NACCHO political health news : Abbott Government cuts to impact on Aboriginal health

Shane

Closing the gap requires a coordinated approach at the state and federal levels as the challenges faced by Aboriginal people are interconnected.You can’t improve overall health outcomes without also looking at the social determinants, things like housing, education and poverty. Similarly, you can’t improve health outcomes while the numbers of Aboriginal people in our jails continues to rise,”

Said NACCHO chair Justin Mohamed .(see press release below) pictured above with Shane Duffy NATSILS

Congress calls upon the Prime Minister to show leadership and understanding of the need for increased capacity in our organisations and communities.  He can demonstrate that by ensuring the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services is retained and strengthened,”

Said Co-Chair National Congress Les Malezer.(see press release below)

Overview

Yesterday the Federal Government delivered the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2013-2014.
Here are some things from the report as they relate to Aboriginal Affairs and Aboriginal Health and Health more broadly.
Ceased
-The Indigenous Carbon Farming Fund
-Remote Indigenous Energy Programme
-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Programme ($1.0 m in 2013-2014)
-Office of the Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services
-$27m from the Healthier Communities Priority Infrastructure Programme
-$5m Chronic Disease Prevention and Services Improvement Fund
-National Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Programs – 22.3m
-Public Health Program – $6mil
Established
-$45 mil for Vocation Training and Employment Centres for 5000 Aboriginal job seekers under the Generation One model
-$5 for Empowered Communities based on Jawun Model.
-$1mil for Indigenous Advisory Council (Chaired by Warren Mundine)
-$40mil of redirected funding to re-open Indigenous Employment Programme in remote areas

NACCHO Press release

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chair, Justin Mohamed, said cutting legal services made no economic sense when you take into account the wider implications of incarceration on issues such as employment, education and health.

“The fact is people in our jail system often suffer from poor mental and physical health,” Mr Mohamed said.

“Incarceration also can have broader impacts on the health of those left behind – on the imprisoned person’s family and broader community.

“With rates of incarceration of Aboriginal people increasing, we should be doing everything we can to turn around the huge numbers of Aboriginal people in our prisons.

“NACCHO supports the good work of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services – both who play an important role in keeping our people out of jail.

“They provide education and early intervention support and advice which can mean the difference between a life of incarceration and one that makes a contribution to the community.

“The Federal Government need to rethink their position and recognise how crucial a national voice on Aboriginal legal policy is in reducing the disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal people in the justice system.

“Aboriginal peak bodies understand better than anyone the issues their people face and the factors that contribute to them entering the justice system.

“Taking that voice from the mix to save a few dollars will just hamper future efforts to improve outcomes across a range of factors including health, education and employment.”

Mr Mohamed said closing the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people needed an integrated approach.

“Aboriginal people make up more than thirty percent of the prison population, despite being only a fraction of the Australian population.

“Closing the gap requires a coordinated approach at the state and federal levels as the challenges faced by Aboriginal people are interconnected.

“You can’t improve overall health outcomes without also looking at the social determinants, things like housing, education and poverty. Similarly, you can’t improve health outcomes while the numbers of

Aboriginal people in our jails continues to rise,” Mr Mohamed said.

National Congress Condemns Cuts

 
The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (Congress) strongly opposes the decision by the Federal Government to cut funding to community controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.
The government’s ‘hit or miss’ funding cuts to our organisations, at the beginning of their term and before the completion of their highly-publicised inquiries, endangers the collaborative approach offered by the Prime Minister.
Today’s news that the national body for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services is to be defunded is a significant blow and does not reflect an effort to engage in partnership.
Having a national body for the legal services increases the skills, experience and effectiveness of all the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, and brings greater efficiency to the expenditure incurred by those legal services.
“Congress calls upon the Prime Minister to show leadership and understanding of the need for increased capacity in our organisations and communities.  He can demonstrate that by ensuring the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services is retained and strengthened,” said Co-Chair Les Malezer.
“Our Peoples must be self-determining and will not accept Governments making decisions on funding priorities without us.
“Removing our capacity for policy reform and advocacy to legal assistance programs delivered by Aboriginal, community and legal aid services will affect the most marginalised and vulnerable members of our community.
“Congress supports organisations controlled by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to continue representing our interests and to provide expert advice on service delivery,” said Mr Malezer.
Congress recently made a strongly worded submission to the National Commission of Audit which reinforces our fundamental principles of self-determination and community decision making.
“Significant under investment by successive Governments makes our Peoples predicament comparable to some developing countries, “said Co-Chair Kirstie Parker.
“We cannot accept any reduction in Commonwealth spending on housing, remote infrastructure, legal services, community safety, native title, languages and culture, when investment and capacity building is what’s clearly required.
“We will continue to work with the Commission to engage with all of our members.
“Community input and ownership are highlighted as keys to achieve improvements by the Government’s own landmark reports – including the Department of Finance Strategic Review of Indigenous Expenditure (2011) and the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key indicators 2011 report,” said Ms Parker.
Contact Congress : Liz Willis 0457 877 408  NACCHO Colin Cowell 0401 331 251
 
 

Government avoids scrutiny by cutting Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous ServicesGeneral for Remote Indigenous Services.

“This cost cutting measure from the Government is deeply disappointing and will further undermine efforts to deliver on our Closing the Gap commitments,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues.
“The role of Coordinator General is to ‘monitor, assess, advise and drive progress relating to improvements in government service delivery in 29 remote Indigenous communities across Australia’.
Removing this role will directly affect the ability of the Government to monitor and report on the implementation of policies.
“This cut is a comparatively small amount of money that the Government admits will be used to either save money or fund other, unnamed policies.
It isn’t even being reinvested in other programs to help people in remote Australia.
“Decisions such as this make a mockery of Tony Abbott’s comments about being the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs, as once again his Government seeks to avoid scrutiny and accountability for its policies,” Senator Siewert concluded.

NACCHO News: THE Abbott government will strip funding from peak Aboriginal body

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NATSILS chairman Shane Duffy said last night the cuts would deny essential legal services to even more Aboriginal people.

Source: News Limited

THE Abbott government will strip funding from the peak Aboriginal legal aid organisation and policy positions in its state affiliates, but has moderated the extent of cuts to at-the-coalface services following an outcry from the indigenous community.

The Coalition today will announce the defunding of the peak National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and all law reform and policy officer positions within each state and territory affiliate, saving $9 million over three years.

However, this represents a backdown after the Coalition went to the election promising cuts of $42m over three years to take effect from the 2014-15 financial year.

Our thanks to PATRICIA KARVELAS

FROM THE AUSTRALIAN

NATSILS chairman Shane Duffy said last night the cuts would deny essential legal services to even more indigenous people and further entrench them as “second-class citizens” in their own country.

Mr Duffy said that at a time when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration rates were at alarming highs and continuing to rise, the funding cuts were short-sighted.

“Without a national peak body and state-based law reform and policy officers, governments around Australia will have no access to informed, evidence-based frontline advice in regards to the effectiveness of the justice system,” Mr Duffy said.

“Justice-related costs are spiralling out of control around Australia, and removing the ability of frontline services to provide government agencies with accurate policy advice will only serve to make our system more ineffective, inefficient and increasingly costly.

“Cutting funding at the policy level in order to save money is simply a false economy.”

Mr Duffy said that the small saving of $3m a year was nothing compared to the impact such cuts would have on the ground.

“Without the advocacy work of a national peak body and state and territory-based law reform and policy officers, more people are going to end up in prison. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

“The funding cuts directly target our ability to work with governments to address the underlying causes of why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are so disproportionately represented in our justice system. There is no one else to fulfil this role if we are prohibited from doing so.”

Mr Duffy said that the funding cuts would also affect the level of prevention and early intervention services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

He said with the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, headed by Warren Mundine, reviewing all government expenditure, it was unclear why the legal aid cuts had already been decided on.

“The fact that the government has pre-empted this review calls into question the commitment Tony Abbott has for the council that he has specifically created to advise him on such issues. This isn’t what you would expect from a Prime Minister who has positioned himself as the Prime Minister for indigenous Australians,” he said.

Last night there was huge pressure on Mr Mundine, who has said he does not support the cuts, to intervene.

NACCHO political alert: Coalition Health Policy: Aboriginal health missing in action

Justin

Justin Mohamed and @NATSILS_ Shane Duffy at @NITV’s special election forum.

Must watch Fri 6pm http://t.co/24Bl5BIqam

Coalition Health Policy: Aboriginal health missing in action

Aboriginal people across the country today will be disappointed by the release of the Coalition’s health policy given the persistent appalling health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, said the Aboriginal primary health peak.

National Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chair, Justin Mohamed said the seventeen page Coalition Health Plan dedicated only one line to Aboriginal health and provided no detail on the initiatives they would support to specifically improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

“Tony Abbott has previously expressed a commitment to closing the shameful health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

“The Coalition signed the Close the Gap Statement of Intent in 2008 and plans to elevate Aboriginal affairs directly to the Prime Ministerial office if Tony Abbott wins Government in three weeks.

“Given that, it is disappointing and somewhat surprising that he has not given a lot more focus in his Health Policy to solving the challenges in Aboriginal health.

“Focusing on bowel screening, diabetes management, dental health and building the medical workforce are welcome initiatives in the Coalition Policy but must be delivered by Aboriginal people to Aboriginal people if we are maximise their effect in Aboriginal communities.”

Mr Mohamed said that driving down the life expectancy gap – which in some areas is up to 17 years different – can only happen if we have long-term, Aboriginal-driven health programs which look beyond election cycles and politics.

“We know the Aboriginal community controlled health model is working – we are seeing both adult and child mortality rates slowly declining – but we can’t afford to be complacent.

“We would like to see all political parties commit to the NACCHO ten-point Investing in Healthy Futures for Generational Change plan which provides a policy road map to keep the momentum up.

“This includes a commitment to what works – Aboriginal community controlled primary health services – who are delivering real gains on the front line.

“It includes capacity building our communities, sustaining an Aboriginal medical workforce and supporting and expanding community controlled services to reach more of our people in more areas.”

Mr Mohamed said he hoped there was more to come from the Coalition before 7 September.

Media contact: Colin Cowell 0401 331 251, Anaya Latter 0432 121 636

NACCHO International health news: ACCESS to JUSTICE for Aboriginal People

Shane Duffy

Shane Duffy, the Chairperson of the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) delivered a joint statement on behalf NATSILS and the Indigenous Peoples Organisation Network of Australia (IPO) in response to a Study on access to justice in the promotion and protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples at the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) at the Sixth Session meeting in Geneva from 8-12 July 2013.

Mr Duffy said studies such as these provide a critical point of reference and authoritative guidance for States (National Governments) in their efforts to provide for and implement their obligations concerning the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

However, while Mr Duffy agrees that the experience of Indigenous Peoples within the criminal justice system the world over requires urgent action, he said care needs to be taken not to confine States understanding their responsibilities by limiting the expression or scope of these rights to one element or area of concern.

He further added; Access to justice for Indigenous Peoples must be about how we can use both Indigenous and Western systems of justice to ensure the greatest possible quality of life for all Indigenous Peoples’, which is highlighted at Article 5 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that affirms Indigenous Peoples right to maintain and strengthen our political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions while retaining our right to also participate fully in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.

Mr Duffy’s statement called on the Human Rights Council (HRC) to encourage States to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the foundational document for the development of all policies concerning Indigenous Peoples, including issues related to access to justice, and that the HRC request the EMRIP extend the Study on access to justice in the promotion an protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples to include a practical analysis of Articles 1 (4) and 2 (2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and General Comment XXIII by the CERD as it relates to special measures and the requirement to obtain free, prior and informed consent.

Mr Duffy further added ‘it is important that States utilise informed standardised data collections that ensures a more strategic approach that provides appropriate needs based financial resources to Indigenous organisations to build their capacity to respond appropriately to Indigenous justice needs.

Mr Duffy said, ‘In Australia, the statistics provide a damning picture, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults incarcerated at 15 times the rate of non-Indigenous adults; imprisonment rate for our women has grown by 58.6% between the years 2000 to 2010; Our children are 24 times more likely to be in youth detention than non-Indigenous young people. In 2011-12, our children were subjected to child protection substantiations at a rate of 41.9 per 1000, nearly eight times that of non-Indigenous children.  They are also ten times more likely to be in out-of-home care (comprising 31% of all children in care), despite making up only 4.2% of the population of all children and young people. In addition to the rising rates, our children are increasingly being placed with non-Indigenous foster carers.

We have therefore called on the Australian government to take into consideration the significant issues highlighted in the full intervention to work collaboratively with us to facilitate the restoration and strengthening of local governance and decision-making structures to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s access to justice’.
Contact:

For a full copy of Mr Duffy’s Intervention and/or interview enquiries please contact Amala Groom
Phone: +61 425 820 658
Email

Further Information:

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