NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Senator Nova Peris pushes campaign on alcohol-related domestic violence

2014-03-04 10.52.05

Senator Peris said in the Northern Territory an indigenous woman is 80 times more likely to be hospitalised for assault than other Territorians.

“I shudder inside whenever I quote that fact because it makes me picture the battered and bloodied women we see far too often in our hospitals.

“Every single night our emergency departments in the Northern Territory overflow with women who have been bashed.”

Picture above :Senator Nova Peris along with Opposition colleagues  addressing the NACCHO board at Parliament House Canberra this week

LABOR’S first indigenous MP Nova Peris has challenged the Australian Medical Association to advocate for more action in tackling alcohol-related domestic violence.

In a powerful speech, Senator Peris said alcohol-related domestic violence was on the rise and ruining the lives of Aboriginal women.

She told the launch of the AMA’s national women’s health policy that the AMA must use its high standing in the community to “advocate for more action in tackling alcohol-related domestic violence”.

Report from PATRICIA KARVELAS   The Australian

SEE AMA Position Statement on Women’s Health below

“Today I call on the AMA to formally adopt a policy position that supports the principle that people who have committed alcohol-related domestic violence be banned from purchasing alcohol at the point of sale.

“The technology to implement point-of-sale bans exists; it is cost effective and has been proven to work.”

Senator Peris said in the Northern Territory an indigenous woman is 80 times more likely to be hospitalised for assault than other Territorians.

“I shudder inside whenever I quote that fact because it makes me picture the battered and bloodied women we see far too often in our hospitals.

“Every single night our emergency departments in the Northern Territory overflow with women who have been bashed.”

In 2013, domestic violence assaults increased in the Northern Territory by 22 per cent, she said.

She criticised the incoming NT government’s August 2012 decision to scrapped the banned drinker register.

“For those of you who may not be familiar with the banned drinker register, or BDR as it is also known, it was an electronic identification system which was rolled out across the Northern Territory.

“This system prevented anyone with court-ordered bans from purchasing takeaway alcohol — including people with a history of domestic violence.

“Around twenty-five hundred people were on the banned drinker register when it was scrapped. “Domestic violence perpetrators were again free to buy as much alcohol as they liked. As predicted by police, lawyers and doctors, domestic violence rates soared.”

Senator Peris said she had met with doctors, nurses and staff from the emergency department in Alice Springs and they confirmed these statistics represent the true predicament they faced every day.

“Every night the place is awash with the victims of alcohol fuelled violence, with the vast majority of victims being women.”

She said the Northern Territory faces enormous issues with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

“We have such high rates of sexually transmitted infections, especially and tragically, with children.

“Rates of smoking are far too high, and diets are poor and heart disease is widespread.”

Senator Peris’s speech was well received by the AMA, which committed to taking on her challenge.

AMA SHINES LIGHT ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND THE HEALTH NEEDS OF DISADVANTAGED AND MINORITY GROUPS OF WOMEN

AMA Position Statement on Women’s Health 2014

The AMA today released the updated AMA Position Statement on Women’s Health.

The Position Statement was launched at Parliament House in Canberra by the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash, Senator for the Northern Territory, Nova Peris, and AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton.

Dr Hambleton said that all women have the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

“The AMA has always placed a high priority on women’s health, and this is reflected in the breadth and diversity of our Position Statement,” Dr Hambleton said.

“We examine biological, social and cultural factors, along with socioeconomic circumstances and other determinants of health, exposure to health risks, access to health information and health services, and health outcomes.

“And we shine a light on contemporary and controversial issues in women’s health.

“There is a focus on violence against women, including through domestic and family violence and sexual assault.

“These are significant public health issues that have serious and long-lasting detrimental consequences for women’s health.

“It is estimated that more than half of Australian women have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes.

“The AMA wants all Australian governments to work together on a coordinated, effective, and appropriately resourced national approach to prevent violence against women.

“We need a system that provides accessible health service pathways and support for women and their families who become victims of violence.

“It is vital that the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children is implemented and adequately funded.”

Dr Hambleton said the updated AMA Position Statement also highlights areas of women’s health that are seriously under-addressed.

“This includes improving the health outcomes for disadvantaged groups of women, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, rural women, single mothers, and women from refugee and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds,” Dr Hambleton said.

“We also highlight the unique health issues experienced by lesbian and bisexual women in the community.”

Dr Hambleton said that the AMA recognises the important work of Australian governments over many years to raise the national importance of women’s health, including the National Women’s Health Policy.

“There has been ground-breaking policy in recent decades, but much more needs to be done if we are to achieve high quality equitable health care that serves the diverse needs of Australian women,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Although women as a group have a higher life expectancy than men, they experience a higher burden of chronic disease and tend to live more years with a disability.

“Because they tend to live longer than men, women represent a growing proportion of older people, and the corresponding growth in chronic disease and disability has implications for health policy planning and service demand.”

The Position Statement contains AMA recommendations about the need to factor in gender considerations and the needs of women across a range of areas in health, including:

  •  health promotion, disease prevention and early intervention;
  •  sexual and reproductive health;
  •  chronic disease management and the ageing process;
  •  mental health and suicide;
  •  inequities between different sub-populations of Australian women, and their different needs;
  •  health services and workforce; and
  •  health research, data collection and program evaluation.

Background:

  • cardiovascular disease – including heart attack, stroke, and other heart and blood vessel diseases – is the leading cause of death in women;
  •  for women under 34 years of age, suicide is the leading cause of death; and
  • in general, women report more episodes of ill health, consult medical practitioners and other health professionals more frequently, and take medication more often than men.

The AMA Position Statement on Women’s Health 2014 is at

https://ama.com.au/position-statement/womens-health

NT alcohol crackdown makes gains, but questions over mandatory rehabilitation remain

By Michael Coggan NT ABC

It appears that stationing police officers outside bottle shops in regional towns in the Northern Territory has had a significant impact on alcohol consumption.

The latest figures show consumption has dropped to the lowest level on record, but the statistics do not include the impact of the mandatory rehabilitation policy or punitive protection orders.

The ABC has investigated the situation as a new federal parliamentary inquiry is promising to test the evidence.

On a weeknight in Darwin’s city centre, locals and tourists mingle at Monsoons, one of the pub precinct’s busy watering holes.

Less than a block away, six women have found their own drinking place under the entrance of an office building, sheltered from monsoonal rain.

Most of them are visiting from Indigenous communities on Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria. They’re “long-grassing” – living rough on the city streets.

Northern Territory Labor Senator Nova Peris is here to talk to them.

One of the women, from the Torres Strait Islands, tells the Senator how she is trying to get through a catering course while struggling with homelessness and alcoholism.

“I am doing it. I’m trying to get up and I’m finding it hard,” she said.

In an interview after talking to the “long-grassers”, Senator Peris emphasised how homelessness makes alcohol abuse among Aboriginal people more obvious than alcohol use in the non-Indigenous community in Darwin.

“Those ladies, they weren’t from Darwin, they were from communities that came in, so they’re homeless and they drink when they come into town and it’s easy to get alcohol [in town].”

Senator Peris also blames alcohol abuse for much of the poor health in Aboriginal communities.

“When you look at alcohol-related violence, when you look at foetal alcohol syndrome, when you look at all the chronic diseases, it goes back to the one thing and it’s commonly known as the ‘white man’s poison’,” she said.

Alcohol-related hospital admissions increase, senator says

The Northern Territory has long grappled with the highest levels of alcohol abuse in the country, but figures released recently by the Northern Territory Government show the estimated per capita consumption of pure alcohol dropped below 13 litres last financial year for the first time since records started in the 1990s.

Territory Country Liberals Chief Minister Adam Giles believes a more targeted response by police has made a difference.

But Senator Peris says data released last week tells a different story.

Senator Peris has quoted figures showing an 80 per cent increase in alcohol-related hospital admissions over the past 14 months as evidence that the previous Labor government’s banned drinker register was working.

The Territory Government scrapped the BDR when it won power in September 2012.

Alice Springs-based associate professor John Boffa from the Peoples Alcohol Action Coalition wants to see the consumption figures verified.

“If it’s true, it’s very welcome news and it would reflect the success of the police presence on all of the takeaway outlets across the territory,” he said.

Parties, police association at odds

In regional towns where alcohol-fuelled violence is high, police have been stationed outside bottle shops to check identification.

Anyone living in one of the many Aboriginal communities or town camps where drinking is banned faces the prospect of having their takeaway alcohol seized and tipped out.

Northern Territory Police Association president Vince Kelly believes police resources are being concentrated on doing the alcohol industry’s work.

Mr Kelly has also questioned the will of the two major political parties to introduce long-term alcohol supply reduction measures since it was revealed that the Australian Hotels Association made $150,000 donations in the lead-up to the last Territory election.

“No-one I know gives away $150,000 to someone and doesn’t expect something back in return,” he said.

But Mr Giles dismisses Mr Kelly’s view.

“I don’t respond to any comment by Vince Kelly from the Police Association, I think that he plays politics rather than trying to provide a positive outcome to change people’s lives in the territory,” he said.

Giles stands by alcohol rehab program

The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister has asked a parliamentary committee to investigate the harmful use of alcohol in Indigenous communities across the country.

The committee is expected to examine the application of new policies in the Territory, including mandatory alcohol treatment that was introduced in July 2013.

People taken into police protective custody more than three times in two months can be ordered to go through a mandatory three-month alcohol rehabilitation program.

The figures showing a drop in consumption pre-date the introduction of mandatory rehabilitation but Mr Giles believes the policy is making a difference.

So far there is not enough evidence to convince Professor Boffa that mandatory treatment is making any difference.

“We just don’t have publically available data on the numbers of people who have completed treatment, [or] how long people who have completed treatment have remained off alcohol,” he said.

One of the women from Groote Eylandt explained how she had been locked up to go through the mandatory treatment program but was now back on the grog.

“I was there for three months and we didn’t like it,” he said.

The Chief Minister’s political stablemate, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, has commended the Territory Government for using a mix of police intervention and mandatory rehabilitation, but says jail is not the solution.

“We can’t keep treating people who are sick as criminals. However annoying they might be, people who are alcoholics are ill,” he said.

Alcohol Protection Orders seen to criminalise alcoholism

Police were given the power to issue Alcohol Protection Orders to anyone arrested for an alcohol-related offence, attracting a jail sentence of six months or more.

Aboriginal legal aid services have criticised the orders for criminalising alcoholism.

Priscilla Collins from the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency says the orders are predominantly being handed out to Aboriginal people, threatening jail time if they are breached.

“Alcohol protection orders are really being issued out like lolly paper out on the streets. You can be issued one just for drinking on the street, for drink driving. We’ve already had 500 handed out this year,” she said.

Mr Kelly has welcomed the introduction of APOs as a useful tool but has questioned what they will achieve.

“The community and the Government and everybody else needs to ask itself what the end game is,” he said.

“Are we going to end up with even fuller jails? No matter what legislation we introduce we’re not going to arrest our way out of alcohol abuse and Aboriginal disadvantage in the Northern Territory.”

Do you know more? Email investigations@abc.net.au

 

 

 

You can hear more about Aboriginal women’s health  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

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NACCHO Congress Alice Springs NEWS : Effective partnerships” in Aboriginal community controlled health sector could be copied in housing and employment

PAC

“There are two separate but interdependent health systems, the hospital for the really sick, and Congress for primary health care, minimising the need for hospital admissions. In that way the primary health care of Congress, identifying patients’ health issues early, works hand in glove with the NT’s hospital system.

This “effective partnership” in health between the NT and Federal governments and the Aboriginal community controlled health sector could readily be copied in the housing and employment fields, leading to equally positive results.

Donna Ah Chee, (pictured above left with Pat Anderson ) CEO of the $38m a year Central Australian Aboriginal Congress,

“Investing in Aboriginal community controlled health makes economic $ense”

Justin Mohamed chair of NACCHO launching the NACCHO Healthy Futures  Summit Melbourne Convention Centre June 24-26

A meeting of some 60 non-government organisations (NGOs) yesterday heard about successful ways for services to cooperate, but also laid bare absurd failures of the current system.

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FROM THE ALICE NEWS : FOLLOW HERE

The meeting was not open to the public but Donna Ah Chee, CEO of the $38m a year Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, says her organisation’s role in the health system showed how an NGO can complement – not duplicate – state providers.

The collaboration between the Territory’s health services, the Commonwealth Health Department and Aboriginal community controlled health services including Congress makes the NT the only jurisdiction on target to “close the gap” in life expectancy by 2031.

As a result of this successful partnership Ms Ah Chee says there had been about a 30% reduction in “all causes” of early death with the death rate declining from 2000 to 1400 people per 100,000,” says Ms Ah Chee.

The partnership on the ground means that services like Congress works on preventative health – keeping as many people as possible out of hospital – and if they have to go there, take care of them when they come out.

“There are two separate but interdependent health systems,” says Ms Ah Chee, “he hospital for the really sick, and Congress for primary health care, minimising the need for hospital admissions.”

In that way the primary health care of Congress, identifying patients’ health issues early, works hand in glove with the NT’s hospital system.

This “effective partnership” in health between the NT and Federal governments and the Aboriginal community controlled health sector could readily be copied in the housing and employment fields, leading to equally positive results.

Ms Ah Chee says the competitive tendering for government money is at the root of much of much dysfunction, causing “fragmentation of services, a multitude of services on the ground”.

She says in one small bush community there are about 17 providers just in the mental health field: “It’s bureaucracy gone mad. Everyone goes for the dollar. Better needs based planning is what’s urgently required.”

Ms Ah Chee says the meeting, called by the Department of the Chief Minister, has shown up the potentials and the problems of the system. It now remains to be seen what is done about them

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

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NACCHO Aboriginal health debate : Chronic drinking problem in the NT costs about $642 million annually

Alice

One new policy that does appear effective is stationing police officers outside bottleshops. Regrettably this has also stirred up racial tension. The officers check drinkers’ IDs to see if they live in a proscribed area, and confiscate their purchases if they do. John Boffa (Congress Aboriginal Health ) a spokesman for the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition, estimates reductions in domestic violence of up to 50 per cent in Alice Springs when police cover all 11 liquor outlets at once.

Priscilla Collins, chief executive of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, thinks both AMT and APOs unfairly target the most disadvantaged, who are often also the most visible. “They will probably end up going back to the long grass,”

IF the Northern Territory were a country, it would rank alongside vodka-soaked ex-Soviet republics in terms of per capita alcohol consumption; not long ago it would have been second in the world.

 Refer NACCHO NT AMSANT grog summit news:

Four major outcomes on alcohol policy and its impact on Aboriginal people and communities

PICTURE :Police on duty outside a Northern Territory bottleshop. ‘The (alcohol) industry is now being propped up by the Alice Springs police force,’ says head of the police union Vince Kelly. Picture: Amos Aikman Source: News Limited

Alcohol abuse costs the NT about $642 million annually in police time, corrections, judicial support, medical treatment and lost productivity – equivalent to roughly $4000 per person or 4 1/2times the national average – according to research quoted by the government last year. The latest figures show per capita alcohol consumption is again on the rise, ending a six-year decline.

Territory drivers are 20 times more likely than the national average to be caught over the limit; booze is a factor in many road deaths. A majority of Territory assaults involve alcohol and the Territory’s assault victimisation rate is more than 50 per cent above the rest of the nation’s.

In 2011-12, indigenous women were 18 times more likely to be bashed than non-indigenous women, and four times more likely than the Territory average.

Last financial year saw almost 40 per cent more alcohol-related assaults and almost 60 per cent more domestic violence related assaults than the equivalent period five years ago.

Since the Country Liberals took office 18 months ago, Aboriginal groups and legal and health policy experts have accused the Territory government of criminalising drunkenness, ignoring evidence and favouring the interests of the alcohol industry.

The government insists its policies are both appropriate and working, though many cracks have emerged. The CLP campaigned on a pledge to cut crime by 10 per cent annually – which by a slip of the tongue quickly became 10 per cent in a four-year term once it took office. CLP backbencher Gary Higgins recently acknowledged MPs are receiving a “barrage of complaints” about alcohol abuse from the community. His comments drew a quick rebuke from Chief Minister Adam Giles, who said: “We know that there are issues with alcohol in our society, but anyone who has a good look at the statistics will see that things are getting better.”

After repeatedly dodging questions about the saga unfolding on his doorstep, federal Indigenous Affairs Minister and NT senator Nigel Scullion proposed a sweeping national inquiry into drinking habits. The following day he appeared to have been overruled by his colleagues in favour of a tighter probe into Aboriginal drinking that will scrutinise the CLP policies more closely. Giles has already suggested any inquiry would be “navel gazing”. Nevertheless, the process offers his government an opportunity to gracefully adjust its course.

The CLP’s first act in office was to abolish Labor’s Banned Drinker Register, a point-of-sale supply restriction designed to curb heavy drinking. For almost a year, while the new government convulsed with internal ructions, nothing replaced the BDR. Then less than a month after Giles took power in a coup in March, his government unveiled a forced alcohol rehabilitation program called Alcohol Mandatory Treatment. The scheme, which has been running for seven months, involves locking up habitual drinkers in treatment centres with fences and guards.

Associated legislation was passed in the face of vocal opposition. At about $43,000 per drinker treated, AMT is more expensive than many private rehabilitation clinics. Experts think 5 per cent success would be good going. More than 150 people have completed the program; the government has established 120 beds. Alcohol Rehabilitation Minister Robyn Lambley says some patients have had their lives changed, but others are known to have relapsed.

Before Christmas a system of on-the-spot alcohol bans, Alcohol Protection Orders, was also legislated, again despite opposition. These affect people charged with, but not necessarily convicted of, offences in which alcohol was deemed a factor.

The government argues these policies transfer responsibility from society to drinkers, but important figures, such as head of the NT police union Vince Kelly, argue that is a furphy. “If you’re an alcoholic you haven’t got (personal responsibility) in the first place, and if you’re an intergenerational alcoholic you probably don’t know what the concept means.”

Not long ago a doctor who played a key role in establishing AMT, Lee Nixon, walked out in disgust. “A large number of (AMT patients) had little understanding of the process, and at the end of the time when they were there, were still asking, ‘Why am I here?’,” Nixon told ABC’s Lateline. “At the outset it was clear that we were introducing a program with no evidential base for effectiveness.” One drinker had her treatment order overturned by a court on the grounds she received it without proper legal representation. Justice groups say few drinkers appear before the AMT Tribunal with a lawyer.

Priscilla Collins, chief executive of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, thinks both AMT and APOs unfairly target the most disadvantaged, who are often also the most visible. “They will probably end up going back to the long grass,” she says.

Shortly after taking up his post, Alcohol Policy Minister Dave Tollner openly acknowledged one of AMT’s goals was to push drinkers to “go and hide out in the scrub”. AMT is now being reviewed.

The CLP has trenchantly refused to contemplate imposing any new supply restrictions. Giles told a gathering of hoteliers drinking was a “core social value”, while Tollner said Labor had treated publicans “akin to heroin traffickers”. The latest round of annual political returns to the Australian Electoral Commission reveal the alcohol industry’s main lobby, the Australian Hotels Association, has emerged as the Territory’s largest political donor. The organisation contributed $300,000, split between the major parties in the lead up to the August 2012 Territory election. According to an analysis of declared donations, the lobby donated almost 14 times as much per head of population in the Territory while the BDR was in place than it has in any other jurisdiction in the past decade.

At the time it was abolished there was little evidence clearly supporting the BDR. However it has since become clearer that although policy did not turn around increases in alcohol-related harm and violence as promised, it may have blunted them. Some quite senior CLP figures talk privately about bringing the BDR back.

One new policy that does appear effective is stationing police officers outside bottleshops. Regrettably this has also stirred up racial tension. The officers check drinkers’ IDs to see if they live in a proscribed area, and confiscate their purchases if they do. John Boffa, a spokesman for the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition, estimates reductions in domestic violence of up to 50 per cent in Alice Springs when police cover all 11 liquor outlets at once.

However the approach is a de facto supply restriction, with responsibility for enforcement transferred from the liquor retailer to the public service, as Kelly points out: “The (alcohol) industry is now being propped up by the Alice Springs police force.”

Combined with AMT’s high price tag, the government’s measures do not look at all cost effective. Assuming the number of people taking up drinking is proportional to population growth overall, the government would need at least five times the present number of AMT beds just to keep the number of alcoholics stable. The cost of that would exceed $1 billion by the end of the decade, or roughly 20 per cent of last year’s Territory budget.

Higgins called for a bipartisan inquiry with measures his government officially opposes – an alcohol floor price, shorter opening hours and BDR-like supply controls – put back on the table. “While they do inconvenience a lot of people, all of them should be considered,” he said. Kelly thinks there is a “gaping hole” in public policy around alcohol supply issues. “Neither the Labor government or the CLP government has covered itself in glory when it comes to that type of thing because they’re simply too close to the industry,” he says.

“There has got to be some serious question about whether (an inquiry) is warranted.”

A serious investigation would need to consider not just the efficacy of a range of policies, but the circumstances in which they are applied. Alcohol bans in remote communities push drinkers into towns, where their drinking often worsens. Proscribed urban areas leave residents who can legally buy takeaway alcohol unable to legally drink it. Stationing police outside bottleshops increases familial pressure on those living in non-proscribed areas to become involved in the alcohol supply trade; anecdotal evidence suggests the black market is thriving.

Some federally administered draft alcohol management plans are stuck in limbo, in part because it is unclear what the basic requirements are for Aboriginal communities to responsibly manage alcohol themselves. Community leaders often blame disenfranchisement for their giving up on the task. Many people familiar with these issues say the solutions lie not in textbooks or boardroom chats, but in the lives of Aboriginal people; another desktop study will not help.

It is also worth considering whether alcohol-related harm can be reduced to acceptable levels soon, or just mitigated and hidden. Not even the last of those has been accomplished so far. NT Attorney General John Elferink argues for stricter controls on welfare to break the link between welfare dependency and drinking: “We can build massive institutions to deal with alcoholism, but while the federal government pours free money into our jurisdiction, spending millions of dollars every fortnight, we as a government are going to be spending millions of dollars every fortnight cleaning up the mess.” Without action on several of these fronts, the NT’s alcohol abuse crisis looks likely to get worse.

NACCHO Aboriginal health news : Honorary doctorate awarded to Aboriginal health pioneer and advocate Ms Pat Anderson

Dr Pat

The chair of NACCHO Justin Mohamed on behalf of all NACCHO members, board and affiliates today congratulated Pat Anderson Aboriginal health pioneer and advocate being awarded an honorary doctorate.

Pictured above receiving a degree of Doctor of the University (DUniv) from Flinders University’s receiving the degree at the Adelaide Convention Centre (photo Mary Buckskin)

” Ms Pat Anderson is an Alyawarre woman from the Northern Territory with a national and international reputation as a powerful advocate for disadvantaged people, with a particular focus on the health of Australia’s First Peoples. Chair of the Lowitja Institute, she has extensive experience in all aspects of Aboriginal health, including community development, advocacy, policy formation and research ethics, and has had a close association with Flinders University for many years.” Mr Mohamed said.

READ HER RECENT ARTICLE :Racism a driver of Aboriginal ill health

After growing up on Parap Camp in Darwin, Ms Anderson travelled and worked overseas before working for the Woodward Royal Commission into Aboriginal Land Rights (1973-74) as a legal secretary.

She then became one of the first Aboriginal graduates of the University of Western Australia. After working in Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria as an advocate for improved education for Aboriginal children, she returned to the Northern Territory in the early 1990s to become CEO of Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service.

This led to the start of her involvement with Flinders, supporting the placement of medical students based at the University’s Darwin Clinical School.

She played a key role in establishing the Aboriginal Medical Service Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT), the representative body for the Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations.

After leading the founding of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Aboriginal and Tropical Health in 1997, she retained a leading role in the successive CRCs that came to constitute the core of the newly created Lowitja Institute, in which Flinders is a partner.

The Lowitja Institute, now recognised as Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, received an additional $25 million in research funding from the 2013 Federal Budget. Author of numerous essays, papers and articles, Ms Anderson was co-author with Mr Rex Wild QC of Little Children Are Sacred, a highly influential report on abuse of Aboriginal children in the NT.

NACCHO members congratulate the first Aboriginal woman elected to Federal Parliament Senator Nova Peris on her maiden speech

NOVA

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE TO THOSE WHO SEE THE INVISIBLE.

“To Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples this has always been part of our story of struggle, injustice and heartache. But we are here today – I am here today – because of this history. Aboriginal Australians are symbolic of triumph over adversity. We represent knowledge and wisdom held in land and country.”

Senator Nova Peris Canberra 13 Nov 2013

The chair of NACCHO Justinm Mohamed on behalf of the 150 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services members would like to congratulate Senator Nova Peris the first elected Aboriginal woman to the Federal Parliament.

Here is Nova’s maiden speech

Thank you Mr. President

I acknowledge the traditional owners, the Ngambri and Ngunnawal people on whose country we meet today — I pay my respects to my elders, past and present and to our future leaders.

I am Nova Maree Peris.

I was born in Darwin in the Northern Territory and I retain my strong cultural and spiritual ties to my country, to the Mother Earth.

I am a member of the oldest continuous surviving culture on earth.

I am proud that this hill we meet on here today is culturally significant to the Ngambri people as representing the womb of the ‘Woman’ on this Country.

It is very significant to me being the first Aboriginal woman elected to the Federal Parliament of Australia.

Through my mother, I am a descendant of the Gija people of the East Kimberley and the Yawuru people of the West Kimberley I am also Iwatja from Western Arnhem Land through my father.

Through my life I have come across many people from all walks of life who have inspired me.

Some through their wisdom; and others through their courage and their ability to overcome adversity.

But no one has inspired me more so than my grandmother. Nora Peris was a proud Giga woman – She was torn from her mother’s arms and lived on the Mission of Moola Bulla in the east Kimberley.

Moola Bulla is a long, sad and painful story” she used to say. This was home to her for 12 years. A river separated her and her traditional Aboriginal mother who was still living on country.

She always said they were so close — yet so far apart. My Nanna’s clothes were made from stitched together hessian bags. When the Second World War hit, the kids were released from the mission and for two years she walked and lived off the harsh Eastern Kimberly land.

These conditions and her will to survive shaped her; and it was there where she met my grandfather Johnny Peris. Johnny Peris was a Yawuru Man, a Beagle Bay mission survivor who was also a proud stockman. They met and had 10 children. Four of their children were taken away and sent to Garden Point Mission on the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory.

One of the four children who was taken and is here today is my mother, Joan Peris. She lived on the mission for eight years, she worked every day and never received a cent in pay. Mum became like a sister to many of the other children that were forcibly taken to the Garden Point mission.

Over the years, people have said to me that it’s incredible what I have achieved in sport. I have competed at some of the biggest sporting events on the planet.

Accolades, achievements and celebrations have been a part of my life. But in my heart, I know that part of my life is virtually meaningless compared to the ability to survive shown by my grandparents and my mother.

I cannot even imagine or comprehend how it would have felt to live life during those days.

These stories are part of the truth of Australia’s history.

It is what it is. The past is the past and no matter how hard we try we cannot change that history.

But let’s start to undo the wrongs with what is right and just. I urge all my Parliamentary colleagues to become champions for the recognition of Australia’s first nations people in our constitution.

To Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples this has always been part of our story of struggle, injustice and heartache. But we are here today – I am here today – because of this history. Aboriginal Australians are symbolic of triumph over adversity. We represent knowledge and wisdom held in land and country.

Because in our hearts we know that we do not own Mother Earth, the Earth owns us.

As a child growing up, I dreamt big.

Most people would have looked at an Aboriginal girl from the Territory, where the statistics of alcohol abuse, youth suicide, domestic violence, imprisonment rates and sub-standard education point to every reason why you should not succeed.

But I was determined to be successful.

And yes I am a product of that history, and I continue to live in a society whereby the odds are stacked against Aboriginal people.

I have always been inspired by those around me and my sister Venessa Peris has undertaken an incredible journey of her own.

She has lived an amazing and accomplished life serving Australia. She was a Corporal and served 10 years in the Australian Army. And last month she just completed 10 years with United Nations Peace Keeping Operations.

Venessa served seven years in the Ivory Coast and survived a West African Civil war and at one stage was involved in evacuating more than 4000 people.

She is currently carrying out her duties and resides in Monrovia, Liberia.

I say this to all of my Indigenous brothers and sisters, and to all people – within every one of us, lies the ability to reach deep inside ourselves and draw upon our inherited strength that our ancestors have given us. There lies a spirit that needs to be awakened.

Whilst I am obviously very proud of my Aboriginal heritage I want to make it clear that I do not consider myself an expert when it comes to finding solutions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s particular predicaments.

For too long we’ve all heard too many people say they have the answers for Aboriginal Australians and claim the moral high ground.

If the answers were as easily provided, as the questions are posed – we simply would not have a problem. In fact the answers are difficult and complex; but they do not lie in absolute positions and simplified slogans. Just delivering another Government program will not end the appalling rates of youth suicide in our communities for example. These are uncomfortable issues but they must be confronted.

But I have always been someone who has tried to do things, not just talk about them. I build things up, I don’t tear things down and I have lived by the view that ‘As much is given, much is expected’.

I have always been humbled and honoured to serve. It’s partly why I established the Nova Peris Girls Academy. I wanted to try to make a real difference to young disadvantaged Indigenous women.

Of course I have now ceased active involvement in the Academy but I remain the organisation’s Patron.

Like many before me, for too long, I have watched Aboriginal Australians and our plight be used purely for political purposes.

I have seen some totally unscrupulous people try to use the misery of some our people’s circumstances to promote their own cause and agenda.

Should I see this happen – I will call it for what it is—it’s racism—and I know that’s confronting—but I will not stand by in silence.

How we change things – that remains the challenge—but I know from my heart that nothing can be achieved without total determination and a gut-busting effort.

I have been fortunate enough to achieve at the Olympic levels of sport in hockey and athletics. I have experienced the total joy of winning gold medals for my country.

And I have lived the exciting life of an elite athlete—fussed over and entertained—in more than 50 countries around the world.

But I would swap all of that in a heartbeat – I would forgo any number of gold medals – to see Aboriginal Australians be free, healthy and participating fully in all that our great country has to offer.

It is my dream to see kids from Santa Theresa, from Gunbalanya, from Kalkarindji and the Tiwi Islands all with the same opportunity as the kids from the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.

That is one of the reasons I am a fierce advocate for Aboriginal people being taught to be able to read and write English. We cannot and should not be denied these basic tools.

Of course we should never be forced to renounce our culture—our beliefs sustain our spirits—they nourish us but at some levels they can restrain us too—that is the collision point that confronts Aboriginal people.

I make the simple point that in spite of difficulties like those I’ve described we are seeing some positive health benefits through the dedication of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health professionals.

We can make a difference; whatever our differences. The Northern Territory is currently the only jurisdiction in Australia that is on track to meet the Closing the Gap target on life expectancy.

This improvement comes from people who have sought evidence, and put that evidence into action. They have not acted on any fixed ideology, but out of dedication and commitment.

This evidence based method of approach is in my view, a real road sign for the future and points the way to dealing with so many other areas of Aboriginal life that have seemed so intractable for so long.

This is why I will be seeking to work not only with my colleagues in the Labor Party, in holding the Government to account, but also with the current Government, to ensure we build on successes in primary health care—and to extend those successes into other areas of our lives.

Mr President – Education remains the major foundation for self improvement. And although education is a basic fundamental right of every child in this country, irrespective of their race. The fact remains we must work hard to convince people of the value of education.

I acknowledge I am a Senator elected to represent all Territorians— and I fully intend to discharge this duty to the best of my ability and I will always put our concerns – the concerns of Territorians first and foremost.

I believe it is my duty and the duty of all members elected to the Parliament to answer questions and deal with issues honestly and openly.

One such matter that is a very contentious issue is the location of Australia’s proposed nuclear waste facility. Recently my Larrakia uncle Eric Fejo who is also here today spoke about the previous Government’s decision to locate the proposed nuclear waste facility on Muckaty Station in the Barkly region of the Northern Territory.

He reminded a public forum that during the Apology to the Stolen Generations it was stated that Governments were wrong to make laws and policies that inflict profound grief, suffering and loss on Aboriginal people.

That is what the Muckaty decision is currently doing. It is dividing a community of traditional owners. This policy is inflicting grief.

I strongly urge my fellow parliamentary colleagues to reconsider their support for the current location of this facility.

Of course Australia needs a nuclear waste management facility. But its location must be based on science not politics.

Mr President I do intend to finish my speech on a positive note.

The art of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is stunning. It is truly a gift to Australian culture. The outfit that I am wearing today is made in the Northern Territory – this beautiful gold silk fabric – featuring dancing brolgas was printed at Injalak Arts in Gunbalunya in Western Arnhem Land. It was made by my Dripstone High School friend Sarina Cowcher in Darwin. I also wore a Gracie Kumbi Merrepen printed design for my official swearing in yesterday.

I am a Territory Girl. I am immensely proud of who I am and where I hail from. It is majestic. The Northern Territory’s very talented musicians, our artists, our sports men and women. Our culture, our iconic and diverse landscape that boasts a number of world heritage listings.

There is certainly is no other place I would rather call home.

I want to thank the members of the Australian Labor Party and particularly those members of the Northern Territory Branch. In particular I thank Party President Matthew Gardiner and Party Secretary Kent Rowe.

I acknowledge all of my friends & family here today, my mother Joan Peris, my aunty Tanya, my bunyi Jimmy Cooper from Minjilang who walked me into the chamber.

Also here today are Aunty Eileen Hoosan and Aunty Pat Anderson. To my Children – Jessica, Destiny and Jack and grandson Issac – we may often find life difficult and challenging – but we always stick together, knowing wherever life’s journey leads us – we will all be true to ourselves.

To my husband Scott, I thank you for you unconditional love and support over the past years. As they say beyond each storm you will find the rainbow. Today is a rainbow. I thank you.

Viva la Vida.

I want to acknowledge Dr Ric Charlesworth, also a former member of Parliament, one of the greatest hockey players in the world, and now coach; he was one of my life mentors.

In the Hockeyroos team we had a mantra that took us to the gold medal.

This was loosely based on John F. Kennedy’s famous space program speech.

“We choose to go to the Olympics. We choose to go to the Olympics in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

I also want to mention the legendary Muhammad Ali. I was lucky enough to spend a day with him, and after several hours I worked up the to courage to ask him: “What makes millions of people love and admire you so much?” He simply replied: “Never look down upon those who look up to you.”

These are the people who taught and continue to teach me the right values that have enabled me to achieve so much in life.

I also particularly thank former Prime Minister Julia Gillard from the bottom of my heart for her faith in me and for giving me the chance to become involved – my duty now is to work hard and make a real difference.

Mr President – when Dr Martin Luther King spoke of his dream in Washington it inspired millions across the world. I believe everybody has the capacity to dream – we all have the capacity to believe – but very few get the actual opportunity that I have before me now – I urge everybody – particularly young people – to pursue your dreams.

In this next stage of my life I hope to make all those who have had faith in me, every reason to continue to believe in the power of those dreams.

I would just like to close today with a story that has stayed in my heart for many years.

At the 2000 Sydney Olympics there were hundreds of very excited and enthusiastic volunteers. An elderly man was amongst them at the athletics track and he greeted me and wished me well each day that I ran.

One the evening of the semi-finals of the 4x400m he didn’t say anything, he just handed me a piece of paper and said: “Read this just before you enter the stadium”. I put it in my pocket and proceeded to the check-in and then walked with my team-mates, Tamsyn Lewis, Susan Andrews and Jana Pitman.

We were without Cathy Freeman that evening and we had to finish in the top two to reach the Olympic final. We all felt the weight of Australian expectation resting on our shoulders, our adrenaline was pumping and we did our best to stay cool. We walked into the stadium to be greeted by 110,000 screaming sporting enthusiasts.

I reached into my pocket and read the words on the paper.

“NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE TO THOSE WHO SEE THE INVISIBLE.”

I did not really know what it meant, and I didn’t have much time to reflect on it. But it seemed to inspire me, those words written by a kind elderly man. The four of us went out that evening and ran the race of our lives. I anchored the team and we broke a 23-year-old Australian record. And we made it into the Olympic final.

I returned to the warm up track where he greeted me with a big hug. And I asked him what does it mean? He simply replied: “It was my ticket to freedom, I thought about it every day that I was held captive” … It turned out he was a former prisoner of war!

Ma, Bor Bor

NACCHO political news: Tony Abbott PM says Australia can have an Aboriginal Prime Minister one day

44th Parliament

Prime Minister Tony Abbott address at the Welcome to Country Ceremony, Parliament House

And response from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten Welcome To Country – Response

SOURCE OF PICTURE NEWS LTD

Prime Minister Tony Abbott

This Parliament always has great work to do: to secure our borders, to balance our budget, to strengthen our economy, to the relief of families and for the protection of jobs.

But if we are to do great things, we must begin them well. We must begin them well.

We must acknowledge the extended family of the Australian nation.

We must acknowledge and celebrate the essential unity of the Australian people.

It’s Noel Pearson, a great indigenous leader and a prophet for our times, who has observed that Australia is the product of a British and an indigenous heritage. This Parliament is redolent of our British heritage. But only recently has this Parliament acknowledged our indigenous heritage.

The first Parliament to meet here in this city 86 years ago was opened by the Duke of York. There was one indigenous person present that day. Matilda has already recalled the presence on that day of a local man, Jimmy Clements. And that man on the side of the ceremony was every bit as much a symbol of unity as the representative of the Crown, because Jimmy Clements, although unacknowledged that day, carried with him an Australian flag.

Haven’t we changed over 86 years? Haven’t we come a long way? This city has come a long way. Our country has come a long way. And this Parliament has come a very long way indeed.

We have had indigenous members of this Parliament.

We have in Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous member of the House of Representatives.

In this term of Parliament we have in Nova Peris the first female indigenous member of this Parliament.

Two indigenous members of this Parliament, in this, the 44 h Parliament of our country.

May that number increase. May we one day, not too far off, have an indigenous Prime Minister

Who would have thought that the Northern Territory would have an indigenous Chief Minister?

But if we can have our first female Senator, indigenous Senator, our first indigenous Member of the House of Representatives, if we can have an indigenous Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, we certainly can have an indigenous Prime Minister of this country and we certainly can have in this Parliament, or the next, full recognition of indigenous people in the Constitution of our country.

There is much that I dispute with my predecessor as Prime Minister, Mr Kevin Rudd, but I honour him for the historic apology to indigenous people that took place at the opening of this Parliament in 2008 and I honour him for including this indigenous element in the rituals of our Parliament, which is so fittingly now a part of the opening of a new parliamentary term.

WELCOME TO COUNTRY – RESPONSE (FED)

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten Welcome To Country – Response

Can I thank Matilda for the Welcome to Country and also to everyone here for the sharing the traditional music and dancing of this land with us.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land we are meeting on today, and the long and continuing relationship between Indigenous peoples and their Country.

I would like to pay my respects to Elders both past and present – especially those Elders here with us today.

Can I also acknowledge the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Senate, many of my colleagues from the House and Senators who are joining us on this occasion.
And to welcome everyone else who is here with us today – I know some of you have travelled a long way to join us.

We meet today with hope for the future.

We have that hope because of what we’ve achieved in this place in recent years.

It is here that we stood together and committed to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians – and the gap is closing.

It is here that we committed to formally recognise our first peoples in our founding document – the Constitution – a cause we continue into this Parliament.

It is here that a Prime Minister and a nation said sorry – and started a new relationship with Aboriginal people – one based on respect and reconciliation.

I know that there is much still to do – and it’s with this new spirit of reconciliation that we stand together today and reaffirm our commitment to do more.

Because this work doesn’t end with each Parliament. It transcends parliaments and it transcends politics.

I stand proud to serve in the Parliament of a country where the wonderful, important gesture such as we have seen today is common practice at events from the beginning of a new parliament, or at ANZAC Day services, or at school assemblies.

Together, I am confident we can make sure that the 44th Parliament of Australia can both honour this past, and push forward to ensure that the future will be a bright one for all Australians – Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike.

Once again Matilda, thank you for the Welcome to Country.

NACCHO Aboriginal health news alert: Aboriginal population will soar to more than one million in the next 20 years.Download the report here

SNAICC

Dr Biddle said the indigenous population was likely to become “more urban and older”. He warned that “it won’t come without costs, as certain determinants of indigenous wellbeing, like cultural participation, language usage and acquisition and maintenance of country, will be more difficult to maintain.”

THE number of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders will soar to more than one million in the next 20 years, as the indigenous population rapidly ages and becomes more urbanised.

Report edited from the AUSTRALIAN PATRICIA KARVELAS Follow @PatKarvelas

A groundbreaking report,  released this month, predicts that the fastest indigenous population growth will be in Brisbane, Rockhampton, Cairns, southwestern Western Australia, South Headland, Townsville and Mackay.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT HERE

The report forecasts that the indigenous population will grow from about 670,000 in 2011 to about 1.06 million by 2031, an increase of about 59 per cent, compared with an increase of about 20 per cent for the non-indigenous population.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE NACCHO  HEALTHY FUTURES PLAN 2030

From making up about 3 per cent of the total population in 2011, indigenous people will comprise 3.9 per cent by 2031.

The paper, by the Australian National University’s Nicholas Biddle, finds that even excluding changes in whether people identify as indigenous, the regions in Queensland and Western Australia are projected to grow by at least 3 per cent a year.

Four regions — Apatula, Tennant Creek, Katherine and northwestern NSW — are projected to grow by less than 1 per cent per year over the period.

The indigenous population is projected to become much more urban over the next 20 years. In 2011, the indigenous population of Brisbane was estimated to be 65,000. This is slightly less than the roughly 69,000 indigenous people estimated to live in the whole of the Northern Territory.

By 2031, the Brisbane region is projected to have an indigenous population of a little more than 132,000 people, about 50 per cent more than the Northern Territory, with a little less than 89,000.

Although the total indigenous population is projected to grow by 59 per cent between 2011 and 2031, the population up until age 24 is only projected to grow by 47 per cent. This is still faster than the equivalent projection for the non-indigenous population in that age group, but is much slower than the indigenous population aged 65 and older, which is projected to grow by 200 per cent.

The 65-and-older cohort is forecast to comprise 6.4 per cent of the indigenous population in 2031, compared with about 3.4 per cent at the 2011 census.

This could have profound financial implications, as low rates of employment are likely to mean that indigenous retirees have far less in savings than their non-indigenous counterparts. It is also likely to have implications for health and disability policy.

Dr Biddle said there were two main reasons for the relatively rapid projected growth, including migration from non-urban to urban Australia, and high rates of intermarriage between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. “As the children of these partnerships tend to be identified as indigenous, there is therefore an additional contribution to growth.”

He said that even in the regions with the slowest growth, the indigenous population was likely to grow faster than the non-indigenous population.

The report, funded by the federal government, warns that a rapidly growing indigenous population could put budget pressures on programs. “For programs that are funded on a fixed-dollar basis per person, a large growth in the eligible indigenous population could mean that the cost of the program would need to be either increased or spread across a greater number of people,” it says.

Dr Biddle said the indigenous population was likely to become “more urban and older”. He warned that “it won’t come without costs, as certain determinants of indigenous wellbeing, like cultural participation, language usage and acquisition and maintenance of country, will be more difficult to maintain.”

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

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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.

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NACCHO political news: Warren Mundine flags radical overhaul of Aboriginal regulatory body ORIC.

Abbott and the Mandine

The Coalition Government’s chief Indigenous advisor has flagged a radical overhaul of the body that regulates Aboriginal corporations.

By Karen Michelmore

The Federal Government’s chief Indigenous advisor has flagged a radical overhaul of the body that regulates Aboriginal corporations. There are more than 5,000 incorporated Indigenous entities across Australia, about half of which are under ORIC’s watch and governed by the Corporations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (CATSI) Act. Most are not-for-profit organisations. The top 500 Indigenous corporations last year generated a combined income of $1.6 billion and employed more than 11,000 people.

Mr Mundine, who will chair Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s new Indigenous Advisory Council, says building stronger governance is essential for prosperous, functioning communities, but in many cases it has failed.

Warren Mundine says the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) needs to be reformed to become tougher.

He says everything is on the table – including bringing Indigenous corporations into the mainstream so everyone is governed by the same laws.

Last nights  Four Corners program explored claims of mismanagement and misuse of funds, which crippled two successful Indigenous organisations in the Northern Territory, one of them fatally.

One complaint in both cases was that the regulator, ORIC, did not intervene quickly enough.

WATCH THE FULL PROGRAM HERE ON IVIEW

Former Jawoyn CEO accused of misusing association’s funds

Four Corners has revealed allegations the former chief executive of the Jawoyn Association Aboriginal Corporation spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of the association’s money on goods and services for himself.

The association was set up as registered charity with the main aim of poverty relief for its members.

Preston Lee denies the allegations made by former Jawoyn employees, who allege it was not uncommon for him to use purchase orders worth $1,000 a day.

Former Jawoyn pilot Chris Morgan has also told Four Corners Mr Lee used $300,000 to $400,000 of the association’s helicopter time.

“There was the girlfriends that he would want me to take out, him and his girlfriends, or obviously one girlfriend at a time, take them out to Arnhem Land,” Mr Morgan said.

“He’s, to be honest, just trying to big-note himself, like it was his own aircraft. He used to call me, refer to me as his pilot, I’d pick him up from his house.”

Former employees of Jawoyn also allege Northern Territory MLA Larisa Lee told them to cover up their former CEO’s misappropriation of funds during her election campaign last year.

Preston Lee is Ms Lee’s brother.

Ray Whear has told Four Corners that Ms Lee saw the evidence, but told him to keep the information quiet because she was campaigning for her seat at the time.

“Larisa specifically said, ‘I won’t get elected and I’m not going to have that’,” Mr Whear said.

The association’s chairman, Ryan Baruwei, alleges it was Mr Whear and former CEO Wes Miller who stopped the evidence going to the board.

ORIC has decided it will not pursue legal action in relation to allegations of fraud, because it found insufficient evidence.

Mundine: ‘Money has disappeared’

There are more than 5,000 incorporated Indigenous entities across Australia, about half of which are under ORIC’s watch and governed by the Corporations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (CATSI) Act. Most are not-for-profit organisations.

The top 500 Indigenous corporations last year generated a combined income of $1.6 billion and employed more than 11,000 people.

Mr Mundine, who will chair Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s new Indigenous Advisory Council, says building stronger governance is essential for prosperous, functioning communities, but in many cases it has failed.

“They’ve let some people who are sitting on boards and corporations and community organisations get away with blue murder, when the biggest amount of people who have suffered in that are Indigenous people,” Mr Mundine said.

“They didn’t get the service they deserved, money has disappeared, there’s a whole nepotism that’s happened and there’s a lot of Aboriginal people who have been cut out of that.

“By taking this kid-glove approach and trying to be kind to Aboriginal people we’ve made the situation worse.”

ORIC, which focuses on training and building capacity in financial literacy and governance, conducted its first successful criminal cases under the CATSI Act last year.

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NACCHO health news : 1,000 doctors to talk Aboriginal health,Ehealth and cheeky docs at Darwin health conference

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The Northern Territory is the only place on track to Close the Gap by 2031 and for this to continue we need to continue to grow our General Practice workforce,”

NT Doctor

Approximately 1,000 medical professionals from across Australia will be in Darwin  for  the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Annual Conference  are set to make a difference to health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people , GP13, on 17–19 October.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is a primary focus of the GP13 program with the aim of ensuring all general practitioners and their practice staff provide culturally and clinically appropriate healthcare to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

Associate Professor Brad Murphy, Chair of the RACGP’s  National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, said ‘Closing the Gap’ on health outcomes and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the broader Australian community is one of Australia’s highest health priorities.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the same right as non-Indigenous Australians to enjoy a high quality of health, including not just the physical wellbeing of the individual, but also the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the entire community,” A/Prof Murphy said.

A highlight of the GP13 program is key note speaker, Dr Theresa Maresca (Mohawk Tribe, Kahnawake Band) presenting AKWE:KON (all of us, together): What American Indian communities can teach general practitioners plenary session.

A/Prof Murphy said, “The importance of learning from other cultures success and failures in incorporating Indigenous culture into general practice is critical if Australia is to move closer to removing health disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.”

The RACGP’s National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, working closely with the Larrakia Nation, is hosting this year’s GP13 conference and offers delegates a wide range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health related presentations and workshops*, including:

Wednesday 16 October (College Day)

•   National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health annual meeting and the Standing Strong Together Forum

•   Announcements of the RACGP Standing Strong Together Award, recognising partnerships between GPs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

Thursday 17 October

•   Plenary – Health is a state of mind, Dr Jeff McMullen AM

•   Working successfully in an Aboriginal medical service – building an introductory workshop, Dr Tamsin Cockayne and Ms Leeanne Pena

Friday 18 October

•    Plenary – AKWE:KON (all of us, together): What American Indian communities can teach general practitioners, Dr Theresa Maresca

•   The experience of working in Indigenous medicine on the Tiwi Islands, Dr Rodney Omond

•    Addressing awareness and practice gaps of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women – a comprehensive approach to knowledge creation and translation, Mrs Rhonda Garad

•   Quality training in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, Dr Tim Senior

•   Islander medicine, A/Prof Bruce Harris

Saturday 19 October

•   The role and responsibilities of the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health worker, Ms Jenny Poelina and Mr Clarke Scott

•   Increasing the number of Indigenous medical specialists, Dr Tammy Kimpton

The RACGP is pleased to host two Aboriginal medical students at GP13, who have been given the opportunity to attend through student bursaries offered by the RACGP.

A number of traditional Aboriginal artwork will be available for purchase for the duration of the GP13 conference.

The RACGP is proud to support efforts to tackle health disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians and acknowledges the daily work of many of its members to improve health outcomes for their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

Follow GP13 on Twitter @RACGPConference for real-time GP13 conference updates or visit the website for an up-to-date program.

EHEALTH

GP13 – The RACGP Conference for General Practice, set in Darwin on 17–19 October, features a strong e- health program offering the expected 1 000 delegates a wide range of e-health related presentations and workshops.

This year’s theme is ‘Individual. Family. Community.’ and e-health will be a focus across the streams of Dermatology, Clinical skills across general practice, Musculoskeletal medicine, Pain management and chronic conditions, Education and training and Business in practice.

Officially launched at GP13, the revised  Computer and information security standards (CISS) (2nd edition) provides general practices with information and recommendations that will raise awareness of contemporary security issues and help protect against potential loss of sensitive data.

The CISS is being released in an interactive HTML version making compliance to the standards easier for general practices.

Dr Liz Marles, RACGP President, said the conference program has been designed to reflect the current issues and subjects relevant to the general practice environment, none more topical than e-health.

“E-health is the future of healthcare. It has tremendous promise to improve the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and quality of healthcare delivery,” said Dr Marles.

The RACGP is hosting a high-speed broadband booth to highlight how the National Broadband Network (NBN) can better support both the business of healthcare and the use of technology in clinical care.

Dr Liz Marles said, “The booth offers the opportunity for general practitioners (GPs) to speak with other GPs who have embraced technology in healthcare, and how the national eHealth record system is being implemented into clinical practice.”

GP13 will offer delegates the opportunity to build upon current knowledge and understanding of the benefits of e-health in a series of presentations and workshops*, including:

Thursday 17 October

•   Tweet and blog your way to a medical education – Dr Justin Coleman and Dr Tim Senior

•   Using the eHealth record system to add value to clinical consultations – Dr Rob Hosking

•   Online communication for education – risks, responsibilities and rewards – Prof Hugh Taylor and Mr Mitchell Anjou

•   Mastering e-health in Best Practice Software – Mr William Durnford

Friday 18 October

•   Electronic prescribing to reduce medication error – Dr Trina Gregory

•    The GP guide to social media: an introduction to professional life on the web – Mr David Townsend, Mr Aaron Sparshott and Dr Edwin Kruys

Saturday 19 October

•   Guidelines for quality health records in Australian primary healthcare – Dr Michael Civil

•   When should I share my practice data? – Dr Patricia Williams

•   Test the software: computer clinical support for osteoporosis – Dr Yvonne Selecki

Northern Territory General Practitioners will be promoting the Northern Territory this week to interstate medical professionals by wearing cheekydog shirts designed by local Indigenous artist Dion Beasley.

CHEEKY DOGS AND DOCS

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“The Northern Territory is the only place on track to Close the Gap by 2031 and for this to continue we need to continue to grow our General Practice workforce,” Dr Cockayne who practices part‐time on the Tiwi Islands says.

Interstate doctors will be encouraged to strike up a conversation and share these and photos via social media with any doctors wearing the cheekydog shirts, specifically conversations about the Northern Territory lifestyle.

The initiative has been developed by Northern Territory General Practice Education (NTGPE) together with Dion Beasley to promote working and training as a General Practitioner in the Northern Territory and to create a sense of community for Northern Territory doctors.

“Being a General Practitioner in the Northern Territory is uniquely different to other parts of Australia, this initiative not only promotes working in the Territory but has the added benefit of creating a sense of community for NorthernTerritory GP’s, many of whom work in very remote areas,” Dr Tamsin Cockayne said.

A medical cheekydog band, ten musically talented GP’s who have worked all over the Northern Territory, has also been added to the mix calling themselves ‘Medical cheekydocs’.

The ‘cheekydocs’ will be playing at the Adelaide River Pub Tuesday 15 November and at Crocosaurus Cove Friday 18 November to enable interstate GP’s experience to the territory outside the Conference.

Media opportunities

  • Medical cheekydog band at Adelaide River Pub on Tuesday 15 October
  • Doctors wearing Medical cheekydog shirts – Tuesday 15 October
  • GP13 Conference at Darwin Convention Centre Wednesday 15 – Saturday 19 October
  • Cheekydoc band at Crocosaurus Cove Friday 18 October

Dr Tamsin Cockayne is the Director of Cultural and Medical Education for NTGPE, a part‐time General Practitioner on the Tiwi Islands and a singer of the Medical cheekydog band.

Further information visit the website.

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