NACCHO Press Release : Aboriginal Health #18C and #Racism : Proposed changes to #18C will throw Reconciliation out the window

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

NACCHO Press Release response to 18c amendments

Download NACCHO full submission to #RDA #18c enquiry here

submission-to-inquiry-into-freedom-of-speech-and-rda-draft

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)

 

NACCHO 2015 budget update : Aboriginal groups question budget strategy

photoCongress

“Priorities identified in the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) guidelines were too limited to address disadvantage in a holistic way.  Additionally, the delivery of the IAS is devoid of decision-making procedures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and appropriate definition for community wellbeing.The current policy of overcoming disadvantage is limited in its application and does not take account of significant disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, e.g. rates of incarceration and detention.“

 National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (‘Congress’)

The Budget confirms that more than $145 million will be cut from Indigenous programs and services in 2015-16, including $46 million from Indigenous health”

Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Shayne Neumann

Budget 2015-16: information of relevance to Indigenous health

NACCHO 2015 Federal Budget Update : How the budget could Close the Aboriginal Health Gap ?

Report from Probono Australia

Picture above Press Conference Parliament HOUSE :LIVE on SKYNEWS

The Federal Government says Indigenous Australians will be the beneficiaries of fresh Budget shakeups in housing and jobs, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives have criticised the Government’s approach.

The 2015 Federal Budget includes $4.9 billion for the Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy, including the negotiation of a new Remote Indigenous Housing Strategy to replace the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing.

According to the Government, the change will provide greater flexibility to respond to the housing needs of remote Indigenous communities and ensure that Government investment improves the condition of housing in those communities.

“The Government is reforming Indigenous Affairs to get adults into work, children to school and make communities safer,” Budget papers said.

“Under new arrangements, housing works will drive Indigenous training and employment and the states and the Northern Territory will be required to deliver positive outcomes in property and tenancy management, home ownership and land tenure.”

“These reforms will put in place practical change on the ground, supported by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet regional network of staff who are located in the communities they serve and deliver on this Government’s priorities to provide better outcomes for First Australians.”

However, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (‘Congress’) said priorities identified in the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) guidelines were too limited to address disadvantage in a holistic way.

“Additionally, the delivery of the IAS is devoid of decision-making procedures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and appropriate definition for community wellbeing,” the organisation said.

“The current policy of overcoming disadvantage is limited in its application and does not take account of significant disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, e.g. rates of incarceration and detention.“

A jobs package in the Budget will also aim to boost Indigenous economic participation, with the Government promising that “clear and accountable targets will significantly increase the number of Indigenous employees in the Australian public sector”.

WM

Graphic from Warren Mundine tweets

“The Government is focused on achieving positive results and a number of key reforms which will improve employment outcomes for First Australians are set to commence,” according to Budget papers.

“From 1 July 2015, reforms to remote employment services will start to transform the economic life of remote communities. The majority of remote job seekers will be active and engaged in meaningful work-like activities that contribute to communities and build real-life work skills and experience. A key aim will be to provide each individual with a real pathway to employment.”

“Through the Employment Parity Initiative, the largest companies in Australia will be supported to increase the number of Indigenous Australians in their workforce to levels which reflect the size of the Indigenous population, approximately three per cent. This initiative will see 20,000 more Indigenous job seekers into work by 2020.”

Congress said the package was too focused on subsidies for business.

“A major portion of the Budget for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is delivered to the private sector as jobs providers and trainers. However, the huge subsidies to major businesses are not providing real jobs and have not been successful in avoiding sustained high unemployment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples,” Congress said.

“Grants should not be available to subsidise temporary employment in industries.  The employment programs should be linked to job creation through effective recruitment procedures and skills training provided whilst in permanent employment.”

Congress said the almost half a billion dollars worth of cuts from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs in the last Budget (2014-15) could still not be accounted for.

“The there is no evidence that significant savings were made and at the same time a number of community-based organisations were rejected in their applications under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS), on the basis that there were insufficient funds available.

“The cuts made in the last Budget should be restored until evidence of savings in the delivery of programs is available.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights advocacy organisation ANTaR said the Budget “failed the test of addressing the uncertainty, upheaval and cuts in Indigenous Affairs from the past 12 months.”

National Director Andrew Meehan said that last year’s Budget cut of $534 million to Indigenous Affairs, followed by an open competitive tendering process as part of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS), had left Indigenous Affairs in disarray.

“This last year has been one of real anxiety for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities , and the Budget missed the opportunity to put that right,” he said.

The Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Shayne Neumann, said the “unfairness” of last year’s Budget continued, given “massive” cuts gutting Indigenous programs and frontline services.

“The Budget confirms that more than $145 million will be cut from Indigenous programs and services in 2015-16, including $46 million from Indigenous health.

“This Budget provides no relief for the hundreds of Indigenous organisations still reeling from the massive cuts delivered through the Government’s disastrous Indigenous Advancement Strategy in the last Budget.

“This year’s Budget rips $95 million from the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing, in spite of serious overcrowding.

“We still don’t know where the cuts will fall, with many services facing an uncertain future.”

Congress said Indigenous engagement with the entire Budget process remained a concern.

“Since the demise of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have little or no capacity to monitor the Budget announcements, or to assess or innovate and improve as part of the Budget cycle.

“Expenditure in the Budget cycle on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is difficult to gauge, as related Budget information is dispersed throughout portfolios and difficult to overview, including comparisons to previous reports on expenditures.  This complexity effectively prevents transparency and accountability and generates misinformation and controversy.”

Andrew Meehan agreed that it was time to elevate the importance of Indigenous Affairs in putting together the Budget.

“Across almost every social and economic measure, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the most disadvantaged and are far more likely to experience poverty than other Australians,” he said.

“A Budget that doesn’t put addressing this front and centre is not a fair budget. Nor does it demonstrate that Indigenous Affairs is at the heart of this government, as the Prime Minister has previously proclaimed.”

Download Budget Papers 2015 HERE

photo (13)

 

June/July edition is being produced now

Download our Advertising rate card here NACCHO Newspaper Advertising Rate Card

or online enquiries and contact info CLICK HERE

CONGRESS 2014 Budget Response

announcement

Concern over impact of the Budget on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples will suffer disproportionately under the 2014 Federal Budget, according to the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

“General and specific Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander measures in the Budget are already causing considerable anxiety amongst our peoples,” said Congress Co-Chair Kirstie Parker.

“Our people are amongst the sickest, poorest and most marginalised Australians, so the pain of some measures will be felt especially hard by us.

“These include the introduction of GP co-payments and raising of the pension age, coupled with a cut of more than half a billion dollars to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs over the next five years. Yet another major overhaul of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs, no long-term funding certainty for our health and legal services or clarity around measures to Close the Gap, and undermining of Congress as the only national independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative body.”

Ms Parker said scant detail had been provided in relation to the major overhaul of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs under a new ‘Indigenous Advancement Strategy’, and the reduction of about 150 existing programs to just five.

“We strongly support a reduction in red tape and duplication. However, in the absence of more information and any clear funding guidelines or criteria for that handful of programs, it is difficult to determine how a cut of nearly $550 million over five years to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs is justified. Days after the Budget, our peoples are in virtually no clearer position than we were before.

“Our community controlled health organisations have been offered no more than 12 months funding. Of course, that’s better than nothing but it’s no way to build longevity or attract and retain high quality staff. We join others in seeking clarification as to how the Government will deliver on its promised commitment – in terms of funding and national leadership – to Close the Gap.

“Our legal services and family violence prevention legal services will bear cuts they can ill-afford as they struggle to address the chronic over-representation of our people in the criminal justice system and protect victims of family violence, especially our women and children.

“This is the manifestation of Commonwealth confusion on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples needs and expenditure that we believe will damage rather than enhance our people’s lives.”

Ms Parker, who is also Co-Chair of the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee, said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples already experienced roughly twice the burden of ill-health as other Australians.

“So, anything – such as a GP co-payment – that further deters our peoples from managing their illness together with their doctor will inevitably compound our already higher rates of hospitalisation for chronic or acute conditions. That’s bad news for both us and the public purse,” she said.

“The pension age is to be lifted to 70 years but we’re unaware of any consideration being given to the fact that, with the average life expectancy of our men at 69.1 years and for our women 73.7 years. That’s roughly ten years less than the general Australian population – our people will be lucky to make it to retirement age, let alone collect superannuation.

“We call upon the Government to think more deeply about its plans, and to ensure it values and utilise the expertise that exists within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, organisations and communities. We want the Government to move forward in genuine partnership with us.”

Discontinuation of $15 million set aside in the Budget Forward Estimates for Congress from 2014-17 amounted to censorship of independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices by stealth, Ms Parker said.

“The Government has said that it is willing to meet with and receive advice from Congress and we welcome this. However, it feels very much like our independent national representative body is being tolerated rather than supported.

“Our members have always aspired for Congress to be financially independent from government and self-sustaining in the long-term and this has not changed. It is sad that, whereas it was always clearly identified that an estimated ten years of investment and support was needed for us to achieve sustainability in a measured way, it was just three years before this particular government ‘pulled the plug’.

“The fact that the Government flagged this decision in December makes it no less nasty. However, while confirmation of it is a definite blow to Indigenous self-determination, it is by no means a knockout punch for Congress. Our membership continues to grow and, with restructuring already undertaken and considerable belt tightening, we expect our reserves to sustain us for the next two to three years while we work to diversify our funding base.

“As well as seeking ongoing support from our membership, we will be appealing to decent, fair-minded Australians to do what this Government apparently won’t – to champion and support an independent representative voice for our peoples, chosen by our peoples.”

NACCHO political alert: ‘Cut the cash and we won’t close the gap’ says Dr Ngiare Brown

NGI

“I know that it has been said within the Coalition that health and education will have to take some funding hits,” Dr Brown said. “We cannot possibly progress this nation unless we are investing more in health and education, public health and education, so that we all have an equal opportunity at what that represents. I will absolutely be pushing the health bandwagon.”

Dr Ngiare Brown, Warren Mundine’s deputy on the government’s indigenous council, says ‘it’s often the layers of red tape and bureaucracy that suck up the resourcing’. Source: News Corp Australia Exclusive: Patricia Karvelas Photo: Ray Strange

ABORIGINAL doctor Ngiare Brown and  NACCHO  Executive Research Manager has vowed to use her new role as deputy head of Tony Abbott’s indigenous council to argue that cuts to indigenous health or education would be detrimental to efforts to close the disadvantage gap.

Dr Brown, who was in one of the first groups of Aboriginal medical graduates in Australia and previously an indigenous health adviser to the Australian Medical Association, was yesterday appointed as Warren Mundine’s deputy after receiving the backing of council members and the Prime Minister.

In an interview with The Australian, Dr Brown said she supported the priorities of the new council to boost school attendance and enhance economic independence. Given her background in health, she would also articulate the need for better health for indigenous people.

Mr Mundine said Dr Brown was a fantastic choice for deputy.

“I’m glad that all the council members and the PM support this move,” he said. “She’s very well experienced and she’s a great asset as deputy chair.”

In January, Mr Mundine said it was unrealistic to expect indigenous affairs spending to be immune from expected budget cuts and that, despite being the head of Mr Abbott’s indigenous advisory council, he could not cast a “force field” to exempt Aborigines from the broader budget agenda.

Dr Brown said she believed existing funding could be better spent, with less on bureaucracy, but urged that there be no net reduction in health and education.

“It is about school attendance but also performance and successful completion, pathways into opportunities into employment and further education,” she said.

“Being economically stable, too, all of those things we can’t do unless we are healthy. And the best model that we have for health service delivery in this country and comprehensive primary care are the Aboriginal community control health services.”

She said she was “absolutely” worried about cuts.

“I know that it has been said within the Coalition that health and education will have to take some funding hits,” Dr Brown said. “We cannot possibly progress this nation unless we are investing more in health and education, public health and education, so that we all have an equal opportunity at what that represents. I will absolutely be pushing the health bandwagon.”

She said if targets were to be achieved, cuts should not come from indigenous affairs.

“They should not be coming from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,” she said. “They should not be coming from the public health system in particular nor the public education system. Because every child, every individual, every citizen has a right to those systems and they should be supported by government.”

She said waste on bureaucracy was concerning. “I am all about effectiveness and efficient spend,” she said. “But I am also about investment and if you look at community-based services they are extraordinary exemplars of how we can do it well and, in many instances, it’s often the layers of red tape and bureaucracy that suck up the resourcing.”

You can hear Dr Ngiare Brown speak at the NACCHO SUMMIT

summit-2014-banner

The importance of our NACCHO member Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHS) is not fully recognised by governments.

The economic benefits of ACCHS has not been recognised at all.

We provide employment, income and a range of broader community benefits that mainstream health services and mainstream labour markets do not. ACCHS need more financial support from government, to provide not only quality health and wellbeing services to communities, but jobs, income and broader community economic benefits.

A good way of demonstrating how economically valuable ACCHS are is to showcase our success at a national summit.

SUMMIT WEBSITE FOR MORE INFO

abstract-blocks

NACCHO CTG and Aboriginal incarceration rates : Abbott must Close The Gap on black justice

lock

If Abbott were to seriously take on the incarceration issue, he would have to openly and actively confront the issue of ongoing systemic discrimination against Indigenous Australians, and acknowledge its historical causes, including colonialism and racism.

That would mean talking to the nation plainly about deaths in custody and acknowledging the fact that a black man can still face violent treatment and be left to die in “protective custody” without police facing serious punishment.” Max Chalmers

According to the latest national figures, indigenous young people – who  comprise just 5 per cent of the population – were detained at a staggering 31  times the rate of non-indigenous young people on an average night in June 2012.  Most were yet to be sentenced (see report below)

School attendance is a far less controversial topic than Indigenous incarceration rates.

No wonder Tony Abbott made it the centrepiece of his ‘Close the Gap’ speech.

In the lead-up to the 2013 election, Tony Abbott took a brief moment out from his relentless denigration of the government to broach a policy area that usually doesn’t make the debate.

Cautiously, he vowed to be a prime minister for Australia’s first peoples.

“It is my hope that I could be, not just a prime minister, but a prime minister for Aboriginal Affairs,” he said

In an address to Federal Parliament yesterday, Abbott took a tentative step towards positioning Indigenous Affairs alongside the government’s holy trinity of policy talking points.

His government is “no less serious [about Indigenous Affairs] than it is about stopping the boats, fixing the budget, and building the roads of the 21st century.”

Putting Indigenous Affairs on the national agenda is a move that should draw praise. But the way Abbott has chosen to frame the issue raises questions about how serious his government really will be in its efforts to help overcome the outrageous disadvantage Indigenous Australians continue to experience.

Indigenous groups were quick to point out one particularly glaring omission from Abbott’s remarks.

“Today, Australia’s national shame is the mass imprisonment of Aboriginal people, particularly young people. Australia’s Aboriginal children are detained at the world’s highest rates,” Phil Naden, the NSW and ACT Aboriginal Legal Service CEO noted in a press release.

“More than half of the young people in detention today (over 52 per cent) are Aboriginal, and most are unsentenced.”

Indigenous incarceration indeed remains a national shame. The Australian Bureau of Statistics paints a bleak picture, with rates of incarceration continuing to rise markedly between 2002 and 2012. West Australia is beyond crisis point, with the rate of incarceration for Indigenous Australians 20 times higher than non-Indigenous.

Source: ABS.

Source: ABS.

Despite the 1991 Royal Commission, deaths in custody have increased, along with the surging incarceration rate. There is little reason to think that the next generation of Indigenous Australians will fare much better.

Instead of raising the issue of justice, Abbott framed his address around education. Truancy rates must be reduced, he said, and the time for excuses was over.

“Generally speaking, the more remote the school, the more excuses are made for poor attendance,” he observed, before pledging to end the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school attendance within five years. No reference was made to a similar standard with which to target improvements in justice outcomes.

“We were very surprised to hear there was no bipartisan commitment today towards incorporating justice targets into the Government’s Closing the Gap strategy,” Naden said on Wednesday.

Improving rates of Indigenous school attendance is an easy sell to white Australia. Everybody can get on board with sending kids to school; there is an implicit blame placed on Indigenous communities for failing to enforce school attendance, or teach their children adequate patterns of civil behaviour.

“One of the worst forms of neglect is failing to give children the education they need for a decent life,” Abbott said, following the statement up with a list of state and federal government programs designed to lower truancy rates.

But like his entire address, the line was left open, raising the question of who exactly is responsible for that neglect? This is the Liberal Party’s characteristic approach: the individual is to blame for their personal failings and societal causes don’t rate a mention.

If Abbott were to seriously take on the incarceration issue, he would have to openly and actively confront the issue of ongoing systemic discrimination against Indigenous Australians, and acknowledge its historical causes, including colonialism and racism.

That would mean talking to the nation plainly about deaths in custody and acknowledging the fact that a black man can still face violent treatment and be left to die in “protective custody” without police facing serious punishment.

It would mean taking on the state and territory governments – especially the Liberal ones – whose tough on crime policies disproportionately affect their Indigenous constituents.

It would mean investigating and policing routine police brutality, such as the recent taser attack by police on an Indigenous woman in Queensland, in which she lost an eye.

And it would mean facing off against a host of other powerful actors, like the Australian Hotels Association, who have succeeded in reversing the NT government’s efforts to limit liquor supply.

Abbott’s record on the issue is not strong so far. One of the Coalition’s nastiest election eve announcements was the decision to slash $42 million from Aboriginal legal aid, a figure that was significantly reduced after the election but will do much damage.

If he decides to pivot on the issue, and to devote the state’s energy and resources to lowering the almost unbelievable rates of incarceration, he will find a host of allies who are ready to take up the challenge. There is a growing awareness that by focusing state resources on policing and prisons we do nothing to attend to the causes of incarnation.

The justice reinvestment movement is starting to make this case publicly. There are also scores of Indigenous communities finding local solutions to the localised and diverse causes of incarceration.

There is some evidence to suggest the government will start to take an interest in such programs. Warren Mundine, the head of Abbott’s Indigenous Advisory Council today announced a program to help provide jobs training for Indigenous teenagers in WA.

Abbott has frequently used his time in outback Indigenous communities as evidence that he can succeed where so many previous PMs have either failed, or failed to even try. But if he is serious about using his position to help reverse the shameful disparity in living standards between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, he must make justice a top priority

TIME TO MIND THE GAP

Biana Hall SMH

Thx Tracker

Imagine if more than half the young people detained in Australia today were  from Sydney. Imagine if they were white. Newspaper letter writers would whip  themselves into a frenzy, GetUp! would run a national campaign and tens of  thousands would take to the streets to march for the freedom of Australia’s  children.

Instead, 53 per cent of young people in detention are indigenous. And instead  of a national outcry, Australia is gripped by a national silence.

According to the latest national figures, indigenous young people – who  comprise just 5 per cent of the population – were detained at a staggering 31  times the rate of non-indigenous young people on an average night in June 2012.  Most were yet to be sentenced.

Last week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivered a heartfelt speech on the  government’s progress on the Closing the Gap goals to improve indigenous  people’s health and life expectancy.

The news wasn’t good. Abbott said there had been ”almost no progress” in closing the decade-wide gap between the life expectancies of indigenous people and non-indigenous people. There had been ”very little improvement” towards halving the gap in reading, writing and numeracy, and indigenous employment ”has, if anything, slipped backwards”.

”We are not on track to achieve the more important and meaningful targets,”  Abbott  said.

Declaring that Australia’s challenge was to ”break the tyranny of low  expectations”,  Abbott announced that from next year, indigenous  school-attendance data would be included in the government’s Closing the Gap  measures.

He set an ambitious target to lift the attendance rates of all schools to  more than 90 per cent within five years (in very remote communities, just 31 per  cent of children are meeting the minimum attendance standards).

It’s a very welcome start, but some observers were dismayed at what he didn’t  say: that cutting the incarceration rate of indigenous people should be at the  forefront of attempts to close the gap.

The NSW and ACT Aboriginal Legal Service has long called for justice targets  to become part of the Closing the Gap goals.

Chief executive Phil Naden described the ”mass incarceration” of indigenous  people as Australia’s ”national shame”.

“Disadvantage robs Aboriginal people of a long, healthy life, and the  incarceration of Aboriginal people affects all targets.”

In 2011, a parliamentary inquiry recommended that justice targets become part  of the overall Closing the Gap strategy. Contact with the justice system, it  said, ”represents a symptom of the broader social and economic disadvantage  faced by many indigenous people in Australia”.

”We have reached the point of intergenerational family dysfunction in many  indigenous communities, with problems of domestic violence, alcohol and drug  abuse, inadequate housing, poor health and school attendance, and a lack of job  skills and employment opportunities impacting on the next generation of  indigenous Australians.”

So how, we should be asking, can we pretend the national shame of mass  Aboriginal incarceration isn’t symptomatic of other problems?

For a moment, it looked like the federal government might act. Before  last  year’s election, Labor said it would include justice targets in the Close the  Gap measures. In August, the Coalition’s indigenous affairs spokesman Nigel  Scullion raised expectations when he told The Australian: ”We will be  looking carefully at that and doing research to see how you implement another  gap measure around this justice issue.”

But on Wednesday, the Prime Minister – who in December oversaw $13.4 million  in cuts to indigenous legal aid funding over four years – made no mention of  justice. Abbott said: ”I am confident of this: amidst all the mistakes,  disappointment and uncertain starts, the one failure that has mostly been  avoided is lack of goodwill.”

What we have so often lacked is political will

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/time-to-mind-the-gap-well-overdue-20140215-32sf5.html#ixzz2tWAEtaRw

NACCHO political alert: An open letter to the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council from a NACCHO member

DON

“I believe passionately in the creation of relevant and workable policies that can bring real change into our communities, policies that have the ability to create better health, education and social outcomes for our people.

I am keenly aware of the many and far-reaching issues surrounding Aboriginal Affairs, as Chief Executive Officer of Awabakal Newcastle Aboriginal Co-Operative, I am faced with these challenges daily.

Don MacAskill  (pictured above in plain shirt with the Deadley Choices mob)

An open letter to the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council:

Reasonable questions regarding the Terms of Reference

 To the members of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, firstly, I thank you for your service and commitment to Aboriginal affairs and issues facing our communities today.

Like many Indigenous people, I was encouraged and hopeful after the announcement of an Indigenous Advisory Council, dedicated to representing the needs and concerns of Aboriginal people across the country. I hope that the Council’s opportunity to work closely with Prime Minister Abbott as he strives to improve the health and welfare of Aboriginal people is maximised, and that you will be courageous in your efforts to ensure he truly is the ‘Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs’.

While I believe this has the potential to be a worthwhile initiative, I do have a few concerns regarding the transparency of the Council and what the reporting obligations will be to the community. I have listed a few of these concerns below, and look forward to receiving your thoughts on the following.

After some basic research, I have been unable to locate any information detailing the policies and frameworks around the Council. I, and many others in the community, are curious as to how members were elected, and what selection process was undertaken?

Will the frameworks around the Council, for example, code of conduct, reporting responsibilities, minutes of meetings, key performance indicators of both individual and whole of council performance, be made publicly available?

Another area I felt was unclear was relating to the scope of the Council, and the specific impacts it has on policy creation, the assessment of existing policies relating to the Indigenous community, or whether it is simply there to provide advice when requested by the Prime Minister?

Has a strategic plan, complete with objectives and evaluation models, been developed and will this be available for the public? What reports will be made available to the public? As I noted with some concern, stated within the Terms of Reference, ‘the deliberation of the Council will be confidential, but the Council may choose to issue a statement after its meetings.’ There appears to be a worrying lack of transparency, and I have concerns this may undermine the meaningful changes the Council has the opportunity to effect.

I believe passionately in the creation of relevant and workable policies that can bring real change into our communities, policies that have the ability to create better health, education and social outcomes for our people.

I am keenly aware of the many and far-reaching issues surrounding Aboriginal Affairs, as Chief Executive Officer of Awabakal Newcastle Aboriginal Co-Operative, I am faced with these challenges daily. I have been following with some interest, the debate which has been raging within mainstream media regarding the decision making process of not only the Council, but also of Government as a whole.

Pragmatism vs ideology, has dominated the conversation and I believe this is a conversation all Australians need to have.

Our social justice values and the policies and laws that govern wider Australia, are based on several ideologies, mateship, a fair go for all, and taking care of the less fortunate. This is what forms the basis, in my opinion, of what makes us Australian.

The Council itself has been founded on the bipartisan ideology of ‘Closing the Gap’ and all the critical work that needs to be done to achieve this now and into the future.

In order to achieve real outcomes for the Aboriginal community, I believe Ideology should form the basis of every policy developed by those elected to govern, for those they represent. Should it not be the structure, implementation and evaluation of these policies that is pragmatic? Pragmatic solutions solidly rooted in the fundamental ideals we, as a country, support and embody?

I for one do not agree that the decision-making process must be simply ideological, or pragmatic, surely the integration of these concepts has not been eroded from our public consciousness so completely that they are now mutually exclusive.

I do not want to imagine a country, where decisions that impact on our most vulnerable and disenfranchised groups are made purely on economic or political reasons, nor do I want to see policy created based on ideology that has not root in best practice or better outcomes for the community.

I hope through the creation of this Council, you can find a way to engage the broader Aboriginal community and marry these two fundamental concepts in a way that achieves socially just, financially responsible and transparent outcomes for the community.

I look forward to seeing the outcomes you achieve through this Council, on the ground in my community.

Kind regards, Don MacAskill Awabakal Newcastle Aboriginal Co-Operative 0249 408 103

NACCHO news

HAVE You checked out the NACCHO APP HERE ?

afl 010

DOWNLOAD links here

The NACCHO App contains a geo locator, which will help you find the nearest Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation in your area and automatically creates a number to call .

2014-01-13 07.27.37

NACCHO Aboriginal health news; Aboriginal organisations to put communities back in control

131031 - Media Release re NGO principles endorsement (EMBARGOED UNTIL MIDNIGHT 30 October)_Page_1

An alliance of Aboriginal organisations and non-Aboriginal NGOs will today launch a set of principles aimed at empowering Aboriginal organisations and communities in the NT to take control of their futures.

DOWNLOAD THE PRINCIPLES HERE

“Today a number of local, national and international NGOs have publically endorsed a set of principles which will guide partnership centred approaches for NGOs working in Aboriginal communities” said Ms Priscilla Collins, spokesperson for Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT). (A copy of the principles is attached.)

“These non-Aboriginal NGOs have agreed to work together with Aboriginal organisations and communities to promote Aboriginal community-control of service delivery. It’s about putting Aboriginal people back in the driver’s seat”, said Mr John Paterson, spokesperson for APO NT.

Organisations endorsing the principles include national and international NGOs engaged in delivery of health and community services in the Northern Territory. A full list of NGOs that have endorsed the principles is below.

Development of the principles was informed by a forum in Alice Springs in February that brought together sixty participants from twenty-seven non-Aboriginal NGOs and six NT Aboriginal representative organisations – the first gathering of its kind in the NT. The forum acknowledged that there are a number of NGOs that already have good working relationships with Aboriginal organisations, but this is not systematic.

The principles present significant opportunities for these organisations to learn from each other, create better partnerships and working relations with Aboriginal organisations operating at the ground level and achieve better outcomes for communities.

Organisations leading the initiative include APO NT, Strong Aboriginal Families, Together (SAF,T), the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the NT Council of Social Service (NTCOSS).

“It is important that Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organisations work side by side in partnership to put Aboriginal people back in control of service delivery in their communities,” said Mr Lindon Coombes, CEO of The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (Congress).

The general consensus reached at the Alice Springs Forum was that the formal endorsement of the principles by organisations should effectively operate as a voluntary code.

“This work represents significant leadership and partnership from both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal NGO sector, in pioneering new ways to work together to get the best possible outcomes for Aboriginal people in remote NT communities,” said Mr Simon Schrapel, President of ACOSS.

The next stage of the collaboration will be to operationalise the principles.

“We look forward to working together to develop operational guidelines for how these important principles will work in practice,” said Ms Wendy Morton, Executive Director of NTCOSS.

“This is something that Aboriginal agencies have been wanting for a long time. These principles will guide the development of true partnerships that will result in better understanding and outcomes for all concerned,” said Terry Chenery, Acting CEO of SAF,T.

Need help about Aboriginal health or the location of your nearest ACCHO on your SMARTPHONE or IPAD

Info Download the new NACCHO Health APP HERE

screen568x568

NACCHO political alert: How will the new Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion be different ?

Nigel

“We’re bringing the functions of a whole range of Indigenous specific functions across to Prime Minister and Cabinet. Health will stay with Health, education will stay with Education, but there are a whole range of functions we’re taking out of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and out of other departments, functions that are either remote or Indigenous specific”

Nigel Scullion will today be sworn in as Indigenous Affairs Minister, in a series of interviews yesterday with ABC radio and the Alice Springs news he spelt out his plans for Indigenous Affairs within the department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

Interview transcript ABC radio

Nigel Scullion has been appointed Indigenous Affairs Minister, giving the NT its first Federal Cabinet Minister since the Country Liberals were formed.

Tony Abbott has announced that Senator Scullion is keeping the portfolio that he was spokesman on in the last parliamentary term, and it will sit within the department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Senator Scullion said his Government was giving Australia’s indigenous communities a new commitment to listen to their solutions to challenging problems.

“To work with communities, not make decisions and impose them on communities,” Senator Scullion said.

“Communities best know how to get their kids to school.

“Communities know the very best way to move some of their participants from welfare into work.

“Communities know how to make their own communities safe.”

The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister-elect said he’d asked the Government’s Indigenous advisory committee to look at how to tackle reliance on welfare.

Senator Scullion said the Government planned to toughen the requirement for people to take available jobs in urban areas.

He said, in remote communities, the Government would consider if it was appropriate to expect people to stay on Newstart welfare payments if there were no jobs for them to do.

“Given that Newstart has an implication that this is a transitionary time from where they are to a job, well, if there are no jobs – and in the many communities there are no jobs, it’s simply a welfare community – I think that’s an unacceptable situation that we should pretend there are jobs there.”

Secondly he spoke this morning with Alice Springs News Online editor ERWIN CHLANDA.

masthead

Outback answers to bush welfare mess

NEWS: Is there a case for expanding the principle of stopping the dole for people rejecting offers of work, for expecting that people who have assets use them for projects that create work? Aborigines in The Centre own half a million square kilometres.

SCULLION: Receiving Newstart payments in an area that has no economy and no jobs is inappropriate. In these conditions governments have been taking the view that the dole is unconditional.

We know that is not acceptable in the long term. Newstart is for people between jobs, searching for jobs. We need to look at that more broadly.

The development of an economy such as tourism, broad-acre or pastoral industries, manufacturing – these are very important elements of the future and the government plays an important role.

NEWS: Is there a case for Aboriginal land trusts and land councils to look for joint ventures with job creation as a main focus?

SCULLION: I’ve had long conversations with land owners about a range of issues, from tenure to development. As areas are developed and jobs become available, and we move to an economy, then clearly we would have a reasonable expectation to involve people currently disconnected.

If they are able to work then they should be working. I’ve not heard anyone saying no, we don’t need economic development and we want to continue to receive welfare. Nobody’s told me that. We’ll be working closely with the land councils.

In the area you’re speaking off, places like Ali Curung, it has been disappointing that a melon farm is six kilometers up the road from able bodied men and women and they find it very difficult to get employment. That’s an issue. It’s a complex one.

Who’s currently making the decisions? This is an area where they are adjacent to an economy, and adjacent to jobs. If there is a job there, and you’re simply saying, I’m just not going to take that job, well, there’s no unconditional welfare.

The leverage of moving people away from the horrors of welfare into employment – it’s good enough for people in the mainstream. These opportunities should also be available to Aboriginal people.

NEWS: Is there a reluctance by the land trusts and land councils to enter into joint ventures that could create jobs?

SCULLION: The use of broad-acre land such as in other states is one of the low hanging fruits of economic development. Look over the fence! Whatever they’ve been doing there for the last 30, 40 years is probably a good indicator of how to use the land. As to the land councils, I’m always interested in hearing submissions. They should be assisting the land owners where they can.

Separate services: Congress gets big tick

NEWS: What’s the future of the big Aboriginal organisations in Alice Springs? Tangentyere and Congress, for example?

SCULLION: We don’t need duplication of services. We need very good services. If you talk about the application of municipal services in some of the town camps by Tangentyere, I have had a number of people telling me that they don’t believe the service they are getting is particularly good.

If you live in some areas of Alice Springs you shouldn’t be delivered a different service, you should be getting exactly the same service. And equally you should be expected to pay for it. For example, normalcy for the town council would be, who’s going to pay rates?

NEWS: What about Congress?

SCULLION: Congress in Alice Springs is probably one of the best health organisations in Australia, full stop. They have moved to a very good business model that has been picked up in other parts of Australia.

They’re fundamentally welded to Medicare, they ensure all of their clients have a Medicare card. It’s the same sort of [positive] index you get across Australia, particularly in demographics with larger areas of need.

NEWS: What’s on top of your agenda as the new Minister?

SCULLION: Talking with my partners in the other jurisdictions, discussions about structural changes in the departments, moving many of the instruments of government into Prime Minister and Cabinet, the formation of a new role.

NEWS: Which functions of Indigenous Affairs will be moved?

SCULLION: We’re bringing the functions of a whole range of Indigenous specific functions across to Prime Minister and Cabinet. Health will stay with Health, education will stay with Education, but there are a whole range of functions we’re taking out of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and out of other departments, functions that are either remote or Indigenous specific

NACCHO Aboriginal policy political alert: Download National Congress’ expectations of political leadership

Kev and Tony

The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples says this federal election offers political leaders an opportunity to start a new, more genuine relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Photo above The Guardian online

Download the 5 pages document here

Congress’ Expectations of Australia’s Political
Leadership in the 2013 federal election

“Congress remains prepared to work together with government on an agenda driven by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations, and one based on good faith, respect, accountability and constructive public dialogue,” said Congress Co-Chair Les Malezer.

“This does not preclude input from individuals with special insight where appropriate or required.

“Our Peoples have the right to an independent national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander body, consisting of representatives chosen by themselves, as a means of political development in accordance with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” he said.

Co-Chair Jody Broun said, “As Australians consider who they’ll vote for in the 2013 federal election, we ask them to do so with a better understanding of the fundamental rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to insist upon a government that will protect and promote those rights.

“Overcoming Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and economic disadvantage requires a long-term inter-generational commitment and investment through community-controlled programs which are monitored and evaluated in a culturally-appropriate context.,” he said.

Key commitments Congress seeks from all parties • Constitutional Reform: commitment to recommendations prepared by the Expert Panel for the Government. These reforms represent an opportunity for substantive recognition and protections.

• Education: support and resourcing for targeted education programs through Closing the Gap initiatives.

• Health: fully support new National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan and continued support for Closing the Gap initiatives.

Health Equality

Congress and the National Health Leadership Forum have been actively involved in the development of and support the priorities and vision of the new National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan.

We recognise the centrality of culture to the health of our Peoples, and the need for a health system free of racism.

We call on political parties to commit to fully support new National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, including implementation that includes communities, Governments and health organisations to ensure the most effective rollout and monitoring of the Plan,continued support for achievements through Closing the Gap initiatives and investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes, and

renegotiating a National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health that ensures the full roll out of the Health Plan.

• Children: All parties to commit to halving the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out of home care by 2018.

• Justice: a commitment to developing justice targets and justice reinvestment approach.

• Native Title: To reverse the onus of proof and review agreement negotiation process.

• Culture: Support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and commitment to a national indigenous cultural authority to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural and intellectual property rights.

NACCHO workforce news : Download the Independent Review of Health Workforce Programs Released

 

W force

Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek today released the final report of the independent review into Australian Government’s health workforce programs.

The report makes 87 recommendations covering Commonwealth programs that target the medical, dental, allied health, nursing and midwifery and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforces.

If you would like to make comment about this report there is a feedback section at ther bottom of this page

Download Mason Review of Australian Government Health Workforce Programs

NACCHO comments

Upon reading chapter 5, NACCHO has  noted that it contains much information provided to the various contributors of this review, from our sector.

NACCHO has participated in various degrees with some of the contributors: for example but not limited to:

  • National Health and Hospital Reform
  • The Workforce Roundtable consultation
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Project
  • CS&HISC environmental Scan
  • The Battye Review (subsequent report)
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2011-15
  • Lowitja Report

 It was pleasing to see that these consultations had value.

 The chapter highlights achievements but also addresses many of the challenges that still need to be addressed and recommendations that cannot be ignored if the Australian government are to significantly increase the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health workforce.

It addresses pay equity and funding of RTO’s. It promotes the continued funding of peak Aboriginal bodies.

The Review identifies the Blueprint for Action (the Pathways Paper) and some of the key recommendations within the Pathways Paper namely;

  •  The  need to provide training in career guidance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education workers and roles to supplement those of existing careers advisors;
  •  Education institutions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health  personal and communities should work in partnership to develop a culturally–inclusive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health curriculum in a multidisciplinary manner; and
  •  Tertiary education providers should consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on a whole-of-institution strategy to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in health courses. Strategies should include student support and curriculum matters.

The recommendations at the conclusion of chapter 5, if taken up by Government (namely the Commonwealth), will be the some key steps in building the workforce within our sector: i.e. (abbreviated recommendations)

Recommendation 5.1: must be coordination of activities aimed at building the capacity of theAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce..

Recommendation 5.2: continuation of funding to peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bodies/networks…

Recommendation 5.3: continue consultation with National Congress of Australia’s First people’s National Health Leadership Forum….

Recommendation 5.4:build on the success of LIME by reconfiguring this group to include support and mentoring for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tertiary level health professions including nurses, midwives, dentists and allied health professions….

Recommendation 5.5: develop and implement a new program aimed at; increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health student enrolment and graduate numbers, and pursuing the development of culturally appropriate curriculum into all health courses…

Recommendation 5.6:  compliment 5.5 by the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academic leaders/champions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student support networks that would provide culturally appropriate mentoring, counselling….

Recommendation 5.7: take action to implement those recommendations directed to the RTO as outlined in the Battye Review……

Recommendation 5.8: consider options for the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and Midwifery Policy Adviser role…

Recommendation 5.9: the NT Medical Program Indigenous Transitions Pathway program to be evaluated to assess outcomes

Recommendation 5.10:  is a DWEER program responsibility re investigating the connectivity of education and training sectors from school through the VET sector and onto undergraduate studies, with multiple entry points for younger and mature students

Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek

“I commissioned this review of our health workforce programs to ensure that Australian communities have access to a highly qualified health workforce now and into the future,” Ms Plibersek said.

“As a first step in responding to the review, I have accepted the report’s recommendations to provide a more advanced system for classifying rural locations and areas of workforce need to determine eligibility for support and funding through many Commonwealth workforce programs.

“This will build on and update the Australian Standard Geographical Classification – Remoteness Areas (ASGC-RA) system, providing customised enhancements to current methods of determining eligibility for program support.

“I have announced the formation of the Rural Classification Technical Working Group to guide the implementation of the improved classification system that will deliver a fairer and more sustainable method of determining the level of support doctors in each community receives. We will also consider the recommended reforms to the Districts of Workforce Shortage system as part of this process.”

Ms Plibersek said the Government will also develop a model for a new and more integrated rural training pathway for medical graduates, with the potential to extend this approach to other health disciplines.

“This model will be designed to build on the Government’s existing rural health training initiatives so that students who are interested in a career in rural health have a more seamless transition between their education, training and employment.

“The training model will be designed to improve the distribution of health professionals to rural areas, and if successful it will help deliver new doctors to areas of significant workforce shortages.”

The report was led by former Director General of the NSW Departments of Human Services and Community Services, Ms Jennifer Mason, and was informed through an extensive consultation process.

“I’d like to thank Ms Mason for delivering this important report, and for the health community’s involvement to help guide its development,” Ms Plibersek said.

“The report has raised a number of critical issues covering our health workforce programs and key reform areas. We will now carefully consider all the recommendations and any potential implications they may have,” she said.

The Australian Government has invested more than $5.6 billion into training the nation’s health workforce to deliver more doctors, nurses and other health professionals to where they are needed.

Download Mason Review of Australian Government Health Workforce Programs