NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Optimism 13 years on from the Apology

feature tile text 'optimism 13 years on from the Apology' NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills at lecturn

Optimism 13 years on from the Apology

Thirteen years after then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generations and set up the closing the gap targets, what needs to change?

Donnella Mills, Chair of the NACCHO, says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander power is a key factor in improving health outcomes. Donnella says change is happening, and that when it comes to closing the gap, optimism is ‘in her DNA’. To listen to the radio interview with Donnella Mills on ABC Saturday Morning with Kate O’Toole click here.

rally on 11th anniversary of the National Apology to Stolen Generations in Sydney in 2019

rally on 11th anniversary of the National Apology to Stolen Generations in Sydney in 2019. Image source: SBS News website.

Calls for national memorial & healing centre

The Healing Foundation is calling on the Federal Government to establish a National First Nations Memorial and Centre for Healing in Canberra and a doubling of the core Commonwealth Grant that funds the Healing Foundation’s work to support Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants. In ‘Healing the Nation’ – The Healing Foundation Pre-Budget Submission 2021–22 – the Foundation is also calling for new funding for a range of initiatives to progress the healing of Stolen Generations survivors – including reparations, tailored trauma-aware and healing-informed support for ageing and ailing Stolen Generations survivors, and better access to historical records for survivors; and a National Healing Strategy to address the impact of intergenerational trauma. 

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said a National Memorial for First Nations people in the nation’s capital is long overdue, “A National First Nations Memorial, which incorporates a Healing Centre, on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, would send a strong message to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – and all Australians – that the Federal Government is serious about reconciliation and righting past wrongs.”

You can access the Healing Foundation’s Pre-Budget Submission 2021–22 here and view their media release in full here,

image from The Healing Foundation's Intergenerational Trauma Animation silhouette of Aboriginal approx. 40 silhouettes of Aboriginal people with red hearts standing against green country background in shape of a heart

Image from the Healing Foundation’s Intergenerational Trauma Animation.

Still telling stories 13 years on from the Apology

February 13 each year marks the anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, who suffered trauma because of past government policies of forced child removal. Many of these removals occurred as the result of laws and policies aimed at assimilating the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population into the predominately white community. Stolen Generations survivors are some of Australia’s most vulnerable people and many have kept their stories and experiences secret for many years, even decades.

One such story comes from Stolen Generations survivor Aunty Julie Black, a 64-year-old Barkindji woman, who was taken from her mother shortly after birth. Aunty Julie’s story is heart breaking and courageous and reminds us that behind the Stolen Generations policies there were people, and children, who are still alive and in need of support. To acknowledge the Apology Anniversary, you can watch Stolen Generations survivor Aunty Julie Black’s story here.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said it is important to commemorate this significant moment in national healing, acknowledging the wrongs of the past, while reflecting on the work that still needs to be done to address the impacts of unresolved trauma, “It’s important that we as a nation provide a safe environment for Stolen Generations survivors and their families to speak for themselves, tell their own stories,  and be in charge of their own healing. Assimilation policies that led to the Stolen Generations continued right up until the 1970s and many of those affected by the trauma are still alive today.

To view the Healing Foundation’s media release The Healing Foundation continues telling the stories of Stolen Generations survivors 13 years on from the Apology click here.

Aunty Julie Black sitting on lounge with wall covered in photos and Aboriginal art

Barkindji woman Julie Black was taken from her mother shortly after she was born. Image source: Healing Foundation.

A long way from the Stolen Generations

The Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians issued a media release on Saturday 13 February 2021, a day marking the 13th anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations. Minister Wyatt met with Wiradjuri Elder Isabel Reid, one of the oldest living survivors of the Stolen Generation in January 2021, “Isabel’s story is just one of tens of thousands of children who were forcibly removed between 1910 and 1970 by Australian governments. This is undoubtedly one of the darker chapters in our nation’s story. On this day I reflect upon the words of the Apology – because they serve as an important reminder of the journey we have all walked – a significant moment on the path to reconciliation – an acknowledgment of our shared history – the importance of our contribution to this national story. It is a story that in parts is raw and painful – and it is a story that in other parts shows that our resilience and determination, built up over 65,000 years, lives and grows in strength today.”

To view the Minister Wyatt’s media release click here.

Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Isabel Reid standing against Aboriginal art with words look, learn, listen, respect

Wiradjuir Nation Elder Aunty Isabel Reid. Image source: The Border Mail.

The Apology was only the first step

SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle says the 13th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations on 13 February is an historic day for Australia in acknowledging the wrongs of the past, but the impact of child removal on First Nations children and families continues decades on, “In 2008, the Australian government finally said sorry for unjustly removing generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families – breaking up families and communities and leaving a legacy of intergenerational trauma for our peoples. We feel for our families on this day. The stories of the Stolen Generations are something that we all carry with us. They are our mothers, our fathers, our grandparents and our brothers and sisters. The Apology was only the first step in truth telling for our nation. Failures to adequately incorporate First Nations perspectives into policy and to support healing for families continue to impact our communities.”

To view SNAICC’s media release SNAICC Calls on Governments to Commit to Supporting First Nations Children and Families click here.

black and white photo of Aboriginal woman with Aboriginal body paint on face standing in crowd with a sign 'Sorry means you don't do it again', placard in background says 'Always was, Always will be'

Image source: Meanjin Quarterly.

Improving social media health information survey

A research project is being conducted by researchers at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University. The aim of the project is to develop Principles for Health Information on Social Media (PRHISM) to assess and help improve the quality of health-related information provided on social media. The PRHISM team are looking for individuals with experience in media, communications and/or social media who currently work for a health-related organisation to take part. Participation involves completion of three 20 minute online surveys. There will be a two to three week gap between each survey and the total time commitment will be approximately 60 minutes over six to nine weeks.

If you are interested in taking part or would like more information you can register your interest and read more about the study via the following link.

painting of three Aboriginal hands, one with soap, text 'always wash' one with cloth 'always dry' one with clenched fist 'Aboriginal hands'

Yorta Yorta rapper Briggs has teamed up with Illustrator Molly Hunt to create Covid-19 health messaging for First Nations communities. Image source: NITV website.

Closing the Gap reporting

Historically, the Australian Government has released a Closing the Gap report in February to coincide with the anniversary of the National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples, together with a statement to Parliament. This will change under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, which came into effect in July 2020. Under the new Agreement, all parties including the Australian Government must deliver an Implementation Plan on Closing the Gap within 12 months, and report annually on the actions they are taking to achieve the targets. Consistent with the new National Agreement, the Australian Government will release its Closing the Gap Implementation Plan in July 2021 and report annually in the Spring sitting period thereafter.

To view the Minister for Indigenous Australians’ Closing the Gap media release click here.

aboriginal painting of black hand against ochre stripes reaching out to black hand with white border against white and black stripes

Image source: Rev’d Dr Lucy Morris blog.

Close the Gap Campaign refuses to be left wanting

The Close the Gap Campaign looks forward to seeing a comprehensive report on the refreshed targets for Closing the Gap by July 2021. The campaign notes the announcement that the release of the Closing the Gap data has been pushed back to July in order to allow a full reporting year since the signing of the new National Agreement with the Coalition of Peaks on Closing the Gap. The Close the Gap Campaign expects to see the PM and Minister Wyatt release the data in July, including a full analysis of what governments plan to do to reform and address the ongoing inequality. “While we understand the need for a change in timeframe to allow a year since the signing of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, this cannot be used as an excuse to kick the can down the road,” said Close the Gap Campaign Co-Chairs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO and National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners CEO Karl Briscoe.

To view the Close the Gap Campaign media statement click here.

Kathy Freeman sitting on lawn with yellow green red blue cut out hands on sticks with text 'Close the Gap'

Kathy Freeman. Image source: ANTaR website.

Speaking from the Heart podcast

Why is a constitutionally-enshrined Voice to Parliament critical to Australia’s journey towards reconciliation? Will Australia accept the ‘gift’ that is the Uluru Statement from the Heart? And is acknowledging history (and learning from it) an opportunity to build a more inclusive, more truly Australian national identity? On the second episode in a Policy Forum Pod mini-series on Indigenous wellbeing, co-chair of the Prime Minister’s Referendum Council Pat Anderson AO joins hosts Professor Sharon Bessell and Dr Arnagretta Hunter for a remarkable conversation about healing, history, and having the courage to call for change. Listen here.Asisa & The Pacific Policy Society Policy Form Podcast: Speaking from the heart On healing and History banner, photo of Uluru

Ground-breaking Aboriginal Strategic Framework

Minister for Correctional Services of SA, Vincent Tarzia said in an Australian first, the Department for Correctional Services (DCS) has released a ground-breaking Aboriginal Strategic Framework (ASF) 2020-2025. The ASF is the first of its kind in the nation to encompass the needs of prisoners, offenders, staff and community. It provides a culturally informed and tailored approach to address the needs of Aboriginal prisoners and offenders and ensures that DCS programs, policies and supports are culturally safe. The framework was informed through consultation with prisoners, staff and the community and outlines three components to improve outcomes for Aboriginal people: 1. Ensure access to programs and services that are responsive to the unique cultural and gendered need of Aboriginal prisoners. 2. Build a culturally competent and responsive workforce. 3. Increase Aboriginal economic participation and strengthen partnerships with organisations, businesses and Aboriginal communities.

To view the media release click here.

rings of razer wire fence with Aboriginal flag flying in the background

Image source: The Stringer Independent News.

Unconvincing benefits of minimum alcohol price

NT Shadow Minister for Alcohol Policy, Gerard Maley, says the Gunner Government’s own study shows that total alcohol consumption only dropped in regions where Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors (PALIs) were stationed at bottle shops, and saw no decline in areas PALIs don’t man takeaway liquor outlets, “This data does not support a minimum floor price – this data supports the use of Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors. The government’s own report shows areas with Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors had lower total alcohol consumption, and where there were no PALIs there was no drop in consumption. Yet the report states that this success was due to the minimum floor price.”

To view the media release click here.

cask wine bladder lying on footpath

Image source: ABC News website.

Tasmanian festival focuses on bridging the gap

Noi.heen.ner is an event focused on bridging the gap between the Tasmanian Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community. The event’s name means ‘in good spirits’. Reconciliation Council Tasmania co-chair Bill Lawson AM said the event was about building curiosity and a warm dialogue about Aboriginal culture in the Tasmanian community, “I think a lot of Tasmanians have been curious for a long time but have been cautious to get involved as they don’t want to say or do the wrong thing. I think things, festivals like this, they’re a safe place for people to come and hear a Welcome to Country, be involved in a smoking ceremony, and realise it’s not all as we think, and that we have things to learn.

To view the Noi.heen.ner marks a ‘good spirited’ connection of cultures article published in The Advocate click here.

Cruze Smart-Pitchford, 12, with Aboriginal body paint & skin skirt painting mother Karen Smart-Pitchford with ochre before a welcome to country ceremony at Noi.heen.ner

Cruze Smart-Pitchford, 12, painting mother Karen Smart-Pitchford with ochre before a welcome to country ceremony at the Noi.heen.ner event. Image source: The Advocate.

Broncos ‘Deadly’ Health Plan for 2021

Brisbane Broncos CEO Paul White and players Kotoni Staggs and Patrick Carrigan, plus club legends and Deadly Choices Ambassadors Steve Renouf and Petero Civoniceva have announced the Broncos ‘Deadly’ Health Plan for 2021.

Equipped with the most comprehensive suite of Brisbane Broncos Deadly Choices Health Check shirts ever produced in the 10-year history of its partnership with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Service providers from throughout Queensland will be able to maintain strong and essential connections with the people that matter most.

The 2021 Broncos Deadly Choices preventative health campaign, instigated by IUIH, represents a calculated response to the global, COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, the empowerment of individuals and families to take control of their own health through the maintenance of regular health checks remains a top priority. “Our Deadly Choices partnership with the Brisbane Broncos has netted some amazing health successes over the last decade and we see the club’s role in the anticipated delivery of the COVID-19 vaccination as an evolutionary shift forward,” said IUIH CEO Adrian Carson.

Indicative of the direct impact Deadly Choices is having in communities, Queensland has the highest number and the highest rate of use (40%) of 715 heath checks of any State or Territory in Australia. This statistic isn’t lost on the CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Brisbane, Jody Currie who is already excited by the New Year acquisitions, “The Broncos-Deadly Choices partnership provides a very strong community engagement tool to enhance positive health messaging and continue to encourage health checks among Indigenous communities right from right across South East Queensland”.

To view the media alert click here.

Steve Renouf arms crossed in Deadly Choices t-shirt looking side on to the camera

Gunggari and Gubbi Gubbi man Steve Renouf holds the record for the most tries for the Broncos. Image source: Deadly Choices website.

Sexual Health Week

Sexual Health Week, 4–21 February 2021, is an opportunity to celebrate and discuss sexual health in all of its facets, and during this week the WA AIDS Council (WAAC) has shared some advice on how you can make sure you’re looking after your sexual health.

Size is an issue – did you know that 70% of men who do not like wearing condoms are wearing the wrong size? Contrary to popular belief, condoms are not one-size-fits-all. And this small misconception is one of many that get in the way of people being able to have the most fulfilling, healthy and enjoyable sexual life possible. For many people, young and old, they got more of a sex education watching Sex Education on Netflix than in any sex-ed class in school. There is a pervasive thought that you need to pick between pleasure and safety, protection versus orgasm, as if they are opposites when they are very much not.

WAAC has partnered with the Department of Health to provide small grants of up to $1,000 to organisations and services working in regional and remote parts of WA. The grant enables organisations the opportunity to run sexual health programs that they would not have been able to run without funding.

This year they have been able to provide the grant to four organisations, including NACCHO members Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS), who will run a project to increase sexual health testing with young people and increase their knowledge, and Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (GRAMS) who will travel over 1,200kms around the Mid West to educate young people about sexual health and offer testing services.

To view the full article It’s Sexual Health Week – when did you last check your sexual health? click here.

13 opened unused condoms purple, blue, black, green, pink, yellow, orange

Image source: OUTinPerth.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: HAPEE Ears for Early Years campaign

Emma Donovan with sitting on a mat with her arms around her young daughter

HAPEE Ears for Early Years campaign

One in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience chronic ear disease in Australia. Luke Carroll (Actor and Playschool Presenter) and Emma Donovan (Musician), who are both parents, have joined the Hearing Australia campaign to help promote the importance of HAPEE Ears For Early Years.

Hearing Australia’s ongoing ‘Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears’ or HAPEE, is a result of a $30 million investment by the Australian Government to reduce the long term effects of ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children not yet attending full time school are eligible for a free hearing check, and this service is now available across the country, as the program has expanded to care for more communities in urban, regional and metro areas.

Gumbaynggirr, Dhungatti, Yamatji and Bibbulman woman, Emma Donovan is urging other parents and carers to have their children’s ears checked regularly. Emma’s youngest child’s hearing loss was detected early. Wiradjuri man, acclaimed actor and father, Luke Carroll, has a similar message for parents and carers,
“I think it’s extremely important for kids to get their hearing checked. It helps with their speech and their growth as a young person.

To view Hearing Australia’s press release click here.

Emma Donovan with daughter Jirriga & Luke Carroll with son Enzo

Emma Donovan with daughter Jirriga & Luke Carroll with son Enzo. Image source: Hearing Australia.

Ophthalmologists call for Voice to Parliament

The Fred Hollows Foundation, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), and Australia’s first Aboriginal ophthalmologist Associate Professor Kris Rallah-Baker have joined forces to call for a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution. The call supports From the Heart’s Week of Action to promote the Uluru Statement from the Heart and advocate for a constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Voice to Parliament.

“As a Nation, Australia is far behind other former British colonies in addressing issues that remain as a consequence of the dispossession and occupation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, which began on 26th January 1788 and has not yet ended,” Associate Professor Rallah-Baker said. “These issues affect us all today and are not a dark and distant memory – they affect the very fibre of who we are as a Nation. Without appropriate address we can never truly decolonise and heal the scars that haunt our collective psyche. The Uluru Statement from the Heart lays out a sensible and collaborative pathway required to move forwards and make Australia truly a place of the ‘fair go’.”

To view the full article click here.

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker (Yuggera & Biri-Gubba-Juru/Yuggera man, first Indigenous ophthalmologist). (Fred Hollows Foundation) in scrubs, holding eye medical machine over Aboriginal man lying on hospital bed

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker, a Yuggera & Biri-Gubba-Juru/Yuggera man, became Australia’s first Indigenous ophthalmologist. Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation.

Pharmacists integral to health outcomes

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has called on the Federal Government to implement four strategic measures in its 2021–22 Budget Submission that will enable pharmacists to significantly improve health outcomes for Australians. Among the PSA recommendations for the 2021–22 Federal Budget is a rebate for non-medical health professionals, such as pharmacists, for their attendance at case conferences (this will foster better collaboration and enhanced safe and quality use of medicine outcomes for patients), the establishment of a digital nationally coordinated pharmacovigilance system for primary care and funding of pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

PSA National President Associate Professor Freeman said these recommendations provide an opportunity for the government to take action to reduce medicine-related harm and utilise the skills of pharmacists to improve health outcomes for Australians. “Pharmacists are approachable, knowledgeable and highly trusted within the community and the Australian public want to see the skills of pharmacists put to full use,” he said.

To view the full article click here.

part of flat surface entirely covered with multiple coloured pills

Image source: riverbender.com.

Pharmacists urged to assist with vaccine rollout

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is urging pharmacists to join Australia’s fight against COVID-19 by taking up the Federal Government’s call to assist in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccination program to the community. Community pharmacists will join with other healthcare professionals such as GPs to administer the COVID-19 vaccine for the community from Phase 2 of the Commonwealth’s COVID strategy.

The PSA is encouraging pharmacists to respond to the Government’s Expression of Interest (EOI) to be trained and equipped to assist in vaccinating Australians against the coronavirus. “COVID-19 has dramatically changed our lives and pharmacists have supported our community on the frontline – I am confident community pharmacists will step up to join Australia’s vaccination workforce, just as they have done throughout the coronavirus pandemic,” PSA National President Associate Professor Freeman said.

To view the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s media release click here. and to view the related Minister for Health and Aged Care’s media release click here.

gloved hand with vaccine drawing from a vial

Image source: Pharmacy Magazine.

Find Cancer Early campaign

Published Australian research shows that people living in regional Australia are 20–30%  more likely to die within five years of a cancer diagnosis than people living in metropolitan areas. Previous research in WA shows regional people present at the GP at a later stage because they are less aware of cancer symptoms, more optimistic, more laid back, less willing to seek help and sometimes make excuses for not seeking help, therefore resulting in later stage cancer diagnoses.

Cancer Council WA have launched a new mass media campaign, Regional Champions, through their Find Cancer Early program to highlight some of the lesser known symptoms of cancer to motivate regional West Australians to seek medical advice earlier. Putting off seeing your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker could be costly. 62-year-old Derek Chapman from Donnybrook, one of six regional champions featured in the campaign said “When you’re out here you can’t muck around. Stop making excuses for symptoms.”

The campaign began on Sunday 31 January appearing on regional and Aboriginal television stations across WA as well as regional and Aboriginal radio stations, regional newspapers, Facebook and YouTube.

To view the full article click here.

array of pamphlet, fact sheet & brochure Find Cancer Early symptom checklist resources

Image source: Cancer Council WA website.

First-of-its-kind gambling project

A recently launched first-of-its-kind program will help reduce gambling harm in Indigenous communities across NSW by creating a safe space online. The Talking About Gambling (TAG) project will be community driven and has been designed by experts at NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling Service and The Australian National University (ANU), along with other research partners. According to Dr Megan Whitty, gambling is often referred to as the “hidden addiction” in Indigenous communities. But starting an open and honest discussion can help break down some of the stigma so communities can identify if gambling is a problem, and how it could be addressed.

To read the ANU media release about this project click here.

playing cards in red dust

Image source: ABC News website.

NCSR Cervical Program survey

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Health (DoH) is conducting an independent review of the performance and operation of the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) in relation to the Cervical Program. The scope of the current review does not include the Bowel Program which may be included in a future review.

DoH is seeking your support for this review by completing this survey and forwarding it to your members for their completion. You can access a letter from Andrew Gately, Assistant Secretary, National Cancer Screening Register Branch with further information about the review by clicking here.

PwC is conducting this survey via Qualtrics. Your participation in this survey is voluntary. The survey should take approximately 10–15 minutes to complete.

Please provide your responses by 5 February 2021.

Please follow this link to participate in the NCSR Review Survey.

7 droppers suspended over test tubes, bright pink against navy background

Image source: The University of Sydney website.

Mental illness far higher in bush

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that reside in rural Australia, the risk factors associated with remote living are perpetuated by intergenerational trauma and unaddressed socioeconomic deprivation. As a result, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 12–24 years on average are three times as likely to be hospitalised with a mental health illness than non-Indigenous young people of the same age.

Mental health-related services, where they do exist, predominantly rely on locum professionals that work on a varying, fly-in-fly-out basis. The irregularity of these services contributes to low community participation, voiding citizens of the stable and consistent support required to address mental health issues. In 2016–17, 81 in every 1,000 people in remote areas accessed Medicare-funded mental health services, compared to 495 per 1,000 people in major cities.

To view the Independent Australia article in full click here.

drone photo of outback, sparse green vegetation

Image source: Triple J Hack podcast website.

Poor mental health an incarceration risk

Nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are 18 times more likely to be in custody and 17 times more likely to be on a community based supervision order than non-Indigenous young people. Successive reports over decades have shown troubling rates of incarceration among young Indigenous people.

A Productivity Commission report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing released in December 2020 found that while most Indigenous people had never been in jail, they faced more risk factors that made it more likely, including unemployment, low socioeconomic status and poor mental health.

To view the full article click here. A related article argues that waiting for solutions to youth incarceration is a choice by government to invest in hurting kids and making communities less safe in the meantime – to read this article in The Guardian click here.

silhouette of person in jail, sitting with head in hands

Image source: The Conversation website.

Beyond Blue supports healing and unity 

Beyond Blue supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart and have said they will continue to play our part in supporting Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing by listening to First Nations people, advocating for culturally appropriate policies and services led by them, and encouraging action to address racism and Close the Gap. Beyond Blue says they want to see institutional and intergenerational disadvantage meaningfully addressed.

To view the full article, including a traditional Ngangkari healing story click here.

rear view of heads of two Aboriginal women, one looking sideways at the other, set against blurred background of green street foliage

Image source: Beyond Blue website.

Virtual care survey

What has been your organisation’s experience of virtual care?

With a view to producing a report based on the results, Telstra Health is conducting a survey to understand the different organisational experiences of virtual care, particularly since the pandemic. For example, perhaps you’ve recently increased the number and range of virtual care services provided but you don’t know what to do next to maintain them. No matter your organisation’s situation, the team at Telstra Health wants to hear from you! They will explore how to support Australian healthcare providers with delivering effective and efficient virtual care solutions.

Join the conversation and complete the short survey to help shape the future of virtual care.

Survey closes on Friday 12 February 2021. telstra logo, words Health, Take the Survey against background of fibre web and blank speech bubbles

Telehealth booming

Telehealth consultations with GPs are booming among urban and rural patients since the Government introduced temporary Medicare Benefit Scheme (MBS) support in March last year – and authors of a new report analysing GP visits at 800 practices across Australia argue the MBS changes should be permanent.

Professor Andrew Georgiou and his co-authors found that phone consultations with GPs in NSW and Victoria climbed from zero during 2019 to more than 138,000 per week between January and September 2020. Despite the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the researchers found that people consulted GPs more often from January to September 2020, than they did in the same period in 2019. “We think much of that is because people could access telehealth,” said Georgiou, from Macquarie University’s Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research.

To view the full Croakey article click here.

female health professional & male health professional conducting telehealth consultation

Image source: PHN Murray website.

Indigenous Social Health Atlas of Australia

Since its establishment with funding from the Australian Government in 1999, the Public Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU) has been committed to providing information on a broad range of health and other determinants across the lifespan. Located at Torrens University Australia since November 2015, PHIDU’s emphasis continues to be on the publication of small area statistics for monitoring inequality in health and wellbeing and supporting opportunities to improve population health outcomes.

Since 2008, PHIDU has offered free online access to a comprehensive range of current (and some historical) data at national, jurisdictional, regional and small area levels for Australia. Socioeconomic and geographical variations in health are highlighted in interactive atlases and graphs, and supported by data tables and metadata. This web-based source of data on health and its determinants is unique in Australia, and has been acknowledged internationally by agencies such as the World Health Organization. To access the Indigenous Social Health Atlas of Australia click here.

screenshot of male Aboriginal male population data from PHIDU Indigenous Social Health Atlas of Australia

Image source: Indigenous Social Health Atlas of Australia website.

Support for COVID-19 vaccine ads in language

The Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) in the East Pilbara region services thousands of Martu and Nyiyaparli people who will be among the early recipients of the vaccine when it rolls out in coming weeks. The WA Government, which is working with the Commonwealth on the rollout, said that vulnerable patient cohorts such as people in Aboriginal communities would receive the vaccine early after frontline workers in health care, quarantine facilities, and airports.

To view the article in full click here.

drone photo of the new PAMS clinic in Newman

The new PAMS clinic in Newman services thousands of mainly Martu and Nyiyaparli people. Image source: ABC News website.

VIC – Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd

Rumbalara is one of the largest providers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island health services in Victoria. Rumbalara currently have a number of vacancies within their Health & Wellbeing services area and their Justice & Community services area. Their Health & Wellbeing services provide community members with a full range of services to help address general health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, poor diet and nutritional health, eye health, ear health, contagious diseases, drug and alcohol related issues, mental health and emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Rumbalara’s Justice & Community Services have two vacancies based at its Shepparton office.

Mooroopa
Health Promotion Coordinator x 1 FT
Aboriginal Health Practitioner/Aboriginal Health Worker x 1 FT
Nurse – Lead Chronic Care Coordinator x 1 FT

Shepparton
Aboriginal Family Violence Team Leader x 1 FT
Aboriginal Family Violence Practitioner x 1 FT

To view position descriptions for the jobs based in Mooroopna click here and for those in Shepparton click here.

Applications close Tuesday 9 February 2021.

National Condom Day – Sunday 14 February

The countdown has well and truly begun, with only 12 days until on National Condom Day and NACCHO is running a fun contest to drive awareness around safe sex and condoms.

Watch this video by Her Rules Her Game Kimberly Aboriginal Medical Services Council for some great inspiration, then unleash your creativity and submit a PHOTO/VIDEO showing your best condom hack and/or send us your BEST SLOGAN on using condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Email your entries to nacchonews@naccho.org.au with the subject line “Condom hacks & slogans” by Wednesday 10 February 2021.

You can also upload your creations on your social media pages. Make sure to tag us so we can keep sharing your cool posts.

We have some AMAZING PRIZES from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sporting teams and businesses for the top entries:

  • a signed NRL Indigenous All Stars football. PRICELESS!
  • $200 gift card for Saretta Art & Design
  • $200 gift card for Yilay

    collage Indigenous Allstars football, Yilay Apparel Distributors 4 men's ties, each with a different Aboriginal dot painting design, Aboriginal hand with silver ring feeling texture of Aboriginal sand painting Saretta Art and Design

    Image sources L-R: Bulldogs website; Facebook pages for Yilay Apparel Distributor & Saretta Art & Design.

Come on! Let’s have some fun – but keep it tasteful.

This is an opportunity to share your creativity with your mob!

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 one year on, lessons have been learnt?

feature tile 20.1.21 text: COVID-19 one year on, what lessons have been learnt? person in full PPE with graph behind him with increasing graph lines

COVID-19 one year on, lessons learnt

A year ago, Connor Bamford, a Research Fellow, Virology, Queen’s University Belfast, wrote about a mysterious outbreak of pneumonia in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which transpired to be the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of writing, very little was known about the disease and the virus causing it, but Conor Bamford warned of the concern around emerging coronaviruses, citing Sars, Mers and others as important examples. Every day since we continue to learn so much about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, finding new ways to control the pandemic and undoubtedly keep people safer in the decades that will follow.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

Stop the Spread Stay Strong image form SA government Department of Health& AHCSA YouTube video

Image source: SA Government Department of Health YouTube image.

Healing Foundation supports Uluru Statement

As feedback is sought on the second stage of the Indigenous Voice co-design process, The Healing Foundation has reiterated its strong support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said that Stolen Generation survivors and their descendants see all elements of the Uluru Statement – the Constitutional change, the Legislative change, and the Makarrata Commission – as crucial to the process of healing for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“Stolen Generations survivors and the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community know what they need to heal, and they have been telling governments for years,” Ms Petersen said. “The benefits of healing flow to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and, ultimately, to all Australians.”

To view The Healing Foundation’s media release in full click here.

silhouette of pregnant Aboriginal woman with red heart for herself and baby

Intergenerational Trauma Animation screenshot. The Healing Foundation.

New permanent GP clinic for Katherine

Katherine’s only general practice closed late last year, but the town has now secured a new locally delivered service.

Talking to newsGP in November last year, following the closure of the only general practice in Katherine, NT, RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements said ‘It’s very disheartening and disappointing. The impact on this community can’t be underestimated … So we really must see the relevant agencies … look to see what novel solutions there are.’

Now, along with the local community, hospital and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), Dr Clements is welcoming the announcement of a permanent general practice, Katherine Family Medical Practice, opening in April 2021 saying ‘I am very excited for them [the new practice owners]. What they are doing in terms of linking in the ACCHOs, hospital, Northern Territory Primary Health Network [NT PHN] and Territory Government is excellent, and [they have] a good plan in mind’.

To view the full article in newsGP click here.

extract of a road map with a pin in Katherine

Image source: newsGP.

Decade-long syphilis outbreak needs national response

Australia’s peak medical body is calling for a coordinated national response to bring an end to a syphilis outbreak that has spread through the country for 10 years. The sexually transmitted infection is easily treatable but has been moving through parts of Queensland, the NT, WA and SA since January 2011. It has primarily affected young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote and rural areas, particularly Northern Australia.

More than 3,600 people have been diagnosed since the outbreak began, according to federal Department of Health data. “It was fairly clear that there was a very ineffective response to this very significant disease epidemic across four states, and there was a total lack of coordination from the various states and territories in dealing with it,” the Australian Medical Association’s NT president, Dr Robert Parker, said.

In 2017, a group of state and federal government health officials developed a strategic approach to deal with the outbreak. $21.2 million in federal funding was given to Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations to fund extra staff and point-of-care testing until 2021. John Paterson, the CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT), says the funding is due to expire next month. He’s questioned what that will mean for screening and education programs in remote areas, which he says already need more resourcing. “It’s not enough,” he said. “We need a commitment from the Commonwealth Government to ensure we can get the appropriate ongoing funding.”

To view the article in full click here.

health professional's gloved hands holding cotton ball to finger of Aboriginal person after finger prick blood test

Image source: National Indigenous Television (NITV) website.

NT David and Goliath liquor laws battle

A David and Goliath battle is being waged in the NT as health and social welfare organisations and Indigenous leaders battle business behemoths and the Territory Government over the issuance of new liquor laws. In a reversal of previous policy and decisions, including a five-year moratorium on new liquor licences, the NT Government has given the go ahead to a Dan Murphy’s megastore in Darwin, two new Coles outlets in Palmerston, and takeaway alcohol sales in the Tiwi Islands community of Pirlangimpi.

At stake are, on the one hand, huge social costs from the increased availability of alcohol, especially for Indigenous communities, and on the other hand, the commercial interests of large corporations. There is particular concern for what this new Dan Murphy’s will mean for the three dry Aboriginal communities – Bagot, Kulaluk and Minmarama – that are within walking distance of the proposed megastore in Darwin. Indigenous leaders have led the opposition to it, fearing the health and social consequences.

But alcohol harm is not limited to Indigenous communities. The per capita alcohol consumption of the NT is among the highest in the world, estimated at 11.6 litres of pure alcohol per year, compared to the Australian average of 9.5 litres.. Moreover, while alcohol abuse is a serious problem in impoverished Indigenous communities, research shows that more Indigenous people abstain from booze than non-Indigenous people.

Not surprisingly, the per capita costs and harms of alcohol consumption in the NT have long been the highest in the nation. In 2015–16 the health and social costs for the NT were estimated by the Menzies School of Health Research at $1.4 billion a year, or four times the national average; this included $100 million for healthcare, $58 million for road accidents; $272 million for crime; and $171 million for child protection.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

3 empty Jim Beam bottles, one squashed can etc on side of red dirt road

Image source: ABC News website.

What’s app-ening with your lungs?

Learning about healthy lungs has just become a lot easier for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and health practitioners thanks to an expanded interactive app. The app, produced by the Menzies School of Health Research’s (Menzies) Child Health Division, uses interactive images, audio and quizzes to teach people about various conditions affecting the lungs and is available in eight different languages used in northern and central Australia. Originally released in 2020 with a focus on asthma, the app has been expanded to include other common childhood lung conditions such as bronchiolitis, pneumonia and bronchiectasis.

In Australia, the burden of ill health from acute and chronic lung diseases remains high among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Health education that is culturally appropriate is important to reduce language and context barriers to health equity. Menzies senior research fellow and project lead Dr Gabrielle McCallum says that the expanded app is an innovative way to help people access important health information about common lung conditions in their home and at their own pace. “The team evaluated the app with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers and found that knowledge of lung health significantly improved after using the app, particularly how lung conditions are treated,” Dr McCallum said. “Health care professionals also described the app as an innovative and effective method of providing lung education to culturally and linguistically diverse groups.”

To view the Lung Foundation Australia and Menzies School of Health Research media release in full click here.

Aboriginal mother's face looking over the shoulder of her child holding iPhone

Image source: National Indigenous Television (NITV) website.

Monsoon rains increase melioidosis risk

Recent monsoonal rains in the Top End have increased the threat of the potentially deadly disease, Melioidosis. There are between 40 and 90 cases of the soil-borne disease reported in the NT each year with the majority diagnosed across the Wet Season between October and May. Dr Vicki Krause, Director of Disease Control and Environmental Health, Top End Health Service said recent heavy rains and the monsoonal weather expected in the coming weeks increased the risk of the disease. “In past years around 10 per cent of infections have been fatal, even with the best medical care. Last season there were 45 cases of Melioidosis and one death in the NT,” she said.

To view the NT Government’s media release in full click here.

bare feet walking across soil

Image source: NT News.

Time to revamp Medicare for 21st Century

The most exhaustive inquiry into the mechanics of Medicare in its 36 years makes a compelling case for extensive reforms that must be commenced now if Australians are to retain access to best available 21st Century health care, according to the Consumers Health Forum (CHF). The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Taskforce has reviewed more than 5,700 Medicare items and made more than 1,400 recommendations “to strengthen, modernise and protect Australia’s world class health system”.  Its final report states it has identified numerous opportunities to improve health outcomes for all Australians into the future.

“CHF welcomes this deep and detailed report An MBS for the 21st Century and its advocacy of consumer-centred health care,” the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said today. “The 1980s Medicare model is being rapidly overtaken by the huge shifts in health care and the escalation of chronic conditions and this report shows why the Government and providers must change in areas such as remuneration to meet consumer needs and make the most of modern medicine.

To view CHF’s media release in full click here.

5 Medicare cards

Image source: Medical Business Services website.

Kimberley women’s antenatal care experiences

The second paper from the Nini Helthiwan Project looking at Kimberley women’s antenatal care experiences Aboriginal women’s experiences of strengths and challenges of antenatal care in the Kimberley: A qualitative study has been published. While the Australian pregnancy care guidelines note the importance of culturally safe care, this is not always assured for Aboriginal women. Studies exploring Aboriginal women’s antenatal care experiences in various locations have identified local strengths and priority areas.

Throughout the Kimberley, 124 Aboriginal women who had accessed antenatal care in 2015–2018 provided qualitative data during the Nini health assessment or standalone interview with an Aboriginal researcher. Most women expressed that overall they had a positive antenatal care experience. Key themes were. The experiences shared by these Kimberley women add to evidence from other parts of Australia, showing a need to improve culturally safe antenatal care for all Aboriginal women. This includes having more local Aboriginal antenatal care providers. There also needs to be more support for the large number of women and their families who need to travel for care.

To view a summary of the project click here. You can access the paper, including a plain language version, via the KAMS research website.

Aboriginal woman;s hands cradling pregnant belly painted with image of baby turtle in the sea

Image source: #LoveBroome.

AMSANT calls Darwin CBD quarantine ‘ludicrous’ 

More than 80 foreign military personnel and their family members staying at a Darwin CBD hotel are being released from quarantine over the next two days, despite concerns from an Aboriginal health group that genomic sequencing on two positive coronavirus cases detected at the hotel last week is yet to be made public. Last Wednesday, a foreign military official and the partner of another official tested positive to COVID-19 at the Darwin Travelodge, where up to 300 foreign military staff and their families were given approval by the NT’s Chief Health Officer to quarantine for 14 days. The decision to allow the cohort to stay at the inner-city hotel, rather than at the government-managed Howard Springs quarantine facility, which is considered Australia’s ‘gold-standard’ for infection control, has previously been labelled as inexplicable..

Earlier this week Associate Professor John Boffa, a spokesperson for the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), said it would be a serious mistake to release any of the foreign military personnel before health authorities know which variant of the virus had been recorded within the Travelodge. Dr Boffa added his voice to the growing chorus of criticism from organisations like Danila Dilba and the NT Branch of the Australian Medical Association regarding military personnel quarantining in a CBD hotel rather than Howard Springs. “It’s ludicrous, it makes no sense that this exemption is given. It’s the position of AMSANT and other leading Aboriginal organisations in the NT that this is not good enough,” he said.

To view the article in full click here.

external view of Travelodge Hotels Darwin, front gate closing, Australian soldier standing guard

Image source: ABC News website.

Ways to contain COVID-19 faster

The level of vaccination uptake will be the most important factor in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new position paper by an international consortium of scientists which compared COVID-19 vaccination strategies. The position paper – authored by scientists and health experts from the University of Sydney’s Centre for Complex Systems and the Faculty of Medicine and Health in collaboration with scientists and epidemiologists from India and Europe – emphasises that, given the limited availability of vaccines at the initial stage of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, effective prioritisation and optimal use of vaccination resources will be crucial to contain the pandemic in the near future. “It is not desirable to expose a significant portion of the population to the pathogen in order to acquire herd immunity,” said lead author, Dr Mahendra Piraveenan, who is a senior lecturer in complex systems in the Faculty of Engineering.

To view the University of Sydney’s media release in full click here.

pink and white mini figures with arrows reaching our from central red figure to demonstrate COVID-19 spreading

Image source: MIT News.

Where are all the public health workers?

Significant gaps in the size, training, structure and credentialing of the public health workforce have been exposed as a result of the demands generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This problem has been highlighted by the need to scale up to levels of activity never previously required by a communicable disease outbreak in Australia. However, the demands on the nation’s public health workforce go beyond the management of a communicable disease outbreak alone. With the heavy and growing burden of preventable Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), workforce shortages are perhaps less urgent but just as real. Government capacity should be adjusted in line with this increasing threat and disease burden.

There is a broad scope of practice in public health, from epidemiologists and biostatisticians, through to contact tracers, community health promoters, transmissible disease experts, health economists, environmental health, nutrition and food safety workers, Aboriginal Health Workers, nurses, physicians, policy analysts, policy makers and more. A clearly agreed definition of those to include and exclude remains difficult. One size will not fit all in terms of training needs, employment options and support. There will also be differing demands depending on the extent of workforce and skills shortages.

Current best estimates suggest that about 80 per cent of the public health workforce is employed by government, academia and the not-for-profit sector. What little data we have suggests that the rate of growth of public health professionals currently in the workforce is very low to zero. Certainly, the growth rate of the public health workforce is behind that of most other health professions, and indeed most other professions generally.

To view the full Croakey article click here.

two small Aboriginal boys in traditional dress, one having heart checked & the other having his ear checked by health professionals

Image source: General Practice Training Queensland.

Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) Report

The recently released Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices): Securing our Rights, Securing our Future 2020 Report holds the voices and stories of over 2,000 First Nations women and girls of all ages, from all across Australia, belonging to hundreds of different ancestral countries. The report carries their incredible strengths, unyielding determination and diverse lived realities. This is not a report for the shelves, it is a landmark report that puts a First Nations female-led plan for change on the table.

To access the report in full click here.cover of 2020 Australia Human Rights Commission Wiyi Yani U Thangani report

Long term Kakadu cancer cluster studies needed 

Aboriginal medical groups are calling on the NT and Federal Governments to fund long term studies into the causes of a cancer cluster and high fetal death rates in the vicinity of the now defunct Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu. A Health Department study into the cancer cluster couldn’t reach any firm conclusions. The groups also want a similar monitoring program extended to other Aboriginal communities near major mines.

An ABC News PM report with Linda Mottram includes comments from John Paterson, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance CEO, Dr Michael Fonda, Public Health Association of Australia, Justin O’Brien, Gunjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation CEO and Dr Hugh Heggie, NT Chief Health Officer.

To listen to the ABC News PM news report click here.

Aboriginal minor leaning on wire fence looking down into open cut mine

Image source: ABC News website.

NT – Darwin – Danila Dilba Health Service

Danila Dilba Health Service (DDHS) is going through a dynamic period of expansion and growth and in order to meet increasing client need, DDHS is looking to fill several vacancies within the operations area. The roles are at the core of DDHS’ services and are critical in ensuring delivery of culturally safe, comprehensive primary health care services.

As part of the DDHS team you’ll contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians and be provided with great learning opportunities, given the chance to grow your skills and progress your career.

You’ll IMPACT the community, helping close the gap in Indigenous healthcare and wellbeing, one helping hand at a time.
You’ll be PROUD, both of the work you do and who you work for.
You’ll work with a TEAM, alongside people who are down to earth and truly dedicated to what we do.
You’ll EXPERIENCE and learn something new every day through the variety of your role.
You’ll embrace the OPPORTUNITY to progress your career – follow your path at Danila Dilba.

Head of ICT x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Darwin

Clinic Team Leader x 1 FT – Bagot Clinic – Darwin

General Practitioner (After Hours) x 1 PT – After-Hours Malak Clinic – Darwin

Medical Receptionist x 1 PT (after hours and weekend) – After-Hours Malak Clinic – Darwin

NDIS Support Worker x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Darwin

Finance and Contract Officer x 1 FT – Darwin

Dentist x 1 PT (Fixed Term) – Palmerston – Darwin

Indigenous Outreach Worker x 1 FT – Rapid Creek Clinic – Darwin

To view position descriptions and to apply click here. Applications close 1 February 2021.Danila Dilba Health Service logo - turtle, snake with two fish brown, black, white & yellow

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ClosingTheGap : After the #BlackLivesMatter protest, what comes next? “ In the words of the #UluruStatement, it was a movement of the Australian people for a better future “ says Professor Megan Davis

 

“ In 2020 after a decade of a comprehensive closing the gap framework through COAG, the evidence is incontrovertible, the bureaucracy cannot close the gap in disadvantage.

Thirty years ago, the royal commission predicted this.

The resolution of the “Aboriginal problem” was beyond the capacity of non-Aboriginal policy makers and bureaucrats.

The report was very blunt: “It is about time they left the stage to those who collectively know the problems at national and local levels; they know the solutions because they live with the problems.”

This is something Prime Minister Scott Morrison knows already. This is precisely what he did during the pandemic, he left it to the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector to shut down their own communities and they had already mobilised late January. And it worked.

That so many Australians who “turned up” in solidarity in cities and towns across Australia this weekend accords with the research commissioned by the From the Heart project from CT Group that found Australians want Indigenous Australians to get a fair go.

Seventy one per cent agree that Indigenous Australians are best placed to decide matters that affect them.

Saturday was no mere protest, my friends, in the words of the Uluru Statement, it was a movement of the Australian people for a better future. And the Australian people are ready for real change. ”

Professor Megan Davis is the Balnaves Chair of Constitutional Law, Indigenous Law Centre, UNSW Law.

There is no denying the nationwide protests on Saturday, leveraging off Black Lives Matter and the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in the US, reflect a growing sentiment in Australia about Indigenous affairs.

There is something in the zeitgeist when tens of thousands of Australians descend on the streets to march for Aboriginal justice while the nation is transitioning out of lockdown.

One of the perennial challenges of protest is how to translate it into substantive and durable change. I remember marching as a young person through the streets of Brisbane protesting against Aboriginal deaths in custody and calling for the implementation of the royal commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody’s recommendations.

It has been almost 30 years since the royal commission and my nieces and nephews were marching on Saturday through the same streets of Brisbane. Yet we know what needs to be done.

The royal commission was set up in October 1987 following national outrage about the number of Aboriginal deaths in custody. It investigated 99 deaths that occurred between January 1, 1980 and May 31, 1989, in prisons, police stations or juvenile detention institutions.

A key finding was that the deaths in custody investigated were not the product of deliberate violence or brutality of police or prison officers but that there was a lack of regard for the duty of care that is owed to people in custody by police officers and prison officers.

The commission made many recommendations but one of its primary reforms centred on the structural powerlessness that renders Indigenous voices silent in a liberal democracy.

The commission singled out the importance of Indigenous participation in decision-making to transform Aboriginal affairs and the right to self-determination. It found that the government had the power to transform the picture of Aboriginal affairs, “not so much by ‘doing’ things – more by letting go of the controls; letting Aboriginal people make the decisions which government now pretends they do make”. At the heart of the findings was that Indigenous peoples should have a say in the decisions that are made about them.

Read all NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #UluruStatement articles HERE

Sound familiar? It should. The Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2017 said the same thing. In 2017, the Uluru Statement from the Heart was issued to the Australian people as an invitation to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

The statement was the culmination of regional constitutional dialogues conducted over 2016 and 2017 under the supervision of the Referendum Council established by Malcolm Turnbull.

The Uluru Statement decided upon a consensus reform agenda aimed at fixing the same structural problems the royal commission highlighted 30 years ago.

Thirty years on the Uluru Statement singles out the same crisis in public policy, incarceration, youth detention and child removals. The systemic injustice operates along a continuum:

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

Of over-representation and child removals, the Uluru Statement says, “These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem.” Crime may be a state government matter, but the structural solution is constitutional.

The royal commission said at the time of its work that “it is difficult for non-Aboriginal people to comprehend just how absolute the domination of Aboriginal people has been”.

This is precisely what the Referendum Council heard in the dialogues in 2017 about the Commonwealth Indigenous Advancement Strategy, that the bureaucracy dominates in communities and the control is stifling.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Coronavirus and #ReconciliationWeek News Alert : Read full speech from our CEO Pat Turner launching #NRW2020 #InthisTogether and new @coalition_peaks website #COP #ClosetheGap

” I truly believe that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be impacted by the legacy of colonisation in every aspect of our lives.

But what also continues is our resilience amidst the adversity we face.

When we face adversity together, we see stronger outcomes.

Accordingly, today I would like to talk about the topic of ‘In This Together’.

I would like to focus on four aspects of what togetherness looks like currently for our people — aspects that we can and must build upon.

First, I want you all to know about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations came together from across the nation to form the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Peak Organisations.

Second, I want to discuss the unprecedented opportunity we have for genuine shared decision-making in the Partnership Agreement between the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the Coalition of Peaks.

Third, I want to alert you to the negotiations now underway to finalise a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, which came out of the Partnership Agreement that also advances this idea of ‘In this Together’.

Fourth, without engaging in any premature celebrations whatsoever, as we still have a long way to go, I will talk about the strong, coordinated work of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations that have come together from across Australia to successfully protect our people from to COVID-19.

I will then bring together the four — how the work of the Coalition of Peaks can help in optimising the health and wellbeing of our people and communities amidst the impacts of the pandemic.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner opening Reconciliation SA’s Reconciliation Week Breakfast May 27 see full speech Part 1 below

Download full event PowerPoint

Combined Power Point NRW MAY 2020 event (1)

In addition to the website, the Coalition of Peaks is also launching social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Coalition of Peaks new website : 

Facebook: 

Instagram:

Twitter

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations are encouraged to engage with and share the work of the Coalition of Peaks

Download full press release HERE

20.05.27 – Final – Media Release – Coalition of Peaks Website and Social Media Launch

Good morning everyone, thank you for inviting me here today.

My name is Pat Turner, and I am the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman.

I am also the CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Peak organisations.

Before we start, I want to acknowledge the traditional custodians of all the lands that we are meeting upon today.

I am speaking to you from Canberra, which is Ngunnawal country.

I also want to acknowledge and thank Reconciliation South Australia for the opportunity to be the keynote speaker for your annual breakfast, in this case I assume the first ever virtual one.

Peter Buckskin, a co-chair of Reconciliation South Australia, and I worked together in ATSIC and he has made a great contribution to improving life outcomes for our people. Meanwhile, Shona Reid is Eastern Arrente, and like me we can both trace our ancestry back to Central Australia with pride.

Number one – Coalition of Peaks

Read all NACCHO Coalition of Peaks Articles 

Our people have lived in a climatically harsh country for more than sixty thousand years, which has required great knowledge and custodianship of the environment and close cooperation between our people to succeed.

This cooperation continues to be evident in our recent collaboration in forming the Coalition of Peaks to make sure that we share decision making in relation to Closing the Gap.

The Coalition of Peaks comprises nearly 50 national, State and Territory community-controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations.

This is every community-controlled peak organisation in Australia.  They include NACCHO, SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, First Peoples Disability Network and First Nations Media Australia.

The Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement has led South Australia’s involvement in the Coalition of Peaks.  To its credit, it has facilitated the establishment of the South Australian Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation Network that has brought together other Aboriginal peaks in South Australia to work together at the state level.

Never have community controlled peak bodies and organisations come together in this way – to develop policy and negotiate with governments.

Number two – The Partnership Agreement between the Coalition of Peaks and COAG

The historic Partnership Agreement, which commenced in March 2019 and is a public document, was also an initiative of the Coalition of Peaks.  Of most importance is that the signatories are COAG and the Coalition of Peaks – that is, legitimately appointed community representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from across Australia.

We proposed the Partnership Agreement after gaining the support of the Prime Minister and the Council of Australian Governments to a partnership being formed with representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to underpin the next phase of Closing the Gap.

Prior to this, COAG had decided on its own to refresh the Closing the Gap strategy that was originally agreed to in 2008 and given effect to by the National Indigenous Reform Agreement.

To do this refresh, in 2018 COAG undertook a series of consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia — which were inadequate and lacked transparency.

While the rhetoric was about partnership, there was no real commitment to it and the refresh was proceeding on the basis that COAG would make all the decisions.

To be frank, at this point in time, we did not consider we were ‘In This Together’ with them.
NACCHO and other community-controlled peaks decided that this could not continue and took a risk in publicly insisting that we be able to share decisions about the Closing the Gap strategy instead of COAG making decisions on its own.

We wrote to all First Ministers to put forward three (3) main propositions—

When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are included and have a real say in the design and delivery of services that impact on them, the outcomes are far better;

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need to be at the centre of Closing the Gap policy; the gap won’t close without our full involvement; and

COAG cannot expect us to take responsibility and work constructively with them to improve outcomes if we are excluded from decision making.

Under the Partnership Agreement, the Coalition of Peaks are already sharing decision making on developing, implementing, monitoring and reviewing the Closing the Gap strategy for the next ten years.

A new COAG Council, the Joint Council on Closing the Gap, is also established under the Partnership Agreement.

For the first time, this COAG Council has members from outside Governments.  In fact, it has 12 members elected from the Coalition of Peaks including a representative from each jurisdiction.  Ruth Miller is the representative for South Australia.

In addition, each jurisdiction nominates a Minister with responsibilities for Closing the Gap.  It is co-chaired by the Federal Minister, Minister Wyatt, and me.

Number 3 – the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap

Following a review of the National Indigenous Reform Agreement, the Joint Council on Closing the Gap agreed that it should be replaced with a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Joint Council also agreed that the new Agreement should not only be signed by First Ministers but also the Coalition of Peaks on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.   That is incredibly significant for our people and for Australia.

Once in place, the National Agreement will be a platform to address the structural inequalities Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face arising from years of unmet need.

Instead of targets being the focus, which was the case with the National Indigenous Reform Agreement, the Coalition of Peaks have also gained support from the Joint Council and all Governments that four priority reforms will underpin the new National Agreement.  These are:

  • establishing formal partnerships between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives across the country on closing the gap
  • building and strengthening our community-controlled organisations to deliver the services we need
  • transforming mainstream agencies and institutions of governments, such as the police and universities, to make a much bigger contribution to Closing the Gap; and
  • ensuring government data and information is shared with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to support us being able to make good decisions about our lives.

Finally, Joint Council also agreed to the Coalition of Peaks leading engagements with representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia to see what they thought about the priority reforms and what else should be included in the new National Agreement.

Those engagements took place between September and December last year including in South Australia and included an online survey and over 4000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had a say.

We have published the outcomes of those engagements and are making sure that what people said is reflected in the Agreement currently being negotiated with COAG.

Number 4 – Our ACCHO’s and communities’ coordinated COVID-19 response

I would also like to speak on our ACCHO’s and communities’ coordinated COVID-19 response.

Only three months ago the Prime Minister announced to the nation that last year the gap in infant mortality rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians increased.

In the three months since then COVID-19 has been a whole new stark reminder to us all just how vulnerable the health of our people is.

We have been reminded of the significantly greater risk we face of being profoundly impacted due to the pre-existing co-morbidities many of us battle.

The pandemic has highlighted the fault lines of disadvantage endured by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for generations, from health and education to housing.

Overcrowded housing, poverty and other social determinants are the root cause of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples being at high risk from pandemics and other communicable diseases.

The pandemic has exposed what we have been advocating for decades – better and less crowded housing for our people.

Overcrowding makes self-isolation and stopping the spread of a virus incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

NACCHO continues to advocate for greater federal, state and territory investment in housing for our people, and for housing initiatives to be developed in genuine partnership with us.

And as we know, there will be long term social, economic, health and cultural costs of the pandemic.

The risk facing our communities is a direct result of years of neglect, disinvestment and failed policies and programs that have been developed without our input.

But our organisations and communities are best placed to respond to this crisis and to drive progress towards the longer-term priority of closing of the gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector began actively preparing to respond to a possible COVID-19 outbreak in January 2020, in advance of the public response by the government. As a result, many of our ACCHOs had a level of preparedness prior to the pandemic which many general practices could not match.

This pandemic has demonstrated the community-controlled health sector collaborates extremely well, and the high level of information sharing and joint decision making must continue into the future.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has been committed to taking the advice of our community controlled health sector, and listening to the recommendations of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 to implement response plans to keep our mob safe.

Those of our organisations with strong existing partnerships with governments have been able to respond quickly to the threat of COVID-19.

Well-established and properly funded community-controlled organisations across numerous sectors have been able to accelerate measures that support our communities.

One example is the formal relationship between governments and Aboriginal Peaks Organisations in the Northern Territory (APONT) and the Aboriginal Advisory Council of Western Australia, which has enabled an informed response to the needs of our remote communities impacted by the swift travel restrictions out in place.

Other examples include —

First Nation’s media sector has been able to get health information out quickly in a way that people can understand

The New South Wales Coalition of Peaks has supported our young people to stay engaged in their education and make sure our older people have access to food, and

The Victorian Aboriginal Executive Council is working to make sure our kids continue to have access to safe early childhood services.

What NACCHO and our Affiliates and ACCHOs have been doing

Click on the above map to see full list of all NACCHO Members 

During these past few months ACCHOs have once again proven themselves to be the best in the business at —

  • knowing our people
  • our people feeling safe to access our services
  • being a well-established sector
  • having strong formal relationships with government

Together, collectively and nationally, as a sector we have been able to respond quickly and decisively to protect our people.

This is despite our ACCHOs and other Aboriginal community-controlled organisations having borne the brunt of repeated funding cuts and a roller coaster of policy and administration changes.

As soon as it became evident in January just how deadly the COVID-19 virus was, well in advance of the Commonwealth response, NACCHO, our Affiliates and Members initiated awareness campaigns for our communities and planning for prevention and response.

Before the first case of coronavirus in Australia our communities were preparing to close borders, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts were discussing measures needed to protect our mob across the nation.

In January I began sending COVID-19 health messages to all our Affiliates and ACCHOs, with gave me the opportunity to ask them how prepared they felt they were for the impending pandemic.

It was clear there were PPE shortages in many clinics, and concerns around how to prepare a pandemic response — including quarantine measures.

ACCHOs are barely funded for their regular day to day activities, let alone for a pandemic response.

I discussed options with the Department of Health for ways additional funding for ACCHOs and Affiliates to support the preparation of pandemic plans.

The government was receptive of the advice I provided and allocated $6.9 million to NACCHO and Affiliates to prepare a pandemic response and $5 million to assist remote communities prepare for COVID-19.

I also wrote to the Prime Minister on 16 March to propose a range of specific measures which needed to be taken to protect our communities.

The government again responded positively from the outset, and this spirit of collaboration has been crucial to our successful response to the pandemic.

With our Affiliates and ACCHOs in WA, the NT and QLD I strongly argued for the immediate application of travel restrictions and quarantine measures to protect our people and communities, and for urgent additional support to be deployed to Affiliates and ACCHOs to combat the virus.

I continue to pursue funding for quarantine/isolation facilities for remote, urban and regional communities which will be critical if we are going to properly manage an outbreak in our communities.

NACCHO has been sharing important public health messages and culturally appropriate COVID-19 news alerts and posts on our blog and across all social media platforms, and launched a dedicated COVID-19 website page.

And our Affiliates and ACCHOs — they have initiated their own creative and innovative awareness campaigns for our communities in January.

These campaigns have been successful because they were created by Aboriginal people, health groups and organisations for Aboriginal people and communities.

ACCHOs are busily facilitating phone consults, home visits to Elders and those self-isolating and seeing some patients at the clinic for flu vaccinations.

All the while, despite staff and equipment shortages and the challenges of working in a restricted environment due to lockdown, our ACCHOs have not wavered from treating those in our communities with chronic conditions as they continue to provide their comprehensive primary health services to their communities.

Up to now, as a sector, together, we have done exceptionally well, keeping infections out of our communities.

As of 3 May 2020, only fifty-five cases (0.8% of all cases tested) have been people identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

There have been absolutely no cases in our remote or very remote communities.

But, as stated earlier, there is a long way to go.

NACCHO and our Affiliates will continue to work collaboratively with the different tiers of government throughout this crisis, including pointing out the danger of moving too quickly to relax restrictions without a clear roadmap.

Conclusion

Despite the tireless work of our ACCHOs and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, there is a clear absence in this time of crisis of a national policy platform for governments to systemically re-build our communities and address the inequities too many of our people continue to face.

There is also a clear absence of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander national body for pooling collective expertise to work in partnership with governments to respond to the impacts of the pandemic.

It is because of this policy and process vacuum that the Coalition of Peaks was formed and why we have been continuing our work, in partnership with Australian governments, to chart a meaningful way forward, across a range of sectors and initiatives for bringing about real, sustained change.

The new National Agreement and the Coalition of Peaks will be crucial to rebuilding our communities post-pandemic.

The federal, state, territory and local governments must continue to work in full partnership with the Coalition of Peaks as a collective and as individual members to ensure that we emerge from this crisis stronger.

And, I must add, this pandemic cannot and should not be used by anyone as a reason to delay the finalisation of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The pandemic has disrupted governments, but it has disrupted us also.  Community-controlled organisations, including in health, have had to face much bigger workloads.  Nevertheless, we have continued to work to finalise the National Agreement and we expect governments to do the same.

Our response to the pandemic can and must galvanise our collective efforts and sharpen our focus to the task of closing the gap.

The National Agreement must be sorted by mid-July and I am confident this is achievable.  If it isn’t, we risk the Agreement being put on the “never- never” because of upcoming elections in jurisdictions like Queensland and the Northern Territory and because governments will be pre-occupied with their delayed budgets.

I ask  all participants in this virtual Breakfast, and in fact make a call to Australia, that everyone support the leadership of the Coalition of Peaks, made up of our own community controlled organisations, in achieving a new Closing the Gap agreement.

There is no better demonstration or more important priority for being ‘In This Together’.

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus #NRW2020 News Alert No 70 : May 26 #KeepOurMobSafe Stan Grant essay : What do coronavirus, the rise of authoritarianism and the retreat of democracy have to do with Indigenous reconciliation in Australia? Everything.

” What do coronavirus, the rise of authoritarianism and the retreat of democracy have to do with Indigenous reconciliation in Australia? Everything.

Now is the time to think bigger about our own history, our unfinished business, and the demands of First Nations for justice.

Australia is in the crosshairs of a global ideological struggle between authoritarianism and liberalism.

We have not faced anything like this since the Cold War; the difference now is that authoritarianism threatens democracy from outside and from within.

The power of China, and the rise of a would-be autocratic populist political movement in the West, has seriously eroded freedom and democracy.

The democracy watchdog Freedom House has called this era a return to the iron fist.

Coronavirus has made this all very real: as China stares down Australia and US President Donald Trump — himself accused of undermining democracy — threatens to tear up the relationship with Beijing.

The historical injustice and the ongoing rights claims of First Nations people form part of these global fault lines. Not nearly enough thought goes into connecting these dots: Indigenous issues suffer from a myopic parochialism.

We cannot continue to ring-fence these questions only within our border. “

Article 1 Originally published HERE

Read in full below Part 1

 Part 2 
The Uluru Statement from the Heart offered a new compact with all Australians that would reset our national identity and enhance our political legitimacy. But its poetic vision and pragmatism proved its death knell.

Trying to reconcile two historically divergent if not hostile ideas – Indigenous sovereignty and the sovereignty of the Commonwealth – asked the nation to embark on a project of rehabilitation: “Voice, Treaty, Truth”.

Stan Grant is the vice-chancellor’s chair of Australian/Indigenous Belonging at Charles Sturt University and a journalist

Part 2

Symbolic gestures don’t help

Indigenous affairs appear stuck in a cul-de-sac of tired ideological culture wars, symbolic gestures and failed policy reinforcing intergenerational disadvantage. Only by opening the lens can we see how we might transcend old thinking.

The assault on global democracy has powerful lessons for us.

If Australian politics cannot meet Indigenous demands for justice, what does it say about the strength and legitimacy of our own democracy?

This is the question posed by the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart, that proposed a three-pronged program of democratic rehabilitation: Voice, Treaty, Truth.

The cornerstone was a proposed constitutionally enshrined national Indigenous representative body — a Voice.

But this was rejected by the then Turnbull Government, labelling the Voice a “third chamber of Parliament” that would put race in the Constitution.

Those claims didn’t see the pragmatism and liberalism of what Indigenous people were asking for.

Political philosopher Duncan Ivison describes the Uluru Statement as an opportunity for a “possible re-founding of Australia”.

Our liberalism, he argues, needs to confront its own history of colonisation, empire, dispossession, genocide and political domination.

That is the wellspring of Indigenous rights claims. Failure to resolve or reconcile this history impedes Indigenous acceptance of the legitimacy of the state.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart proposed a rejuvenated Australian identity where we “can walk in two worlds”

History can be a weapon

All around the world we are reminded how history can be a weapon.

Polish Nobel laureate poet Czeslaw Milosz who wrote about the “dark instinct” that drew him to explore Europe’s blood stained 20th century once said: “Crimes against human rights, never confessed and never publicly denounced, are a poison which destroys the possibility of a friendship between nations.”

Historical blood feuds feed toxic identities that Indian philosopher and economist Amartya Sen said savagely challenges our shared humanity. Identity, he said, “can also kill — and kill with abandon”.

A man holds a sign that says 'Always was.. Always will be Aboriginal Land.'
History hangs heavily in our world.(Getty: Don Arnold)

History hangs heavily in our world.

Political leaders stoke a virulent nationalism by perpetuating narratives of grievance: Vladimir Putin laments the end of Soviet empire and accuses the West of humiliating Russia; Hungary’s Viktor Orban sees outsiders as oppressors and pledges to never forget the post World War I Treaty of Trianon which stripped Hungary of territory, and China’s Xi Jinping holds fast to what China calls the “one hundred years of humiliation” by foreign powers.

History can be a breeding ground terrorism and hatred: Islamic State and the extreme right both drink from the same poison well.

Australia is thankfully spared such violence, but history here too is a roadblock to reconciliation.

We need a rejuvenated Australian identity

The Uluru Statement offered a way through this impasse, proposing a rejuvenated Australian identity where we “can walk in two worlds” — black and white.

Uluru was a triumph of ambition but its rejection was a failure of political vision and courage

Rather than see it as detracting from Australia — creating an “us and them” — we could have seen it as strengthening Australia bringing “us” closer “them”, by meaningfully recognising First Nations people in our nation’s founding document.

Liberalism can be guilty of imposing conformity and homogeneity under the guise of neutrality.

But it can also embrace a liberating pluralism where deep political and social disagreements need not fracture civic unity.

That Indigenous people, for so long excluded from Australian democracy, can pledge a commitment to a shared future seeded in our constitution should have been a highpoint of our liberalism.

The simple power of communication

Ivison says we should look for the glue of liberal democratic belonging, and that belonging will emerge from a practice of democratic citizenship.

Simply: we must be able to speak to each other.

That is increasingly rare. We live in what the Indian writer Pankaj Mishra calls “an age of anger”.

We form our tribes and yell from the margins.

The impact of coronavirus — forced isolation, economic uncertainty and vulnerability — may indeed give us a sense that “we are all in this together”, but it can just as easily lead to more entrenched nationalism, leading to harder borders and economic protectionism, as the thread of globalisation unravels.

The question for our democracy this Reconciliation Week is the question for all democracies: will we emerge from this moment stronger with a greater appreciation of the need to work for our freedoms, or will we be less immune to that other virus: the virus of authoritarianism?

Stan Grant is the vice-chancellor’s chair of Australian/Indigenous Belonging at Charles Sturt University and a journalist.

NACCHO #SaveADate 27 May @kwmlaw Virtual event / webinar : National Reconciliation Week 2020 #NRW2020 ” Conversations from The Heart ” #UluruStatement featuring Professor Megan Davis, Dean Parkin, Donnella Mills & Fiona McLeod AO SC

 ” The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2020 (#NRW2020) – In This Together – is now resonating in ways which could not have been foreseen when it was announced last year, but certainly reminds us that whether in a crisis or in reconciliation, we are all #InThisTogether.

In this special edition of Field Notes, KWM Community Impact’s webinar series, we are honoured to welcome Professor Megan Davis, Dean Parkin, Donnella Mills and Fiona McLeod AO SC for Conversations From The Heart. See Bio below “

In May 2017, the Uluru Statement from the Heart arose from a constitutional convention of 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates achieving a consensus on Indigenous recognition. The Uluru Statement was an invitation to walk with and alongside Indigenous Australia.

KWM is pleased to facilitate a further conversation for our clients and our people, to coincide with #NRW2020, to explore the Uluru Statement, the concept of reconciliation and the empowerment of First Nations peoples.

See previous 40 + NACCHO Aboriginal health and Uluru statements posts

We will delve into what constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples might look like, the mechanics of constitutional reform, what reconciliation means for all Australians and the progress made, as well as what the justice system looks like on the frontline for First Australians.

Please join us for what will be an engaging, thought-provoking and memorable conversation.

Wednesday 27 May 2020
12.30pm to 1.30pm AEST

Webinar
Details to be sent the day prior to acceptances only

Please note to register replace the ” Donnella Mills ” info on the form with your own info 

REGISTER HERE

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from some of Australia’s leading voices and acclaimed experts on Indigenous affairs, justice and reconciliation, as we gather for #NRW2020.

Our Panellists & Friends of KWM

Professor Megan Davis is Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous UNSW and a Professor of Law, UNSW Law. Professor Davis was elected by the UN Human Rights Council to UNEMRIP in 2017. Professor Davis currently serves as a United Nations expert with the UN Human Rights Council’s Expert Mechanism on the rights of Indigenous peoples based in UN Geneva. Megan is an Acting Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court. Professor Davis is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences. She is a member of the NSW Sentencing Council and an Australian Rugby League Commissioner. Professor Davis was Director of the Indigenous Law Centre, UNSW Law from 2006-2016. Professor Davis is an expert consultant to KWM.

Dean Parkin is from the Quandamooka peoples from Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) in Queensland. He was involved in the negotiations leading to a Native Title determination in 2011 and continues to work with his community on this journey. Dean has a Bachelor of Arts (Politics and Journalism) from the University of Queensland. An experienced independent management consultant, Dean has worked across the public, corporate, not-for-profit and political sectors. He has advised a range of clients on strategy, engagement and co-design, including the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Palladium, Coles, the Referendum Council and Jawun. In addition to extensive experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, he has commercial experience both in Australia and the UK. Mr Parkin is also an expert consultant to KWM.

Donnella Mills is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman with ancestral and family links to Masig and Nagir. Donnella is a member of James Cook University Council, Director of Wuchopperen Health Service and Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation – NACCHO.  She is a Cairns-based lawyer with LawRight, a Community Legal Centre which coordinates the provision of pro-bono civil legal services to disadvantaged and vulnerable members of the community.  Donnella is currently the project lawyer for the Wuchopperen Health Justice Partnership. This innovative HJP is an exciting model of care providing access to justice in a community controlled setting, where lawyers and health professionals collaborate to achieve improved health, social, emotional and spiritual well-being outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

 

Our Moderator

 

Fiona McLeod AO SC is a Senior Counsel practising in the areas of commercial and public law matters. Fiona is a leader of the national and international legal profession having led the Law Council of Australia, Australian Bar Association, Victorian Bar and Australian Women Lawyers. In 2017 she devised and, with the support of a Steering Committee, led the Justice Project, a landmark research project undertaken by the Law Council into access to justice impacts on vulnerable groups in Australia launched in 2018. She was appointed to the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2014, was awarded the AWL Woman Lawyer of the Year in 2018 and she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2020.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the #Voice : The Indigenous voice co-design process will move into high gear with the announcement of the membership of the national and local and regional co-design groups.

” Though some say progress is slow in today’s hurried world, we must remember that lasting change takes time. This is an ­important process and we need to take the time to get it right or we risk losing the opportunity that has been presented to us. This is too important.

The fight for rights over the past few decades will be an inspiration. We will honour the fight of our elders, past and present, in the work that we do and we will encourage our youth to share their vision for the future to ensure their voice is heard.

Securing a future voice for our children, and their children, that presents the same opportunities and expectations as their non-­indigenous counterparts will be our purpose. Let’s not wait another 10 years or 100 years. Let’s continue this now.

Help us, engage with us — and let’s create this future together.”

Marcia Langton and Tom Calma are co-chairs of the senior advisory group to co-design the Indigenous voice to government. See full editorial Part 1 below.

Read all 40 + NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the Voice/ Uluru Statement articles HERE

“As I travel to communities around the country, Indigenous Australians are saying to me they just want to be heard and involved in decision-making for their communities.

They want to know who will listen to their ideas and be in a position to do something about them.”

Following advice from the Senior Advisory Group, I have appointed members bringing a diverse range of skills and experience to identify the best approaches to affecting change on the ground for Indigenous Australians.

Professor Buckskin has served as a member of the Senior Advisory Group since its formation, and has now accepted this new appointment as a co-chair of the Local & Regional Co-design Group.

Professor Buckskin will bring his wealth of experience in the education and public service sectors, as well as his extensive involvement in senior positions at a wide range of Indigenous community organisations, to his new role.

A local and regional voice will empower Indigenous Australians and communities by establishing a framework and guiding principles for models and options that lead to improved and enhanced decision-making, and link through to the national Indigenous voice.

Working in genuine partnership will improve shared decision making, and ensure shared responsibility and shared accountability for the development and delivery of government programmes at a local and regional level.

There will be opportunities for everyone to engage throughout the process and I encourage all Australians to get behind this important work.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP has today appointed the members that will make up the Local & Regional Co-design Group that will develop options for local and regional voices.

Download Minister Wyatt Full Press Release

Minister Wyatts Press Release

More information about the Indigenous voice co-design process is available on the National Indigenous Australians Agency website, www.niaa.gov.au/indigenous-voice.

The full membership of the new Local & Regional Co-Design Group is:

  • Professor Peter Buckskin PSM (Co-chair)
  • Cr Ross Andrews
  • Ms Ruth Davys
  • Ms Triscilla Holborow
  • Mr Paul House
  • Mr Chris Ingrey
  • Mr Des Jones
  • Ms Fiona Jose
  • Cr Getano Lui Jr AM
  • Mr Albert McNamara
  • Mr Wayne Miller
  • Ms Karen Milward
  • Ms Lavene Ngatokorua
  • Ms Vicki O’Donnell
  • Dr Aden Ridgeway
  • Ms Marion Scrymgour

Part 1 The Indigenous voice co-design process will move into high gear with the announcement of the membership of the national and local and regional co-design groups.

The groups will be co-chaired by senior indigenous leaders Donna Odegaard and Peter Buckskin, respectively, supported by a government co-chair from the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

We are under no illusions. This will be hard work, and the process is likely to ruffle feathers and challenge old ways of thinking. But we must effect real and permanent change for our people or this will be an opportunity lost.

We have an opportunity to ­design our future. We are at the table with the Australian government. Make no mistake, this is a step forwards — and we encourage you to embrace this and ­engage with us.

There has been, and will continue to be, distractions that try to disrupt our course — some welcome, others unnecessary, inflammatory and determined to set us backwards.

We will persevere. We will not allow people to question our culture and resolve. We have overcome all adversity on this continent for more than 60,000 years. It is an unforgiving land, but our country has ingrained strength and resilience in us all.

There are close to 800,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait ­Islander voices in this country today, and this will grow towards one million in the coming years.

Diversity is another of our strengths. Our lived experiences will be key to designing systems that work for us.

There are numerous representative bodies and structures already in place, and each of these will be critical to this process. We also know that states and territories have existing processes in place. Their integrity will not be undermined.

Our role on the senior advisory group is to work through the co-design groups; hear, consider and record Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s aspirations for models; and advise the minister to ensure that views are heard by government.

Throughout the process, we will continue to build understanding both across indigenous communities and with non-­indigenous Australians.

We will support the work of the national and local and regional co-design groups, provide advice and input at key points, and ensure the process continues to move forward.

The focus of the national group is to develop options and models for a national voice. It will work in partnership with the local and regional group at key points, to ensure that options for a ­national voice can be informed by, and connect with, local elements of a voice.

In turn, the local and regional group will focus on local and regional models of decision-making and governance, including options to enhance this and highlight what’s already working. This will include considering how existing arrangements and structures feed into local and regional elements of a voice.

Later in the year, we will be consulting on these models and options across the nation, ensuring they work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the diversity of contexts and circumstances we find ourselves in today. Everyone will have an opportunity to have a say through this process. We will work with indigenous leaders, communities and stakeholders across the country to refine models.

The groups have a lot of country to cover, and the weight of ­expectation of 800,000 people is significant. But we will remain ­focused on the opportunity ­before us.

The full membership of the National Co-Design Group is:

  • Dr Donna Odegaard AM
  • Mr Jamie Lowe
  • Mr Rodney Dillon
  • Prof Gracelyn Smallwood AM
  • Mr Richard Weston
  • Prof Cheryl Kickett-Tucker
  • Ms Katrina Fanning PSM
  • The Hon Jeff Kennett AC
  • Mr Damian Griffis
  • Mr Steve Wanta Patrick Jampijinpa
  • Ms Fiona McLeod SC
  • Mr Marcus Stewart
  • Ms Kristal Kinsela-Christie
  • The Hon Fred Chaney AO
  • Mr Joseph Elu AO
  • Ms Zell Dodd

Senior Advisory Group members

  • Professor Tom Calma AO
  • Professor Dr Marcia Langton AM
  • Professor Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO
  • Professor Peter Buckskin PSM
  • Ms Josephine Cashman (suspended )
  • Ms Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM
  • Ms Joanne Farrell
  • Mr Mick Gooda
  • Mr Chris Kenny
  • Cr Vonda Malone
  • Ms June Oscar AO
  • Ms Alison Page
  • Mr Noel Pearson
  • Mr Benson Saulo
  • Ms Pat Turner AM
  • Professor Maggie Walter
  • Mr Tony Wurramarrba
  • Mr Peter Yu
  • Dr Galarrwuy Yunupingu AM

Minister Wyatt media release 8 November 2019 – Voice Co-Design Senior Advisory Grou

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ClosingtheGap : ” Its time governments front up to their failure to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people ” Pat Turner Coalition of Peaks.

“A core tenet of Australia’s modern national identity is belief in a fair go. Yet the promise of a fair go is not a reality for everyone in this country.

The difference in the life outcomes of First Nations people compared with the rest of Australia is stark.

There is more than just a gap; it is a chasm, a gaping wound on the soul of our nation. Collectively, we need to call this out, be truthful about the failure of governments to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so that we can chart a new and honest way forward.” 

Patricia Turner is lead convener of the Coalition of Peaks.( and CEO NACCHO )

Published in The Australian 10 February

Read all the Coalition of Peaks Closing the Gap articles published by NACCHO 

Noting the Prime Minister Scott Morrison will deliver his governments Closing the Gap report Wednesday 12 February

A decade ago, governments committed themselves to closing this gap but year after year the serving prime minister has stood up in parliament seemingly contented with the reported failures.

Governments have misled the public by painting the lack of progress on the targets as something outside their control, instead of something that is a direct result of their policy failings. Busy talking up the steps they were taking to close the gap, at the same time governments have been ripping funding from dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and services and silencing our voices.

Isolated case studies of “success” are used to project a sense of change across the nation, when the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders continues to experience poor life outcomes and hardship in their daily lives.

It’s no wonder then that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have lost faith in the Closing the Gap framework — it has failed to deliver meaningful change and was designed without their formal involvement.

This cycle of failure is toxic. It breeds cynicism and complacency, with nobody wanting to take ownership. Enough is enough. It is time to end the cycle with a serious circuit-breaker.

That’s why a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations came together late in 2018 and wrote to the then prime minister, premiers and chief ministers rejecting the “Refresh” and calling for a genuinely new approach.

The Council of Australian Governments had already started work on a new Closing the Gap framework for the next decade, using the same doomed processes they have always used.

A lot of ground has been broken over the past year that could help put this cycle of failure to bed. We have more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australian parliaments than ever before, an Aboriginal Treasurer in Western Australia, Aboriginal ministers in the Northern Territory, a federal Aboriginal Minister for Indigenous Australians who is a member of cabinet, and an Aboriginal Labor spokeswoman for indigenous Australians.

And we finally have a formal structure that puts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders of community-controlled organisations at the negotiating table with governments on Closing the Gap.

With the leadership of Scott Morrison, a formal partnership agreement was signed in March last year by COAG and our group of community-controlled peak organisations, collectively called the Coalition of Peaks. This historic partnership gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people shared decision-making power with governments to develop, implement, monitor and review Closing the Gap policies for the next 10 years.

Never have leaders of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak bodies from across the country come together in this way: to bring their collective expertise, experiences and deep understanding of the needs of our people to the task of closing the gap; and never has there been this level of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in parliaments and government decision-making positions. However, today is not a day for celebration. Having a position in cabinet or a seat at the negotiating table is not the end game. We should not be judged on the accumulation of power but what we achieve with that power.

The members of the Coalition of Peaks are living up to their side of the agreement, fiercely representing the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on what is needed to close the gap, and proposing policies we call the Priority Reforms that, if fully implemented, will lead to improvements in our people’s lives.

What we heard overwhelmingly through our comprehensive community engagement process is that structural reform based on the Priority Reforms is far more critical than targets. We must ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in shared decision-making at national, state, local and regional levels.

We must also support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to control and deliver the programs and services our communities need. And finally, we need Australian governments to contribute through structural changes to mainstream and government-funded services, such as universities, hospitals and policing and courts.

Governments say they are listening and support the Priority Reforms. But listening is more than a nod of the head; it requires the Priority Reforms to be translated into tangible, properly funded actions that deliver real benefit to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people no matter where they live. The current cycle of failure is doomed to continue if this process of engagement and partnership is nothing more than window dressing for the status quo.

The only way outcomes for my people will change is when governments are willing to challenge the structures and assumptions that got us here and embedded the disadvantage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Change is never easy but with the right leadership it is possible. So if our leaders step up and deliver, we may finally begin a new cycle of success and a fair go for First Nations people.

Patricia Turner is lead convener of the Coalition of Peaks.

Aboriginal Health #UluruStatement , #Referendum and #ClosingTheGap : Our mob should seek a constitutionally guaranteed #voice in Indigenous affairs, because this will make for better, fairer policies and help close the gap.

” In the Indigenous recognition debate, constitutional symbolism would become the common enemy of indigenous advocates, who have consistently pushed for substantive and empowering constitutional reform over symbolism, and constitutional conservatives, who seek to uphold the Constitution and protect it from legal uncertainty.

Ken Wyatt should understand, however, that with the right proposal, these two groups can become proponents of sensible constitutional reform that empowers indigenous voices and upholds the Constitution.

Indigenous people would oppose a merely symbolic amendment because, as the Uluru Statement makes clear, they seek empowering structural reform to improve practical outcomes.

They seek a constitutionally guaranteed voice in Indigenous affairs, because this will make for better, fairer policies and help close the gap. “

Dr Shireen Morris is a constitutional lawyer, McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow at Melbourne Law School and senior adviser to the Cape York Institute. Her book, A First Nations Voice in the Australian Constitution (Hart), is out in July.

Originally published in the Australian 7 February

Read all Aboriginal Health , Referendum and Uluru Statement articles published by NACCHO

Read all the Coalition of Peaks Closing the Gap articles published by NACCHO 

The Minister for Indigenous Australians should recall the lessons of the failed republic referendum of 1999, lest he inadvertently steer indigenous recognition towards similar doom. Australians vote ‘‘yes’’ for practical reform, not token symbolism.

The lessons of 1999 are twofold. The republic debate showed how habitual opponents can become unexpected allies to defeat a referendum proposal. During that campaign, the direct electionists joined forces with the monarchists to successfully oppose a republic. People who might ordinarily disagree can unite against a common enemy in a referendum campaign.

The Prime Minister has said he wants to address indigenous suicide, indicating a preference for the practical. On this he will find common ground with indigenous Australians. As the Uluru Statement indicates, indigenous people want better outcomes in incarceration, child removal and the economic and cultural futures of their children. They seek a constitutionally guaranteed voice because they want to work in permanent partnership with government to improve practical outcomes in indigenous affairs.

If Wyatt hopes that indigenous people may be appeased by a legislated voice and will therefore accept a symbolic amendment of no operational effect — this is unlikely. Indigenous people have had legislated bodies in the past. ATSIC was short-lived and many remember the lessons of this history. Legislation alone cannot create a permanent partnership.

Constitutional conservatives will also oppose the insertion of symbolic words because they view the Constitution as a rule book — a practical and pragmatic charter of government and an inappropriate place for poetic statements, which may be interpreted in unexpected ways by the High Court. Constitutional conservatives have run many well organised ‘‘no’’ campaigns in the past and would do so again to uphold the Constitution and prevent uncertainty.

Australians, too, will likely reject a merely symbolic insertion. They have before. History demonstrates that voters favour practical reform over symbolic words. Of the eight (out of 44) referendums that have succeeded, none has been merely symbolic. All have fixed practical problems.

Why would Australians support a recognition proposal that indigenous people have rejected, which constitutional conservatives warn against, and which does nothing to practically improve indigenous policy?

Government should heed the second lesson on 1999: the failed preamble, which incorporated some lines of indigenous recognition. A purely symbolic proposal. Many indigenous people opposed it and only 39.34 per cent of Australians voted ‘‘yes’’.

It was an abysmal failure. By steering the nation towards a merely symbolic change, government is veering towards a repeat of 1999. The proposal would be pincered by indigenous opposition on the one hand and constitutionally conservative opposition on the other.

Both parties would be right: the Constitution is not the place for symbolic words. It is the place for practical reform and enduring guarantees. It is the place for a modest constitutional guarantee that indigenous people will always be heard in decisions made about them.

Properly executed, it would turn united opposition of indigenous people and constitutional conservatives into united support. Let us not forget, the concept of an indigenous constitutional voice was devised by indigenous leaders in collaboration with constitutional conservatives.

The conservative organisation Uphold & Recognise was born from the collaboration.

Indigenous people have clearly stated they want a constitutional voice in their affairs. Constitutional conservatives like former Chief Justice Murray Gleeson, federal MP Julian Leeser, senator Andrew Bragg, and professors Greg Craven and Anne Twomey have shown how this could be achieved in a way that upholds the Constitution.

Right-leaning commentators like Jeff Kennett, Chris Kenny and Alan Jones have backed the concept. Former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd declared a ‘‘unity ticket’’ with Jones.

The continued pursuit of the balanced, radical centre is the way to win a referendum, not the pursuit of symbolism. Success will come through careful listening and negotiation between black and white, across left and right.

There is a need to heed government’s concerns, but government must equally heed indigenous aspirations for substantive constitutional change.