Aboriginal Social Media #NACCHOSummit news: A case study of Twitter-power for Aboriginal health advocacy and self-determination


Social media and particularly Twitter had a huge impact in amplifying the discussions and reach of the NACCHO Summit in Adelaide this week.

As at 25 August there were 5,563,625 Impressions from 3,097 Tweets

As you can see from the tweet below, NACCHO is heading to next Tuesday’s National Press Club debate on health with an arsenal of tweeters. (Heaven help hope those politicians if they don’t focus on their plans for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health – their names will be mud in the Twitterverse.)

In the article below journalist John Thompson-Mills reports on the social media impact factor – perhaps it was no coincidence that #NACCHOSummit was trending on Twitter and that a senior government official turned up for the last day of the Summit.

At the bottom of his article are some further conference tweets, showing that “pride” emerged very strongly as a Summit theme, as well as a grab of the conference’s Twitter analytics (which doesn’t include today’s tweet-coverage).

If you would like assistance with Social media such as TWITTER  contact the person who put this project together

NACCHO Media and Communications advisor :Colin Cowell who you can follow @NACCHOAustralia

Email media@naccho.org.au


Twitter extends the reach of #NACCHOSummit

John Thompson-Mills writes:

One of the foundation stones of NACCHO and Aboriginal self-determination is community control. The community provides the expertise, drives the program and controls the message.

This makes social media a perfect fit for an event like the inaugural NACCHO summit.

Experienced social media users may have been fully prepared to use Twitter to talk about the #NACCHOSummit but many, including senior NACCHO people, were taken aback by what social media managed to achieve this week.

NACCHO’s CEO, Lisa Briggs, says:

“I think the social media coverage has been absolutely fantastic and taken the conference to places it probably wouldn’t have been able to reach, just with newspapers and radio. So I think it’s a very important and effective tool.

“The viralness (sic) of Twitter certainly surprised me, absolutely, and I think it’s the attraction and the interest. Finding peoples’ interests and them tweeting back; ‘that’s really good, can I hear more about those stories?’, and then getting in touch with others who are presenting them. I think I know more people on social media than I do face to face.” 

The summit convinced a number of NACCHO staff to join the Twitterverse and, with thousands of tweets generated by the end of the conference, there was plenty to inspire the “Twitter-virgins”.

NACCHO Summit attendee Jake Byrne isn’t a Twitter virgin. He tends to observe the space rather than join in the debate. Not now though. He says:

“I’m probably going to have to get an account that’s a bit more focused and work specific. I have to try and get a bit more active in the space, promoting different programs and ideas and things that I’ve been seeing.

“I reckon the more we spread the word, the better it is for everyone in promoting those really good stories that all too often in Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal health are the ones that don’t get the spotlight shone on them.”

Lisa Briggs expected social media at the NACCHO Summit to stay within the realms it already occupied, but in the middle of an election campaign there was too much going on for it to stay contained.

A couple of times this week, the conference’s Twitter hashtag (#NACCHOSummit) was “trending” nationally (ie: the top subjects on the Twitter platform), which, along with the sheer numbers of tweets, helped convince a government bureaucrat to make a hasty trip to Adelaide from Canberra to see what was going on.

Samantha Palmer is the First Assistant Secretary, in the Office for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health and she sat in on the final day of the conference.

With the election campaign in full swing, and the Federal Government in caretaker mode, Palmer wasn’t able to speak publicly, but did spend private time with NACCHO members.

Jake Byrne could also see the value in Twitter influencing political circles.

“I was impressed to see all the Tweets coming from the summit did put some pressure on the pollies and brought it to national attention, and we were “trending”. I actually got to understand what trending was and the power it has, which I wasn’t really aware of before coming here,” he said.

NACCHO CEO Lisa Briggs didn’t mind that Samantha Palmer couldn’t talk publicly at the summit. For her the coincidental timing of the election campaign and the conference was perfect.

“I think it’s been a fantastic opportunity to get the good stories and inform wider Australia what’s going on,” she said. “Through social media we’ve kept it on a political platform, asking questions about how they’re contributing to Aboriginal Community Control and health in particular.

“Today you would’ve seen more tweets directed at Tanya Plibersek (Federal Health Minister) and Peter Dutton (Shadow Health Minister). They may not be here physically but there are other ways of getting to them,” she said.

At the other end of the political scale, NACCHO conference attendee, Marlee Ramp, a 19 year-old medical student from Cairns, has now seen the potential of Twitter up close.

“…this week with all the hash tags, I started an account and followed the feed,” she said. “Obviously this week is all health focused, but it gives me a broader perspective of health and what my role may be in the future, and who I can get involved with.”

Young, active, aware people like Marlee Ramp represent the future for Aboriginal self-determination but so it seems does social media because it empowers the storytellers.

Jake Byrne is 30 and he can see the relative power social media gives him and other Aboriginal people. He says:

“If we can control our message, that’s brilliant. We’ve heard a lot in the past few days about myths that were being smashed through the evidence that’s been collected so far, but I think those myths are propagated by other people sending messages about our community. If we can get our stories out there the way we want them to be told, that’s really empowering.”

The next NACCHO Summit is scheduled for April or May next year. That means organisers and delegates will be filling social media just as budgets are being finalised by what’s anticipated to be a new Coalition Government.

Coincidence or clever timing?

No doubt we’ll get a clear idea by what’s said on social media.


Twitter stream shows up a strong theme of Pride


Twitter Analytics

NACCHO Summit Adelaide: Croakey Q and A interview with CEO Lisa Briggs

This is a good example of “the 3 C’s” as this event is not government funded but has been self-funded by our sector showing how NACCHO, affiliates and member services continue to support each other. The summit themes of governance, workforce and comprehensive primary health care will show the diversity amongst the membership. ” Lisa Briggs
As mentioned in the previous post, the Croakey Conference Reporting Service is covering the NACCHO Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service Summit, which starts in Adelaide today on Twitter, check#NACCHOSummit).
In the conference preview below, Lisa Briggs, CEO of NACCHO, has an online chat with Croakey about the “bang for the buck” provided by the Aboriginal community controlled health sector.LisaBriggsPic1She also reveals her dream panel for ABC TV’s Q and A program, her enthusiasm for the power of social media, and her hopes that more young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will choose careers in health.Lisa is a Gunditjmara Aboriginal woman from the western district of Victoria, and an Aboriginal Health Worker who has worked in the health field for the past 25 years, mainly within the Aboriginal community controlled health sector.***Q: A Twitter campaign is pushing for the ABC program Q and A to have an all-Indigenous panel. Who is your dream Q and A panel?

Lisa Briggs:

Justin Mohamed, Chair of NACCHO – to highlight the importance of Aboriginal health and how the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health model is contributing to Closing the Gap.

Warren Mundine – who would Chair the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council should the Coalition win the election.

Marion Scrymgour, CEO of our member service Wurli-Wurlinjang Health Service in Katherine. Marion understands the political and health system and would be able to provide another opinion and challenge ideas, as well as provide gender balance.

Shane Houston from Sydney University – his extensive knowledge of Aboriginal affairs is impressive and he would provide a sense of the vision and systematic changes required.

Professor Patrick Dodson – his extensive knowledge on current issues such as Constitutional reform and land rights.

Pat Turner – Former Deputy Secretary of the Prime Ministers Department – has extensive experience in government and Aboriginal affairs.

I wanted to put Marcia Langton and Noel Pearson in there too, as I think they all have something to contribute on how policy is being formed for Aboriginal people and the impacts that it has on us and our environments of urban, regional and remote…I think people expect Marcia, Noel and Warren to all be part of this should the Coalition win the election, so I thought what other Aboriginal leaders have equal experience but are not always heard and these are the ones I came up with my shortlist.


Q: You tweeted from a recent AHMRC meeting that the three C’s of the Aboriginal community control philosophy are “Community-initiated”, “Community-driven”, “Community-owned”. Could you explain why each of these C’s matter?

Lisa Briggs: It’s about self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their fundamental right of being part of all processes that have impacts on us. Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are founded on this basis.

NACCHO has recently released the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Report Card, which signifies that when Aboriginal health is in Aboriginal hands we can make a real difference to Closing the Gap.


Q: The NACCHO Summit aims to profile innovation and best practice in the community controlled sector. Can you give us one of your favourite examples of this?

Lisa Briggs: It wouldn’t be fair for me to pick one over the other. However, I can say this – how very pleased I am to see the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services put in so many conference abstracts to this weeks summit that will show innovation and best practice from all over the country. With over 300 delegates registered, over 85 presentations and over 100 speakers and exhibitors, it is going to be a great event.

This is a good example of “the 3 C’s” as this event is not government funded but has been self-funded by our sector showing how NACCHO, affiliates and member services continue to support each other. The summit themes of governance, workforce and comprehensive primary health care will show the diversity amongst the membership.

There will be common things we can all relate to, however it will be innovation at its best that the members can take back to their community organisations.


Q: What are the barriers within government & government policy to the community controlled sector achieving its potential?

Lisa Briggs: The barriers are to do with lack of action on the following:

• Engagement and cultural consultation processes with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

• Government understanding the role and importance of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services as part of the overall Australian health system

• Government Policies are piloted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities before being rolled out nationally. Aboriginal specific policies such as the NT Intervention imply institutional racism, and then these policies affect the ideas of government workers and others

• Aboriginal history embedded into the Australian education system so that wider Australia can feel proud of it First Nations peoples

• Constitutional recognition that Australia’s first people are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are rich in culture and knowledge – something all Australia should be proud of.


Q: What are the barriers within the community controlled sector to the sector achieving its potential?

Lisa Briggs:

• A lack of appropriate funding to enable the ACCHS to meet the needs of communities.

• Government policies that are not targeted to the needs of that community.

• Workforce recruitment, retention and capacity – particularly GPs, nurses and allied health workers.

• Lack of genuine partnerships.

• Lack of scholarships that support and meet the demand required for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to join the health workforce.


Q: What are the barriers within the wider health system to the community controlled sector achieving its potential?

Lisa Briggs:

• A lack of understanding of ACCHSs, their role and mechanism

• Lack of genuine partnerships

•  Lack of coordination

• Institutional racism

• Policies which impact access such as affordability, access,

• A lack of cultural understanding

• A lack of capacity to meet the needs of Aboriginal organisations and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people.


Q: What are the barriers within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to the community controlled sector achieving its potential?

Lisa Briggs: The Social and Cultural Determinants of Health are important, and these are a few underpinning examples:

•  Employment – meaningful career pathways

•  Education – meaningful and supported such as scholarships programs that enable participation, and being open to all age groups

•  Accessibility – having the means to be able to access services no matter where they are located and in an environment that meets their needs

•  Housing – having the same level of opportunity as other Australians to either purchase or rent.


Q: What are the enablers within government and government policy and the wider health system to the community controlled sector achieving its potential?

Lisa Briggs:

•  Genuine engagement and consultation and being heard and listened to.

•  Working alongside Aboriginal leadership at all levels for development, implementation and evaluation.

•  Genuine partnership, opportunity and investment in what works for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

•  Close the Gap Statement of Intent is a good example of what can happen when this above process is followed. However, there is always room for improvement.


Q: What are the enablers within the sector to the community controlled sector achieving its potential?

Lisa Briggs:

•  Genuine engagement and consultation with local community members, and hearing their needs

•  Appropriately resourced to be able to meet the targeted needs of the local community

•  Funding mechanism that allows for innovation and investment

•  Appropriate workforce capacity and investment in new workforce innovation

•  Investing in Aboriginal leadership as part of professional development.


Q: You’ve been known to say that the community controlled sector offers “the best bang for the buck”. Can you quantify this?

Lisa Briggs: Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are not funded to the same level as other primary health care services across Australia.

However, they are the only services that demonstrate and are targeted towards health gains – not throughput.  This is why the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Report Card is so significant, as we now have an evidence base that can be showcased.


Q: How would you advise community members to evaluate the quality of their community controlled service? What are the signs of a healthy service? And what are the signs of a service that needs support to improve?

Lisa Briggs: All of our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are accredited and meet the Australian Standards and part of the process is to receive feedback from the clients you service to measure quality. This has now been embedded as custom and practice, and allows the ACCHS’s to work on a continuous quality improvement model.

A healthy service in my opinion is one that follows “the 3 Cs” (ie “Community-initiated”, “Community-driven”, “Community-owned”).

The issues that services face vary: it might be a small service needing more capacity and expansion, it might be a large service needed to review its strategic direction, it might be a young community needing guidance.


Q: In a recent speech on the social determinants of health, AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton acknowledged the impact of institutionalised racism. The vision of the new national plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health (which recently had a positive wrap in The Lancet)  is for a health system free of racism.  For health services and health professionals that want to address this problem, how would you advise them?

Lisa Briggs: Engage with their local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service and learn about what the communities’ needs are, ask how they can assist in a genuine partnership and coordination model – it will take shape from there over a period of time.


Q: What is your vision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in 10 years time?

Lisa Briggs: I believe if we currently keep tracking with our original health targets, then life expectancy should increase. However, some areas need urgent attention now, such as diabetes, renal disease and cancer.

We are moving into a world where everything will be more telecommunication-based with telehealth and ehealth. With workforce shortages and population growth, models of services will also need to adapt, to continue meeting the needs of the community.

Since we are a young population compared to the rest of Australia, I hope to see more of our young people complete their studies, and find their career pathway into the health system.

Economic constraints will create challenges and opportunities. The challenges include that NACCHO, affiliates and members are not funded at parity as the rest of the health system. A potential opportunity is that Government may choose to invest at a higher level or to buy more services from ACCHSs given the good value they provide.


Q: What is your vision for the community controlled sector in ten years time?

Lisa Briggs: Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are viable and sustainable, and their model of services adapts to suit the changing needs.  This vision is outlined by the NACCHO 10 point plan, which gives focus and direction to us, our affiliates and member services.


Q:  What is your top tip to those working in the community controlled sector for looking after their own health?

Lisa Briggs: Ensure that you have an annual health check, take regular holidays and spend quality time with the ones you love, take the time to sit back and reflect on how your contribution has made a difference  – you can’t look after other people if you don’t look after yourself!

It’s work and life balance.


Q: NACCHO (@NACCHOAustralia has over 4,000 followers) has been at the forefront of the health sector in using Twitter and other social media channels such as blogs to communicate with its stakeholders and to build influence. Would you like to see more people in the community controlled sector using social media as a health communications channel? If so, what might help them to get on board?

Lisa Briggs: This is absolutely essential, people need to be informed of the power and traction social media has – generally teaching people how to use social media or be involved is the key.

We are encouraging all our member services and staff to utilise social media and can provide them with information on establishing a corporate social media policy.  Once you start, you just can’t stop engaging with our community, partners, and stakeholders, sharing the issues and good news stories about the successes in our Aboriginal community controlled health sector.

• You can follow Lisa on Twitter at: @ NACCHO_CEO 

Keeping you up to date with Croakey news and developments

Some news about Croakey…

The Croakey Conference Reporting Service

I’m delighted to announce that the Croakey Conference Reporting Service will be in action at the following events:

The NACCHO Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service Summit in Adelaide, August 20-22.
Adelaide-based journalist John Thompson-Mills (on Twitter – @jthompsonmills) will report from the Summit.
For those on Twitter, keep an eye on #NACCHOSummit. 

• An Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation forum, “Fixing Healthcare”, in Brisbane, August 29.
Mardi Chapman (@mardidiane), a health journalist and writer based in Brisbane, will cover the forum.
Check #12Bhealthfix.

• The 12th Australian Palliative Care Conference, in Canberra, 3-6 September.
Jennifer Doggett (@JenniferDoggett) will cover the conference.
Check #PallCareConf.


Announcing @WePublicHealth

@WePublicHealth is a new rotated Twitter account that is something of an experiment in public health/citizen journalism. Every week, a different person – including community members and public health professionals – will be asked to tweet-report and investigate public health matters.

Their focus might be local – for example, documenting the cost of fresh foods in remote communities via tweet-photos – national or global (for example, reporting from international conferences and events).


 Related articles

Social media: How will your Aboriginal health services put the public in public health information dissemination

 Using new communications technologies to allow people to directly receive relevant and up-to-the-minute public health information could benefit the health of millions,” says Professor Robert Steele .

Copies of the relevant peer-reviewed publications for this study are available on the

Health Informatics Computation and Innovation Lab website


Article first published University of Sydney

NACCHO Social media Project

NACCHO is currently assisting with the research for a major national health sector magazine on how our Aboriginal community controlled heath sector is using social media to Close the Gap (e.g. smoking campaigns, healthy lifestyle etc.)

Developing social media policies in ACCHO

If your mob has a positive story to tell or requires assistance developing a social media policy for your staff and/or organisation, contact  media@naccho.org.au


The research, by Professor Robert Steele and PhD candidate Dan Dumbrell

 According to new research from the University of Sydney, micro-blog-based services such as Twitter could be a promising medium to spread important information about public health.

The research, by Professor Robert Steele and PhD candidate Dan Dumbrell, indicates social media networks such as Twitter have distinct and potentially powerful characteristics that distinguish them from traditional online methods of public health information dissemination, such as search engines. This research is part of Professor Steele’s broader investigations on the impacts of emerging technologies on health and health care.

“Using new communications technologies to allow people to directly receive relevant and up-to-the-minute public health information could benefit the health of millions and change the paradigm of public health information dissemination,” says Professor Steele, Head of Discipline and Chair of Health Informatics at the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

“Twitter has a powerful characteristic in that it is members of the public who distribute public health information by forwarding messages from public health organisations to their followers.”

According to Professor Steele, this provides a new way for public health organisations to both engage more directly with the public and leverage individuals’ networks of followers, which have ‘self-organised’ by topic of interest. Major social networks currently have hundreds of millions of users and continue to grow rapidly.

While most public health information is sought through online search engines, it has previously been found that relevant public health documents are not always successfully located and disseminated due to the user’s search methods.

Important public health information that may benefit from micro-blogs could include communicable disease outbreaks, information about natural disasters, promotion of new treatments and clinical trials, and dietary and nutrition advice.

“When you look for information on a search engine, algorithms and computers determine the most important results. With social media networks, you have a ‘push’ mechanism, where interested individuals are directly alerted to public health information. You also have a prodigious network of users whose time and effort to find and follow relevant accounts, and to filter which information is forwarded or retweeted represents a powerful aggregate human work effort.”

The researchers examined a sample of more than 4,700 tweets from 114 Australian government, non-profit and for-profit health-related organisations. Each of the tweets was categorised according to the health condition mentioned, the type of information provided, whether a hyperlink was included, and whether there were any replies or retweets.

Non-profit organisations made up almost two-thirds of the group, and had a much higher average following than their for-profit counterparts. The majority of tweets in the sample, 59 percent, were non condition-specific, followed by tweets about mental health, cancer and lifestyle (fitness and nutrition).

“Most major health conditions were present in the twittersphere, but we were somewhat surprised by the proportions,” says Professor Steele.

“Four of the government’s National Health Priority Areas were underrepresented in our sample, including asthma, arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions, injury prevention and control, and obesity. These conditions only made up 1.7 percent of health-related tweets.”

For-profit organisation tweets were dominant in the maternity, pharmaceutical and dental areas, most likely because of their potential as a source of commercialisation or potential profit.

However, despite having the largest average number of tweets, for-profit organisations also had the lowest number of average followers, indicating consumers were more likely to reject sites they considered promotional or sales-based.

Non-profit Twitter accounts provided the majority of tweets in the sample, with a large number of fundraising and awareness-raising tweets.

However, despite having a far lower average number of tweets, government accounts were found to be the most successful at disseminating public health information, with the greatest number of average followers and re-tweets.

There were also a number of common characteristics to highly re-tweeted public health advice tweets. Actionable tweets, which provided readers with information to act upon in relation to their health, were highly successful, along with time relevance and relation to particular events, a personally directed style of language and rhetorical questions.

Interestingly, perceived acuteness of health risk and need for others to be informed also drove information dissemination.

“The real-time insight Twitter gives us into exactly how consumers react to and spread public health information is unprecedented,” says Professor Steele.

“With further research, it’s likely Twitter will change how we disseminate public health information online. In addition, our ability to analyse pathways, reach, and the identity of information recipients could provide new possibilities for analytical techniques and software tools to further improve public health information dissemination.


Copies of the relevant peer-reviewed publications for this study are available on theHealth Informatics Computation and Innovation Lab website or by contacting robert.steele@sydney.edu.au