NACCHO health political update week 4: National and WA peak bodies express concerns about Indigenous voice


As we enter week 4 of the new Abbott led Government , the future of Aboriginal affairs and specifically Aboriginal health is still uncertain. Last week in Western Australia a number of Aboriginal organisations including NACCHO affiliate Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA), the Kimberly Land Council and the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples expressed concerns about “Indigenous voices”.

Picture above :Congress co-chairwoman Kirstie Parker, right, with the Kimberley Land Council’s Mervyn Street, Irene Davey and Frank Davey.  Picture: Guy McLean  Source: The Australian –

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Press Release: Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA)

Western Australia’s peak Aboriginal health body says they agree wholeheartedly with recent statements by the Kimberly Land Council that Warren Mundine is not the only Indigenous voice but urges the government to remember that land isn’t the only Indigenous issue.

‘Tony Abbott’s Indigenous Advisory Council needs a strong voice from Western Australia, but that voice needs to represent all the interests and needs of Aboriginal people and their communities,’ says Des Martin, Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA)

While Mr Martin acknowledges land rights are an important issue, the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people cannot be forgotten, he says.

‘I agree wholeheartedly with Kirstie Parker’s statement that Warren Mundine isn’t the only voice for Indigenous people and I support what the Kimberley Land Council does, it is extremely important for all Aboriginal people to have their country and care for it to secure their future but if their health is still suffering then that isn’t a good thing for them or future generations,’ Mr Martin says.

‘We need broad representation on the Indigenous Advisory Council, not just land or business interests. Tony Abbott does need to take advice from more than one source when it comes to Aboriginal people.

AHCWA has registered their interest to have Chairperson Vicki O’Donnell on the Indigenous Advisory Council. ‘Warren Mundine and Tony Abbott must understand that Aboriginal people across Australia need a strong voice here in the West to advocate for them, to make sure they have access to opportunities and know that their best interests are being looked after by people they identify with and can trust,’ Mr Martin says.

‘We are lucky to have a strong economy here in Western Australia and that brings opportunities for Aboriginal people to be employed, to gain skills and a meaningful income. That positively impacts the health and wellbeing not only of individuals but whole communities.’

Ultimately, Mr Martin says, ‘AHCWA just wants to make sure the best services will continue to be offered to Aboriginal people. We’ve come so far in closing the gap since targets began in 2008, now isn’t the time to leave health of any agenda.’

Mundine not the only voice

Patricia Karvelas From:  The Australian September 27, 2013  – See more at:

THE leader of the nation’s peak Aboriginal body has declared the Abbott government must listen to her organisation and not just rely on advice from the Prime Minister’s new indigenous council led by Warren Mundine.

The co-chairwoman of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, Kirstie Parker, this week addressed the annual meeting of the powerful Kimberley Land Council and recruited 100 new remote members for her organisation.

She told The Australian that the congress was the representative body for indigenous Australia, including the most remote communities. Ms Parker said while Tony Abbott was entitled to receive advice from his new high-level council, he must bear in mind that the national congress was the grassroots voice of Aboriginal Australia.

Ms Parker’s visit to the Kimberley this week was a powerful symbol of the work the congress plans to do to represent the most isolated Aboriginal communities. “Our message is that there is a national congress, it is made up of representatives chosen by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves and that is important and it means the national congress is a very important vehicle for all governments in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to actually get some runs on the board,” she said

.”Tony Abbott has said that his government will not take a one-size-fits-all approach, he said that Canberra does not know best, and that is true.

In Aboriginal communities, it is our people who know best and the national congress is its membership.”She said any notion the congress was a city-based organisation was false.

“We have member organisations and individuals all around the country and this is part of what we are on about, and that is being representatives of our people everywhere,” she said.”We exist to provide a national voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Ms Parker said she had spoken to the Kimberley Land Council about the importance of constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to make sure that our mob know what is intended and once the government releases their model, we also need to be fully aware of what it will mean to our people,” she said.Ms Parker said she had also talked about the UN declarations on indigenous peoples. “The declaration . . . hasn’t had an obvious impact on policies and legislation affecting our people and we would like to start working with the government to make sure that does happen.”