“Closing the gap requires a coordinated approach at the state and federal levels as the challenges faced by Aboriginal people are interconnected.You can’t improve overall health outcomes without also looking at the social determinants, things like housing, education and poverty. Similarly, you can’t improve health outcomes while the numbers of Aboriginal people in our jails continues to rise,”
Said NACCHO chair Justin Mohamed .(see press release below) pictured above with Shane Duffy NATSILS
“Congress calls upon the Prime Minister to show leadership and understanding of the need for increased capacity in our organisations and communities. He can demonstrate that by ensuring the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services is retained and strengthened,”
Said Co-Chair National Congress Les Malezer.(see press release below)
Yesterday the Federal Government delivered the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2013-2014.
Here are some things from the report as they relate to Aboriginal Affairs and Aboriginal Health and Health more broadly.
-The Indigenous Carbon Farming Fund
-Remote Indigenous Energy Programme
-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Programme ($1.0 m in 2013-2014)
-Office of the Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services
-$27m from the Healthier Communities Priority Infrastructure Programme
-$5m Chronic Disease Prevention and Services Improvement Fund
-National Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Programs – 22.3m
-Public Health Program – $6mil
-$45 mil for Vocation Training and Employment Centres for 5000 Aboriginal job seekers under the Generation One model
-$5 for Empowered Communities based on Jawun Model.
-$1mil for Indigenous Advisory Council (Chaired by Warren Mundine)
-$40mil of redirected funding to re-open Indigenous Employment Programme in remote areas
NACCHO Press release
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chair, Justin Mohamed, said cutting legal services made no economic sense when you take into account the wider implications of incarceration on issues such as employment, education and health.
“The fact is people in our jail system often suffer from poor mental and physical health,” Mr Mohamed said.
“Incarceration also can have broader impacts on the health of those left behind – on the imprisoned person’s family and broader community.
“With rates of incarceration of Aboriginal people increasing, we should be doing everything we can to turn around the huge numbers of Aboriginal people in our prisons.
“NACCHO supports the good work of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services – both who play an important role in keeping our people out of jail.
“They provide education and early intervention support and advice which can mean the difference between a life of incarceration and one that makes a contribution to the community.
“The Federal Government need to rethink their position and recognise how crucial a national voice on Aboriginal legal policy is in reducing the disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal people in the justice system.
“Aboriginal peak bodies understand better than anyone the issues their people face and the factors that contribute to them entering the justice system.
“Taking that voice from the mix to save a few dollars will just hamper future efforts to improve outcomes across a range of factors including health, education and employment.”
Mr Mohamed said closing the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people needed an integrated approach.
“Aboriginal people make up more than thirty percent of the prison population, despite being only a fraction of the Australian population.
“Closing the gap requires a coordinated approach at the state and federal levels as the challenges faced by Aboriginal people are interconnected.
“You can’t improve overall health outcomes without also looking at the social determinants, things like housing, education and poverty. Similarly, you can’t improve health outcomes while the numbers of
Aboriginal people in our jails continues to rise,” Mr Mohamed said.
National Congress Condemns Cuts
The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (Congress) strongly opposes the decision by the Federal Government to cut funding to community controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.
The government’s ‘hit or miss’ funding cuts to our organisations, at the beginning of their term and before the completion of their highly-publicised inquiries, endangers the collaborative approach offered by the Prime Minister.
Today’s news that the national body for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services is to be defunded is a significant blow and does not reflect an effort to engage in partnership.
Having a national body for the legal services increases the skills, experience and effectiveness of all the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, and brings greater efficiency to the expenditure incurred by those legal services.
“Congress calls upon the Prime Minister to show leadership and understanding of the need for increased capacity in our organisations and communities. He can demonstrate that by ensuring the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services is retained and strengthened,” said Co-Chair Les Malezer.
“Our Peoples must be self-determining and will not accept Governments making decisions on funding priorities without us.
“Removing our capacity for policy reform and advocacy to legal assistance programs delivered by Aboriginal, community and legal aid services will affect the most marginalised and vulnerable members of our community.
“Congress supports organisations controlled by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to continue representing our interests and to provide expert advice on service delivery,” said Mr Malezer.
Congress recently made a strongly worded submission to the National Commission of Audit which reinforces our fundamental principles of self-determination and community decision making.
“Significant under investment by successive Governments makes our Peoples predicament comparable to some developing countries, “said Co-Chair Kirstie Parker.
“We cannot accept any reduction in Commonwealth spending on housing, remote infrastructure, legal services, community safety, native title, languages and culture, when investment and capacity building is what’s clearly required.
“We will continue to work with the Commission to engage with all of our members.
“Community input and ownership are highlighted as keys to achieve improvements by the Government’s own landmark reports – including the Department of Finance Strategic Review of Indigenous Expenditure (2011) and the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key indicators 2011 report,” said Ms Parker.
Contact Congress : Liz Willis 0457 877 408 NACCHO Colin Cowell 0401 331 251
Government avoids scrutiny by cutting Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous ServicesGeneral for Remote Indigenous Services.
“This cost cutting measure from the Government is deeply disappointing and will further undermine efforts to deliver on our Closing the Gap commitments,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues.
“The role of Coordinator General is to ‘monitor, assess, advise and drive progress relating to improvements in government service delivery in 29 remote Indigenous communities across Australia’.
Removing this role will directly affect the ability of the Government to monitor and report on the implementation of policies.
“This cut is a comparatively small amount of money that the Government admits will be used to either save money or fund other, unnamed policies.
It isn’t even being reinvested in other programs to help people in remote Australia.
“Decisions such as this make a mockery of Tony Abbott’s comments about being the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs, as once again his Government seeks to avoid scrutiny and accountability for its policies,” Senator Siewert concluded.