NACCHO Guide to Aboriginal Health and the #Budget2018NACCHO : What @NACCHOAustralia @AMAPresident @RACP @CroakeyNews and 21 peak health groups would like to see in tonight’s #Healthbudget18 ?


We need political will to #CloseTheGap. There are volumes of research, strategies and action plans sitting with governments – but they are not being properly resourced and funded. Make it right in tonight’s Budget “

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said that the culmination of key reviews, under the guidance of Health Minister Greg Hunt, provides the Government with a rare opportunity to embark on a new era of ‘big picture’ health reform – but it will need significant long-term investment.

Also read NACCHO Aboriginal Health @AMAPresident Download AMA Pre-Budget Submission 2018-19 #Indigenous health reform – needs significant long-term investment

 ” The Federal Government must provide long-term funding certainty for the Medical Outreach Indigenous Chronic Disease Program, which is focused on preventing, detecting and managing chronic disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

RACP President Dr Catherine Yelland

Download the full submission here or read Aboriginal health extracts below


Historical background RACP Associate Professor Noel Hayman

 “I’ve been working in the field of Indigenous health for 20 years now. The major changes, trends that I’ve seen over the years, has been improvements in infant mortality. But the one that contrasts that is the worsening mortality in middle age—we see high rates of mortality in Aboriginal people in their 40s and 50s. And this is due to chronic disease, particularly diabetes, ischaemic heart disease and chronic kidney disease.

Associate Professor Noel Hayman, Clinical Director of the Inala Indigenous Health Service in Brisbane.

He was the first Aboriginal GP in Queensland, and the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person to become a Fellow of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine at the RACP.

From Interview June 2016 Listen HERE

RACP Press Release

Doctors are calling for the Federal Government to provide long-term funding to programs that prevent, detect and manage chronic disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
As detailed in the Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ pre-budget submission, these programs could help ensure better health outcomes and close the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes and those of the non-Indigenous community.

The RACP recommends that the Australian government :

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

• Allocate secure long-term funding to progress the strategies and actions identified in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (NATSIHP) Implementation Plan.

• Provide secure, long-term funding for the Rural Health Outreach Fund (RHOF) and Medical Outreach Indigenous Chronic Disease Program (MOICDP).

• Build and support the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders by committing secure long-term funding to the Indigenous National Health Leadership Forum.

• Reinstate funding for a clearinghouse modelled on the previous Closing the Gap clearinghouse, in line with the recommendations of the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. Allocate sufficient funding for the implementation of the Fifth National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood-Borne Viruses (BBV) and Sexually Transmissible Infections (STI) Strategy.

• Fund the syphilis outbreak short-term action plan and coordinate this response with long term strategies.

• Allocate long-term funding for primary health care and community- led sexual health programs to embed STI/BBV services as core primary health care (PHC) activity, and to ensure timely and culturally supported access to specialist care when needed, to achieve low rates of STIs and good sexual health care for all Australians.

• Invest in and support a long-term multi-disciplinary sexual health workforce and integrate with PHC to build longstanding trust with communities.

• Allocate funding for STI and HIV point of care testing (POCT) devices, the development of guidelines for POCT devices and Medicare funding for the use of POCT devices.

Extract from Pre budget submission

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to experience poorer health outcomes than non-Indigenous Australians.

The latest ‘Closing the Gap’ report found that Australia is not on track to close the life expectancy gap by 2031 – with the gap remaining close to ten years for both men and women.

The gap for deaths from cancer between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians has in fact widened in recent years, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer death rates increasing by 21 percent between 1998 and 2015, while there was a 13 per cent decline for non-Indigenous Australians in the same period8.

To address these inequities and improve access to care, continuing and strengthened focus and appropriate long-term funding is required. It is imperative that there is secure funding for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 (NATSIHP) Implementation Plan.

Funding uncertainty and frequent changes create significant issues that impact the continuity of services to patients and organisations in their ability to retain and build their capacity.

Read in full NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Sexual Health @TheRACP 2018-19 Pre-#budget submission : Long-term funding needed to improve #Indigenous health


”  A December 2017 report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that the mortality gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are widening, not narrowing.

Urgent action is needed to reverse these trends to have any prospect of meeting the Council of Australian Governments’ goal to Close the Gap in life expectancy within a generation (by 2031).

The following submission by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) in relation to the Commonwealth Budget 2018 aims to reverse the widening mortality gaps.

The following policy proposals are divided into four areas below and summarised in the following table:

  1. Proposals that strengthen and expand ACCHOs’ capacity and reach to deliver health services for Indigenous people
  2. Proposals that improve responsiveness of mainstream health services for Indigenous people
  3. Proposals that address specific preventable diseases
  4. Proposals that build in an Indigenous position into policy considerations that impact on health.

NACCHO is committed to working with the Australian Government to further develop the proposals, including associated costings and implementation plans and identifying where current expenditure could be more appropriately targeted ”

Download the full NACCHO submission HERE or part 3 below


Connect tonight with NACCHO #Budget2018NACCHO

Live coverage and interviews

NACCHO Communique   Visit Communique

Twitter @NACCHOAustralia  Visit us on Twitter 

Facebook #NacchoAboriginalHealth Visit us on Facebook

YouTube #NACCHOTV  Visit us on YouTube

Besides our NACCHO live and recorded interviews

What will the 2018 Federal Budget mean for the health sector and consumers?

Consumers Health Forum of Australia Policy Team will be holding a free public webinar next Wednesday 16 May, 12:30pm AEST, to discuss the key health measures in the budget from a consumer perspective.

They will share our position on them, and take participants’ feedback and questions.

To join , register here

Part 2 Federal Budget 2018/19 – Preview and review of 21 health sector submissions

What is the number one health issue that the Government should address in tonight’s  Federal Budget?  Jennifer Doggett from Croakey analyses the pre-Budget Submissions from 21 health groups and finds surprising agreement among them on the urgent need for action in one key area.

Read on to find out what this issue is and the six key measures the Government should announce on Tuesday night if it wants to keep the health sector onside.  Check back on Wednesday to see how closely the Federal Government has followed the proposals from health and medical groups in this (possibly) pre-election Budget.

Bookmark this link for our coverage of the Federal Budget, and please use the hashtag #HealthBudget18 to share health-related budget news.

Read and subscribe here

Read full article here

2018/19 Federal Budget priorities

So what do this year’s crop of Pre-Budget submissions tell us about the current priorities of the health sector? After reviewing a slew of health-related pre-Budget submissions it is clear that there is one stand-out issue that has the overwhelming support of the health sector, with virtually every submission supporting action on this issue in some form or other.

That issue is prevention.  The clear message emerging from the submissions was that preventive health is the glaring gap in health policies at the federal level and the most pressing issue that needs to be addressed to improve the health of our community.

Almost every health-related pre-Budget submission included a strong focus on prevention, in particular those from the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Consumers Health Forum (CHF), the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA), the Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Complementary Medicines Association (CMA), the Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA) and the Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP).

The most strongly supported proposal overall was for the establishment of a national preventive health body to oversee and coordinate preventive health policies across all sectors and level of government.

The AMA’s submission reflected the reasons expressed in many submissions for such a national body: Obesity, nutrition, alcohol, tobacco and physical activity are health policy areas desperately in need of funded national strategies and measurable targets. These are best delivered through an independent, dedicated organisation.

Obesity was the most commonly mentioned health issue with a number of groups supporting a sugar tax, junk food advertising restrictions and physical activity programs.

Indigenous health

There was broad agreement across the submissions that we need to do more to close the health and life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and that supporting Indigenous community-controlled initiatives and services are the best way to achieve this.

Supporting and growing the Indigenous health workforce was a key feature of NACHHO’s submission, along with establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commonwealth Advisory Group to support consideration, implementation and monitoring of an Indigenous position in efforts to Close the Gap and on jurisdictional agreements that have high impact on Indigenous peoples.

The AHHA and the AMA called for funding to implement the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan and the AMA also called for the Government to support the Redfern Statement.

Six key actions

After reviewing these submissions, the message is clear.  If the Government wants to win over the health sector on Tuesday night it needs to do the following:

  1. Establish a National Preventive Health Body (although this could be slightly awkward for the Government, given it abolished a similar body, the Australian National Preventive Health Agency in 2014)
  2. Announce a national obesity strategy
  3. Set up a Productivity Commission review of private health insurance
  4. Increase funding for the community-controlled Indigenous health sector
  5. Increase funding for public dental services
  6. Take action on mental health

Part 3

Widening mortality gaps require urgent action

The life expectancy gap means that Indigenous Australians are not only dying younger than non-Indigenous Australians but also carry a higher burden of disease across their life span, impacting on education and employment opportunities as well as their social and emotional wellbeing.

Preventable admissions and deaths are three times as high in Indigenous people yet use of the main Commonwealth schemes, Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) are at best half the needs based requirements.

It is simply impossible to close the mortality gaps under these conditions. No government can have a goal to close life expectancy and child mortality gaps and yet concurrently preside over widening mortality gaps.

Going forward, a radical departure is needed from a business as usual approach.

Funding considerations, fiscal imbalance and underuse of MBS/PBS

The recent Productivity Commission Report found that per capita government spending on Indigenous services was twice as high as for the rest of the population.

The view that enormous amounts of money have been spent on Indigenous Affairs has led many to conclude a different focus is required and that money is not the answer.

Yet, the key question in understanding the relativities of expenditure on Indigenous is equity of total expenditure, both public and private and in relation to need.

In terms of health expenditure, the Commonwealth spends $1.4 for every $1 spent on the rest of the population, notwithstanding that, on the most conservative assumptions, Indigenous people have at least twice the per capita need of the rest of the population because of much higher levels of illness and burden of disease.

This represents a significant market failure. The health system serves the needs of the bulk of the population very well but the health system has failed to meet the needs of the Indigenous population.

A pressing need is to address the shortfall in spending for out of hospital services, for which the Commonwealth is mainly responsible, and which is directly and indirectly responsible for excessive preventable admissions funded by the jurisdictions – and avoidable deaths.

The fiscal imbalance whereby underspending by the Commonwealth leads to large increases in preventable admissions (and deaths) borne by the jurisdictions needs to be rectified.

Ultimately, NACCHO seeks an evidenced based, incremental plan to address gaps, and increased resources and effort to address the Indigenous burden of disease and life expectancy.

The following list of budget proposals reflect the burden of disease, the underfunding throughout the system and the comprehensive effort needed to close the gap and ideally would be considered as a total package.

NACCHO recommends initiatives that impact on the greatest number of Indigenous people and burden of preventable disease and support the sustainability of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) sector – see proposals 1. a) to e) and 3. a) and b) as a priority.

NACCHO is committed to working with the Australian Government on the below proposals and other collaborative initiatives that will help Close the Gap.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

NACCHO is the national peak body representing 144 ACCHOs across the country on Aboriginal health and wellbeing issues

In 1997, the Federal Government funded NACCHO to establish a Secretariat in Canberra, greatly increasing the capacity of Aboriginal peoples involved in ACCHOs to participate in national health policy development.

Our members provide about three million episodes of care per year for about 350,000 people. In very remote areas, our services provided about one million episodes of care in a twelve-month period.

Collectively, we employ about 6,000 staff (most of whom are Indigenous), which makes us the single largest employer of Indigenous people in the country.

The following proposals are informed by NACCHO’s work with Aboriginal health services, its members, the views of Indigenous leaders expressed through the Redfern Statement and the Close the Gap campaign and its engagement and relationship with other peak health organisations, like the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

Guiding principles

Specialised health services for Indigenous people are essential to closing the gap as it is impossible to apply the same approach that is used in health services for non-Indigenous patients.

Many Indigenous people are uncomfortable seeking medical help at hospitals or general practices and therefore are reluctant to obtain essential care. Access to healthcare is often extremely difficult due to either geographical isolation or lack of transportation.

Many Indigenous people live below the poverty line so that services provided by practices that do not bulk bill are unattainable. Mainstream services struggle to provide appropriate healthcare to Indigenous patients due to significant cultural, geographical and language disparities: ACCHOs attempt to overcome such challenges.

An ACCHO is a primary health care service initiated and operated by the local Aboriginal community to deliver holistic, comprehensive, and culturally appropriate health care to the community which controls it, through a locally elected Board of Management.

They form a critical part of the Indigenous health infrastructure, providing culturally safe care with an emphasis on the importance of a family, community, culture and long-term relationships.

Studies have shown that ACCHOs are 23% better at attracting and retaining Indigenous clients than mainstream providers and at identifying and managing risk of chronic disease.

Indigenous people are more likely to access care if it is through an ACCHO and patients are more likely to follow chronic disease plans, return for follow up appointments and share information about their health and the health of their family.

ACCHOs provide care in context, understanding the environment in which many Indigenous people live and offering true primary health care. More people are also using ACCHOs.

In the 24 months to June 2015, our services increased their primary health care services, with the total number of clients rising by 8%. ACCHOs are also more cost-effective providing greater health benefits per dollar spent; measured at a value of $1.19:$1.

The lifetime health impact of interventions delivered our services is 50% greater than if these same interventions were delivered by mainstream health services, primarily due to improved Indigenous access.

If the gap is to close, the growth and development of ACCHOs across Australia is critical and should be a central component to policy considerations.

Mainstream health services also have a significant role in closing the gap in Indigenous health, providing tertiary care, specialist services and primary care where ACCHOs do not exist.

The Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme accounts for about 13% of government expenditure on Indigenous health.

Given that other programs are responsible for 87% of expenditure on Indigenous health, it reasonable to expect that mainstream services should be held more accountable in closing the gap than they currently are.

Greater effort is required by the mainstream health sector to improve its accessibility and responsiveness to Indigenous people and their health needs, reduce the burden of disease and to better support ACCHOs with medical and technical expertise.

The health system’s response to closing the gap in life expectancy involves a combination of mainstream and Indigenous-specific primary care providers (delivered primarily through ACCHOs) and where both are operating at the highest level to optimise their engagement and involvement with Indigenous people to improve health outcomes.

ACCHO’s provide a benchmark for Indigenous health care practice to the mainstream services, and through NACCHO can provide valuable good practice learnings to drive improved practices.

NACCHO also acknowledges the social determinants of health, including housing, family support, community safety, access to good nutrition, and the key role they play in influencing the life and health outcomes of Indigenous Australians.

Elsewhere NACCHO has and will continue to call on the Australian and state and territory governments to do more in these areas as they are foundational to closing the gap in life expectancy.

Addressing the social determinants of health is also critical to reducing the number of Indigenous incarceration. Comprehensively responding to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory must be a non-negotiable priority.


The following policy proposals are divided into four areas below and summarised in the following table:

  1. Proposals that strengthen and expand ACCHOs’ capacity and reach to deliver health services for Indigenous people
  2. Proposals that improve responsiveness of mainstream health services for Indigenous people
  3. Proposals that address specific preventable diseases
  4. Proposals that build in an Indigenous position into policy considerations that impact on health.

NACCHO is committed to working with the Australian Government to further develop the proposals, including associated costings and implementation plans and identifying where current expenditure could be more appropriately targeted

Continued HERE NACCHO-Pre-budget-submisison-2018

NACCHO Aboriginal #Healthmatters : @AustralianLabor National #HealthPolicy Summit Agenda this week and getting evidence into health policy


Question to the Honourable Nicola Roxon, former Australian Labor Minister for Health and Ageing (2007–2011) : Can you give an example of this more courageous leadership during your time as minister?

A: One example is a cause close to my heart: Australia’s introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products. We are proud to be world leaders in introducing our shocking and ugly plain packs, and even more proud of the lively discussion and action it is generating elsewhere around the world on the future of tobacco control.

Picture above : Lessons learnt : Plain packaging for tobacco products is a great example of implementing good health policy where trusted health organisations worked across political groups, provided expert research and supported the government to take action

What’s planned for this weeks Labor National Health Policy Summit 

According to the Federal Opposition, Labour will build on a legacy as the party of health care reform by hosting a National Health Policy Summit next Friday 3 March in Canberra , led by Leader of the opposition Bill Shorten and Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King :

See interim Full day Agenda below

 “One of the most challenging aspects of the current Government is the complete lack of any vision for health in Australia. Instead of building our health system up and preparing for the future, the tenure of the Abbott/Turnbull Governments has been characterised by cuts and chaos.

Not only does our health system deserve more – it needs more. The government simply isn’t filling this space, so Labor will.”

The National Health Policy Summit will put the people who know best at the centre of health discussions – giving patients, providers, stakeholders and experts a much-needed voice in health reform.

It will give representatives the chance to not only contribute to our health debate, but to challenge the direction of our health system.

Labor has a long history of reforming Australia’s healthcare system for the benefit of all.”

 NACCHO Note : Both NACCHO and Croakey will be covering


See Croakey Coverage

We welcome articles and press releases from all political parties

Interview with the Hon. Nicola Roxon:

Getting evidence into health policy

Editor-in-Chief of Public Health Research & Practice, Don Nutbeam spoke to the Honourable Nicola Roxon, former Australian Labor Minister for Health and Ageing (2007–2011), to gain some insight into the process, and advice on how to engage most productively with government.

Q: Often ministers and policy makers must try to make good policy decisions in areas where evidence is incomplete or contested. What strategies or processes did you employ when trying to make good public health decisions at a federal level when the evidence was insufficient? What were the main challenges involved and how did you overcome them?

A: I think it is very rare for ministers or governments to want to make decisions where evidence is incomplete or contested (provided the contest is real, not fabricated by vested interests). There are so many competing, worthy, evidence based causes – especially in health – that these will usually be given priority. However, in a crowded political agenda, having a worthy cause isn’t always enough to capture the imagination of government. The biggest single mistake I saw when I was Health Minister was repeated over and over again, by decent, hard-working researchers, medicos and advocates – and it was the naive assumption that, because they were working on something good, or had developed a worthy project, the government would therefore act on it.

As a minister, I was able to act on some fabulous ideas, and I’m proud of that. But many good ideas were not acted upon – often because of financial constraints, but also many other reasons played a role.

Just because your idea is good, even worthy, isn’t enough.

Q: So, how does evidence inform policy decisions in the real world?

A: To get real decisions and actions in your area, you must think closely and carefully about who you are putting your evidence to, their needs and priorities, and why your proposal will help them. In a world where most interventions cost money – and, in health, usually a lot of money – simply appealing to their good nature is too simplistic. You need to make it easy for decision makers to see how acting on your idea is worth taking up time, money and political energy.

Knowing what is going on in the decision maker’s portfolio, what is troubling them, what is taking up their time and giving them sleepless nights helps you find a way to fit your issue into their thinking space. Start by putting yourself in the position of the minister you want to take action. Do you know what they are trying to achieve? Have you read any of their speeches or policies or recent interviews? Demonstrating your understanding of their issues and pressures is good manners, but also helps you shape your pitch to their current interests or pressures.

For example, when the Australian Government announced health reform negotiations with the states, a few groups came to us with proposals that could be part of those discussions. Not all were successful, but it showed they were tuned in to opportunities, and ready to make the most of them in a way that might suit government.

Even a scandal or problem can sometimes be a chance to offer a helpful solution. It might help solve the problem, or detract from it! Either way, this might be welcome.

The more in tune you are with the decision maker’s pressures, the more likely you are to be agile and think laterally, to find good opportunities to raise your cause at the right time.

Q: When these opportunities present themselves, what is the best way to communicate?

A: Are you clear on what you would say and how you would say it if you got a brief chance to pitch your idea? A lot of people talk about having an ‘elevator pitch’ – this is the idea of what you would say if you were, by good luck, in an elevator with the decision maker. Could you explain your idea simply? And quickly enough?

The aim is to first capture the imagination of the decision maker – get them to be interested in your idea, impressed with your focus and your offer to help them.

I had too many meetings to recall where people tried to download 20 years of in-depth research in a 10-minute meeting – the minister needs to know it is there, to appreciate your expertise or credibility, but they don’t need to be able to present a paper on it to the next technical meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO)!

Stick to the headline message or your core thesis to support a proposal – then you can leave the detailed summary for an adviser or official to mull over.

What you want from your meeting is to spark enough interest that the minister asks for more work to be done on your issue – not that they decide to write a book on it. Worse, your clear message will be diluted or lost if you try to do too much in a short meeting.

Q: What do you say to the researchers who feel that their work is ignored?

A: I am frustrated that governments are almost universally criticised for not taking action on public health. Sometimes that criticism of governments is fair and well based. We are right to expect courage and leadership from our governments. But, in truth, criticism of governments is also sometimes lazy. It can be easier to criticise a government for not acting on your issues than to ask whether you’ve done all you can to help them take that decision.

From the perspective of a former minister, I want to urge researchers, advocates and clinicians to assess whether they have done all they can to create a fertile environment to encourage government leadership. When they do, governments will provide leadership.

Q: Can you give an example of this more courageous leadership during your time as minister?

A: One example is a cause close to my heart: Australia’s introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products. We are proud to be world leaders in introducing our shocking and ugly plain packs, and even more proud of the lively discussion and action it is generating elsewhere around the world on the future of tobacco control.

I have been very flattered, and often overwhelmed, by the recognition I get from introducing this measure. But the truth that ought to be acknowledged is that there were many people and many factors that made this courageous public health decision a good one for government, and easier than people imagine.

What made us choose this courageous path, when there were so many other competing issues on the table? It offers a good case study about advocacy.

The work of so many researchers, advocates, doctors, past governments, journalists and ordinary Australians moved this seemingly courageous decision into a political ‘sweet spot’. Ultimately, it was a good policy decision that was good politics too.

It was an inexpensive policy with high impact; a policy with lots of supporters and a disliked opponent (the tobacco industry); a highly visible policy that complemented other measures important to the government, but perhaps less ‘sexy’.

On each of these issues, advocates and supporters of the initiative sought to make the necessary links to our broader health reforms, our fresh focus on prevention and our interest in Indigenous health.

And it helped that the public had responded well in the past to tobacco control interventions, showing the huge benefits of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control measures. The research was strong, and the international treaty on tobacco (the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) supportive.

Q: What role would you expect from civil society in this process?

A: The Cancer Council and Heart Foundation in Australia were the rolled-gold best examples of this on plain packaging – they worked across political groups, and had expert research as well as highly responsive media teams. They are trusted voices for consumers and were prepared to use that voice to not just criticise, but to help government act, as well. Their expertise and advice were vital.

Their advice on potential problems was also invaluable to the government. In tobacco control, you need a good working knowledge of international tobacco control developments and global industry tactics. Being carefully prepared for attacks is smart for governments, but just as vital is for other civil society participants to be ready to explain to the media or to parliamentary committees.

Q: What of more contested issues, such as alcohol regulation and tackling obesity in the population?

A: In Australia, it has been harder to garner support for strong interventions on alcohol and obesity. On obesity in particular, the mixed approaches from advocates and researchers about what is needed to be successful have made it more difficult for governments to act decisively. When multifactorial approaches are likely to be needed, this can make the ‘ask’ confusing – governments often want a clear plan, or a clear starting point. In some public health areas, it is often hotly contested where one should start.

With alcohol, at least in Australia, it is sometimes difficult to find the lever. Do we target individuals or the community? Consumers or business? And it can be even more perplexing with food, where mixed messages make the need to improve public awareness of the risks of obesity even more complicated.

The challenge to advocates on these issues and most other public health priorities is to find that lever – the right lever, at the right time for the decision maker you are trying to convince. Be careful, of course, not to weaken the argument by going in too many directions at once.

Developing alliances across consumers, clinicians, advocates and researchers will always be very powerful. The same proposal from multiple groups gives your argument weight and depth. Instead of all asking for something slightly different, if you can agree on one major initiative or a good starting point, it is a very much more convincing request. It automatically lifts it above the 20 other meetings and requests the minister has that day. You can be confident that everyone else asking the minister for something that day will probably not have done that work – so it is a way to make your cause better and more attractive, easier to sit up and take notice.


What’s planned for the Summit

Labor says the Summit will bring together more than 130 of Australia’s leading thinkers on health to be part of roundtable discussions via a packed program, with two blocks of four concurrent sessions, led by Shadow Ministers and leading health figures.

The event will begin with a welcome from Shadow Health Minister Catherine King and a keynote from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and will end with a panel discussion between chairs to report back on the following policy roundtables (see also the co-chairs, some who are still to be announced).

1.Opportunities and challenges in our health sectors

Protection, prevention and promotion

Public Health Association of Australia CEO Michael Moore
Stephen Jones, Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government Stephen Jones.

  • the preventable chronic disease crisis
  • risk factors
  • protective factors

Primary, secondary and community care

 Sharon Claydon, Chair, Medicare Caucus Committee

  • general practice
  • specialist primary health
  • allied health
  • pathology & imaging
  • pharmacy & medicines
  • dental


Brian Owler, former President, Australian Medical Association

  • post-2020 public hospital funding
  • reducing emergency department and elective surgery waiting times
  • interaction between public and private hospitals
  • private health insurance
  • improving quality, safety and value in hospitals
  • outpatient clinics

Mental health and suicide prevention

Frank Quinlan, Mental Health Australia and Sue Murray, Suicide Prevention Australia
Julie Collins, Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health

Mental health priorities

  • Mental health reform
  • Measuring outcomes
  • Stigma and awareness
  • Workforce

Suicide reduction priorities

  • Early intervention and prevention
  • Integrated services
  • Research and data collection

2.Where to for health reform?

Ensuring universal access for all Australians

Dr Stephen Duckett, Grattan Institute
Jenny Macklin, Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services

  • access, including out-of-pocket costs and waiting times
  • integration of primary care
  • coordination of primary, secondary and acute care
  • health financing

Designing our health workforce for the future

Professor Mary Chiarella, Sydney University
Tony Zappia, Shadow Assistant Minister for Medicare

  • future health service needs
  • health workforce reform
  • Commonwealth health workforce programs

Tackling health inequality and other whole-of-government challenges

 Professor Sharon Friel, Australian National University
Mark Butler, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy

  • Regional, rural and remote health
  • Indigenous health
  • Other health inequalities
  • Interface with aged care
  • Interface with NDIS
  • Other social policy issues
  • Climate change and health

Innovation across our health system

Professor Christine Bennett AO, School of Medicine, Sydney, The University of Notre Dame Australia and past Chair of Research Australia
Murray Watt, Senate Community Affairs Committee

  • Health, medical and translational research
  • eHealth and digital technologies
  • Safety and quality
  • Precision medicine
  • New technologies
  • Partnerships and collaboration.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper and #JustJustice Evidence What Works Part 6 : Prevention and Healing needed


Updated Sunday 27 the November

The #JustJustice book is being launched at Gleebooks in Sydney today by Professor Tom Calma AO, and readers are invited to download the 242-page e-version. see invite below

For news about the launch, follow #JustJustice on Twitter; we also hope to do some live Periscope broadcasts.


As well, during the week ahead, Summer May Finlay and Dr Megan Williams will be tag-tweeting about #JustJustice from @WePublicHealth.

Croakey warmly thanks all who have contributed to the #JustJustice project, including the authors, tweeters, donors and supporters.

They also thank a number of organisations that have supported our launch, including the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses (CATSINaM), Amnesty International, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Indigenous Allied Health Australia, the Healing Foundation, the Close the Gap secretariat, the Public Health Association of Australia, the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia, the Australian Science Media Centre, the University of Canberra, Western Sydney University, and Curtin University.

Thanks to journalist Amy McQuire for covering the book on radio at Let’s Talk, and hope other media outlets will also engage with the issues raised in the book.

Statement by Amnesty International

The Federal Government must make good on its promise to listen to, and work with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including engaging with the solutions put forward in the forthcoming #JustJustice essay collection.

The book includes more than 90 articles on solutions to protect the rights of Australia’s First Peoples. These include pieces by Amnesty’s Indigenous Rights Campaigners Roxanne Moore and Julian Cleary, who offer solutions to the stark overrepresentation of Indigenous children in detention.

‘Lock-em-up’ punitive approach has failed

In the book, Noongar woman Roxanne Moore decries the solitary confinement, teargassing and use of dogs against children in the Don Dale Detention Centre. She lays out how Australia has breached international human rights law by detaining Indigenous children at astronomical rates, and through the harsh treatment and conditions endured by children in detention.

#JustJustice articles by Julian Cleary also condemn the detention centre, and call for funding to be shifted into youth services and programs to keep kids out of detention in the first place. He writes that the ‘lock-em-up’ punitive approach has failed to heal trauma in Indigenous people in detention, and argues that Indigenous kids respond best to Indigenous role models.

He acknowledges the vital work of Indigenous people and organisations around the country – from rapper Briggs in NSW, to the Darwin-based Larrakia Night Patrol and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.

Amnesty International research has found that Governments’ best chance to reduce offending and lower Indigenous incarceration rates is to fund prevention and diversion programs led by Indigenous communities. Indigenous-led, therapeutic programs best connect with Indigenous people, helping them to heal their trauma and deal with the life problems that lead to offending in the first place.

Listen, understand

In a statement last week, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion expressed the Federal Government’s commitment to “genuine partnership” with First Peoples. He stated the Government’s determination “to listen and to understand to ensure we get it right.”

“This #JustJustice collection represents one opportunity for the Federal Government to listen and to understand,” said Roxanne Moore.

“Across the country we’re seeing unacceptable rates of Indigenous children being separated from their families and locked up. At the same time, Indigenous people also experience violence at far higher rates than the non-Indigenous population. This is not just a Northern Territory injustice – it is nationwide and Prime Minister Turnbull must seek national solutions.

“We call on Mr Turnbull to work with all States and Territories in developing a national plan to address the twin issues of high rates of Indigenous incarceration and experience of violence. We hope to see positive outcomes from the COAG meeting next month, where Mr Turnbull has pledged to put Indigenous incarceration on the agenda.”

See the statement here.


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

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

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

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

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

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

 “Readers of this NACCHO communique and newspaper are invited to attend the launch in Sydney on November 27 of #JustJustice, a book profiling solutions to the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Professor Tom Calma AO, a social justice champion and Chancellor of the University of Canberra, will launch the book, which will also be freely available as an e-book via

The launch comes amid mounting pressure on federal, state and territory governments to address over-incarceration, which the #JustJustice book makes clear is a public health emergency.

Just Justice Prevention and Healing needed Article 2 and Invite Below

Amid calls for a new federal inquiry into the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to result in concrete actions), a more profound concern has rated barely a mention.

Many people may not realise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to die in the days and weeks after release from prison than they are in custody, according to University of Melbourne researchers

Where non-Indigenous people are more likely be at risk of post-release death from accidental overdose, and preventative opioid substitution therapy is reasonably available to them, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to die from alcohol-related harm preventable health conditions and suicide

The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison have been there before, often multiple times. High rates of re-incarceration and post-release death signal that they do not receive enough assistance under current programs and policies.

Jack Bulman, CEO of the well-recognised health promotion charity, Mibbinbah, recently collaborated on the design of health promotion program Be the Best You Can Be which accompanies the film Mad Bastards. He has worked with many men post-prison release and says “many get out of prison with very little support, money, plans, or hope.”

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

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

Some European countries, however, have achieved a dramatic reduction in prisoner numbers and harms.

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

Mibbinbah’s work also shows that men’s groups are a low-cost measure for prison-to-community continuity of care, and Elder engagement in prison programs has received overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Locally, evaluation of three Returning Home post-prison release pilot programs delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisations found that intensive, coordinated care in the first hours, days, and weeks after release is required, along with strategies to better identify newly-released prisoners in clinical and program settings, to provide them with appropriate care

However, for these improvements to occur, better integration between prisons and community-based services is required.

International human rights instruments assert that people in prison have the right to the same care in prison as they do in the community.

Prisons should be places where public health and criminal justice policies meet, particularly given that the overwhelming majority of people in prisons have addiction and mental health issues.

But because prisoners have no right to Medicare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison have reduced access to the types of comprehensive primary healthcare available in the community, including health assessments, care plans and social and emotional wellbeing programs.

Instead, providing such healthcare in prisons comes at an additional cost to community organisations, if it is done at all.

The Public Health Association of Australia and the Australian Medical Association have called on the Australian Government for prisoners to retain their right to Medicare.

Renewed attention to bring about this change will enable continuity of care between prison and the community, which is vital for preventing post-release deaths.

Waiting until after prison is too late.

Further reading: The Change the Record Coalition calls for the Australian Law Reform Commission to develop the terms of reference for its inquiry into over-imprisonment in close consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bodies.

Just Justice Prevention and Healing needed

Megan Williams writes: Readers of this newspaper are invited to attend the launch in Sydney on November 27 of #JustJustice, a book profiling solutions to the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Professor Tom Calma AO, a social justice champion and Chancellor of the University of Canberra, will launch the book, which will also be freely available as an e-book via

The launch comes amid mounting pressure on federal, state and territory governments to address over-incarceration, which the #JustJustice book makes clear is a public health emergency.

The book – which resulted from a crowd-funding campaign – profiles the breadth and depth of work by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations to address incarceration and related issues.

The inaugural Closing the Prison Gap: Cultural Resilience Conference, recently held in northern NSW, also heard about many such initiatives.

Prevention and healing needed

The first conference theme explored prevention and early intervention with Professor Muriel Bamblett, Yorta Yorta woman and CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency discussing Alternatives to Child Removal including leadership, healing and diversionary programs.

The second conference theme focussed on court, prison and post-release programs. Compelling information about the over-representation of people with disabilities in the criminal justice system was provided, including concerns about fitness to stand trial and under-assessment of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Mervyn Eades, Nyoongar man and Eddie Mabo Social Justice Award winner explained the trusting relationships developed with ex-prisoners through the Ngalla Maya program, and their contribution to supporting prisoners in employment post-prison release.

The third conference theme of healing reviewed the work by Gamarada Healing the Life Training, the well-evaluated Kids Caring for Country and Learning our Way Program from Murwillumbah, and web-based resources of the Lateral Peace Project.

Plans for the Mount Tabor Station Healing and Rehabilitation Centre in central Queensland were unveiled by Keelen Mailman, Bidjara woman, author of The Power of Bones and Mother of the Year winner, developed in partnership with Keith Hamburger, ex-Director of the Queensland Corrective Services Commission.

The final conference session focussed on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions to addressing underlying factors for incarceration, which Professor Harry Blagg from the University of WA argued are an extension of colonial dispossession. Chris Lee from the University of Southern Queensland and Gerry Georgatos from the Institute for Social Justice and Human Rights in WA described tangible strategies for improving in-prison and post-release education and training, citing some excellent results from their programs.

NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Tauto Sansbury reflected on his own life journey and how his understanding of the need for a Treaty developed over time. He envisions a Treaty as an opportunity for new relationships and accountabilities in law, which will promote self-determination and reduce incarceration rates.

But the question remains: Why won’t Australian leaders embrace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander solutions to the criminal justice crisis? Perhaps this will be the theme of the 2017 Closing the Prison Gap gathering? The organising committee is looking for contributions for next year’s event and program.

This is an abbreviated version of an article that first appeared at Dr Megan Williams is a member of the #JustJustice team, a Senior Research Fellow in the Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Research team at Western Sydney University, and a Wiradjuri descendant through her father’s family. Other #JustJustice team members are Summer May Finlay, Marie McInerney, Melissa Sweet and Mitchell Ward

Why won’t Australian leaders embrace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander solutions to the criminal justice crisis?





NACCHO #IHMayDAY15 News: Day of Action 29 May all matters Aboriginal Health


“We would like the day to provide a constructive critical discourse on Indigenous health.”

Dr Lynore Geia : James Cook University Nursing, Midwifery and Research academic

Announcing the program for Friday29 May

Below we announce the program for #IHMayDay15 on Friday – a day of action and listening on Twitter on all matters to do with the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It runs from 7am-10pm.

Please tune into the hashtag over the next few days and most especially on Friday: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are encouraged share their views and knowledge about some of the wide-ranging issues affecting health, and non-Indigenous people are encouraged to participate by retweeting and listening.

It is the second such event, following the successful #IHMayDay held on 1 May last year, which generated almost 26 million Twitter impressions in one day, and trended number one nationally on Twitter during the day.

#IHMayDay15 is moderated by James Cook University Nursing, Midwifery and Research academic Dr Lynore Geia – @LynoreGeia – a Bwgcolman woman woman from Palm Island; and by Summer May Finlay – @OnTopicAus – a Yorta Yorta woman, a public health practitioner and PhD candidate based in Canberra (more details are here).

We are delighted that Senator Nova Peris – @NovaPeris – will join the conversation throughout the day, and other politicians are also encouraged to engage.

NACCHO director, Canberra, ACT, 13th May, 2015

NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke ,

Matthew Cooke, chair of NACCHO, will guest tweet for @IndigenousX during the day, while Pele Bennet from QAIHC will make a special guest appearance at @WePublicHealth.

We also hope to have an interview early evening with Leeanne Enoch MP – @LeeanneEnoch – Queensland Minister for Housing and Public Works and Minister for Science and Innovation, after she delivers the 2015 Annual Eddie Koiki Mabo Lecture at James Cook University in Townsville.

Her lecture is titled: Taking up space, taking our place – Indigenous participation in the political process. We plan to live-tweet the lecture.


Program (all bios can be viewed here )

7-8am: Lynore Geia

Introduction and reflection: looking backwards, looking forwards…

8-9am: Ali Drummond

Nursing’s contribution to Indigenous health.

9-10am: Summer May Finlay

#JustJustice: finding evidence-based, culturally appropriate and community-led solutions to over-incarceration.

10-11am: Sandy Davies

Tackling family violence.

11-12 noon: Mark Lock

How can policy processes be made more transparent and responsive to community needs and wishes?

12noon -1pm: Richard Weston

Healing works.

1-2pm: Les Malezer

Human rights and health.

2-3pm: Michelle Lovegrove

Racism in the media: a journalist’s perspective on what this means for health.

3-4pm: Kerry Arabena

What are universities doing to improve Indigenous Health?

4-5pm: Kelvin Kong

Hearing for health.

5-6pm: Adele Cox

On #SOSBlakAustralia and the health threats of community closures.

6-7pm: Sean Gordon

Health through empowering communities and self-determination.

7-8pm: Kelly Briggs

Women’s health.

8-9pm: Luke Pearson

Engaging with the Twitter community.

9-10pm: Dameyon Bonson

Founder of Black Rainbow: on Indigenous LGBTI wellbeing and suicide prevention.


Croakey moderator and journalist Marie McInerney is volunteering her time to cover the event, and will report on it at Croakey next week. You can track #IHMayDay15 stories here.

For coverage of last year’s #IHMayDay, see here.

Also check out this short film featuring some of last year’s tweets, made by Mitchell Ward, of Rock Lily Design & Consulting. We acknowledge and thank all those moderators and participants who contributed to last year’s discussions.

#IHMayDay15 is hosted by Croakey, and held in collaboration with @IndigenousX and NACCHO. Dr Geia encourages Croakey readers to engage with the event as an opportunity to contribute to strengths-based discussions and counter-narratives about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health.

Just some of our health professionals taking part , for full list see

Bios Professor Kerry Arabena is Chair for Indigenous Health and Professor and Director, Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit, and formerly the Professor and Director of Indigenous Health Research in the School for Indigenous Health, Monash University.

A descendant of the Meriam people of the Torres Strait, and a former social worker with a doctorate in human ecology, Professor Arabena has an extensive background in public health, administration, community development and research working in senior roles in indigenous policy and sexual health.

Her work has been in areas such as gender issues, social justice, human rights, access and equity, service provision, harm minimisation, and citizenship rights and responsibilities. She was a founding Co-Chair of the new national Indigenous peak body, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, a collective voice to lobby governments on Indigenous issues.

Pele Bennet, General Manager, Queensland Aboriginal & Islander Health Council (QAIHC). Pele is a descendent of the Waggadaggam People from St Paul’s Village on Moa Island in the Torres Straits.

Totemic association: Kadal (Saltwater Crocodile) & Baidham (Tiger Shark). She was born and raised in Brisbane and is a proud member of the Indigenous community of Brisbane.

Pele is also a Director on the board of Queensland’s oldest community-controlled health organisation (ATSICHS), and Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee (AHPA) and director on the Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA).

Pele continues to lead the way in innovation and building effective, multidisciplinary primary prevention capacity within the community controlled health sector. Previous to these positions, Pele has been an Indigenous Health Worker and has been employed within the health sector (both government and past employee of ATSICHS) for approximately 16 years.

During this time she has continued to maintain a clear sense of obligation to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers, families and communities.

It is not only part of her working role, but just as importantly as a Torres Strait Islander woman, mother and extended family member; it is her cultural obligation to address the priorities of her community to achieve better health outcomes and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Pele has also gained qualification in Bachelor in Health Science – Aboriginal Community Development from the University of Sydney.

Dameyon Bonson, Founder of Black Rainbow, Managing Director of Indigenist, and Advocate of Indigenous Genius, Indigeneity and Wellbeing.  I am a Mangyari and Maubiag man. A First Nation Australian of both Indigenous and Caucasian descent. I live where I have always wanted to holiday, Broome WA. It is also a place where I believe my academic and community engagement skills can transfer best.

I am a member of the National Advisory Committee for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP). I have worked extensively across the Kimberley region delivering upstream suicide prevention activities. My work is underpinned by liberation rather than benevolence or charity. I also work within an empowerment and recovery framework where the facilitation of an environment where myself and the client are viewed as allies is fundamental. I have a background in social work and draw on applying these learnt skills rather than intervening with them. I believe that there is capacity in everyone and that capacity strengthening is best practice and a non-oppressive approach in comparison to capacity building. I have presented nationally and internationally on Aboriginal men’s health, Indigenous Social Work and Suicide Prevention.


Matthew Cooke is a proud Aboriginal and South Sea Islander from the Bailai (Byellee) people in Gladstone, Central Queensland.

Matthew was elected as Deputy Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) in 2011, then appointed as Chairperson in November 2014. He was previously the CEO of Nhulundu Wooribah Indigenous Health Organisation Inc, the Aboriginal Medical Service in Gladstone, for more than 6 years. During this time Matthew served as the Deputy Chair and Secretary of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC).

In 2014 Matthew was appointed CEO of QAIHC

Matthew’s active involvement spans all four levels of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Sector – national, state, regional and local.

Adele Cox is a Bunuba and Gija woman from the Kimberley region of WA. Adele spent the majority of her early working life in the Kimberley region in media and in suicide prevention. Since 2001 she has lived in Perth and worked on a number of projects and initiatives. Most recently her work has taken her into Indigenous health research, having worked previously at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research and as an academic at the Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health and the Rural Clinical School of Western Australia at the University of Western Australia.

She currently works as a full-time consultant on various state and national projects, predominantly in the area of Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention. Adele has been an active member of several committees at both the State and National levels. She is currently a member of the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group, and the WA Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention. Previously she was a member of the National Advisory Council for Mental Health, the National Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children Steering Committee, the Oxfam Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group, and the Taskforce for the Shadow Reporting of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. Adele is the former Chairperson of the National Indigenous Youth Movement of Australia.


Sandy Davies I am a proud father of eight kids and nineteen grandchildren. I am also a proud Nanda man of the Yamatji region, with a keen interest in football (particularly the Northampton Rams.) I am a keen supporter of all the young men who play football especially my sons, Cameron and young Sandy who are playing and Shannon and Brett who used to play football years ago, although Shannon may make a comeback.

I have an extensive history in Aboriginal affairs which dates back some thirty years ago, when I first took to the road with key people such as Leadham Cameron and Bill Mallard fighting for justice and a fair go for Yamatji people. My mentors include people such as the late Robert Riley and the late Leadham Cameron who were key people in my life, they left great legacies for this region. One of my other great mentors is Margaret Colbung who herself is a fighter for Aboriginal Health injustices.

I want equal rights for all our people when they are accessing health services provided by government agencies. I am passionate about social justice and making sure our people have a voice and the right to be heard.

Ali Drummond was born and raised on Thursday Island (TI) in north Queensland, and is a descendant of the Dauareb people of the Murray Islands and the Wuthathi and Yadaigana people of north-eastern Cape York Peninsula. In 2005, Ali was one of the three inaugural nursing graduates from James Cook University, Thursday Island Campus.

Ali’s nursing experience began in 2006 in the Orthopaedic Unit at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. Since then he has worked in most of Brisbane’s hospitals in numerous specialty medical and surgical wards and emergency departments. Ali’s pathway into nursing policy began in mid-2010 when he began work with the Nursing and Midwifery Office, Queensland (NMOQ) as a Nurse Project Officer. He has been in project management roles, as well as been the Indigenous Nurse Adviser to a number of Queensland’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers, and is currently an Assistant Director of Nursing in NMOQ.

When graduating in 2005 Ali became the inaugural recipient of the Sally Goold Award (for the most outstanding Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander nursing student), and in September 2012 received the Early Career Outstanding Alumni Award, both from James Cook University. He is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer with James Cook University, and also a regular guest lecturer with the School of Nursing at Queensland University of Technology. Ali is currently completing a Master in

Summer May Finlay Summer May Finlay is a Yorta Yorta woman who grew up on Lake Macquarie, NSW and currently lives in Canberra. Summer has extensive experience in Aboriginal health with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health organisations. She is passionate about #JustJustice because prior to working in Aboriginal health she was a youth and children’s worker and saw kids who never seemed to have the same opportunities she had.

Summer has a Bachelor of Social Science with a major in linguistics, Master of Public Health Advanced with a major in Social Marketing and is currently undertaking a PhD in Aboriginal health.

Lynore Geia. I am a Bwgcolman woman from Palm Island, Queensland, a mother, registered nurse, midwife, senior lecturer and researcher in Nursing, Midwifery and Nutrition at James Cook University. I coordinate and teach the Indigenous Health subject to undergraduate and postgraduate nursing and midwifery students.

My current research activity involves working with my home community of Palm Island in partnership with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector. In 2012 I graduated with my PhD titled “First steps, making footprints: intergenerational Palm Island families’ Indigenous stories (narratives) of childrearing practice strengths”. The study encompassed decolonising praxis through privileging Bwgcolman storytellers to tell their stories that debunked the ‘master narrative’ of hegemony, and revealed a people of strength, survival and resistance.

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NACCHO Croakey health: Major conferences put the spotlight on improving Indigenous health and healthcare


One of the strongest messages emerging in the program’s surveys of community and health centres is that they really believe that CQI “can make a difference”.

I believe Indigenous primary health services are leading the way in CQI, in part  because they’re used to being accountable, but also because specific features of CQI suit them well.

Doctors and nursing staff in Aboriginal community controlled organisations tend to have a more public health and population health orientation and to be part of a larger network,

One21seventy and National Centre scientific director Ross Bailie says he has seen growing enthusiasm in Indigenous primary health for CQI over the past decade, as more services and staff accept that “it’s not about policing or blaming”.


Major conferences put the spotlight on improving Indigenous health and healthcare

by Melissa Sweet

The role of Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) in improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary healthcare will be under the spotlight at a Lowitja Institute conference in Melbourne this week.

Journalist Marie McInerney is covering the conference for the Croakey Conference Reporting Service and in the preview below examines the cultural shift that has occurred around CQI, and details the findings of a new report investigating the factors that help and hinder CQI uptake.

Later in the week, she will report from Congress Lowitja 2014.


Making a real difference for health and healthcare

Marie McInerney writes:

What has driven a cultural shift towards continuous quality improvement (CQI) initiatives in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health, and when and where do they work best?

The 2nd National Conference on Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health will this week present CQI approaches and experiences from a diverse range of Indigenous primary health services across Australia to take stock of successes and setbacks and examine what’s needed next.

The discussions follow a recent national appraisal by the University of New South Wales’ Research Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity that showed that a specialist CQI workforce is developing across the Indigenous health sector. It found that while CQI has not been universally adopted as core business, there was “widespread interest and initial take-up” across the sector.

Much of this has come through the work of the One21seventy National Centre for Quality Improvement in Indigenous Primary Health, set up by the Menzies School of Health Research and the Lowitja Institute, which is hosting the conference. It defines CQI as: “a system of regular reflection and refinement to improve processes and outcomes that will provide quality health care.”

One21seventy and National Centre scientific director Ross Bailie says he has seen growing enthusiasm in Indigenous primary health for CQI over the past decade, as more services and staff accept that “it’s not about policing or blaming”.

One of the strongest messages emerging in the program’s surveys of community and health centres is that they really believe that CQI “can make a difference”.

Bailie also believes Indigenous primary health services are leading the way in CQI, in part  because they’re used to being accountable, but also because specific features of CQI suit them well.

“Doctors and nursing staff in Aboriginal community controlled organisations tend to have a more public health and population health orientation and to be part of a larger network,” he said.

“We are seeing greater success with CQI when it’s being done at an integrated level or where we can get systematic data showing practice performance against best practice guidelines – data which we struggle to get more generally in (mainstream) general practice,” he said.

One21seventy is also an important factor, growing out the pioneering Audit and Best Practice in Chronic Disease (ABCD) research project, also steered by Bailie, which ran from 2002-2009 and showed CQI could improve Indigenous health.

It’s credited, for example, with significant improvements in the quality of care and outcomes for diabetes (such as lifting rates of HbA1c testing once every six months from 41 to 74 per cent and the delivery of diabetes guideline scheduled services from 31 to 54 per cent).

ABCD also influenced the Healthy for Life program that collects data from about 100 Indigenous primary health care sites across Australia on essential health indicators and others relating to organisational structure and care provision.

One21seventy was named for its mission to “increase life expectancy for Indigenous people beyond One in infancy, beyond 21 in children and young adults and beyond seventy in the lifespan”.

It has developed a range of clinical audit tools to measure the delivery of best practice service for chronic health conditions and maternal and child health care by more than 200 Indigenous primary healthcare services (see image below – and see the tool in action here).

One21seventy will launch a new tool at the conference for improving youth health, and a set of online modules so that health service staff around the country can access training when they want it – another effort, it says, “to overcome the tyranny of distance and cost of workforce development across the Indigenous primary health care sector”.

Making CQI “everyone’s business”

Lowitja Institute CEO Lyn Brodie said integrating CQI into the operations of primary health care providers delivers substantial benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They include:

  • better quality of clinical treatment and care to patients with specific diagnoses
  • quality of health promotion programs (for example, smoking cessation and physical activity programs)
  • quality of community-based care, such as to new parents by Aboriginal health workers
  • capacity and/or readiness of services and systems to meet pre-determined goals (including Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

“Our goal is to make CQI everyone’s business,” she said. To that end, the Lowitja Institute commissioned the University of NSW national appraisal to look at what influences the take up of CQI initiatives in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health services.

The appraisal found uptake was assisted by:

  • leadership, including the commitment of senior management, appointment of dedicated CQUI staff who can then act as CQI champions
  • strong partnerships between CQI system providers and Aboriginal community controlled health service managers, health workers and communities
  • ready availability of standards and tools to use in auditing and assessing local performance
  • access to national and state/territory networks of CQI practitioners and researchers.

The barriers to uptake included:

  • difficulty in recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce (particularly in rural and remote areas), compounded by insecure funding for CQI positions
  • confusion among service managers and health workers/clinicians about CQI and lack of clear understanding about the capacity required by services to conduct CQI
  • scepticism or ambivalence about the purposes and benefits of CQI.

Similar issues and insights were identified in the June 2013 evaluation by Allen & Clarke of the Northern Territory CQI Investment Strategy being developed and implemented in the NT Aboriginal primary health care sector.

The next step, Bailie says, is to develop and apply a CQI focus not just to the local health centre level but “across the whole system and at different levels of the system”.

“The focus up to now has been very much supporting local primary health care centres to use that information for their own purposes,” he said. “We’re now aggregating that data and analysing it at a state and national and territory level, to identify at a system level what is working well, what are the major barriers to improvement, and what we can do about it.”

The Federal Department of Health looks interested. It’s currently calling for tenders for a summary and analysis of CQI activity on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care, looking to identify “systemic enablers, barriers and linkages relevant to the development of a national continuous quality improvement framework that may be used to support improved capacity.”

The two day conference will:

  • discuss challenges and strategies around embedding CQI daily within the workplace
  • hear successful CQI stories and learn from their journeys
  • highlight how CQI contributes to better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities
  • harvest best CQI practices, locally, nationally and internationally, from within the primary health care landscape.

Speakers will include:

  • Selwyn Button, CEO of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council
  • Associate Professor Gail Garvey, program leader of the Healthy Start, Healthy Life program
  • Dr Mark Wenitong, senior medical advisor at Apunipima Cape York Health Council
  • Lisa Briggs, CEO of National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (NACCHO).

You can hear more about Aboriginal health and CQI at the NACCHO SUMMIT


The importance of our NACCHO member Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHS) is not fully recognised by governments.

The economic benefits of ACCHS has not been recognised at all.

We provide employment, income and a range of broader community benefits that mainstream health services and mainstream labour markets do not. ACCHS need more financial support from government, to provide not only quality health and wellbeing services to communities, but jobs, income and broader community economic benefits.

A good way of demonstrating how economically valuable ACCHS are is to showcase our success at a national summit.



NACCHO Aboriginal Health Social media: Twitter yarn- Community engagement in an Indigenous health context


The tradition of yarning in sharing Indigenous knowledge is also being used in research and clinical contexts – but the notion of Twitter-based yarning is something new.


Our thanks to Melissa Sweet, Siv Parker and Dr Tim Senior


Siv Parker, an award-winning Aboriginal writer with longstanding experience in the health sector, has been at the forefront of developing tweet-yarns, as was in evidence last week while she was guest tweeting for @WePublicHealth.


“There’s no better way to explain complex health matters than a yarn,” she said.

Below are some of Siv’s tips about effective community engagement and how to run a community meeting, followed by a Twitter yarn which shows how an engaging story can unfold within the limitations of 140 characters.

Siv, who is also a keen blogger, says she treats social media very seriously, after many years of  jobs (including working on the NT Intervention) where she was unable to have a public voice (and you will be able to read more about this when her first book is published later this year).


HOW YOU CAN CONNECT THE NACCHO (6,000+ Twitter followers)

Connect to CROAKEY @croakeyblog

Community engagement

‘Community engagement’ in an Indigenous health context….. will be the difference between achieving ‘outcomes’, or not.

  • For some CE is a sausage on a barbie & muffled announcements thru a megaphone. For others it’s a minuted monthly committee mtg.
  • I was asked is there a handbook for every cmty re CE, cultural protocols etc. Tools exist, but it comes down to who are U & why are U here?
  • Can you explain who are you? Why are you there? What do you want? If you can’t how will anyone trust you? Would you trust you, with health?
  • If you are going to a cmty: do your homework. Going to the trouble of flying/driving to a cmty? Research the place you are going to.
  • Listening to grievances takes skill. Tip: Don’t promise to ‘look into an issue’ if there’s no intention of following it up. Common mistake.
  • CE requires groundwork. Research your org’s dealings with the cmty & the cmty in general; and maintain an up-2-date cmty contacts directory.
  • My CE: When I mean ‘no’ I say ‘no’. If I mean ‘yes’ I say ‘yes.’ When I can’t change what happened the last time I say so from the get go.
  • It’s worth searching for submissions from cmtys/orgs to the various Intervention inquiries for suggestions on effective CE from cmty people.
  • Operators don’t really want to hear the ‘negativity’ from the cmty that goes with CE. But think their own lack of trust is legitimate. Hmm?
  • If you work in health & seek effective CE, I suggest you erase the expression ‘gatekeeper’ from your vocabulary/approach. ‘Gatekeepr’ is a gross distortion. It’s largely an insult and wholly inaccurate. It’s used to ‘explain’ failure to get CE.
  • CE is not about outsiders deciding who you want and who you don’t want to talk to. Setting up a meeting of people that you like is not CE.
  • Need to have ‘your’ mind on CE the whole time. If ‘you’ revert back to ‘controlling’ check ‘yourself’.
  • The essential role that advocacy groups, eg @NACCHOAustralia @congressmob play is they already know the cmtys. They’re invaluable resources.
  • #design Layouts for cmty clinics? Consider outdoor seating. If you have shelter for people outside, you are more likely to get them inside.
  • Indg people have not engineered their own disadvantage. When people claim to not have time for CE, they follow a long tradition.
  • Takes up our time needing to repeat ‘Indg people/cmtys are diverse’. That means CE is req’d & not just with a few.
  • When you are Indg there is an expectation that you must represent all Indg people, at all times. I don’t. It’s an unreasonable expectation.
  • Some people tell me of their disappointment in not being able to find an Indg person to talk to ‘when they need one’. That sums it up.
  • On advocacy, there’s a diff btwn CE & knowing the cmty perspective & offering solutions or reporting on a cmty as if it’s a foreign country.
  • Simply put, if you want the ‘Indg cmty perspective” you need to speak to more than 1 person, unless that 1 is engaging the rest of the cmty.

Tips for a successful community meeting (reproduced direct from tweets)

1. Notify the cmty you are coming. Western Sydney, Logan, or Borroloola – notify all the Indg orgs.

On 1. Don’t assume someone will do all the running around for you. It’s your meeting. And say why & who will be attending the mtg.

On 1. You may only go there one time in your life, but why be the dud one? Notify ahead as a courtesy & you may well get a better reception.

2. If you are not comfortable with a mic, for the love of frogs, don’t use one. But don’t call a big mtg either & expect people to lip read.

3. Visual aids. Use them where ever possible. And if you have a report in your hand, bring copies. Don’t refer to ‘mystery book’. It’s rude.

4. Introduce yourself & repeat why you are there. Do you want a decision ‘today’? Are you just providing info? Do you want to plan an event?

On 4. Introduce yourself – to people inside & outside – who you are, where you are from & what you do AND let them know how to contact you.

On 4. If it’s a health related matter, brief e/one who works in health before you arrive. Tap into all of the existing cmty health networks.

On 4. Closing the gap is about all areas of disadvantage. Eg health is related to housing, educn, employment, dogs, drains, ditches etcetc

5. How big is the mtg? Wrong: ‘We don’t need everybody to come.’ Right: ‘The mtg’s to talk about xyz. Who from the cmty should be there?’

6. Now we get to a big issue: catering. Do not cater 8 sandwiches for a mtg of 240 people & ask me to distribute them. You’re on your own.

On 6 in gen’l, catering depends on where you are, how far people travelled, was it suggested, your budget? Or will tea/coffee suffice?

7. Venue. Ask the cmty where they hold mtgs. Myth: Indg people want to be outside at every opportunity. Do not decide the air temp yourself.

8. You’ve been waiting to know about ‘sitting fees’. ? Be straight up; some do, some don’t, deal with it & be prepared to repeat yourself.

When I hear reports that no mtgs have been held (ever) because of a dispute over sitting fees…I say ‘you’re doing it wrong’.

9. Do your research before you arrive. If you are asked Qs you may have to to ‘take them on notice’. But if you say you will respond, do it.

10. Minutes are essential. Get attendees contact details, Don’t assume they have no net access. Don’t assume they have access to a printer.

11. If you say ‘the cmty leaders must be at the mtg’ & you are an ASO4 ask yourself: Are you a ‘leader’? Why are you using that language?

12. Be prepared for cmty phone calls after you leave AND to return for a 2nd mtg. Don’t expect an answer from 1 mtg. Be careful with pics.


NACCHO Smoke Free news: Stickin’ It Up The Smokes – has there been a catchier campaign name?

photo (6)

The recent NACCHO Summit had a number of presentations about different tobacco control projects that are underway across the country.

While their goals differ, they all are harnessing new technologies and online communications channels, reports journalist John Thompson-Mills.


Tobacco control projects in the spotlight 

John Thompson-Mills writes:

Tablets are being used to survey Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the staff and clients of community controlled services about smoking-related issues.

The Talking About the Smokes project aims to better understand the pathways to smoking and quitting for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to evaluate what works in helping them to quit smoking. (Many organisations are involved in the project, as outlined here).

So far, more than 2400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have completed the first wave of the survey, which has seen health workers and even community Elders involved in collecting the data, using tablet technology.

Vouchers to supermarket and other major shopping chains are also used as inducements to encourage participation. A second wave of the survey is about to begin.

Jamahl, a Townsville health-worker, has been smoking since he was sixteen. He’s been convinced quitting is a good idea since recently losing a dearly loved Aunty to cancer.

Jamahl has taken the survey, and was surprised about what he learnt.

He says it’s made him think differently about his community and is convinced other respondents will feel the same way.


Making it Work

In NSW, more than 1000 “Tobacco Resistance Toolkits” have been downloaded since the Australian Health & Medical Research Council launched “Making It Work” in October last year.

Aimed at new Aboriginal service providers who lack training or culturally appropriate resources, the Tobacco Resistance and Control team (ATRAC) toolkit is a series of three modules.

These offer a practical template for data collection, creating a smoke-free workplace policy and how to source current facts and figures, called “Let’s Get Started.” A fourth module, Social Marketing, is about to be launched.

The three-year program has placed no limit as to how many modules will be available to its service providers. The more the community needs, the more consultation-based modules will be developed.

Once again, the community will shape and drive the program.

Jasmine Sarin who presented the seminar at the NACCHO Summit said defining success won’t be about the Toolkit’s effect on smoking prevalence.

“It’s more about measuring how people move through stages of change,” she says. “So, not smoking in the home anymore, or no longer smoking around children, any improvements in those areas would represent a success for us.”


Stickin’ It Up The Smokes

In South Australia, a unique program IS looking to reduce smoking prevalence – among young pregnant Aboriginal women.

In SA, the smoking rate for pregnant women is three times higher for Indigenous women than non-Indigenous women, totalling nearly 53%.

South Australia also has the highest number of low birth-weight babies.

The answer is Stickin’ It Up The Smokes, put together by the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA).

Using social media, a series of flyers, posters and regional radio ads, a multi-faceted campaign has been pulled together in very quick fashion and for very little cost.

Mary Anne Williams, the Maternal Health Tackling Smoking Program Officer at AHCSA, says her initial campaign costs were heading towards $20,000.

But by bringing in a number of Aboriginal media students and finding a young social marketing expert, the final outlay was a fraction of that, at $2,000.

Speaking at the NACCHO Summit, Williams said the campaign only took four months to go from concept to delivery; a massive eight months quicker than a Government-led process would have taken.

She even managed to get some help from X-Factor finalist Ellie Lovegrove who wrote a rap for the campaign.

There were some challenges though. Convincing some community Elders about the merits of the strategy took time. And it was a struggle to find the nine non-smoking ambassadors until a Facebook campaign was launched. Then the quota was filled within two days.

The target audience is primarily pregnant SA Aboriginal women aged in their early 20s.

The secondary targets include: Aboriginal mothers with young babies, especially those who are breastfeeding; families, and particularly partners, of pregnant Aboriginal women; young Aboriginal women who have not yet taken up smoking or had children (especially those aged 10-14 years); and Aboriginal communities throughout South Australia.

The aim of the Stickin It Up The Smokes campaign is modest:  a 2.1% per year reduction in smoking during pregnancy for Aboriginal women by June 2016.

The Summit also heard yesterday about anti-smoking efforts by the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council, in WA. Some tweet reports follow.

NACCHO Aboriginal health :Culture is an important determinant of health: Professor Ngiare Brown at NACCHO Summit

Ian Ring

It’s time to move away from the deficit model that is implicit in much discussion about the social determinants of health, and instead take a strengths-based cultural determinants approach to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This is one of the messages from Ngiare Brown, Professor of Indigenous Health and Education at the University of Wollongong.

Professor Brown also stresses the importance of a focus on resilience, and the value of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector as a national network for promoting cultural revitalisation and sustainable intergenerational change.

The summary below is taken from her presentation at the recent NACCHO summit


Connections to culture and country build stronger individual and collective wellbeing

Professor Ngiare Brown writes:

Although widely accepted and broadly researched, the social determinants approach to health and wellbeing appear to reflect a deficit perspective – demonstrating poorer health outcomes for those from lower socioeconomic populations, with lower educational attainment, long term unemployment and welfare dependency and intergenerational disadvantage.

The cultural determinants of health originate from and promote a strength based perspective, acknowledging that stronger connections to culture and country build stronger individual and collective identities, a sense of self-esteem, resilience, and improved outcomes across the other determinants of health including education, economic stability and community safety.

Exploring and articulating the cultural determinants of health acknowledges the extensive and well-established knowledge networks that exist within communities, the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service movement, human rights and social justice sectors.

Consistent with the thematic approach to the Articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), cultural determinants include, but are not limited to:


•Freedom from discrimination;

•Individual and collective rights;

•Freedom from assimilation and destruction of culture;

•Protection from removal/relocation;

•Connection to, custodianship, and utilisation of country and traditional lands;

•Reclamation, revitalisation, preservation and promotion of language and cultural practices;

•Protection and promotion of Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous Intellectual Property; and

•Understanding of lore, law and traditional roles and responsibilities.

The power of resilience

The exploration of resilience is a powerful and culturally relevant construct.

Resilience may be defined as the capacity to “cope with, and bounce back after, the ongoing demands and challenges of life, and to learn from them in a positive way”, positive adaptation despite adversity or “a class of phenomena characterized by good outcomes in spite of serious threats to adaptation or development”

Resilience is important because:

• It is culturally significant – we are a resilient culture, surviving and thriving;

• Resilient people/communities are better prepared for stronger, smarter, healthier, successful futures and have better outcomes across the social determinants of health (education, health, employment);

• Resilient individuals are more likely to provide a positive influence on those around them and are better able to develop and maintain positive relationships with others – family, friends, peers, colleagues;

• Resilience promotes collective benefits – social cohesion, community pride in success, economic stability, and improved health and wellbeing.

There is a developing body of international work describing cultural continuity and cultural resilience.

Scholars such as Fleming and Ledogar propose dimensions including traditional activities, traditional spirituality, traditional languages, and traditional healing.

Further, Native American educators propose cultural protective factors and cultural resources for resilience such as symbols and proverbs from common language and culture, traditional child rearing philosophies, religious leadership, counselors and Elders.

(For example, Chandler, M. J. & Lalonde, C. E. (2008). Cultural Continuity as a Protective Factor Against Suicide in First Nations Youth. Horizons –A Special Issue on Aboriginal Youth, Hope or Heartbreak: Aboriginal Youth and Canada’s Future. 10(1), 68-72; Olsson 2003, Stockholm Resilience Centre; John Fleming and Robert J Ledogar, ‘Resilience, an Evolving Concept: A Review of Literature Relevant to Aboriginal Research’,  Pimatisiwin. 2008 ; 6(2): 7–23. Iris Heavyrunner et al 2003).

The cultural determinants of health and wellbeing may be seen to be wrapping around, or cutting across individual, internal, external and collective factors.

A ‘social and cultural determinants’ approach recognises that there are many drivers of ill-health that lie outside the direct responsibility of the health sector and which therefore require a collaborative, inter-sectoral approach.

There is an increasing body of evidence demonstrating that protection and promotion of traditional knowledge, family, culture and kinship contribute to community cohesion and personal resilience.

Current studies show that strong cultural links and practices improve outcomes across the social determinants of health.

There are certain services only NACCHO and ACCH sector can and should do – child protection; mental health; women’s business; and men’s health.

This is useful in assisting policy and resourcing decision-making dependent upon context, geography, demography and tailoring services to local needs and priorities

The ACCH sector provides a true national network and a vehicle for cultural revitalisation. A cultural determinants approach and cultural revitalisation drive sustainable intergenerational change.

Aboriginal Social Media #NACCHOSummit news: A case study of Twitter-power for Aboriginal health advocacy and self-determination


Social media and particularly Twitter had a huge impact in amplifying the discussions and reach of the NACCHO Summit in Adelaide this week.

As at 25 August there were 5,563,625 Impressions from 3,097 Tweets

As you can see from the tweet below, NACCHO is heading to next Tuesday’s National Press Club debate on health with an arsenal of tweeters. (Heaven help hope those politicians if they don’t focus on their plans for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health – their names will be mud in the Twitterverse.)

In the article below journalist John Thompson-Mills reports on the social media impact factor – perhaps it was no coincidence that #NACCHOSummit was trending on Twitter and that a senior government official turned up for the last day of the Summit.

At the bottom of his article are some further conference tweets, showing that “pride” emerged very strongly as a Summit theme, as well as a grab of the conference’s Twitter analytics (which doesn’t include today’s tweet-coverage).

If you would like assistance with Social media such as TWITTER  contact the person who put this project together

NACCHO Media and Communications advisor :Colin Cowell who you can follow @NACCHOAustralia



Twitter extends the reach of #NACCHOSummit

John Thompson-Mills writes:

One of the foundation stones of NACCHO and Aboriginal self-determination is community control. The community provides the expertise, drives the program and controls the message.

This makes social media a perfect fit for an event like the inaugural NACCHO summit.

Experienced social media users may have been fully prepared to use Twitter to talk about the #NACCHOSummit but many, including senior NACCHO people, were taken aback by what social media managed to achieve this week.

NACCHO’s CEO, Lisa Briggs, says:

“I think the social media coverage has been absolutely fantastic and taken the conference to places it probably wouldn’t have been able to reach, just with newspapers and radio. So I think it’s a very important and effective tool.

“The viralness (sic) of Twitter certainly surprised me, absolutely, and I think it’s the attraction and the interest. Finding peoples’ interests and them tweeting back; ‘that’s really good, can I hear more about those stories?’, and then getting in touch with others who are presenting them. I think I know more people on social media than I do face to face.” 

The summit convinced a number of NACCHO staff to join the Twitterverse and, with thousands of tweets generated by the end of the conference, there was plenty to inspire the “Twitter-virgins”.

NACCHO Summit attendee Jake Byrne isn’t a Twitter virgin. He tends to observe the space rather than join in the debate. Not now though. He says:

“I’m probably going to have to get an account that’s a bit more focused and work specific. I have to try and get a bit more active in the space, promoting different programs and ideas and things that I’ve been seeing.

“I reckon the more we spread the word, the better it is for everyone in promoting those really good stories that all too often in Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal health are the ones that don’t get the spotlight shone on them.”

Lisa Briggs expected social media at the NACCHO Summit to stay within the realms it already occupied, but in the middle of an election campaign there was too much going on for it to stay contained.

A couple of times this week, the conference’s Twitter hashtag (#NACCHOSummit) was “trending” nationally (ie: the top subjects on the Twitter platform), which, along with the sheer numbers of tweets, helped convince a government bureaucrat to make a hasty trip to Adelaide from Canberra to see what was going on.

Samantha Palmer is the First Assistant Secretary, in the Office for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health and she sat in on the final day of the conference.

With the election campaign in full swing, and the Federal Government in caretaker mode, Palmer wasn’t able to speak publicly, but did spend private time with NACCHO members.

Jake Byrne could also see the value in Twitter influencing political circles.

“I was impressed to see all the Tweets coming from the summit did put some pressure on the pollies and brought it to national attention, and we were “trending”. I actually got to understand what trending was and the power it has, which I wasn’t really aware of before coming here,” he said.

NACCHO CEO Lisa Briggs didn’t mind that Samantha Palmer couldn’t talk publicly at the summit. For her the coincidental timing of the election campaign and the conference was perfect.

“I think it’s been a fantastic opportunity to get the good stories and inform wider Australia what’s going on,” she said. “Through social media we’ve kept it on a political platform, asking questions about how they’re contributing to Aboriginal Community Control and health in particular.

“Today you would’ve seen more tweets directed at Tanya Plibersek (Federal Health Minister) and Peter Dutton (Shadow Health Minister). They may not be here physically but there are other ways of getting to them,” she said.

At the other end of the political scale, NACCHO conference attendee, Marlee Ramp, a 19 year-old medical student from Cairns, has now seen the potential of Twitter up close.

“…this week with all the hash tags, I started an account and followed the feed,” she said. “Obviously this week is all health focused, but it gives me a broader perspective of health and what my role may be in the future, and who I can get involved with.”

Young, active, aware people like Marlee Ramp represent the future for Aboriginal self-determination but so it seems does social media because it empowers the storytellers.

Jake Byrne is 30 and he can see the relative power social media gives him and other Aboriginal people. He says:

“If we can control our message, that’s brilliant. We’ve heard a lot in the past few days about myths that were being smashed through the evidence that’s been collected so far, but I think those myths are propagated by other people sending messages about our community. If we can get our stories out there the way we want them to be told, that’s really empowering.”

The next NACCHO Summit is scheduled for April or May next year. That means organisers and delegates will be filling social media just as budgets are being finalised by what’s anticipated to be a new Coalition Government.

Coincidence or clever timing?

No doubt we’ll get a clear idea by what’s said on social media.


Twitter stream shows up a strong theme of Pride


Twitter Analytics

NACCHO MJA social media news: Aboriginal health at forefront of innovative use of social media for advocacy

Naccho Social

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) was an early adopter of social media, and finds it a valuable advocacy tool, according to its Chair, Justin Mohamed. (Currently we have over 3,500 followers on Twitter alone)

This article published in the Medical Journal of Australia OPEN ACCESS for NAIDOC WEEK

Public health journalist Melissa Sweet from CROAKEY highlights successes that have resulted from innovative use of social media

Around the world, social media is a disrupting and transforming force, bringing new opportunities for innovation and participation.1 In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have developed resources to provide guidance on using social media in health communication.2

In the United Kingdom, the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement encouraged its staff to explore the potential of using social media to transform care and staff engagement.3In Australia, the Indigenous health sector has been at the forefront of innovative use of social media for advocacy, public health promotion and community development.

Two striking examples are the Lowitja Institute’s nuanced explanation of knowledge exchange from Indigenous perspectives4 and the Healing Foundation’s engaging explanation of the impact of colonisation on Indigenous health.5

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) was an early adopter of social media, and finds it a valuable advocacy tool, according to its Chair, Justin Mohamed.
It distributes daily Aboriginal health news alerts via social media. Mohamed says downloads of NACCHO’s policy submissions have increased since they have been promoted on Twitter and other online channels.

The popularity of user-generated content — a hallmark of social media — is being harnessed in new tobacco control programs. These include the No Smokes campaign from the Menzies School of Health Research and the Rewrite Your Story initiative by Nunkuwarrin Yunti (a community-controlled service).

In New South Wales, the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council uses Facebook to promote sexual health and smoking cessation.While the digital divide is thought to be an issue relevant to remote and hard-to-reach communities,6 social media has been successfully used in the Torres Strait Islands to connect young people with a public health initiative in sexual health — the Kasa Por Yarn (“just for a chat”) campaign, funded by Queensland Health.

Unpublished data show that Facebook, YouTube and text messaging were effective in reaching the target audience of 15–24-year-olds (Heather Robertson, Senior Network Project Officer, Cairns Public Health Unit, Queensland Health, personal communication).

Patricia Fagan, a public health physician who oversaw the campaign, says that social media helped increase its reach.The campaign was using tools with appeal to young people, and, importantly, “it didn’t feel like health, it felt like socialising”.

Heather Robertson, the project leader, says engaging local writers, musicians and actors in developing campaign messages and social media content was also important.Social media has also been used to increase engagement with the Heuristic Interactive Technology network (HITnet), which provides touch-screen kiosks in Indigenous communities and in prisons.

The kiosks embed health messages in culturally based digital storytelling. Helen Travers, Director of Creative Production and Marketing for HITnet, says this has brought wider health benefits, by developing the content-creation skills of communities. “The exciting thing for health promotion is that this kind of work is increasing digital literacy and digital inclusion”, she says.

Social media’s facilitation of citizen-generated movements is exemplified by the @IndigenousX Twitter account, where a different Indigenous person tweets every week, enabling many health-related discussions.Innovation in service development is also being informed by the anti-hierarchical, decentralised nature of social media.

The Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre is developing virtual mental health resources for Indigenous youth in remote communities. The centre’s Chief Executive Officer, Jane Burns, envisages that these will resemble a social network more than a health care intervention, and will link young people and their health care providers with online collection of data about sleep, weight, physical activity and related measures.

Burns says, “It really is . . . creating a new mental health service, a new way of doing things that empowers the individual, rather than being that top-down service delivery approach”.However, barriers to wider use of social media exist.

Burns says that upskilling health professionals is critical. Kishan Kariippanon, a former paediatric physician studying social media and mobile phone use among youth in the Yirrkala community in Arnhem Land, says health professionals need support and encouragement to engage more creatively with technological innovations. He would like to see regular “hackathons” to bring together programmers, health professionals, innovators and community members to encourage “out of the box” thinking.