women with disabilities, including Indigenous women, and their representative organizations to learn how to strengthen support services.

Government services that are gender and culturally appropriate, and accessible to women across the country, can curtail abuse and allow women with disabilities to live safe, independent lives in the community.

Kriti Sharma is a disability rights researcher for Human Rights Watch



How you can support #JustJustice

• Download, read and share the 2nd edition – HERE.

Buy a hard copy from Gleebooks in Sydney (ask them to order more copies if they run out of stock).

• Send copies of the book to politicians, policy makers and other opinion leaders.

• Encourage journals and other relevant publications to review #JustJustice.

• Encourage your local library to order a copy, whether the free e-version or a hard copy from Gleebooks.

• Follow Guardian Australia’s project, Breaking the Cycle.

Readers may also be interested in these articles:

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #prisons #JustJustice : Terms of references released Over-representation of Aboriginal 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.”

Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General of Australia,

Refering to the Australian Law Reform Commission, an inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our prisons:

Senator Siewert Greens Senator moved the following motion in the Senate

(a) notes that the adult incarceration rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples increased by 77.4 per cent from 2000 to 2015;

(b) acknowledges the growing incarceration rates of our First Peoples is shameful;

(c) notes the Redfern Statement, which was released in 2016 by over 55 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organisations and peak bodies, sets out a plan for addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ disadvantage;

(d) notes that the Redfern Statement calls for justice targets to help focus the effort to reduce Aboriginal incarceration; and

(e) calls on the Government to listen to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and adopt justice targets as a matter of urgency.


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will tomorrow deliver the ninth Closing the Gap address to Parliament.

The annual report card tracks progress against targets in a range of areas, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and life expectancy.

But it does not include any targets around incarceration rates — despite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people making up a quarter of Australia’s prison population

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

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) welcomes the appointment by Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, of His Honour Judge Matthew Myers AM as an ALRC Commissioner.

Judge Myers will lead the new ALRC Inquiry into the high incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, announced by the Attorney-General in October 2016.

Judge Myers was appointed to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in 2012. He is a member of the Board of Family and Relationship Services Australia, the CatholicCare Advisory Council (Broken Bay Dioceses), Law Society of New South Wales Indigenous Issues Committee, Federal Circuit Court of Australia Indigenous Access to Justice Committee, Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Family Law Pathways Network, member of the Central Coast Family Law Pathways Network Steering Committee, member of the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, member of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council,  member of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and member of the Honoured Friends of the Salvation Army.

Judge Myers said “I am honoured by this appointment and the opportunity to build on the valuable work of past Commissions, Inquiries and successful community initiatives. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children are significantly over represented in the Australian criminal justice system. This is something that cannot and should not be acceptable to any Australian. I look forward to undertaking a broad consultation across the country, working closely with stakeholders and the community to develop meaningful and practical solutions through law reform.”

ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher AM said, “We are delighted by this appointment and welcome Judge Myers to lead this very important Inquiry. To echo the Attorney-General, the over representation of Indigenous Australians in our prison system is a national tragedy. This Inquiry, with the expertise and leadership of Judge Myers, is an important step in developing much needed law reform in this area.”

The Attorney-General’s Department released draft Terms of Reference for Inquiry into the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for community consultation, in December 2016.

The consultation included Indigenous communities and organisations and state and territory governments.

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.
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  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.


  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.


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

[1] It is not the intention that the Australian Law Reform Commission will undertake independent research or evaluation of existing programs, noting that this falls outside its legislative responsibilities and expertise.


NACCHO Invites all health practitioners and staff to a webinar : Working collaboratively to support the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal youth in crisis


NACCHO invites all health practitioners and staff to the webinar: An all-Indigenous panel will explore youth suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The webinar is organised and produced by the Mental Health Professionals Network and will provide participants with the opportunity to identify:

  • Key principles in the early identification of youth experiencing psychological distress.
  • Appropriate referral pathways to prevent crises and provide early intervention.
  • Challenges, tips and strategies to implement a collaborative response to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in crisis.

Join hundreds of doctors, nurses and mental health professionals around the nation for an interdisciplinary panel discussion. The panellists with a range of professional experience are:

  • Dr Louis Peachey (Qld Rural Generalist)
  • Dr Marshall Watson (SA Psychiatrist)
  • Dr Jeff Nelson (Qld Psychologist)
  • Facilitator: Dr Mary Emeleus (Qld GP and Psychotherapist)

Read more about the panellists.

Working collaboratively to support the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in crisis.

Date:  Thursday 23rd February, 2017

Time: 7.15 – 8.30pm AEDT


No need to travel to benefit from this free PD opportunity. Simply register and log in anywhere you have a computer or tablet with high speed internet connection. CPD points awarded.

Learn more about the learning outcomes, other resources and register now.

For further information, contact MHPN on 1800 209 031 or email webinars@mhpn.org.au.

The Mental Health Professionals’ Network is a government-funded initiative that improves interdisciplinary collaborative mental health care practice in the primary health sector.  MHPN promotes interdisciplinary practice through two national platforms, local interdisciplinary networks and online professional development webinars.







NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert : Expressions of interest invited from emerging consumer/carer leaders @CHFofAustralia , @NRHAlliance , @AUMentalHealth


 ” Our aim is to involve individuals who are emerging consumer/carer leaders.  By this we mean individuals who have started to be involved in health consumer/carer representation or advocacy work, perhaps at a local, regional or state/territory level, and who are enthusiastic and interested in doing more or different roles, particularly at the national level.

The Colloquium is occurring at a time when the value of people-centred approaches to policy is gaining currency.  The health and social care horizon is rapidly changing and we face many challenges as well as growing opportunity for reform and innovation.”

CHF, NRHA and MHA are working together to hold a Consumer and Carer Leadership Colloquium on 20-21 March 2017 in Canberra.  Colloquium participants are being selected from CHF, NRHA and MHA networks.

CHF therefore seeks expressions of interest from individuals who are interested in participating in the Colloquium, and who will benefit from its focus on emerging consumer/carer leaders.

Online applications here

Why a Colloquium?

The three host organisations all work with consumers/carers who are interested in advocating for a better Australian health system.

Our ways of working with these leaders may differ and we may use different terminology, but we have a shared interest in:

  • identifying and nurture emerging consumer/carer leaders with potential and interest to participate in and shape health reform at the national level;
  • supporting consumer/carer leaders to act with impact and influence;
  • providing opportunities for cross-fertilisation of ideas from consumer/carer leaders with different perspectives on the health system; and
  • growing and diversifying our pools of consumer/carer leaders.

What is a colloquium?

A colloquium is an interactive conference-style event. Our Colloquium is an opportunity to discuss issues of importance to emerging health consumer/carer leaders. It will have a learning, development and planning focus.

Who is the Colloquium aimed at?

Up to 80 consumers/carers will participate in the Colloquium.  The Colloquium is a learning and development forum.  We seek participants who want to achieve a more consumer-centred health system and enjoy sharing ideas with other like-minded people.

Our aim is to involve individuals who are emerging consumer/carer leaders.  By this we mean individuals who have started to be involved in health consumer/carer representation or advocacy work, perhaps at a local, regional or state/territory level, and who are enthusiastic and interested in doing more or different roles, particularly at the national level.

All expressions of interest will be assessed on their merits.

What is the time commitment?

You will need to be able to be in Canberra for:

  • the Colloquium networking dinner on the evening of 20 March 2017; and
  • the Colloquium itself on 21 March 2017.

You will also benefit from participating in two lead-in webinars on 8 and 15 March 2017.  The webinars will be for one hour.

The Colloquium program will include a mix of interactive and expert-led sessions, including peer experts.  The two lead-in webinars will provide background information about national health reform, allowing more informed discussion at the Colloquium itself.

What is the cost?

Your travel and accommodation costs will be met.  Meals will be provided, but not drinks at the networking dinner.  Sitting fees will not be paid.

What will participants get out of the Colloquium?

As an emerging consumer/carer leader, the Colloquium program will provide you with an opportunity to:

  • to discuss and better understand the health reform environment, implications and opportunities;
  • learn some new leadership skills and mentorship practices;
  • join an emerging leaders network as well as existing consumer/carer networks through CHF, MHA and NRHA;
  • discuss and identify development, mentorship and leadership needs of emerging consumer/carer leaders.

What outcomes will result from the Colloquium?

In addition to what you as an individual can expect to get out of your participation at the Colloquium, the Colloquium is designed to generate a plan of action for future co-operation to strengthen the role of the consumer/carer community in shaping health and related policy.  Such an action plan could include, for example, a future webinar program, online discussion forums, etc.

How do I express interest in participating in the Colloquium?

If you would like to be considered as a Colloquium participant, please complete the following form and submit it by 5 February 2017.  Following our selection process, we will advise you if your expression of interest has been successful by 24 February 2017.

 Online applications here

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Cashless Welfare Card : NACCHO CEO Pat Turner questions lack of evidence


“The cashless welfare card is unfair, a form of control and reminds Aboriginal people every day that they are treated as second- and third-class citizens in their own land,”

One of the key issues in many of the areas where the card operates, such as in remote areas of South Australia, is the difficulty of accessing fresh produce at reasonable prices.

Where is the evidence that this card increases this access and enables Aboriginal people to get the healthy food they need?

A person’s dignity can also be lost when having to use such a card which can also have detrimental impacts on both their mental and physical health and wellbeing.”

Pat Turner, the chief executive of NACCHO  national peak body on Aboriginal health

From Melissa Davey The Guardian


The welfare card was “unfair” and “a form of control”, Turner said in response to a Guardian Australia report from the South Australian town of Ceduna which found welfare recipients on the card felt disempowered and dictated to.

But Turner, who before being appointed to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (Naccho) was the longest-serving chief executive of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and spent 18 months as Monash Chair of Australian Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, questioned the evidence from the government’s report

The trial of the card, known as the indue card, began in Ceduna in March and in the Western Australian towns of Kununurra and Wyndham in April. Welfare recipients in those towns now receive 80% of their welfare payments into the indue card, which cannot be used to withdraw cash or buy alcohol or gambling products. The remaining 20% can be withdrawn as cash.

The government, including the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the human services minister, Alan Tudge, say the card has so far been a success.

In a report released six months into the card’s trial, anecdotal evidence and early data found poker machine revenue in the Ceduna region between April and August last year was 15.1% lower than for the equivalent period in 2015.

There had also been a strong uptake of financial counselling, the report said, with 300 people seeking counselling since the trial began. Anecdotally, there had been a significant decline in people requesting basic supplies like milk and sugar from the Koonibba Community Shopfront in Ceduna, the report also said.

Most people on welfare in the trial towns are Aboriginal.

Guardian Australia has contacted the Department of Health and Human Services for comment.

The strength of data used in the government’s cashless welfare card progress report has been questioned by Aboriginal elders, health economists and the Greens senator, Rachel Siewert.

NACCHO Aboriginal #HealthyFutures : 2017 #Prevention Resolutions and Reconciliation for Federal Govt :


“We know that where you live greatly impacts on your health.

However, it is also important to acknowledge that such differences are more likely attributable to the socio-economic circumstances and the spread of wealth within these regions rather on the locations themselves.

Four PHAA New Year’s resolutions for governments in 2017:

1. Develop and implement a National Food and Nutrition Plan to provide national guidance and consistency

2. Stop the marketing of ‘junk food’ to children

3. Implement a sugar tax and invest the money generated in to public health initiatives

4. Greater investment in targeted anti-tobacco campaigns

Resolutions  2017  : Michael Moore CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).

 ” Sections of the media writing off the outcome of consultations around constitutional recognition, after the first of 12 discussions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in Hobart just over a week ago, are selling the nation short.

This is the first time Indigenous Australians have been authorised to design and undertake their own nationwide consultation process and it concerns the future of a relationship that has been fraught from the start.”

Reconciliation 2017 : Is it too early to write off Aboriginal reconciliation see article 2 below

Photo above File footage It is not every day that Santa Claus himself visits Ramingining, a remote community 560 kilometres east of Darwin in Arnhem Land. Thanks  Ronnie Garrawurra for your portrayal of the  ” big black man man in red.”

Latest AIHW Healthy Communities data provides for New Year’s resolutions for governments

The latest health data released from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has provided for some important New Year’s resolution for the government to improve the health of all Australians.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @AIHW download 3 reports Alert :

Obesity and smoking rates higher in regional Australia

And NACCHO Healthy Futures report Card


The data, which has been separated in to local areas including Primary Health Networks (PHN), shows ongoing disproportionate health differences between metropolitan and regional/rural areas.

For example, those living in the Western NSW PHN are 30% more likely to be overweight or obese and more than three times more likely to smoke than those living in Northern Sydney PHN. This puts them at high risk of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Variations in health risk and outcome is evident in differences between metropolitan areas even when there is not much distance between areas. In these cases geographical differences can still be substantial. One example is the overweight and obesity rates between Eastern Melbourne PHN (65.9%) and South Eastern Melbourne PHN (59.3%).

The government must take action to address these health issues which are two of the biggest yet preventable risk factors for chronic disease and premature death.

New Year’s Resolutions for governments

Each year on 1 January millions of Australians make New Year’s resolutions to improve their own health.

“In the lead up to 2017 the PHAA calls on governments to make four New Year’s resolutions to help Australians improve their health wherever they live” continued Mr Moore.

Four New Year’s resolutions for governments in 2017:

1. Develop and implement a National Food and Nutrition Plan to provide national guidance and consistency

2. Stop the marketing of ‘junk food’ to children

3. Implement a sugar tax and invest the money generated in to public health initiatives

4. Greater investment in targeted anti-tobacco campaigns


NACCHO Aboriginal Health Alert #GetonTrack Report :

The ten things we need to do to improve our health

“The Healthy Communities report comes one week after the launch of the Getting Australia’s Health on Track by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration and the joint policy on food security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

These documents reinforce the need for significant action by government to address preventable illnesses,” added President of the PHAA David Templeman.

“Getting Australia’s Health on Track and the Healthy Communities reports provides us with a guide forward. This is of particular importance in relation to the concerted effort required to improve the health and wellbeing not only of people in rural and remote areas, but particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People,”

“We know what is needed. The time for the government to act is now,” concluded Mr Templeman.



It’s way too early to write off Aboriginal reconciliation

Sections of the media writing off the outcome of consultations around constitutional recognition, after the first of 12 discussions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in Hobart just over a week ago, are selling the nation short.

This is the first time Indigenous Australians have been authorised to design and undertake their own nationwide consultation process and it concerns the future of a relationship that has been fraught from the start.

The very least we should expect of ourselves as a nation is to respectfully allow that process – 12 dialogues undertaken in cities and regional centres across Australia, culminating in a convention at Uluru next April – to play out.

As The Age‘s Michael Gordon wrote on Saturday, we need to “allow the Indigenous consultation process on recognition to run its course, confident that all options for constitutional change will be seriously canvassed before and at a convention at Uluru in April”.

The task of the Referendum Council is to advise the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader on a way forward that is both acceptable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and likely to be supported by the Australian electorate more broadly via a referendum.

That task necessarily involves respectful consultation with Indigenous Australians, and will inevitably uncover a broad spectrum of views on what meaningful recognition would look like to them.

This approach is entirely consistent with Article 19 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which Australia formally endorsed in 2009. It obliges states to “consult and co-operate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them”.

Free prior and informed consent represents the best practice standard for the involvement of Indigenous peoples in decisions that affect them, and it goes well beyond a mere box-checking exercise. It is the collective right of Indigenous peoples under international law, which serves to safeguard other rights.

To break the concept down into its constituent parts:

• “Free” means free from manipulation, intimidation or coercion

• “Prior” means occurring well in advance of any decision-making, with adequate time for traditional Indigenous decision-making and consensus processes

• “Informed” means that consent is based on fulsome, objective, accurate and easily understandable information. It also means allowing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities to access independent legal advice to reach an informed decision, and

• “Consent’ means communities as a whole, including women, men, young people and different community organisations, have the power to reasonably understand the options and approve or reject a decision. This involves considerations of who has the right to speak for a community, consultation and participation processes, good faith negotiations and properly resourcing communities to have an equal opportunity to have their say.

That the Hobart consultation raised the issue of treaty is neither surprising, nor the recognition death knell commentators are disingenuously suggesting.

And for anyone to suggest that talk of treaty should be somehow muzzled is to deny the nation a process that is of enormous value in and of itself.

As more than one state premier and scores of lawyers and academics have pointed out, constitutional recognition and treaty are ultimately separate issues that will require two separate processes, which are not mutually exclusive.

That said, many people support both objectives, and many people and institutions are working towards them contemporaneously. It is inevitable that both issues will arise in any free, informed discussion about either.

Surely it is not beyond us to let this process play out in good faith, to see if we can indeed find a path forward that is acceptable to our First Peoples and to the rest of us. This also involves consultation with members of the wider community, who are making submissions via the council’s website, and communicating their views through a multiplicity of other channels, including the media.

If such a path is not available to the nation at this time, let us call that at the appropriate time, when people have exercised this rare opportunity.

In the meantime, we must all of us – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – respect each other enough to continue to seek that elusive intersection of perspectives for the benefit of the nation and all Australians.

Mark Leibler AC is senior partner at Arnold Bloch Leibler and co-chairman of the Referendum Council on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians


NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Children : Launch of the National Framework for Health Services for Aboriginal Children and Families


Closing the Gap is a number one priority for the Government, and we know that the most successful programs, the ones achieving outcomes, are those developed and driven by the community themselves,

Providing the right care from the very beginning, from the health of mothers before they conceive, to caring, supportive and appropriate care through pregnancy, to postnatal care, and through to the early days of school – this Framework is about ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families have the services, and information they need to set children up for better health outcomes for the rest of their lives.

The social and cultural determinants of health are one of our key priorities in Closing the Gap, and this means addressing the range of factors that impact on health, such as racism, cultural exclusion and economic status.

The holistic and consultative approach is the way forward.”

Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, MP today launched the new Framework, which is part of the Implementation Plan for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.

The National Framework for Health Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Families will help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to get a better start in life.

DOWNLOAD Framework  HERE :


It provides a guide for culturally appropriate maternal health care, pregnancy care and early childhood – setting children and families up for better health throughout their lives.

“This work was developed in collaboration with community leaders and a cultural advisory group. We also have consulted widely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the country, listening to what they need, so we can deliver the services that they require in the way that best suits different communities,” said Assistant Minister Wyatt.

“We needed to ensure this Framework spells out how to provide the right care at the most critical time of life for our children – from pre-conception and maternity care services through to eight years of age and the family unit that supports those children,” he said.

The focus of the Framework is on bringing a more holistic approach to health and wellbeing that draws on the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures to inform how high quality, evidence-based child and family health services are delivered.

A number of structural factors underpin the Framework, and are required to enable health services to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

These system enablers include:

  • a culturally respectful and non-discriminatory health system (which is also a priority of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013 – 2023);
  • access to care based on proportionate universalism;
  • commitment to health equity, and addressing the social determinants of health. Strong and sustainable health outcomes cannot be achieved without recognition of the impact of colonisation, interpersonal and institutional racism, and the resulting health and social impacts of poverty, trauma, addiction, housing shortages, poor education, unemployment, and the lack of social supports;
  • evidence-based practice that is informed by researchers and the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families;
  • a focus on the cultural safety and development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce at all levels of governance and service delivery;
  • governance structures that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in leadership roles and ensure the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in planning, delivery and review of child and family health services; and
  • supportive Government policy and funding. The vast majority of child and family health services are funded by governments. Government policy directly and indirectly affects the implementation of programs and services. It is vital that funded programs are built upon strong program logic, and that there is joint accountability and funding continuity (where possible) across the service system, irrespective of how existing programs are funded and managed. Funding must align with the principles of proportionate universalism with an expectation of delivering equitable health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Framework also identifies key approaches that support culturally safe and appropriate care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Other approaches to care identified in the Framework include:

Central to these approaches is the importance of cultural competence, and the need for individuals and organisations to develop the capacity to work effectively within the cultural context of each client.

  • family-centred care to identify and respond to the needs and structures of individual families;
  • relationship-based care;
  • a focus on social and emotional wellbeing; and
  • strengths-based approaches.

It is acknowledged that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have complex systems of family relationships. Children are often the responsibility of the entire extended family, rather than the biological parents alone. As such, the term family, as used in this Framework, is inclusive of carers as well as parents.

Similarly, this Framework covers all families where a child or children are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent, regardless of either of their parents’ heritage.

In this sense, it places the child and their needs at the centre of the family.

The Framework will be embedded at the Commonwealth level in Funding Agreements, raising awareness through Aboriginal Health Partnership forums and including the principles in our policy design and program implementation.

For example, the Department of Education and Training has agreed to incorporate the Framework into the implementation of Connected Beginnings, building the same principles and shared vision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s health across disciplines and jurisdictions.