NACCHO Aboriginal Health Plan #NATSIHP : New advisory group established to assist with implementation plan


 “ The acknowledgement of racism as a critical component for health in the National Health Plan was a huge step forward and  I’m delighted the Implementation Plan had sown seeds to tackle social and cultural determinants of health , which contributed to 31 per cent of the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.”

Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ken Wyatt see his comments about 18C below

At the #LowitjaConf2016 Assistant Minister Wyatt announced the makeup of a new advisory group established to assist with the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (NATSIHP)

Download PDF copy of NATSIHP implementation plan here


Download PDF copy of NATSIHP  here


Marie McInerney from Croakey writes

He said it would include representatives of the Department of Health and Prime Minister and Cabinet and of the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare.

Indigenous health sector representatives would include:

1.Healing Foundation CEO Richard Weston (as co-chair)

2.National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO Pat Turner

3.Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Dr Mark Wenitong,

See NACCHO TV interview here with Dr Mark

4.Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Alice Springs Ms Donna Ah Chee, CEO

See NACCHO TV Interview here with Donna

5.Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service Canberra Julie Tongs OAM, CEO

See NACCHO TV Interview here with Julie

Jurisdictional members of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Standing Committee would also join, he said.


Read 49 NACCHO Posts about NATSIHP here

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan is an evidence-based policy framework designed to guide policies and programmes to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health over the next decade until 2023.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 was developed to provide an overarching framework which builds links with other major Commonwealth health activities and identifies areas of focus to guide future investment and effort in relation to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

On 30 May 2014 Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, Assistant Minister for Health, announced that an Implementation plan would be developed outlining the Commonwealth’s coordinated efforts to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ken Wyatt comments about 18C

Speaking to Croakey, he indicated he may support a move, heralded by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, to replace the words “insult” and “offend” with “vilify” in Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, as a move to meet demands from ultra Coalition conservatives while not scrapping the provision.

His comments came as the Federal Government set up a parliamentary inquiry into the Act to determine whether it imposes unreasonable limits on free speech and to recommend whether the law should be changed.

Wyatt said he would always fight to ensure people are not “racially vilified” but he said he did not want to see Parliament persuaded to “repeal” Section 18C.

“I would rather see a reconstruction that has strong words that stood the test against vilification and racism.”



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Press Release Minister Fiona Nash :New goals to improve Indigenous health


The Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme is investing $3.3 billion over four years to support the continued delivery of services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly through Aboriginal community controlled health services,”

Minister for Rural Health Fiona Nash has launched an Implementation Plan to help Close the Gap by improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


The Implementation Plan is a ten-year road map: a strategy to better health for Indigenous children, Indigenous youth and Indigenous adults. It is further evidence of the Coalition Government’s commitment to Closing the Gap.

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, putting meat on the bones.

“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,” Minister Nash said.

“The Implementation Plan includes 20 specific goals which will be used to measure outcomes in Indigenous health.

“It lays out goals in the areas of antenatal health, health checks, immunisation, smoking rates and diabetes. The Plan also lays down the changes needed to make the health system more comprehensive, culturally safe and effective for Indigenous Australians.

“The Indigenous health sector has made it clear this Plan was important to them and we have delivered it.”

The Plan commits the sector and the Government to increasing the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-4 who have 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.

National Health Leadership Forum Chairman and Lowitja Institute Chief Executive Officer Romlie Mokak welcomed the Plan.

The Government, through Minister Nash, has worked in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to develop an effective plan for achieving better health outcomes for our people,” Mr Mokak said

“From here, we must all ensure implementation of the plan, including addressing the wider social and cultural determinants of health and wellbeing.”

Minister Nash said work has already begun to progress the Implementation Plan.

“We are investing $94 million to expand efforts to improve child and maternal health through Better Start to Life; and $36.2 million will expand the Healthy for Life programme into a further 32 Aboriginal community controlled health organisations to better manage chronic disease.

“We also encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have health checks and free vaccinations.”

Minister Nash thanked those who had been involved in preparing the Implementation Plan, including the National Health Leadership Forum which has partnered with the Australian Government and provided expertise in developing the Plan.

She acknowledged the work done in the Indigenous health space by former Indigenous Health Minister, Mr Warren Snowdon, Senator Rachel Siewert, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and individuals.


Another step towards Indigienous Health Equality.


The Australian Government is taking another important step towards securing health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash has asked for work to begin on developing a plan for implementing the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan.

“The implementation plan is about ensuring we deliver real outcomes on the ground,” Minister Nash said at the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Summit at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday.

The Government is updating the Health Plan to reflect the Coalition’s approach and priorities in Indigenous affairs. In particular, the updated Plan will recognise the links between health and the key social determinants of education, employment and community safety.

“Higher education attainment, paid employment and safe communities are all connected with better health, and the Government is striving to ensure that these are delivered to improve the lives of Indigenous people nationally,” Minister Nash said.

“The Health Plan provides a useful framework to guide policy and programme development. However, Indigenous health will only be improved by concrete action on the ground.”

“The Government announced in the Budget that through a $94 million investment in Better Start to Life the Government will expand efforts in child and maternal health to support Indigenous children to be healthy and go to school”.

“The Government is committed to closing the gap by ending the cycle of disadvantage which starts with poor child health,” Minister Nash said.

“Focussing on the critical early years means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will get a positive foundation for life.”

As outlined in the Budget, the Australian Government will invest $3.1 billion in Indigenous specific health programmes and activities from 2014-15 to 2017-18 – an increase of more than $500 million compared to 2009-10 to 2012-13.

NACCHO MJA report: Partnership and leadership: key to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal people


Article by:Tammy M Kimpton, BMed, President, Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association, Canberra, ACT.

Pictured above second from right at last weeks AIDA launch

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association urges all medical professionals to support and participate in the values it hopes will be embedded in future health policy

This year, we will see the development of a new National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan to guide governments in improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.1 Development of the Health Plan will be led by the Minister for Indigenous Health, with the support of a stakeholder advisory group to bring together the government and organisations with expertise in Indigenous health.2

The aim of this Health Plan is to shape the tone, direction and content of Indigenous health policy into the future. Apart from becoming familiar with the evidence and government priorities on areas of Indigenous health that relate to our work, medical professionals should note the particular values and themes that the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) wants to see embedded throughout the document; these include culture, partnership, Indigenous leadership and workforce. These principles are inextricably linked and are important not only to federal policy development and implementation but also to individual medical professionals in a range of areas, including in our day-to-day interactions with patients, care planning and staff recruitment and development.

Workforce will need to be an important feature of the Health Plan because building an adequate health workforce is crucial to delivering high-quality, sustainable health services for Indigenous people. The Indigenous medical workforce in Australia is growing, but Indigenous people are still underrepresented in this area. In 2011, the intake of first-year Indigenous medical students in Australian universities reached parity at 2.5% — for the first time matching the proportion of Australia’s population made up of Indigenous people.3 To ensure that the Indigenous medical workforce continues to grow, academic, professional and cultural support is essential. In particular, Indigenous medical students and doctors are more likely to stay and thrive in learning and working environments that consistently demonstrate cultural safety.3

The solution to both a stronger workforce and further improvements in Indigenous health is partnership: our people working alongside non-Indigenous people in order to achieve an agreed goal. Such partnerships are seen in collaboration agreements which spread across the medical education continuum. Agreements currently exist between AIDA and Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand, and AIDA and the Confederation of Postgraduate Medical Education Councils; an agreement will soon be launched between AIDA and the Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges. This collaboration did not happen overnight; it was a lengthy process, with trust being built over time and through each organisation demonstrating its commitment to improving Indigenous health. These best-practice models are available on the AIDA website ( and should be recognised by all medical professionals as a best-practice framework for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, health is not just about an individual’s physical wellbeing; it is a holistic concept that encompasses the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the entire community. AIDA asserts that the Health Plan needs to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures at its centre in recognition of the importance of culture to the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people. As medical professionals, we must also embed culture in the provision of health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as evidence shows correlations between increased cultural attachment and better health and wellbeing.1 In achieving this, it is important that the Health Plan be developed and conducted through genuine partnerships between governments, Indigenous organisations and communities, not only because such an approach is consistent with what is contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but because it makes good sense.4

AIDA recommends creating strong partnerships with Indigenous organisations and communities to guarantee Indigenous participation in decision making and showcase strong Indigenous leadership in communities.3

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, particularly through the peak national health bodies, is paramount in providing government with professional advice from Indigenous health practitioners in developing the Health Plan.3 AIDA recognises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisations play a central role in the health of Indigenous people; however, it is also important that members of the non-Indigenous mainstream health workforce play their role in delivering equitable services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is expected that the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan will be released later this year. I encourage you, upon reading it, to ask yourself what your role is in delivering quality and culturally appropriate health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to consider how this role could be strengthened. As members of the health workforce, we need to locate ourselves within the Health Plan and implement strategies in partnership with Indigenous communities and organisations. AIDA argues that this combination of strategic action and partnership is critical to achieving equitable health and life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

NACCHO MJA heath news: NAIDOC Week issue devoted to exploring the health status of Australia’s Aboriginal peoples

SNAICC Kids Low Re
Article by: Ruth Armstrong, Senior Deputy Editor – Medical Journal of Australia, Sydney, NSW.

This issue of the MJA, timed to coincide with NAIDOC Week, is devoted to exploring the health status of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples — particularly our children and young people. Children aged 0–14 years make up 35% of the Australian Indigenous population, write Eades and Stanley.

Data on their health and development are patchy but indicate a growing divide between Indigenous and other Australian children for several risk factors and conditions. Azzopardi and colleagues add a systematic review of the evidence for young people aged 10–24 years into the mix, finding gaps in the observational research for urban settings, mental health and injury, and confirming the well known dearth of interventional studies.

Two studies in this issue add to the scant evidence available by testing simple interventions that might lead to improvements, such as providing subsidised fruit and vegetable boxes to disadvantaged families in regional towns (Black and colleagues) and swimming pools in remote communities (Stephen and colleagues).

Turning our thoughts to the health needs of Indigenous children is always important but is particularly timely now. A federal election, with all its potential for policy upheaval, is just 2 months away. In the first article in our pre-election series, Arabena recognises an urgent need for better data to evaluate existing and future policies, and envisages a plan for health that takes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ perspectives, wishes and culture into account, and brings an end to aspects of the health system that contribute to inequality, such as racism.

Independently of the election, the Australian Government is developing a new National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan for the next decade. Kimpton, president of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association, says the plan will have the best chance of success if it has at its heart some important principles: nurturing of the Indigenous health workforce; genuine, strong partnerships with Indigenous organisations; fostering culture as integral to health and wellbeing; and promoting Indigenous leadership, while involving the whole health system.

The solutions to many health problems for Indigenous children lie outside the health system, but making our health services accessible, culturally safe and appropriate places will lead to better outcomes for the families who inevitably need them. “Cultural competence” can be a daunting term for doctors. Thackrah and Thompson encourage us to look at our own culture of medicine and the practical realities of patients’ lives when trying to put this difficult concept into practice.

Amid all this thinking and soul searching, there are good examples of what works — innovative health promotion and education programs combining the nurturing effects of “country” with exchanges of new knowledge (Webb and colleagues), and thriving health services where Indigenous families can truly have their health needs met and that also serve as centres of outreach bringing sorely needed medical expertise to remote communities (McGilvray).

As Milroy reminds us in her response to a study that found many Aboriginal children had been exposed to traumatic, potentially health damaging experiences (Askew and colleagues), Indigenous children need access to the best possible health services right now and for years to come.

History tells us that policies fail, and services falter, when they are not developed in consultation with those for whom they are designed. On this point, Eades and Stanley concur: “… we believe that Australian services have failed to close the gap in child health because they have been developed without involving or engaging First Nations people”. At this important time in Australian history, we have yet another chance to get it right. Be it by public policy or individual action, we need to do all we can to make our health services places of healing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.