Aboriginal Health #racism and #cancer #WCPH2017 : The inoperable, unstoppable @Proudblacksista Colleen Lavelle and other strong stories

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,

but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

These strong words are so true. I look at how my behaviour has changed with the brain tumour. I shudder when I think of the things I have said to my children.

I think it was about eight or nine years ago I was diagnosed with a brain tumour,

The reason I’m vague on it is I actually don’t think it’s a day to remember. It’s not a celebratory day.

Thinking about my four children motivates me to keep going

I’ll be buggered if I am going to have the [child safety] department or someone like that come in and take care of my kids.”

Cancer is a leading cause of death among Indigenous Australians, but fear, stigma and shame mean it is rarely spoken about.

Ms Colleen Lavelle’s a Wakka Wakka woman, from Queenslandknown as @Proudbacksista  tumour has been deemed inoperable, which means it’s considered terminal.

Hear or Download hear her Radio National Interview 

Or

Watch ABC TV report

Photo above from previous NACCHO News Alert

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Death by #racism: Is bigotry in the health system harming Indigenous patients ?

NACCHO and Cancer over 60 articles

NACCHO Cultural Safety

Federal Government Website

Cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia

Colleen lives in Brisbane and through her blog she has become a support person for other Aboriginal people facing cancer, helping them with practical matters and being a friendly voice on the other end of a phone line.

She also accompanies some patients to hospital appointments and would like to see it made easier for Aboriginal volunteers to do such work.

“If you come from the Torres Strait and you’ve come down here and someone’s speaking to you really fast, rattling off all these medical things you’ll kind of be going, ‘what?’,” she said.

“If you’ve got someone, one of your own mob there it makes it easier.”

 Recently Colleen wrote for Croakey /We Public Health

Close the Gap should be so much more than a photo opportunity or a morning tea. There are ways that everyone can help. I am going to share ten simple ones that I have been trying to get happening for years.

  1. More Indigenous hospital liaison officers – Whatever title you use, we need more people in the hospital working for us. Big hospitals often only employ two, that is not even close to being enough. They should be employed around the clock.
  2. Indigenous hospital volunteers – Hospitals need to have a separate army of volunteers, who deal exclusively with Indigenous patients, to spend time with the person from a remote area in a city hospital. To sit with someone having a long treatment. Just a friendly face in an alien environment.
  3. Cultural Awareness Training (CAT) – Should be compulsory with all hospital staff, from the cleaner to the director. This training should address the issues and problems in health, but also needs to be localised to have the Traditional Owners from the area to share their knowledge. To truly let people understand, I am not talking a one of two-hour session a year, but a long, fully-formed training, with refresher courses each year. All medical and Allied Health professionals should do, and be assessed on, Cultural Awareness on a regular basis, and this needs to be registered. It is not good enough when a health professional does one course on Indigenous People and 20 years later still think that was enough. General Practice also need to have CAT, even if they are not signed on to CTG, because they are going to be seeing Indigenous patients.
  4. General Practice incentive payments – GPs must lose their incentive payments if they sign on for the incentive and, during that time they don’t see an Indigenous patient. Again, they should lose the bonus if they are signed up and do not annotate the prescriptions for patients.
  5. Indigenous people have the right of choice – We should be able to see a private GP or the local Indigenous Medical Service, or both if we want, but some funding seems to steer us towards the Indigenous Medical Service. This can be hard if it’s a long way from your home and you have to depend on public transport.
  6. Employ more Indigenous people in the health sector, not just  doctors – It can be as simple as a receptionist, who makes a difference.
  7. Indigenous patients must be heard – Not just in the surgery but on national committees. Our experiences must be more than just fodder for researchers or funding applications.
  8. Buck-passing – PHNs, Division of General Practices and other organisations, must stop handing over Indigenous units to others. You have patients that see so many doctors, you have to be responsible. Handing units over to Indigenous Medical Services etc, is passing the buck. It takes away our free choice. It is a way of saying you are not interested in our wellbeing.
  9. Respect – Invite Elders to your hospital, clinic, whatever, on a regular basis, consider having an Elder in residence at your local hospital.
  10. Recognise and celebrate our important dates – It smacks of racism if a hospital is decked out in green and shamrocks everywhere for St Patrick’s day and come NAIDOC, there is a morning tea, hidden away, with only a few people involved. Share it. Don’t even get me started on Australia Day. (Okay, just a little bit) Understand that we don’t think it’s great to wave the flag or want to be in your premises when you have complete overkill of decorations and start talking about how wonderful it is.

The unspoken illness: Cancer in Aboriginal communities

Cancer is a leading cause of death among Indigenous Australians, but fear, stigma and shame mean it is rarely spoken about.

Aboriginal Australians are less likely to be diagnosed with cancer, but significantly more likely to die of the disease.

Often, symptoms and diagnoses are ignored because of the fear surrounding cancer.

Cancer in Aboriginal communities:

  • Indigenous Australians have a slightly lower rate of cancer diagnosis than non-Indigenous Australians
  • The Aboriginal cancer mortality rate is 30 per cent higher
  • Indigenous Australians are more likely to be diagnosed when cancer is advanced
  • They are less likely to participate in cancer screening programs
  • Lung cancer is the most common cancer among Indigenous Australians

Lateline spoke to some Aboriginal people about how they dealt being diagnosed and how they’re trying to break down taboos in their communities.

Rodney Graham: Bowel cancer

Rodney

Rodney Graham literally ran away from his diagnosis in 2015.

For seven months he didn’t go back to his doctor after he was told he had bowel cancer.

Eventually though, he mustered the courage to deal with the diagnosis and get treatment.

He had to travel 700 kilometres from his community of Woorabinda, in central Queensland, to Brisbane to be operated on.

“A big city like that, I don’t even like going to [Rockhampton] really. I can’t stand Rocky. But Brisbane that was a step up you know,” he said.

Now Mr Graham is happy to talk about his illness and wants to help others in his community face up to cancer.

“It might happen to someone else and they say, ‘Well we’ll go see Rodney, he knows all about it’,” he said.

“I’ll give them some advice and see how it goes from there.”

Mr Graham gave up drinking years ago and he said it probably saved his life.

“I think if I was still drinking I wouldn’t be here, you know what I mean,” he said.

Aunty Tina Rankin: Cervical cancer

Aunty Tina has survived cancer, but seen several close relatives succumb to the disease.

“One minute you’re sitting down there with that person, that person is so healthy, and then the next time you see them they’re that sick, they’re that small you can hardly recognise them,” she said.

“People think of it as the killer disease.

“They see people in cancer wards and to look at those people it puts them into a depressed state, and they go home thinking that they’re going to end up like that.”

Aunty Tina said people need to know there is help available for cancer sufferers.

She is part of the Woorabinda Women’s Group who are working to raise awareness in the community about cancer so sufferers don’t feel isolated.

“When you’re well and up and running, you’ve got that many friends,” she said.

“All of a sudden you get sick, you find out you’ve got cancer, you’ve got nobody, it feels as if you’re on your own.

“There were times when I just wanted to go and commit suicide through the depression.

“But I sit down and think about things, I pull myself out of that deep hole.”

Sevese Isaro: Lost his father to cancer

Sevese Isaro, or Tatay as he’s known locally, is Woorabinda’s radio host.

He knows first-hand how hard it can be to talk about cancer, having lost his father to the disease just a few years ago.

“Everyone just tried to stop talking about it,” he said.

“I fell back into drinking, everybody just went their own way.”

He said many people don’t go to the doctor when they suspect they could have cancer.

“They know that there’s something wrong with them, but they don’t want to go because they’re frightened of the answer,” he said.

“I guess people once they hear the word cancer they start getting frightened and they automatically give up hope.”

If you or anyone you know needs help contact your local ACCHO or call

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #closethegap debate: Blackface and blaming Indigenous health woes on culture are two sides of the same racist coin

 

image-20160225-15141-sem543 - Copy

“The statement that Aboriginal culture has to change to close the health gap is much the same.

Health in any population is socially determined; this is a basic population health fact. Instigators of this debate present their judgements of some behaviour among Australia’s Indigenous populations as endemic to their culture, and then argue that their culture must change.

There are basic flaws in this thinking.”

Norm Sheehan

Director, GNIBI College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, Southern Cross University

I engaged in debate recently with someone who said very clearly that the gap in Indigenous health in Australia was due to culture. Thus, his argument went, to reach health parity Indigenous culture would have to change.

Simultaneously, debate also began concerning “blackface” and whether dressing up in this style was racist or not. It followed Australian basketballer Alice Kunek attracting the ire of team-mate Liz Cambage – whose father is Nigerian – for an Instagram post where she had painted her face brown.

These two debates share similar characteristics that reveal aspects of Australian society when it comes to race. And there is a real absence in these debates of basic knowledge about culture and history.

NACCHO Aboriginal health and racism : What are the impacts of racism on Aboriginal health ?

Where did blackface come from?

Asking if blackface is racist is a bit like asking if the earth is round. You only need to simply search Zip Coon or Jim Crow and you will find the rich racist origins of blackface in 1830s America.

Blackface originated as a popular movement that lampooned and ridiculed African Americans leading up to the American Civil War. It continued until the 1970s. White performers in blackface would perform in what were known as minstrel shows, where they could extend the emotional range and musical style of their performances based on African American music and talent without fear of condemnation or competition.

Minstrel shows also provided a site where African Americans and all people of colour could be openly parodied and ridiculed while being excluded from the entertainment industry.

In this way, blackface is a symbol of personal ridicule, racial exclusion, and intercultural exploitation. The word “coon” lingers in racial abuse as one of many legacies of this movement.

Culture is not easily changed

The statement that Aboriginal culture has to change to close the health gap is much the same.

Health in any population is socially determined; this is a basic population health fact. Instigators of this debate present their judgements of some behaviour among Australia’s Indigenous populations as endemic to their culture, and then argue that their culture must change.

There are basic flaws in this thinking. First is the understanding that culture is not behaviour. People change their behaviour all the time, but changing culture is a very different proposition. An analogy is how it feels when managers talk about implementing culture change in the workplace.

Cultures are not easily changed, as is evident in the resilience of Aboriginal cultures after centuries of persecution. Culture change in any context is slow and sometimes careful because cultural change hurts.

Imposed cultural change is an overt violence condemned by all historical accounts and resultant statements of human rights. Saying that this change is necessary to assist anyone is nonsense.

In their shoes

Racist behaviour operates through substituting offhand unthinking statements for real or true statements. Racist statements are not stupid; they are intentionally unthinking because the aim is to encourage decisions that do not consider how proposals about others or representations of others play out and impact others’ lives.

Just consider, for a moment, how the granddaughter of an African American musician would view a blackface person at a party. Think how an Aboriginal community that has survived mission incarceration, child removal, assimilation and interventionist policy for generations might feel when someone says that their Aboriginal culture is the impediment to their health and well-being.

Speaking against these unconsidered attitudes and actions is not imposing political correctness. It is simply applying good thinking and consideration. History presents knowledge of the past and what was done to some groups by others, so it also engages consideration for the future – informing us so we ensure actions done now do not repeat this harm.

A fear of history has been successfully marketed among members of Australian society. The direct media support and continued funding for edits of colonial reality have worked. This is not because the writings are in any way true, but because they have social validity. Colonial violence was so abhorrent that denial is socially valid and the most common offhand response.

This validity has two basic sources – the intense depravity of colonial violations, and the obvious continuation of a poverty of consideration for Aboriginal peoples. The choice people have to make is whether they are courageous enough to face the truth or use their power to conceal it.

This has resulted in Australians generally not being aware of the significance and value of their history. Media preferences for short, high-impact stories fit seamlessly with these unconsidered offhand manipulations. Resultant “debate” is fleeting. It is uninformed, offhand, and ripe with hostility.

The social interactions surrounding these debates are repeated in a similar form whenever they arise. The old adage is history repeats, but now this seems to have become a repetitious beat that prompts a lot of dancing just to avoid stepping forward with truth

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper closing 18 March

N3

Next Editions

6 April , 13 July and 16 November 2016

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Close the Gap Campaign for the governments of Australia to commit to achieving equality  for Indigenous people in the areas of health and  life expectancy within 25 years.

Response to this NACCHO media initiative has been nothing short of sensational, with feedback from around the country suggesting we really kicked a few positive goals for national Aboriginal health.

Thanks to all our supporters, most especially our advertisers, NACCHO’S Aboriginal Health News is here to stay.

We are now looking to all our members, programs and sector stakeholders for advertising, compelling articles, eye-catching images and commentary for inclusion in our next edition.

Please Note: All submitted advertising and editorial content is subject to space availability and review by the NACCHO Newspaper editorial committee

This 24-page newspaper is produced and distributed as an insert in the Koori Mail, circulating 14,000 full-colour print copies nationally via newsagents and subscriptions.

Our audited readership (Audit Bureau of Circulations) is 100,000 readers!

Our target audience also includes over 500 NACCHO member and affiliate health organisations, relevant government departments, subsidiary indigenous health services and suppliers, as well as the end-users of Australian Indigenous health services nationally.

Your advertising support means we can build this newspaper to a cost-neutral endeavour, thereby guaranteeing its future.

Contact the Editor Colin Cowell nacchonews@naccho.org.au

DOWNLOAD OUR 2016 ADVERTISING RATE CARD 

HERE

Book online editorial or advertising

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Racism : The power of social media supporting Adam Goodes

AG

“On an individual level, exposure to racism is associated with psychological distress, depression, poor quality of life, and substance misuse, all of which contribute significantly to the overall ill-health experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Prolonged experience of stress can also have physical health effects, such as on the immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems.”

patanderson4-220x124

Pat Anderson is chairwoman of the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research (and a former chair of NACCHO)

This week NACCHO’s Facebook post on Aboriginal Health Racism and supporting Adam Goodes received 50,855 Likes, comments and shares reaching 846,848 people (see above) . In total our NACCHO campaign Facebook posts reached over 2.30 Million People ( 1.4 Million Twitter and 930,000 Facebook)

Thousands took the time and effort to read this important paper on Aboriginal Health and Racism

First Published by NACCHO in 2013 from the Australian Opinion Article HERE

 In July 2013, the federal government launched its new National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan.

Update August 2015 the NATSHIP Implementation is due to be released shortly

As with all such plans, much depends on how it is implemented. With the details of how it is to be turned into meaningful action yet to be worked out, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and organisations and others will be reserving their judgment.

Nevertheless, there is one area in which this plan breaks new ground, and that is its identification of racism as a key driver of ill-health.

This may be surprising to many Australians. The common perception seems to be that racism directed towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is regrettable, but that such incidents are isolated, trivial and essentially harmless.

Such views were commonly expressed, for example, following the racial abuse of Sydney Swans footballer Adam Goodes earlier this year.

However, the new health plan has got it right on this point, and it is worth looking in more detail at how and why.

So how common are racist behaviours, including speech, directed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?

A key study in Victoria in 2010-11, funded by the Lowitja Institute, documented very high levels of racism experienced by Aboriginal Victorians.

It found that of the 755 Aboriginal Victorians surveyed, almost all (97 per cent) reported experiencing racism in the previous year. This included a range of behaviours from being called racist names, teased or hearing jokes or comments that stereotyped Aboriginal people (92 per cent); being sworn at, verbally abused or subjected to offensive gestures because of their race (84 per cent); being spat at, hit or threatened because of their race (67 per cent); to having their property vandalised because of race (54 per cent).

Significantly, more than 70 per cent of those surveyed experienced eight or more such incidents in the previous 12 months.

Other studies have found high levels of exposure to racist behaviours and language.

Such statistics describe the reality of the lived experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Most Australians would no doubt agree this level of racist abuse and violence is unwarranted and objectionable. It infringes upon our rights – not just our rights as indigenous people but also our legal rights as Australian citizens.

But is it actually harmful? Is it a health issue? Studies in Australia echo findings from around the world that show the experience of racism is significantly related to poor physical and mental health.

There are several ways in which racism has a negative effect on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health.

First, on an individual level, exposure to racism is associated with psychological distress, depression, poor quality of life, and substance misuse, all of which contribute significantly to the overall ill-health experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Prolonged experience of stress can also have physical health effects, such as on the immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems.

Second, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may be reluctant to seek much-needed health, housing, welfare or other services from providers they perceive to be unwelcoming or who they feel may hold negative stereotypes about them.

Last, there is a growing body of evidence that the health system itself does not provide the same level of care to indigenous people as to other Australians. This systemic racism is not necessarily the result of individual ill-will by health practitioners, but a reflection of inappropriate assumptions made about the health or behaviour of people belonging to a particular group.

What the research tells us, then, is that racism is not rare and it is not harmless: it is a deeply embedded pattern of events and behaviours that significantly contribute to the ill-health suffered by all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Tackling these issues is not easy. The first step is for governments to understand racism does have an impact on our health and to take action accordingly. Tackling racism provides governments with an opportunity to make better progress on their commitments to Close the Gap, as the campaign is known, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. The new plan has begun this process, but it needs to be backed up with evidence-based action.

Second, as a nation we need to open up the debate about racism and its effects.

The recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution is important for many reasons, not least because it could lead to improved stewardship and governance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health (as explored in a recent Lowitja Institute paper, “Legally Invisible”).

However, the process around constitutional recognition provides us with an opportunity to have this difficult but necessary conversation about racism and the relationship between Australia’s First Peoples and those who have arrived in this country more recently. Needless to say, this conversation needs to be conducted respectfully, in a way that is based on the evidence and on respect for the diverse experiences of all Australians.

Last, we need to educate all Australians, especially young people, that discriminatory remarks, however casual or apparently light-hearted or off-the-cuff, have implications for other people’s health.

Whatever approaches we adopt, they must be based on the recognition that people cannot thrive if they are not connected.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be connected with their own families, communities and cultures. We must also feel connected to the rest of society. Racism cuts that connection.

At the same time, racism cuts off all Australians from the unique insights and experiences that we, the nation’s First Peoples, have to offer.

Seen this way, recognising and tackling racism is about creating a healthier, happier and better nation in which all can thrive.

Pat Anderson is chairwoman of the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research.

NACCHO Aboriginal health and racism: Marcia Langton the nature of my Q and A apology to Andrew Bolt

869920-e452df9e-a9a7-11e3-9dd3-54db44ed2f71

I believe that his obsessive writing about the colour of the skin of particular Aboriginal people is malicious and cowardly

Among the many race-obsessed expressions in his offensive, and now, unlawful, columns was the accusation that the defendants, all ”fair-skinned” Aboriginal people, claimed to be Aboriginal to receive certain benefits.

As every person who has been raised by an Aboriginal parent knows, we must be ”twice as good as the white man” to finish school and get a job and suffer endless racist slurs while doing so from idiots who say things like, ”You don’t look Aboriginal. Why don’t you identify as white?”

What are our children and grandchildren to say to these fools? Deny their mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, and other family members because one of Bolt’s ilk is offended by their Aboriginal identity?

Marcia Langton responding to her comments on Q and A

Prof Marcia Langton, B.A. (Hons) ANU, PhD Macq. U., A.M., F.A.S.S.A.

Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies :

The University of Melbourne

I apologised for causing offence to him, because he stated that I should apologise to him because I had ‘hurt his feelings’ and offended him. I did not apologise for my beliefs or my intention of trying to explain my beliefs.

It was not my intention to cause offence to Andrew Bolt. Andrew Bolt as a newspaper column, a television program and a blog site, and ought to be capable of a robust debate, that is a dialogue rather than a monologue.

The debate concerns the fate of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and whether this section should be removed. I say it should not be removed and he has demanded of the government that it be wholly removed. If the Parliament removes this section, he, and others who hold his views, will be free to continue to attack Aboriginal people on the grounds of the colour of their skin.

I believe that his obsessive writing about the colour of the skin of particular Aboriginal people is malicious and cowardly.

WHAT ARE THE IMPACTS OF RACISM ON ABORIGINAL HEALTH

The question should also be asked as to whether, by publishing photographs and personal details about these people, he is drawing attention to them for the benefit of his followers, who regularly demonstrate in the social media their extremist racist views.

He is putting the  lives and physical well being in danger from the mentally unwell among his fans? Note that so many of the reports about the Aboriginal people he attacks come from this readership and that Bolt acknowledges them by their first names.

This is a very dangerous practice and I reiterate that my concern is for the safety and wellbeing of the Aboriginal people he attacks.

Some are my friends and colleagues, and many I have never met. They not deserve the horrendous treatment that he metes out to them in his column and blog. I am astonished that the media and the Australian public allow this to continue.

He believes that he is not racist, and I believe that he is sincere in this belief. Nevertheless, I am particularly concerned about the harm that his attacks do to these young people, the impact on their self esteem, and the harm to other young Aboriginal people. I am concerned because of the very high rates of suicide among our youth and I believe that this kind of abuse contributes indirectly to this outcome.

See, for instance, attached report: Yin Paradies, Ricci Harris & Ian Anderson 2008, The Impact of Racism on Indigenous Health in Australia and Aotearoa:

Towards a Research Agenda PDF [2.9 MB] Discussion Paper No. 4, CRCAH, Darwin –

See more at: http://www.lowitja.org.au/racism-and-health#sthash.ePEHMyFC.dpuf)

He refuses to allow me to explain this argument to him. I have tried twice, once at a lunch with him, Jon Faine and Lyndon Ormond-Parker in Melbourne (organised by Jon Faine; date, Tuesday 26 June) and also on 2GB on The Steve Price Show.

On the ABC’s Q&A, I was drawing attention to the fact that his practice, often, is to publicly name a young fair-skinned Aboriginal person, such as Dr Misty Jenkins, and draw attention to their ‘light skin’ or appearance, and then draw an inference that the fact that this person identifies as Aboriginal is somehow fraudulent, or that this person has somehow gained an unfair advantage (such as entry to university) by identifying

The inference is that someone who doesn’t fit a ‘racial’ stereotype and who identifies as Aboriginal is necessarily fraudulent. At no time has he provided evidence to support these implied accusations, and the reader is left with the impression that every ‘fair-skinned’ person is fraudulently claiming benefits that the ‘taxpayer’ must pay for.

Bolt argues that there is only one ‘race’ and yet it is only ‘fair-skinned’ Aboriginal people who are subjected to his taunts, and not, for instance, Dutch Australians or Italian Australians, who might benefit from say the fact of the existence of SBS.

Why are there no objections to other Australians identifying with their cultural or national background?

Has Bolt ever objected to someone claiming to be Dutch Australian or Italian Australian or Irish Australian? Not as far as I know, and thus I conclude that his singling out of ‘fair skinned’ Aboriginal people goes to the issue of ‘race’ and could be construed as racist.

Another relevant argument is my belief that he conflates two problems, and that there are very serious consequences of this conflation.

His assumption, I believe, is that the insistence by the majority of Aboriginal people on our right to identify as such and to maintain our cultural heritage is merely a ruse to obtain welfare and other benefits from the ‘taxpayer.’

The issue of identification as Aboriginal must be separated from the question of what welfare and other benefits ought to flow to people who identify as Aboriginal. There are thousands Aboriginal people who do not qualify for any of the special Aboriginal benefits (such as Abstudy which is means tested, like most government social security and related payments) and yet proudly identify as Aboriginal. There is no financial benefit in doing so, and often there are disadvantages, such as racism in the workplace and various forms of racial discrimination, all of which Aboriginal people, whatever their skin colour, are prepared to endure in order to maintain their identity.

I have spoken and written about this in my speech to the Melbourne Writers Festival.

In this speech, I argued that the two fundamental issues need to be separated, and that all assistance should be on the basis of need not ‘race.’

(This is a complicated issue, and while I don’t agree with everything in this report, it is helpful in separating these issues; Dr John Gardiner-Garden, Current Issues Brief no. 10 2002-03, Defining Aboriginality in Australia, Social Policy Group, 3 February 2003, Canberra: Parliament of Australia, Parliamentary Library):

http://www.aph

I believe that Bolt believes something similar to me (which as I say I have tried unsuccessfully to explain to him) but instead of separating the issues, he continues to imply that any Aboriginal person who does fit a ‘racial’ stereotype and who claims to be Aboriginal, does so for the imagined financial and other benefits that are he says are accorded to them.

Further, rather than saying that any benefits ought to be on the basis of need, his repeated (and I believe, obsessive) published comments and articles on this matter present a series of imputations that as a whole can be interpreted as a complete rejection of the right of people descended from an Aboriginal person to identify as Aboriginal.

Here’s yet another example of this in his column of August 21, 2009, entitled, ‘The new tribe of white blacks’, in which he names and publishes photographs of two of my colleagues, Mark McMillan and Dani Mellor:

http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/column_the_new_tribe_of_white_blacks/P40/

There are many other such articles, including these, provided by David Barrow who has corresponded with the Australian Press Council on these matters:

(1) the article titled: “No comment” dated 24 October 2011 attributed to Andrew Bolt which I complained placed a gratuitous emphasis on the race and colour of Dr Leila Usher (a person of fairer rather than darker skin).

(2) the article titled: “No comment” dated 14 October 2011 attributed to Andrew Bolt which I complained placed a gratuitous emphasis on the race and colour of Tamika Chesser (a person of fairer rather than darker skin).

Mr Bolt makes the following statement in the article: No comment:

Tamika Chesser, 21, a former contestant of the reality television show Beauty and the Geek, was to have faced Southport Magistrates Court this morning to dispute allegations she struck a police officer after being arrested for public drunkenness back in April….

However, Chesser later made contact with lawyers from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service and the case went ahead in her absence this morning.

She was fined $800 for charges of assaulting police, obstructing police and public drunkenness .No conviction was recorded.

(No comments for legal reasons. Thanks to reader Jono.)

Race and colour of Dan Christian (a person of fairer rather than darker skin).

Mr Bolt makes the following statement in the article:

I cannot comment for legal reasons: DAN Christian believes he can make a difference as a frontline all-rounder and Aboriginal cricketing trailblazer for Australia. Christian, 28, is as enthusiastic about his Wiradjuri heritage as his inclusion in the second Test squad to face New Zealand in Hobart… Christian, from the NSW Riverina, led an national indigenous side on a tour to England in 2009.

“You are either Aboriginal or you are not. That is how we are brought up,” said Christian…

(Thanks to reader Ashley. No comments for legal reasons, thanks to the Racial Discrimination Act.)

(4) the article titled: “No comment” dated 27 October 2011 attributed to Andrew Bolt which I complained placed a gratuitous emphasis on the race and colour of Professor John Maynard (a person of fairer rather than darker skin).

Mr Bolt makes the following statement in the article:

A recent Federal Court ruling makes me unable to discuss issues of racial identification which are suggested by Professor Maynard’s home page: John Maynard is of the Worimi people of Port Stephens, New South Wales.

He completed a Diploma of Aboriginal Studies from the University of Newcastle in 1995 and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Australia in 1999. He was awarded a PhD examining the rise of early Aboriginal political activism from the University of Newcastle in 2003. Prior to his appointment as Chair of Aboriginal Studies/Head of Wollotuka School of Aboriginal Studies at the University of Newcastle Professor Maynard was Australian Research Council post-doctoral fellow and is Deputy Chairperson of Council with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) in Canberra.

Professor Bunyip discusses Professor Maynard’s latest book: At Newcastle University, Professor John Maynard has just published a book, The Aboriginal Soccer Tribe, which insists Aborigines played a game called Woggabaliri, which the Silly’s Craig Foster reports is “the earliest knownform of ball sport played by indigenous Australians and, according to the Australian Sports Commission, the game most closely resembled association football.”

Recent other examples of my inability under the law to say what I believe are here and here. I was also unable to comment on another professor’s position or on the significance of a video referred to here.

(No comments for legal reasons.)

http://www.andrewboltparty.com/Portals/0/APC_Barrow_Letter%282013_12_16%29.pdf

As David Barrow points out,

In all instances, Andrew Bolt’s articles appear to make a superficial negative imputation between the fairer rather than darker skin complexion of the people pictured and their identification as an Aboriginal.

Further, the imputations in the Andrew Bolt articles appear to be that the people pictured are wrongly identifying as an Aboriginal when their fairer rather than darker skin complexion should disqualify them from genuinely identifying as an Aboriginal.

http://www.andrewboltparty.com/Portals/0/APC_Barrow_Letter%282013_12_16%29.pdf

Race theories underlying Andrew Bolt’s assumptions

I believe that underlying Andrew Bolt’s assumptions are various beliefs about ‘race’ t. I have published about this problem of the underlying ‘race’ theories that impact on the representation of Aboriginal people over a 20-30 year period.

It is my very strong belief that Andrew Bolt has a responsibility to the public to inform himself about these matters. It is also my belief that his obvious failure, or perhaps, wilful refusal, to acknowledge these matters, especially the issue of identity, of which as Justice Merkel as cited in the above found, that some degree of Aboriginal descent is a necessary, but not of itself a sufficient, condition of eligibility) and stressed the role of social processes in establishing individual identity. According to his judgement, Aboriginal descent did not need to be proved ‘according to any strict legal standard’, it being: a technical rather than a real criterion for identity, which after all in this day and age, is accepted as a social, rather than a genetic, construct.

Much of my answer to this question (which would be very long if fully explained) is set out in this opinion piece published in The Age on October 2, 2011 in response to the findings of Justice Mordecai Bromberg in the ‘Bolt case’ (Eatock v Bolt (2011) FCA 1103, (28 September 2011) (2011 No. 2) FCA 1180, (19 October 2011):

http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/the-gripes-of-wrath-20111001-1l2z5.html

In this article, I write, for instance:

Bolt and his defenders are crying about an imagined right to unrestricted free speech. But speech is already restricted, for instance, by defamation laws that protect people’s reputations and by the Trade Practices Act, which outlaws false claims about products. it seems to me Bolt is saying that only people of the ”races” he approves of are entitled to such protections. In my view, his claim to the right of unlimited free speech only works if the presumption is that ”white people” like him are not members of a race, but normal.

In his way of thinking (and this is a common belief in Australia) only undesirable ”others” are members of a race, and hence, being a member of a race as he believes such to be constituted is inherently a bad thing.

It was ideas about racial purity, racial hygiene, the master race, the inferior races, a perverted idea about the survival of the fittest and other such nonsense that led to the incarceration of Aboriginal people in reserves in the 19th century to prevent ”mixing” of the ”races” and later, the segregation laws that specified where and how ”half-castes” and other ”castes” could live…

For those people who persisted in identifying as Aboriginal, however ”fair skinned” they were, to use the words of Mordecai Bromberg, life was miserable. This remains the case today, a fact of life for most Aboriginal people, and one that Andrew Bolt has perverted into a mythology based in lies and resentment.

Among the many race-obsessed expressions in his offensive, and now, unlawful, columns was the accusation that the defendants, all ”fair-skinned” Aboriginal people, claimed to be Aboriginal to receive certain benefits. As every person who has been raised by an Aboriginal parent knows, we must be ”twice as good as the white man” to finish school and get a job and suffer endless racist slurs while doing so from idiots who say things like, ”You don’t look Aboriginal. Why don’t you identify as white?”

What are our children and grandchildren to say to these fools? Deny their mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, and other family members because one of Bolt’s ilk is offended by their Aboriginal identity?

This must be what Bolt wants. Just like the old Protection Board of the 19th century, he must believe that he can intimidate and terrify Aboriginal people into sneaking away and pretending to be ”white”, to deny their Aboriginal parentage and upbringing and the values and world view learnt in an Aboriginal family.

There were many Aboriginal people who were so intimidated and did sneak away and pretend to be ”white”. It was called ”passing”, a play on words, connoting both ”passing away”, as in dying, and ”passing himself off as white”.

Not quite despised but regarded as gutless, they were the ones who sneaked back to take advantage of the miserable ”benefits” that came with policy reform in the 1970s. Then, we called them ”very late identifiers”.

Of course, they only identified on paper when they filled in a form. They did not identify as Aboriginal in the community. And the reason why is obvious except to Bolt and his kind. What Bolt refuses to acknowledge, or is deliberately misleading about, is the fact that identifying as Aboriginal is almost certainly likely to lead to being run out of school by racists, unemployment and jail. Look at the statistics. That’s what the Close the Gap campaign is aimed at: reducing the Third World rates across almost every socio-economic indicator.

What is particularly insulting about Bolt’s diatribes against the particular individuals who litigated in this case is that each one of them has identified as Aboriginal, aimed high, and beaten the odds. They have achieved great things in their fields; each one has worked inordinately hard and striven for excellence. And each one has been recognised in his or her field for that excellence.

That is also Bolt’s gripe. His columns twisted their achievement into something sinister and underhanded. I can almost hear him muttering, ”How dare these racial hybrids disprove the theory!”

We don’t have to agree with every one of them; we don’t have to like each one of them, but none of them deserve the ugly scorn of Bolt’s columns in the Herald Sun.

Fortunately for young Aboriginal people, and especially our ”fair-skinned” brothers and sisters, Justice Mordecai Bromberg has found so at law.

On October 3, Andrew Brock’s article was published in The Age, stating my point very succinctly:

After more than 100 years of disadvantaging Aboriginal people with ”mixed blood”, conservative commentators like Andrew Bolt now claim there is too much support for mixed-blood Aboriginal people, and only ”real draw-in-the-dirt Aboriginal” people should be eligible for support. It is an old debate, and should be expressed with compassion for the past rather than vitriol.

Every system attracts rorts, and Aboriginal people dislike those who rort the system by falsely claiming to be Aboriginal. But Bolt’s arguments echo early colonial attitudes that presumed the end of the Aboriginal race in Victoria and complete assimilation to be the only solution for half-castes. After the judgment, Bolt wrote about the right to ”pressure people to give up some racial identity”.

Historian Chris Healy, author of Forgetting Aborigines, argues that if people want to forget Victoria was colonised and indigenous people were dispossessed, then a good way to do that is to deny Aboriginality and argue that we are all the same. Another way is to perpetuate a history that allows white people to define who is Aboriginal.

The history of Aboriginal Victorians since colonisation is a tragic, dynamic and inspiring story and one that Victorians might study before deciding who is and isn’t Aboriginal, based on the colour of their skin.

http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/society-and-culture/bolt-echoes-a-shameful-past-thats-more-than-skin-deep-20111002-1l3q0.html

Read more

There is a body of case law on determining Aboriginality, about which Gardiner-Garden writes the following:

The 1980s and the Rise of the Three-part Definition

In the 1980s a new definition was proposed in the Constitutional Section of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs’ Report on a Review of the Administration of the Working Definition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Canberra, 1981). The section offered the following definition:

An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he (she) lives.

A definition similar to this had already started to be used by the some parts of the Commonwealth in 1978 and the Report of the Aboriginal Affairs Study Group of Tasmania, (1978, p. 16) found that this definition: provides three criteria which are necessary and sufficient for the identification of an individual as Aboriginal and is sufficient for such identification in Tasmania.

The 1981 Report gave the new definition added impetus and soon this three-part definition (descent, self-identification and community recognition) was adopted by all Federal Government departments as their ‘working definition’ for determining eligibility to some services and benefits. The definition also found its way into State legislation (e.g. in the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 where ‘Aboriginal means a person who: (a) is a member of the Aboriginal race of Australia, (b) identifies as an Aboriginal, and (c) is accepted by the Aboriginal community as an Aboriginal’) and was accepted by the High Court as giving meaning to the expression ‘Aboriginal race’ within s. 51 (xxvi) of the Constitution.

It was also used by the Federal Court when, in a first instance decision, it found that the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody had no jurisdiction to inquire into the death of Darren Wouters as the community did not identify him as Aboriginal nor did he identify himself as Aboriginal. Similarly, several justices in The Commonwealth of Australia v Tasmania, (1983) 158 CLR 1, observed that there are several components to ‘racial’ identity and that descent was only one such component. Justice Brennan concluded that while proof of descent or lack of descent could confirm or contradict an assertion or claim of membership of a race, descent alone does not ordinarily exhaust the characteristics of a racial group’, while Justice Deane argued that by ‘Australian Aboriginal’ would be meant ‘a person of Aboriginal descent, albeit mixed, who identifies himself as such and who is recognised by the Aboriginal community as an Aboriginal’.

The three-part definition was soon facing bigger problems that that posed by competition from either the blood-quotum definitions or the tautological race definition. In the 1990s the three-part definition continued to be used administratively and continued to be used by the courts to give meaning to the legislative expression ‘person of the Aboriginal race’ e.g. Justice Brennan’s 1992 Mabo (No. 2) judgement:

Membership of the indigenous people depends on biological descent from the indigenous people and on mutual recognition of a particular person’s membership by that person and by the elders or other persons enjoying traditional authority among those people.

It was soon apparent, however, that the three-part definition was itself open to different interpretation. When it came to the test, which of the three criteria was the most important? Which criteria, if satisfied, could carry an identification in the event that meeting the others proved problematic?

The 1990s and Problems for the Three-part Definition.

The three-part definition was soon facing bigger problems that that posed by competition from either the blood-quotum definitions or the tautological race definition. In the 1990s the three-part definition continued to be used administratively and continued to be used by the courts to give meaning to the legislative expression ‘person of the Aboriginal race’ e.g. Justice Brennan’s 1992 Mabo (No. 2) judgement:

Membership of the indigenous people depends on biological descent from the indigenous people and on mutual recognition of a particular person’s membership by that person and by the elders or other persons enjoying traditional authority among those people…

In the course of the 1990s there were cases when people identifying strongly as Aboriginal would claim that the sources were simply not available to prove their Aboriginal descent but that this should not mean their Aboriginality could not be recognised. On the other hand there were people who argued that Aboriginality should only be recognised with evidence of descent.

The debate became particularly divisive in Tasmania. In that state many people without ‘known’ Aboriginal family names, found themselves relying on self or community identification at a time when the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), the main operator of Aboriginal services in Tasmania, was putting more emphasis on evidence of descent and reassessing eligibility for services based on more stringent requirements than those that had been imposed for the issue of earlier certificates of Aboriginality. The TAC started to refuse to allow certain children to continue to attend the Aboriginal Community School in Hobart or access after-school services and extra tuition and started to deny other indigenous-identifying individuals access to legal services.

This prompted the Tasmanian office of ATSIC to commission Koori Consultants to prepare a report into how the three criteria in the widely-used Commonwealth definition could be applied in Tasmania. The findings of the Final Report of the Community Consultation on Aboriginality in Tasmania, February 1996, tended to support the TAC approach.

The report found that an individual seeking to identify as an Aboriginal ought to be able to satisfy all three criteria – and that when it came to proving Aboriginal descent, authentic documentary evidence should be provided to show a direct line of ancestry through a known family name, to traditional Aboriginal society at the time of colonisation. The report suggested setting up an independent unit to research and verify genealogical material submitted in the support of claims.

Other inputs in the 1990s into the debate over whether the emphasis should be self/community-identification or descent, included judgement in three Federal Court cases.

The first case was the appeal against the Trial Judge’s decision in the 1989 Wouters Case. The initial finding had been that the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody had no jurisdiction to inquire into the death of Darren Wouters as the community did not identify him as Aboriginal and he did not himself identify as such. In Attorney-General (Cwlth) v State of Queensland, July 1990, the Full Federal Court reversed this decision and found that the Royal Commission’s letters patent were framed in such a way as to make Aboriginal descent a sufficient criterion.

Indeed, it was effectively found that the category of ‘Aboriginal’ could expand or contract according to the context and purpose and the Royal Commission was intended tohave such a broad ranging inquiry that its subjects could even include people whose identity was in some part in question. Justice French supported the three-part Commonwealth definition as used by Justice Deane in the Tasmanian Dam case but found that ‘the context of those observations [by Justice Deane in that case] and the purposes they serve do not translate to this case’.

The second case was Gibbs v Capewell, (1995) 54 FCR 503. An order was sought under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Act 1989 (ATSIC Act) in relation to the validity of an election held under that act. The first respondent, Mr Capewell, had his election to the Roma Regional Council of ATSIC challenged on the grounds that he was not an ‘Aboriginal person’ as required under the act and that votes were cast by people not entitled to do so because they also were not Aboriginal persons as required under the act. In his findings Justice Drummond agreed with the findings of Justice French in the above discussed Wouters case – that the three-part definition is of use but that the emphasis to be placed on the different criteria in this definition will vary according to context.

He argued that some degree of Aboriginal descent was essential, but that the extent to which the other criteria need to be deployed might depend on the degree of descent. In the absence of other factors a small degree of Aboriginal descent was not sufficient whereas a substantial degree of Aboriginal descent may by itself be sufficient to establish Aboriginality for legal purpose. In general Justice Drummond believed:

The less the degree of Aboriginal descent, the more important cultural circumstances become in determining whether a person is ‘Aboriginal’.

A person with a small degree of descent who genuinely identifies as an Aboriginal and who has Aboriginal communal recognition as such would I think be described in current ordinary usage as an ‘Aboriginal person’ and would be so regarded for the purposes of the Act. But where a person has only a small degree of Aboriginal descent, either genuine self-identification as Aboriginal alone or Aboriginal communal recognition as such by itself may suffice, according to the circumstances.

The third case was Shaw v Wolf (1998). Justice Merkel agreed with the conclusions of Justice Drummond in Gibbs v Capewell (e.g. that some degree of Aboriginal descent is a necessary, but not of itself a sufficient, condition of eligibility) and stressed the role of social processes in establishing individual identity. According to the judgement, Aboriginal descent did not need to be proved ‘according to any strict legal standard’, it being: a technical rather than a real criterion for identity, which after all in this day and age, is accepted as a social, rather than a genetic, construct.

Indeed: The development of identity as an Aboriginal person cannot be attributed to any one determinative factor. It is the interplay of social responses and interactions, on different levels and from different sources, both positive and negative, which create self-perception and identity.

Marcia Langton

Prof Marcia Langton, B.A. (Hons) ANU, PhD Macq. U., A.M., F.A.S.S.A.

Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies

Centre for Health Equity

The Melbourne School of Population and Global Health,

The University of Melbourne

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

summit-2014-banner

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.

SUMMIT WEBSITE FOR MORE INFO

abstract-blocks

NACCHO Aboriginal health, Bolt and racism: Aboriginal Coalition MP Ken Wyatt breaks ranks on race law moves

KW

Indigenous Coalition MP Ken Wyatt has spoken out against the repeal of legislation making it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate on the grounds of race or ethnicity.

Mr Wyatt told Fairfax Media he feared that repealing section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act would either disempower the vulnerable or result in a hardening of intolerant attitudes.

Aboriginal Coalition MP Ken Wyatt

So it feels I’ve lost, and not just this argument. I feel now the pressure to stop resisting the Government’s plan to change the Constitution to recognise Aborigines as the first people here — a dangerous change, which divides us according to the “race” of some of our ancestors.

My wife now wants me to play safe and stop fighting this new racism, and this time I’m listening. This time I was so bruised by Q & A that I didn’t go into work on Tuesday. I couldn’t stand any sympathy — which you get only when you’re meant to feel hurt.

Andrew Bolt Herald Sun (full response blog below )

Bolt was found to have contravened Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Nine aboriginal applicants brought a class-action against Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times claiming Bolt wrote they sought professional advantage from the colour of their skin.

Aboriginal Coalition MP Ken Wyatt breaks ranks on race law moves

”Australia has come a long way in the last 30 or 40 years and what I wouldn’t like to see is a regression that allows those who have bigoted viewpoints to vilify any group of people at all,” he said.

”For me, it is about not disabling a mechanism that makes people think carefully about the vilification of anyone or any group because they know there is a deterrent,” he said.

Rasism

His remarks came as Attorney-General George Brandis described the existing law as ”extremely invasive” and reaffirmed the government’s intention to ”do away” with it.

Tony Abbott vowed  in August 2012 to ”repeal section 18C in its current form” on the basis that freedom of speech should not be restrained ”just to prevent hurt feelings”. Ethnic, religious and indigenous groups have urged the government to think again, raising expectations that the words ”offend”, ”insult” and possibly ”humiliate” will be taken out of the section.

Mr Wyatt said his attitude was shaped by his 10 years’ experience in Western Australia’s equal opportunity tribunal and witnessing how ”racial vilification has significant impacts on people in ways we don’t fully appreciate”.

”I support the whole concept of free speech, but I think there are boundaries that you have to draw and this is one of them.”

He believed that section 18c encouraged mediation and parties coming together to resolve conflicts and that its repeal would result in disempowerment of vilified groups or ”greater use of litigation, which doesn’t resolve the issue at all”.

Senator Brandis has been meeting interested groups,  focusing on how to strike the balance between free speech and protection from vilification. ”The government comes down on the side of those who want to see maximum freedom of speech,” he told ABC radio on Friday.

”And, by freedom of speech, I mean people’s freedom to hold opinions and express those opinions without some bureaucrat or official or human rights body or judge telling them what they are allowed, and what they are not allowed, to say.”

869920-e452df9e-a9a7-11e3-9dd3-54db44ed2f71

STRANGE, after all I’ve been through, but Monday on the ABC may have been finally too much for me.

ANDREW BOLT BLOG

You see, I was denounced on Q & A — on national television — as a racist. I watched in horror as Aboriginal academic Marcia Langton falsely accused me of subjecting one of her colleagues — “very fair-skinned, like my children” — to “foul abuse … simply racial abuse”.

WILL THE ABC APOLOGISE? Blog with Andrew Bolt               

Langton falsely claimed I was a “fool” who believed in “race theories” and had “argued that (her colleague) had no right to claim that she was Aboriginal”. I had so hurt this woman she “withdrew from public life” and had given up working with students (something seemingly contradicted by the CV on her website).

FULL TRANSCRIPT: Marcia Langton’s apology               

And when Attorney-General George Brandis hotly insisted I was not racist, the ABC audience laughed in derision. Not one other panellist protested against this lynching. In fact, host Tony Jones asked Brandis to defend “those sort of facts” and Channel 9 host Lisa Wilkinson accused me of “bullying”. And all panellists agreed Brandis should drop the government’s plan to loosen the Racial Discrimination Act’s restrictions on free speech, which the RDA used to ban two of my articles. Can the Abbott Government resist the pressure from ethnic and religious groups to back off?

So it feels I’ve lost, and not just this argument. I feel now the pressure to stop resisting the Government’s plan to change the Constitution to recognise Aborigines as the first people here — a dangerous change, which divides us according to the “race” of some of our ancestors.

My wife now wants me to play safe and stop fighting this new racism, and this time I’m listening. This time I was so bruised by Q & A that I didn’t go into work on Tuesday. I couldn’t stand any sympathy — which you get only when you’re meant to feel hurt.

It was scarifying, even worse than when a Jewish human rights lawyer told a Jewish Federal Court judge that my kind of thinking was “exactly the kind of thing that led to the Nuremberg race laws” and the Holocaust — a ghastly smear published in most leading newspapers. That time, at least, half a dozen Jewish and Israeli community leaders and officials, who knew my strong support for their community, privately assured me such comments were outrageous and the attempt by a group of Aboriginal academics, artists and activists to silence me wrong.

True, none said so publicly for the next two years for fear of discrediting the RDA, which they hope protects them, yet it was some consolation.

But this?

How could I have failed so completely to convince so many people that I am actually fighting exactly what I’m accused of?

The country’s most notorious racist today is someone whose most infamous article, now banned by the Federal Court for the offence it gave “fair-skinned Aborigines”, actually argued against divisions of “race” and the fashionable insistence on racial “identity”.

It ended with a paragraph the court does not let me repeat, but which I will paraphrase as precisely as my lawyer allows: Let us go beyond racial pride. Let us go beyond black and white. Let us be proud only of being human beings set on this country together, determined to find what unites us and not to invent racist excuses to divide.

Yet I am not asking for your sympathy. My critics will say I’m getting no more than what I gave out — except, of course, this is more vile and there’s no law against abusing me, or none I’d use.

No, what’s made me saddest is the fear I’m losing and our country will be muzzled and divided on the bloody lines of race.

I worry, for instance, for the kind of person who turned up in the Q & A audience on Monday and still dared ask why so much land was being returned to Aborigines when “really we’re all here, we’re all Australians”.

He was shown the lash just used to beat me. He was corrected (rightly) for overstating the effect of land rights laws but reprimanded (wrongly) for allegedly ignoring Aboriginal disadvantage, as if he were some, you know, racist.

No panellist addressed his deepest concern, that we are indeed all in this together, yet find ourselves being formally divided by race and by people only too keen to play the race card against those who object.

Langton is an exemplar of those who use the cry of “racist” not to protect people from abuse but ideas from challenge. She’s accused even feminist Germaine Greer of a “racist attack” for criticising Langton’s support for federal intervention in Aboriginal communities.

She accused warming alarmist Tim Flannery of making a “racist assumption” in arguing wilderness was “not always safe” under Aboriginal ownership and when Labor lawyer Josh Bornstein protested, she slimed him as a racist, too: “Doodums. Did the nig nog speak back?”

And three years ago Langton wrote an article in The Age falsely claiming I believed in a “master race” and “racial hygiene” — like the Nazis.

It was a public vilification for which she privately apologised two years ago, but never publicly.

Instead, she now accuses me of this “foul abuse” of her colleague, Dr Misty Jenkins, in a column six years ago.

HER allegations are utterly false. My column, written before my now-banned articles, was on the groupthink Leftism at Melbourne University, of which I gave many examples.

I wrote: “Read the latest issue of … the university’s alumni magazine … The cover story argues that the mainly black murderers (in the Deep South) … are victims … Page two promotes Kevin Rudd’s apology … Page three announces that Davis has picked … global warming alarmist Ross Garnaut, as one of his Vice-Chancellor’s Fellows.

“Page four has a feature on Dr Misty Jenkins, a blonde and pale science PhD who calls herself Aboriginal and enthuses: ‘I was able to watch the coverage of Kevin Rudd’s (sorry) speech with tears rolling down my cheeks … Recognition of the atrocities caused by Australian government policies was well overdue’ …

“Pages six and seven boast that the university hosted Rudd’s ‘first major policy conference’ … You get the message.”

Where’s the “foul abuse”, Marcia? Where have I “argued that [Jenkins] had no right to claim that she was Aboriginal” — something I have never believed and never said of anyone?

But that’s our retribalised Australia. Criticise the opinions of someone of an ethnic minority and you’re ripe for sliming as a racist.

How dangerous this retreat to ethnic identities and what an insult to our individuality. And how blind are its prophets. Take Lisa Wilkinson, who actually uttered the most racist sentiment of the night, accusing Brandis of being a “white, able-bodied heterosexual male” suggesting this was “part of the reason why you can’t sympathise” with victims of racism.

White men can’t sympathise? Pardon?

And so today’s anti-racists become what they claim they oppose. Do I resist or run?

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

summit-2014-banner

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.

SUMMIT WEBSITE FOR MORE INFO

abstract-blocks

NACCHO Aboriginal health and racism : What are the impacts of racism on Aboriginal health ?

 

“On an individual level, exposure to racism is associated with psychological distress, depression, poor quality of life, and substance misuse, all of which contribute significantly to the overall ill-health experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Prolonged experience of stress can also have physical health effects, such as on the immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems.”

Pat Anderson is chairwoman of the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research (and a former chair of NACCHO) see her opinion article below

“If you (Indigenous patient) go to a health service and you’re made to feel unwelcome, or uncomfortable or not deserving or prejudged and there are lots of scenarios of Aboriginal people being considered to be perhaps being seriously intoxicated when in fact they’ve been seriously ill.”

Romlie Mokak CEO Australian Indigenous Doctors Association

 

Read over 100 Aboriginal Health and Racism articles pubished over past 6 years by NACCHO 

JUST ADDED 3 March VACCHO POSITION PAPER Health and Racism

images IOce

It’s well known that Indigenous Australians have much lower life expectancy than other Australians, and have disproportionately high rates of diseases and other health problems.

Could that in part be due to racism?

Would cultural awareness training for health professionals would reduce the incidence of racism ?

Should governments acknowledge and address the impact of factors such as racism on health outcomes?

These are some of the question being asked in the health and community sectors, amid reports of a rise in racist incidents.

How racism affects health

The impact of racism on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be seen in:

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

HOW DO WE BUILD A HEALTH SYSTEM THAT IS NOT

World news radio Santilla Chingaipe recently interviewed a number of health organisations

It’s well known that Indigenous Australians have much lower life expectancy than other Australians, and have disproportionately high rates of diseases and other health problems.

Could that in part be due to racism?

The Social Determinants of Health Alliance is a group of Australian health, social services and public policy organisations.

It lobbies for action to reduce inequalities in the outcomes from health service delivery.

Chair of the Alliance, Martin Laverty, has no doubt racism sometimes comes into play when Indigenous Australians seek medical attention.

“When an Indigenous person is admitted to hospital, they face twice the risk of death through a coronary event than a non-Indigenous person and concerningly, Indigenous people when having a coronary event in hospital are 40 percent less likely to receive a stent* or a coronary angiplasty. The reason for this is that good intentions, institutional racism is resulting in Indigenous people not always receiving the care that they need from Australia’s hospital system.”

Romlie Mokak is the chief executive of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association.

Mr Mokak says the burden of ill health is already greater amongst Indigenous people – but this isn’t recognised when they go to access health services.

“Whereas Aboriginal people may present to hospitals often later and sicker, the sort of treatment they might get once in hospital, is not necessarily reflect that higher level of ill health. We’ve got to ask some questions there and why is it that the sickest people are not necessary getting the equitable access to healthcare.”

Mr Mokak says many Indigenous people are victims of prejudice when seeking medical services.

“If you (Indigenous patient) go to a health service and you’re made to feel unwelcome, or uncomfortable or not deserving or prejudged and there are lots of scenarios of Aboriginal people being considered to be perhaps being seriously intoxicated when in fact they’ve been seriously ill.”

But Romlie Mokak from the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association says the onus shouldn’t be on the federal government alone to improve the situation.

He suggests cultural awareness training for health professionals would reduce the incidence of racism.

“Not only is it at the point of the practitioner, but it’s the point of the institution that Aboriginal people must feel that they are in a safe environment. In order to do this, it’s not simply that Aboriginal people should feel resilient and be able to survive these wider systems, but those services really need to have staff that have a strong understanding of Aboriginal people’s culture, history, lived experience and the sorts of health concerns they might have and ways of working competently with Aboriginal people.”

Martin Laverty says at a recent conference, data was presented suggesting an increase in the number of Australians experiencing racism.

And he says one of the results is an increase in psychological illnesses.

“We saw evidence that said about 10 percent of the Australian population in 2004 was reporting regular occurences of individual acts of racism and that that has now double to being close to 20 percent of the Australian population reporting regular occurences of racism. We then saw evidence that the consequences of this are increased psychological illnesses. Psychological illnesses tied directly to a person’s exposure to racism and discrimination and that this is having direct cost impacts of the Australian mental health and broader acute health system.”

Mr Laverty says it’s time governments acknowledged and addressed the impact of factors such as racism on health outcomes.

He says a good start would be to implement the findings of a Senate inquiry into the social determinants of health, released last year.

“In the country of the fair go, we should be seeing Australian governments, Australian communities acting and indentifying these triggers of racism that are causing ill health and recognising that this is not just something the health system that needs to respond to, but the Australian government can respond by implementing the Senate inquiry of March 2013 that outlines the set of steps that can be taken to overcome these detriments of poor social determinants of health.”

Racism a driver of Aboriginal ill health

PatAnderson4-220x124

On an individual level, exposure to racism is associated with psychological distress, depression, poor quality of life, and substance misuse, all of which contribute significantly to the overall ill-health experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Prolonged experience of stress can also have physical health effects, such as on the immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems.

Pat Anderson is chairwoman of the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research (and a former chair of NACCHO)

As published in The Australian OPINION originally published in NACCHO July 2013

 In July 2013, the former federal government launched its new National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan.

As with all such plans, much depends on how it is implemented. With the details of how it is to be turned into meaningful action yet to be worked out, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and organisations and others will be reserving their judgment.

Nevertheless, there is one area in which this plan breaks new ground, and that is its identification of racism as a key driver of ill-health.

This may be surprising to many Australians. The common perception seems to be that racism directed towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is regrettable, but that such incidents are isolated, trivial and essentially harmless.

Such views were commonly expressed, for example, following the racial abuse of Sydney Swans footballer Adam Goodes earlier this year.

However, the new health plan has got it right on this point, and it is worth looking in more detail at how and why.

So how common are racist behaviours, including speech, directed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?

A key study in Victoria in 2010-11, funded by the Lowitja Institute, documented very high levels of racism experienced by Aboriginal Victorians.

It found that of the 755 Aboriginal Victorians surveyed, almost all (97 per cent) reported experiencing racism in the previous year. This included a range of behaviours from being called racist names, teased or hearing jokes or comments that stereotyped Aboriginal people (92 per cent); being sworn at, verbally abused or subjected to offensive gestures because of their race (84 per cent); being spat at, hit or threatened because of their race (67 per cent); to having their property vandalised because of race (54 per cent).

Significantly, more than 70 per cent of those surveyed experienced eight or more such incidents in the previous 12 months.

Other studies have found high levels of exposure to racist behaviours and language.

Such statistics describe the reality of the lived experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Most Australians would no doubt agree this level of racist abuse and violence is unwarranted and objectionable. It infringes upon our rights – not just our rights as indigenous people but also our legal rights as Australian citizens.

But is it actually harmful? Is it a health issue? Studies in Australia echo findings from around the world that show the experience of racism is significantly related to poor physical and mental health.

There are several ways in which racism has a negative effect on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health.

First, on an individual level, exposure to racism is associated with psychological distress, depression, poor quality of life, and substance misuse, all of which contribute significantly to the overall ill-health experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Prolonged experience of stress can also have physical health effects, such as on the immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems.

Second, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may be reluctant to seek much-needed health, housing, welfare or other services from providers they perceive to be unwelcoming or who they feel may hold negative stereotypes about them.

Last, there is a growing body of evidence that the health system itself does not provide the same level of care to indigenous people as to other Australians. This systemic racism is not necessarily the result of individual ill-will by health practitioners, but a reflection of inappropriate assumptions made about the health or behaviour of people belonging to a particular group.

What the research tells us, then, is that racism is not rare and it is not harmless: it is a deeply embedded pattern of events and behaviours that significantly contribute to the ill-health suffered by all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Tackling these issues is not easy. The first step is for governments to understand racism does have an impact on our health and to take action accordingly. Tackling racism provides governments with an opportunity to make better progress on their commitments to Close the Gap, as the campaign is known, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. The new plan has begun this process, but it needs to be backed up with evidence-based action.

Second, as a nation we need to open up the debate about racism and its effects.

The recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution is important for many reasons, not least because it could lead to improved stewardship and governance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health (as explored in a recent Lowitja Institute paper, “Legally Invisible”).

However, the process around constitutional recognition provides us with an opportunity to have this difficult but necessary conversation about racism and the relationship between Australia’s First Peoples and those who have arrived in this country more recently. Needless to say, this conversation needs to be conducted respectfully, in a way that is based on the evidence and on respect for the diverse experiences of all Australians.

Last, we need to educate all Australians, especially young people, that discriminatory remarks, however casual or apparently light-hearted or off-the-cuff, have implications for other people’s health.

Whatever approaches we adopt, they must be based on the recognition that people cannot thrive if they are not connected.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be connected with their own families, communities and cultures. We must also feel connected to the rest of society. Racism cuts that connection.

At the same time, racism cuts off all Australians from the unique insights and experiences that we, the nation’s First Peoples, have to offer.

Seen this way, recognising and tackling racism is about creating a healthier, happier and better nation in which all can thrive.

Pat Anderson is chairwoman of the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research.

NACCHO Aboriginal health and racism :How do we build a health system that is not racist?

Racism

But that’s the risk in the medical context, where doctors and health care workers are often rushed and stressed and don’t have the mental space to make a considered decision. “So they fall back on prevailing and persistent stereotypes of Aboriginal people as lazy or ignorant.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders recently contributed to a “festival of ideas” at this public symposium  in Melbourne todayClosing the Credibility Gap: Implementation of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013- 2023.

ALSO READ : Article from Ms PAT Anderson former NACCHO chair

NACCHO NATSIHP health plan news: Racism a driver of Aboriginal ill health

The article below investigates a key theme of the event – how health services and professionals can help tackle racism.

blogmasthead

Journalist Marie McInerney covered  the event for the Croakey Conference Reporting Service (you can read her preview, an interview with Professor Kerry Arabena here.) Our Thanks to Melissa Sweet for her continued support of NACCHO.

***

How do we build a health system that is not racist?

Marie McInerney writes:

That’s one of the challenges being discussed  at the Closing the Credibility Gap conference on implementing the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan which articulates, for the first time, a health system free of racism and inequality.

A good start at an individual level, says Associate Professor Yin Paradies – for any profession working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people – is to test our own stereotypes and preconceptions by taking the Implicit Association Test developed by United States researchers.

The test aims to detect implicit bias on race, colour, age, gender, sexuality and weight. Its race test has an Australian version, asking online participants to press different keys to associate particular words with white and Aboriginal faces.

It has famously found people are more likely to associate black people with words like ‘bad’ and ‘failure’ and white people with ‘happy’ and ‘joy’. Interestingly it comes with a warning:

“If you are unprepared to encounter interpretations that you might find objectionable, please do not proceed further. You may prefer to examine general information about the IAT before deciding whether or not to proceed.”

The IAT has its share of critics, but it’s been clicked on more than five million times and is an excellent teaching tool to show people if they have an implicit racial bias or not, says Paradies, who is a Principal Research Fellow at the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin university.

“One of the biggest ways to address a bias is to be aware of it,” he says. “The next biggest is having the motivation to stop it from happening, and the third is to really combat those associations in your mind that are driving it by finding counter-stereotypical and positive examples.”

“There’s a lot of evidence of the success of just being mindful,” he says. But that’s the risk in the medical context, where doctors and health care workers are often rushed and stressed and don’t have the mental space to make a considered decision. “So they fall back on prevailing and persistent stereotypes of Aboriginal people as lazy or ignorant.”

The implications of such bias at both an individual and institutional level in health care will be the subject of Paradies’ ‘virtual’ presentation on Friday to the symposium on: ‘A culturally respectful and non-discriminatory health system’. He is also presenting in Adelaide at a symposium on health services, racism and Indigenous health.

The issue also arose at a Health Workforce Australia conference  in Adelaide. HWA has funded Curtin University to develop the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework project which, among other things, will consider issues of cultural competence for health professionals.

Having begun his career as a cadet at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Paradies’ work has explored the health, social and economic effects of racism, as well as anti-racism theory, policy and practice.

He has just won a $830,000 Future Fellowship grant from the Australian Research Council to look at understanding and addressing racism in Australia. With both Aboriginal and Asian heritage, he acknowledges his own understanding is not just theoretical.

While there has been growing awareness of racism as a determinant of health, he says most focus has remained directly on disadvantage without considering the various factors that produce and reproduce disadvantage. Having the role of racism in health and the health system front and centre in the National Health Plan is, he says, a big move forward.

“I think people are not really willing yet to turn their gaze back to the mainstream, to institutions and organisations, and the general populace and their attitudes and how they might be a driver of disadvantage,” he said.

“People are more comfortable with the ideas of past transgressions, the Apology for the Stolen Generations being a prime example. It’s easier to focus on the people who are disadvantaged, who are ‘victims’, and we’ve seen that with things like the Northern Territory Emergency Intervention.”

How racism affects health

The impact of racism on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be seen in:

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

The second layer comes through health care provider racism. As Symposium organiser Professor Kerry Arabena pointed out in a preview of today’s event, one in three Aboriginal Victorians surveyed by VicHealth reported experiencing racism in a health care setting.

Such experiences, Paradies says, can lead to:

·         poorer self-reported health status

·         lower perceived quality of care

·         under-utilisation of health services

·         delays in seeking care

·         failure to follow recommendations

·         societal distrust

·         interruptions in care

·         mistrust of providers

·         avoidance of health care systems.

Unconscious healthcare provider bias has more complex implications, including being found in the United States to lead to poorer clinical decisions for African Americans.

Australian studies have shown disparities in medical care experienced by Indigenous patients, including that they are a third less likely to receive appropriate medical care across all conditions, as well as for lung cancer and coronary procedures. Another study showed Indigenous patients were only one-third as likely to receive kidney transplants.

“In the US studies, doctors recommend different courses of action in hypothetical cases of patients who are the same in essence, except that one is black and one white,” Paradies says. “A lot of the time in Australia this is driven by implicit, very unconscious kinds of views about Aboriginal people and their capacity to benefit from certain treatments, or whether they in fact have conditions that require further investigation.”

It’s an issue seen often in other service areas, not least in racial profiling by police, which led recently in Victoria to a breakthrough when police settled a Federal Court racial harassment case brought by a group of African Australians. Paradies, who acted as an expert witness in the proceedings, notes that, despite this landmark case, police still denied evidence of a racist culture.

Yet he sees scope for optimism and points to organisations like Hunter New England Health as showing the way.

HNE Health has the largest Aboriginal population of any New South Wales local health district and has committed to a long-term approach “to address individual and institutional racism”, noting its impact on Aboriginal health and its own capacity to recruit and retain Aboriginal staff.

An article in the NSW Public Health Bulletin points to three specific strategies: leadership, consultation and partnership with local Aboriginal groups, and staff training, which it says is “deliberately challenging and confronting”.  (See the overview of its approach in the diagram below – click on image to see in more detail).

While health is a very busy space with many competing priorities, Paradies says its high regulation “in some ways makes it easier to bring in new ideas and change.”

• For conference coverage, follow @CCGSymposium and #CCGap.

• Croakey’s coverage is compiled here.

NACCHO political alert : Aboriginal Australians suffering “the racism of low expectations”

A T and M

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will today announce the appointment of Mr Forrest to run the review which will be required to report back to him by April 7 next year according to reports in NEWS LTD

INDIGENOUS Australians are suffering “the racism of low expectations” about their job prospects, billionaire miner Andrew Forrest has claimed after taking the reins of a review of Federal Government Aboriginal employment programs.

SEE NACCHO NEWS ALERT: RACISM A DRIVER OF ABORIGINAL ILL HEALTH

The review will provide recommendations to ensure indigenous training and employment services are run to connect unemployed indigenous people with real and sustainable jobs.

It will also consider ways that training and employment services can better link to the commitment of employers and end the cycle of indigenous disadvantage.

Mr Forrest said that while indigenous Australians “continue to suffer the racism of low expectations”, they could make the greatest social and economic contribution to workplaces and the nation when given the opportunity.

“I am looking forward to hearing from as many people as possible throughout this review, to ensure all successful models of training that lead to employment are fully considered,” he said.

“I have seen in my own company Aboriginal people who have turned their lives around when given the guarantee of a job at the completion of training.”

Mr Abbott said the review delivered on an election commitment and showed his government was committed to boosting job opportunities for indigenous Australians.

“Too often, employment and training programs provide ‘training for training’s sake’ without the practical skills that people need to fill the jobs that exist,” he said.

“It is important that attention be given not just to skills training, but practical life education and ongoing mentoring to make sure jobs are lasting and careers are developed for indigenous Australians.”

Mr Abbott has promised to spend a week every year in an indigenous community as Prime Minister.

Mr Forrest said the review would throw open the books of government funding.

“We cannot measure the impact of labour market interventions without examining them from a systems perspective,” he said.

“By understanding the way they connect, and where the gaps are, we can inform policies that will provide holistic support for indigenous jobseekers so they can add value to the workplace on day one of the job.”

NACCHO JOB OPPORTUNITIES

NACCHO0024-1280x1024

Are you interested in working in Aboriginal health?

NACCHO as the national authority in comprenhesive Aboriginal primary health care currently has a wide range of job opportunities in the pipeline.

Register your current or future interest with our HR TEAM HERE