” The key to a longer and healthier life is eliminating risky health habits and behaviours from your daily routine, and the best advice on minimising health risks is available from your local GP
Many Australians face the prospect of a premature death or lower quality of life through risky behaviours that are often commonplace, but are still very detrimental to their health.
Many people may not even realise that they are putting themselves, and sometimes others, at risk through everyday poor health habits and decisions
AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon pictured above recently visiting Danila Dilba ACCHO Darwin with NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke
Launching AMA Family Doctor Week 2017 – the AMA’s special annual tribute to all Australia’s hardworking and dedicated GPs – AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, urged all Australians to establish and maintain a close cooperative relationship with their local family doctor.
Photo above :All AMA Presidents from all states and Territories met at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service (AHS) for Close the Gap Day Event : Winnunga is an Aboriginal community controlled ACCHO primary health care service for Canberra and the ACT community
Dr Gannon said that having a trusting professional relationship with a GP is the key to good health through all stages of life, for every member of the family.
“GPs are highly skilled health professionals and the cornerstone of quality health care in Australia,” Dr Gannon said.
“They provide expert and personal advice and care to keep people healthy and away from expensive hospital treatment.
“General practice provides outstanding value for every dollar of health expenditure, and deserves greater support from all governments.”
Dr Gannon said that 86 per cent of Australians visit a GP at least once every year, and the average Australian visits their GP around six times each year.
“Around 80 per cent of patients have a usual GP, which is the best way to manage your health throughout life,” Dr Gannon said.
“Your usual GP will be able to provide comprehensive care – with immediate access to your medical history and a long-term understanding of your health care needs, including things like allergies or medications.
NACCHO APP : Find an ACCHO Doctors at one of our 302 clinics
Photo above :The NACCHO App contains a geo locator, which will help you find the nearest Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation in your area and provides heath information online and telephone on a wide range of topics and where you can go to get more information or assistance should you need urgent help
“It is so disappointing that after all the talk in Canberra in February and the goodwill that was generated, the Government is sending such a poor message to Aboriginal people about acceptance in our own country,
“Racism and discrimination have well documented negative impacts on mental health. If we fail to deal with the alarming rates of poor Mental Health in Aboriginal people, it will have ongoing detrimental impacts in preventing and managing chronic disease
Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people take their own lives at a rate five times that of other Australians and infant mortality rates are going backwards “
NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke said just a month after the Prime Minister committed to a new partnership with Aboriginal people through the Redfern Statement, he has put forward measures that would have potentially devastating impacts on the health and well-being of Aboriginal people.
Download a copy of the NACCHO Press Release or read in full below
” The Kenbi land claim was a hard-fought land rights battle, but it represents so much more than a battle over land. It was a story that epitomised the survival and the resilience of the first Australians, the survival and resilience of the Larakia people“.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Great photo opportunity above for the PM during the 2016 election campaign , but what would be the #healthyfutures for these children with increased racial hate speech ?
” In question time today, I asked Senator Brandis about the watering down of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
What insulting, offensive or humiliating comments does the Prime Minister think people should be able to say to me?
It’s sad that on Harmony Day, a day that celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity, inclusiveness and builds a sense of belonging for everyone, the Government wants to give permission for more racial hate speech
Being the target of racist, hurtful comments is deeply distressing and causes deep harm “
Senator Malarndirri McCarthy addressing the Senate see video and text below
Along with powerful videos of MPs Linda Burney and Tony Burke addressing Parliament over 18C
“The challenging thing with regard to proposals to change the act is that they are being put forward by those who have never felt vulnerable. These are the people who have never been on the receiving end of racist comments or attacks.
“Our first Australians hold a special place in the Australian community. Our government should be taking action to empower, rather than to disempower them. To be serious about ‘Closing the Gap’, the evidence is clear around racism and all Australian governments should be doing everything in their power to address these issues .”
Members of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) were shocked by the Government’s announcement being made on World Harmony Day the intention to change Section18c of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, according to PHAA CEO Michael Moore.
” The government’s reforms should, as the Inquiry recommended, address that problem specifically, and not be distracted with an abstract ideological debate, divorced from the social realities.
Section 18C is not needed to protect members of minority groups who are popular in the wider community. It is needed to protect members of unpopular minorities, and also vulnerable minorities, especially our First Peoples, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders.
We support the idea of improving the process for handling section 18C complaints, so that trivial or spurious complaints are terminated quickly.”
Rod Little and Dr Jackie Huggins, Co-chairs, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
As leaders of 10 organisations representing a wide range of culturally diverse communities in Australia, we are profoundly disappointed at today’s announcement by the Federal government of its intention to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
The Government’s planned changes to the Racial Discrimination Act and the Human Rights Commission will weaken the protection of Aboriginal Australians from racial abuse in this country at a time when suicide rates in Indigenous communities are among the worst in the world, the peak body for Aboriginal medical services said today.
NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke said just a month after the Prime Minister committed to a new partnership with Aboriginal people through the Redfern Statement, he has put forward measures that would have potentially devastating impacts on the health and well-being of Aboriginal people.
Mr. Cooke said all Senators must carefully consider the issues and rise above petty point scoring politics to defeat these amendments – which are based on an hysterical media campaign about the merits of the legislation due to a single court case and a recently published cartoon.
“Any changes to section 18C will alienate the very Aboriginal people the government says it is trying to support, and create even deeper divisions in our community,” he said.
“I urge all Senators to respect the voice of the first Australian peoples in this debate, listen to Aboriginal people about what needs to be done to close the gap, and vote down changes to laws that are likely to make it even wider.”
Mr Cooke said it was outrageous that watering down racial hate laws is a priority for the Government when the latest Closing the Gap report showed just one of seven targets are on track, and the Don Dale Royal Commission is shining a light on the treatment of Aboriginal children in detention.
Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people take their own lives at a rate five times that of other Australians and infant mortality rates are going backwards.
“It is so disappointing that after all the talk in Canberra in February and the goodwill that was generated, the Government is sending such a poor message to Aboriginal people about acceptance in our own country,” Mr Cooke said.
“Racism and discrimination have well documented negative impacts on mental health. If we fail to deal with the alarming rates of poor Mental Health in Aboriginal people, it will have ongoing detrimental impacts in preventing and managing chronic disease.
“The Government’s priorities should be on positive measures like the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, which recognises the impacts of racism and discrimination inherent in the health system, and supporting the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector to fix the national crisis in Aboriginal health.”
PHAA urges all MPs and Senators to leave 18c alone
“Members of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) were shocked by the Government’s announcement being made on World Harmony Day the intention to change Section18c of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975,” according to PHAA CEO Michael Moore.
Earlier this week Mr Moore attended a meeting on Aboriginal and Torres Islander Health where the issue of impact of racial discrimination on health was discussed at length. “The challenging thing with regard to proposals to change the act is that they are being put forward by those who have never felt vulnerable. These are the people who have never been on the receiving end of racist comments or attacks”.
“Our first Australians hold a special place in the Australian community. Our government should be taking action to empower, rather than to disempower them. To be serious about ‘Closing the Gap’, the evidence is clear around racism and all Australian governments should be doing everything in their power to address these issues”.
“A similar impact on health will be experienced by anyone who is discriminated against on the grounds of their racial or ethnic background,” said Mr Moore.
“It really is those who are vulnerable, and those who have been subjected to hateful jibes and vilification, who should be the ones making suggestions for change rather than those who are in the dominant group,” added Mr Moore.
“The PHAA calls on all MPs and Senators to leave the Act as it is”.
“People who already feel exposed to inappropriate comments do not need to be made even more vulnerable,” Mr Moore added.
The Report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights “Freedom of Speech in Australia” set the tone. Over ten thousand submissions were made and the Committee did not recommend changes. Of the twenty two recommendations, there was no consensus about a change to Section 18c.
Mr Moore concluded that “MPs and Senators should be taking guidance from the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights that examined the issue rather than kowtowing to a small hump of ultraconservatives who have played political games in order to get the numbers for a proposal that will undermine the health of the most vulnerable groups in Australia”.
Harmony Day 21 March 2017
As leaders of organisations representing a wide range of culturally diverse communities in Australia, we are profoundly disappointed at today’s announcement by the Federal government of its intention to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
If implemented, these proposals will weaken, perhaps emasculate, existing legal protections against racist hate speech. They will give a free pass to ugly and damaging forms of racial vilification which do not satisfy the stringent legal criteria of harassment and intimidation. The publication of virtually any derogatory generalisation about an entire community group would, of itself, be permissible.
To offend, insult or humiliate a person or group because of their race or ethnic background necessarily sends a message that such people, by virtue of who they are, and regardless of how they behave or what they believe, are not members of society in good standing.
This cannot but vitiate the sense of belonging of members of the group and their sense of assurance and security as citizens, and constitutes an assault upon their human dignity. This has nothing to do with a contest of ideas or free speech – which is in any event protected under section 18D – and falls far short of the mutual respect about which we have heard.
Under the government’s proposals vulnerable community groups will now have no peaceful, legal means of redress against these kinds of attacks against their dignity. This would send a signal from government of a more lenient attitude to racism and would damage social cohesion. It is especially ironic that the government has put forward these proposals on Harmony Day.
The proposal to insert a generic “reasonable person” standard into the legislation has superficial appeal, but is unfair and unworkable. The proverbial person in the pub or on the “Bondi tram” does not have the background knowledge and insight into the particularities of a minority group that would be needed to make a fair and informed assessment of what is reasonably likely to “harass or intimidate” members of that group.
Under the existing law, the assessment is made by a reasonable member of the targeted community, that is, by a member of that community who is neither overly sensitive nor overly thick-skinned. This is both more logical and more just.
A generic reasonable person test would also create the possibility that members of a group that happens to be unpopular at any time for any reason would be unfairly treated. Section 18C is not needed to protect members of minority groups who are popular in the wider community. It is needed to protect members of unpopular minorities, and also vulnerable minorities, especially our First Peoples, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders.
We support the idea of improving the process for handling section 18C complaints, so that trivial or spurious complaints are terminated quickly.
We note that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights was unable to reach a consensus, or even a majority opinion, in favour of any of the government’s proposals to amend the substantive law. Its recommendations were all limited to suggested reforms to the complaints-handling process.
This is the sensible way forward. The problems identified by the QUT case and the Bill Leak complaint all related to deficiencies of process. The government’s reforms should, as the Inquiry recommended, address that problem specifically, and not be distracted with an abstract ideological debate, divorced from the social realities.
Rod Little and Dr Jackie Huggins, Co-chairs, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
John Kennedy, President, United Indian Association
George Vellis, Co-ordinator, and George Vardas, Secretary, Australian Hellenic Council NSW
Peter Wertheim AM, Executive Director, Executive Council of Australian Jewry
Patrick Voon, Immediate Past President, Chinese Australian Forum
Tony Pang, Deputy Chair/Secretary, Chinese Australian Services Society
Randa Kattan, CEO, Arab Council Australia
Vache Executive Director, Armenian National Committee of Australia
Senator McCarthy: My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. The Prime Minister has on at least 16 occasions ruled out his government amending section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Today, on Harmony Day, we learned that the Turnbull government is proposing the removal of the words ‘insult’, ‘offend’ and ‘humiliate’ from section 18C. What insulting, offensive or humiliating comments does the Prime Minister think people should be able to say to me?
Senator Brandis: Might I begin by correcting the premise of your question: the Prime Minister has never, not on 16 occasions and not once, said that the government would never reform section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. He did say, as was the case at the time, that it was not a priority for the government.
Nevertheless, I think we all know that events have happened in this country in the recent past, in particular, the treatment of the QUT students, which was disgraceful, and the treatment of the late Bill Leak, which was disgraceful. The report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, to which Labor senators and members of the House of Representatives continue, proposed beneficial law reform. What the Prime Minister and I announced a short while ago was a strengthening of the antivilification provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act.
What you did not mention in your question, which I think is a very important consideration, is the insertion, into section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, of a prohibition against racial harassment. Did you know that in 1991, when the then—
Senator Brandis: If your leader, Senator Wong, would just control herself, I might be able to address your question. You may or may not know that in 1991 the then Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission—
Senator Cameron: On relevance. The question was: ‘What insulting, offensive or humiliating comments does the Prime Minister think that people should be able to say to the senator?’ That was the question, and he has not gone near it. He should actually take off that Harmony Day badge. It is absolutely crazy that he has that on.
The PRESIDENT: On the point of order, the Attorney-General has been giving a detailed response to a detailed question. He is aware of the question.
Senator BRANDIS: In 1991, when the current part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act was recommended, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission actually recommended to the parliament that one of the grounds of racial vilification should be harassment. That was one of the grounds recommended by the predecessor body of the Human Rights Commission. For some unaccountable reason that was not done by the then Labor government.
The PRESIDENT: Senator McCarthy, a supplementary question.
Senator McCarthy: Minister Wyatt has twice indicated he would cross the floor to vote against changes to section 18C. What consequences will there be for members of the coalition who vote against the Turnbull government’s attempt to water down protections against racism?
Senator Brandis: I am absolutely certain that every member of the coalition will be voting for these changes to strengthen section 18C, every last one of them.
The PRESIDENT: Senator McCarthy, a final supplementary question.
Senator McCarthy: When asked why the government had no plans to amend section 18C, the Prime Minister said, ‘We did not take an 18C amendment proposal to the election.’ Why is Prime Minister Turnbull willing to cave in to the Right of his party room on section 18C, while he continues to refuse a free vote on marriage equality, despite the defeat of his proposed plebiscite?
Senator Brandis: Although I am a little loath to dwell on internal politics, may I say that strengthening protections against racial vilification and vindicating freedom of speech are causes that are embraced by all elements of the Liberal Party and the coalition. You may say that section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and the complaint-handling procedures of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act are perfect and incapable of reform. You may say that, but if you do you would be alone because there is no serious person in this country who has followed human rights debate who says that section 18C in its current form, which actually omits to prohibit racial harassment, or the complaint-handling procedures of the Human Rights Commission cannot be improved. Certainly, that is what Professor Gillian Triggs has said, and I agree with her. (Time expired)
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS
Racial Discrimination Act 1975
Senator McCarthy: The answer was incredibly disappointing, in particular on this day, Harmony Day. As we reflect on Harmony Day, I want to go to some of the answers to me and my questions by Senator Brandis. I want to begin with Senator Brandis’s response in terms of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. I asked, first up, about the fact that Mr Turnbull has said on at least 16 occasions that he had ruled out his government amending section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Senator Brandis said that he had not said that—certainly not that many times. I just want to point out some very important media coverage of the moments when Mr Turnbull denied that it was a distraction for his government. In news.com, on 31 August 2016: ‘The government has no plans to make changes to section 18C’. He said it again on 30 August in The Australian:
It’s filled the op-ed pages of newspapers for years and years but the government has no plans to make any changes to section 18C. We have other more pressing, much more pressing priorities to address.
Then again on 14 November 2016, on ABC 7.30, Mr Turnbull said:
18(C) is talked about constantly on the ABC. It’s talked about constantly in what’s often called the ‘elite media’. I’ve focused overwhelmingly on the economy.
It appears that Prime Minister Turnbull has changed tack. Today is one of the most significant days in Australia and across the world. The purpose behind Harmony Day is to reflect on the diversity of culture across this country, something that unfortunately has been really stained by the Prime Minister’s move to change the Racial Discrimination Act on this day in particular. It is incredibly sad. It really is a watering down of protections against racial vilifications. The irony of it being done on this day! The Attorney-General says he does not believe the Australian people are racist.
Senator Brandis: No, I do not.
Senator McCarthy: As a white man growing up in Petersham, attending private schools, I am sure you have never been denied access or service in a shop. You have never had taxis drive past, pretending not to see you. You have never received hateful letters and emails because of your race or the colour of your skin. I really wish I could believe there are not any racists in Australia. But certainly my personal experience, and my family’s experience, informs me of the reality that I live in this country. It is deeply unfortunate.
I asked you in my question: what else do you need to say to me and to many other people of different races in this country that you cannot say now? What is it that you are so determined to say that you cannot say to people now?
My predecessor, Senator Nova Peris, had a disgraceful time in this Senate, standing here, being called all sorts of things—in fact, even on her Twitter account today—in terms of what racism she received from the general public. Just to clarify, in case you were thinking I meant it occurred in the Senate; I meant this is where she raised the issue about the racism that was displayed against her by the general public across Australia. It is really important to put this on the record. She stood courageously here to point out from her own personal experiences that racism is very much alive and strong in this country. We as parliamentarians in both the Senate and the House of Representatives must show leadership about the importance of harmony, diversity and cultural respect. That is something that is not happening now today in the Turnbull government.
Being the target of racist, hurtful comments is deeply distressing and causes deep harm. expired)
“With Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians still 20 times more likely to die from RHD, the AMA’s call for firm targets and a comprehensive and consultative strategy is welcome. We encourage governments to adopt these recommendations immediately.
“As noted by the AMA, it is absolutely critical that governments work in close partnership with Aboriginal health bodies. Without strong community controlled health services, achieving these targets for reducing RHD will be impossible.
While this is a long term challenge, the human impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are being felt deeply right now. Action is required urgently.
NACCHO is standing ready to work with the AMA and governments to develop and implement these measures. We have to work together and we have to do it now.”
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chairperson Matthew Cooke pictured above at Danila Dilba Health Service NT with AMA President Dr Michael Gannon (right ) and the Hon Warren Snowdon MP Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health (left )
” RHD, which starts out with seemingly innocuous symptoms such as a sore throat or a skin infection, but leads to heart damage, stroke, disability, and premature death, could be eradicated in Australia within 15 years if all governments adopted the recommendations of the latest AMA Indigenous Health Report Card.
AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon see full AMA Press Release below
” We have many of the answers, we just need commitment from Govt to help implement necessary changes ”
Ms Olga Havnen is the CEO of Danila Dilba Biluru Binnilutlum Health Service in Darwin
NACCHO Press Release
The peak Aboriginal health organisation today welcomed the release of the Australian Medical Association’s Report Card on Indigenous Health as a timely reminder of the importance of community controlled services.
The 2016 Report Card on Indigenous Health focuses on the enormous impact that Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is having on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia with a ‘Call to Action to Prevent New Cases of RHD in in Indigenous Australia by 2031’.
AMA RELEASES PLAN TO ERADICATE RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE (RHD) BY 2031
AMA Indigenous Health Report Card 2016: A call to action to prevent new cases of Rheumatic Heart Disease in Indigenous Australia by 2031
The AMA today called on all Australian governments and other stakeholders to work together to eradicate Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) – an entirely preventable but devastating disease that kills and disables hundreds of Indigenous Australians every year – by 2031.
AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said today that RHD, which starts out with seemingly innocuous symptoms such as a sore throat or a skin infection, but leads to heart damage, stroke, disability, and premature death, could be eradicated in Australia within 15 years if all governments adopted the recommendations of the latest AMA Indigenous Health Report Card.
The 2016 Report Card – A call to action to prevent new cases of Rheumatic Heart Disease in Indigenous Australia by 2031 – was launched at Danila Dilba Darwin Friday 25 November
Dr Gannon said the lack of effective action on RHD to date was a national failure, and an urgent coordinated approach was needed.
“RHD once thrived in inner-city slums, but had been consigned to history for most Australians,” Dr Gannon said.
“RHD is a disease of poverty, and it is preventable, yet it is still devastating lives and killing many people here in Australia – one of the world’s wealthiest countries.
“In fact, Australia has one of the highest rates of RHD in the world, almost exclusively localised to Indigenous communities.
“Indigenous Australians are 20 times more likely to die from RHD than their non-Indigenous peers – and, in some areas, such as in the Northern Territory, this rate rises to 55 times higher.
“These high rates speak volumes about the fundamental underlying causes of RHD, particularly in remote areas – poverty, housing, education, and inadequate primary health care.
“The necessary knowledge to address RHD has been around for many decades, but action to date has been totally inadequate.
“The lack of action on an appropriate scale is symptomatic of a national failure. With this Report Card, the AMA calls on all Australian governments to stop new cases of RHD from occurring.”
RHD begins with infection by Group A Streptococcal (Strep A) bacteria, which is often associated with overcrowded and unhygienic housing.
It often shows up as a sore throat or impetigo (school sores). But as the immune system responds to the Strep A infection, people develop Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF), which can result in damage to the heart valves – RHD – particularly when a person is reinfected multiple times.
RHD causes strokes in teenagers, and leads to children needing open heart surgery, and lifelong medication.
In 2015, almost 6,000 Australians – the vast majority Indigenous – were known to have experienced ARF or have RHD.
From 2010-2013, there were 743 new or recurrent cases of RHD nationwide, of which 94 per cent were in Indigenous Australians. More than half (52 per cent) were in Indigenous children aged 5-14 years, and 27 per cent were among those aged 15-24 years.
“We know the conditions that give rise to RHD, and we know how to address it,” Dr Gannon said.
“What we need now is the political will to prevent it – to improve the overcrowded and unhygienic conditions in which Strep A thrives and spreads; to educate Indigenous communities about these bacterial infections; to train doctors to rapidly and accurately detect Strep A, ARF, and RHD; and to provide culturally safe primary health care to communities.”
The AMA Report Card on Indigenous Health 2016 calls on Australian governments to:
Commit to a target to prevent new cases of RHD among Indigenous Australians by 2031, with a sub-target that, by 2025, no child in Australia dies of ARF or its complications; and
Work in partnership with Indigenous health bodies, experts, and key stakeholders to develop, fully fund, and implement a strategy to end RHD as a public health problem in Australia by 2031.
“The End Rheumatic Heart Disease Centre of Research Excellence (END RHD CRC) is due to report in 2020 with the basis for a comprehensive strategy to end RHD as a public health problem in Australia,” Dr Gannon said.
“We need an interim strategy in place from now until 2021, followed by a comprehensive 10-year strategy to implement the END RHD CRC’s plan from 2021 to 2031.
“We urge our political leaders at all levels of government to take note of this Report Card, and to be motivated to act to solve this problem.”
Labor calls on the Turnbull government to take heart and address Rheumatic Heart Disease, an entirely preventable public health problem which is almost exclusively affecting First Nation Peoples.
Labor welcomes the release of the Australian Medical Association’s 2016 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Report Card, A Call To Action To Prevent New Cases Of Rheumatic Heart Disease In Indigenous Australian By 2031.
Poor environmental health conditions, like overcrowded housing remain rampant in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, devastating families and the lives of young people.
“As the AMA’s report card suggests, we must build on the success of the 2009 Commonwealth Government Rheumatic Fever strategy, established to improve the detection and monitoring of Acute Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease.
Funding under the Rheumatic Fever strategy is uncertain after this financial year,” Ms King said.
The Productivity Commission’s report Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage [OID] released last week found 49.4% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in remote communities live in overcrowded housing. Additionally, the report details no significant improvement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples access to clean water, functional sewerage and electricity.
“We know Rheumatic Heart Disease is a disease of poverty and social disadvantage, which is absolutely preventable. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, especially in the Top End of the Northern Territory, suffer the highest rates of definite Rheumatic Heart Disease,” Mr Snowdon said.
Labor applauds the work of the Take Heart Australia awareness campaign, and their work to educate and advocate putting Rheumatic Heart Diseases on the public health agenda.
“Like always, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities need to be front and centre in taking action. The most positive outcomes will come through communities working with Aboriginal and Community Control Health Organisations to design and deliver programs tailored to their needs,” Senator Dodson said.
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 noted more than three years ago the association of RHD with ‘extremes of poverty and marginalisation’, these conditions remain and are almost exclusively diseases of Indigenous Australia.
If we are serious about closing the gap, we must take heart, and address this burden of Rheumatic Heart Disease facing First Nation Peoples.
ACTION TO END RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE (RHD) IN 15YRS
The Heart Foundation has today supported the Australian Medical Association (AMA) call for governments to work together to eliminate Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) in 15 years, by 2031.
Heart Foundation National CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly (AM) said RHD was an avoidable but widespread disease that kills and harms hundreds of Indigenous Australians every year.
“Considering how preventable RHD is, it is a national shame that our Indigenous population are left languishing.
“The Heart Foundation has strongly advocated from the RHD strategy. We continue to call on the government to fund the National Partnership Agreement on Rheumatic fever strategy and Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia (RHD Australia) with a $10 million over 3 years’ commitment, “Adj Prof Kelly said.
With the AMA predicting that RHD could be eradicated in Australia within 15 years if all governments adopted its recommendations, the time to act is now.
“We need to boost funding for the national rheumatic fever strategy. New Zealand is allocating $65 million over 10 years. A robust approach can put an end to RHD as a public health issue within 15 years,” Adj Prof Kelly said.
This call to action was part of the release of the AMA’s 2016 Indigenous Report Card – A call to action to prevent new cases of Rheumatic Heart Disease in Indigenous Australia by 2031.
“We want a strong and robust strategy to tackle this challenge. We will be working with the AMA to support and advocate for these recommendations which include:
A commitment to a target to prevent new cases of RHD among Indigenous Australians by 2031, with a sub-target that, by 2025, no child in Australia dies of ARF or its complications; and
Working in partnership with Indigenous health bodies, experts, and key stakeholders
to develop, fully fund, and implement a strategy to end RHD as a public health problem in Australia by 2031.
“It’s good news that we’re having success in improving mortality rates for mothers and babies, But we owe these children a better future than one where they’re at higher risk of dislocation from Country and culture, poor mental health, suicide, family violence, imprisonment and poverty.
We owe them the same future as every other Australian child.
Political will was needed to address disadvantage and make more inroads into closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in health and well-being and social advantage.”
Aboriginal health services must be given a greater front line role in overcoming Aboriginal disadvantage, Australia’s peak Aboriginal health body said today.
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chair Matthew Cooke said the Productivity Commission’s Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report released today shows gains in some close the gap targets, but some areas of disadvantage are worse than the last report two years ago.
Mr Cooke said it was encouraging that child mortality rates have improved since 1998; more Aboriginal students are completing high school and university; and employment rates have increased.
However family violence rates, alcohol and substance use are unchanged; the mental health of Aboriginal communities is continuing to decline; and rates of juvenile incarceration have increased to 24 times the rate for non-Indigenous youth.
“Until governments show the political will to address all the determinants of health and well-being, we will not close these gaps,” he said.
“We’ve identified the disadvantage many, many times. The harder part is providing the services, the programs, and the changes to community attitudes that are need to overcome the disadvantage.
“It’s time to move beyond paper plans and strategies to action on the ground and that means real engagement with Aboriginal communities and empowering Aboriginal community controlled health services to take the lead.”
Matthew Cooke will keynote speakers at the NACCHO Members Conference in Melbourne
1. NACCHO Interim 3 day Program has been released -Download
” The Healthy Futures Report card will support our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services as the preferred model for Indigenous primary health care because our ACCHO services continue to improve in most of our sectors key performance indicators.”
That’s why it’s absolutely imperative that we continue to see in these Healthy Future Report Cards those commitments to programs and health care models that work – programs created by Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people which involve them in their own health and support them to have brighter healthy futures.”
Mr. Matthew Cooke Chair NACCHO /CEO QAIHC ( Pictured below right with Deputy Chair Sandy Davies.
Article from Page 1 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper out Wednesday 16 November , 24 Page lift out Koori Mail :
This week in our NACCHO Communique/ newspaper series
Wednesday The Hon Ken Wyatt ” Aboriginal Health and wellbeing are matters close to my heart
Thursday The Hon Warren Snowdon : “ATSI Health needs more that a 10 year plan – It need political will ”
Friday Professor Kerry Arabena ” The First 1000 days -Early Childhood ”
The release of the Healthy Futures Report Card 2016 at the NACCHO 2016 Members Conference in December will be a major step forward in showing the improved performance across all the Aboriginal Community Controlled member organisations according to NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke.
Published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and to be launched by the Assistant Health Minister Ken Wyatt the report will consolidate and showcase information about the levels of activities, performance and outcomes achieved by NACCHO members and direct member’s future efforts and planning for improvement.
Mr Cooke said NACCHO had instigated the first Report Cards back in 2015 to provide annual, relevant and authoritative analysis of service provision and performance data produced by its our member services and which contributed to government data bases.
“Our 302 clinics have provided services to over 340,000 clients, about 275,000 of whom were Indigenous (an increase of 8 per cent over 2012-13), provided almost 2.9 million episodes of care, over 2.5 million to Indigenous clients (an increase of 19 per cent over 2012-13) and employed some 3,300 Indigenous staff.
“Data is critical in providing detail of the role and contribution to the delivery by our member services and the sector to the national health system within this evolving funding environment.
This type of Report Card provides an incontestable document that demonstrates the role, outputs and impact of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCHOs) in providing high quality, culturally appropriate, comprehensive primary health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
As I have previously highlighted we are still however a long way from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people achieving the same health outcomes as other Australians,” Mr Cooke said.
The recent Productivity Commission’s Report on the performance of the National Indigenous Reform Agreement has shown that investment in the mainstream organisations is not the answer.
Mr. Cooke re-emphasized his called for a range of measures which will help to close the health gap:
Ongoing investment in, and expansion of, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to deliver more care, in more areas, to more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
Funding for the Implementation Plan of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan;
Improvements in the delivery of medicines under the Close the Gap PBS co-payment measure;
An improvement in patient coordination between hospitals and primary health care providers and
Reworking of the IAS program with a view to ensuring programs that work continue to be supported including measures to reduce tobacco use, mums & bubs programs and other social and emotional wellbeing programs run through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.
“Closing the Gap has enjoyed multi-party support for more than ten years and generational change doesn’t happen overnight but this Healthy Futures Report Card will confirm that we are heading in the right direction ‘” Mr Cooke said
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“In a wealthy country such as Australia, I am appalled by the unacceptable gap in the health of Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people. More than one-third (37%) of the diseases or illness experienced by Aboriginal people are preventable.
“We need to act before another generation of young Aboriginal people have to live with avoidable diseases and die far too young.
If we are serious about turning this crisis around we need sustained investment in evidence-based programs for Aboriginal people, by Aboriginal people, through Aboriginal community controlled health services – a model we know works.
Matthew Cooke Chair of NACCHO pictured above with Vice Chair Sandy Davies
New figures show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience ill health at more than double that of non-Indigenous Australians.
The peak Aboriginal health organisation, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) said the report highlights the urgent need for a rethink on actions to address the already known and growing crisis in Aboriginal health.
The report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released today shows Aboriginal Australians experience a burden of disease at 2.3 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians.
“It’s given us a clearer picture of the real impact for Aboriginal communities of poor health in terms of years of health lives lost, quality of life and wellbeing and what the risks factors really are,” Mr Cooke said.
“It’s shown that we still have a massive challenge to address the overwhelming level of non-fatal burden in mental health in particular – which makes up 43 per cent of non-fatal illness in men and 35 per cent of these conditions in women.
The AIHW report found that injuries, including suicide, heart disease and cancer are the biggest causes of death in Aboriginal people. Levels of diabetes and kidney disease are five and seven times higher in Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people.
Mr Cooke said the report must trigger a rethink on how health programs are funded and delivered to Aboriginal people.
“The risk factors causing health problems include tobacco use, alcohol use, high body mass, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high blood glucose and dietary factors – all of which can be addressed with the right programs on the ground and delivered by the right people.
“All levels of government should urgently act on this evidence; we need to see these findings translated into programs, policies and funding priorities that are proven to work. Too many programs aimed at addressing Aboriginal health are still fragmented, out of touch with local communities, unaffordable or inaccessible.
“If we are serious about turning this crisis around we need sustained investment in evidence-based programs for Aboriginal people, by Aboriginal people, through Aboriginal community controlled health services – a model we know works.”
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“The Closing the Gap challenge is often described as a problem to be solved – but more than anything it is an opportunity. If our greatest assets are our people, if our richest capital is our human capital, then the opportunity to empower the imagination, the enterprise, the wisdom and the full potential of our First Australians is an exciting one.
And when we focus on the gap to be closed and ending the disadvantage that entails, we should not overlook or fail to celebrate the many successes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
“It is equally important we listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when they tell us what is working and what needs to change. It’s our role as government to provide an environment that enables Indigenous leaders to develop local solutions., it is time for Governments to ‘do things with aboriginal people, not do things to them’.
The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Closing the Gap 2016 speech
“Going forward, the Australian Government will continue to work in partnership with the Aboriginal community controlled health sector, including the National Health Leadership Forum, in delivering, reviewing and reporting on the Implementation Plan.
Overall this Government is investing $3.3 billion through the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme, to support the continued delivery of services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services. This is an increase of over $500 million when compared with the previous four years.
We are providing $1.4 billion over three years to enable the continued delivery of primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
I must finish by congratulating Matthew Cooke and his team for their leadership and tireless hard work to drive the positive vision and outcomes of NACCHO during my time”
Senator Fiona Nash pictured above with NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke at a recent Parliamentary event in Canberra
The Coalition Government is committed to closing the gap and achieving health equality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians.
We recognise that good health is both a key enabler and outcome that supports children to go to school, adults to lead productive working lives, and builds strong and resilient communities.
The Coalition Government has a proud record on Indigenous health. We are on track to meet the target of halving the child mortality rate by 2018. The gap has narrowed by 34%.
We have also seen a 19% decrease in chronic disease mortality; and there has been some progress on closing the gap in life expectancy.
Better health leads to improved school attendance and workforce participation.
The outlook for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes is improving. However, I will not shirk the clear fact that there is much more to do.
The passion and commitment which drove me to enter politics over 10 years ago has driven me as Minister responsible for Indigenous Health and will continue as we roll out The Implementation Plan.
We are providing $1.4 billion over three years to enable the continued delivery of primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
We have recently announced further funding to the Tackling Indigenous Smoking Programme, and furthered our commitment to eradicate trachoma – Australia being the only developed nation in the world to still have this eye condition.
We are investing an additional $94 million over three years, commencing in 2015-16, to expand maternal and child health services to ensure Indigenous children have the best possible start in life and are able to succeed at school.
In the interests of continuity, the Coalition decided to adopt and build on the 10 year National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (2013-2023), delivered when Labor was in power. That document was a high level, strategic document – the Implementation Plan now details actions and achievable goals.
The release of this Implementation Plan is an important milestone in Indigenous health and is the result of deep cooperation between the Government and indigenous stakeholders.
The Implementation Plan is a ten-year road map: a strategy to improve the health of Indigenous children, Indigenous youth and Indigenous adults. It is further evidence of the Coalition Government’s commitment to Closing the Gap.
It introduces strategies and actions to improve access of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to health care services.
The Implementation Plan also includes actions to improve the cultural safety of health services.
I worked extremely hard with Labor and the Greens to make sure the Implementation Plan had tri-party support, so that it will withstand the political cycle. The Plan won’t be ripped apart the next time the Government changes because it had the support of all parties
The Plan commits the sector and the Government to increasing the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-4 who have had at least one health check a year from 23 to 69 per cent by 2023.
It also aims to increase the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth who have never smoked from 77 to 91 per cent by 2023; and the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who are fully immunised by age 1 from 85 per cent to 88 per cent by 2023.
Going forward, the Australian Government will continue to work in partnership with the Aboriginal community controlled health sector, including the National Health Leadership Forum, in delivering, reviewing and reporting on the Implementation Plan.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has made a fresh pitch to Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory as he seeks to firm up votes ahead of Saturday’s poll.
Speaking on 105.7 ABC Darwin, based in the Coalition’s marginal seat of Solomon, Mr Turnbull was asked whether he would retain a focus on Indigenous affairs and retain the portfolio within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The seat is currently held by a margin of only 1.5 per cent by incumbent Country Liberals party (CLP) politician Natasha Griggs.
Mr Turnbull said he had demonstrated his commitment to Aboriginal people by recently attending the Kenbi land title handover in the NT.
“It is my government that has set up the Indigenous procurement program which has now seen — we are moving towards — 3 per cent of all Commonwealth contracts, by number, going to Indigenous businesses,” Mr Turnbull said.
“That is the target and over $150 million in less than a year has gone to Indigenous businesses, many of them of course being businesses set up by Territorians from Indigenous people from the Territory,” he said.
Mr Turnbull also said he thought people in the NT would be wise enough not to confuse federal issues with the woes being experienced by the NT’s CLP government.
“The people of Darwin and the people of the Northern Territory more generally are politically wise enough to know the difference between Territory politics and federal politics,” he said.
” Large numbers of Aboriginal health workers operate in rural and remote communities and conduct outreach services into some of the most remote locations in Australia.
“Ensuring our workers are safe as they go about their critical work must be a priority for us all,”
NACCHO Chairperson, Matthew Cooke :
Background Over 5,800 staff work in our member services of which 3,200 are Indigenous : Picture above Gidgee Healing’s board and staff at ” Aboriginal Health In Aboriginal Hands ” video shoot :Photographer Wayne Quilliam : Gidgee vision is to make a significant and growing contribution towards achieving equity in health outcomes for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across our geographic service area, including the Mount Isa, North West and Lower Gulf regions.
Finding better ways to protect health workers in rural and remote communities will be a priority during a series of upcoming community-led roundtables being hosted by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).
“The recent tragic death of a nurse in a remote area of South Australia’s Far North is a terrible reminder of some of the challenges faced by our workforce every day.
“These doctors, nurses and health workers do incredible work, often attending to patients with very complex health needs, providing services in locations hundreds of kilometres from the nearest mainstream health service.
“As a nation, we must find ways to continue to provide quality health care to the people living in these remote locations while at the same time ensuring our workers remain free from harm.”
Mr Cooke said NACCHO remained committed to improving access to quality health care in rural and remote communities throughout Australia.
He commended Minister for Rural Health, Fiona Nash, for recently hosting a meeting of providers and representatives of remote health services and said NACCHO wanted to further engage with NACCHO members to inform next steps.
“This matter needs long term solutions to improve the safety of community and clinicians living and working in rural and remote communities.
“Last year NACCHO launched a series of roundtables of our 150 member Services operating in urban, rural and remote locations.
“It’s critical these grassroots organisations on the health front line are involved in finding solutions to the range of challenges common to those working in such environments.
“NACCHO intends to continue these roundtables with our member Services to canvas the issues of safety and security, discuss health issues and policy, share learnings with each other and plan together.
“The outcomes of these roundtables will be used to inform all levels of governments on the actions needed to ensure the safety of the rural and remote workforce.”
Hear their stories : In 2015 NACCHO engaged a production team to record and edit interviews with Aboriginal health leaders and community members in approx. 20 urban, rural and remote member locations throughout all states and territories of Australia.
At each site NACCHO has interviewed board members , CEO’s , medical, Aboriginal Health Workers, Health Promotion Teams and community members. VIEW HERE
With an early Federal Election looking likely, it’s time to encourage all political parties to focus on Aboriginal health and the critical role of the community controlled sector in improving services and health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Turnbull Government has flagged it will call a Double Dissolution Election on July 2 if the Senate refuses to pass the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) Bill, targeting unions. The Prime Minister has until May 11 to call the poll.
NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper available as a FREE lift out in Koori Mail 6 April or as Download HERE or on the Koori Mail APP (see below)
A decade after governments agreed to bipartisan support for the Close the Gap agreement, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chairperson, Matthew Cooke, said long term commitment from politicians to strengthen and grow the community controlled sector, through partnership with it, must be a priority for all political parties.
“One of the principles that is espoused by all levels of government on Aboriginal issues is that engagement with Aboriginal communities and organisations is the only way to successfully close the gap,” Mr. Cooke said.
“Time and again we see evidence that supports that principle.
“Our own sector, managed by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people, is making the biggest in-roads against the Closing the Gap health targets.
“Our services provide over two million episodes of care nationally each year and have made the biggest gains against the targets to halve child mortality and improve maternal health. “
“Indeed, our services have successfully contributed to the Close the Gap targets that have reduced child mortality rates by 66% and overall mortality rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by 33% over the last two decades.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Healthy Futures Report Card (2015) also highlights ACCHOs’ continued improvement in other areas that measure good practice in primary health care.
Those improvements include increasing the proportion of regular patients who are recorded as having an MBS health assessment; patients with existing conditions who are immunised against influenza; and, patients with Type 2 Diabetes receiving MBS General Practice Management Plans and MBS Team Care Arrangements.
“The fact is, Aboriginal people prefer health care that is holistic and provided in a culturally sensitive environment and that’s why our service delivery model works,” Mr Cooke said.
“Too many Aboriginal people have experienced racism and judgement in the mainstream health system, along with a very clinical approach to health care that doesn’t recognise connections to community and country.
“The holistic approach to health that operates in the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector takes a broader look, considers the range of complex issues affecting health and includes educating patients and preventative measures.
“And it works.”
Mr Cooke said he’d like all parties to commit to a roadmap to extend the reach of Aboriginal health services to ensure more Aboriginal people in more areas can access Aboriginal Community Controlled health care.
“Our services are struggling to meet the demand,’ Mr Cooke said.
“We know many Aboriginal people are driving many kilometers, often past several mainstream service providers, to access the culturally safe care offered by our services.
“Many miss out altogether as they don’t have access to a service where they live.
“Expanding the Aboriginal community controlled network would help improve the health outcomes for Aboriginal people.
“It would mean refocusing the heath system a bit – and a better allocation of the funding pie, ensuring long-term funding certainty, fairer tendering processes and faster decision making by government departments.”
“I believe there’d be real rewards in terms of better health outcomes for Aboriginal people for that effort. ”
Mr Cooke said that approach is confirmed by the Productivity Commission Report released at the end of last year on the National Indigenous Reform Agreement Performance Assessment 2013-14.
“That Report showed mainstream services have not proved they can deliver better outcomes than our sector,” he said.
Mr Cooke said Aboriginal people would also be looking closely at commitments around the Government’s controversial Indigenous Advancement Strategy, which saw the transfer of important Aboriginal health programs to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
See story Page 4 :Indigenous Advancement Strategy report: Abbott-era indigenous cuts went too far, Senate inquiry
That Strategy’s tendering process drew heavy criticism from respondents to a recent Senate Inquiry.
“The Aboriginal controlled health sector is not afraid of contestability, in fact it welcomes it,” Mr Cooke said. “Yet that was a patently unfair process that didn’t consider results on the ground.”
Mr Cooke said overall he was optimistic about the possible outcomes an election could bring.
“There is a real opportunity in an election campaign to hear the commitments of future governments to Aboriginal people.
“We are hopeful all parties will make Aboriginal health a priority and work with us toward reducing the persistent health gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.”
NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper available as a FREE lift out in Koori Mail 6 April or as Download HERE or on the Koori Mail APP
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*The National Diabetes Scheme is an initiative of the Australian Government administered by Diabetes Australia.
NACCHO chair encourages our award winning health services
Youngsters at the Indigenous Governance Awards winning Institute for Urban Indigenous Health: Photo Wayne Quilliam
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Chair Matthew Cooke is encouraging all of its 150 member services to enter this year’s Indigenous Governance Awards (IGA).
This year the awards will celebrate organisations that are developing local solutions to local problems with culture as a source of strength and innovation and no one does it better than our Aboriginal community controlled health services said Mr Cooke.
One of the NACCHO/QAIHC members, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health in Brisbane, became a finalist last year for its ‘Work it Out’ and ‘Deadly Choices’ programs, which was a major achievement giving they were only in their fifth year of operation. This recognised how the programs impacted on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in South-East Queensland,” he said.
This is only one of many potential award winning health services that should be encouraged to enter these prestigious awards “ Mr Cooke said : Applications for the Awards close on May 20 : visit www.reconciliation.org.au/iga/ for more information
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation is proud to be part of an alliance which has signed an agreement with Yalata community in South Australia to stamp out Trachoma – a leading cause of preventable blindness in a number of remote Aboriginal communities.
Picture Above :Maureen Smart (OAM) the Chairperson of the Yalata Community Council (seated on right) and councillors sign the agreement at Yalata Community on 26 October 2015; and seated on the left, John Singer (NACCHO Board Member, Chairperson of the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia and Director of Nganampa Health Council) and Joanne Badke (CEO, Tullawon Health Service – standing behind the Chairperson of the Yalata Community Council).
The agreement between the Yalata Community near Ceduna in South Australia and the Australian Trachoma Alliance (ATA)* headed by former Governor General, Major General Michael Jeffery, commits to working together on an action plan to address the key causes of trachoma.
National Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chairperson Matthew Cooke said it was disappointing that Australia remained the only Western country affected by the disease.
“Trachoma is a contagious bacterial infection, which if left untreated can lead to corneal scarring and eventually blindness,” Mr Cooke said.
“In remote communities such as Yalata it is spread through overcrowding, poor hygiene and substandard environmental health conditions – all of which can be addressed by effective planning and education.
“Poor eye-sight affects learning, it affects health and it affects a person’s ability to care for their family, with devastating impacts on the welfare of entire families. We need to move beyond treating trachoma through surgery or antibiotics to preventing infection and reinfection in the first place.”
Major General Michael Jeffery said the ATA’s Safe Eyes Project was mostly funded by the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Trust which is working to eliminate causes of preventable blindness in Commonwealth countries.
Yalata is one of three desert communities in central Australia taking part by addressing facial hygiene and environmental health, which will improve eye health and also help reduce the incidence of other communicable diseases such as rheumatic fever and gastroenteritis.
“This commitment has been initiated by the Yalata community – it’s not people coming in from outside and telling them what should be done,” Mr Jeffrey said.
“A key principle of the commitment signed today is the Yalata community controls the planning process so it works for them and builds on existing health and Trachoma programs, with support from the ATA. Community resources will be used wherever possible.”
*ATA members are NACCHO, The Fred Hollows Foundation, Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Australia, Vision 2020 Australia and the Indigenous Eye Health Unit at the University of Melbourne.
A clean face and clean environment are key prevention strategies to combat Trachoma.
More than 50 developing countries in Africa and Asia are still affected by Trachoma
In 2009 the Australian Government made a commitment to eliminate blinding trachoma from Aboriginal communities.
Trachoma remains prevalent in many remote communities.
Like conjunctivitis and other bacterial infections spread by contact it particularly affects children.
In Alice Springs in 2014 the ATA convened a forum of Aboriginal Controlled Community Owned Health Organisations from the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia to discuss how trachoma can be eliminated in their communities.