NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : Read @KenWyattMP #NPC National Press Club full speech #NAIDOC2019 #VoiceTreatyTruth #UluruStatement #ClosingtheGap

“Kaya Wangju”

I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we’re meeting today, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, and pay my respects to Elders past and present.

I also acknowledge other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People who are present here today and those who are watching at home.

I also acknowledge: Sabra Lane and the National Press Club for inviting me to speak today.

Our cultural heritage is the essence of who we are – it shapes our thinking, our customs, our social interactions and how we see ourselves as a specific group.

Our bloodlines and our ancient song lines have provided the continuity of connections as individuals, families and communities throughout the passages of time.

This is also evident in Multicultural Australia where we see the pride of the various cultural societies reflected in their festivals and the cultural events they celebrate.

NAIDOC Week celebrates over 60,000 years of history, culture and achievements of Indigenous Australians which commences from the first Sunday in July until the following Sunday each year.

The origin of NAIDOC arose from a letter Mr

William Cooper wrote on behalf of the Australian Aborigines Progressive Association, an umbrella group for a number of Aboriginal justice movements to Aboriginal communities and churches.

Each year NAIDOC is themed to give prominence to a matter of substance to create awareness and celebrate successes and is an acknowledgement of further work that has to be completed. Some of the past themes have included;

  • 2018 “Because of her, we can!”
  • 2006: “Respect the Past-Believe in the Future”

The theme for 2019 is

“Voice Treaty Truth”

Read NACCHO report HERE

The concept of the “Voice” in the Uluru Statement from the Heart is not a singular voice and what I perceive is that it is a cry to all tiers of Government to stop and listen to the voices of Indigenous Australians at all levels.

The voice is multi-layered and includes the voices of individuals, families, communities and

Indigenous organisations who want to be heard by those who make the decisions that impact on their lives.

All they want is for Governments to hear their issues, stories of their land and their local history. They are asking the three tiers of Government to stop and take the time to listen to their voices.

The development of a local, regional and national voice will be achieved.

It is my intention to work with the State and Territory Ministers to develop an approach – underpinned with existing jurisdictional Indigenous organisations and advisory structures established to provide advice to State and Territory Governments. Indigenous Australian leaders are integral to the process and will be equally involved.

The national interest requires a new relationship with Indigenous Australians based on their participation and establishing entrenched partnerships at the community and regional levels.

My Regional Managers will be required to make this happen.

I will turn to the matters of Treaty and Constitutional Recognition later.

In the address to the Welcome to Country

Ceremony, at the opening of the 46th Parliament, the Prime Minister made the following comments which I have used selectively to highlight the changing attitude of our nation.  

Here, 65,000 thousand years of Aboriginal culture meets mere centuries of Westminster tradition, which the Leader of the Opposition and I represent, being here together.

In my maiden speech to Parliament, I said that ‘a strong country is at peace with its past’. This is a work in progress. Being at peace with our past, being at one with our past. …While we reflect on how far we have to go, consider though how far we’ve come.

This year, my Government appointed Ken Wyatt as the first ever Aboriginal person to hold the  position of Minister for Indigenous Australians – and as a member of Cabinet.

The Sunday following the election was National Sorry Day, my wife Anna, read a Face Book post that the Hon Ben Wyatt, WA Minister for Aboriginal Affairs had posted about his father Cedric Wyatt.

His father spent a large part of his life in Sister

Kates, after being born at Moore River Native Settlement.

I reflected on my mother and her siblings who had spent their early years of life in missions, separated from each other but they all remained optimistic that the future would yield better outcomes for us – their children.

My thoughts were interrupted with Anna saying

can you hang out the washing and don’t forget to take your phone with you in case the Prime Minister rings you and offers you a job”.

I was hanging up a tablecloth on the Hills hoist clothes line when the phone rang and the Prime Ministers name came up. I answered the phone with good morning Prime Minister.  I thought he might offer me my previous portfolio.

Instead he said, “I want to thank for your support for senior Australians, the Aged Care Sector and Indigenous Health. I would like to offer you the position of the Minister for Indigenous Australians.’

His statement absolutely stunned me – Not Minister for Indigenous Affairs but Minister for Indigenous Australians.

Two thoughts ran through my mind – the Prime Minister has focused on Indigenous Australians which gives a personal and human value to our people and secondly an increased scope of work – combined with his expectations of what he wants to achieve as the leader of our Government.

I choked with emotion at the honour and magnitude of the expectation that would come with being Minister for Indigenous Australians – it took me a full two minutes to answer him. In those two minutes, the emotions of our story as Indigenous Australians welled up in me. It’s hard to express what I actually felt and what it meant to me.

The Prime Minister said ‘I take it your silence means “yes”?’ Then I found my voice, and said ‘yes Prime Minister I accept.

Anna heard the phone ring and saw the expression on my face, she assumed that I had been advised of a death and so she came closer to hear whose voice it was.

She could hear the Prime Minister’s voice and she then understood that he had offered me the position of Minister for Indigenous Australians.

We both knew the enormity of the job but equally the importance of the symbolism for Australia.

We must never forget the significance of symbolism but it must be balanced with pragmatism that results in change for Indigenous Australians.

I want to acknowledge the Prime Minister’s leadership in establishing the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

With the establishment of the Agency on 1 July, we began a new era for the Government to work in partnership with Indigenous Australians. It will provide opportunities for growth and advancement in education, employment, suicide prevention, community safety, health and constitutional recognition.

There is still more to do to find local solutions to make a difference at the community level.

Historically, Indigenous Australians have been told what they’re going to get, and what’s going to happen to them, whether they like it or not.

The Agency will play a critical role in supporting me to meet the changing needs of Indigenous Australians.

I will work in partnership with State and Territory Ministers of Indigenous Affairs to progress work on the Closing the Gap targets and identify good practice and to share and celebrate successful programs and jurisdictional achievements.

We have an incredible opportunity to make a difference as leaders of the Nation if we work together on targeted priorities such as the high incarceration rates.

As I’ve said, the most important thing that I and the Agency will do is to listen – with our ears and with our eyes.

I intend to have genuine conversations, not only with Indigenous leaders and peak bodies, but with families, individuals and community organisations so that I can hear their voices and work together to agree to a way forward for a better future for our children.

To me a child in a remote community is just as important as a state or national leader.

I want to encourage Ministers, Assistant Ministers and as many members of the Australian Parliament to become familiar with Indigenous organisations, communities and families to identify the issues that Government needs to become aware of and ultimately work towards finding solutions.

Outside government, I want to work with corporate Australia. I am asking them to sit with me around boardroom tables – and around campfires – and discuss how they can contribute. A week after I was sworn in, I received a letter from Jennifer Westacott assuring me the Business Council stood ready to work with me to make sure

‘Australia’s First People’s share in the same economic and social opportunities as every other

Australian.’ She invited me to sit down with them at Garma this year to talk about ‘how business can best work with the Government to build prosperity in Indigenous communities.’[1]

That’s a great start to a working relationship that can really drive change.

It’s not my intention to develop policy out of my office but to implement a co-design process with my Ministerial and Parliamentary colleagues – relevant departments and with Indigenous communities, organisations and leaders.I am charged with developing enhanced local/regional decision making through expanding

Empowered Communities and other Regional Governance models.

I want to see our Elders, as well as the young people, being informed and investing in decisionmaking about what is important in their lives. Without that local and regional engagement our efforts won’t succeed and opportunities to make a difference will be lost.

I will be expecting my Agency to implement a codesign approach whereby we will become partners in the design process and helping reform – that will realise better outcomes.

The model for the way in which I want to work to effect change is premised on Mick Copes ‘The Definitive Guide to Consulting Process. That is

Client; Understand the community and the  problem.

Clarify: Find out what is really going on.

Create: Build the best possible solution.

Change: Make it happen.

Confirm: Make sure it has happened.

Continue: Make the change stick.

Close :Close the engagement but maintain the relationship.

Deal With Unanticipated Consequences and

Keep the Momentum

I invite all sides of politics to work with me to ensure we provide the best support and services needed to effect change. (Cite Alice Springs Glasses)

I will work to improve mental health and wellbeing outcomes for young Indigenous people and implement a targeted plan towards zero youth suicide in remote communities.

We’ve all been shocked and grieved by the numbers of Aboriginal people, especially youth, committing suicide.

The fact that Aboriginal people are committing suicide at twice the rate of non-Indigenous Australians is one of the gravest and most heartbreaking challenges we face.

Precious lives that should be full of promise, instead filled with despair and disconnection.

We need to address the influence of social and cultural factors if we are to see significant change. We need to listen to young people.

The Prime Minister announced the appointment of

Christine Morgan as our new National Suicide Prevention Adviser to support this priority.

Ms Morgan will work with the Prime Minister’s Department and the Minister for Health to drive a whole-of-government approach to suicide prevention, while ensuring prevention services reach Australians that need them and communities are supported

The allocation of $500 million for Youth Mental Health and a Suicide Prevention Plan include $34 million for Indigenous youth suicide prevention.

We need to get the right services to the right people through outreach and frontline services, with tools like the mental health first aid kit.

Young people in the Kimberley have made it clear that suicides don’t happen between nine and five but often after when they are not accessible. They suggested organisations funded for Mental Health and suicide services consider after-hours services to enable youth to access support when they need it in times of crisis. Not a telephone line.

As mentioned earlier I will develop and bring forward a consensus option for Constitutional Recognition to be put to a referendum during the current parliamentary term. I have commenced the process of engaging and seeking the counsel of Indigenous leaders on the best way forward.

We need to design the right model to progress to a point at which the majority of Australians, the majority of states and territories and Indigenous Australians support the model so that it is successful. The Morrison Government is committed to recognising Indigenous Australians in the Constitution, and working to achieve this through a process of true co-design.

Constitutional recognition is too important to get wrong, and too important to rush.

The successful 1967 Referendum was the result of tireless advocacy and an extraordinary nation-wide momentum for change. If we want to see that kind of national consensus again, we need to be thorough and take the time to get it right.

We have allocated $7.3 million for a co-design process to improve local and regional decision making and $160 million has been set aside for a future referendum once the model has been determined.I plan to establish a working group of Parliamentary colleagues of all political persuasions to assist me in considering the role of engaging on many levels to bring forward a community model. The Shadow Minister for

Aboriginal Affairs Linda Burney will be integral to this process.

I will work on approaches to progressing how we address truth telling. Without the truth of the past, there can be no agreement on where and who we are in the present, how we arrived here and where we want to go in the future.

A truth-telling process that allows all Australians to reflect on the place of First Nations people and our shared past has to happen at the national, state and local levels right across our country.

History is generally written from a dominant society’s point of view and not that of the suppressed and therefore true history is brushed aside, masked, dismissed or destroyed. In recent years we have seen more open acknowledgement as more evidence emerges of the brutal realities of the past.  We need to know what happened to the children raised on the Missions and in foster homes and their parents. To see their lasting effect on the way people move through the world decades later.

It’s now 22 years since the Bringing them Home

Report opened the records of child removals and showed people, some for the first time, what happened to Aboriginal families in this country.

We need to hear of the lies they were told, the casual cruelty of the fates they were dealt and the unthinkable loss in their hearts.

Opening those records was painful for all of us, but it was necessary.

It opened hearts and minds. It opened up space in our collective life for understanding, healing and forgiveness.

That’s what truth does. It sets you free.

Only when we tell the truth, and when we are willing to listen to the truth, can we find common ground to walk on. Only then can we begin to trust each other and to walk together, side by side.

With respect to Treaty it is important that State and Territory jurisdiction’s take the lead.

The Western Australian Noongar Land Agreement implemented by the Barnett Government is a Treaty in the true sense.

Treaty models are evolving with work being undertaken by the Victorian and Northern Territory Governments which will address the aspirations of the Indigenous Australians in those jurisdictions.

I am charged with delivering a revised Closing the Gap targets that drive improved outcomes for Indigenous Australians through the Closing the Gap refresh process and arrangements.

In December 2018, COAG agreed to build its relationship with Indigenous Australians, and the Coalition has overseen the first-ever formal partnership agreement between Aboriginal and

Torres Strait Islander peak organisations, the

Federal government, and states and territories.

This will have profound impacts as we move to implementation of the Council of Australian Governments Closing the Gap partnership agreement.

We continue to work on Closing the Gap – the gap between outcomes in health and mortality and life expectancy; in education, jobs and economic security, and other aspects of wellbeing.

A diverse and disparate geography shapes effective service delivery as governments, providers and business navigate the diversity of urban, regional and more than 2,000 remote communities and towns. Cwth – NG Land’s Aged Care

In this setting, we are committed to expanding regional models that give Indigenous Australians a real say on issues that affect them and drive local solutions to improve outcomes.

First Australians regularly state that Indigenous organisations deliver stronger outcomes for their people, through cultural competence, engagement and community confidence.

But equally we need to ensure Indigenous Australians who choose to use other services including mainstream services are a priority for our Government. Since March this year the Community

Development Programme, affectionately known as CDP has been reformed to ensure that communities have a say in the way programme is run through the establishment of Community Advisory Boards.

The CDP is delivered by Indigenous organisations, with a focus on Indigenous people and communities.

I will work closely with organisations and the local communities to consider the way in which the program can be enhanced. – That is to deliver skills and competencies – which are tangible for future employment where opportunities exist.

Around 60% of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy and Aboriginals Benefit Account grant funding is provided to Indigenous organisations, a significant increase from 35 per cent before the introduction of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

We have committed an additional $10 million to support the revival and maintenance of Indigenous Australians languages.

This will support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians sharing their stories, languages and cultures through national institutions such as the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the National Museum of Australia.

We are also helping our nation to heal with funding to deliver the support that is needed for surviving members of the Stolen Generation. We are providing funding to the Healing Foundation to support their work, including a comprehensive needs-analysis to better understand the demography of the surviving members of the Stolen Generation.

The Morrison Government is committed to expanding the very successful Indigenous Procurement Policy to include targets based on the value of contracts awarded, not just the number of contracts granted.

There are 1,951 Indigenous registered and certified businesses registered with Supply Nation. At the recent IBA breakfast last week we heard that there were 2000 Indigenous women who are part of the Strong Women. Strong Business platform. Many had been knocked back by the IBA for start-up funding but despite the “no” persisted.

Since 2015, more than 1,530 Indigenous businesses have won over 12,600 contracts under the Indigenous Procurement Policy totalling more than $2.1 billion.

Evaluation is important to ascertain what works effectively. The Indigenous Advancement Strategy Evaluation Framework is systematically strengthening reporting, monitoring and evaluation at a contract, program and outcome level. This is a principle task of Rom Mokak the Indigenous Productivity Commissioner to review and report to Government.

We are implementing a framework to ensure high quality; ethical; and inclusive evaluations can be

used to inform more effective policy and decision making for ongoing improvement of services to ensure we are making a difference.

But even the most well-intentioned modern policies and programs have still tended to take a top-down, command and control approach.  As if Aboriginal people didn’t know what they needed or wanted.

As if proud members of one of the world’s longestlived civilisations had nothing to say, no wisdom to offer, about what would help their families thrive and their communities flourish.

Fred Chaney, former Minister of Aboriginal Affairs in the Fraser Government, put it this way: ‘They were first, and they survived – we should listen.’[2]  I made this commitment on my first day: that I will listen, and that I will walk with Aboriginal people as they find their own paths to health, happiness and success.  In finding those paths, we are not looking out on a trackless landscape. There are tracks and song lines to follow created by people who have gone before, seeking better lives for our people.

We’re starting from the strengths and aspirations already there.

If you think about the fact that 65 per cent of all Indigenous Australians are under 30, you realise what an enormous difference we can make by investing in their futures.

I’ve never met an Aboriginal parent who didn’t want their child to succeed, to be healthy and happy, and to have a rich life and a better life than we as the earlier generations had.

There are heroes in every community, who every day touch the lives of another person.

The mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers, uncles and aunties who inspire the little ones around them to become like them:

elders of dignity and pride and grace. Armed with confidence in their culture, they are the custodians of hope.

I’d like to share a story about one of my heroes.

Last Saturday the first statue of an indigenous AFL footballer was unveiled at the 50th Western Derby between West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers at Optus Stadium.

The bronze statue pays tribute to Neil Elvis ‘Nicky’

Winmar, a Noongar man known for his career with St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs in the AFL, as well as South Fremantle in the WAFL, but also for one of the most famous moments in Australian sport.

After the final siren in the round four Saints win over Collingwood at Victoria Park on 17 April 1993 Nicky lifted his St Kilda jumper and pointed to his stomach, his skin. The moment Nicky lifted his jumper the image captured by the photographer portrayed the strong sense of pride for all Indigenous Australians of their culture, historical links to country and that the colour of one’s skin is not a barrier.

By doing this, he made a stand against racism in sport starting the conversation that racism in sport needed to be tackled and was unacceptable behaviour.

Nicky’s actions epitomised an important point in time and I am so proud that his statue has taken pride of place outside WA’s home of football in his home state.

We have non-Indigenous heroes too.

Fiona Stanley and Fred Hollows in health. Nugget Coombs and Sir Paul Hasluck in public policy. There are many more who work with us and alongside us including our teachers, police officers, nurses, corporate leaders and community workers. I value their contributions immensely.

Neville Bonner was the first Indigenous person in the Australian Parliament and Neville and I became friends in his later years.

I’ll never forget being shown around the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, and seeing his pillow on display.

The curator explained that his family had donated his pillow and his diary. In the diary he wrote that in Canberra, he was never invited to a function, or to dinner. He was never invited for a coffee and a chat. He went home every night to his pillow – his only friend.

It’s like the child who is never invited to a birthday party.

What a picture of loneliness. It is so much harder to walk the path of progress when you’re alone.

I take great comfort in knowing I am not alone. Indeed, I couldn’t do this alone. I know the expectations on me are high. I know I won’t live up to all of them.

I will do my best if our leadership and our communities walk with me leaving our footprints for others to follow.

All of us leave footprints in the sand as we take each step in life as we achieve our aspirations and dreams.

They mark the way; they show our past, the distance we have travelled over the years but more importantly if we walked alone or with others in friendship and support.

As I walk this way, I hope the footprints I leave and the tracks I create will allow others to walk the same way, and find it easier than I did.

I’m sure many of you in this room remember the day, almost 20 years ago now, when more than 300,000 Australians marched across the Sydney Harbour Bridge for Reconciliation.

It was a breathtaking moment of solidarity, when Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians walked arm in arm across that iconic bridge, declaring their will to walk arm in arm in our national life as well.

That’s the image that I carry with me. That’s what I see when I look for partners and fellow-travellers on this journey.When I look back along the paths we’ve walked and the progress we’ve made, I can see the faces in that crowd.

And it will be easier, because it won’t be one set of footprints but many. It will be hundreds and thousands of footprints of all sizes, walking in the same direction, side by side working to make a difference.

The sands of this nation bear the indelible footprints of the oldest living culture in the world.

Those who come after them must leave their own tracks. It’s up to us to choose where we make them, and where they might lead. The challenges are many and I invite you to share your generosity of humanity to walk and work with me.

Thank you.

 

[1] Letter to the Minister from Jennifer Westacott, dated 7 June 2019.

[2] ‘They were first, and they survived – we should listen.’ The Australian, 17 January 2018. This piece was critical of the Turnbull Government’s response to the Uluru statement.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #NRW2019 and #ClosingTheGap @KenWyattMP ‘s First speech and major interview as Minister for #Indigenous Australians ” A reflection on how far we’ve come on the journey of Reconciliation #GroundedinTruth

” On Friday Ken Wyatt stood in front of an audience in Perth, his home town, and promised to lead his people towards a better future as the nation’s first Aboriginal Minister for Indigenous Australians.

He was not the man who was supposed to be standing on the podium as keynote speaker marking the end of National Reconciliation Week. The original choice had been Pat Dodson, invited to speak as the father of reconciliation rather than as Labor’s aspirant for the job that Wyatt has since ­landed.

Dodson pulled out from Friday event soon after Labor’s May 18 election defeat, prompting Reconciliation WA co-chairwoman Carol Innes to pick up the phone to her friend Wyatt, also her local MP in the Perth hills electorate of Hasluck and now her federal minister. ”

Read the full The Australian Inquirer May 31 or Part 2 Below

 ” One of my priorities in this role is working on a refreshed Closing the Gap framework.

As the Prime Minister said earlier this year, the original Closing the Gap process was good-hearted and well-intentioned, but it took a top-down approach, not one based on true partnership. It failed on its own tests.

In refreshing that approach, we now have an opportunity to do things differently. To do things in partnership.

We’ve set up a partnership with a coalition of peak organisations, and a Joint Council through COAG.

But of course the key is partnering with people on the ground, so that they can drive local, community-led solutions.

And though the approach has changed, the heart and soul of Closing the Gap has not. “

Minister Ken Wyatt WA Reconciliation Breakfast speech : Read in full Part 1 Below

” Just announced the establishment of NIAA the National Indigenous Australians Agency- to lead and coordinate the development and implementation of Australia’s Closing the Gap targets in partnership with Indigenous Australians

See full details Part 3 Below 

Part 1

In Noongar language, I say kaya wangju – hello and welcome.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we’re meeting today, the Whadjuk people of the Noongar nation, and pay my respects to our Elders past, present and emerging.

And all distinguished guests joining us today.

What an amazing gathering – it warms my heart to see more than 1300 people together here this morning, to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and contributions.

To celebrate our deep past and enduring presence, across this great state and our vast country.

What a privilege that I have been made the first Aboriginal Minister for Indigenous Australians, during National Reconciliation Week.

This morning I want to reflect on how far we’ve come on the journey of Reconciliation – how I got here, with a bit of my story – and how far we’ve come as a nation.

Any of us who are old enough to remember the 50s and 60s will tell you it’s a long, long way.

I was born in 1952 and raised on Roelands Mission, the eldest of 10 kids. My dad was a railway ganger. My mum was a member of the Stolen Generations.

In those days, they had to get permission to marry. Permission to travel. They could be arrested if they were out after 6pm.

If the Department of Native Welfare came around and thought you weren’t providing good care, they could take your children away.

We then lived in a tiny place called Nannine, just south of Meekatharra. My schooling at first was by correspondence – working a radio with a foot pedal, like an old sewing machine, for two hours at a time.

Soon afterwards, my parents moved down to Corrigin. At that point, my life changed.

It’s no exaggeration to say I’m standing here today because of my parents’ dedication to our family and their commitment to going to school and getting an education – and that started with my Year One teacher, Mrs Abernethy.

She saw that I was behind the other kids, so she got me to come to school half an hour early every day. When I was home with whooping cough, she came over every afternoon.

She believed in me, supported me, never gave up on me. And fifty years later, she even campaigned for me in the seat of Hasluck!

While she was building my confidence – and my vocabulary – there was a petition circling to get the Aboriginal families kicked out of Corrigin.

It failed. The townspeople wanted us to stay.

Just a few years later, Australia voted overwhelmingly for inclusion in the 1967 Referendum.

I was in high school in Perth, and Fremantle had the second highest ‘Yes’ vote in the nation.

Things were changing. We were making progress. For the first time, we had a sense that as Australians we were indeed walking together.

Four years later, Neville Bonner became the first Aboriginal person in parliament as a Senator for Queensland.

The next year, 1972, saw the creation of the first Department of Aboriginal Affairs – the precursor to the new Agency I will now lead.

In the mid-70s we got the Racial Discrimination Act and the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

These were landmark reforms that opened the way for every move toward rights and equality that have followed.

In fact, between the 1960s and the 1990s, the law of the land changed so much.

And in the decades since then, I know we’ve seen a big cultural shift.

The Reconciliation movement, and the work Senator Pat Dodson did all those years ago, has driven a great deal of that change.

It started small, but its ripple effect outwards has been tremendous.

It’s had an incredible impact not only at the local level, but in the way big corporates have embraced it, and undertaken commitments in Reconciliation Action Plans that would have been unthinkable 25 years ago.

I believe it’s been one of the major social reforms in Australia.

Its impact shows up in Reconciliation Australia’s recurring study.

Every two years since 2008, the Australian Reconciliation Barometer has measured attitudes and perceptions towards reconciliation on five overlapping dimensions: Race Relations, Equality and Equity, Institutional Integrity, Unity, and Historical Acceptance.

What the latest study shows is that the overwhelming majority of Australians believe that the linkages between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are important, and that knowing our history and truth-telling are vital to this relationship.

80 per cent of Australians support formal truth-telling processes, and 86 per cent believe it’s important to learn our shared history.

Still more encouragingly, 95 per cent of people agree it’s important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in matters that affect them.

This echoes the ‘Yes’ of 1967. And it resonates with my appointment as Minister for Indigenous Australians.

The days of complete control by the police or the bureaucracy over Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives are long gone.

Since those days we’ve travelled more or less steadily towards greater freedom, autonomy, and equality.

And, crucially, we’ve travelled together.

As I said after my swearing-in this week, policy won’t be made in my office. It will be made in conjunction with Indigenous Australians.

I firmly believe it’s only through genuine partnership, through walking together, that we will solve our problems.

We need to jettison forever – as it seems the broader population has already jettisoned – the historic mindset of our people as passive recipients of services and programs.

We need instead partnerships based on mutual respect, mutual resolve – and mutual responsibility. Indigenous Australians must be truly regarded as equal and active partners, involved and informed.

One of my priorities in this role is working on a refreshed Closing the Gap framework.

As the Prime Minister said earlier this year, the original Closing the Gap process was good-hearted and well-intentioned, but it took a top-down approach, not one based on true partnership. It failed on its own tests.

In refreshing that approach, we now have an opportunity to do things differently. To do things in partnership.

We’ve set up a partnership with a coalition of peak organisations, and a Joint Council through COAG.

But of course the key is partnering with people on the ground, so that they can drive local, community-led solutions.

And though the approach has changed, the heart and soul of Closing the Gap has not.

We want to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids getting the best start in life, the same opportunities, schooling, healthcare, and life outcomes as their peers.

As well as Closing the Gap, we remain committed to recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in the Constitution.

We will continue to work with Indigenous communities to design a model for constitutional change that suits their needs and aspirations, and we will hold a referendum once we’ve settled on the right model.

This is a long-term process. We want to get it right. If we don’t, we risk putting this issue on hold for another 30 or 40 years.

In keeping with the ARB finding that a majority of Australians support learning about the past and undertaking a formal truth-telling process, we have committed to work on that with Indigenous communities.

And as part of that process, we will support the establishment of a National Resting Place.

For more than 150 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains were removed from Country and placed in museums, universities and private collections in Australia and overseas.

The National Resting Place will be a central place for commemoration, reflection and healing. A place for ancestral remains to rest in honour and peace, where all Australians can celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

In all this work, we will be partners, walking together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Looking back across this shared journey – my own and the much larger story of reconciliation – I can see the progress we’ve made.

Now, I could have told you some other stories today.

The primary teacher who told me I should leave school and get a job, because nobody would employ me as an adult.

The birthday party where half the kids invited didn’t show up because I was invited too.

The comments and emails I got when I was running in Hasluck – just 10 years ago, not back in the 1950s.

But those aren’t the stories that have shaped my life.

Those things scar you. Of course they do.

But they don’t define you.

I apply the same lens to our larger journey of reconciliation. Yes, we acknowledge the suffering and the wounds. Indeed we can’t go forward unless we tell the truth about the past.

But every step we take, every progression we make, is because of hope.

It’s because of optimism – because we choose trust over distrust, and courage over fear.

As I said at the beginning of this Reconciliation Week – we must ensure the greatness of our many nations is reflected in the greatness of our Australian nation, now and forever.

I believe with all my heart that the only way forward is together. I’ve seen the power and strength of sitting together, of listening and talking together, and of walking and working together.  Grounded in truth. Walking with courage.

As we say in the traditional Noongar of the country on which we’re meeting:

“Ngyung moort ngarla moort, ngyung boodja ngarla boodja.”

Meaning: “My people our people, my country our country.”

That’s the reason we’ve come so far.

Together.

That’s the force that will take us forward.

Thank you.

 

Part 2 : Continued from opening :

Carol Innes has known Wyatt since she learned that her mother and his mother shared years in a native welfare institution learning domestic skills. She watched him rise through health and education public service ranks in Western Australia, then become a commonwealth bureaucrat.

She rang and congratulated him when he made history in 2010 as the first indigenous person elected to the House of Representatives; then again when he became the first indigenous man in a ministerial portfolio in 2016; and now in the coveted cabinet role that no other indigenous person — except Dodson — has come even close to achieving.

“Ken’s a learned man, a quiet achiever, and now he’s been given the loudest voice,” says Innes.

“He’s had a passion for his people, and it was courageous of him to go into politics. The election before this one, he had a whole dossier of hate mail from voters saying if they’d known he was Aboriginal they wouldn’t have voted for him.”

Today’s Reconciliation breakfast in Perth will include business figures such as BHP’s iron ore head Edgar Basto and Rio Tinto senior executives, community leaders in football codes and senior Aboriginal leaders such as Nolan Hunter, chairman of the National Native Title Tribunal.

Many in the 1300-strong crowd have lent public support to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which calls for a referendum on constitutional reform and an indigenous voice to parliament. Wyatt himself supported the statement two years ago before his own party — including Scott Morrison — rejected it. It now has tentative support under the Prime Minister, dependent on the outcome of a ­future inquiry.

Not a single person in the room will have missed the symbolism that, despite such setbacks, Australia has just witnessed two Aboriginal men from WA poised to occupy the indigenous affairs portfolio, one a southwest ­Nyoongar and the other a Yawuru man from the Kimberley.

It was Wyatt, wearing his traditional Nyoongar kangaroo cloak, who made history as he was sworn in by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove on Wednesday. So, the audience might ask, why not dream that an embrace of the Uluru Statement, the hope for a constitutional voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, might be closer?

Wyatt tells The Australian the wellspring of emotion he felt at the swearing-in ceremony was “10 out of 10”.

It has been an intensely ­emotional week, in fact, starting when Morrison rang him at home last Sunday on National Sorry Day.

“It was after 10am and I was hanging out the washing,” says Wyatt. “Anna (Wyatt’s historian wife) and I had been talking about the 1967 referendum and reconciliation week.

“The Prime Minister said: ‘I’d like to offer you the opportunity to become the minister for indigenous Australians.’ I just couldn’t respond to him. He said: ‘Given your silence, I’ll accept that as a yes.’ ”

Wyatt says his speech today will begin by explaining “how along the way in my life, reconciliation has happened even though there was then no process”.

He will describe how decent “whitefella” institutions in the town where he grew up — the Country Women’s Association ladies and the Rotary Club that offered a scholarship — and his schoolteacher Lyn ­Abernethy “began the journey of believing in me as an Aboriginal kid”.

Born in 1952, he was the eldest of 10 children to a railway ganger father of Yamatji-Irish background and a Nyoongar mother. In the wheatbelt town of Corrigin, where his parents had settled for the children’s education, young Ken’s academic promise was rewarded with an annual fountain pen from native welfare and the faith of Abernethy, who would bring spelling books to his house.

“She epitomises what reconciliation is; she taught me, she walked with me,” he says. “Years later, she came back to hand out how-to-vote cards at my first election.”

To the thousands of indigenous elders and leaders with whom Wyatt has already worked as indigenous health minister, to those who urge him to lead the way toward fulfilment of the Uluru Statement, Wyatt says to wait a little longer. “The government is committed to recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution. There needs to be more work done on what model we take to a referendum, which is why we are funding a $7.3 million consultation process.”

Is a referendum for an indigenous constitutional voice likely within his first ministerial term?

Wyatt says: “I do not want to rush something that fails. Because if it fails, like the referendum on becoming a republic, it could take another 30 years to be resurrected again. We have to get this right.”

Meanwhile, Wyatt says he wants to sit down and read the parliamentary reports tabled by Dodson and Liberal MP Julian Leeser, co-chairmen of parliament’s constitutional recognition committee. “Then I’ll turn my mind to the pathways we will take as a nation. But I’ll do that in concert with the Prime Minister.”

He says Dodson’s idea for regional assemblies has merit: “You don’t want a national body that’s disconnected from communities.”

He has promised to establish Circle of Elders meetings “to air local issues, to hear about what is working and to receive regular input ­directly from elders, families and communities”.

Wyatt has already handed Morrison his blueprint for a commission of elected elders that would have a say over government policies, taskforces, probes and complaints, The Courier-Mail reported yesterday.

Wyatt sent his plan to the Prime Minister in February as a “potential way forward to address the issue of constitutional recognition”, the newspaper said.

Asked about the proposal last night, Wyatt told The Australian: “This is not government policy.”

Wyatt’s elevation to serious power is a far cry, in tone and symbolism, from what happened after the Malcolm Turnbull leadership spill last year, when Morrison anointed Tony Abbott as special envoy for indigenous affairs.

Wyatt’s close relative Ben Wyatt, who is Western Australia’s Treasurer, was scathing, saying the term special envoy suggested “Aboriginal people are some ­foreign, unknowable nation in need of a special diplomatic mission. Led by the country’s worst diplomat.”

But Ben Wyatt this week praised the elevation of the man he calls “Uncle Ken” to Minister for Indigenous Australians, a role that Wyatt junior also holds in the state’s Labor government.

Like several men in the Wyatt wider family circle — Ben’s father, Cedric, and another uncle, Brian — Ken Wyatt has had a solid career as a public servant, including as director of Aboriginal education in WA and director of Aboriginal health in NSW. In 1996 he was awarded an Order of Australia.

Closing the Gap

If constitutional recognition is ­uppermost in many Aboriginal leaders’ minds, Closing the Gap is another urgent priority.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation head Pat Turner has welcomed Wyatt’s appointment as an opportunity to continue “some good work” he did in indigenous health.

“To close the gap, it will require a cross-portfolio effort, not just from Ken, from all ministers, and for all of them to put their hands in their pockets from their port­folios,” she says.

Fred Chaney, Aboriginal affairs minister in the Fraser government, agrees Wyatt will need to bring along with him those ministers in other portfolios — social security, health and justice — that touch directly on the lives of Aboriginal people. He cites the example of “the obsession governments have with the healthy welfare card that has led to top-down control and a massively disproportionate number of social security breaches by Aboriginal people”.

Chaney counts Wyatt as a friend and handed out voting cards for him in his Hasluck electorate (“The only person I’ve ever done that for”). He says Labor’s ­utterances of support for Wyatt’s appointment “will presage a period of bipartisanship in which they can find some real answers”.

“The portents for co-operation are good,” he says.

Wyatt says reducing the number of young people committing suicide is a priority that needs new approaches.

“We can’t prevent them all but I want to make sure there’s support. There may be structures outside the ‘8 to 5’ service model,” he says.

“Someone said to me, ‘We need nocturnal workers in com­munities who kids know they can go to.”

He says he will be aided by a new administrative structure for Aboriginal affairs in which “all of the people who were once in Prime Minister and Cabinet are now in a new unit focused on priorities ­government has been working on. And they will work directly to me.”

Nyoongar man’s burden

Then will begin the true test of Wyatt’s ability, which some observers of his performance in the scandal-plagued aged-care sector have questioned.

“It always sounded like he was defending the system and not the aged,” one commentator tells The Australian. “He has a long history as a bureaucrat.”

Other critics point to the internal upheavals last year within Wyatt’s own office. A bitter disagreement between staff members led to an order by then prime minister Turnbull’s office for an investigation, whose outcome remains ­secret.

“The office wasn’t in shambles. It was an individual who wasn’t happy and raised a series of incorrect allegations,” says Wyatt.

“An independent report refuted those claims.”

As for his performance in the aged-care portfolio: “People told me they are disappointed I’m not continuing with them. I worked very closely with consumers, families and those who were dissatisfied. That’s why we set up the royal commission.”

Wyatt’s burden of expectation may hang rather more heavily than the “booka” kangaroo cape he was given by Nyoongar elders. Is he worried some people will expect him to be the ministerial “saviour” of his people?

“That may be a perception but I’ll be working closely with our people on the changes that are needed and I’ll set realistic priorities,” he says.

Innes says the roomful of people at today’s Reconciliation event will be on his side.

“He’s a Nyoongar man from Western Australia who’s got a big job ahead of him. But the beauty is we’ll be walking alongside him.”=

Wyatt’s rise from days of Rabbit-Proof Fence

The Wyatt ascendancy demonstrates that progress in black-white relations can be made in one man’s lifetime.

Now aged 66, Ken Wyatt came under the eye of native welfare when he was a boy. The department kept a file marked “Kenneth George Wyatt”. In one entry, it states: “This lad has potential but whether he has the capability is the issue.”

Exactly one year ago, Ken and his relative Ben Wyatt — also an indigenous affairs minister, in the West Australian government — marked a far sadder moment in their shared family history.

The two men stood next to the graves of Aboriginal inmates of Moore River settlement, the most notorious of WA’s native camps housing mixed-race Stolen Generations children.

Moore River was immortalised in Phillip Noyce’s film Rabbit-Proof Fence, depicting the true story of three girls who escaped and walked hundreds of kilometres back to their desert home. One of those girls was Ken Wyatt’s great-aunt Molly, whose daughter Doris Pilkington wrote Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, a book based on her mother’s account. Ben Wyatt’s connection is even more poignant — his father, Cedric, was born there in 1940, a child soon removed from his family who refused to talk of it again.

“It’s a very personal story for me,” Ken Wyatt told The Australian that day. “But Ben was walking back into the place his father grew up in for a short time.

“Moore River reflects the history of removing people from around the state,” he said. “We’ve got to keep it as a reminder of policies that didn’t, in the end, dampen the spirits of people who lived there.”

Victoria Laurie is a senior reporter and feature writer in the Perth bureau of The Australian newspaper.

Part 3

Just announced the establishment of NIAA the National Indigenous Australians Agency- to lead and coordinate the development and implementation of Australia’s Closing the Gap targets in partnership with Indigenous Australians;

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #NRW2017 @KenWyattMP honoured with portrait unveiled at Parliament House by PM

 

” But Ken, you are also the first Aboriginal Australian to be a member of an Australian government.

Again, that is long overdue. But it is one of the steps that our Government has taken, my Government has taken, to advance the voice of Aboriginal Australians, First Australians, in our Parliament, in our nation’s affairs.

You bring with it an extraordinary personal quality

Secondly we are commissioning two additional portraits.

Firstly, one of former Senator Nova Peris, who was the first Indigenous woman to serve in the Senate.

Also the Honourable Linda Burney, the first Indigenous woman to serve in the House of Representatives.”

PRIME MINISTER Malcolm Turnbull

 ” First Indigenous member of the House of representatives and first Indigenous minister

Ken Wyatt was born at the Roelands Mission Farm, near Bunbury in Western Australia (WA) and is the eldest of ten children

See full Bio Hon Ken Wyatt’ MP’s Below

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Indigenous MPs Pat Dodson, Linda Burney and Ken Wyatt. Photos: Alex Ellinghausen

PRIME MINISTER Malcolm Turnbull speech at unveiling

Yanggu gulanyin ngalawiri, dhunayi, Ngunnawal dhawra. Wanggarralijinyin mariny bulan bugarabang.

We are on the lands of the Ngunnawal people and we acknowledge that and we acknowledge their elders past and present.

I want to thank Aunty Matilda for that characteristic Welcome to Country, and the presence of little Evie.

It says a lot you know – come here Ken, I’m going to give this old guy a hug and then we will be crying into our teacups – look, it says a lot about us Australians that we can celebrate such a wonderful, historic occasion as this.

Celebrate this unveiling of this portrait and do so with good humour, with love, with affection, with no rancour.

Aunty Matilda who, as she said, had an appointment she had to head off and with her red coat and her wit, she set us all on the right track.

So Ken, thank you so much for everything that you do. Mary, thank you for painting this portrait. Thank you for revealing what we all know, that Anna lights Ken up. You were there, you were there. Was he being a bit stiff and shy? Then Anna came closer and that spark, that got him going. Fantastic.

Ken, you have followed 39 years after Neville Bonner. I should say that Neville Bonner’s great-niece Jo Lindgren sends her love to you and to Anna and to everyone here today; another Aboriginal Australian who was a member of the Senate until recently.

But Ken was the first Aboriginal man to be elected to the House of Representatives and as Bill said, over 1000 Australians have been elected before him. Too many. But now he’s joined by Linda Burney, the first woman and, of course, following in Neville’s footsteps in the Senate we’ve had many others; Aden Ridgeway you mentioned, Nova Peris  – who of course is here and I will have more to say about her in a moment –  Jo Lindgren and of course now Malarndirri McCarthy, Pat Dodson and Jacqui Lambie.

But Ken, you are also the first Aboriginal Australian to be a member of an Australian government. Again, that is long overdue. But it is one of the steps that our Government has taken, my Government has taken, to advance the voice of Aboriginal Australians, First Australians, in our Parliament, in our nation’s affairs.

You bring with it an extraordinary personal quality. Ken has, the New Zealanders would call – it’s a Maori word, it’s almost untranslatable – they would call it ‘mana’. Ken has a presence, a life-force, a calm, an aura. I’m not getting new-age here Ken don’t worry. But you have got a presence and a calm and a wisdom that all of us are inspired by. Even our political opponents, as you can see.

So it is wonderful to be here with you; I want to thank you very much for your service. You have advanced that cause of reconciliation so much, simply by your advocacy, your presence, the love that you show. The way that you represent the people of Hasluck, the people of Australia that you represent too. You embody here, Buka and all, the oldest continuous human culture on our planet.

So I want, before we go to announce, to unveil the portrait, I want to make another announcement. That is, that we are commissioning two additional portraits.

Firstly, one of former Senator Nova Peris, who was the first Indigenous woman to serve in the Senate.

Also the Honourable Linda Burney, the first Indigenous woman to serve in the House of Representatives.

Ladies and gentlemen, they will join Ken and Neville Bonner. That demonstrates the continuity of that historical collection that the Presiding Officer spoke of.

So congratulations, Mary, on your painting. It’s a hard task portrait painting, capturing that mana. But you have done that and so Ken, I think it is up to us now to unveil you, if not to hang you.

That will be done by the Parliamentary staff of whom you have spoken so warmly, but I’ll hang you with affection.

The Hon Ken Wyatt Am MP

  1. Bunbury, western Australia

Noongar, Yamatji, wongi peoples

Member for Hasluck (2010-present)

Liberal Party of Australia

First Indigenous member of the House of representatives and first Indigenous minister

Ken Wyatt was born at the Roelands Mission Farm, near Bunbury in Western Australia (WA) and is the eldest of ten children. After moving to the remote town of Nannine, the family settled in Corrigin, 229 km south east of Perth, where he attended school.

Wyatt trained as a teacher and taught in primary schools between 1973 and 1986 before moving into the education policy sector. His extensive work in training and mentoring young people was recognised in 1996 when he was awarded the Order of Australia.

Between 1996 and 2010, he served the public in many capacities, including as Director of Aboriginal Education with the WA Department of Education, District Director for the Swan Education District, Director for Aboriginal Health with the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Health and, later, as Director for Aboriginal Health with WA Department of Health.

In 2010, Wyatt successfully stood for the Liberal Party in the WA seat of Hasluck, becoming the first Indigenous Australian to be elected to the House of Representatives.

For the opening of parliament on 28 September 2010, Aboriginal leaders held a traditional welcoming ceremony for Wyatt outside Parliament House and Noongar elders presented Wyatt with a ceremonial cloak made of kangaroo hide, a bookha, which he wore as he took the oath of office.

He gave his first speech in the House of representatives chamber on 28 September 2010 wearing the bookha and it is depicted in his official portrait for the Historic Memorials Collection.

In 2015, he became the first Indigenous member of the Federal Executive following his appointment as Assistant Minister for Health. On being appointed Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health in 2016, he also became the first Indigenous minister to serve in the Australian federal parliament.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Workforce : @KenWyattMP meets medical colleges to boost Aboriginal health care

” Providing health care that was culturally appropriate for Indigenous people was crucial.

Ultimately, what I want to see is that Aboriginal people, if they come into a hospital, they take the full patient journey,

The procedures and treatment regimes are the same as any other Australian receives so that we push out life and we move to closing the gap.

Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in health care will also be discussed.

If we don’t get our initial training and ongoing education right, we will never deliver a culturally safe health system,

The colleges are critical partners in getting this right with ideas on training and recruitment and retention initiatives.”

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt

Photo above : Danielle Dries  pictured above with the minister in an inspiring final-year Aboriginal medical student from the Australian National University was the recipient of the MDA National and Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) Rural Health Bursary for 2016. Read full Story here

NACCHO Background Info

Read NACCHO Articles Cultural Safety

Aboriginal Health ” managing two worlds ” : How Katherine Hospital, once Australia’s worst for Indigenous health, became one of the best

Senior representatives from Australia’s medical colleges are converging on Canberra today for a roundtable aimed at improving treatment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

As reported by ABC NEWS this morning

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt will host the 12 colleges at Parliament House in a bid to boost outcomes and access to health care over the next decade.

The powerful groups include the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

“[They’re] important for me to partner with if I’m going to close the gap,” Mr Wyatt told the ABC.

“I believe that they can make an incredible difference, it’s just we’ve never asked them to in this sense.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Closing the Gap report to Parliament last month showed six of the seven targets were off track, including life expectancy and child mortality.

Mr Wyatt earlier this year became Australia’s first-ever Indigenous federal government minister.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Smoking : @KenWyattMP announces $35.2 million funding #ACCHO Anti-smoking programs

These health services are all delivering frontline services to prevent young Indigenous people taking up smoking and to encourage existing smokers to quit.

Reducing smoking rates is central to the Government’s efforts to close the gap in life expectancy, but requires a consistent, long-term commitment”

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt

Over 100 NACCHO Articles about smoking

REDUCING INDIGENOUS SMOKING TO CLOSE THE GAP

The Australian Government will provide $35.2 million next financial year to continue anti-smoking programs targeted to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in regional and remote areas.

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, said the Government had approved the continuation of funding to 36 Aboriginal Community ControlledHealth Services and one private health service.

“These health services are all delivering frontline services to prevent young Indigenous people taking up smoking and to encourage existing smokers to quit,”  .

“Reducing smoking rates is central to the Government’s efforts to close the gap in life expectancy, but requires a consistent, long-term commitment.

“Smoking causes the greatest burden of disease, disability, injury and earlydeath among Indigenous people and accounts for 23 per cent of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.”

Under the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Healthcare Agreement, all governments have committed to halving the 2008 adult daily smoking rate among Indigenous Australians, of 44.8 per cent, by 2018.

“The rate of smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is still far higher than among other Australians and is damaging their health in many ways,” Minister Wyatt said.

It’s unlikely now that we will meet the COAG target, but we are making progress.

“It’s important that anti-smoking programs are meaningful for Indigenous people and changes made in recent years have ensured that only programs which are evidence based and effective are receiving grants.”

Continued funding for the 37 health services follows a preliminary evaluation of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program which found that it was operating effectively and using proven approaches to changing smoking behaviour.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #PalliativeCare : Supporting Indigenous people to talk about their end-of-life care

 

The end of someone’s life is a very special time in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. To ensure people have the care they want, in the place they want, it is important to be able to plan and discuss their wishes,

For example, returning to country at the end of life and having a traditional burial are often important for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Being able to discuss these wishes with family and their health care team means they are more likely to have the best death possible.”

CATSINaM CEO Janine Mohamed ( Pictured above with the on Ken Wyatt ) says these resources will help health care workers open conversations around end-of-life care in a culturally safe way.

See Ministers Press Release below

New resources launched today by the Hon Ken Wyatt, Minister for Indigenous Health, will help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people discuss their end-of-life care wishes with their families and health care teams.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dying to Talk resources were developed in partnership by Palliative Care Australia (PCA) and the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM).

PCA CEO Liz Callaghan says the resources were developed after consultations with Indigenous health organisations that identified the need for a specific resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific resources have been developed to support advance care planning and end-of-life discussions,” Ms Callaghan said.

“Focus groups were held with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to understand what barriers they had in discussing their end-of-life care wishes and planning for death. Those focus groups informed the design and content of the Discussion Starter and the Dying to Talk Cards to ensure they were culturally safe and useful.

“I also thank the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association and Indigenous Allied Health Australia for their input on this project.”

The resources can be accessed at http://dyingtotalk.org.au/and printed resources can be provided by request pcainc@palliativecare.org.au.

Palliative Care Australia is funded by the Australian Government.

New resources to help Indigenous Australians broach end of life discussions

A discussion starter about end of life care, specifically developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, was launched at Parliament House by the Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt.

Page last updated: 28 March 2017 8.15 pm

PDF printable version of New resources to help Indigenous Australians broach end of life discussions – PDF 311 KB

A discussion starter about end of life care, specifically developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, was launched today at Parliament House by the Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt.

Launching the Dying toTalk resources, Minister Wyatt said that starting a discussion about dying is never easy and can be hard when we want to talk to our families and friends about dying but they don’t want to listen.

“Sometimes, we put these discussions off because its confronting and we don’t want to face our own mortality,” he said.

“No matter what the reasons, I am very grateful to live in a country that has such a strong palliative care system in place and palliative care health professionals who help us tackle these discussions.

“I hope that today, with the launch of these new resources, we edge a little closer to making these conversations less difficult and more open.”

The Dying toTalk resources include a culturally appropriate step-by-step guide to make those difficult discussions about death that bit easier and a set of cards that can be used as a tool to start the conversations.

“Throughout the pages of the discussion paper and on the cards it asks us to consider a number of critical questions,” Minister Wyatt said.

“It’s structured. It’s succinct. It’s clear. It helps start the discussion about what would happen if you or a loved one were sick.”

“When you are sick, what would happen to your family? What would happen to your belongings? What sort of health care do you want? How important is it to visit country? How important is it to be on country when you die?

“These are all questions that need to be asked, and answered when we are still able to make our wishes known to the people we care about.”

The Australian Government provided $95,000 to Palliative Care Australia to develop the Dying toTalk resources which has been co-designed with the support of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives, Indigenous Allied Health Australia and the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association.

“The resources will be distributed across Australia to Aboriginal Medical Services and Aboriginal Health Services which will in turn help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people start a discussion about dying in a way that is helpful, constructive and compassionate,” Minister Wyatt said.

“It will help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the most difficult of discussions, with respect and dignity.”

The resources can be accessed at the Dying toTalk website.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Reform : @KenWyattMP Shortfall on Indigenous health targets prompts new reform drive

 

” The Department of Health has moved to evaluate the effectiveness of primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including the $3.4 billion Indigenous Australians’ Health Program, established in 2014 as a key component of a 10-year health plan

A focus on how well the health system is working for consumers is critical to inform and bring about real change to improve service delivery and health outcomes

There also remain potentially significant groups of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who are not receiving access to the services they need … If health equality is to be achieved, the speed and scale of transformational change needs to considerably increase.”

A department spokeswoman told The Weekend Australian Picture above Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt. Picture: Kym Smith

The government has moved to target the socio-economic ­determinants of health for policy revisions. Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt has called on communities to contribute to discussions through the My Life, My Lead consultations.

Further reforms are likely from next year

The Australian Government is committed to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and communities, and other stakeholders to improve progress against the goals to improve health outcomes for Indigenous Australians, and is  welcoming participation in the IPAG Consultation 2017 from a broad range of stakeholders.

You can have your say by taking part in the online submission to the IPAG consultation 2017.

The online submission will be open from Wednesday 8 March 2017 and will close 11.59 pm Sunday 30 April 2017.

The failure to adequately improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health has prompted the Turnbull government to order a sweeping review of its multibillion-dollar primary health programs.

Malcolm Turnbull’s recent update on Closing The Gap initiatives showed little improvement in indigenous health and a consistently dire outlook, at a time health systems and budgets are under strain.

The target of closing the life expectancy gap — 16 years for ­indigenous women and 21 years for indigenous men — will not be reached by 2031. While the chronic diseases death rate has improved, cancer deaths still rise and smoking rates are too high.

Documents provided to companies interested in conducting the independent review reveal the department’s frustration at the lack of improvement and the need to reassess the approach to serving indigenous communities.

“While some inroads are being made, Australia is not on track to achieve the COAG targets to close the gap — either in health or a number of other related areas,” the documents state. “There also remain potentially significant groups of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who are not receiving access to the services they need … If health equality is to be achieved, the speed and scale of transformational change needs to considerably increase.”

#ClosetheGap NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke and Minister @KenWyattMP #ClosetheGapDay Press Releases

  

“ Close the Gap Day is a day to acknowledge the critical role Aboriginal medical services and health professionals must play in turning around the significant health gap 

Last month, the government said it was committed to a new partnership with Aboriginal groups who presented the Redfern Statement to the Prime Minister, and the Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said Primary Health Networks must start working properly with ACCHOs.

“Yet right now just three or four of the 31 Primary Health Networks are genuinely working with theACCHO sector and the bulk of funding is going to mainstream services that are not showing results.

“Today, it’s time to remind governments of all levels that Aboriginal people must be equal partners in every single program and policy that affects them. It’s time for action not just more words.”

NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke pictured above with Minister Ken Wyatt at the launch of NACCHO Healthy Futures last December

Download todays 2017 Close the Gap Report HERE : CTG Report 2017

Download copy NACCHO Healthy Futures Report Card Here

“As Minister for Indigenous Health it is my job to work for better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country.

Today, is National Close the Gap Day. We all want health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that are equal to those of non-Indigenous people.

Vaccination coverage rates are the highest ever among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children entering school and since 2009 there has been an increase in children fully immunised – particularly at five years of age – from 76.8 per cent in 2008 to 95.2 per cent in 2016.

I want to acknowledge the role the Aboriginal Medical Services and State and Territory health systems for supporting the Commonwealth to achieve these figures.

Increasing immunisation is part of Closing the Gap and is community-driven, tailored, innovative and sensitive to individual and community needs “

The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP  Minister for Indigenous Health see full story article 2 below

Close the Gap Day: a greater role for Aboriginal health services essential

Close the Gap Day is a day to acknowledge the critical role Aboriginal medical services and health professionals must play in turning around the significant health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation said today.

NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke said after a decade of the Close the Gap campaign, programs andprojects managed by Aboriginal services on the ground in local communities are the only model proven to be making inroads in closing the Indigenous health gap.

In the past 12 months, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations provided almost 3 million episodes of care to over 340,000 clients and employed 3,300 Indigenous staff across Australia.

“Despite endless reports, studies and recommendations – just one in seven of the targets under the Closing the Gap Strategy are on track to be met by 2030,” Mr Cooke said.

“The lives of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people are still on average 10 years shorter, we have far higher incidences of chronic diseases such as Diabetes and cancer and our children have less access to good quality education than the average non-Indigenous Australians.

“The evidence tells us that Aboriginal people respond best to health care provided by Aboriginalpeople or controlled by the Aboriginal community.

“Last month, the government said it was committed to a new partnership with Aboriginal groups who presented the Redfern Statement to the Prime Minister, and the Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said Primary Health Networks must start working properly with ACCHOs.

“Yet right now just three or four of the 31 Primary Health Networks are genuinely working with theACCHO sector and the bulk of funding is going to mainstream services that are not showing results.

“Today, it’s time to remind governments of all levels that Aboriginal people must be equal partners in every single program and policy that affects them. It’s time for action not just more words.”

Mr Cooke said at least one-third of the health gap can be attributed to the social and cultural determinants of health.

“If we are serious about improving health outcomes for Aboriginal people, governments at all levels must do more to join the dots between education, housing, employment and other determinants and make sure that Indigenous led solutions are at the centre of strategies that make those links.”

The political needle recently swung to the issue of childhood vaccination with a call for parents to do their own research before deciding if they would or should immunise their children.

The issue of childhood vaccination is too important to be left hanging as just another claim by a politician in a “post-truth” world where facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

I believe it is important for parents to be fully informed of the medical facts before they make what can be life or death decisions affecting their children – and the children of others.

Immunisation is the most significant public health intervention in the past 200 years because it provides a safe and effective way to prevent the spread of many diseases that cause hospitalisation, serious ongoing health conditions and sometimes death.

Since the introduction of vaccination for children in Australia in 1932 deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases have fallen by 99 per cent despite a threefold increase in the Australian population.

As Minister for Indigenous Health it is my job to work for better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country.

Today, is National Close the Gap Day. We all want health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that are equal to those of non-Indigenous people. Until that happens we cannot claim to have a truly universal health system that meets the needs of all Australians.

This year’s Closing the Gap Report has mixed results and provides us with an opportunity to consider our course and reinvigorate our commitment to this fundamental task. We are making some strides in tackling Indigenous health issues, however, we have to do more.

Immunisation rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are improving. Five-year-old Indigenous children have higher immunisation coverage than non-Indigenous five-year-olds.

In December 2016, Australian Immunisation Register data showed that 95.20 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged five were fully immunised compared with 93.19 per cent of all children of the same age.

These statistics confirm that we have nearly achieved the 2023 goal of 96 per cent of children aged five being fully immunised.

Vaccination coverage rates are the highest ever among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children entering school and since 2009 there has been an increase in children fully immunised – particularly at five years of age – from 76.8 per cent in 2008 to 95.2 per cent in 2016.

I want to acknowledge the role the Aboriginal Medical Services and State and Territory health systems for supporting the Commonwealth to achieve these figures.

Immunisation is one of the key goals of the Implementation Plan of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023, which guides national action on Closing the Gap on health

Immunisation is critical for the health of children and the wider community. Interventions within the first three years of life have been shown to have the greatest impact on health and life outcomes.

There is a close relationship between health and educational outcomes. Developmental delays, including sight and hearing issues, and early incidence of chronic diseases directly impact a child’s ability to grow and learn.

I recently announced $27 million for children and maternal health programs. This funding will go towards services such as antenatal and postnatal care, breastfeeding assistance, health and development checks and also ensuring children are properly immunised.

When I was a teacher I saw children with measles. I suffered from whooping cough and ended up with lung damage and I do not want to see children compromised because of a philosophical stance that some parents may have because they are influenced by Doctor Google or misinformation from anti-vaxxers.

It’s not just about protecting your child, it is about protecting other children who use child health centres or childcare. The more people who are vaccinated the fewer opportunities a disease has to spread.

The success of the National Immunisation Program and policies such as No Jab, No Pay has not happened by accident. It is backed by science and virtually every medical and health expert in Australia.

Increasing immunisation is part of Closing the Gap and is community-driven, tailored, innovative and sensitive to individual and community needs. We want to see parents empowered by information, supported by appropriate services and accessing care in ways that suit them.

Increasing immunisation coverage is the result of community action and I want to see that continue.

NACCHO welcomes call by @KenWyattMP for more Aboriginal #ACCHO input into #PHN’s Primary Health Networks

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”  Primary Health Networks are being encouraged to consider the skills of the National Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisation ( NACCHO ) and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health (ACCHO’s ) groups to assist delivering innovative health programs to Close the Gap in health outcomes.

Broadening the range of member organisations involved in the Primary Health Networks, and ensuring an appropriate range of skills on their boards, would help ensure the specific needs of the diverse groups in our community are considered when commissioning health services.”

The Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, MP

Press Release 1 March 2017

 ” I applaud the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation for commissioning this annual report for the benefit of the entire sector. This Healthy Futures report is an invaluable resource because it provides a comprehensive picture of a point in time.

These report cards allow the sector to track progress, celebrate success, and see where improvements need to be made.

This is critical for the continuous improvement of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector as well as a way to maintain focus  and achieve goals.

We need to acknowledge the great system in place that comprises the network of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, and recognise the role you play to build culturally responsive services in the mainstream system.

Our people need to feel culturally safe in the mainstream health system; the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector must continue to play a central role in helping the mainstream services and the sector to be culturally safe “

Photo above : The Hon Ken Wyatt AM,MP :Text from  SPEECH NACCHO MEMBERS CONFERENCE 2016 Launch of the Healthy Futures Report Card 8 December 2016 Melbourne

PHN’S  should ensure all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation’s, their regional bodies and state peaks are the preferred providers for any targeted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs.

They should also have representation from Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation’s on their Board of Directors, Clinical Councils and Community Advisory Committees.

And they should put into practice the guiding principles developed by NACCHO and PHN’s with the Department of Health Indigenous Health Division.

These simple but critical steps will ensure Primary Health Networks facilitate the best available service, in the most culturally appropriate way, to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their region and ultimately have the best chance of improving their health outcomes.”

Matthew Cooke NACCHO Chair Press Release March 2 see below

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Pictured above Minister Wyatt signing the Close the Gap Statement of Intent 2008

Ken Wyatt Press Release

“Primary Health Networks across the country are charged with increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of medical services for patients, particularly those at risk of poor health outcomes, and improving coordination of care and services to ensure patients receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time,” he said.

“Improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a key priority for all Primary Health Networks.

“They should consider whether their current member organisations and boards have the appropriate mix of skills, knowledge, experience and capabilities to deliver the best health outcomes and if this could be improved.

“Primary Health Networks have a vital role to play in improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Having a broad skills base is crucial to achieving this goal and I look forward to working with all Primary Health Networks to support the continued delivery of high quality primary health care services to all Australians.”

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The peak Aboriginal health organisation today welcomed calls by the Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, to better integrate the skills and experience of Aboriginal community controlled health organisations into Primary Health Networks.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chair, Matthew Cooke, said this was something Aboriginal people had been calling for since the introduction of Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and it was great to see the Minister take it on board.

“The evidence tells us that Aboriginal people respond best to health care provided by Aboriginal people or controlled by the Aboriginal community,” Mr Cooke said.

“Armed with this evidence, Primary Health Networks should be doing everything they can to make sure Aboriginal people are involved in their structures and programs.

“They need to better recognise and acknowledge the experience, history and expertise within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation provided almost 3 million episodes of care to over 340,000 clients over the last 12 months and employ 3,300 Indigenous staff across Australia which makes them the largest single employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the nation.

Read or Download more facts from

 NACCHO 2016 Healthy Futures report card here

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“They should ensure all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation’s, their regional bodies and state peaks are the preferred providers for any targeted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs.

“Ken Wyatt is to be commended for his leadership in encouraging PHNs to take a look at their structures and question whether they have the relevant expertise at hand.

“Our services across the country welcome the opportunity to work with the Minister and the PHNs to offer the best of support and primary care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

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NACCHO Aboriginal Community Controlled Health

Our recent Member’s Good News Stories from WA, NSW ,VIC ,SA, QLD, NT

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : Do @GregHuntMP and @KenWyattMP have clear priorities and direction to save health ?

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With parliament resuming tomorrow we take a look at what the new Minister for Health Greg Hunt and Ken Wyatt AM Minister for Indigenous Health  are building – A national, long-term health plan . Mr Hunt said he had discussed with the Prime Minister the need for a long-term health strategy, across four key areas, to take the health system and “help lift it and build it to be the best in the world”.

(1) Rock-solid commitment to support for Medicare and universal healthcare with funding growing every year.

(2) A deep, rock-solid commitment to our hospital system, both public and private that work together, with funding growing every year.

(3) The third pillar being our deep and my personal, passionate commitment to mental health and preventive health and support for indigenous health, something so profound to so many Australians.

(4) Medical research where we bring together the work of the NHMRC, the Biomedical Translation Fund, and the Medical Research Future Fund – three essential elements.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister of Health  From doorstop interview 4 February : Launch of the Turnbull Government’s $125 million NHMRC funding into medical research : Download interview-with-greg-hunt

 ” Also on the minds of many in the sector is the Nous review of the roles and functions of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the state/territory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health peak bodies (more background about this review is here).

In our interview, Wyatt said he would be guided by the findings of the Nous review, and that he would be “looking for a common position that strengthens the role of NACCHO and all the affiliates”.

“In times of uncertainty, it’s important that we create certainty,” he said.

Shortly after Ken Wyatt AM was sworn in as Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health  he made time for an interview in his Canberra office with Croakey contributors Summer May Finlay (former Policy Officer at NACCHO ) and Dr Megan Williams : see Article 2 below

Greg Hunt’s priority: clear direction to save health

The Turnbull government will move to reclaim the health policy debate after new minister Greg Hunt identified the need for a long-term strategy to strengthen Medicare, support hospitals, facil­itate world-class medical research and encourage people to take ­better care.

As reported by The Australian

After a first term dominated by budget cuts and reviews, the Coalitio­n was savaged at the polls, not only because of Labor’s contentious “Save Medicare’’ campaign but also a lack of overarching policy direction.

An expenses scandal then prompted the resignation of Sussa­n Ley as health minister and gave Malcolm Turnbull the opportunity to reset relations with the sector under Mr Hunt, the adept former minister for industry, innov­ation and science and, before that, environment.

Three weeks into his new role, Mr Hunt told The Weekend Australian the government was “rock solid” in its support for Medicare but it was too early for him to ­comment on the future of the ­indexation freeze.

He said Australia’s health system, while strong, needed clearer direction to cope with an ageing population, lifestyle diseases and the threat of pandemics and antimicrobial resistance.

“Medicare, let’s be honest, started under Labor, but you’ve also got the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that came in under Menzies and private health insur­ance which came in under Menzies, and was extended and really saved by John Howard and Michael­ Wooldridge,” Mr Hunt said. “We are a part, are credited with two of the three pillars of the federal health system, and we’re committed to all of them. I’m not sure Labor is committed to private health.”

While generally guarded on issues­ related to funding, Mr Hunt said he had discussed with the Prime Minister the need for a long-term health strategy, across four key areas, to take the health system and “help lift it and build it to be the best in the world”.

Stakeholder groups are being consulted on Mr Hunt’s plan to strengthen Medicare and universal access, support hospitals under Australia’s public-private hybrid, prioritise preventive health (espec­ial­ly in relation to mental health) and boost medical research­.

Mr Hunt suggested that he had underestimated the challenge of mental illness, even though his mother had bipolar disease and the last time he visited her was in a mental hospital.

“It’s very real for me, very real, and when I raised this publicly, and hadn’t really talked about it like most Aussie males, I’ve never had such a widespread response of people wanting to talk to me on the streets of my own electorate and elsewhere in Australia,” he said.

“The degree of the problem I imagined I understood but in fact it’s deeper and broader than I ever understood.”

With mental health and preventive health combined, the Prime Minister this week foreshadowed “a new focus on preventive health (that) will give people the right tools and information to live active and healthy lives”.

Mr Hunt said that Melbourne, and to a lesser extent Sydney, were among the world’s top three biomedical hubs and he wanted Australia­ to become the “world leader in genomics and precision medicine”.

Following the federal government’s pre-election public hospital funding injection, Mr Hunt said that he was confident it could come up with a long-term agreement with the states by the end of next year.

This would probably precede the next election, although Mr Hunt said it was “not a political goal but a policy goal”.

One of his more immediate tasks will be to approve health- insurance­ premium increases from April 1. Mr Hunt said he wanted to “make sure we get value for money” and was committed to ongoing reform.

croakeysmall

Article 2

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Shortly after Ken Wyatt AM was sworn in as Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health last week, he made time for an interview in his Canberra office with Croakey contributors Summer May Finlay and Dr Megan Williams.

The insights, including a commitment to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to primary healthcare, are likely to be of interest to many, particularly given funding uncertainty and cuts that have undermined the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, organisations and services in recent years.

  •  Summer May Finlay is a Yorta Yorta woman, public health practitioner and PhD scholar at the University of South Australia.
  • Dr Megan Williams, who is a descendent of the Wiradjuri people of central NSW and also has English and Irish heritage, is a Senior Research Fellow at Western Sydney University.

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Summer May Finlay and Megan Williams write:

Meeting with Minister Wyatt within hours of his being sworn in as a Minister provided the opportunity for questions about the direction of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policy.

Given Wyatt is the first Aboriginal person to serve on the frontbench in the House of Representatives, and because so much uncertainty and shrinkage has occurred in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service funding under the Coalition Government whom he serves, he will no doubt face enormous pressure from diverse Aboriginal communities and organisations.

We met particularly to ask about the role the health portfolio will take to address the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, given that justice is a determinant of health. We had read Wyatt’s statements as Assistant Minister about the need to address such determinants.

Having previously provided him with a copy of our #JustJustice book, which contains dozens of examples of ‘what works’ as determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,we were keen to hear what he would take forward.

As Member for Hasluck in Western Australia for the Liberal Party of Australia and a long-term public servant, Wyatt is not new to Parliament nor Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy and leadership, and indeed has previously had carriage of Indigenous Health as an Assistant Health Minister.

He can discuss with authority the complexity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health status, and the contributing individual and structural factors. His extensive career working in Aboriginal affairs in numerous capacities around Australia, and many of his positions in and outside the health sector obviously contribute.

Broad experience

In terms of understanding determinants of health, Minister Wyatt initially trained as a primary school teacher and taught for a number of years before moving into public administration. He was also involved in health education and developed health curriculum.

While in the education system he was offered the opportunity to work for the WA Health Department’s Aboriginal health policy unit with only two staff – himself and a non-Indigenous doctor. He said the move was a “great transition to another agency and a different experience”, and that “it was a period of new learning and fighting different battles”.

This was at the time the National Aboriginal Health Strategy (NAHS) was launched – the first serious attempt to reduce the health inequity between Aboriginal people and other Australians.

While it remains a key guiding document informing subsequent policies, Wyatt witnessed first-hand the way some state-based Ministers rushed the endorsement of the policy, and the 1994 evaluation findings that it was never fully implemented.

After four years in WA Health, Wyatt again worked in the education sector, before shifting across to become the Director of Aboriginal Affairs in NSW Health. In preparation for this, Wyatt remembered consulting with NSW Aboriginal Elders and service providers. During his five-year directorship, he worked closely with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services (ACCHOs).

Reflecting on this time, Wyatt saw how it made sense for governments to fund ACCHOs directly to deliver services, because of their success, and to avoid duplication. Wyatt had close contact with Maari Ma Health in particular, an Aboriginal Medical Service providing health services for Aboriginal people in their area, contracted by NSW Health.

Wyatt recalled that formal assessment of Maari Ma’s service outcomes showed “results were far better than what we had ever achieved as a health department”. This was a clear example of the strength of ACCHOs, “showing that a local Aboriginal organisation with the local communities, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, could deliver a better service than what NSW [government] were.”

With every new Minster comes the likelihood of change; Wyatt brings more experience to the federal leadership position for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health than any of his predecessors or peers.

Minister Wyatt also comes to the portfolio after a period of turbulence in Indigenous health and Indigenous affairs more broadly.

The Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) restructured and cut funding, causing “uncertainty, stress and anxiety”, according to submissions to the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee. 

The IAS also forced a competitiveness between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services never before encountered, and contributed significantly to stress on the ACCHO sector, which was already under pressure and inadequately funded to meet demand, in a policy environment that has pushed the “mainstreaming” of Indigenous health services.

The sector now also faces further uncertainty given that the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review, the Medicare rebate freeze, and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Review all have implications for the work of ACCHOs.

Also on the minds of many in the sector is the Nous review of the roles and functions of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the state/territory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health peak bodies (more background about this review is here).

In our interview, Wyatt said he would be guided by the findings of the Nous review, and that he would be “looking for a common position that strengthens the role of NACCHO and all the affiliates”.

“In times of uncertainty, it’s important that we create certainty,” he said.

Addressing social and cultural determinants of health

In his role as Minister for Indigenous Health, Wyatt wants to see improved primary health care access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This includes through ACCHOs and mainstream services.

In terms of mainstream health care access, Wyatt cited the challenges of geographical diversity, institutional racism and the need to address social and cultural determinants of health.

These challenges have long been poorly met by mainstream health services, yet better addressed by ACCHOs.

To address institutional racism and champion work on social and cultural determinants of health, a cross-portfolio working group endorsed by a cabinet sub-committee has been established.

Wyatt acknowledges that “social and cultural determinants of health underpin everything that we do”, sending a message of hope for achieving core components of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan Implementation Plan, launched in 2015.

We have learnt from the limitations of NAHS implementation that mechanisms of accountability are crucial.

The role of the new Social and Cultural Working Group is unclear, but at the very least is intersectoral, consisting of the Departments of Health and Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, including:

  • Richard Weston from the National Health Leadership Forum and the Healing Foundation, as Co-Chair
  • Pat Turner from NACCHO
  • Donna Ah Chee, Julie Tongs and Mark Wenitong with expertise across early childhood, comprehensive primary health care, acute care and justice, among other issues.

Moving forward?

Minister Wyatt clearly has some significant challenges ahead. Given his commitment to action on the social and cultural determinants of health, he will have to forge effective ways of working across sectoral and jurisdictional boundaries.

While governments have a long history of poor accountability in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, the solutions are well identified about how to deliver and evaluate effective and efficient care.

Countless calls for national leadership have been made and, now that we have an experienced, respected and respectful Aboriginal Minister at the helm, many will be hoping that he can achieve the level of change needed, including a strengthening of ACCHOs in funding, certainty and influence over mainstream models of care, and effective outcomes from the new social and cultural unit.

 

NACCHO Promotion

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NACCHO has announced the publishing date for the 9 th edition of Australia’s first national health Aboriginal newspaper, the NACCHO Health News .

Publish date 6 April 2017

Working with Aboriginal community controlled and award-winning national newspaper the Koori Mail, NACCHO aims to bring relevant advertising and information on health services, policy and programs to key industry staff, decision makers and stakeholders at the grassroots level.

And who writes for and reads the NACCHO Newspaper ?

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While NACCHO’s websites ,social media and annual report have been valued sources of information for national and local Aboriginal health care issues for many years, the launch of NACCHO Health News creates a fresh, vitalised platform that will inevitably reach your targeted audiences beyond the boardrooms.

NACCHO will leverage the brand, coverage and award-winning production skills of the Koori Mail to produce a 24 page three times a year, to be distributed as a ‘lift-out’ in the 14,000 Koori Mail circulation, as well as an extra 1,500 copies to be sent directly to NACCHO member organisations across Australia.

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

For more details rate card

Contact : Colin Cowell Editor

Mobile : 0401 331 251

Email  : nacchonews@naccho.org.au