Aboriginal Health, Healing , Self Determination Reconciliation and a #Treaty : @VACCHO_CEO Jill Gallagher AO named Treaty Advancement Commissioner

 

” Having a Treaty will be a positive step for our mob. It will change the way people think about us, formally recognise what has been done to us in the past, and it will help us heal and overcome so much of this hurt, to achieve better social, emotional, health and wellbeing outcomes for our people.

I want my grandchildren, everyone’s grandchildren, and the generations to come to be happier and healthier. I want us to Close the Gap in all ways possible, and reaching a Treaty in Victoria is part of achieving this critical goal.

Jill Gallagher AO, is CEO of VACCHO and Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group and now Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner.

Read Jill’s Opinion piece in full Part 2 below Victorian Treaty an opportunity to heal and overcome intergenerational trauma

 ” I believe a Treaty with the Victorian Government will pave the way for a lot of the work VACCHO does around the holistic approach to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal people.

VACCHO has this holistic approach because we know you can’t just deal with health without dealing with housing and other aspects of life. If you haven’t got a roof over your head you can’t be healthy. If you haven’t got a job, that is going to have a negative impact on your health.

If you or your family are unfairly caught up in the justice system it makes it hard to build a life.

The social determinants of health need to be addressed in a holistic way, and we advocate to Government for that. “

Aged 62, Jill Gallagher has lived long enough to have had her sense of the world shaped by some of the sorriest historical aspects of Victoria’s treatment of Aboriginal people.

As a child she accompanied her mother all over the state as she chased seasonal work picking vegetables on farms, one of few lines of employment Aboriginal people were permitted to do.

As Reported in the AGE  : Jill Gallagher has been named Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner.  Photo: Jason South

And she has an early memory, painful still, of her mother being asked to leave the whites-only Warrnambool hotel.

It was Australia in the early 1960s, before Aboriginal people had been recognised in the constitution or been given the right to vote.

On Tuesday Ms Gallagher took on a job that is meant to shape a much more equal future between the state’s first people and the rest of us, when she was named Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner.

It is the new, leading role in preparing to negotiate the first ever treaty between Aboriginal people and an Australian government.

“What’s happening in Victoria is history making,” Ms Gallagher says of the $28.5 million treaty process.

“It’s never happened before, for any government to actually be serious about wanting to talk to Aboriginal people about treaties.” As commissioner, Ms Gallagher will lead the task of bringing Aboriginal representatives to the negotiating table with government and ensuring everyday Aboriginal voices are heard.

“My role is not to negotiate a treaty or treaties,” she says. “My role is to establish a voice, or representative body, that government can negotiate with.”

By the time treaty negotiations commence, her work as commissioner will have been done and the role will have ceased to exist.

For now the treaty’s terms of reference is a blank sheet of paper.

Its eventual signing could involve years of negotiations between the Aboriginal community and state government.

Aspects of treaties from other nations, such as Canada or New Zealand, may be borrowed from but Ms Gallagher says she hopes Victoria’s model will “stay true to what the need is here in Victoria”. “Treaty is about righting the wrongs of the past but also having the ability to tell the truth,” Ms Gallagher says.

As head of Aboriginal health organisation VACCHO, Ms Gallagher grapples with the lingering failure to “close the gap” of disadvantage between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal Victorians, who statistically live shorter lives and in poorer health than the general population.

A report last month by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria acknowledged the inter-generational damage European colonisation did to Aboriginal people, entrenching poverty, racism and disadvantage.

“I see the devastation that colonisation had on my people,” she says.

“I see how it manifests today in many ways such as overrepresentation in the justice system, overrepresentation of children in out-of-home care … So for me treaty is trying to rectify that.”

And as for non-Aboriginals uncertain about what a treaty means for them, Ms Gallagher offers this piece of reassurance: we don’t want your backyard.

Rather, it’s about creating a shared identity.

“I think it will add value to the non-Aboriginal community here in Victoria,” Ms Gallagher says.

“Treaty is about us having the ability to share our very rich, ancient culture, so all Victorians can be proud of our culture.”

Victorian Treaty an opportunity to heal and overcome intergenerational trauma

*Jill Gallagher AO, is CEO of VACCHO and Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group

Originally published in Croakey

As the end of the year rapidly approaches there is a bright ray of hope on the horizon for Aboriginal people living in Victoria, in the form of Treaty.

Working towards Treaty

For almost two years we have been working as a community towards the goal of a Treaty between the First Nations people and the Victorian Government. It’s an historic process, and one that we hope will inspire and guide the rest of Australia, both at a state and national level.

I’ve been honoured to be a part of the process as Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group. Our role in this group is not to negotiate a Treaty, but to consult the Aboriginal community on what we would like to see in a representative structure.

We have consulted extensively, and continue to consult, with the Aboriginal Community Assembly meeting in recent weeks and releasing a second statement on Treaty.

Intergenerational trauma

As CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) I’ve been working for the past two decades towards improving the health and wellbeing outcomes of Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I see a Treaty as fundamental to reaching the goal of Closing the Gap on many of our poor health outcomes as Aboriginal people.

Our mob, as we well know, has been disempowered for many, many generations and with disempowerment comes distress, and comes a lack of resilience. Our self-esteem has suffered and there have been so many social, emotional and wellbeing issues

in our community as a result of that disempowerment.

I believe if we are successful in reaching a Treaty it will make a humongous difference in the wellbeing of our people across Victoria. This is about truth telling and healing the past for a better future for Aboriginal people.

Intergenerational trauma is deeply felt in our community from myriad past practices, including the relatively recent Stolen Generations – I work with people born to parents who were stolen, many of my friends were stolen or come from families affected by the woeful policies of the past. In fact, almost 50 per cent of Aboriginal Victorians have a relative who was forcibly removed from their family through the Stolen Generations.

Even right now you just have to consider the disproportionately high number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care, and the trauma they are suffering from being disconnected from their families, communities and culture. Thankfully the Victorian Government has worked with our communities to help overcome this with its new Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care program.

Without doubt intergenerational trauma and a lack of empowerment and resilience leads to inevitable mental illness; we currently have 32 per cent of the Victorian Aboriginal community suffering very high psychological distress, which is three times the non-Aboriginal rate.

Social and emotional wellbeing

But while improving mental health outcomes is incredibly important to our people, it is something that cannot be done in isolation; improving social and emotional wellbeing is also important.

The Aboriginal concept of social and emotional wellbeing is an inclusive term that enables concepts of mental health to be recognised as part of a holistic and interconnected Aboriginal view of health that embraces social, emotional, physical, cultural and spiritual dimensions of wellbeing.

Social and emotional wellbeing emphasises the importance of individual, family and community strengths and resilience, feelings of cultural safety and connection to culture, and the importance of realising aspirations, and experiencing satisfaction and purpose in life.

Importantly, social and emotional wellbeing is a source of resilience that can help protect against the worst impacts of stressful life events for Aboriginal people, and provide a buffer to mitigate risks of poor mental health.

Improving the social and emotional wellbeing of, and mental health outcomes for, Aboriginal people cannot be achieved by any one measure, one agency or sector, or by Aboriginal people alone. It needs to be shaped and led through Aboriginal self-determination with support from government, and that is where Treaty comes in.

A Treaty for healing

I know that many people will dismiss Treaty as a political or public relations stunt. Just look at how the Federal Government has dismissed us on Makaratta. Makarrata is a complex Yolngu word describing a process of conflict resolution, peacemaking and justice. It’s a philosophy that helped develop and maintain lasting peace among the Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem Land.

Reaching a Makarrata is the goal of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which was agreed in May this year. It’s hurtful and disrespectful to be asked your opinion on something as important as Makarrata and then to have your ideas and solutions be dismissed.

I am glad to say the Victorian Government is, however, listening to us. I believe a Treaty with the Victorian Government will pave the way for a lot of the work VACCHO does around the holistic approach to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal people.

VACCHO has this holistic approach because we know you can’t just deal with health without dealing with housing and other aspects of life. If you haven’t got a roof over your head you can’t be healthy. If you haven’t got a job, that is going to have a negative impact on your health. If you or your family are unfairly caught up in the justice system it makes it hard to build a life. The social determinants of health need to be addressed in a holistic way, and we advocate to Government for that.

Having a Treaty will be a positive step for our mob. It will change the way people think about us, formally recognise what has been done to us in the past, and it will help us heal and overcome so much of this hurt, to achieve better social, emotional, health and wellbeing outcomes for our people.

I want my grandchildren, everyone’s grandchildren, and the generations to come to be happier and healthier. I want us to Close the Gap in all ways possible, and reaching a Treaty in Victoria is part of achieving this critical goal.

 

 

 

 

NACCHO health and constitution news: Is it time for the “historical wrong” of the Australian Constitution corrected ?

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Uncle Bob Randall, who fought for native title recognition for Uluru in the 1980s, now wants the “historical wrong” of the Australian Constitution corrected.

Picture above: Uluru traditional owner Bob Randall, left, Aaron Pedersen, Sally Scales and Sophia Pearson mark the arrival of the Journey to Recognition to Uluru in the NT. Picture: Kelly Barnes  Source: The Australian

What do you think ?

Refer NACCHO health and politics:Aboriginal health and the Australian Constitution ,how do we fix both ?

NACCHO welcomes debate and encourages readers to leave comments below

AS the desert sun sinks through the spinifex, a dozen people pause to watch the sunlight up the red rock of Uluru.

The sunset’s kaleidoscope of colours is a long-anticipated milestone for the group, which has marched 2300km for the cause of Aboriginal recognition since a cold Melbourne morning in May.

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“We were so overwhelmed,” said Jill Gallagher (pictured above) , the 58-year-old chief executive of the Victorian Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations who drove all the way to Uluru from Melbourne. “It is exciting and overwhelming, and the journey that we’re on about recognition – it just all came together.”

More than 3000 people have joined the Journey to Recognition, which calls for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to be recognised as the First Peoples in Australia’s Constitution.

The convoy left Adelaide last Wednesday, heading north through Port Augusta and Coober Pedy, and stopping at small towns and communities alongthe way. They are part of a national relay – inspired by former AFL champion Michael Long’s Walk to Canberra nine years ago – that started in Melbourne in May and is scheduled to finish in Arnhem Land on August 1.

Uluru’s traditional owners joined with the travellers in the nation’s desert heart yesterday to reflect on the journey’s success, which has seen an upswell of support across the country. Bob Randall, a traditional Anangu owner of Uluru who lives in its shadows at the community of Mutitjulu, was there to welcome the convoy.

“The way to deal with this is to make the Constitution strong with its rightness, not strong in its wrongness.”

Both sides of politics have backed a referendum on the issue, with Tony Abbott walking the first leg of the march in May and Kevin Rudd continuing Labor’s support for the movement.

The referendum had been intended to take place at the federal election, but was delayed during a volatile parliamentary term.

Aboriginal actor Aaron Pedersen, from Alice Springs, also joined the march yesterday.

For Pedersen, a descendant of the Arrente and Arabana people, the journey is about drumming up support for change to ensure a successful referendum, expected some time in the next parliamentary term.

“This is about planting the seeds,” he said.

“Referendums aren’t very successful in Australia, but I think with all the momentum of saying sorry (to the Stolen Generations), we’ll keep the momentum going.”

Sally Scales, a 25-year-old traditional owner of South Australia’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, said she hoped the marchers could bring about the change needed to stamp out racism.

NACCHO press release: National Aboriginal health authority welcomes the Victorian ” COAG challenge”

Justin Mohamed high res

Justin Mohamed, Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has welcomed the Victorian Government’s challenge to the Federal Government to match its increased investment improving Aboriginal health through a new National Partnership Agreement.

Mr Mohamed was commenting on the urgent need for all COAG state and territory premiers to match Federal Government’s $777 million under a new 3 year agreement similar to Victorian Government 4 year of commitment of $61.7 million, the largest ever investment in Aboriginal Health

Justin Mohamed said “NACCHO’s affiliates in each state and territories are the only structured systems who have worked with each State and Territory health minister and premiers as part of the COAG push for the sign up to the NPA.

Victorian Minister David Davis has acknowledge the partnership with the NACCHO affiliate VACCHO (Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation) in ensuring their government continued their commitment to Closing the Gap and calling on other COAG states and Territories to do the same”

“All NACCHO state and territory affiliates have a significant role at a jurisdictional level to ensuring that Closing the Gap commitment are kept ” Mr Mohamed said

“As I said earlier this week the pressure is now squarely on the states and territories as signatories of the 2008 Close the Gap Statement of Intent in which they committed to work together to close the disgraceful seventeen year gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians by 2030.

The states and territories need to uphold their commitment to this important goal and sign up to continue the National Partnership Agreement which is due to expire in less than two months.”

Improving Aboriginal health is not a quick fix – it requires a long-term commitment by all levels of government.’

NACCHO congratulates JILL Gallagher VACCHO CEO Order of Australia: improving outcomes in Aboriginal health

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Source of article and image

JILL Gallagher is humbled by her Order of Australia for  distinguished service to Victoria’s indigenous community.

But she’s not about to rest on her laurels. There’s still a  lot of work to be done.

As head of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled  Health Organisation for the past 12 years, she has seen her people face  increasingly dire health challenges since she joined the organisation in  1992.

”Chronic disease is a huge problem, tobacco is one of  them, diabetes is a huge issue and when you look at Victoria you’ve got a lot of  Aboriginal people living in urban areas who have shocking health problems. The  health status of people living in Fitzroy is the same as people living in  Fitzroy Crossing, so we have a job to do convincing governments that there are  Aboriginal people who live in Victoria who need just as much support.”

Asked to list her most significant achievement in her time  in Aboriginal health, the 57-year-old cites her influence in getting the state  government to sign the statement of intent to close the 17-year life expectancy  gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

She says there are many factors, beyond access to health  services, that contribute to the disparity. ”If you’re going to close the life  expectancy gap you’ve got to look at education and employment opportunities.  Anyone whether you’re black or white, if you’ve got a job you’re going to be a  lot more healthy.”

She is also proud of her role in the return of 800  Aboriginal skeletons – the Murray Black Collection –  from the Museum of  Victoria and the National Museum of Australia to indigenous communities in  northern Victoria and southern New South Wales for burial.

”My passion is actually for us as Aboriginal people to be  recognised and valued as Aboriginal Australians and to enjoy the same benefits  that this country offers as non-indigenous Australians.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/improving-outcomes-in-aboriginal-health-20130125-2dc1u.html#ixzz2J1FoP92W