NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Racism #Aliens : Professor Marcia Langton ” Hysteria over High Court’s ruling is hateful and wrong ” Plus extra comment Stan Grant

” Sixty-five thousand years. This is the earliest established date of human occupation on the Australian continent. It was reported two years ago by archaeologists, based on “the results of new excavations conducted at Madjedbebe”, a rock shelter in Arnhem Land. 

Last week the High Court judges implicitly acknowledged in their findings in the Love and Thoms cases that Aboriginal Australians — even those born overseas and not citizens of Australia — are not within the reach of the “aliens” power in section 51(xix) of the Constitution.

The commonwealth should not resort to entrenchment of race hate and discrimination in dealing with the intersection of criminality, mixed-descent Aboriginal people who are not Australian citizens, and the Migration Act.

This case demonstrates that rule of law is alive and well. What is not clear is whether the ideological use of race in our politics will cease.

We can be sure, though, that hysteria about these issues will continue because weaponising race in the tabloid media is commercially lucrative and builds brand value in the absence of sound citizen values and respect for the rule of law.” 

Marcia Langton is Professor of Australian Indigenous studies at the University of Melbourne. Read full article Part 2 below .

Originally published The Australian 15 February

Read over 120 Aboriginal Health and Racism articles published by NACCHO over past 8 years 

Part 1 Stan Grant 

” This was about our nation’s history: the legacy of dispossession.

Where do First Nations people fit within the Commonwealth? What is it to be Australian? Indigenous? Can we be equally one and the same?

Can two centuries of imported British law and tradition here, extinguish a connection, law, and lore that has existed for time immemorial?

These questions go to the very heart of the legitimacy of the nation. This is what Indigenous people call Australia’s unfinished business.

The judges’ opinions make fascinating and inspiring reading. They are profound, wise, and sensitive.”

The High Court has widened the horizon on what it is to be Indigenous and belong to Australia

Additional comments from Stan Grant (added by NACCHO FYI ) Read in full HERE

Part 2

Daniel Love and Brendan Thoms, ( pictured above ) the former born in Papua New Guinea and the latter in New Zealand, are not citizens but both have an Aboriginal parent. Both ran foul of the law and were charged and sentenced for assault occasioning bodily harm.

The ­Migration Act enabled Home Affairs personnel to cancel their visas, place them in immigration detention and arrange for deportation to their countries of birth. The commonwealth argued in the appeal against their deportation that “since the plaintiffs were not citizens, they were necessarily aliens, and therefore the commonwealth had the jurisdiction to ­deport the plaintiffs pursuant to s 51(xix) of the Constitution”.

The High Court found to the contrary “that the common law must be taken to have recognised that Aboriginal persons ‘belong’ to the land. This recognition is inconsistent with the treatment of Aboriginal persons as strangers or foreigners to Australia. The status of alien provided for in s 51(xix) therefore cannot be applied to them.”

Following the Mabo (No 2) decision in 1992, the response from the Coalition, business, mining, farming and grazing leaders, along with the usual pack of shock jocks, was hysterical and, above all, wrong. So, too, the response during this past week from the hard right and the far right to the High Court decisions in Love v Commonwealth and Thoms v Commonwealth: hysterical, wrong and misleading.

The facts are more important than ever. The idea of “race” — in defining Aboriginal people, in tackling our standing in the Constitution, in legislation and in our everyday enjoyment of civil rights — must be replaced by a more accurate conception of peoples with unique and ancient cultural and genealogical links to this continent.

The eastern part of Australia became a colony of England in 1770, when Lieutenant James Cook declared it a British possession at Possession Island in the Torres Strait. It was Eddie Koiki Mabo from a nearby island, Mer or Murray Island, in 1982, who challenged the arrogance of this imperialist declaration and the legal fiction on which it was based — terra nullius, the Latin term for “empty land belonging to no one” and more particularly governed by no one. In 1992, the High Court recognised within severe limits the pre-existing native title laws of the indigenous peoples and overturned terra nullius.

On January 26, 1788, the colony of NSW was established and thereafter other parts of Australia were declared colonies, eventually numbering six in all. Aboriginal societies and their territories were overrun by settlers and, in many parts, if they survived at all, they did so in much-reduced and horrible circumstances.

The impact of this history on the surviving indigenous populations are many, and the continued attacks on our self-identification as Aboriginal is one of them and, it must be said, is a new and intensified focus of racist attacks.

The contributions of Andrew Bolt to misinformed public perceptions of who is and who is not Aboriginal weaponised this style of attack among the far right. Mark Latham proposed DNA testing for all Aboriginal people, even though this is not possible given the state of the science.

Moreover, the great fear among Aboriginal people who directly bear the burden of our terrible history is the recent proposal to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton for a register.

This would be the worst instance of racial profiling and establish the grounds for a race-based purge of Aboriginal people. How else should they interpret the relentless drive of Dutton, whose response following the announcement of the decision in Love and Thoms was that he would amend the Migration Act?

How can he do this without suspending the Racial Discrimination Act?

Without entrenching ­racism in our laws?

The High Court affirmed the three-part definition of an Aboriginal person: he or she must be ­descended from an Aboriginal person, must identify as Aboriginal and be recognised by his or her community as such. Facts matter in assessing these issues and, despite the hysteria, that this arrangement has worked well as an administrative guideline for almost a half-century should give Australians confidence.

Australians should feel pride in our common law because it is logical and just: “It follows that a person whom an Aboriginal society has determined to be one of its members cannot answer the description of an alien according to the ordinary understanding of that word.”

Justice Virginia Bell, one of the four judges in the majority, noted: “Whether a person is an Aboriginal Australian is a question of fact.” She went on to point to the origins of the three-part definition of Aboriginality in the Tasmanian dam case in which Justice William Deane proposed the meaning of the term “Australian Aboriginal” as “a person of Aboriginal descent, albeit mixed, who identifies himself as such and who is recognised by the Aboriginal community as an Aboriginal”. Deane inclined to the view that the reference was to the “Australian Aboriginal people generally rather than to any particular racial sub-group”.

The Love and Thoms submissions relied on Justice Gerard Brennan’s formulation in Mabo (No 2) for the meaning of “Aboriginal” Australian: “(m)embership of the indigenous people depends on biological descent from the indigenous people and on mutual recognition of a particular person’s membership by that person and by the elders or other persons enjoying traditional authority among those people.”

The shift from a cultural interpretation of an indigenous polity in the Tasmanian case to a biological one in the Mabo case is a reflection of the increasing misunderstanding of the notion of race, the colonial racialisation of hundreds of Aboriginal peoples as a single race and the worsening commitment to a eugenicist view of humanity, even among our most educated.

A cultural and historical view of indigenous peoples, their antiquity and their belonging is key to getting constitutional issues right. Race is a dangerous concept and my view is that we must dispense with it.

The High Court declined, however, to determine the facts on Aboriginality in the case of Love and Thoms, and instead found: “If the commonwealth did not accept Mr Love’s pleaded case, that he is a member of the Aboriginal race of Australia, the appropriate course was for the proceeding to have been remitted to the Federal Court of Australia for the facts to be found.”

There is so much to understand about the High Court’s findings, and further issues will be raised by the Federal Court if the commonwealth does, indeed, seek clarification of the Aboriginality of Love. The commonwealth should not resort to entrenchment of race hate and discrimination in dealing with the intersection of criminality, mixed-descent Aboriginal people who are not Australian citizens, and the Migration Act.

This case demonstrates that rule of law is alive and well. What is not clear is whether the ideological use of race in our politics will cease. We can be sure, though, that hysteria about these issues will continue because weaponising race in the tabloid media is commercially lucrative and builds brand value in the absence of sound citizen values and respect for the rule of law.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #FU2racism : Research shows majority of Australians believe #18C protections should stay

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 ” While debate over the merits of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act continues to rage, new research shows that an overwhelming majority of Australians support legislation that prevents insults on the basis of race, culture or religion.

We found that just 10% of Australians believe people should have the freedom to “insult” and “offend” people on the basis of race, culture or religion.

Over 75% are opposed. The poll, conducted by Essential Research for the Cyber Racism and Community Resilience (CRaCR) and our other Challenging Racism research projects, undermines other claims that nearly 50% of Australians want the key words removed from Section 18C.

Authors Professor of Sociology, University of Technology Sydney ,Dean of the School of Social Science and Psychology, Western Sydney University Research Assistant, Challenging Racism Project, Western Sydney University

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Download research from last nights Is Australia racist  challenging_racism_report_3

Download cyber-racism-and-community-resilience-cracr

“ Surveys suggested racism was already a near-universal experience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, with 97% having experienced it in the past year and more than 70% reporting eight or more incidents in that period. Almost one-third said they had experienced racism in the health setting.

By settings standards of conduct, the law had an important role in containing the spread of racism and race hate, and described the watering down of sections 18c & d of the RDA as a “major risk” for the effective implementation of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.

The Plan envisages a health system free of racism, offering effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable health services to Indigenous Australians “

Matthew Cooke Chair of NACCHO

From post 21 December 2016 Aboriginal Health and #Racism : NACCHO submission to #SavetheRDA #18C Inquiry into #Freedomofspeech

Download our full submission here

submission-to-inquiry-into-freedom-of-speech-and-rda-draft

Over 5 years we have NACCHO has published over 70 artiicles

Aboriginal health and Racism

Australians believe 18C protections should stay

A parliamentary inquiry into 18C is moving towards its climax, with the committee due to report by February 28. It has been a mammoth task for the committee members, with thousands of submissions and dozens of witnesses.

Section 18C makes it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate someone on the basis of race and culture. It has been under attack from conservative commentators and politicians after News Ltd columnist Andrew Bolt was found to have breached 18C without an acceptable defence under the related Section 18D.

In the 2013 election, then prime minister Tony Abbott pledged to get rid of the section. Attorney-General George Brandis attempted to do this in 2014. A strong push-back by community groups forced Abbott to abandon the changes.

After the 2016 election, conservatives such as Cory Bernardi, in tandem with the Institute for Public Affairs, reactivated the campaign to remove section 18C, though limiting their reach to excising the words “insult” and “offend”.

As we reported on February 1, the “truth” about what Australians think of and want to happen with 18C has been a matter of critical interest. The Australian newspaper has been a sustained campaigner for removing 18C. It argues the law is too great a threat to freedom of speech.

CRaCR commissioned Essential to include four questions in its February 8 omnibus poll. We asked whether people agreed or disagreed with the propositions that “people should be free to offend/ insult/ humiliate/ intimidate someone on the basis of their race, culture or religion”. The finding is that Australians do not support this proposition. Only 5 to 10% champion such “freedoms”.

Our simple question formats eschewed any prelude points concerning “competing freedoms” or double-barrel questions as in the Galaxy poll.

After we gave evidence to the parliamentary inquiry, and were questioned on the apparently conflicting findings, we set out to generate transparent and valid data. We developed a simple test to discover the extent to which Australians believe that people should be free to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate others on the basis of race, culture or religion. This would be the consequence of removing Section 18.

Our research in 2014 asked if people thought it should be unlawful to do what 18C covered. On the insult and offend questions, support for the law was 72% and 66%, while on humiliate and intimidate it rose to 74% and 79%. The IPA claimed since then there had been a major shift towards accepting the removal of these first two conditions of vilification.

Our new research demonstrates this is not the case. Our Essential sample was representative (by age, gender, region and so on).

Our four questions were aimed to test whether people supported removing insult and offend from 18C. We found that Australians have increased their support for protections from insulting and offensive attacks on the basis of race, culture and religion.


 


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Only 5 to 10% of Australians support the right to offend on the basis of race, culture or religion. Those who are younger, and males, are more likely to support these freedoms.

In our other surveys over the past decade, we have found that about the same proportion of Australians (one in ten) hold negative views about diversity and “races”. For example, around 10-12% believe that some races are superior to others, and that groups should not intermarry. These are indicators of racial supremacism and racial separatism.

There may well be those who support these freedoms from a Voltaire-inspired conviction about the right to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate. However, analysis of the 2014 CRaCR survey data has found statistical associations between authors of online racism, racist dispositions and a preference for the freedom to offend. Authors of racism, with racist views, most want the right to be racist.

The political implications are also of interest. Focusing just on “offend” and “insult”, the spread confirms that the left of the political spectrum is more opposed to licensing hate than the right.

Support for the freedom to offend ranges from 7% (ALP and Greens) to 11% (LNP) and up to 16% with Others and Independents. Opposition to the freedom to offend peaks with the Greens (86%), but still sits at 70% for Independents.

Support for the freedom to insult ranges from 5% (ALP) and 8% (Greens) to 12% (LNP) and up to 13% with Others and Independents. Opposition to the freedom to insult peaks with the Greens (88%), but still sits at 72% for Independents.

This evidence suggests that over the past three years, despite incessant campaigning by pro-vilification proponents, Australians’ appetite for the “right to be bigots” has declined.

The impression we gain is that civility remains a high value. Whatever peoples’ valuing of freedom of speech, which is very high, they do not think that such a freedom should encompass the insulting and offending of people on the basis of race, culture or religion.

Moreover, this trend reverberates with the finding of another Essential poll in late 2016, where Australians worry that insulting people on the basis of race and religion is rising.

Now it’s over to the committee, parliament and the people

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Aboriginal Health and #Racism : NACCHO submission to #SavetheRDA #18C Inquiry into #Freedomofspeech

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” NACCHO does not believe the operation of Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (the “RDA”) imposes unreasonable restrictions upon freedom of speech [taking into account the meaning given to that phrase in the Terms of Reference], or that sections 18C and 18D should be reformed. NACCHO’s submission instead argues that:

  • Racism and racial vilification causes harm to individuals, to groups and society as a whole. The submission will summarise evidence of the important links between racism and health and wellbeing and the specific impacts of racism on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Racism and racial vilification experienced by Indigenous Australians is a widespread, serious and ongoing problem. The submission summarises recent evidence of the prevalence and nature of racist behaviours, including speech, directed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Any weakening of current restrictions on freedom of speech will directly undermine and work in opposition to existing Government strategies and programs for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health.
  • Combating racial discrimination is a key strategy for closing the gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and achieving the Australian Government’s vision for an Australian health system that is free of racism and inequality and where all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to health services that are effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable. The submission discusses some evidence-based approaches to addressing racial discrimination and helping to achieve this vision. “

Matthew Cooke Chair of NACCHO

Download our full submission here

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FROM : NACCHO PO Box 5120  Braddon ACT 2612 8 December 2016

TO : Committee Secretary Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights

PO Box 6100 Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Committee Secretary

INQUIRY INTO FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN AUSTRALIA

Introduction

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is a living embodiment of the aspirations of Aboriginal communities and their struggle for self-determination. NACCHO is the national peak body representing over 140 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across the country on Aboriginal health and wellbeing issues. It has a history stretching back to a meeting in Albury in 1974.

NACCHO represents local Aboriginal community control at a national level to ensure that Aboriginal people have greater access to effective health care across Australia, and advocates for culturally respectful and needs-based approaches to improving health and wellbeing outcomes through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. Our members continue to demonstrate that they are the leading provider of culturally appropriate, comprehensive, primary health care to Aboriginal people across the nation, exceeding Government or private providers.

The definition of “health” adopted by NACCHO and its members is in accordance with that described in the 1989 National Aboriginal Health Strategy:

“Aboriginal health means not just the physical wellbeing of an individual, but refers to the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the whole community in which each individual is able to achieve their full potential as a human being, thereby bringing about the total wellbeing of their community. It is a whole of life view and includes the cyclical concept of life-death-life.”

Aboriginal people enjoy quality of life through whole-of-community self-determination and individual spiritual, cultural, physical, social and emotional wellbeing.

  1. Summary

NACCHO does not believe the operation of Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (the “RDA”) imposes unreasonable restrictions upon freedom of speech [taking into account the meaning given to that phrase in the Terms of Reference], or that sections 18C and 18D should be reformed. NACCHO’s submission instead argues that:

  • Racism and racial vilification causes harm to individuals, to groups and society as a whole. The submission will summarise evidence of the important links between racism and health and wellbeing and the specific impacts of racism on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Racism and racial vilification experienced by Indigenous Australians is a widespread, serious and ongoing problem. The submission summarises recent evidence of the prevalence and nature of racist behaviours, including speech, directed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Any weakening of current restrictions on freedom of speech will directly undermine and work in opposition to existing Government strategies and programs for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health. Combating racial discrimination is a key strategy for closing the gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and achieving the Australian Government’s vision for an Australian health system that is free of racism and inequality and where all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to health services that are effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable. The submission discusses some evidence-based approaches to addressing racial discrimination and helping to achieve this vision.

It is NACCHO’s strongly held view that there is no current or historical evidence, nor any policy or legal imperatives to support the notion that the handling of complaints made to the Australian Human Rights Commission under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) should be reformed. NACCHO believes the process provides important access to remedies for victims of racial vilification with most complaints resolved through an accessible mediation process.

NACCHO can find no objective analysis of Part IIA of the RDA shows that the laws are not being interpreted sensibly by the courts. The laws appear to generally strike an appropriate balance between the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom from racial discrimination and vilification.

NACCHO is not alone in its view that the current inquiry as unnecessary, misconceived and mischievous, noting that:

  • Australians made their support for legislation against racial vilification very clear two years ago in response to the proposed Freedom of Speech (Repeal of s. 18C) Bill 2014 which proposed major changes to section 18C of the RDA.
  • The terms of reference appear to be inconsistent with the proper enforcement of the RDA and thereby appear to seek to undermine the rule of law and the statutory role of the Australian Human Rights Commission.
  1. Position Statement

The link between racism and health and wellbeing

The link between self-reported perceptions or experiences of racism and poorer physical and mental health is established and the pathways from racism to ill-health are now well understood by health researchers.

Racism contributes to reduced access to societal resources and services such as education, employment, housing and medical care which impact on health and wellbeing. Evidence suggests that racism experienced in the delivery of health services contributes to low levels of access to health services by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may be reluctant to seek much-needed health, housing, welfare or other services from providers they perceive to be unwelcoming or who they feel may hold negative stereotypes about them. Racism has flow on effects for individuals’ social cohesion and for workforce participation, productivity and educational achievement.

Experiences of racism lead to inequitable exposure to risk factors including stress and cortisol dysregulation affecting mental health (anxiety and depression) as well as injury from racially motivated assault. Prolonged experience of stress can also have physical health effects, such as on the immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems.

Longitudinal and cross-sectional studies both nationally and internationally have found a strong association between experiences of racism and ill-health and psychological distress, mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, and risk behaviours such as substance use, all of which contribute significantly to the overall ill-health experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

More subtle experiences of racism strongly linked to poor mental health outcomes include feelings of being left out and avoided; a form of social exclusion that results from both direct and indirect racism. Ongoing harmful effects of racism including anxiety and depression continue long after exposure to racist incidents and that individuals also experience anxiety on behalf of relatives and loved ones.

Chronic exposure to racism leads to excessive stress, which is an established determinant of obesity, inflammation and chronic disease. Analysis of the 2012-13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey found that Indigenous Australians with high/very high levels of psychological distress were 1.3 times as likely to report having circulatory disease and 1.8 times as likely to report having kidney disease. The Productivity Commission’s Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2016 report showed that the situation is worsening, with the proportion of adults reporting high levels of psychological distress increasing from 27 per cent in 2004-05 to 33 per cent in 2014-15, and hospitalisations for self-harm increased by 56 per cent over this period.

Children and young people’s health and wellbeing

Children and young people’s perspectives and experiences of racism, and the ways in which such experiences impact their health and wellbeing should be a key consideration for the Committee.

Neuroscience and molecular biology tell us that early life experiences and exposures ‘get under the skin’ and become biologically embedded. A survey of research on the health effects of racism on children by UNICEF concluded that toxic stress in childhood is especially harmful, with ever increasing evidence that exposure to high levels of stress and adversity in childhood influences later physical and mental health and cardiovascular, metabolic and immune function right through to mid-life and older adulthood. Young people who experience high levels of racial discrimination were also found to have increased sleep difficulties, cellular aging, inflammation, and physiological wear and tear. UNICEF has stated that children and young people who are targets of racial discrimination are at higher risk of increased anxiety and depression, behavior difficulties, suicide and self-harm. Racial discrimination quite literally can get under the skin and make our children and young people sick.

UNICEF’s survey noted that racism experienced by a carer, family member or peer, that may or may not be witnessed by the child, has also been shown to place children and young people at risk. Studies show increased risk of common childhood illnesses, social emotional difficulties, and risk of overweight and obesity among children with carers and families who experience racism. Witnessing or hearing about racism in the media and online, including stereotyped, negative portrayals, is one harmful form of vicarious racism that also places children at risk.

The impact of racism on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Racism is a key social determinant of health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and can deter people from achieving their full capabilities. The impact of racism on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be seen in:

  • inequitable and reduced access to the resources required for health (employment, education, housing, medical care, etc);
  • inequitable exposure to risk factors associated with ill-health (junk food, toxic substances, dangerous goods);
  • stress and negative emotional/cognitive reactions which have negative impacts on mental health as well as affecting the immune, endocrine, cardiovascular and other physiological systems;
  • engagement in unhealthy activities (smoking, alcohol and drug use);
  • disengagement from healthy activities (sleep, exercise, taking medications); and
  • physical injury via racially motivated assault.

Research and survey results indicate a common response to experiencing racism is to subsequently avoid similar situations: 35% of those who reported in the 2012–13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey that they had been treated badly, said they usually responded to discrimination by avoiding the person or situation. This holds implications across health, education and employment sectors.

Henry et al argue that healthcare in Australia is institutionally racist, but, more importantly, that such racism represents one of the greatest barriers to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There is a growing body of evidence that the health system itself does not provide the same level of care to indigenous people as to other Australians. This systemic racism is not necessarily the result of individual ill-will by health practitioners, but a reflection of inappropriate assumptions made about the health or behaviour of people belonging to a particular group.

Institutionalised racism occurs in many contexts in the Australian health system:

  • Barriers to hospitals and health care institutions: Institutional racism manifests itself in (1) the adoption, administration, and implementation of policies that restrict admission; (2) the closure, relocation, or privatisation of hospitals that primarily serve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; and (3) the continued transfer of unwanted patients (known as patient dumping) by hospitals and institutions. Such practices have a disproportionate impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Discriminatory policies and practices can take the form of medical redlining, excessive wait times, unequal access to emergency care, and lack of continuity of care, which all have a negative effect on the type of care received.
  • Lack of Language and Culturally Competent Care – cultural competency involves ensuring that all health care providers can function effectively in a culturally diverse setting; it involves understanding and respecting cultural differences including diverse groups with diverse histories, languages, cultures, religions, beliefs, and traditions. Without understanding and incorporating these differences, health care cannot be provided in a culturally competent manner.

How commonly is racism directed at Indigenous Australians?

The common perception seems to be that racism directed towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is regrettable, but that such incidents are isolated, trivial and essentially harmless. Such views were commonly expressed, for example, following the racial abuse of Sydney Swans footballer and former Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes, earlier in 2015. Recent evidence suggests that racism and racial vilification experienced by Indigenous Australians is a widespread, serious and ongoing problem.

A key study in Victoria in 2010-11, funded by the Lowitja Institute, documented very high levels of racism experienced by Aboriginal Victorians. It found that of the 755 Aboriginal Victorians surveyed, almost all (97 per cent) reported experiencing racism in the previous year. This included a range of behaviours from being called racist names, teased or hearing jokes or comments that stereotyped Aboriginal people (92 per cent); being sworn at, verbally abused or subjected to offensive gestures because of their race (84 per cent); being spat at, hit or threatened because of their race (67 per cent); to having their property vandalised because of race (54 per cent). Significantly, more than 70 per cent of those surveyed experienced eight or more such incidents in the previous 12 months. Racism occurred across a broad range of settings and was commonly experienced in shops (67%), public spaces (59%), employment (42%), housing (35%), while nearly a third (29%) of respondents experienced racism in health settings. There were no differences in experiences of racism due to gender, age or geographical location. Other studies have found high levels of exposure to racist behaviours and language. For example, in the 2012-13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 16% of respondents reported that they were treated badly in the previous 12 months because they identify as Indigenous Australians.

A recent survey to gain insight into discriminatory attitudes and beliefs of non-Indigenous Australians (aged 25–44 years) towards Indigenous Australians conducted by Beyond Blue in 2014 found a general lack of awareness of what behaviour is considered discriminatory, along with widespread belief that behaviours such as employment discrimination are considered an ‘unconscious act’ by the perpetrator. Key findings include:

  • Discrimination is commonly witnessed, with 40% seeing others avoid Indigenous Australians on public transport and 38% witnessing verbal abuse.
  • Almost a third (31%) witnessed employment discrimination against Indigenous Australians and 9% admit they themselves discriminate in this context.
  • One in four (25%) do not agree that discrimination has a negative personal impact for Indigenous Australians.
  • More than half (56%) believe that being Indigenous makes it harder to succeed.
  • Many believe it is acceptable to discriminate, with 21% admitting they would move away from an Indigenous Australian if they sat nearby, and 21% would watch an Indigenous Australian’s actions when shopping.

Evidence-based approaches to reducing racism

The law has an important role to play in addressing the harm caused by racial discrimination and racial vilification. By setting standards of conduct, the laws constrain the spread of racism and racial hatred, and encourage people to speak out against racism, complementing broader education strategies. Protecting people from that harm is an appropriate object of government legislation, as recognised by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Freedom of expression is not an absolute right and preventing the harm caused by racist speech is of sufficient importance to warrant appropriate restrictions on freedom of speech as in sections 18C and 18D.

The Victorian Coalition for Aboriginal Health Equality argues for addressing discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through a human rights approach. The principles of human rights emphasise empowerment for all Indigenous peoples and provide a clear, positively oriented set of principles to guide individuals and organisations in addressing discriminatory behaviours, practices and policies. The Coalition has identified the following evidence-based approaches to addressing racial discrimination:

  • Taking Preventive Action – Preventive action is a more effective and efficient public health intervention than responding to individual incidents of prejudice; a range of preventive actions can be undertaken at the interpersonal and organisation level.
  • Communication, Training and Behavioural Change – International evidence shows that it is more effective to seek to change behaviours than to address underlying beliefs; strategies that curb racist behaviours will have a positive impact on reducing Aboriginal people’s experiences of racism. Underpinning this behavioural change, it is vital to provide accurate information and offer sound alternative explanations to racist views, to build a consensus that supports culturally safe behaviours.
  • Strategic Approaches – Individuals, organisations, advocates and governments should incorporate longitudinal strategies and develop long-term plans for addressing discrimination rather than proposing rather one-shot interventions; effecting behavioural change and addressing institutionalised forms of inequality take time and cannot be effectively implemented without a commitment to continual improvement.

Any weakening of current restrictions on freedom of speech will directly undermine and work in opposition to existing Government strategies and programs for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health. Combating racial discrimination is a key strategy for closing the gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and achieving the Australian Government’s vision outlined the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Health Plan 2013-2023. The Health Plan vision is:

“The Australian health system is free of racism and inequality and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to health services that are effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable. Together with strategies to address social inequalities and determinants of health, this provides the necessary platform to realise health equality by 2031.”

The Health Plan’s accompanying Implementation Plan, released by the then Minister for Rural Health, Senator the Hon. Fiona Nash, in 2015, takes forward the overarching vision by progressing strategies and actions that prevent and address systemic racism and discrimination in the health system. The Implementation Plan focuses on the Australian Government’s role in ensuring that the health system is free of racism. It includes strategies to reduce racism and discrimination and improving the cultural safety of the mainstream health system, including primary health care. Strategies and actions such as empowering youth and adolescents to be proud of their identity and culture and recognising the centrality of culture in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are also supported. Any moves to water down the existing restrictions upon freedom of speech through reform of sections 18C and 18D of the RDA will jeopardise this strategic investment and presents major risks for the effective implementation of the Health Plan.

  1. Conclusion

The link between self-reported perceptions or experiences of racism and poorer physical and mental health is established and the pathways from racism to ill-health are now well understood by health researchers. Racism and racial vilification experienced by Indigenous Australians is a widespread, serious and ongoing problem.

Any weakening of current restrictions on freedom of speech will directly undermine and work in opposition to existing Government strategies for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health. Combating racial discrimination is a key strategy for closing the gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and achieving the Australian Government’s vision for an Australian health system that is free of racism and inequality.

In conclusion we wish to express our very profound concerns that the terms of reference for this inquiry appear to suggest that the right to freedom of speech is superior to the right to freedom from discrimination, in particular in the form of racist vilification. Freedom of expression is not an absolute right and preventing the serious harm caused by racist speech is of sufficient importance to warrant appropriate restrictions on freedom of speech as currently contained in sections 18C and 18D of the RDA.

Please contact Dawn Casey on (02) 62** **** or by email at dawn.casey@naccho.org.au if there is any area of this submission for which we can provide further assistance or information.

Yours faithfully,

Matthew Cooke

Chairperson

NACCHO

References:

  1. Anderson, P (2013) “Racism a driver of ill health”, The Australian; July 27, 2013 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/opinion/racism-a-driver-of-ill-health/news-story/caed7cfeca6b5a9051ee1fd18042923d
  2. Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council, 2015, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2014 Report, AHMAC, Canberra.
  3. Department of Health, Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023, Australian Government, Canberra, 2015
  4. Australian Government, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023, Australian Government, Canberra, 2013 http://www.health.gov.au/NATSIHP
  5. Ferdinand, A., Paradies, Y. & Kelaher, M. 2012, Mental Health Impacts of Racial Discrimination in Victorian Aboriginal Communities: The Localities Embracing and Accepting Diversity (LEAD) Experiences of Racism Survey, The Lowitja Institute, Melbourne.
  6. Paradies, Yin (2006) “A systematic review of empirical research on self-reported racism and health”, International Journal of Epidemiology, (35) pp. 888-901.
  7. Coalition for Aboriginal Health Equality Victoria, 2014, Racial Discrimination and Health Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People http://www.vaccho.org.au/assets/01-RESOURCES/TOPIC-AREA/POLICY/Position-Statement-on-Racial-Discrimination-and-Health-Outcomes-for-Aboriginal-and-Torres-Strait-Islander-People.pdf
  8. SCRGSP (Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision) 2016, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2016, Productivity Commission, Canberra.
  9. Priest N, 2016, Research reveals what racism can do to a child’s body http://www.unicef.org.au/blog/november-2016/research-reveals-what-racism-can-do-to-a-childs-body?utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=racism&utm_medium=page-post&utm_content=research-reveals-blog-post-1
  10. Henry BR, Houston S, Mooney GH. (2004) “Institutional racism in Australian healthcare: a plea for decency”, The Medical Journal of Australia 2004 May 17; 180(10): 517-20.
  11. Beyond Blue 2014, Discrimination against Indigenous Australians: A snapshot of the views of non-Indigenous people aged 25-44. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/docs/default-source/research-project-files/bl1337-report—tns-discrimination-against-indigenous-australians.pdf?sfvrsn=2
  12. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First Results, Australia, 2012-13 (Cat no. 4727.0.55.001)
  13. Mooney G. “Inequity in Australian health care: how do we progress from here?” Aust N Z J Public Health 2003; 27: 267-270. See also Y Paradies, ‘A systematic review of empirical research on self-reported racism and health’ (2006) 35(4) International Journal of Epidemiology 888; D Williams & R Williams-Morris, ‘Racism and mental health: The African American experience’ (2000) 5(3–4) Ethnicity and Health 243; J Soto, N Dawson-Andoh & R BeLue, ‘The relationship between perceived discrimination and generalized anxiety disorder among African Americans, Afro Caribbeans, and non-Hispanic whites’ (2011) 25(2) Journal of Anxiety Disorders 258; E Pascoe & L Richman L, ‘Perceived discrimination and health: A meta-analytic review’, (2009) 135(4) Psychological Bulletin 531.
  14. National Best Practice Framework for Indigenous Cultural Competency in Australian Universities (Universities Australia, 2011).

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and racism : #LowitjaConf2016 : Fitzroy Crossing: Is the real human crisis forgotten in debate over rights #18C and Bill Leak

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“It is frustrating because we are talking about a really basic human right here,”

“You would think there would be priority for high-quality, early-years education for children who need it most — children who have every right to it.

“This is a definite way to end disadvantage.”

The Australian writes today in Melbourne, Fitzroy Crossing’s most prominent Indigenous leader, June Oscar who successfully fought for alcohol restrictions in Fitzroy Crossing, will speak about the plight of Baya Gawiy at the Lowitja Institute ­Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference.

Read 54 NACCHO articles Aboriginal Health and Racism

 ” We condemn the Australian’s publication of Bill Leak’s racist cartoon. Racism damages the health and wellbeing of those it targets.

We acknowledge that the media industry has a long history of perpetuating harmful and racist stereotypes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and that it is well past time that this stops.

We urge the editorial leadership at the Australian to reflect on the hurt and distress they have caused, and to make a sincere and genuine apology “

More than 200 people working in the media, communications and related fields ( Including NACCHO Media ) signed the open letter below, regarding The Australian’s recent publication of a Bill Leak cartoon attacking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  As recently reported at Croakey, a number of health and community organisations have also made complaints . See Full list of names at Croakey

Although Australian cartoonists have a rich tradition of irreverent satire, there is absolutely no place for depicting racist stereotypes, I would urge The Australian to be more aware of the impact cartoons like the one published today can have on Indigenous communities.”

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has condemned a ‘racist’ cartoon published by The Australian newspaper. SMH

The News Corp newspaper was accused of inflaming already heightened racial tensions by publishing a cartoon criticising Indigenous family values.

 “Yesterday, that months’ old intervention was rediscovered by Andrew Bolt (presumably during one of his periodic trawls of the blogosphere looking for something about which to be offended), and then injected into the Murdoch press’s crusade to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

It’s worth looking at how Bolt and co present the Croakey letter, as an illustration of how dishonest their campaign’s become.

Bolt heads his post “A list of the media’s enemies of free speech” and tells his audience “you can read the names of 173 people who actually want Bill Leak’s cartoon banned”.

I signed the letter criticising Bill Leak’s cartoon. It didn’t mention ‘banning’ anyone

Picture above : Dee Walker with Mila Phillips, 18 months, and her brother Taj, 2½, at the Baya Gawiy centre. Picture: Colin Murty

Fitzroy Crossing: real human crisis forgotten in debate over rights

When two staff members from Western Australia’s Aboriginal Legal Service arrived in Fitzroy Crossing last month to gather complaints about Bill Leak’s cartoon for the Australian Human Rights Commission, they had to drive past what many consider the region’s real looming human rights crisis.

The Baya Gawiy early learning centre, recognised for transforming the lives of some of the nation’s most disadvantaged children, will soon run out of funding and faces closure.

Elsia Archer, president of the vast shire of Derby-West Kimberley that covers the town of Fitzroy Crossing, is aghast. She says of all the issues that the legal service and the commission chose to get involved in at Fitzroy Crossing, they picked a cartoon depicting a neglectful indigenous father that “nobody up here is even talking about”.

“It’s bloody stupid,” she said. “What about fighting for the child centre in Fitzroy or doing something to get some youth programs up here.”

The early learning unit, where 22 of the 28 enrolled children are indigenous, was created and designed by the Aboriginal community after a sustained wave of alcohol-related indigenous deaths in the Fitzroy Valley.

A 2007 coronial inquest heard heartbreaking stories of misery, violence and child neglect, including evidence suicide had become a form of self-­expression among chronic drinkers.

Centred on Fitzroy Crossing, the 450-strong Fitzroy Valley population — with 80 births a year — has had one of the world’s highest recorded rates of children born with a serious alcohol-­related disability. One in eight children born in the valley in 2002-03 had foetal alcohol syndrome and about 55 per cent of mothers admitted to drinking heavily while pregnant.

The Baya Gawiy unit is not only internationally respected for its pioneering approach to working with children with FASD, it is crucial in preventing new cases by working with women and families to raise awareness of health issues.

Additionally, it is the only childcare within a 260km radius and caters for children of teachers, police officers and other service providers.

For local indigenous woman Jadnah Davies, the centre made it possible for her to work.

It was 44C outside the airconditioned playroom at the early learning unit yesterday when her 2½-year-old son Taj picked up a plastic cow figurine to enact its unfortunate encounter with a saltwater crocodile.

The Australian reported yesterday that the WA Aboriginal Legal Service prepared complaints to the human rights commission about Leak’s cartoon on behalf of two Fitzroy Valley men, disability pensioner Bruce Till and retired country music performer Kevin Gunn, after Mr Till got in touch to complain about indigenous ­people being breathalysed at the local pub.

The cartoon, depicting an ­indifferent indigenous father who has forgotten his son’s name, prompted community leader Joe Ross to consider the priorities of human rights advocates. “Bill Leak’s cartoon attempted to tell one story of indigenous ­impoverishment, but the real human rights story is the plight of our children being born into a community that has no direction or hope, a community that lives in remote Australia having to withstand the defunding of early childhood centres such as our Baya Gawiy centre by the Australian government,” he said.

“To me, the Bill Leak cartoon portrayed the abandonment of our Aboriginal children by the many components of their world including fathers, mothers and government agencies entrusted to protect their innocence and ­potential to succeed in life.’’

I signed the letter criticising Bill Leak’s cartoon. It didn’t mention ‘banning’ anyone

This year Americans celebrated 50 years since network TV’s first interracial kiss: a smooch between William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek, screening on 22 November 1968.

The anniversary prompted NITV’s Sophie Verass to investigate the Australian equivalent. In what year, she asked, did viewers first see an Indigenous and a non-Indigenous person kiss?

The answer’s profoundly depressing.

In 1976 the raunchy soap Number 96 allowed a romance between the Indigenous actor Rhonda Jackson and her white co-star Chard Hayward. But, Verass explains, “before audiences see Rhonda Jackson lock lips on-screen, we’re introduced to Indigenous Australians’ sexual agency on television with a close-up of Jackson screaming as a masked male figure aggressively forces himself on her.”

Yes, that’s right – the first sex scene involving an Indigenous person in Australian TV was a sexual assault.

Twenty years later, The Flying Doctors featured an interracial affair. Even then, viewers didn’t see any physical contact between a black and a white person: Verass suggests that a love scene was actually scripted but was “cut by Channel Nine for being too controversial and ‘offensive for the Australian public”.

It was not until 1994 that Australian TV boldly went where Star Trek had gone 26 years earlier, with Ernie Dingo and Cate Blanchett puckering up during the ABC miniseries Heartland.

All that’s by way of illustrating a simple point: the Australian media has an appalling record of representing Indigenous people.

That was why I, along with hundreds of other writers and journalists, was happy to endorse an open letter published by Crikey’s Croakey blog in August this year in response to that notorious Bill Leak cartoon showing a drunken Indigenous man unable to recognise his son.

Yesterday, that months’ old intervention was rediscovered by Andrew Bolt (presumably during one of his periodic trawls of the blogosphere looking for something about which to be offended), and then injected into the Murdoch press’s crusade to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

It’s worth looking at how Bolt and co present the Croakey letter, as an illustration of how dishonest their campaign’s become.

Bolt heads his post “A list of the media’s enemies of free speech” and tells his audience “you can read the names of 173 people who actually want Bill Leak’s cartoon banned”. The Australian subsequently took the same line, tweeting, “These people want to silence Bill Leak.”

Except, of course, the letter doesn’t say that at all.

Here’s the full text.

We condemn the Australian’s publication of Bill Leak’s racist cartoon. Racism damages the health and wellbeing of those it targets.

We acknowledge that the media industry has a long history of perpetuating harmful and racist stereotypes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and that it is well past time that this stops.

We urge the editorial leadership at the Australian to reflect on the hurt and distress they have caused, and to make a sincere and genuine apology.

Pretty innocuous stuff, you would think. Yet it provokes Bolt to go full Malcolm Roberts, with a bizarre rant about “the enemies of our freedom, a vast and largely nomenclature with far more power collectively than you could have imagined”.

Of course, back here on planet earth, editors make judgments all the time as to what they publish and what they don’t. That’s what editing means. If Bolt thinks that such decisions amount to censorship (which is what he implies), he should hand over the passwordand login to his blog so we can all have a go at it.

Yes, the letter calls for editors not to publish racist content. Does Bolt disagree? Is he arguing that, say, the Herald Sun should adopt the slogan that the old Bulletin maintained until the 1960s: “Australia for the white man”? Was it censorship when Donald Horne removed those words from the masthead?

If Bolt thinks the press should openly embrace old-school race baiting, well, he should come out and say so.

One presumes that’s not his argument. Remember, back in 2014, Bolt repeatedly denounced Fairfax for publishing a Glen Le Lievre drawing about the Gaza war, an image widely criticised (in my view, correctly) for employing, wait for it, racial stereotypes. So was Bolt part of the anti-cartoon Illumanati only three years ago? If it was wrong to publish illustrations of hook-nosed, conspiratorial Jews back then (and it was), what makes Leak’s drawings of thick-lipped, low-browed Aboriginal men clutching cans of VB acceptable?

In any case, as Bolt grudgingly admits halfway through his fulmination, the Croakey letter makes no mention of section 18 at all, a minor detail that makes his whole screed utterly bizarre.

For what it’s worth, I don’t see the Racial Discrimination Act as a particularly great tool in the fight against racism, for all sorts of reasons – not least that it focuses attention away from deeper structural problems.

Let’s not forget the context for Leak’s nasty little cartoon.

In July this year, Four Corners aired the awful Abu Ghraib-style images of Don Dale youth detention centre. In response to footage of Indigenous youths being abused by white prison officers, Bill Leak drew his cartoon … blaming Indigenous people.

It was a response entirely in keeping with the media’s long history of belittling and denigrating Indigenous people, and as such entirely deserving of all the outrage it generated.

Yet a reliance on section 18 for redress means that anti-racists look to the courts for solutions, instead of, say, taking to the streets or organising a picket. To put it another way, legalistic solutions are demobilising, counterposed to the sorts of social movements that have won real change in the past.

In the Northern Territory, an astonishing 97% of children in juvenile detention centres are Indigenous. That’s an appalling statistic, symptomatic of something deeply wrong in Australian society. Redressing injustice on that scale requires activists, not lawyers.

By all means, we should be angry about racism in the press, no matter how much the Andrew Bolts howl in response. But we need to use that anger to mobilise for real change.

After all, that Star Trek kiss came at the high point of the 60s – an era of mass revolt on all kinds of fronts. There’s a lesson in that. If we transform the society, the media will follow.