CONGRESS 2014 Budget Response


Concern over impact of the Budget on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples will suffer disproportionately under the 2014 Federal Budget, according to the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

“General and specific Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander measures in the Budget are already causing considerable anxiety amongst our peoples,” said Congress Co-Chair Kirstie Parker.

“Our people are amongst the sickest, poorest and most marginalised Australians, so the pain of some measures will be felt especially hard by us.

“These include the introduction of GP co-payments and raising of the pension age, coupled with a cut of more than half a billion dollars to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs over the next five years. Yet another major overhaul of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs, no long-term funding certainty for our health and legal services or clarity around measures to Close the Gap, and undermining of Congress as the only national independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative body.”

Ms Parker said scant detail had been provided in relation to the major overhaul of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs under a new ‘Indigenous Advancement Strategy’, and the reduction of about 150 existing programs to just five.

“We strongly support a reduction in red tape and duplication. However, in the absence of more information and any clear funding guidelines or criteria for that handful of programs, it is difficult to determine how a cut of nearly $550 million over five years to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs is justified. Days after the Budget, our peoples are in virtually no clearer position than we were before.

“Our community controlled health organisations have been offered no more than 12 months funding. Of course, that’s better than nothing but it’s no way to build longevity or attract and retain high quality staff. We join others in seeking clarification as to how the Government will deliver on its promised commitment – in terms of funding and national leadership – to Close the Gap.

“Our legal services and family violence prevention legal services will bear cuts they can ill-afford as they struggle to address the chronic over-representation of our people in the criminal justice system and protect victims of family violence, especially our women and children.

“This is the manifestation of Commonwealth confusion on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples needs and expenditure that we believe will damage rather than enhance our people’s lives.”

Ms Parker, who is also Co-Chair of the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee, said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples already experienced roughly twice the burden of ill-health as other Australians.

“So, anything – such as a GP co-payment – that further deters our peoples from managing their illness together with their doctor will inevitably compound our already higher rates of hospitalisation for chronic or acute conditions. That’s bad news for both us and the public purse,” she said.

“The pension age is to be lifted to 70 years but we’re unaware of any consideration being given to the fact that, with the average life expectancy of our men at 69.1 years and for our women 73.7 years. That’s roughly ten years less than the general Australian population – our people will be lucky to make it to retirement age, let alone collect superannuation.

“We call upon the Government to think more deeply about its plans, and to ensure it values and utilise the expertise that exists within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, organisations and communities. We want the Government to move forward in genuine partnership with us.”

Discontinuation of $15 million set aside in the Budget Forward Estimates for Congress from 2014-17 amounted to censorship of independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices by stealth, Ms Parker said.

“The Government has said that it is willing to meet with and receive advice from Congress and we welcome this. However, it feels very much like our independent national representative body is being tolerated rather than supported.

“Our members have always aspired for Congress to be financially independent from government and self-sustaining in the long-term and this has not changed. It is sad that, whereas it was always clearly identified that an estimated ten years of investment and support was needed for us to achieve sustainability in a measured way, it was just three years before this particular government ‘pulled the plug’.

“The fact that the Government flagged this decision in December makes it no less nasty. However, while confirmation of it is a definite blow to Indigenous self-determination, it is by no means a knockout punch for Congress. Our membership continues to grow and, with restructuring already undertaken and considerable belt tightening, we expect our reserves to sustain us for the next two to three years while we work to diversify our funding base.

“As well as seeking ongoing support from our membership, we will be appealing to decent, fair-minded Australians to do what this Government apparently won’t – to champion and support an independent representative voice for our peoples, chosen by our peoples.”

NACCHO Budget Response: Pressure on Indigenous health outcomes

nac-31-35-b-logoThe National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has welcomed continued funding for the 150 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services around Australia announced/confirmed in Budget 2014.

Justin Mohamed, Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, said the Aboriginal population is growing and demand for services is increasing at more than 6% per year.

“The 2014 Budget funding means we can continue to provide high quality, culturally appropriate health care to our people for another year,” Mr Mohamed said today.

“However, we also need long-term planning and budget resources to build on recent health gains and create lasting improvements to the health of Aboriginal people.

“There is great risk that the introduction of a $7 co-payment for doctor’s visits will create new barriers to healthcare for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, including additional red tape for Community Controlled Health Organisations.

“Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are low income earners and suffer the highest level of chronic disease, requiring regular GP visits.

“State and territories have also been given the green light to charge for hospital emergency visits, creating a dangerous situation where people may not present for serious medical treatment for fear of the cost.

“We will get the most benefit from policy that encourages Aboriginal people to seek medical attention and seek it early, not make it even harder for them to get the care they need.

“It is also vital that the Federal Government guarantees the $80-90 million cut across Aboriginal Health does not impact on-ground services and Aboriginal health outcomes.

“Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations have a proven track record in providing a range of quality employment and education opportunities for Aboriginal people and boosting local economies.

“Given cuts to Aboriginal health and employment budgets they are even more valuable – providing employment and training opportunities to our people which in turn boost local economies and tackle some of the huge barriers to Aboriginal people achieving economic independence and quality of life.

“Healthy communities keep our kids in school, keep our adults in the workforce and allow great opportunities for Aboriginal contributions to the economy and broader community,” Mr Mohamed said.

NACCHO National Apology 6th anniversary : Why the Apology, Reconciliation, Healing and Recognition Matter’

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“We need to get back to the basics of our culture and allow a diversity of opinions in a respectful and supportive manner.

This is the vital element for reconciliation, healing and recognition to become a reality in our great country.”

Speech by Josie Cashman – A member of  the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council

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I am humbled and proud to be asked to speak to you on the 6th anniversary of the National Apology. This year at the opening of Parliament the Prime Minister, Mr Tony Abbott acknowledged  the damage done to the Stolen Generations. The Apology, Reconciliation, Healing and Recognition are so important to enable all Australians to come together. Many leaders have outlined the effects of the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and the need for reconciliation, healing and forgiveness. In this speech, I want to use this opportunity to highlight why these things matter and what is the biggest threat to moving forward as one country.

What is the greatest challenge? My answer may surprise you! To frame this I will look back in history to 1938, to an event that was not a sad occasion for our people but a show of strength, pride and hope. I will also talk about one of my Indigenous heroes, the Phillips family of Redfern.

Firstly, I want to pay my respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and high achievers past and present. Our modern Indigenous leaders are very, very courageous. They are often attacked for having a view.

Recent examples include on social media where our Australian of the Year was described as ‘Captain Coconut’, the reference to a coconut is a racial slur meaning dark on the outside and white on the inside.  And last year the Chair of the Indigenous Advisory Council was subject to a much-publicised raft of racial slurs on social media, including being called “Uncle Tom”, for his willingness to advise a Coalition government on solving the problems that face our people. This behavior should not be tolerated in any culture. Leaders suffer a personal toll with both them and sometimes their families attacked with disgraceful sniping and lateral violence at the hands of their own people. This is fuelled by the far Left for its own agenda.

These groups promote and encourage conspiracy theories that the Government and Australian people are against Aboriginal people and that we continue to be victims of this society. Under this world view, every problem faced by Indigenous people is the result of bad things done by European colonists and assimilation into western cultures. The value of so called “western” influences to Indigenous people – like mainstream education and economic development – is questioned.

Disadvantage and suffering have become the defining characteristics of the far left. Institutionalised welfare is a key policy platform for them. Any suggestion that welfare dependence has had negative impacts on Indigenous people is not tolerated. Underpinning all of this is an idealised concept of traditional Indigenous people not “corrupted” by civilization or development. There is an old expression to describe this – the “noble savage”.

How can we build mutual respect in an environment where fear and distrust of government and the Australian people is encouraged? How can we move on to healing when there are people who want to define us as damaged? This is a cancerous philosophy.

This is the most destructive form of racism and is promoted by the far Left to feed into their ideology that western free market democracy is wrong and we have to keep Indigenous Australians as noble savages. It is this ideology that is stopping Indigenous Australians coming into the economic mainstream. Labelling Aboriginal and Torres Strait People as disadvantaged and victims sets extremely low expectations in terms of employment, business capacity and education. The welfare mentality is the greatest challenge inhibiting our people to rise up. This ideology is the height of discrimination and it is destroying our cultural values which embraced hard work, taking responsibility and contributing to community. This threat from the far Left is what I call intellectual racism.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are sick of being used as a political football for only radicals’ political and ideological purposes. Enough is enough!

This ideology is also totally disrespectful to the Indigenous leaders who had a dream for their families and communities of coming together with all Australians. We need to remember the passion and conviction of our past leaders. They were hopeful and never victims. These leaders were dignified and capable of galvanizing their community as they dreamt for a better life.

An example of this is the historic meeting of the Australian Aborigines’ League at the Day of Mourning Conference on 26 January 1938.  Over 100 people attended from all around the Eastern Seaboard. With little money travelling from far and wide, they were strongly committed and came together to fight for a better life at their own personal risk.  All were well dressed in suits and were well-spoken. Many delegates entered through the back entrance to avoid being identified, afraid they would be victimised by police for attending.

The conference endorsed the following statement:

WE, representing THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA, assembled in Conference at the Australian Hall, Sydney, on the 26th day of January, 1938, this being the 150th Anniversary of the whitemen’s seizure of our country, HEREBY MAKE PROTEST against the callous treatment of our people by the whitemen during the past 150 years, AND WE APPEAL to the Australian Nation of today to make new laws for the education and care of Aborigines, and we ask for a new policy which will raise our people to FULL CITIZEN STATUS and EQUALITY WITHIN THE COMMUNITY.

Many of our Aboriginal leaders today are direct descendants of this group and I am privileged to acknowledge the contributions their ancestors made.

African-American scholar and economist Dr Thomas Sowell argues that the most damaging results of the welfare state mentality, is the teaching of victimhood. If African-Americans in the 1930s and 40s had been taught that they were victims, then the Civil Rights movement may have never happened. African-Americans survived through centuries of slavery, then their society began to fall apart with the introduction of the welfare state.

In the 1990s Dr Sowell gave a lecture at a university, a young African-American man who was about to graduate, got up from the audience and said ‘What hope is there for me?’. Dr Sowell took off his glasses and said to this young man, ‘you have four-times the hope of your grandparents and twice that of your parents’. This is equally true for Indigenous families. Why then are we not advancing when we have strong political, business and community support including the National Apology and the reconciliation movement?

Like African-Americans, Indigenous Australians are marred by the disadvantage label. A label that teaches us that there is no hope, so what is the point of participation in society?

This is not a phenomena necessarily related to race. It is reflected in the UK amongst whites in the housing commission areas.  Teenagers there can’t multiply six times nine. This country produced people such as Shakespeare and Issac Newton and now a significant proportion of its society can’t do simple maths and cannot read.

In the worst affected areas of Australia, only 18% of remote and rural Indigenous kids attend school 80% of the time, and that 80% is the minimum required to attend to learn the basics. These are the alarming statistics. In 2014 despite being full citizens with equality in the community and access to education we are now faced with the lowest Indigenous school attendance rates.  Most of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders dreamt of being treated as full citizens of this country with full access to education. Here we are now. But if we allow Indigenous people to think they can’t do anything or think the system is against us, what is the point of learning? No if or buts, every Indigenous child need to attend school! One day, I dream of many Aboriginal doctors, accountants and public servants.

If we believe maybe even an Indigenous astronaut to shoot to the moon, because we now live in a world full of possibilities.

We need to get back to the basics of our culture and allow a diversity of opinions in a respectful and supportive manner. This is the vital element for reconciliation, healing and recognition to become a reality in our great country.

I am pleased to say that there are many examples of modern day Indigenous leaders who are victorious. They do not accept the Left’s intellectual racism and the disadvantaged label. They are the Aussie battlers working hard in the community to lift their people, create hope and to let them believe that anything is possible.

An example of this is Mr Shane Phillips, a community leader in Redfern, Sydney. Shane works day and night with Aboriginal kids picking up troubled teenagers up so they can attend early morning sessions of boxing with the local police officers, which brings both groups together to promote citizenship and harmony. Shane also runs and established the Tribal Warrior Association, these wide-sailed ships, glide gracefully on our glorious Sydney Harbour, providing meaningful employment for Aboriginal people as tourist guides and ship operators. Shane engages with the Aboriginal community, promotes kids going to school and helps Aboriginal people gain self-esteem.

Shane’s parents Richard ‘Dickie’ and Yvonne Philips are also my heroes. These pastors gave endless service to the community. Every year they took in up to 200 Indigenous and non-Indigenous street children, some of whom were forced to sell their bodies to survive. They huddled on the floor in the leaky cold, old church that used to be a factory, on the ‘Block at Redfern’. Sometimes over 50 or more foam beds littered the floor. Smiling, the children lay their heads down, with full bellies entertained by Uncle Richard playing the ukulele and praising the Lord while slowly hushing them into a gentle slumber with his soft lullaby. These kids were given a safe place and hope for their future.

This couple never gave up with limited funds, if any Government funding.  They instead had a strong conviction that good would prevail. Since this time, we have as a nation benefited from the most historical events to bring us together including the apology, movement towards reconciliation, healing and recognition. I am sure Mr and Mrs Philips would be looking down on us from heaven, not only very proud of their children, but of how far all Australians have come.

I feel so privileged to have spent time with these Preachers. I will never forget when I was feeling down when dear Pastor Philips slowly turned his head around to face me, opened his soft dark eyes with the widest smile and gently said to me ‘never give up on the edge of a miracle’.

The appeal by the Australian Aborigines’ League on 26 January 1938 has in fact, been answered. Australia has made new laws for the education and care of Indigenous people, it has raised our people to full citizen status and has introduced a policy to raise our people to equality within the community. Australia has gone even further than our leaders in 1938 would have imagined. Governments and the private sector have been willing to spend billions in pursuit of real equality for Indigenous people. A formal reconciliation process has been in place for over 20 years and governments have apologised for the policies of the forced removal of children. And now our Parliament is preparing to champion a constitutional amendment to recognise Indigenous people in Australia’s constitution. These symbolic steps demonstrate the goodwill of Australia towards its first peoples and their descendants. On the other hand the victimhood label is wrong and harmful for our futures.

It is time for each of us, black, white or brindle to seize the day and galvanize like never before to finally solve the gap. Let us now rewrite wrongs and recognize the first Australians in the best country in the world. We immediately need to support the Prime Minister’s historic push for the recognition of Indigenous peoples in the Australian constitution.  We need to walk the talk in our professional roles and communities. We need now for every Australian to participate in this, every single Australian’s effort counts.

When I was originally selected on the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council our Prime Minister, Mr Tony Abbott phoned me and I was so nervous it took me three hours to phone him back after receiving my call at 6AM. I will never forget the Prime Minister’s powerful words that are now cemented in my mind. ‘Josephine, Indigenous People are the first class citizens of their own country’.  It dawned on me then how much hope Mr Abbott has today with this historic opportunity for healing, coming together to showcase our talent and diversity in Indigenous Australia through constitutional recognition. We have a rich culture of respect and family values are the cornerstone. We need to get back to basics and that is back to the start.

Today you have an opportunity to make a real difference. You have a choice to reinstate hope in your professional capacity as an Australian Public Servant and as a member of the Australian community. You have the opportunity to bring everyone together as never before and recognize the first peoples of this beautiful country. My task for you is to function on hope.

Everyday all of us, make choices as to whether we live in hope or disadvantage. My own story shows that we have positive choices to make. From deciding to live hopeless in a drain at 12 to now today, I am standing here, my heart is so full I can’t explain. With that faith, now, maybe today, All Australians, are on the edge of a miracle.

NACCHO Aboriginal health news alert: Why Adam Goodes is an inspired and inspiring choice as Australian of the Year


“Growing up as an Indigenous Australian I have seen and experienced my fair share of racism. It’s shaped my values and what I believe in today. Racism is a community issue that we all need to address.” 

“It is not just about taking responsibility for your own actions but speaking to your mates when they take out their anger on loved ones or minority groups or make racist remarks

From Adam Goodes Australian of the Year acceptance speech

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The chair of NACCHO Justin Mohamed on behalf of the board and 150 Aboriginal community controlled health organisation members throughout Australia congratulated Adam Goodes on his award for Australian of the Year and the support he has given NACCHO over the years.

Pictured above launching the NACCHO AFL indigenous all stars jumpers last year in Sydney with new team mate Buddy Franklin

The Australian Human Rights Commission today said it is “absolutely delighted” that its anti-racism ambassador, Adam Goodes, is Australian of the Year 2014.

“This honour acknowledges and celebrates the very significant contribution Adam Goodes has made to our understanding of human rights in Australia,” said Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs.

“The award highlights Mr Goodes’ support for anti-racism initiatives such as Racism. It Stops With Me.


“It also draws attention to Mr Goodes’ support for constitutional reform,” Professor Triggs said.

Mr Goodes is an ambassador for the Human Rights Commission’s Racism.It Stops With Me campaign. He also features in an anti-racism Community Service Announcement (CSA) the Commission produced in partnership with Play by the Rules.

The CSA quickly went viral after Mr Goodes took a stand against a racist incident during an AFL game in Melbourne last year. Almost 250,000 people have viewed it on the Commission’s YouTube channel and the clip remains available for media use.

Racism. It Stops With Me encourages people to think about what they say and to understand why racist comments are wrong,” Professor Triggs said.

“We are lucky to have the perfect ambassador in Adam Goodes. We congratulate him on his achievement and we thank him for his leadership.”

The Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, also congratulated Mr Goodes as the newly appointed Australian of the Year.

Dr Soutphommasane said Mr Goodes has delivered a simple but important message: that there is no place for racism in Australia.

“Adam Goodes’ stand against racism has inspired and empowered many Australians,” Dr Soutphommasane said.

Watch the Racism. It Stops With Me video clip.


The most ill-advised argument anyone could make right now is that Adam Goodes  was named Australian of the Year for calling out a 13-year-old girl at the MCG  in between chasing a piece of inflated red leather around a footy oval.

From: Andrew Webster Chief Sports Writer, The Sydney Morning Herald

The most ill-advised question anyone could ask is what has the Swans  footballer done compared with those who have served and lost lives in  Afghanistan, or produced miracles in operating theatres?

It’s what Goodes can do over the next year that makes his appointment one of  the most inspired choices in years.

When it was revealed on Saturday night that the 34-year-old had received the  honour, the news was overwhelmingly applauded – yet also caused a predictable  ripple of discontent.

After all, he is just – gulp! – a footballer.

Moaning about the worthiness of the Australian of the Year winner is the  equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel for your standard Australian  whinger.

They’re the same people who complain about the heat in summer, and sand at  the beach, and the traffic during school holidays, and how bad Seven’s coverage  is of the tennis.

Goodes is the first sportsperson to win the award since former Australian  Test captain Steve Waugh in 2004, and before that the likes of Pat Rafter  (2002), Mark Taylor (1999) and Cathy Freeman (1998).

Some will point out that sportspeople often won during the tenure of  Australia’s little Wallabies tracksuit-wearing prime minister and sports tragic,  John Howard, but let’s just assume it was a coincidence.

With all due respect to those indigenous sportspeople who have gone before  him – including Lionel Rose (1968) and Evonne Goolagong (1971) – Goodes’  influence can be immense.

A footballer, yes, but so much more than that.

On May 24 last year, a picture of Goodes ran on the back of some News Ltd  publications, with him standing in the middle of the SCG on sunset, lifting his  Swans jumper and pointing to his dark skin.

He was dipping his lid to another indigenous hero, St Kilda’s Nicky Winmar,  who 30 years earlier had lifted his shirt and said, “I’m black and I’m proud”  after Collingwood fans had baited him with barbs such as, “Go and sniff some  petrol.”


Iconic image: Nicky Winmar raises his jumper in response to racial taunts at  Victoria Park on April 17,1993. Photo: Wayne Ludbey

“That’s exactly what the photo symbolises to me,” he said of Winmar’s  remarks. “Even today, 20 years later, it highlights how every indigenous person  should feel about their heritage.”

The newspaper image of Goodes that day – that came at the start of the AFL’s  Indigenous Round – was almost as significant as the iconic picture of  Winmar.

Imagine, then, the grief Goodes must have felt when he was standing near the  boundary line at the MCG later that night when a 13-year-old Collingwood fan  called him an “ape”.

“People don’t understand how one word can cut me so deep,” Goodes says in a  video on the Australian of the Year website, before later adding: “I haven’t  always been a confident, young man. I was shy growing up. I learnt about  standing up for what you believe in.”

Now, there’s standing up for what you believe in, and there’s standing up in  front of tens of thousands of people at the MCG and watching on TV at home and  on the 6pm news for the next week.

But it isn’t about that moment that makes Goodes a hero.

It is about the next day, when he took a call from a distressed teenage girl,  and then asked via social media for the community to support her.

It is about how he handled Pies president Eddie McGuire a few days later  after he joked on radio that Goodes would be a good promoter for the King  Kong stage production.

It is about the way Goodes has used his own ugly, heartbreaking experience  and turned it in the best possible tool to wipe out the stain of racism that is  still there, even now.

It is about the GO Foundation he has formed with cousin and former Swans  teammate Michael O’Loughlin in 2009, providing scholarships for indigenous  students.

It is about the last year when he has been at the forefront of raising  awareness of the issue of domestic violence.

Adam Gilchrist, former cricketer and Australia Day Council chairman, said  last week: “People might debate if we made the right choice, but they can never  say we made the wrong choice.”

Goodes will further a debate this country has been having since Australia Day  1788, with so much more to go, and surely that makes him the right one.

NACCHO Aboriginal health news : Honorary doctorate awarded to Aboriginal health pioneer and advocate Ms Pat Anderson

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The chair of NACCHO Justin Mohamed on behalf of all NACCHO members, board and affiliates today congratulated Pat Anderson Aboriginal health pioneer and advocate being awarded an honorary doctorate.

Pictured above receiving a degree of Doctor of the University (DUniv) from Flinders University’s receiving the degree at the Adelaide Convention Centre (photo Mary Buckskin)

” Ms Pat Anderson is an Alyawarre woman from the Northern Territory with a national and international reputation as a powerful advocate for disadvantaged people, with a particular focus on the health of Australia’s First Peoples. Chair of the Lowitja Institute, she has extensive experience in all aspects of Aboriginal health, including community development, advocacy, policy formation and research ethics, and has had a close association with Flinders University for many years.” Mr Mohamed said.

READ HER RECENT ARTICLE :Racism a driver of Aboriginal ill health

After growing up on Parap Camp in Darwin, Ms Anderson travelled and worked overseas before working for the Woodward Royal Commission into Aboriginal Land Rights (1973-74) as a legal secretary.

She then became one of the first Aboriginal graduates of the University of Western Australia. After working in Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria as an advocate for improved education for Aboriginal children, she returned to the Northern Territory in the early 1990s to become CEO of Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service.

This led to the start of her involvement with Flinders, supporting the placement of medical students based at the University’s Darwin Clinical School.

She played a key role in establishing the Aboriginal Medical Service Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT), the representative body for the Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations.

After leading the founding of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Aboriginal and Tropical Health in 1997, she retained a leading role in the successive CRCs that came to constitute the core of the newly created Lowitja Institute, in which Flinders is a partner.

The Lowitja Institute, now recognised as Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, received an additional $25 million in research funding from the 2013 Federal Budget. Author of numerous essays, papers and articles, Ms Anderson was co-author with Mr Rex Wild QC of Little Children Are Sacred, a highly influential report on abuse of Aboriginal children in the NT.

NACCHO health news:Lowitja Institute Appoints Justin Mohamed and Selwyn Button Board Members


The Lowitja Institute is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Selwyn Button and Mr Justin Mohamed to its Board of Directors.


Both Mr Button and Mr Mohamed  bring to the board a wealth of knowledge and experience in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health sector. Mr Button is the CEO of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) and Mr Mohamed Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).

Lowitja Institute Chairperson, Ms Pat Anderson, is delighted with the appointments. ‘We are honoured to have Selwyn and Justin join our team. Not only will they bring their considerable knowledge of the community controlled health sector, their strong leadership skills will enhance the Institute’s governance and strategic planning capacity’, said Ms Anderson.

Mr Button has gratefully accepted his appointment to the Board. ‘The Lowitja Institute is Australia’s leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research facility, and I’m privileged to be joining its Board of Directors,” Mr Button said. ‘As CEO of QAIHC, we understand the important role of research, evaluation, data analysis and knowledge translation to support improved outcomes and innovation in Indigenous health and seek to build upon the good work happening through community-controlled health services. I look at this appointment as another step towards our long-term goal to improve the health of our communities, and I look forward to the opportunity to work closely with the Lowitja Institute Board of Directors on policy and research,’ Mr Button stated.

Mr Mohamed is keen to contribute his skills and experience to continue the Institute’s work to improve the lives of Australia’s First Peoples. ‘As an Aboriginal person who has been actively involved in his local community and who has held positions on state, national and international working groups and committees, I am very proud to have been appointed to the board of the Lowitja Institute where I will be able to contribute towards improving the overall health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Australians,’ said Mr Mohamed.

The Lowitja Institute is governed by an independent board with a majority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander membership.

The Lowitja Institute is Australia’s only national health research organisation with a sole focus on the health and wellbeing of Australia’s First Peoples.

Media contact – Tracey Johnston 0428 347 573

NACCHO launches Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint 2013-2030

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Deputy NACCHO chair Matthew Cooke, Chair Justin Mohamed and board member John Singer launching Blueprint

Photo Wayne Quilliam

NACCHO has long recognised the importance of an Aboriginal male health policy and program to close the gap by 2030 on the alarming Aboriginal male mortality rates across Australia.

Aboriginal males have arguably the worst health outcomes of any population group in Australia.

To address the real social and emotional needs of males in our communities, NACCHO proposes a positive approach to Aboriginal male health and wellbeing

NACCHO, its affiliates and members are committed to building upon past innovations and we require targeted actions and investments to implement a wide range of Aboriginal male health and wellbeing programs and strategies.

We call on State, Territory and Federal governments to commit to a specific, substantial and sustainable funding allocation for the NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint 2013-2030



This blueprint sets out how the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services sector will continue to improve our rates of access to health and wellbeing services by Aboriginal males through working closely within our communities, strengthening cultural safety and further building upon our current Aboriginal male health workforce and leadership.

We celebrate Aboriginal masculinities, and uphold our traditional values of respect for our laws, respect for elders, culture and traditions, responsibility as leaders and men, teachers of young males, holders of lore, providers, warriors and protectors of our families, women, old people, and children

The NACCHO 10-Point Blue print Plan is based on a robust body of work that includes the Close the Gap Statement of Intent and the Close the Gap targets, the National Framework for the Improvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health (2002), NACCHO’s position paper on Aboriginal male health (2010)  the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (NATSIHP), and the NACCHO Healthy futures 10 point plan  2013-2030

These solutions have been developed in response to the deep-rooted social, political and economic conditions that effect Aboriginal males and the need to be addressed alongside the delivery of essential health care.

Our plan is based on evidence, targeted to need and capable of addressing the existing inequalities in Aboriginal male health services, with the aim of achieving equality of health status and life expectancy between Aboriginal males and non-Aboriginal males by 2030.

This blueprint celebrates our success so far and proposes the strategies that governments, NACCHO affiliates and member services must in partnership commit to and invest in to ensure major health gains are maintained into the future

NACCHO, our affiliates and members remain focused on creating a healthy future for generational change and the NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint 2013-2030 will enable comprehensive and long-term action to achieve real outcomes.

To close the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal males and non-Aboriginal within a generation we need achieve these 10 key goals

1. To call on government at all levels to invest a specific, substantial and sustainable funding allocation for the, NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint plan 2013-2030 a comprehensive, long-term Aboriginal male Health plan of action that is based on evidence, targeted to need, and capable of addressing the existing inequities in Aboriginal male health

2. To assist delivering community-controlled ,comprehensive primary male health care, services that are culturally appropriate accessible, affordable, good quality, innovative to bridge the gap in health standards and to respect and promote the rights of Aboriginal males, in urban, rural and remote areas in order to achieve lasting improvements in Aboriginal male health and well-being

3. To ensure Aboriginal males have equal access to health services that are equal in standard to those enjoyed by other Australians, and ensure primary health care services and health infrastructure for Aboriginal males are capable of bridging the gap in health standards by 2030.

4. To prioritise specific funding to address mental health, social and emotional well-being and suicide prevention for Aboriginal males.

5. To ensure that we address Social determinants relating to identity culture, language and land, as well as violence, alcohol, employment and education.

6.To improve access to and the responsiveness of mainstream health services and programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health  services are provided commensurate Accessibility within the Primary Health Care Centre may mean restructuring clinics to accommodate male specific areas, or off-site areas, and may include specific access (back door entrance) to improve attendance and cultural gender issues

 7.To provide an adequate workforce to meet Aboriginal male health needs by increasing the recruitment, retention, effectiveness and training of male health practitioners working within Aboriginal settings and by building the capacity of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.

8 To identified and prioritised (as appropriate) in all health strategies developed for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) including that all relevant programs being progressed in these services will be expected to ensure Aboriginal male health is considered in the planning phase or as the program progresses. Specialised Aboriginal male health programs and targeted interventions should be developed to address male health intervention points across the life cycle continuum.

9. To build on the evidence base of what works in Aboriginal health, supporting it with research and data on relevant local and international experience and to ensure that the quality of data quality in all jurisdictions meets AIHW standards.

10. To measure, monitor, and report on our joint efforts in accordance with benchmarks and targets – to ensure that we are progressively reaching our shared aims.

About NACCHO and Aboriginal Male health:

NACCHO is the national authority in comprehensive primary Aboriginal healthcare .

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is the national peak Aboriginal health body representing 150 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS).

This is achieved by working with our  Affiliates, the State and Territory peak Aboriginal Community Controlled Health bodies, to address shared concerns on a nationally agreed agenda for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and social justice equality.

NACCHO and the Aboriginal community controlled comprehensive primary health care services, which are NACCHO members are enduring examples of community initiated and controlled responses to community issues.

NACCHO’s Strategic Directions focus on three central areas that are consistent with its constitutional objectives.

  • Strategic Direction 1: Shape the national reform of Aboriginal health.
  • Strategic Direction 2: Promote and support high performance and best practice models of culturally appropriate and comprehensive primary health care.
  • Strategic Direction 3: Promote research that will build evidence-informed best practice in Aboriginal health policy and service delivery.

The NACCHO HEALTHY FUTURES 10-point plan 2013-2030 provides our sector, stakeholders, partners and governments with a clear set of priorities and strategies that will result in improvements in Aboriginal health outcomes and is the foundation for this NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint plan 2013-2030


NOTE : Throughout this document the word Male is used instead of Men. At the inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health Gathering-Alice Springs 1999, all delegates present agreed that the word Male would be used instead of the word Men. With the intention being to encompass the Male existence from it’s beginnings in the womb until death.

Throughout this document the word Aboriginal is used instead of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This is in line with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) being representative of Aboriginal People. This does not intend to exclude nor be disrespectful to our Brothers from the Torres Strait Islands.




NACCHO health report card news: Aboriginal babies’ health improving, but concerns remain over immunisation



Stuart Rintoul article The Australian

ABORIGINAL community health services have called for more frontline spending on doctors and health workers as they released a report card showing improvements in infant birthweights, but continuing concerns around child immunisation, coronary heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Data derived from 53 Aboriginal health services that participate in the federal government’s Healthy for Life initiative showed that the average birthweight of indigenous babies rose by 66 grams from 2007-08 to 2010-11 and the proportion with normal birthweight increased from 81.5 per cent to 84.2 per cent.

The number of pregnant women recorded as not smoking or consuming alcohol in the third trimester more than doubled and the number recorded as not using illicit drugs almost tripled, although 51.2 per cent of women smoked, 14.8 per cent drank alcohol and 15.9 per cent used illicit drugs.

The findings closely follow the first publicly released Healthy for Life report, in March, which found that the proportion of expectant mothers who smoked, consumed alcohol and used illicit drugs was lower during third trimester antenatal visits (52.4 per cent, 17.9 per cent, 17.2 per cent) than first trimester visits (55.1 per cent, 25.0 per cent, 23.8 per cent).
The report finds that immunisation of Aboriginal children fell between 2007 and 2011 and is an area requiring “improvement”.

In March, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that only 70 per cent of Aboriginal children aged 12-24 months, 68 per cent of children aged 24-36 months and 56 per cent of children aged 60-72 months were fully immunised.

It found that children aged 12-24 months in very remote areas were far more likely (91 per cent) to be immunised than children in major cities (42 per cent). It found that only 26 per cent of Aboriginal children aged 24-36 months in major cities were fully immunised.

The number of indigenous people with type 2 diabetes who had a GP management plan increased between 2007-08 and 2010-11 by about 50 per cent, from 1492 to 2156, while the number who had blood sugar tests rose from 2797 to 3610. The number of clients with coronary heart disease with a management plan rose from 405 to 750.

Lisa Briggs, chief executive of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, said the report, by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, showed the need for a stronger focus on frontline services.

“When you deliver comprehensive care, particularly to the most vulnerable and those who have the highest burden of disease and disadvantage, you get health gains,” she said.

NACCHO chairman Justin Mohamed said the report showed the importance of health services delivered “by Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people”. He said longer-term data showed a 33 per cent decline in overall mortality and a 62 per cent decline in infant mortality from 1991-2010.

The Healthy for Life program focuses on mothers, babies and children; early detection and management of chronic disease; and long-term health outcomes. Indigenous health spending was $4.5 billion in 2010-11, or 3.7 per cent of total health spending.

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