NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ClosingtheGap “ @NITV ‘The buck will stop with us’: As representatives of 40 Indigenous peak groups meet with #COAG in historic #ClosingtheGap partnership

“ It’s the first time ever that COAG has Aboriginal people as equal partners at the table negotiating how we work over the next decade to Close the Gap for our people

We’re at a crossroads, and we’ve decided to take up our rightful role.

I want our people living in safe, secure housing. I want them to have access to community-controlled health services no matter where they live. I want our people to have the best access to all education services, and I want our people to generally have the same opportunities as other Australians,” Ms Turner said.

I want our people to have full-time jobs. We’ve got to scrap the negative issues that we have deal with every day. We have to take a strengths-based approach and we have to make sure that we are getting our people out of poverty.”

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO  Pat Turner.

 See NACCHO Press Release and CTG Agreement Here

“If we’re stepping up to this level than we have to take on the responsibility and be prepared to work extensively to achieve the outcomes we’re all aspiring to, and if there are changes along the way, then so be it. The buck will stop with us.”

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory chief executive, John Paterson, said the agreement also means Indigenous groups are just as accountable as governments.

“ Labor welcomes the Closing the Gap Partnership Agreement announced by the Coalition Government and the Coalition of Peaks, made up of some 40 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander national and state /territory peaks and other organisations across Australia.

A formal agreement with First Nations organisations and providers to work together to Close the Gap is long overdue.

This announcement comes after years of delay, dysfunction and poor communication due to the failure in leadership of this government. It has been two years since the government announced a ‘refresh’ of the Close the Gap”

For Labor Party response /support see Full Press Release attached

Labor Party CTG Press Release

Representatives of around 40 Indigenous peak bodies, making up a ‘coalition of peaks’ will co-chair a new joint council alongside ministers. Picture Brisbane Yesterday

The Council of Australian Governments has unveiled an historic partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, as they look to refresh the Closing the Gap strategy and turn around a decade of disappointing results.

Our thanks to NITV for this excellent coverage Nakari Thorpe

Original article 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups have sat down with state, territory and Commonwealth ministers, for the first time, to work on Closing the Gap.

Under a ten-year agreement, Indigenous peak bodies will share ownership and accountability to deliver real, substantive change for Indigenous Australians.

The partnership marks an historic turning point for the Closing the Gap strategy, which for the past eleven years has seen dismal results in delivering better outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

Last year, just two of the seven targets were on track to being met.

Representatives of around 40 Indigenous peak bodies, making up a ‘coalition of peaks’ will co-chair a new joint council alongside ministers.

Ms Turner and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion co-convened the first meeting in Brisbane on Wednesday.

The Morrison government is committing $4.6million over three years to fund the coalition’s secretariat work, and additional funding is expected in next Tuesday’s budget for the Closing the Gap refresh framework.

But Ms Turner warns the new coalition is not a substitute for an ‘Indigenous voice to the parliament.’

“Our focus is on the Close the Gap. We in no way are the ‘voice’ – that is a process that still has to be settled by the incoming government at the federal level,” she said.

The framework will undergo Indigenous-led evaluations every three years.

Details of new targets are expected to be revealed in mid-2019 but Indigenous groups have already flagged key areas of concern.

“We’ve got too many people in juvenile justice, we’ve got too many children being removed from their families, we’ve got so much family violence, drug and alcohol abuse.

And all those issues, this Closing the Gap can do something about,” said Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation chief executive, Muriel Bamblett.

Ms Bamblett told NITV she hopes the new agreement will bring about real outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the ground.

“We’re tired of going to the table and saying this is wrong … We know we’ve got the answers.”

NACCHO News Alerts : ATSIC is gone for good, Nigel Scullion tells Noel Pearson


Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has rejected Noel Pearson’s push to replace a dedicated minister and department with an Aboriginal-led institution, saying the Turnbull government would not return to a body such as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait ­Islander Commission.

The Australian  See Also editorial below

Photo above :The chairpersons of ATSIC were Lowitja O’Donoghue (1990-1996), Gatjil Djerrkura (1996-2000), Geoff Clark (2000-2004) and Lionel Quartermaine (2003-2004).Image C0lin Cowell 1992/Koori Mail

The Cape York leader told the National Press Club on Wednesday that indigenous affairs was “in deep crisis” and bureaucracy’s engage­ment with communities had not only failed but dis­empowered ­Aborigines.

Mr Pearson wants the government to introduce his empowered commun­ities model, which would “minimise” the need for a ­dedi­cated minister and department by allowing indigenous people to ­administer services provided for their benefit.

He said he was not advocating the re-establishment of ATSIC, which was abolished by the Howard government in 2005 after collapsing under a mountain of corruption allegations and litigation, but the commission had been “more empowerin­g” than a minister and department.

“Noel Pearson is one of many strong voices in indigenous affairs and I welcome his contribution,” Senator Scullion said.

“However, I strongly believe in the need for a cabinet minister and lead agency solely dedicated to indigenous affairs, and we have no intention of returning to the service-delivery arrangements that existed before, under ATSIC.”

Opposition indigenous affairs spokesman Shayne Neumann said ministerial and departmental oversight was needed. “(It helps) in terms of co-ordin­ation and delivery of policy and government leadership in the area,” he said.

“To hear the voices of Aboriginal organisations and individuals so we can get that funding to the frontline to make a difference in closing the gap.”

Mr Pearson also accused the Coalition of treating his Cape York Institute with “contempt” by failing to respond to his proposal a year after it was handed to the ­Abbott government.

Malcolm Turnbull’s Assistant Minister Alan Tudge said the government would respond “very shortly” to the report, which ­canvassed the “right engagement” between government and the communities. “I think that in some communiti­es the government engage­ment has actually led to a proliferation of services which don’t talk to each other and, at the end of the day, don’t get much progress on the ground,” he told Sky News.

Senator Scullion said the government was working with leaders to determine how to implement the model and believed it had ­“potential to achieve real, lasting change” across Australia.

The Australian Editorial 29 January 2016

In his National Press Club address, Cape York Institute leader Noel Pearson outlined a new model for indigenous affairs ahead of next week’s release of the Closing the Gap report. The report is expected to contain damning results — again — and lead Malcolm Turnbull into an appeal for innovative policy proposals.

Mr Pearson has proposed a model of indigenous empowerment, aiming to foster entrepreneurialism to improve economic productivity, health and education outcomes. As chairman of the Cape York Academy, he works intensively with local communities, producing impressive results in school attendance and numeracy rates among indigenous children. Mr Pearson levels criticism at government, claiming its actions fail to meet the expectations of Aboriginal communities. The problem, he believes, lies with poor governance.

This will concern the Prime Minister given Mr Pearson’s lament that Tony Abbott’s leadership of indigenous affairs was “cut short”. He described Mr Abbott as his “closest friend” in politics. They shared close camaraderie with then parliamentary secretary Alan Tudge, working in concert to form indigenous policy in office.

And so indigenous affairs emerges as yet another area of policy challenge for the Prime Minister. Mr Turnbull will need to take advice from policy experts within government such as Mr Tudge, who served as deputy director of the Cape York Institute. He will have to balance long-term reform agendas with the more immediate needs of indigenous communities while crafting a process for the referendum on indigenous recognition. And he will need to ensure Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion can provide the outcomes-based governance Mr Pearson rightly contends is overdue.

While innovation in indigenous affairs is welcome, it must be more than change for change’s sake. Successive Labor and Liberal regimes have combined grand overtures (The Apology) with controversial programs (Northern Territory intervention) but have failed sufficiently to close the gap between indigenous and non

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion responds to Pearson’s critique, says change can be ‘a little disconcerting’

Federal Minister Nigel Scullion says his department is taking a methodical approach to Indigenous affairs amid criticism from Noel Pearson that Aboriginal people have been disempowered and ignored.

Earlier this week the Cape York leader detailed concerns about the Coalition Government’s approach to the portfolio, the way funding is being distributed, progress towards constitutional recognition and the high rate of Aboriginal imprisonment.

“Make no mistake, Indigenous Affairs is in deep crisis,” Mr Pearson said.

“We are seeing good things in isolated areas but not seeing the tectonic shifts that are needed.”

In a statement Senator Scullion defended his government’s position.

“We are taking a methodical approach to implementing our Indigenous Affairs agenda and while change can be a little disconcerting, communities are front and centre of these reforms,” the statement said.

“Our advice comes directly from communities.”

Senator Scullion said he welcomed Noel Pearson’s contribution as “one of many strong voices in Indigenous Affairs”.

Communities disempowered, Pearson frustrated

Mr Pearson also used his speech to express frustration about the lack of action on the Empowered Communities report that was provided to the Federal Government last year.

The report was a joint document provided by representatives from seven regions across the country, and recommended – among other things – creating an Indigenous Policy Productivity Council.

The council would scrutinise policies and programs that affect Indigenous Australians.

“There has been no proper engagement in the ideas we’ve proposed and the institutions that we believe are necessary,” Mr Pearson told the press club.

“The reforms we propose will in fact minimise the necessity of having a ministry of Aboriginal affairs or indeed eventually a minister.”

But Senator Scullion said the Government had responded to the report and offered a regionally focused approach to the issues it raised.

“I welcomed the report and believe that the proposed new form of engagement and focus on Indigenous responsibility has the potential to achieve real, lasting change in communities across Australia, particularly in critical areas such as school attendance and attainment, economic development and community safety,” the minister said.

“However, I strongly believe in the need for a Cabinet Minister and lead agency solely dedicated to Indigenous affairs and we have no intention of returning to the service delivery arrangements that existed before, under ATSIC.”

In his speech Mr Pearson said he thought the nation had reached the “dead end of Indigenous affairs presided over by a minister and a department”.

“There’s good things happening and there are good people involved, I’m not saying that the people involved are insincere,” he said.

“It is just that the system by which they attempt to deal with our communities is not one that works. It can’t discern excrement from clay.”


Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands for Healthy Futures Exhibition and travelling road show 2016

Find out how you can host this exhibition -see application below

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.

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) in partnership with Wayne Quilliam Photography has developed a visual narrative that has been created to foster awareness, exploration and understanding of Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands.

Our exhibition of 24 photographic images, melded with a series of video interviews embedded within the images will stimulate individual thinking and dialogue relating to the 10th anniversary of ‘Close the Gap’ campaign celebrated in March 2016.


NACCHO $ funding update : #IAS Indigenous Advancement Strategy funding list revealed


“Large sporting umbrella bodies including Swimming Australia, Athletics Australia, the Australian Rugby Union and the Australian Football League have all received indigenous funds. A host of universities around the nation are also on the list.

The inclusion of major organisations, governments, shire councils and large well-funded non-government organisations has sparked anger from Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, with many driven to the wall by the new funding regime and forced to lay off staff or close their doors.”

INDIGENOUS Affairs minister Nigel Scullion has bowed to pressure to provide transparency under the contentious Indigenous Advancement Strategy, today releasing a full list of organisations that have received grant funding.

But details of the amounts of the grants have not yet been released, with the Federal government still locked in negotations with organisations.


The tendering process under the IAS will be examined by the Commonwealth Senate’s finance and public administration references committee following complaints from indigenous organisations that the process was chaotic and deeply unfair.

Two-thirds of the organisations that have been funded under the IAS are non-indigenous organisations, and the publication of today’s list of those funded confirms that the Northern Territory Government is among the bodies that have received indigenous-earmarked dollars.

The IAS is a policy instituted last year by Mr Scullion which streamlines thousands of grants worth billions of dollars into five broad funding streams. The revamped grant funding process means that thousands of organisations who once received small grants will no longer be funded, and those funded have received a lesser chunk of the money they previously received.

Today’s list confirms that Federal government departments including the departments of Health and Ageing, Education and Training, Sport and Recreation, Justice and Attorney-General, and the Department of Correctional Services have all been funded under the IAS.

Shire councils around the country are also on the list.

Large sporting umbrella bodies including Swimming Australia, Athletics Australia, the Australian Rugby Union and the Australian Football League have all received indigenous funds. A host of universities around the nation are also on the list.

The inclusion of major organisations, governments, shire councils and large well-funded non-government organisations has sparked anger from Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, with many driven to the wall by the new funding regime and forced to lay off staff or close their doors.

Mr Scullion’s office released a statement today saying the full list of grants would be eventually published.

“My department is still working through contract negotiations with providers and the funding amounts will be published when those negotiations are complete,” Mr Scullion said.

“I made the decision to conduct negotiations in March to give my department the necessary time to make sure the funding agreements and projects deliver the long-term, sustainable results Indigenous communities want and deserve.

“I have made a commitment that there will be no service delivery gaps as a result of this process. Where gaps are identified, my department will work closely with providers and communities to address those issues as a matter of urgency.”




NACCHO political alert: Huge shake up as 26 Federal Aboriginal programs cut to 5


A HUGE shake-up of indigenous affairs is under way, with the Abbott government planning to collapse 26 programs worth $2.39 billion a year into five or six broad areas and the rigid application and reporting process abandoned to cut red tape and allow more of a focus on jobs.

Under the previous Labor government, more than 150 indigenous-specific activities and services were being driven by eight departments through 26 programs. Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said too much money was tied up in the application for funding and reporting processes, rather than being spent on Aborigines, and the radical overhaul would end this.

From the Australian PATRICIA KARVELAS  Photo The Australian

Senator Scullion said all the money that would be saved through slashing the amount spent on program administration – understood to be tens of millions – would be spent on indigenous affairs and not be consolidated into budget savings.

He said the reform was not about cutting programs; rather it focused on using the savings to address new issues faced by indigenous people, with a focus on jobs and economic development.

Programs subject to the shake-up include the Remote Jobs and Communities Program, Children and Family Centres; Indigenous Parenting Services; Family Safety Programs; petrol-sniffing programs; and the commonwealth scholarship program.

The government has already put almost all indigenous affairs programs into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Previously, they were spread across eight departments:

Attorney-General’s; Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy;

Education, Employment and Workplace Relations;

Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs;

Health and Ageing; Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education;

Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport;

and Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

Senator Scullion said this was the most significant reform in indigenous affairs in many years.

He said a Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet review had shown there was no proper evaluation of the 26 programs, driving more than 150 indigenous activities and services.

“What we do know about them is that they are far too complicated,” he said. “Each program has its independent processes completely separate from everything else: its own application, its own evaluation process, such as it is, and its own acquittal processes, its own reporting processes. I would like to see this come down to five or six programs. Basically, the harmonisation of these programs down to that sort of levels can reduce the red tape.”

He said this would lead to clearer outcomes and provide greater flexibility.

“We’ve got to stop the programs driving the agenda,” he said. “We are supposed to be responding to needs, that’s what government does, but instead the government is really responding to the programs … rather than ensuring that we are nurturing the outcomes the community wants.”

Some of the programs were “associated vaguely with employment, but not directly”.

“We want to have more people on the ground actually delivering benefits to the program rather than administration and we think we can do that by reducing the red tape and having a smaller number of programs,” he said.

“We need one employment stream so all things driving employment fit within that stream, not all these mirrored sub programs that sit under them.

“People in communities tell me, ‘We would like to have more people out there on the program doing this, but we are all sitting in the office acquitting the program or exhausted reporting on it’. We know that the reports never get looked at’.”