NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : United Nations urges better healthcare for world’s indigenous peoples


“Only by acknowledging the interrelationship between health and the social determinants of health, such as poverty, illiteracy, marginalization, the impact of extractive industries, environmental degradation, and the lack of self-determination, will any new human development goals be truly achievable amongst indigenous peoples,

The current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)  have  failed to identify the relationship (or access) to customary land as an indicator of well-being. Similarly, mental health issues such as depression, substance abuse and suicide will not be completely addressed so long as the harms of colonization and the status of indigenous peoples are not acknowledged.”

Australia’s  Professor Megan Davis

Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Photo above NACCHO library

Indigenous peoples must not be left out of the global community’s unfolding sustainable development agenda, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon affirmed as he marked the 2015 edition of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples with a focus on their lagging access to health care services around the world.

“They count among the world’s most vulnerable and marginalized people. Yet their history, traditions, languages and knowledge are part of the very bedrock of human heritage,” the Secretary-General declared in remarks delivered at an event held at a special UN Headquarters in New York. The event was also expected to hear remarks from Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, and Megan Davis, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

“Indigenous peoples can teach the world about sustainable lifestyles and living in harmony with nature,” he added.

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is commemorated annually on 9 August in recognition of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, held in Geneva in 1982.

This year, the Day’s theme focuses the spotlight on promoting the health and well-being of the world’s indigenous peoples through the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which will be launched in September. The new agenda expands on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which had a target date of 2015, and contains 17 sustainable development goals.

Today’s event also saw the launch of the UN’s latest State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples report which examines the major challenges indigenous peoples face in terms of adequate access to and utilization of quality health care services.

According to the UN, there are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries around the world who constitute 15 per cent of the world’s poor and about one third of the world’s 900 million extremely poor rural people. Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.

At the same time, the unique placement of indigenous peoples in society puts them at a disadvantage when seeking access to healthcare while also rendering them more susceptible to specific forms of illness.

The UN chief noted, in fact, that indigenous peoples regularly encounter inadequate sanitation and housing, lack of prenatal care and widespread violence against women as well as enduring high rates of diabetes, drug and alcohol abuse, youth suicide and infant mortality.

In Australia, he warned, many Aboriginal communities have a diabetes rate six times higher than the general population. Meanwhile, in Rwanda, Twa households remain seven times more likely to have poor sanitation and twice as likely to lack safe drinking water. Similarly, in Viet Nam, more than 60 per cent of childbirths among ethnic minorities take place without prenatal care while for the majority population, the figure hovers closer to 30 per cent.

“These statistics are unacceptable,” concluded Mr. Ban. “They must be urgently addressed as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As we launch the 2030 Agenda with its 17 sustainable development goals, in September, we must ensure that the targets are met for all.”

In her remarks, Ms. Davis said the active and ongoing involvement of indigenous peoples in the development, implementation, and management and monitoring of policies, services and programs affecting the well-being of their communities is essential.

“Only by acknowledging the interrelationship between health and the social determinants of health, such as poverty, illiteracy, marginalization, the impact of extractive industries, environmental degradation, and the lack of self-determination, will any new human development goals be truly achievable amongst indigenous peoples,” she said.

The current MDGs have, Ms. Davis continued, failed to identify the relationship (or access) to customary land as an indicator of well-being. Similarly, mental health issues such as depression, substance abuse and suicide will not be completely addressed so long as the harms of colonization and the status of indigenous peoples are not acknowledged.

“Thus, on the eve of the adoption of a new development agenda, new indicators of indigenous peoples’ health and well-being must be defined in consultation with indigenous peoples. Similarly, States should seriously engage in the disaggregation of data in order to better inform the effectiveness of their health policies and plans for indigenous peoples,” she said.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Senator Nova Peris pushes campaign on alcohol-related domestic violence

2014-03-04 10.52.05

Senator Peris said in the Northern Territory an indigenous woman is 80 times more likely to be hospitalised for assault than other Territorians.

“I shudder inside whenever I quote that fact because it makes me picture the battered and bloodied women we see far too often in our hospitals.

“Every single night our emergency departments in the Northern Territory overflow with women who have been bashed.”

Picture above :Senator Nova Peris along with Opposition colleagues  addressing the NACCHO board at Parliament House Canberra this week

LABOR’S first indigenous MP Nova Peris has challenged the Australian Medical Association to advocate for more action in tackling alcohol-related domestic violence.

In a powerful speech, Senator Peris said alcohol-related domestic violence was on the rise and ruining the lives of Aboriginal women.

She told the launch of the AMA’s national women’s health policy that the AMA must use its high standing in the community to “advocate for more action in tackling alcohol-related domestic violence”.

Report from PATRICIA KARVELAS   The Australian

SEE AMA Position Statement on Women’s Health below

“Today I call on the AMA to formally adopt a policy position that supports the principle that people who have committed alcohol-related domestic violence be banned from purchasing alcohol at the point of sale.

“The technology to implement point-of-sale bans exists; it is cost effective and has been proven to work.”

Senator Peris said in the Northern Territory an indigenous woman is 80 times more likely to be hospitalised for assault than other Territorians.

“I shudder inside whenever I quote that fact because it makes me picture the battered and bloodied women we see far too often in our hospitals.

“Every single night our emergency departments in the Northern Territory overflow with women who have been bashed.”

In 2013, domestic violence assaults increased in the Northern Territory by 22 per cent, she said.

She criticised the incoming NT government’s August 2012 decision to scrapped the banned drinker register.

“For those of you who may not be familiar with the banned drinker register, or BDR as it is also known, it was an electronic identification system which was rolled out across the Northern Territory.

“This system prevented anyone with court-ordered bans from purchasing takeaway alcohol — including people with a history of domestic violence.

“Around twenty-five hundred people were on the banned drinker register when it was scrapped. “Domestic violence perpetrators were again free to buy as much alcohol as they liked. As predicted by police, lawyers and doctors, domestic violence rates soared.”

Senator Peris said she had met with doctors, nurses and staff from the emergency department in Alice Springs and they confirmed these statistics represent the true predicament they faced every day.

“Every night the place is awash with the victims of alcohol fuelled violence, with the vast majority of victims being women.”

She said the Northern Territory faces enormous issues with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

“We have such high rates of sexually transmitted infections, especially and tragically, with children.

“Rates of smoking are far too high, and diets are poor and heart disease is widespread.”

Senator Peris’s speech was well received by the AMA, which committed to taking on her challenge.


AMA Position Statement on Women’s Health 2014

The AMA today released the updated AMA Position Statement on Women’s Health.

The Position Statement was launched at Parliament House in Canberra by the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash, Senator for the Northern Territory, Nova Peris, and AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton.

Dr Hambleton said that all women have the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

“The AMA has always placed a high priority on women’s health, and this is reflected in the breadth and diversity of our Position Statement,” Dr Hambleton said.

“We examine biological, social and cultural factors, along with socioeconomic circumstances and other determinants of health, exposure to health risks, access to health information and health services, and health outcomes.

“And we shine a light on contemporary and controversial issues in women’s health.

“There is a focus on violence against women, including through domestic and family violence and sexual assault.

“These are significant public health issues that have serious and long-lasting detrimental consequences for women’s health.

“It is estimated that more than half of Australian women have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes.

“The AMA wants all Australian governments to work together on a coordinated, effective, and appropriately resourced national approach to prevent violence against women.

“We need a system that provides accessible health service pathways and support for women and their families who become victims of violence.

“It is vital that the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children is implemented and adequately funded.”

Dr Hambleton said the updated AMA Position Statement also highlights areas of women’s health that are seriously under-addressed.

“This includes improving the health outcomes for disadvantaged groups of women, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, rural women, single mothers, and women from refugee and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds,” Dr Hambleton said.

“We also highlight the unique health issues experienced by lesbian and bisexual women in the community.”

Dr Hambleton said that the AMA recognises the important work of Australian governments over many years to raise the national importance of women’s health, including the National Women’s Health Policy.

“There has been ground-breaking policy in recent decades, but much more needs to be done if we are to achieve high quality equitable health care that serves the diverse needs of Australian women,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Although women as a group have a higher life expectancy than men, they experience a higher burden of chronic disease and tend to live more years with a disability.

“Because they tend to live longer than men, women represent a growing proportion of older people, and the corresponding growth in chronic disease and disability has implications for health policy planning and service demand.”

The Position Statement contains AMA recommendations about the need to factor in gender considerations and the needs of women across a range of areas in health, including:

  •  health promotion, disease prevention and early intervention;
  •  sexual and reproductive health;
  •  chronic disease management and the ageing process;
  •  mental health and suicide;
  •  inequities between different sub-populations of Australian women, and their different needs;
  •  health services and workforce; and
  •  health research, data collection and program evaluation.


  • cardiovascular disease – including heart attack, stroke, and other heart and blood vessel diseases – is the leading cause of death in women;
  •  for women under 34 years of age, suicide is the leading cause of death; and
  • in general, women report more episodes of ill health, consult medical practitioners and other health professionals more frequently, and take medication more often than men.

The AMA Position Statement on Women’s Health 2014 is at

NT alcohol crackdown makes gains, but questions over mandatory rehabilitation remain

By Michael Coggan NT ABC

It appears that stationing police officers outside bottle shops in regional towns in the Northern Territory has had a significant impact on alcohol consumption.

The latest figures show consumption has dropped to the lowest level on record, but the statistics do not include the impact of the mandatory rehabilitation policy or punitive protection orders.

The ABC has investigated the situation as a new federal parliamentary inquiry is promising to test the evidence.

On a weeknight in Darwin’s city centre, locals and tourists mingle at Monsoons, one of the pub precinct’s busy watering holes.

Less than a block away, six women have found their own drinking place under the entrance of an office building, sheltered from monsoonal rain.

Most of them are visiting from Indigenous communities on Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria. They’re “long-grassing” – living rough on the city streets.

Northern Territory Labor Senator Nova Peris is here to talk to them.

One of the women, from the Torres Strait Islands, tells the Senator how she is trying to get through a catering course while struggling with homelessness and alcoholism.

“I am doing it. I’m trying to get up and I’m finding it hard,” she said.

In an interview after talking to the “long-grassers”, Senator Peris emphasised how homelessness makes alcohol abuse among Aboriginal people more obvious than alcohol use in the non-Indigenous community in Darwin.

“Those ladies, they weren’t from Darwin, they were from communities that came in, so they’re homeless and they drink when they come into town and it’s easy to get alcohol [in town].”

Senator Peris also blames alcohol abuse for much of the poor health in Aboriginal communities.

“When you look at alcohol-related violence, when you look at foetal alcohol syndrome, when you look at all the chronic diseases, it goes back to the one thing and it’s commonly known as the ‘white man’s poison’,” she said.

Alcohol-related hospital admissions increase, senator says

The Northern Territory has long grappled with the highest levels of alcohol abuse in the country, but figures released recently by the Northern Territory Government show the estimated per capita consumption of pure alcohol dropped below 13 litres last financial year for the first time since records started in the 1990s.

Territory Country Liberals Chief Minister Adam Giles believes a more targeted response by police has made a difference.

But Senator Peris says data released last week tells a different story.

Senator Peris has quoted figures showing an 80 per cent increase in alcohol-related hospital admissions over the past 14 months as evidence that the previous Labor government’s banned drinker register was working.

The Territory Government scrapped the BDR when it won power in September 2012.

Alice Springs-based associate professor John Boffa from the Peoples Alcohol Action Coalition wants to see the consumption figures verified.

“If it’s true, it’s very welcome news and it would reflect the success of the police presence on all of the takeaway outlets across the territory,” he said.

Parties, police association at odds

In regional towns where alcohol-fuelled violence is high, police have been stationed outside bottle shops to check identification.

Anyone living in one of the many Aboriginal communities or town camps where drinking is banned faces the prospect of having their takeaway alcohol seized and tipped out.

Northern Territory Police Association president Vince Kelly believes police resources are being concentrated on doing the alcohol industry’s work.

Mr Kelly has also questioned the will of the two major political parties to introduce long-term alcohol supply reduction measures since it was revealed that the Australian Hotels Association made $150,000 donations in the lead-up to the last Territory election.

“No-one I know gives away $150,000 to someone and doesn’t expect something back in return,” he said.

But Mr Giles dismisses Mr Kelly’s view.

“I don’t respond to any comment by Vince Kelly from the Police Association, I think that he plays politics rather than trying to provide a positive outcome to change people’s lives in the territory,” he said.

Giles stands by alcohol rehab program

The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister has asked a parliamentary committee to investigate the harmful use of alcohol in Indigenous communities across the country.

The committee is expected to examine the application of new policies in the Territory, including mandatory alcohol treatment that was introduced in July 2013.

People taken into police protective custody more than three times in two months can be ordered to go through a mandatory three-month alcohol rehabilitation program.

The figures showing a drop in consumption pre-date the introduction of mandatory rehabilitation but Mr Giles believes the policy is making a difference.

So far there is not enough evidence to convince Professor Boffa that mandatory treatment is making any difference.

“We just don’t have publically available data on the numbers of people who have completed treatment, [or] how long people who have completed treatment have remained off alcohol,” he said.

One of the women from Groote Eylandt explained how she had been locked up to go through the mandatory treatment program but was now back on the grog.

“I was there for three months and we didn’t like it,” he said.

The Chief Minister’s political stablemate, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, has commended the Territory Government for using a mix of police intervention and mandatory rehabilitation, but says jail is not the solution.

“We can’t keep treating people who are sick as criminals. However annoying they might be, people who are alcoholics are ill,” he said.

Alcohol Protection Orders seen to criminalise alcoholism

Police were given the power to issue Alcohol Protection Orders to anyone arrested for an alcohol-related offence, attracting a jail sentence of six months or more.

Aboriginal legal aid services have criticised the orders for criminalising alcoholism.

Priscilla Collins from the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency says the orders are predominantly being handed out to Aboriginal people, threatening jail time if they are breached.

“Alcohol protection orders are really being issued out like lolly paper out on the streets. You can be issued one just for drinking on the street, for drink driving. We’ve already had 500 handed out this year,” she said.

Mr Kelly has welcomed the introduction of APOs as a useful tool but has questioned what they will achieve.

“The community and the Government and everybody else needs to ask itself what the end game is,” he said.

“Are we going to end up with even fuller jails? No matter what legislation we introduce we’re not going to arrest our way out of alcohol abuse and Aboriginal disadvantage in the Northern Territory.”

Do you know more? Email




You can hear more about Aboriginal women’s health  at the NACCHO SUMMIT


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

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

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

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




NACCHO @Indigenous political alert :Q and A with Warren Mundine: on the importance of role models and education


Each week, a new guest hosts the @IndigenousX Twitter account to discuss topics of interest as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people

The Guardian in partnership with IndigenousX, invites its weekly host to tell us about who they are, what issues they’re passionate about, and what they have in store for us during their upcoming week

This weeks host is Warren Mundine and we understand he will be visiting Western Desert communities this week and reporting online



If you are not on TWITTER leave your question (140 characters) in the COMMENTS below and NACCHO media will pass it on  Email mailto:


Warren Mundine tell us about yourself.

I was born in Grafton in Northern NSW and moved to Auburn in Western Sydney when I was seven years old. I’m from the Bundjalung, Gumbaynggir and Yuin people. My father’s family come from Baryulgil about 80 km north of Grafton, on the Clarence River. He grew up there and moved when he married my mother.

I was one of 11 children and I slept in a single bed with three of my brothers until I was about 12 – which was fine except that my youngest brother wet the bed.
My first name “Nyunggai” means “sun”. It was the skin name that my father gave to me as a child. Recently I changed my name by deed poll to Nyunggai Warren Mundine and so now I use it officially.
My parents worked and sent us to Catholic schools. God, work and school were very important in our family. Even so, as a teenager I started to drift and my reading and writing didn’t progress past primary level. I caused my parents a lot of trouble getting into fights, consuming alcohol and drugs, etc. At one point I was arrested and detained as a juvenile. My parents, a priest and a local white couple stood up for me in court and I was given another chance. They kept an eye on me, I got a labouring job and finished school at TAFE.
I stayed in labouring and trade jobs for about 10 years. My first office job was as a clerk at the Tax Office. I lived in Armidale and Dubbo when my kids were young and got elected to Dubbo Council where I was deputy mayor.

That’s how I got involved in the Labor party, and eventually I was elected its national president. I spent about nine years as CEO of NTSCorp, working with NSW Aboriginal communities on their native title, and I was CEO of GenerationOne in 2013.

I now run my own business and have been appointed to advise the prime minister on Indigenous issues as chair of the Indigenous Advisory Council.
I’m married to Elizabeth and between us we have 10 children (most are grown up). It’s a lot of fun. And of course, I am a mad lover of football.

What do you plan to talk about on @IndigenousX this week?

This week I wrote a blog post which I called The First Tree. It’s about how we address seemingly insurmountable problems.  People laugh at on me on Twitter for having simple suggestions – like getting kids to school – and focusing on practical things.

But I don’t think theorising and admiring a problem from every angle achieves much. Sometimes simple things are what leads to the biggest changes, most quickly.
So I will be focussing on the “bread and butter” issues for closing the gap – jobs, education, school attendance, health, welfare  – and I want to prompt some discussion on our traditional nations and cultures and what they have to offer us. As always I want to prompt conversations which make people think, and where readers are prepared to challenge their own thinking.

What issue(s) affecting Indigenous peoples do you think is most pressing?

If you read my articles, speeches and blogs you will get a good idea of where I think the priorities are. School attendance, welfare to work and incarceration, particularly juvenile detention, are big ones.
And for communities – social stability, economic and commercial development, land ownership.
The high suicide rates amongst Indigenous people is a devastating problem. I’ve been reading and talking to people over the last few months in particular so as to understand it better. It’s not a topic that is easy to discuss on a medium like Twitter, however.

Who are your role models and why?

My father, Roy Mundine, and mother Dolly Mundine (née Donovan) were big role models in my life. Apart from them, my greatest role model was Lionel Rose, world champion boxer. He was a 19 year old Aboriginal boy from Jackson Flats, and he won the world title. He showed me that the world can be your oyster if you are willing to focus and work hard.
Also Charles Perkins and John Moriarty who both overcame adversity, went to university when it wasn’t easy for Aboriginal people to do that – both played football, and John was selected for the national team.

What are your hopes for the future?

This year my hope is that all Indigenous kids are going to school every school day, and that state and territory governments bring in mandatory diversionary programs for juvenile offenders into jobs and education.
I’ve outlined my long term hopes in a number of my articles and speeches, particularly the Garma Speech and my recent Australia Day address.
In the end, my hope is that Indigenous people can be full participants in Australian life and all it has to offer as well as being part of strong and thriving traditional nations where they can take care of their culture, language, traditional lands and build an economic future.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health: Estimated 400 suicides in our communities in last three years

Image -

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience suicide at around twice the rate of the rest of the population. Aboriginal teenage men and women are up to 5.9 times more likely to take their own lives than non-Aboriginal people.

This is a crisis affecting our young people. It’s critical real action is taken to urgently  address the issue and it’was heartening to see the previous Federal Government taking steps to do that.

For any strategy to be effective, local, community-led healthcare needs to be at its core.

But so far we have not heard from this Government on the future of The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group and the $17.8 million over four years in funding to reduce the incidence of suicidal and self-harming behaviour among Indigenous people.”

Justin Mohamed Chair NACCHO commenting on the crisis 

During the last three years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides are at nearly 400, no less than 380.

Research by Gerry Georgatos

Last year, I aggregated Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) hospital collated data on reported suicides of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – 996 suicides from 2001 to 2010. That is 1 in 24 of all deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – by suicide.

READ previous NACCHO articles on suicide prevention here

NACCHO community support : Raising funds for Elders report into Preventing Self-harm & Indigenous suicide.

Update we reached out goal of $9,500

There is no ABS data available at time to determine whether the crisis has abated or got worse, but I have been record keeping reported suicides – whether through the media, community organisations or via other sources – for my own academic research on premature and unnatural deaths. I have found that from the beginning of 2011 to end 2013 there have been nearly 400 suicides – child, youth and adult – of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

My own research estimates that the 996 suicides recorded between 2001 to 2010 are an under reporting of the actual numbers, and instead of 1 in 24 deaths by suicide, I have estimated that the rate of suicide was between 1 in 12 to 1 in 16. The 2001 to 2010 suicides average to 99.96 suicides per year. In reflection it was 99 custodial deaths alone over a ten year period in the 1980s that led to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. How many suicides will it take before this nation’s most horrific tragedy is met head on with a Royal Commission?

My research compilations during the last three years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides are at nearly 400, no less than 380. Where there had been an average 99 deaths by suicide from 2001 to 2010, according to my research the annual average for 2011 to 2013 has tragically increased to approximately 130 suicides per annum.

Last year, on October 23, the Chair of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council (IAC), Warren Mundine read my journalism and some of the research published predominately in The National Indigenous Times and by The National Indigenous Radio Service and in The Stringer and Mr Mundine responded with a never-before-seen commitment by a high profile Government official to urgently do something about the out-of-control crisis

He added the crisis to the IAC’s mandate – and he time-limited it to six months so that the crisis would not languish. But three months have passed and we have not heard anything from the Council despite several requests to them for information on any potential progress.

At the time, Mr Mundine expressed his shock at the extent of the crisis.

“The figures sit before your eyes and the scale of it you sort of go ‘oh my god, what the hell is going on?’ I admit that I was probably one of the problems, because we seem to handle mental illness and suicide and shunt it away, we never dealt with it as a society, but we have to deal with it, confront it, because we are losing too many of our people, too many of our young ones… It is about us understanding this and challenging ourselves, and as I said I am just as bad as anyone else out there who put this away and did not want to deal with mental health and the suicide rates, so we have to get over that,” said Mr Mundine.

“We are looking at putting (the suicide crisis) on the table for our first meeting, and looking at over the next three and six months at what’s the advice we will be looking at giving to the Government and the Prime Minister to deal with this issue.”

“My personal opinion, and there is no science in this, this is just my observation, is our self-esteem and culture, I think, plays a major part in these areas.”

“It is a problem and I congratulate The National Indigenous Times for putting it on the front page. We need to really start focusing on this a lot better and I’m not talking about the people who are in there already doing it because they’re the champions. I’m talking about myself and the rest of Australia, we need to get our act together.”

Since October 23 there have been two score suicides.

Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation CEO Robert Eggington said that in the last two weeks another spate of suicides has blighted both the south west and the north west of Western Australia.

“There have been suicides among our youth in recent weeks, another tragic spate. We met with the Premier last year and we are waiting for his promises to be kept to fund safe spaces and strategies for us to coordinate the helping of our people, but to date we have been kept waiting,” said Mr Eggington.

Chair of the Narrunga People, Tauto Sansbury said that he has been trying to arrange a meeting with Mr Mundine but despite three months of effort this has not occurred – Mr Mundine had promised to organise a meeting with Mr Sansbury following articles about the high rate of suicides among South Australia’s Aboriginal people.

“We have become used to broken promises by our State Government for a 24/7 crisis centre for our people and we hoped that Warren (Mundine) would represent the needs of our people, stand up for our most vulnerable, the at-risk, but to date he is yet to meet us let alone represent us,” said Mr Sansbury.

“Our young people and adults continue to fall victim to suicide.”

To the Northern Territory, where Aboriginal child suicides have increased by 500 per cent since the launching of the infamous “Intervention”, Arrente man and Bond University criminology student, Dennis Braun has reported the dark plight of one of the Territory’s communities – 33 deaths in five months. The community’s Elders have requested that the community is not publicly identified.

“The majority of the deceased were under 44 years of age. The youngest was a 13 year old who committed suicide a couple of days just before Christmas.”

“There should be an inquiry, but there is not despite 33 deaths. If this happened in an urban community like Sydney there’d be an outcry even after three or four deaths, with (residents and the wider community) wanting to know why it is happening and where to go for help.”

This publication has prioritised the suicide crisis for quite some time, sustaining the coverage, and the stories of loss, the grieving families, and we have effectively campaigned to Government to rise to the occasion. We do not apologise for this. On October 23, Mr Mundine and the Indigenous Advisory made a commitment that they must keep.


Warren Mundine including the suicide crisis to the IAC mandate

Government to address Aboriginal suicides

30 suicides in the last three months as we wait for promises to be kept

996 Aboriginal deaths by suicide – another shameful Australian record

Australia’s Aboriginal children – the world’s highest suicide rate

Whose child will be the next to die?

Suicide gap widening, says researcher

NACCHO health alert: Report documents Aboriginal people are 50 per cent more likely to die from cancer than other Australians


Cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia: an overview is one of a series of reports commissioned by Cancer Australia and developed in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.



This report provides, for the first time, a comprehensive summary of population-level cancer statistics across a number of states and territories in Australia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples alongside comparative figures for non-Indigenous Australians

. It aims to document key cancer statistics to inform health professionals, policy makers, health planners, educators, researchers and the broader public of relevant data to understand and work towards reducing the impact of cancer for Indigenous Australians.

On average, per day, around two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are diagnosed with cancer and there is just over one cancer-related death.


Importantly, this report identifies significant differences between Indigenous Australians and their non-Indigenous counterparts. While incidence rates for cancer overall were marginally higher for Indigenous peoples, mortality and survival differences between the two population groups were more marked with cancer mortality rates 1.5 times higher and survival percentages 1.3 times lower for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This report also looks at the 10 most commonly diagnosed cancers as well as the 10 most commonly reported causes of cancer deaths for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia, accounting for over 60% of cancers in these groups. Lung cancer was both the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths for this population group. Differences between gender and across age groups are also identified.

Transcript of the ABC interview:

In a recent interview on ABC’s , Mark Colvin discussed findings from the Australian Institute of Health and Cancer Australia which indicates that Indigenous people are 50 per cent more likely to die from cancer than other Australians.

MARK COLVIN: It may be the most deadly reality of closing the gap: Indigenous people are 50 per cent more likely to die from cancer than other Australians. And that’s just one of the shocking findings contained in a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Cancer Australia. It’s the first comprehensive investigation into increased cancer rates among Indigenous Australians.

MANDIE SAMI: Cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of Australia: An Overview is the first comprehensive summary of cancer statistics for Indigenous Australians.

The head of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s cancer and screening unit, Justin Harvey, says the report reveals disturbing facts.

JUSTIN HARVEY: Indigenous Australians are approximately 50 per cent more likely to die from cancer than non-Indigenous Australians and that’s quite a big difference between the two. The rate of new cases for Indigenous Australians is also higher and survival from cancer is poorer.

MANDIE SAMI: Kristin Carson is the chair of the Indigenous Lung Health working party for the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand. She says it’s sad that she’s not shocked by the findings.

KRISTIN CARSON: This is something that has been going on for such a long time. I mean, we know that there is a disparity in health between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. It’s actually atrocious.

A lot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who see this probably already know it. They live this. This is the reality and I guess it’s these types of more shocking statistics that bring the kind of problems that we’re having to light.

MANDIE SAMI: The CEO of Cancer Australia, Professor Helen Zorbas, says there are a number of reasons why there’s such a huge discrepancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

HELEN ZORBAS: Those factors definitely include tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, poor diet, lower levels of physical activity and higher levels of infections such as hepatitis B. In addition to that, Indigenous peoples are less likely to participate in screening programs.

Also, the proportion of Indigenous people who live in regional and rural and remote areas is higher than for non-Indigenous people and therefore access to care and services – we have a higher proportion of Indigenous people who discontinue treatment.

MANDIE SAMI: The head of the Institute’s cancer and screening unit, Justin Harvey, says even the types of cancer most prevalent among Indigenous Australians are different.

JUSTIN HARVEY: In terms of the most commonly diagnosed cancers for Indigenous Australians, these were lung cancer, followed by breast cancer in females and bowel cancer. Whereas for non-Indigenous Australians, the most commonly diagnosed were prostate cancer, followed by bowel cancer and breast cancer in females.

MANDIE SAMI: Mr Harvey says the report shows there needs to be more health promotion campaigns and services targeting Indigenous Australians.

JUSTIN HARVEY: The most important thing is that the information is used in looking at what are the needs and how best to address those needs.

MANDIE SAMI: That call has been backed by Kristin Carson. She says there’s also a need to evaluate whether current campaigns like these are working.

ACTOR, ANTI-SMOKING AD: I was smoking but I quit. If I can do it, I reckon we all can.

ACTOR 2, ANTI-SMOKING AD: Not quitting is harder.

MANDIE SAMI: Ms Carson says all Australians have a moral obligation to ensure that improving the health of Indigenous Australians is a national priority.

KRISTIN CARSON: Talk with community members, find out what we should be doing, and again, it highlights that we really need to be looking at research or evaluations in this area to try and better address this problem.

MANDIE SAMI: Associate Professor Gail Garvey is a senior researcher in cancer and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health at the Menzies School of Health.

She hopes the findings will make policymakers realise the devastating effect cancer is having on Indigenous populations.

GAIL GARVEY: Other areas, you know, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney disease, which are all very important in their own right, tend to get the sort of focus, where cancer has just been sort of creeping behind all the other illnesses and diseases thus far.

So I think this report will give us a chance and give governments and health professionals and communities an opportunity now to actually look at what’s happening, you know, in black and white in this report, what’s happening nationally. And hopefully we can do something more about it than what’s currently being done.

MARK COLVIN: Associate Professor Gail Garvey, ending Mandie Sami’s report

For more information visit the ABC’s 2pm website



NACCHO Aboriginal Health reports:Sport and recreation programs help health in Aboriginal communities


A paper released last week on the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse website examines the beneficial effects of participation in sports and recreation for supporting healthy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The paper, Supporting healthy communities through sports and recreation programs, reviews over 30 studies, covering all geographic areas from inner city to remote regions, and age groups ranging from primary school to young adult.


It shows that there are many benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from participation in sport and recreational programs, including some improvements in school retention, attitudes towards learning, social and cognitive skills, physical and mental health and wellbeing; increased social inclusion and cohesion; increased validation of and connection to culture; and some evidence of crime reduction.




The paper shows that although the effects of sports and recreation programs can be powerful and transformative, these effects tend to be indirect and therefore hard to measure.

For example, programs to reduce juvenile antisocial behaviour largely work through diversion—these can provide alternative and safer opportunities for risk-taking, for maintenance of social status, and in building healthy relationships with elders.

Because of the lack of direct measures on the impact of sports and recreation programs on various outcomes for Indigenous Australians, this resource sheet focussed on some of the principles that can help ensure that the program is successful. These include:

  • Linking sports and recreation programs with other services and opportunities;
  • Promoting a program rather than a desired outcome;
  • Engaging the community in the planning and implementation of programs, as this will ensure that the program is culturally appropriate, and potentially sustainable.

What we know

• There is some evidence, in the form of critical descriptions of programs and systematic reviews, on the benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from participation in sport and recreational programs. These include some improvements in school retention, attitudes towards learning, social and cognitive skills, physical and mental health and wellbeing; increased social inclusion and cohesion; increased validation of and connection to culture; and crime reduction.

• Although the effects of sports and recreation programs can be powerful and transformative, these effects tend to be indirect. For example, using these programs to reduce juvenile antisocial behaviour largely work through diversion, providing alternative safe opportunities to risk taking, maintenance of social status, as well as opportunities to build healthy relationships with Elders and links with culture.

• Although Indigenous Australians have lower rates of participation in sport than non-Indigenous people, surveys suggest that around one-third of Indigenous people participate in some sporting activity (ABS 2010). That makes sports a potentially powerful vehicle for encouraging Indigenous communities to look at challenging personal and community issues.

• Within Indigenous communities, a strong component of sport and recreation is the link with traditional culture. Cultural activities such as hunting are generally more accepted as a form of sport and recreation than traditional dance. Therefore sport and recreation are integral in understanding ‘culture’ within Indigenous communities, as well as highlighting the culture within which sport and recreation operate.

What works

There are a range of benefits pertaining to participation in sports and recreation activities. In the absence of evaluation evidence, below is a list of principles of ‘what works’ and ‘what doesn’t work’ to assist with sport and recreation program implementation.

• Providing a quality program experience heightens engagement in the sports or recreational activity.

• Where no activity has been previously made available, offering some type of sport or recreation program to fill that void should be given priority over making selective decisions about which program to carry out.

• Linking sports and recreation programs with other services and opportunities (for example, health services or counselling; jobs or more relevant educational programs) improves the uptake of these allied services. This assists in developing links to other important programs for improving health and wellbeing outcomes, or behavioural change.

• For sporting programs, providing long-term sustained, regular contact between experienced sportspeople and participants allows time to consolidate new skills and benefits that flow from involvement in the program.

• Promoting a program rather than a desired outcome improves the uptake of activities—for example, a physical fitness program is more likely to be well used if promoted as games or sports rather than a get-fit campaign.

• Involving the community in the planning and implementation of programs promotes cultural appropriateness, engagement and sustainability.

• Keeping participants’ costs to a minimum ensures broad access to programs.

• Scheduling activities at appropriate times enhances engagement—for example, for young people, after school, weekends and during school holidays, when they are most likely to have large amounts of unsupervised free time.

• Facilitating successful and positive risk taking provides an alternative to inappropriate risks.

• Creating a safe place through sports or recreation activities, where trust has been built, allows for community members to work through challenges and potential community and personal change without fear of retribution or being stigmatised.

• Ensuring stable funding and staffing is crucial to developing sustainable programs.

NACCHO Aboriginal health news: Aboriginal health isn’t all bad news


It’s easy to feel disheartened by the bombardment of negative statistics about Indigenous health, but we shouldn’t ignore the many successes, writes Lisa Jackson Pulver in the  ABC online DRUM Photo:  (Dave Hunt, file photo: AAP)

Lisa Jackson Pulver holds the Inaugural Chair of Indigenous Health and is a Professor of Public Health at UNSW. View her full profile here.

The media loves a bad news story – and the response to the latest report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is no exception.

The Sydney Morning Herald called the past 10 years a “wasted decade“, highlighting increasing rates of diabetes, kidney disease, asthma and osteoporosis among Indigenous people, along with the 11-year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

But the largest-ever survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics also has some good news to report that was all too easily passed over.

Fewer Indigenous people are taking up smoking, and those who do smoke are giving up the habit. This is despite nicotine being an addictive substance, highly influenced by social norms. For years, smoking rates have been much higher in the Indigenous community than in the non-Indigenous community. But according to the Bureau, the proportion of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 to 17 years who have never smoked has increased from 61 per cent to 77 per cent, with an increase from 34 per cent to 43 per cent for those aged 18 to 24 years.

This result is matched by the non-Indigenous community. It should be applauded and recognised by all Australians: it shows the resilience of our young people who are increasingly saying no to smoking. The choice they are making will mean a decrease in the knock-on effects that chronic smoking brings.

While it must be acknowledged that this is only one indicator of success, it is still a win. So, where are the accolades for all the tobacco control programs, the Aboriginal Health Worker mentors and those with the resolve to never smoke or to stop? Why is this not the story?

Among the findings in the ABS report, Indigenous Australians are reported as being more than three times as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to have diabetes. While this is cause for concern, many of the major health problems for Indigenous communities are not only affected by health spending, but by the wider determinants of health. This means it will take much longer before we see viable gains. So it should come as no surprise that in such a short period, since 2009, the Closing the Gap policy framework and funding did not produce positive health outcomes on all measures. The period surveyed (2012-2013) cannot have benefitted from the new money that flowed as a result of Closing the Gap. It is too early. More importantly, the severe disadvantage many of these data reflect reinforces the argument for concerted action and sustained funding over the longer term.

We must also remember that early prevention and intervention is important, so we need to continue to look for the early and intermediate signs of what will become a long-term improvement in health – which of course includes lower smoking rates, a top risk factor for a wide array of other health conditions. Likewise, we should not simply focus on the current rates of chronic disease, but also the factors that contribute to good health in the future: nutritional status and healthy diets, physical activity, access to antenatal care, not smoking, engagement in family and community activities, housing quality and whether there is overcrowding, employment and cultural and psychological wellbeing – all of which lay the foundations to health.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, like everyone’s health, is much more than the absence of disease. It involves physical, social, emotional, cultural, spiritual and ecological wellbeing and fulfilment of potential to contribute to the wellbeing of the whole community. Looking more deeply, we can see the outstanding successes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary healthcare services, visual and performing arts, drama, music, tertiary education and sport as examples of early indicators that many people are flourishing.

It is very easy to see only the negative, given the statistics that seem to bombard us. That’s unfortunate because it promotes a sense of hopelessness, when what is needed is energy, positive models of change and positive commitment over the long term. There would be great value in capturing these positive changes, in collecting and amplifying the voices of those young people in particular who have made conscious decisions to live well and let these voices join the growing chorus of role models, exemplars and successful ventures in our communities.

Closing the Gap is a great start – and a much needed catalyst for change – but it is necessary to shift the lens towards the kinds of deeper changes that lead to lifelong health, including not smoking. Instead of focusing on the negatives, why not support those effective, community-driven enterprises and programs already having positive impacts, so that the children of our children will again enjoy the great opportunities that life in this magnificent country has to offer.

Lisa Jackson Pulver holds the Inaugural Chair of Indigenous Health and is a Professor of Public Health at UNSW. View her full profile here.

Topics: indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander, indigenous-policy

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : Media coverage and download AMA Aboriginal health report 2012-2013


There are some incredible things happening out there in communities all around Australia. Our Report Card shines a bright light on what needs to be done to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in their important early years of life.

It also brings together some of the great work that is already happening to make a difference

Dr Steve Hambleton (see full launch speech below)

Picture above:  Romlie Mokak CEO  AIDA, Justin Mohamed NACCHO chair, Senator Fiona Nash and AMA CEO Dr Steve Hambleton


(Transcript from World News Australia Radio) Thea Cowie reports

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health report card highlights the impact early childhood experiences can have on genetic expression


Unfortunately there’s nothing new about inter-generational Indigenous disadvantage.

But Australian Medical Association national president Steve Hambleton says new developments in neuroscience, molecular biology and epigenetics provide a scientific explanation for the cycle of disadvantage.

“Now epigenetics, or the study of the way genes are switched on and off, we can now understand how those early life experiences become hard-wired into the body with lifelong effects on health and wellbeing. Early experiences can influence which of the person’s genes are activated and de-activated and consequently how the brain and body development occurs.”

The AMA report says repetitive stressful experiences early in life can cause changes in the function of genes that influence how well the body copes with adversity throughout life – including the development of emotional control, memory function and cognition.

The report cites research showing more than 20 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with children under 16 experience seven or more life stress events in a year.

Chairman of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Justin Mohamed, admits it’s daunting to think about the impact early childhood events can have on a genetic level.

“It’s very scary to think that an individual event or a multitude of events, or the environment that you were raised in, can actually switch off your potential of what you could be. And on the other side of the thing I think it’s very encouraging to think that well there might just be some minor adjustments which actually can switch on so you can actually reach your potential.”

Mr Mohamed says in many ways the science backs up what’s long been known.

But he hopes the evidence will help focus efforts and investment on the early years – the years he says really change lives.

“They want evidence, they want to see where they can make the best investment to get the best return. So I think that this report will show that well here’s some evidence. We know that if the right investment is made, the right rollout to frontline services, Aboriginal community controlled health services, that we can have really good turn around with the results.”

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association chief executive officer, Romlie Mokak, says the report also highlights the importance of providing support to mothers- and fathers-to-be.

“Having all of that early education and support is really critical for fundamental things like having access pre-natally. When baby’s born the connect between having all of that clinical support and education, the right nutrition and supportive environments can improve birth weights. And it’s also about making sure that care continues once bub’s born.”

Recommendations from the AMA report include establishing a national plan for expanded maternal and child services including parenting and life skills education, expanding home visit services and building a strong sense of cultural identity and self-worth.

Mr Mokak acknowledges the report is just one of thousands written in an attempt to address Indigenous disadvantage.

But he hopes this one will receive the bipartisan support and funding needed to capitalise on its findings.

“The fact that the president of the AMA, Steve Hambleton, who’s so committed to this agenda, chairs the taskforce that produced the report says something. This is however many thousands of doctors in the country who are saying this is important business for the medical fraternity. The biggest call here I think is for us to think about a future beyond a political cycle. My hope would be that it fits in terms of aligning with government, the Opposition and the Greens and others to say this is an important agenda for us to keep supporting.”

The AMA Indigenous Health Report Card is one of the most significant pieces of work produced by the AMA. It gives us great pride. It matters. It makes a difference.

We have been producing these Report Cards for over a decade now, and each time we focus on a different aspect of Indigenous health – children’s health, primary care, funding, men’s health, or inequity of access.

We come at it from all angles.

We do not pretend to have all the solutions to the many health problems that confront Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. But the AMA recognises and acknowledges the problems and we want to help fix them. Our Report Cards are a catalyst for thinking, and hopefully a catalyst for action.

This year we are focusing on the early years of life. It is the right of every Australian child to have the best start in life – but in Australia today not every child benefits from this right. In their early years, children need to be safe, have adequate opportunities for growth and development, and have access to adequate health, child development, and education services.

Many of our children are missing out, but none more so than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

There have been some improvements in recent years with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children making a successful transition to healthy adult life.

But there are still far too many who are being raised in community and family environments that are marked by severe early childhood adversity.

This adversity in early life can affect educational and social functioning in later life, and can increase the risk of chronic illness.

We are seeing improvements through government commitment and cooperation on closing the gap initiatives, but much more action is needed.

Epigenetics is all about how early life experiences become hard-wired into the body, with life-long effects on health and wellbeing.

Early experiences can influence which of a person’s genes are activated and de-activated and, consequently, how the brain and the body develop.

Building and providing stable and healthy life experiences in the early years can help break the cycle of adversity.

That is our task and our challenge.

Good nutrition, responsive care and psychosocial stimulation can have powerful protective benefits to improve longer-term health and wellbeing.

Strong culture and strong identity are also central to healthy early development.

The costs to individuals, families, and society of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children failing to reach their developmental potential continue to be substantial.

Robust and properly targeted and sustained investment in healthy early childhood development is one of the keys to breaking the cycle of ill health and premature death among Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders.

It is crucial for the momentum to be sustained by renewing the COAG National Partnership Agreements on Indigenous Health and on Indigenous Early Childhood Development for another five years.

The AMA makes several recommendations in the Report Card, including :

A national plan for expanded comprehensive maternal and child services;

The extension of the Australian Nurse Family Partnership Program of home visiting to more centres;

Support for families at risk with interventions to protect infants and young children from neglect, abuse and family violence;

Efforts to reduce the incarceration of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders; efforts to improve the access of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders to the benefits of the economy, especially employment and entrepreneurship;

Efforts to keep children at school;

Building a strong sense of cultural identity and self-worth; improving the living environment with better housing, clean water, sanitation facilities, and conditions that contribute to safe and healthy living; and better data, research and evaluation culturally appropriate measures of early childhood development and wellbeing.

We have also highlighted some examples of programs that are already being successful at improving the early years of Indigenous children.

There is the Darwin Midwifery Group Practice, the Aboriginal Family Birthing Program in South Australia, and the NSW Intensive Family Support Service are just a few.

Our governments – individually and through COAG – must examine these programs, learn from them, and replicate them where possible.

Our governments must also look at the Abecedarian approach to early childhood development.

This involves a suite of high quality teaching and learning strategies to improve later life outcomes for children from at-risk and under-resourced families.

It is being used to great effect at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress in Alice Springs.

The AMA believes the Abecedarian approach has a strong track record of success and we urge all governments to have a closer look for possible widespread implementation.

There are some incredible things happening out there in communities all around Australia. Our Report Card shines a bright light on what needs to be done to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in their important early years of life.

It also brings together some of the great work that is already happening to make a difference.

Importantly, it defines a challenge for all of us – governments, the medical profession, the r health and education sectors, and the broader community – to give these kids and their families a healthier life.

I now ask the Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash, to say a few words and officially launch our Report Card. Background. Some key factors impacting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing in the early years:

Pregnancy and Birth

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have a higher birth rate compared with all women in Australia (2.6 babies compared to 1.9), and are more likely to have children at a younger age: 52 per cent of the Aboriginal women giving birth in 2010 were aged less than 25 years, and 20 per cent were less than 20 years, compared with 16 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively, for the broader community [AIHW, 2012];

Aboriginal women remain twice as likely to die in childbirth as non-Aboriginal mothers, and are significantly more likely to experience pregnancy complications and stressful life events and social problems during pregnancy, such as the death of a family member, housing problems, and family violence [Brown, 2011];around half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander mothers who gave birth in 2010 smoked during pregnancy, almost four times the rate of other Australian mothers; and while infant mortality continues to fall, low birth weight appears to be increasing.

Infancy and early years

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are twice as likely to die before the age of five than other Australian children of that age group. However, the Closing the Gap target to halve this gap in mortality rates by 2018 will be reached if current trends continue; between 2008 and 2010, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children less than five years of age were hospitalised at a rate 1.4 times greater than other children of the same age [AIHW 2013]; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children suffer from nutritional anaemia at 30 times the rate of other children [Bar-Zeev, et. al., 2013]; and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children between 2 and 4 years of age are almost twice as likely to be overweight or obese compared with all Australian children in that age range [Webster et. al., 2013].

Family Life

More than 20 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with children younger than 16 years have experienced seven or more life stress events in a year [Zubrick et al, 2006]. The greater the number of family life stress events experienced in the previous 12 months, the higher the risk of children having clinically significant social and emotional difficulties [FaHCSIA, 2013]; for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, risk factors such as: a close family member having been arrested, or in jail or having problems with the police, being cared for by someone other than their regular carers for more than a week; being scared by other people’s behaviour had the greatest impact on a child’s social and emotional difficulty scores; especially if these factors were sustained over a number of years [FAHCSIA 2013]; between 2006 and 2010, the injury death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children was three times higher than that for other children. In 2010–11, the rate of hospitalisation for injuries was almost 90 per cent higher for children from remote and very remote areas than for children in major cities. Overall, hospitalisation due to injury among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children was almost double that of other children, with the greatest disparity relating to assault [AIHW, 2012];

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were almost eight times as likely to be the subject of substantiated child abuse and neglect compared with other Australian children [AIHW 2012].


Early Childhood Education and Schooling

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were almost twice as likely to be developmentally vulnerable than other Australian children, and to require special assistance in making a successful transition into school learning; the Closing the Gap target for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander four-year-olds living in remote communities to have access to 15 hours of early childhood education per week was achieved in 2013; across the country, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children achieving the national minimum standards decreases as remoteness increases. For example, in 2012, only 20.3 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander year 5 students in very remote areas achieved national minimum standards in reading, compared with 76 per cent in metropolitan areas;

Only modest progress has been made in achieving the Closing the Gap target to halve the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in NAPLAN reading, writing and numeracy assessment scores by 2018    





NACCHO Aboriginal suicide prevention: Black Dog Institute launches app to try to save lives


ibobbly draws on stories from Aboriginal performers and uses psychological therapies proven to reduce suicidal thoughts


Consider the FACTS

  • Indigenous suicide rates five times higher than non-indigenous youth

  • New mobile app designed to provide culturally-relevant psychological care

  • Clinical trial launched by Yawuru man Patrick Dodson in Broome

Suicide rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are amongst the highest in the world.

Despite increased funding and implementation of new prevention programs, very few indigenous people will seek help before acting on suicidal thoughts.

Black Dog Institute, in partnership with WA-based suicide prevention group Alive and Kicking Goals, is launching a trial of the world’s first suicide prevention app designed especially for use by indigenous people on mobile phones or tablet devices.

Called iBobbly (a name derived from a Kimberley greeting), the app delivers treatment-based therapy in a culturally relevant way. Based on psychological therapies proven to reduce suicidal thoughts, it draws heavily on indigenous metaphors, images and stories drawn from local Aboriginal artists and performers.

According to Black Dog Institute researcher Professor Helen Christensen, the app format leaps two of the major hurdles to help seeking-Percieved stigma and isolation

We know that indigenous Australians are not seeking face to face mental health care, more than 70% of indigenous suicides occur in people who are not previously known to health services.

“Indigenous youth have a high rate of mobile phone usage  so it makes sense that we engage them on technology they are comfortable with and able to use in their own private time.”

“Once the app is downloaded they don’t need ongoing internet access and the program is password protected, thus maintaining confidentiality if the technology is shared amongst the community.”

“The initial pilot trial being run in WA will allow us to test and refine the program. We hope to expand iBobbly access to indigenous people living in other States later in 2014.”

iBobbly is funded by the Australian Government and NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention. The program was developed in partnership with Alive and Kicking Goals, HITnet Innovations,

Thoughtworks, Muru Marri Indigenous Health Unit UNSW and the Young and Well Cooperative ResearchCentre. Samsung generously donated 150 tablets for the trial.

Interviews are available with Prof Helen Christensen (Black Dog Institute) and Joe Tighe (Alive and Kicking Goals).

Contact Joe Tighe on 0400 240 607 for more information.



afl 010

The NACCHO  APP promotes the sports healthy futures program that will give Aboriginal youth the opportunity to improve their overall health and wellbeing through active participation in sports.

Research shows that if a young person is happy and healthy they will be able to get the most out of their education, build their confidence and their self-belief and hopefully one day become a well-educated “Indigenous All-star” in the sport or employment of their choosing.” Mr. Mohamed said.

Mr. Mohamed said he is encouraging all  150 NACCHO members and stakeholders to promote the APP to their 5,000 staff and over 100,000 clients so that our community members can really have Aboriginal health in Aboriginal Hands. All ready in first few days over 1,000 Apps have been downloaded from the APP Store and Google Android store.

Here are the URL links to the App – alternatively you can type NACCHO into both stores and they come up!



“The NACCHO App contains a geo locator, which will help you find the nearest Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation in your area and  provides heath information online and telephone on a wide range of topics and where you can go to get more information or assistance should you need urgent help “ Mr Mohamed said.

Health help includes:

Ambulance, Alcohol, Babies Breast Cancer, Cancer, Children,  Depression, Diabetes, Domestic Violence, Drugs, eHealth, Eye Health, Gambling, Healthy Eating, Hearing, Male health, Medicare, Mental Health, Prostate cancer, Smoking , Suicide, Teenagers, Women’s Health.

The NACCHO App allows users  to share, connect or contact NACCHO through our social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, daily news alerts and the NACCHO website.

– See more at:

NACCHO Aboriginal health news: World Diabetes Congress Melbourne registrations closing 16 November


Is the only truly global diabetes event.

Join 12,000 healthcare professionals, policy-makers and advocates from all over the world.


The deadline for the online registration is 16 November 2013. Register now!

New! Online day rate now available for healthcare professionals residing in Australia.

Top Three Reasons to Attend the World Diabetes Congress:

1. Connect

-A unique opportunity to network with over 400 speakers, 12,000 delegates and more than 200 IDF Member Associations from over 160 countries.

2. Learn

-View over 1000 posters and choose from 275 hours of scientific sessions to learn about the latest advances in diabetes research, care and education.

3. Discover

-Follow 7 distinct programme streams including the brand new “Diabetes Research in the 20th Century” and “Diabetes in Indigenous Peoples” streams”.

With less than 25 days to go, the World Diabetes Congress is one of the world’s largest health-related events. It brings together healthcare professionals, diabetes associations, policy-makers and companies to share the latest findings in diabetes research and best practice.


2 to 6 December 2013, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), Melbourne, Australia

The scientific programme, divided into 7 themed streams, offers you 20 CME credits and 275 hours of sessions from some of the world’s top diabetes experts.

The online day rate is now available for healthcare professionals residing in Australia. Join us and help shape the future of diabetes in Melbourne this December 2-6.
For more information please visit

Program highlights