NACCHO #MensHealthWeek Media Release : @NACCHOChair and Dr Mark Wenitong  “ Closing the Gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health : Plus case study Ingkintja Male Health Service at Congress ACCHO in Alice Springs

The commitment of our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) is to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males to live longer, healthier lives by providing a wide range of preventative men’s programs that address critical social and emotional issues that our men face.

The overall aim is reduce the rate of hospitalisations, which is almost three times higher than for other Australian men and to reduce the number of Aboriginal men in prison who are imprisoned at 11 times the rate of the general male population.”

I would urge our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to focus on their overall health after these two-three months of isolation and get a comprehensive annual 715 health check at their nearest ACCHO.  Annual health checks are crucial in picking up little things before they become worse, give peace of mind, and they are free.”

On the occasion of National Men’s Health Week, NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills

Download the NACCHO press release HERE

NACCHO Media Statement – Men’s Health Week v2.1 15 June

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has long recognised the importance of addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health as part of the Close the Gap initiatives.

Read over 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men’s Health articles published by NACCHO over 8 Years

Read this article above 

The history of NACCHO OCHRE Day events 2013- 2019

Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara Male Health Service at Congress ACCHO has for many years been a national leader in Aboriginal health, not only through its male-only comprehensive primary health care service providing a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services, but through the emphasis that the service places on preventative health with annual 715 health check and weekly engagements, servicing over 1,000 men every year.

See case study part 1 below : Photo above : Left right Terry Braun , John Liddle Manager , David Galvin , Wayne Campbell , Ken Lichleitner


The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO), Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Public Health Medical Officer, Dr Mark Wenitong, has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to improve their overall health and mental health.

His expertise and experience have led to his involvement in health reform with the Cape York Aboriginal communities with a dedicated team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male workers, who are getting great traction with their community men.

“The strength-based men’s programs delivered by Apunipima continue to see rise in participation rates and better outcomes for Cape York men. Though we still have a long way to go, more of the men are taking control and utilising our programs to support improving their mental health and overall wellbeing,” said Dr Wenitong.

Dr Mark Wenitong on what works in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men’s health

Part 1 Case Study Ingkintja Male Health Service at Congress ACCHO in Alice Springs 

Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara is an Aboriginal Male Health Service at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress that takes the lead in providing cultural activities and social and emotional wellbeing services for male health for many years.

The ACCHO delivers a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services with emphasis on preventative health with annual 715 health check, servicing over 1,000 men every year.

Ingkintja takes the lead in supporting men in cultural activities across central Australia by providing equipment and medical support when requested by community leaders.

Incorporated into the male-only service are washing facilities (showers and laundry facilities), a gym and ‘Men’s Shed’.

Congress’ decentralisation of social and emotional well-being services meant that a psychologist and Aboriginal care management worker are available through Ingkintja, allowing therapeutic care (counselling, violence interventions), brief interventions, cultural and social support to men.

Ingkintja has a history of hosting national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Heath events


Ingkintja also delivers the Jaila Wanti prison to work program, which provides support to Aboriginal prisoners 90 days prior to release and also post release to reintegrate back into community through the coordination of health, wellbeing and social support services.

Male prison transitional care coordinators work with clients on health and wellbeing, and facilitate linkages with employment and training provider. Through the program, Ingkintja deliver regular visits to Aboriginal prisoners in the Alice Springs Correctional facility; conducting sessions with Aboriginal prisoners on their holistic health and wellbeing including health promotions with a focus on staying off the smokes and grog.

Sessions also focus on cultural roots and family connections to rebuild cultural identify and self-worth, and to reinforce positive behaviours while also reflecting on the consequences of impulsivity and violent behaviours.

The team establish trust and respect and assist in reconnecting the men with family and culture and to reintegrate into community.  Corrections staff have provided encouraging feedback on the positive impact that these visits have on the Aboriginal prisoners, noting changed attitudes and behaviours as the men reflect on the impact of their actions and ask for the next Ingkintja session.

The Inkintja men’s wash facilities were recently upgraded and continue to be a vital and highly accessed service, especially for men living rough. The facility gives men the obvious benefit of being able to wash and gain self-worth, and provides a critical engagement opportunity for the team to perform health checks, medical follow-up and other necessary referrals to services to improve their health and wellbeing.

The Ingkintja men’s shed and gym has regular sessions that enable males, both young and old, to come together and access valuable skills, such fitness, comradery and practical life skills.

Ingkintja have also been equipped with a men’s health truck, currently being fitted out with three consult rooms, which will increase the reach of the service’s holistic approach further to remote communities in a culturally responsive – and mobile – way.


NACCHO #ClosingTheGap Aboriginal Health and #UluruStatement #Makarrata : #NAIDOC2019 Week : #Voice #Treaty #Truth. Donna Ah Chee @CAACongress Let’s work together for a shared future

This NAIDOC Week we need to lift our gaze and consider the bigger picture reforms required to take the next step forward.

A Voice to Parliament; agreements or treaties; and a process to enable systematic truth telling.

All of this is achievable, and all requires deep listening from the Australian community and a commitment to action if we are to all move forward together as a single, unified nation.”

Donna Ah Chee CEO Congress ACCHO Alice Springs

Voice. Treaty. Truth. This is the theme for NADIOC Week 2019, and the words have never been more relevant; especially in Central Australia.

The movement for constitutional recognition culminated in 2017 in a National Constitutional Convention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at Uluru. From this convention rose the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Put simply, this statement sums up where Aboriginal people see ourselves standing now and what we believe needs to be done to move forward for social justice; Voice, Treaty, Truth.

As Professor Megan Davis recently wrote “The Uluru Statement from the Heart was tactically issued to the Australian people, not Australian politicians. It is the people who can unlock the Australian Constitution for Aboriginal people, as they did in 1967, and the descendants of the ancient polities can unlock what is sorely lacking in this country, a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.”

Co-chair of the Referendum Council, Alywarre woman Pat Anderson said powerfully: “We need real change, because we, First Peoples, have something unique to offer this country. Our peoples have been here 65,000 years or more. Over these immeasurable periods we have developed a profound wisdom about this land and about what it means practically and spiritually to live here. We know this place. This is our place, and there is no doubt about it.”

Despite the enormity of the demands that Aboriginal people could make as peoples who never ceded sovereignty over the lands on which we now all live, our major demand is simply the right to be consulted about the legislation, policies and programs that are meant to help us.

The experience that Aboriginal people have had having been on the ‘underside’ of Australian history places us in a unique position from which to consider the laws and policies before Parliament and make suggestions for improvements that could make Australia a better place for all of us.

Having a constitutionally enshrined Voice in parliament would mean that the people who have actually experienced real poverty and hardship would finally be able to use this lens to consider the laws and policy decisions proposed in Parliament.

Just this week we heard from Kerry O’Brien on being inducted into the Logies Hall of Famefor his outstanding contribution to journalism, that “the failure to reconcile Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia remained one big glaring gap in this nation’s story.” While lamenting the “awful racism this country is capable of”, he said that the Uluru Statement— which endorsed a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous representative body — offered hope for the future. Why is this seen by so many to be so important?

Relative to their numbers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are politically marginalised in Australia. The seventy years following Federation saw not a single First Nations representative elected to any Australian parliament, only changing in 1971 when Neville Bonner entered the Australian Senate.

Since then only 38 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been elected to any of the State, Territory or Federal parliaments; 22 of these being in the Northern Territory. Even today, the unprecedented four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people we have seated in our national parliament only reflects 1.8% of all representatives.

A small number already, made even smaller when compared to the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 3% of the Australian population, a number that is rising.

The systemic under-representation of Aboriginal people is mirrored in senior decision-making roles within public services across Australia. It is a powerful contributor to the lack of an accountable, informed, and sustained approach to Aboriginal issues, and the limited success in reaching the Closing the Gap targets.

Since the now famous Whitehall studies of the 1970s, ‘the control factor’ has been recognised as an important contributor to patterns of disease. The evidence shows that the less control people have over their lives and environment, the more likely they are to suffer ill health. Powerlessness is an identified risk factor for disease for Aboriginal Australians.

Aboriginal peoples’ lack of control of their lives is expressed at a national, systemic level through the absence of a national political representative institution; at a community level through their marginalisation from decision-making about programs that affect their own communities; and at an individual level through their experience of racism.

You only have to look at the poor implementation record of inquiry after inquiry into issues surrounding the health and wellbeing of the nation’s First Peoples for evidence of the absence of any real political influence.

Over the last three decades we have seen (most significantly) the National Aboriginal Health Strategy (1989), the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (1991) and the Bringing Them Home report (1997). They are among numerous other Royal Commissions and parliamentary inquiries into issues surrounding Aboriginal disadvantage resulting in recommendations that have not been fully implemented. I often think there needs to be a Royal Commission into the failure to implement so many Royal Commissions.

A genuine commitment to ‘Closing the Gap’ must include the establishment of a national representative body for Australia’s First Nations, as was recommended by the Referendum Council after extensive consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.

This must come alongside a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making and truth-telling between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Such changes, foreshadowed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart,have the support of the overwhelming majority of Aboriginal people and would provide the basis for substantive change in Aboriginal lives, as opposed to mere symbolic recognition.

This NAIDOC Week we need to lift our gaze and consider the bigger picture reforms required to take the next step forward. A Voice to Parliament; agreements or treaties; and a process to enable systematic truth telling. All of this is achievable, and all requires deep listening from the Australian community and a commitment to action if we are to all move forward together as a single, unified nation.

First published in the Centralian Advocate July 4 2019

Aboriginal Male Health Talking powerfully from the heart @CAACongress and @CASSEaustralia Launch Kurruna Mwarre Ingkintja – Good Spirit Men’s Place – Research Project Report : Download



 ” Establishing a male leadership group, having a place for males and addressing violence have been identified as key priorities in a research project to investigate ways to develop a best practice Aboriginal Men’s Shed in Alice Springs.

The Kurruna Mwarre-Ingkintja (Good Spirit Males Place) Research Project, a collaboration between the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) and Creating A Safe Supportive Environment (CASSE) – commenced in 2015 with the aim of developing a unique Aboriginal Men’s Shed Model, along cultural lines, to empower men to find their voices and live authentically.

For two years prior, many consultations were held with Aboriginal men and communities to determine the direction and need for pending research. The research has been philanthropically funded.”

The completed research report will be launched at THE OLD COURTHOUSE, ALICE SPRINGS, at 12.30 PM on FRIDAY 9 MARCH 2018, followed by a BBQ. MEDIA ARE INVITED TO ATTEND.




Read over 342 Aboriginal Male Health articles published by NACCHO in last 6 Years

Ken Lechleitner Pangarte, the primary Researcher Officer, is an Anmatjere and Western Arrernte man with a cultural reputation for being able to move between the two worlds and for being an advocate for change for his people.

On establishing a male leadership group, Ken said: “This group of males shaped the direction of where the research should go, not to the bookshelves to gather dust, but create an entity to ensure findings are implemented into becoming outcomes.”

The group identified the need for new Aboriginal organisations, while operating alongside, and to provide a place for men to go to receive the physical, social and psychological support they need to get their lives on track, leading to establishment of the Blokes On Track Aboriginal Corporation (BOTAC).

“Establishing BOTAC was a breakthrough in finding a solution to engaging multiple services and these services have indicated that they would be happy working with a mutual body like BOTAC providing the required male leadership,” Ken stated.

The project included qualitative research interviews with 23 male participants living in Alice Springs that illuminated critical aspects of men’s experiences. Fourteen of the men agreed to have their interviews on public record and are published in “Talking Powerfully from the Heart – Interviews by Ken Lechleitner”, providing a moving adjunct to the research report.

“Their interviews brought to light and to life new found voices for males from central Australia,” Ken said.

Pamela Nathan, Director of CASSE’s Aboriginal Australian Relations Program, Senior Investigator, co-supervised the project and stated that the interviews “illuminated critical aspects of men’s experiences. Their recognition of the degree to which they have unmet emotional and psychological needs was striking – an aspect of their experience that seemed unrecognised by the wider public.

“The men say they hide their feelings that ‘they hurt, they bleed they have pain’, ‘all suffering’, feel ‘degraded and scorned’, ‘disempowered’, ‘lost’, ‘devalued’ and ‘unrecognised,’ seen as ‘violent losers’ and more.”

A key component of the project was trialling the psychoanalytically informed 15week ‘BreakThrough Violence’ group treatment program for the prevention and treatment of violence. The program privileges cultural and emotional experiences.

The summary of participants in the group program is an indictment of the system –many of the men were repeat violent offenders and many had not before received treatment for violence, let alone treatment in a culturally appropriate manner:

  • 32 men regularly participated in the weekly program
  • over two thirds (23 men) had not attended a violence treatment program before
  • nearly all (30) of the men were mandated
  • over two-thirds (20 men) had committed violent offences
  • 21 of the men had been in gaol before
  • 15 had been in gaol at least twice if not more often.
  • 5 of the men had been in gaol over five times.
  • 23 of the men were substance affected at the time of the offence.
  • The majority of men were aged between 20 and 40
  • Half the men lived in remote communities, with slightly less living in town
  • 30 out of the 34 men said they found the group helpful.

“These statistics reinforce the comment made last year by the Northern Territory Coroner Greg Cavanagh that “the current focus on policing and punishments are not providing the answer to the NT’s domestic violence problem””, said Pamela and Ken.

Final recommendations from the Kurruna Mwarre-Ingkintja Research Project report include:

  1. Establish a services agreement between Non-Government and Government Organisations through Blokes On Track Aboriginal Corporation (BOTAC)
  2. Establishment of Male Cultural Place
  3. Establishment of Psychological Place Health Retreat
  4. Men’s Residential area
  5. Chronic Disease Care Management services to be provided into the Male place
  6. Palliative Care Services on Country
  7. Establish a lease agreement with Iwupataka Land Trust
    7.1 Public Space area
    7.2 Restaurant / Café
    7.3 Market Place

For over 40 years, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) has provided support and advocacy for Aboriginal people in the struggle for justice and equity. Since that time, Congress has expanded to become the largest Aboriginal community-controlled health organisation in the Northern Territory, providing a comprehensive, holistic and culturally-appropriate primary health care service to Aboriginal people living in and nearby Alice Springs, including five remote communities; Amoonguna, Ntaria (and Wallace Rockhole), Santa Teresa, Utju (Areyonga) and Mutitjulu. Today, we are one of the most experienced Aboriginal primary health care services in the country, a strong political advocate of closing the gap on Aboriginal health disadvantage and a national leader in improving health outcomes for all Aboriginal people.

CASSE (Creating A Safe Supportive environment) is a psychological not-for-profit organisation with the vision to change minds in order to save lives. CASSE aims to promote safe, supportive environments through psychoanalytic awareness. We focus on empowering people and communities to understand and work through their trauma (manifest by suicide, depression, violence, substance usage) by preserving and strengthening cultural life and capacity between the generations in a self-determining way.

NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health Successful #earlychildhood programs deliver significant improvements in the health and well-being of Aboriginal children and families. #ABetterStarttoLife #ANFPP #New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services program and #Preschool Readiness Program

Through Better Start to Life, Danila Dilba has recently begun offering home nurse visits, meaning Darwin children and families now have more culturally appropriate access to antenatal and postnatal care.

We know that Mums participating in this program have fewer low birth weight babies, higher rates of breastfeeding and very high infant immunisation rates. We are also seeing women accessing antenatal care earlier in their pregnancies.

By wrapping services around families, locally focussed programs like this are also important in helping guard against the development of chronic conditions in later life, such as rheumatic heart disease and kidney failure.”

Visiting Darwin’s Danila Dilba Health Service last week , the Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, said the programs promised to help in Closing the Gap in health equality and were already having a measurable impact.

Read over 294 NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health articles published over the past 6 years

 ” In Alice Springs, the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress is targeting at-risk Indigenous children before they even start preschool.

The Preschool Readiness Program has up to 10 places for children between the ages of three and four who have been identified as having developmental delays or come from challenging home environments “

Preschool readiness program for Indigenous children takes holistic approach at Congress Alice Springs see Part 2

 ” Wonderful success story: early life investment optimises children & family wellbeing.

No need to talk about government failure when our communities can be so successful given right resourcing, support, authority & control ”

Kerry Arabena Professor Indigenous Health Leading


PDF printable version of Giving our Indigenous Children a Better Start to Life – PDF 361 KB

Two successful early childhood programs delivering significant improvements in the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families will be expanded across an additional 19 new sites.

The Turnbull Government is investing $94 million over three years in A Better Start to Life, which consists of two streams: The Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program (ANFPP) and the New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services program.

The Danila Dilba Health Service through the ANFPP is receiving $1.68 million for the 2017-2018 financial year.

    • The New Directions program targets five priority areas, including:
    • Care before and immediately after birth
    • Detailed information about baby care
    • Practical advice and assistance with breast-feeding, nutrition and parenting
    • Monitoring development, immunisations and infections
    • Health checks and referrals to treatment for children before they start school

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare research highlighted that families participating in New Directions program registered improvements in seven out of the eight national Key Performance Indicators on maternal and child health.

“While lifetime health care is important, intensive support from before birth to three years old – the critical first 1,000 days – has the greatest impact on our children’s futures,” said Minister Wyatt.

“It augurs well for thousands of young Indigenous kids that 14 new sites are implementing the New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services program and five new sites are delivering the Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program.”

The number of New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services sites now totals 124, along with 13 Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program sites.

Twelve more New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services program locations are due to be announced by July this year, taking the national total to 136.

The new sites are:

Australian Nurse Family Partnership Program Organisations
Indigenous Areas
Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative Ltd
Campaspe – Shepparton – Moira
Durri Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service
Greater Western Aboriginal Health Service
Wurli Wurlinjang Aboriginal Corporation
Katherine Town
Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service (ACT) Inc
Canberra North
Canberra South
New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services Organisations
Indigenous Areas
Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service
Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service
Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service Ltd
Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Primary Health Care Service
Kuranda – Croydon
Gurriny Yealamucka (Good Healing) Health Services Aboriginal Corporation
Apunipima Cape York Health Council
NPA Family and Community Services Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Corp
Northern Peninsula Area
Derby Aboriginal Health Service Council Aboriginal Corporation
Derby Mowanjum
Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service
Broome – Surrounds
South-West Aboriginal Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation
Pika Wiya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation
Port Augusta
Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation
South East
Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Health Service (Aboriginal Corporation)
Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Inc

Part 2 Preschool readiness program for Indigenous children takes holistic approach

In Alice Springs, the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress is targeting at-risk Indigenous children before they even start preschool.

The Preschool Readiness Program has up to 10 places for children between the ages of three and four who have been identified as having developmental delays or come from challenging home environments.

From Here

Senior manager of Child and Family Services at Congress, Dawn Ross, said it was important to create an environment that was similar to a preschool at a primary school.

“We have purchased items that would enable a child to feel friendly and be familiarised with what a preschool would be like if they went to preschool and that’s what our program is really about is getting kids familiarised and ready,” she said.

Victoria Croker enrolled her son Jaxon in the program in 2017 after his preschool teacher thought he may not be ready for school yet..

“He wasn’t quite interested in mat time and eating with the other kids so that’s kind of where we thought he needed a bit of extra help.”

Like many new mothers, Ms Croker struggled after the birth of her first child.

Photo: Dawn Ross, senior manager of Child and Family Services at Congress, Victoria Croker and her young son Matthew Rosas. (ABC Alice Springs: Emma Haskin)

“I had a bit of a rough patch there. With the support that these guys offer, it’s just amazing,” she said.

“They bring in a doctor to see the children one-on-one and have time with the parents, and ask how the parents are going at home with everything and if need be they do the referrals and they help you to get to your appointments for the child’s referrals.”

Ms Croker said his teachers from mainstream preschool had noticed a transformation in Jaxon.

“A huge difference — he’s a totally different kid now,” she said.

“It was good that they had just a small group so they could focus on the kids one-on-one. He didn’t have a lot of playgroup, so the program was really good to teach him routine, putting things away, and doing things on his own.”

Early intervention key for future success

The program’s team leader and psychologist Bianka Schulz-Allen said it helped to know the children’s background story and how that may impact on their development.

She said it was common for children in their program to come from highly traumatic situations.

“What we do know is that when parents are impacted by trauma like domestic violence or alcohol, or any of those things, it does impact on the children’s development and therefore we need to target the children and the parents in our interventions,” she said.

Ms Schulz-Allen said early intervention was vital to ensure future success in mainstream education.

“We measure children on several domains of their development like fine motor development, gross motor development, speech, receptive language, expressive language.

“All of those things and what we’ve measured is that all children in our program actually show a big improvement but mainly the language domain which allows them to progress in school.”

Photo: Educators at the Congress Preschool Readiness Program, Mark Lockyer, Bianka Schulz-Allen and Bronwyn Fielding. (ABC Alice Springs: Emma Haskin)

Positive male role models

The program’s only male educator, Mark Lockyer, provided the children with a positive role model.

“I’ve been working with the program for about six months now and I’m enjoying it a lot,” he said.

“I like working with families and building relationships with families and getting the family’s engagement with their children.

“Families are welcome to come along to the preschool readiness program and be a part of it as well.”

Mr Lockyer said trust was vital when engaging with the family and the children.

“We’re working with their children so we want them to build up their relationship and they can trust us with their children’s education,” Mr Lockyer said.

The program’s involvement continues when the children go into mainstream preschool.

“They’re happy to see us and that we can talk to the teachers at the preschool as well and say what that child is like and how that child has improved,” he said.

“It’s good seeing the improvements of the child plus seeing that child have the confidence to start preschool.”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Training News: Congress #ACCHO Alice Springs wins major Training Large Employer of the Year Award

“Receiving this award is great recognition of what can be achieved through the combination of a Workforce Engagement and Development Plan, a dedicated Leadership team and an Aboriginal Staff Advisory Committee.

With a workforce of 399 staff and over 50% Aboriginal employment, training is critical to achieving Congress’ strategic objectives through building a skilled workforce that has appropriate clinical and non-clinical skills to deliver culturally‑safe and responsive health care to Aboriginal people .

Accredited and non-accredited training remains a commitment across our entire workforce, establishing an Aboriginal workforce is critical to closing the gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal people and Congress strategic plan. “

Chief Executive Officer, Donna Ah Chee. ( See NACCHO TV Interview HERE )

Photo above  : Tracey Donnellan Brand : General Manager Health Services Division CACC accepting the award in Darwin

Congress is thrilled to be named 2017 Large Employer of the Year at the NT Training Awards.

The Large Employer of the Year Award recognises organisations with a workforce of  200+ employees that has achieved excellence in the provision of nationally recognised training to its employees.

Congress has a proud 43 year history of providing comprehensive Aboriginal community controlled health care to over 15,000 Aboriginal people in Alice Springs and across six remote Aboriginal communities in Central Australia.

For more info about CAAC download cphc-congress-final-report

The Congress Workforce Engagement and Development Plan was precipitated by the Congress Board of Directors establishing a benchmark of 60% Aboriginal employment.  The Plan builds on a number of innovative strategies to support Aboriginal people to gain employment and qualifications and to build on our existing workforce including:

  • A cadetship program that supports Aboriginal people to attain undergraduate tertiary qualifications in a health, early childhood or commerce field.
  • A traineeship program employing trainees across a number of health, early childhood and administrative positions, providing on the job and accredited Certificate IV training and career in Congress.
  • An Aboriginal Health Practitioner (AHP) focused traineeship program with 13 AHP trainees progressing towards Certificate IV in Aboriginal Primary Health Care with a pathway to an AHP career in Congress.
  • A Diploma of Leadership and Management program focused on supporting Aboriginal staff into management positions.
  • Provision of nationally accredited mentoring set skill set for Managers and mentors.
  • 63 staff currently actively engaged in training from Certificate III to post graduate qualifications, with the predominate focus on investing in our Aboriginal workforce.
  • Strategic focus on Professional Development, training and study across our entire workforce with generous paid leave available to staff.

Accredited and non-accredited training remains a commitment across our entire workforce, establishing an Aboriginal workforce is critical to closing the gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal people and Congress strategic plan” said Chief Executive Officer, Donna Ah Chee.

Congress acknowledges our training partners, Central Australian Remote Health Development Service and Batchelor Institute.

Congress delivers comprehensive health care across 13 Health Services in Alice Springs and six remote Aboriginal communities in Central Australia

Part 2 Congress Education & Training Service

What do we do?

Our Education and Training Service provides a range of education and training opportunities to Aboriginal people interested in pursuing a rewarding and meaningful career in Aboriginal health.

  • Traineeships
  • Cadetships
  • HLT40213 Certificate IV in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care Practice


Congress traineeships are offered to Aboriginal school leavers seeking work experience and/or Aboriginal people looking to return to work and or a career change, who are interested in building career in the field of Aboriginal health or related administrative and corporate service.

Congress traineeships provide full-time employment for 12-18 months (role dependant) leading to a nationally accredited qualification (Certificate III or IV) on completion.


Congress offers cadetships to Aboriginal people who are undertaking full-time study at university in a health, social services or business administrative field and who are seeking on the job training in their field.

Cadetships are offered on a fixed-term basis for the duration of the university course length.

Cadetships include:

  • full-time study on campus;
  • 12 weeks full-time per year paid Congress placement;
  • mentoring and coaching with Congress professional;
  • allowance for text books/equipment;
  • weekly allowance paid for study periods; and
  • allowance for accommodation and travel costs.

Course fees and HELP fees are the responsibility of the cadet.


Congress works in partnership with Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE) to provide accredited training to Congress students and trainees, specifically the HLT40213 Certificate IV in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care Practice course.

The training component is delivered by BITE through its workshop program based at the Desert Peoples Centre (DPC) in Alice Springs.

Congress supports this training through students undertaking clinical practice within their own services. Congress will also accept other BIITE students on clinical placement and will share with BIITE resources to provide access to the Communicare system.

For more information regarding the HLT40213 Certificate IV visit the BIITE website here.

How to apply:

For more information on available positions, eligibility and how to apply visit the Jobs page or email

Opening hours

Mon – Fri  8.30am – 5pm

Contact Details

Human Resources
(08) 8959 4771

Traineeships and Cadetships – Training & Development Coordinator
(08) 8959 4771

Aboriginal Children’s Health : Targeted Early Childhood learning programs 6 months to 3 years key to #healthyfutures

By age four children in the most well off families had been exposed to 32 million more words than children in welfare dependent families,

In addition to this, children in the most well off families had been exposed to 560,000 more positive affirmations than negative, whereas in the welfare families children had 160,000 more negative affirmations than positive.

This is a staggering difference of 720,000 from a supportive environment towards a discouraging one.”

The next generation of young people, who are likely to be impulsive, have unhealthy brain development leading to poor school performance, develop alcohol and other drug addictions, be violent on the streets and incarcerated, are already there.

We must do better at preventing this from occurring and early childhood is key.”

Ms Donna Ah Chee is the CEO of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Alice Springs which, not surprisingly, has early childhood care as its top priority.

Pictured above : Ms Ah Chee , Doctor John Boffa and staff showing  NACCHO CEO Pat Turner through  ” Arrwekele akaltye—irretyeke ampere ”   A targeted Early Childhood learning program  Aboriginal children 6 months to 3 years

See NACCHO TV Interview with Donna Ah Chee

” Denying children stimulation – talking with them, reading to them, praising them – very early in their life is more serious than either sexual abuse or physical abuse in terms of impact on life long health and well being.

Donna Ah Chee quoted these findings by the Harvard Centre on the Developing Child at a keynote address to a recent  national health conference in Alice Springs.

Originally published in Alice Springs News Online

Congress has runs on the board. It is one of the oldest Aboriginal NGOs in town, founded in 1973.

“We [Aboriginal people] controlled it from the beginning, and still do,” she says.

“In some ways we had no choice. Our health status was very poor as you can see from the infant mortality rate and Life Expectancy figures in 1973 when Congress started.

“The mainstream health system had completely failed us.”

There was a heavy dose of politics to get the point across.

Congress was the key organiser of the first land rights rally here  “as the newly formed organisation was clear about the connections between health, control, land, culture, employment, shelter and so on long before we started to use the language of ‘Social Determinants of Health’.”

Congress has had a role in an improving health system that has had many big players, not least the NT and Federal governments: Infant mortality in the mid ’70s was 120 per 1000 live births. Now it is 10. Life expectancy for men was 52 – now 63; and 54 for women – now 70.

The organisation now looks after 12,000 people a year, including 2000 bush visitors.

“Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man,” Ms Ah Chee quotes the 17th century saint Francis Xavier.

“Children who start behind tend to fall further behind. Babies are born with 25% of their brains developed, and there is then a rapid period of development so that by the age of three their brains are 80% developed.”

Ms Ah Chee quotes epidemiologist Sir Michael Marmot, former chair of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health, producer of “Closing the Gap in a Generation” in 2008 and recently presenting the Boyer Lecture series on the ABC.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health #SDoH #MarmotOz : ‘Aunty, with our prospects in life – what is the point of being healthy?

She says he published the results of a British study on 70,000 children all born in 1970.

“He showed that brain development by age four is highly dependent on being read to every day, conversational language in the home, going to bed at the same time every night, being part of a good playgroup and being physically active – that is responsive parenting,” says Ms Ah Chee.

“Such programs can help some children to “leapfrog” out of the intergenerational disadvantage that they are otherwise destined to.

“They can reverse the large social gradient seen in this graph. In the second Boyer lecture Professor Marmot describes one such program that has achieved this in the poorest part of London – in Hackney,” she says.



“Yet in spite of all the evidence for the effectiveness of early years interventions this is how most OECD countries spend their funds – it is the inverse of what is needed,” flicking the graph  on the screen.

She says more than 70% of Aboriginal mothers who have accepted participating in the Congress early childhood program “are significantly educationally disadvantaged so it is reaching the right families.

“Corresponding with the educational disadvantage is the reality that 80% are not working and have incomes of less than $500 per week.

“The program is clearly accessing some of the most disadvantaged families in Alice Springs with whom it will have it greatest impact.”

She says there needs to be one carer for every four children “but the carers can be community people trained on the job. This is another advantage to this approach as it provides employment for local Aboriginal people who want to care for kids.”

The primary health care sector through “its antenatal care and healthy kids checks establishes supportive relationships with mothers, families and children in the critical period from conception to age three.

“The education sector should continue to take responsibility for pre-school from age three and primary education. This is how the two sectors should work together in partnership to ensure all children get the best possible start to life.”

When Congress started 40 years ago, infant mortality rates were around 170 deaths per 1,000 live births and now they are around 12 . Our babies are no longer dying from easily preventable causes and the challenge has moved to the promotion of healthier development.
More than 300 staff are able to provide more than 160,000 episodes of care each year to about 12,000 Aboriginal people living in Alice Springs and in six remote community clinics in Central Australia.”

The Congress’s Chief Executive Officer, Ms Donna Ah Chee, says there has been a 30% decrease in all cause mortality for Aboriginal people in the NT since 2001

Download the Report Here : CPHC Congress Final Report


NACCHO CTG member response :NT only jurisdiction on track to close the gap by 2031: Congress Alice Springs

Donna Ah chee

Closing the Gap is working but requires long term commitment and investment

“The NT is the only jurisdiction currently on track to close the gap by 2031.

This achievement is in large part, the result of governments working in genuine partnership with Aboriginal community-controlled health services and investing new funds where they are most needed.

This is strong evidence that the significant investment in the NT, especially the investment in Aboriginal primary health care, is working”,

 Ms Donna Ah Chee (pictured above left )the CEO of Congress, NACCHO board member and former CEO of NACCHO

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation welcomed the latest Closing the Gap report card, calling for an emphasis on continued commitment and long-term investment by the Council of Australian Governments to meet meaningful targets in Aboriginal disadvantage.

“Overall there has only been a small improvement across the nation in closing the life expectancy gap for Aboriginal people. However, looking at averages across the nation does not tell the story of significant improvement in Aboriginal life expectancy rates in the Northern Territory. The NT is the only jurisdiction currently on track to close the gap by 2031. This achievement is in large part, the result of governments working in genuine partnership with Aboriginal community-controlled health services and investing new funds where they are most needed. This is strong evidence that the significant investment in the NT, especially the investment in Aboriginal primary health care, is working”, said Ms Donna Ah Chee the CEO of Congress.

“The fact that the nation is on track to achieve its goal to halve the gap in year 12 educational attainment by 2020 is important. Achieving better educational outcomes is largely a precursor to stable, meaningful employment at a reasonable income level. However, the improvement in education is not uniform and a lot more needs to be done in remote communities across the NT.

“Although the addition of a new target on closing the gap in school attendance rates may be useful, Congress is disappointed that the new target was not more directly focused on closing the gap in actual Educational outcomes. Attendance at school is important but it it’s only a means to a successful outcome which is completing year 12 studies and being fully literate and numerate. If children have entered school without the developmental capacity to learn and do well then attendance alone will not be sufficient to address the gap in educational and employment outcomes.

“Congress suggested that the new target could have been to close the gap in the Australian Early Development Index scores of children aged five years, as this is the key to closing the gap in both school attendance and successful educational outcomes. We need a “bottom up” strategy to addressing school attendance which ensures our kids enter school capable and ready so that school is where they want to be not where they have to be.

“Congress also welcomed the improvement in Aboriginal child mortality rates.

“It is a concern that there has been no progress on some targets, especially the employment target, but there is a wide ranging review currently underway on this issue which will hopefully lead to some useful new approaches. In the meantime, it is vital that all Australian governments, through COAG, recommit to the long term cooperation and  investment that is clearly working though the Closing the Gap National Partnership Agreements”, said Ms Ah Chee.

For more information, contact Emily MacKenzie, Communications Officer, on 8953 7814 or by email at

NACCHO Male Health news: Aboriginal Men Heed the Call for Better Health

Male Health Summit - Ross River Resort - July 2013

Outcomes from this summit will follow later this week

About 120 Aboriginal men from across Australia have joined together at a national summit to identify ways to improve the health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males in remote communities.


Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, said today the three-day summit involved men from 29 communities from the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.

“For the first time, we are working closely with the men who live in these areas and asking them for their recommendations and ideas on ways to improve their health and the health of their families and communities,” he said.

“The summit will discuss a number of issues impacting health, including physical, social and emotional wellbeing, culture, employment, incarceration, and access to services in remote Aboriginal communities.

“At the end of the Summit, we hope to have developed some plans for action they can take back to their communities.” 

 The Australian Government’s National Partnership on Remote Service Delivery has identified each of the communities represented at the Summit as a priority area.

Under the partnership, the Government is working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve service delivery and facilities, to raise the quality of services, and support community leadership.

“Rather than having Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel like they’re part of the problem, we want to encourage and support Aboriginal men to be part of the solution,” Mr Snowdon said.

 The Australian Government has provided $440,000 to support the Aboriginal Health Summit in partnership with the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and Wurli Wurlinjang Health Service.

The Australian Government has funded a wide range of programs targeting men’s health, following the release of the National Male Health Policy. Including initiatives to prevent and treat prostate cancer, new funding for mental health programs aimed at men, supporting Men’s Sheds and funding organisations that address key male health issues including reproductive health.

There has also been funding committed towards programs to address the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men. Recognising and promoting the positive roles Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males have in managing their own health, and in supporting the health of all members of their communities including women and children.

The Australian Government is also investing in providing better treatment for men with prostate cancer, with about 20,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Abiraterone acetate (marketed as Zytiga®) will be available on the PBS from 1 August 2013, at a cost of $46 million over four years. 

Funding of $7 million over four years was recently announced to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia to support up to 13 Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurses to assist and support up to 4,000 men with prostate cancer.

In an effort to address suicide rates particularly among males, the Federal Government is investing $23 million to expand the beyondblue national workplace program, and building on the Info Line for men.

Campaigns are also being developed to address the stigma around depression, anxiety and related disorders.

Through the Strong Fathers Strong Families (SFSF) initiative $6.8 million has been provided to promote the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers, partners, grandfathers and uncles and encourage them to actively participate in their children’s and families’ lives.

More than $300,000 has been provided to establish, equip and promote Men’s Sheds as a positive contributor towards health, wellbeing and community engagement issues within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

White Lion has been granted $275,000 to provide intensive outreach support for young Aboriginal people who are incarcerated or have recently been released from incarceration.

 Media Contact: Marcus Butler  02 6277 7820 or  0417 917 796


Minister Warren Snowdon - Male Health Summit - Ross River Resort

Congress Alice Springs a monumental decision, members vote for change.

2012-12 CAAC Board  CEO

In what is undoubtedly a monumental decision, the members of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (‘Congress’) have voted to transfer the organisation to become registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act).

Left to right:The new board

 Chansey Paech, Donna McMasters, Dawn Ross (Treasurer), Chippy Miller, Joe Hayes, William Tilmouth (President), Donna Ah Chee (CEO).

 For almost 40 years, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Inc. (‘Congress’) has provided holistic primary health care services to Aboriginal people in Alice Springs and Central Australia. Congress has grown to be the largest Aboriginal community-controlled health organisation in the Northern Territory and, until this point, has been registered under the Associations Act NT 2003.

The changes were voted on as Congress held a General Meeting today at the Alice Springs Convention Centre, attended by 93 members.

A new board was elected (to be formed upon the registration of Congress under the CATSI Act) and will remain in place until the next Annual General Meeting in late 2013.

Members of the new board are:

 William Tilmouth (President)

 Dawn Ross (Treasurer)

 Joseph Hayes (General)

 Donna McMasters (General)

 Chippy Miller (General)

 Chansey Paech (Youth)

The meeting also voted to accept a new rule book (Constitution) for Congress.

“I’d just like to thank the community for attending today, and for electing me as President,” said President-elect William Tilmouth. “I’ve always been known for strong accountability, and strong accountability to the people we serve; it’s because of them that we exist.

“It’s encouraging to see the new board and their enthusiasm to work with management to bring about the necessary changes in order to meet the charter of Congress and the expectations of government and the community.

“I’m also a strong believer in partnerships; we need community relationships in order to deliver services to the people who need them most.

“We are no longer a closed shop,” Mr Tilmouth added. “We are committed, as the new board, to being open and transparent.”


Media contact: Emma Ringer, Communications Officer Ph: 0408 741 691 / 08 8958 3664

NACCHO members take out Chronic Diseases Network Recognition Awards

 Danila Dilba Health Service and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

The dedication and leadership of Northern Territory health professionals working in the field of chronic diseases has been celebrated in Darwin this evening.

Minister for Health David Tollner hosted the Chronic Diseases Network Recognition Awards, one of the highlights of the 16th Annual Chronic Diseases Network Conference, which opened today.

“The Chronic Diseases Network Recognition Awards are an opportunity to identify and celebrate the innovation, leadership and achievements of the Northern Territory’s chronic diseases health professionals,” Mr Tollner said.

“Individuals, teams and organisations from across the Territory have been nominated by their peers, colleagues and clients for their contributions to tackling chronic diseases in the NT.

“The awards are testament to the great work being done to improve the health of Territorians and to reduce the likelihood of chronic diseases in our younger generation and generations to come.

“Tonight’s function is also a chance to welcome experts and health workers from across the Territory and Australia to Darwin where they will share their knowledge and skills during the two-day conference.

“It is with great pleasure that I congratulate all of the hardworking health professionals nominated for awards, those highly commended and especially the award winners for their valued contribution to fighting chronic diseases.”

The theme of this year’s conference and awards is ‘Promoting Healthy Childhood – Preventing Chronic Conditions’ and focuses on childhood links to chronic diseases.

2012 Chronic Diseases Network Recognition Awards Winners:

Chronic Disease Health Promotion/Program Delivery (team or organisation)

Award Winner: Health Promotion Team, Casuarina Community Care Centre

Highly Commended: Milikapiti Primary Health Care Team

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Leadership

Award Winner: Barbara Cox, Strong Women Strong Babies Strong Culture Coordinator, Top End West, Department of Health

Highly Commended: Sally Ann Sherman, Manager of the Mobile Health Service, Danila Dilba Health Service

Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Chronic Disease (individual)

Award Winner: Robyn Williams, Senior Lecturer, Charles Darwin University

Highly Commended: Kraut Hauth, Renal Case Manager at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

CDN Conference Theme ‘Promoting Healthy Childhood – Preventing Chronic Conditions’

Award Winner: Pre-school Readiness Program at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

Highly Commended: Beatrice Parry, Child Health Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Nauiu Health Centre