Aboriginal Social Media #NACCHOSummit news: A case study of Twitter-power for Aboriginal health advocacy and self-determination


Social media and particularly Twitter had a huge impact in amplifying the discussions and reach of the NACCHO Summit in Adelaide this week.

As at 25 August there were 5,563,625 Impressions from 3,097 Tweets

As you can see from the tweet below, NACCHO is heading to next Tuesday’s National Press Club debate on health with an arsenal of tweeters. (Heaven help hope those politicians if they don’t focus on their plans for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health – their names will be mud in the Twitterverse.)

In the article below journalist John Thompson-Mills reports on the social media impact factor – perhaps it was no coincidence that #NACCHOSummit was trending on Twitter and that a senior government official turned up for the last day of the Summit.

At the bottom of his article are some further conference tweets, showing that “pride” emerged very strongly as a Summit theme, as well as a grab of the conference’s Twitter analytics (which doesn’t include today’s tweet-coverage).

If you would like assistance with Social media such as TWITTER  contact the person who put this project together

NACCHO Media and Communications advisor :Colin Cowell who you can follow @NACCHOAustralia

Email media@naccho.org.au


Twitter extends the reach of #NACCHOSummit

John Thompson-Mills writes:

One of the foundation stones of NACCHO and Aboriginal self-determination is community control. The community provides the expertise, drives the program and controls the message.

This makes social media a perfect fit for an event like the inaugural NACCHO summit.

Experienced social media users may have been fully prepared to use Twitter to talk about the #NACCHOSummit but many, including senior NACCHO people, were taken aback by what social media managed to achieve this week.

NACCHO’s CEO, Lisa Briggs, says:

“I think the social media coverage has been absolutely fantastic and taken the conference to places it probably wouldn’t have been able to reach, just with newspapers and radio. So I think it’s a very important and effective tool.

“The viralness (sic) of Twitter certainly surprised me, absolutely, and I think it’s the attraction and the interest. Finding peoples’ interests and them tweeting back; ‘that’s really good, can I hear more about those stories?’, and then getting in touch with others who are presenting them. I think I know more people on social media than I do face to face.” 

The summit convinced a number of NACCHO staff to join the Twitterverse and, with thousands of tweets generated by the end of the conference, there was plenty to inspire the “Twitter-virgins”.

NACCHO Summit attendee Jake Byrne isn’t a Twitter virgin. He tends to observe the space rather than join in the debate. Not now though. He says:

“I’m probably going to have to get an account that’s a bit more focused and work specific. I have to try and get a bit more active in the space, promoting different programs and ideas and things that I’ve been seeing.

“I reckon the more we spread the word, the better it is for everyone in promoting those really good stories that all too often in Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal health are the ones that don’t get the spotlight shone on them.”

Lisa Briggs expected social media at the NACCHO Summit to stay within the realms it already occupied, but in the middle of an election campaign there was too much going on for it to stay contained.

A couple of times this week, the conference’s Twitter hashtag (#NACCHOSummit) was “trending” nationally (ie: the top subjects on the Twitter platform), which, along with the sheer numbers of tweets, helped convince a government bureaucrat to make a hasty trip to Adelaide from Canberra to see what was going on.

Samantha Palmer is the First Assistant Secretary, in the Office for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health and she sat in on the final day of the conference.

With the election campaign in full swing, and the Federal Government in caretaker mode, Palmer wasn’t able to speak publicly, but did spend private time with NACCHO members.

Jake Byrne could also see the value in Twitter influencing political circles.

“I was impressed to see all the Tweets coming from the summit did put some pressure on the pollies and brought it to national attention, and we were “trending”. I actually got to understand what trending was and the power it has, which I wasn’t really aware of before coming here,” he said.

NACCHO CEO Lisa Briggs didn’t mind that Samantha Palmer couldn’t talk publicly at the summit. For her the coincidental timing of the election campaign and the conference was perfect.

“I think it’s been a fantastic opportunity to get the good stories and inform wider Australia what’s going on,” she said. “Through social media we’ve kept it on a political platform, asking questions about how they’re contributing to Aboriginal Community Control and health in particular.

“Today you would’ve seen more tweets directed at Tanya Plibersek (Federal Health Minister) and Peter Dutton (Shadow Health Minister). They may not be here physically but there are other ways of getting to them,” she said.

At the other end of the political scale, NACCHO conference attendee, Marlee Ramp, a 19 year-old medical student from Cairns, has now seen the potential of Twitter up close.

“…this week with all the hash tags, I started an account and followed the feed,” she said. “Obviously this week is all health focused, but it gives me a broader perspective of health and what my role may be in the future, and who I can get involved with.”

Young, active, aware people like Marlee Ramp represent the future for Aboriginal self-determination but so it seems does social media because it empowers the storytellers.

Jake Byrne is 30 and he can see the relative power social media gives him and other Aboriginal people. He says:

“If we can control our message, that’s brilliant. We’ve heard a lot in the past few days about myths that were being smashed through the evidence that’s been collected so far, but I think those myths are propagated by other people sending messages about our community. If we can get our stories out there the way we want them to be told, that’s really empowering.”

The next NACCHO Summit is scheduled for April or May next year. That means organisers and delegates will be filling social media just as budgets are being finalised by what’s anticipated to be a new Coalition Government.

Coincidence or clever timing?

No doubt we’ll get a clear idea by what’s said on social media.


Twitter stream shows up a strong theme of Pride


Twitter Analytics

NACCHO Summit Adelaide: Croakey Q and A interview with CEO Lisa Briggs

This is a good example of “the 3 C’s” as this event is not government funded but has been self-funded by our sector showing how NACCHO, affiliates and member services continue to support each other. The summit themes of governance, workforce and comprehensive primary health care will show the diversity amongst the membership. ” Lisa Briggs
As mentioned in the previous post, the Croakey Conference Reporting Service is covering the NACCHO Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service Summit, which starts in Adelaide today on Twitter, check#NACCHOSummit).
In the conference preview below, Lisa Briggs, CEO of NACCHO, has an online chat with Croakey about the “bang for the buck” provided by the Aboriginal community controlled health sector.LisaBriggsPic1She also reveals her dream panel for ABC TV’s Q and A program, her enthusiasm for the power of social media, and her hopes that more young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will choose careers in health.Lisa is a Gunditjmara Aboriginal woman from the western district of Victoria, and an Aboriginal Health Worker who has worked in the health field for the past 25 years, mainly within the Aboriginal community controlled health sector.***Q: A Twitter campaign is pushing for the ABC program Q and A to have an all-Indigenous panel. Who is your dream Q and A panel?

Lisa Briggs:

Justin Mohamed, Chair of NACCHO – to highlight the importance of Aboriginal health and how the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health model is contributing to Closing the Gap.

Warren Mundine – who would Chair the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council should the Coalition win the election.

Marion Scrymgour, CEO of our member service Wurli-Wurlinjang Health Service in Katherine. Marion understands the political and health system and would be able to provide another opinion and challenge ideas, as well as provide gender balance.

Shane Houston from Sydney University – his extensive knowledge of Aboriginal affairs is impressive and he would provide a sense of the vision and systematic changes required.

Professor Patrick Dodson – his extensive knowledge on current issues such as Constitutional reform and land rights.

Pat Turner – Former Deputy Secretary of the Prime Ministers Department – has extensive experience in government and Aboriginal affairs.

I wanted to put Marcia Langton and Noel Pearson in there too, as I think they all have something to contribute on how policy is being formed for Aboriginal people and the impacts that it has on us and our environments of urban, regional and remote…I think people expect Marcia, Noel and Warren to all be part of this should the Coalition win the election, so I thought what other Aboriginal leaders have equal experience but are not always heard and these are the ones I came up with my shortlist.


Q: You tweeted from a recent AHMRC meeting that the three C’s of the Aboriginal community control philosophy are “Community-initiated”, “Community-driven”, “Community-owned”. Could you explain why each of these C’s matter?

Lisa Briggs: It’s about self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their fundamental right of being part of all processes that have impacts on us. Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are founded on this basis.

NACCHO has recently released the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Report Card, which signifies that when Aboriginal health is in Aboriginal hands we can make a real difference to Closing the Gap.


Q: The NACCHO Summit aims to profile innovation and best practice in the community controlled sector. Can you give us one of your favourite examples of this?

Lisa Briggs: It wouldn’t be fair for me to pick one over the other. However, I can say this – how very pleased I am to see the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services put in so many conference abstracts to this weeks summit that will show innovation and best practice from all over the country. With over 300 delegates registered, over 85 presentations and over 100 speakers and exhibitors, it is going to be a great event.

This is a good example of “the 3 C’s” as this event is not government funded but has been self-funded by our sector showing how NACCHO, affiliates and member services continue to support each other. The summit themes of governance, workforce and comprehensive primary health care will show the diversity amongst the membership.

There will be common things we can all relate to, however it will be innovation at its best that the members can take back to their community organisations.


Q: What are the barriers within government & government policy to the community controlled sector achieving its potential?

Lisa Briggs: The barriers are to do with lack of action on the following:

• Engagement and cultural consultation processes with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

• Government understanding the role and importance of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services as part of the overall Australian health system

• Government Policies are piloted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities before being rolled out nationally. Aboriginal specific policies such as the NT Intervention imply institutional racism, and then these policies affect the ideas of government workers and others

• Aboriginal history embedded into the Australian education system so that wider Australia can feel proud of it First Nations peoples

• Constitutional recognition that Australia’s first people are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are rich in culture and knowledge – something all Australia should be proud of.


Q: What are the barriers within the community controlled sector to the sector achieving its potential?

Lisa Briggs:

• A lack of appropriate funding to enable the ACCHS to meet the needs of communities.

• Government policies that are not targeted to the needs of that community.

• Workforce recruitment, retention and capacity – particularly GPs, nurses and allied health workers.

• Lack of genuine partnerships.

• Lack of scholarships that support and meet the demand required for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to join the health workforce.


Q: What are the barriers within the wider health system to the community controlled sector achieving its potential?

Lisa Briggs:

• A lack of understanding of ACCHSs, their role and mechanism

• Lack of genuine partnerships

•  Lack of coordination

• Institutional racism

• Policies which impact access such as affordability, access,

• A lack of cultural understanding

• A lack of capacity to meet the needs of Aboriginal organisations and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people.


Q: What are the barriers within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to the community controlled sector achieving its potential?

Lisa Briggs: The Social and Cultural Determinants of Health are important, and these are a few underpinning examples:

•  Employment – meaningful career pathways

•  Education – meaningful and supported such as scholarships programs that enable participation, and being open to all age groups

•  Accessibility – having the means to be able to access services no matter where they are located and in an environment that meets their needs

•  Housing – having the same level of opportunity as other Australians to either purchase or rent.


Q: What are the enablers within government and government policy and the wider health system to the community controlled sector achieving its potential?

Lisa Briggs:

•  Genuine engagement and consultation and being heard and listened to.

•  Working alongside Aboriginal leadership at all levels for development, implementation and evaluation.

•  Genuine partnership, opportunity and investment in what works for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

•  Close the Gap Statement of Intent is a good example of what can happen when this above process is followed. However, there is always room for improvement.


Q: What are the enablers within the sector to the community controlled sector achieving its potential?

Lisa Briggs:

•  Genuine engagement and consultation with local community members, and hearing their needs

•  Appropriately resourced to be able to meet the targeted needs of the local community

•  Funding mechanism that allows for innovation and investment

•  Appropriate workforce capacity and investment in new workforce innovation

•  Investing in Aboriginal leadership as part of professional development.


Q: You’ve been known to say that the community controlled sector offers “the best bang for the buck”. Can you quantify this?

Lisa Briggs: Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are not funded to the same level as other primary health care services across Australia.

However, they are the only services that demonstrate and are targeted towards health gains – not throughput.  This is why the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Report Card is so significant, as we now have an evidence base that can be showcased.


Q: How would you advise community members to evaluate the quality of their community controlled service? What are the signs of a healthy service? And what are the signs of a service that needs support to improve?

Lisa Briggs: All of our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are accredited and meet the Australian Standards and part of the process is to receive feedback from the clients you service to measure quality. This has now been embedded as custom and practice, and allows the ACCHS’s to work on a continuous quality improvement model.

A healthy service in my opinion is one that follows “the 3 Cs” (ie “Community-initiated”, “Community-driven”, “Community-owned”).

The issues that services face vary: it might be a small service needing more capacity and expansion, it might be a large service needed to review its strategic direction, it might be a young community needing guidance.


Q: In a recent speech on the social determinants of health, AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton acknowledged the impact of institutionalised racism. The vision of the new national plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health (which recently had a positive wrap in The Lancet)  is for a health system free of racism.  For health services and health professionals that want to address this problem, how would you advise them?

Lisa Briggs: Engage with their local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service and learn about what the communities’ needs are, ask how they can assist in a genuine partnership and coordination model – it will take shape from there over a period of time.


Q: What is your vision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in 10 years time?

Lisa Briggs: I believe if we currently keep tracking with our original health targets, then life expectancy should increase. However, some areas need urgent attention now, such as diabetes, renal disease and cancer.

We are moving into a world where everything will be more telecommunication-based with telehealth and ehealth. With workforce shortages and population growth, models of services will also need to adapt, to continue meeting the needs of the community.

Since we are a young population compared to the rest of Australia, I hope to see more of our young people complete their studies, and find their career pathway into the health system.

Economic constraints will create challenges and opportunities. The challenges include that NACCHO, affiliates and members are not funded at parity as the rest of the health system. A potential opportunity is that Government may choose to invest at a higher level or to buy more services from ACCHSs given the good value they provide.


Q: What is your vision for the community controlled sector in ten years time?

Lisa Briggs: Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are viable and sustainable, and their model of services adapts to suit the changing needs.  This vision is outlined by the NACCHO 10 point plan, which gives focus and direction to us, our affiliates and member services.


Q:  What is your top tip to those working in the community controlled sector for looking after their own health?

Lisa Briggs: Ensure that you have an annual health check, take regular holidays and spend quality time with the ones you love, take the time to sit back and reflect on how your contribution has made a difference  – you can’t look after other people if you don’t look after yourself!

It’s work and life balance.


Q: NACCHO (@NACCHOAustralia has over 4,000 followers) has been at the forefront of the health sector in using Twitter and other social media channels such as blogs to communicate with its stakeholders and to build influence. Would you like to see more people in the community controlled sector using social media as a health communications channel? If so, what might help them to get on board?

Lisa Briggs: This is absolutely essential, people need to be informed of the power and traction social media has – generally teaching people how to use social media or be involved is the key.

We are encouraging all our member services and staff to utilise social media and can provide them with information on establishing a corporate social media policy.  Once you start, you just can’t stop engaging with our community, partners, and stakeholders, sharing the issues and good news stories about the successes in our Aboriginal community controlled health sector.

• You can follow Lisa on Twitter at: @ NACCHO_CEO 

Keeping you up to date with Croakey news and developments

Some news about Croakey…

The Croakey Conference Reporting Service

I’m delighted to announce that the Croakey Conference Reporting Service will be in action at the following events:

The NACCHO Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service Summit in Adelaide, August 20-22.
Adelaide-based journalist John Thompson-Mills (on Twitter – @jthompsonmills) will report from the Summit.
For those on Twitter, keep an eye on #NACCHOSummit. 

• An Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation forum, “Fixing Healthcare”, in Brisbane, August 29.
Mardi Chapman (@mardidiane), a health journalist and writer based in Brisbane, will cover the forum.
Check #12Bhealthfix.

• The 12th Australian Palliative Care Conference, in Canberra, 3-6 September.
Jennifer Doggett (@JenniferDoggett) will cover the conference.
Check #PallCareConf.


Announcing @WePublicHealth

@WePublicHealth is a new rotated Twitter account that is something of an experiment in public health/citizen journalism. Every week, a different person – including community members and public health professionals – will be asked to tweet-report and investigate public health matters.

Their focus might be local – for example, documenting the cost of fresh foods in remote communities via tweet-photos – national or global (for example, reporting from international conferences and events).


 Related articles

NACCHO Eye Health: Vision 2020 Q&A with Lisa Briggs CEO NACCHO


In the fourth interview of our Q&A series Vision 2020 Australia talks to The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation’s (NACCHO) CEO, Lisa Briggs, about Investing in Healthy Futures for generational change: NACCHO 10 Point Plan 2013-2030, comprehensive primary health care and the people who have inspired her during her career.

Ms Briggs (pictured above) has a wealth of experience in the field of Aboriginal health, predominantly within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector.

Q1) Ms Briggs, as you know, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a burden of disease 2.5 times higher that of other Australians, as well as lower health and life expectancy rates.Can you explain the role of NACCHO in improving Indigenous health in Australia?

NACCHO is the national authority on comprehensive Aboriginal primary health care with a membership base of over 150 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.  NACCHO’s role is to provide national, high level and strategic direction and advice to inform all policies which impact Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Q2) NACCHO recently released the Investing in Healthy Futures for generational change: NACCHO 10 Point Plan 2013-2030, what are the goals that guided the development of this plan?

In 2008, NACCHO was one of the leading key stakeholders to sign up to the flagship document Close the Gap Statement of Intent.  NACCHO was also a key member of the national Close the Gap Committee which developed a set of key targets which later formed the CoAG CTG measure of reducing child mortality rates and increasing the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  While the NACCHO 10 point plan is clearly built upon with these foundational documents, the NACCHO Plan has been designed specifically to address the long term strategic focus of our Affiliates and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services sector through to 2030.

The Plan’s goals are aligned to existing targets and measures with the flexibility to adapt and monitor over time.  The goals are also reflective of NACCHO principles and our sector’s commitment to holistic health care – not just service delivery.  The NACCHO 10 point plan provides a clear framework for NACCHO, the Affiliates and our member services to utilise as an accountability tool to ensure that we are able to reach our targets through to 2030.

The NACCHO 10 point plan can be accessed here.

Q3) Do you support the World Health Organisation’s view that comprehensive primary health care instead of a disease focused approach is central to achieving health benefits? Can you explain why?

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector philosophy is based upon the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) definition of comprehensive primary health care.   Therefore, the design and implementation of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services focuses upon achieving holistic health benefits rather than simply addressing the task of reducing disease.  Recently NACCHO launched its inaugural “Healthy Futures for generational change” – Report Card which demonstrated the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services model of service and delivery has been able to achieve a 66% reduction in Child Mortality with an overall reduction of overall mortality by 33%.  This evidence suggests the best practice model of service to achieve health gains is to be found within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services sector

Q4) With the Federal Election looming, what key eye health / health messages do you want the Australian Government and the Coalition to take notice of and commit to?

NACCHO is seeking support for the development and adoption of a range of Eye Health Targets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people which will form an important part of the existing Closing the Gap reporting to Parliament delivered by the Prime Minister.

Q5) NACCHO advocates the need to provide Aboriginal people ownership of their own health at a local community level; can you explain why this important?

NACCHO’s principle philosophy of Aboriginal Community Control is founded upon a rights based model which ensures Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the right to determine our own holistic health needs as well as the service delivery systems and models to address them.  Please refer to the NACCHO website for more information on what community control means across the health sector.

Q6)Ms Briggs, what inspired you to work in the area of Aboriginal health and whathas been a highlight for you in your role as NACCHO CEO?

There are so many people who have inspired me to work in Aboriginal health over my life!  Here are just some of them:

Aunty Alma Thorpe Victorian Elder – the longest servicing CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal health service in Melbourne.  Aunty Alma’s incredible passion for the rights of her people put me on the path that I am on today.  Her daughter Glenda Thorpe was an Aboriginal health worker who treated me when I was 12 years old when I had never been treated in a clinic by an Aboriginal person before. I felt very proud. From that day on, I wanted to be like her and do what she does: helping her own people.

Culturally, my mother and father provided me with the teaching and learnings along my life journey that provided me with an identity, connection to my homelands and a strength and sense of belonging that builds a strong foundation. My parents instilled in me the knowledge and practice of keeping myself socially and emotionally well.  They also gave me a sense that anything was possible!

Professor Hugh Taylor, the eminent Australian ophthalmologist, has shown me how non-Indigenous Australians are able to work effectively with commitment and passion alongside Aboriginal people resulting in significant gains for the whole of Australian society.

When Aiden Ridgeway became the leader of the Democrats, I was both proud and inspired.  This was a crucial moment for me in Aboriginal history and a testament that we as a Aboriginal people can be at the head of political parties.  Since then we have seen more Aboriginal people in Parliament.  I consider Aiden to be a trail blazer as he worked against all the odds through intense commitment and made me think that passion and drive can get you there in the end.

I also have to mention Aunty Naomi Mayers, the CEO of Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service, who established the first Aboriginal Medical Service in the country. NACCHO now has 150 members, and it all started because this remarkable woman decided she had seen enough of her people dying younger and getting sicker because of their lack of access to comprehensive primary health care.

Finally, I have been CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Heath Organisation (NACCHO) for just less than 12 months and am passionate about the huge impact Aboriginal people can have if they control their own health outcomes.

Q7) And finally, on a personal note, can you tell us something that most people don’t know about you / or would be surprised to know about you (it could be a hobby, non-work related achievement or something similar!)

I am a Gunditjmara Aboriginal woman from the western district of Victoria and readers may be interested to know that I am an Aboriginal Health Worker by trade and have worked in the health field for the past 25 years, predominantly within the Aboriginal community controlled health sector.

My mantra is ‘nothing stops me!’

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


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

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

What do you think ?

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

NACCHO welcomes debate and encourages readers to leave comments below

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Stuart Rintoul article The Australian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SNAICC Kids Low Re