Government response to Aboriginal Male Health Summit - 2009


Aboriginal Male Health Summit Recommendation

Australian Government Information

Recommendation 1 – Unfinished business – we need action

This Summit calls on the Federal Government and the Northern Territory Government to respond to this final report within three months and establish long term action and review mechanisms

The Australian Government has established long term targets, strategies and review mechanisms through the Council of Australian Governments on Closing the Gap. For more information see Recommendation 7.

Recommendation 2 – Male Health Program

Recognising that in order to address the social relations of male health there needs to be Aboriginal community controlled male health services that operate in a community development and comprehensive primary health care framework; to nurture, coordinate and deliver programs such as but not limited to:

  • male support groups

  • places of healing for Aboriginal males, including men's shelters/sheds

  • short term 'drying out' places for men, and more resources for long-term rehabilitation of Aboriginal males with alcohol and other drug problems

  • 'half-way' houses to either give 'time out' to move slowly back into work/family/training, to be run by Aboriginal males.

The Government has committed to developing National Men's and Women's Health Policies. Consultations for the Men's Health Policy are nearing completion and have included specific consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men. The Men's Health Policy will be finalised in 2009.

On 29 May 2009, the Senate Select Committee on Men's Health tabled its Report into the availability and effectiveness of education, supports and services for men's health.

The report contains evidence from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS), estimating that 25% of the gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and other Australians is attributable to injury from transport accidents and interpersonal violence. For example, Alice Springs Hospital, which serves a population of about 50,000 people, has 2.6 times the number of stab injuries per annum as the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. The Australian Government will respond to the Committee's report.

As part of the Supporting Families measure under the Northern Territory Emergency Response NTER), the Australian Government has been consulting with communities to determine community needs, including the appropriateness of safe houses and safe house models for men and women. As at 4 June 2009, 18 new safe houses and cooling off places had been opened in 14 communities: Ngukurr (men and women); Nguiu (men and women); Lajamanu (women); Kalkarindji (women); Finke (Apatula) (men); Peppimenarti (women); Ntaria (Hermannsburg) (women); Maningrida (men and women); Yarralin (women); Ramingining (men and women); Pmara Jutunta (men), Ti Tree (women), Yuendumu (men) and Beswick (men).

The Australian Government is committed to improving Indigenous men's health outcomes through the delivery of measures specifically targeted to their needs. The Minister for Health and Ageing has recently agreed to provide 16 existing Healthy for Life services with additional funding to deliver men's health activities. Healthy for Life aims to enhance the capacity of primary health care services to improve the quality of child and maternal health services, men's health and chronic disease care.

Through the Northern Territory Emergency Response, the Australian Government is also expanding the capacity of primary health care services across the Northern Territory. This will create further opportunities for improving male health services. The Government provided funding of $99.7 million over two years from July 2008 for the Expanding Health Service Delivery Initiative (EHSDI). EHSDI will provide the necessary resources to enable a sustained focus on the delivery of child health checks and primary health care follow-up services, providing significant additional capacity for the expansion of health services across the NT.

The Government committed an additional $13.6 million in 2008-09 for follow-up dental, hearing and ENT services for Aboriginal children in remote communities and town camps, and the continuation of drug and alcohol treatment, rehabilitation and outreach services and child special services.

In the 2009 budget a total of $131.1 m has been provided over three years under the Closing the Gap - Northern Territory – Indigenous health and related issues measure for continued regional reform of remote Indigenous primary health care services in the NT. This includes funding to continue specific measures begun under the NTER:

  • $15.228 m over 3 years for Dental, Hearing and ENT follow up

  • $9.388 m over 3 years for the expansion of the Sexual Assault Mobile Outreach Service

  • $4.2 m over three years for Alcohol and Other Drug services

Recommendation 3 – Community based prevention programs including family centres

Establishment of community-based violence prevention programs, including programs specific to Aboriginal males such as:

  • Males AND Kids programs – address family disruption and distress, not just alcohol and drugs

  • Young fathers programs

  • Family centres to provide an environment for males, and women and children to meet and undertake joint recreational, educational and other activities

  • Anger management programs, male support groups.

And that the operation of family services to be inclusive of males and to work in conjunction with male health services and that programs for Aboriginal families need to incorporate males as part of the family, and also develop programs for young fathers.

The Indigenous Family Violence programs target specific issues and locations as identified by Indigenous communities, whilst also complementing and linking into existing service systems.

The 2009 Budget extended Northern Territory Emergency Response funding over three years to support children and parents including support for the existing Remote Aboriginal Family and Community Workers, the extension of play groups and support for early childhood services to improve the skills of families and to educate young people about pregnancy, birth and parenting. The Australian Government would be pleased to hear your views as to how these services are helping young fathers with their role and responsibilities.

The Australian Government will provide $160 000 to the Male Health Service of the Central Australian Aboriginal Health Congress towards community workshops in anger management, conflict resolution and supporting cultural brokering and negotiation skills between communities, government and non-government agencies.

The National Partnership on Indigenous Early Childhood Development was agreed at the October 2008 COAG meeting which includes $564 million over six years in joint funding. The National Partnership consists of three elements. Element one will establish a minimum of 35 Children and Family Centres across Australia in areas of high Indigenous population and disadvantage. Element two focuses on increasing access to antenatal care, pre-pregnancy, and teenage sexual and reproductive health programs by Indigenous young people. Element three aims to increase access to, and use of, maternal and child health services by Indigenous families.

Communities for Children is an initiative run by the federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. It offers a place-based early intervention and prevention approach to child protection and development. Non-government organisations (called Facilitating Partners) are funded in 45 disadvantaged sites throughout Australia to work with local stakeholders to develop and deliver tailored approaches to deliver positive and sustainable outcomes for children and families across 5 key action areas of early learning and care; child-friendly communities; supporting families and parents and family and children's services work effectively as a system. All service delivery is grounded in the principles of community development, partnerships and evidence-based practice.

Three sites have been identified so far in the Northern Territory, including Palmerston and Tiwi Islands, Katherine and East Arnhem Land. A specialist service delivery model has been developed for the Northern Territory. The Australian Government is currently exploring possible additional sites.

Recommendation 4 – An Aboriginal education revolution

Redesigning education curriculum to include and value traditional and cultural ways of learning includes the establishment of community, regional and state/territory Aboriginal education consultative groups for schools with large populations of Aboriginal students. Increase the participation rates for Aboriginal men in teaching professions, including building the capacity of Aboriginal teacher's aides to become fully qualified teachers.

The recommendations of the Little Children Are Sacred report relating to education and the Learning Lessons report's findings must be implemented within the next term of the NT Government. That a community driven NT Education system reform group be established to pursue this recommendation basing its action on the delegate's views recorded at this Summit.

This recommendation is directed to the Northern Territory Government which is responsible for education services and curricula in the Northern Territory.

The Australian Government has provided additional resources to NT schools to help close the gap in educational outcomes of Indigenous Children. $98.8 million over five years has been committed by the Australian Government to support NT education by providing qualified teachers. The Australian Government is committed to delivering an additional 200 teachers to assist in the education of students in the NT who are currently either not enrolled or not attending school regularly enough. In 2008 the Australian Government provided $7.66 million to NT education providers for new classrooms to be delivered in 2008 in the remote communities of Maningrida, Canteen Creek, Imangara, Willowra, Alpurrurulam, Imanpa, Laramba, Yuelamu, Harts Range, Bulman, and Jilkminggan, Gapuwiyak and Wadeye.

In addition in the 2009 Budget the Australian Government announced $45.7 million over three years for accelerated literacy programs to help NT Aboriginal children gain critical literacy and numeracy skills, and to develop high performing school leaders and quality and to increase teacher retention. The 2009 Budget provides $37.5 million over three years to continue the School Nutrition program and $11.2 million to build up to 22 additional teacher houses in the Northern Territory.

Recommendation 5 – Community Courts

Diversionary strategies such as special court processes which can put the responsibility back on the community and help to keep young Aboriginal males out of the gaol system, includes the establishment of young men's groups as an outlet to express their feelings in a safe and supportive environment.

As part of the NTER, the Australian Government provided $8.5 million to 95 Youth Alcohol Diversionary projects in the Northern Territory in 2007-08 which provided a range of sporting and support services to young people in remote communities.

In the 2009 Budget, the Australian Government provided $24.4 million over three years to the Northern Territory for youth projects, services and infrastructure to promote positive behaviours among young people.

Recommendation 6 – Cultural training for children

Fund programs to develop specific cultural training for young males by elders where they are taught and retaught cultural ways.

These programmes should be coordinated by Community organisations.

We acknowledge the importance of culture being passed on through the generations. The theme for this year's NAIDOC Week is Honouring Our Elders, Nurturing Our Youth, which is about the carrying of culture and knowledge.

The Australian Government provides grant funding to Indigenous communities across Australia to support NAIDOC activities. Cultural maintenance and arts funding also exists at the Federal and Territory level, and through corporate and philanthropic sources.

Recommendation 7 – Long term investment

Long term investment rather than short-term erratic / inconsistent funding in programmes and strategies to support sustainable change.

This is an intergenerational business.

On 26 February 2009, the Prime Minister delivered the first annual report to the Australian Parliament on Closing the Gap on Indigenous Disadvantage: the Challenge for Australia. The report sets out the long-term framework for a new national effort to tackle this national challenge.

A key element in the strategy is the agreement of the Australian and all state and territory governments, through the Council of Australian Governments, to six ambitious targets for closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians across urban, rural and remote areas. These targets relate to Indigenous life expectancy, health, education and employment.

At all levels, governments have been working together to develop fundamental reforms to address these targets. 

In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments reached agreement on $4.6 billion in targeted reform measures and national payments for Indigenous Australians across early childhood development, health, housing, economic development and remote service delivery. Through these national partnerships all Australian governments will be held publicly accountable for their performance in improving outcomes in these key areas.

The 2009 Budget commits a further $1.3 billion to Indigenous specific programs and reforms.

Recommendation 8 – Alcohol and Other Drugs

Recognised that we need to live according to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal law. That we need to strengthen our understanding of both laws and that these must be enforced by police in criminal matters and by the community in our law and in enforcing community standards and assisting police. That while there a no one sized solutions, that in dealing with these problems, we need to have educative, regulatory and treatment approaches, that recognise there are underlying social disadvantages that cause and inflame the problems of alcohol and other drugs.

The additional police in remote communities under the NTER have been welcomed by many community members.

At 18 March 2009, there were 63 additional police on the beat in NTER communities. Four permanent police station upgrades have been completed and further upgrades will be undertaken. In addition, 18 Themis Stations have been installed in NT communities. At 18 March, there were 270 people employed in 69 active night patrols in NTER communities

The Australian Government has been providing funding for night patrols since 2004-05. Night patrols have been recognised within the Northern Territory Emergency Response process as essential to the promotion of law and justice and increasing community safety.  Prior to the NTER there were 23 night patrol services in NTER communities. Under the NTER, funding has been provided for the establishment of night patrols across the 73 NTER communities. In the 2009 Budget, the Australian Government has provided over $80.2 million over three years to consolidate the operation night patrol services, enhance the Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service and expanded law and justice services delivered under the NTER.

Recommendation 9 – Coordination of national anti-violence awareness campaigns

Better develop a nation-wide 'whole of government' health promotion campaign to promote anti-violence messages specific to Aboriginal males, that address underlying social causes as well as seeking to affect behavioural changes and that are backed up with legal consequences appropriate to the offence.

On 29 April 2009, the Australian Government released Time for Action, the major report of the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

The report makes recommendations designed to tackle the unacceptable levels of sexual assault and domestic and family violence in Australia, and gives all governments and the community clear directions about helping Australian women live free of violence, within respectful relationships and in safe communities.

The Australian Government will immediately:

  • invest $26 million for primary prevention activities including $9 million to improve the quality and uptake of respectful relationships programs for school age young people and $17 million for a public information campaign focused on changing attitudes and behaviours that contribute to violence;

  • invest $3 million to support research on perpetrator treatment and nationally consistent laws;

  • ask the Australian Law Reform Commission to work with State and Territory law reform commissions to examine the inter-relationship of laws that relate to the safety of women and their children; and

  • invest $12.5 million for a new national telephone and online crisis service. The new service will be run by professional staff and make active referrals to follow-up services. The new service will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Recommendation 10 – Sexual health education

That there is the provision of culturally appropriate and gender-based sexual health and relationships education in schools. That education of these issues also is available to community members in a manner and forum (ie family centres or male health centres and women's centres) that is considered appropriate by that community.

A number of programs already operate in schools and other settings. The Australian Government is progressing a review of the National Safe Schools Framework with a focus on teacher training in positive student management, responses to victimisation and abuse, teaching of values, and the emergence of technologies and their impact on student wellbeing and protection.

In addition, the Australian Government will invest $9 million to improve the quality and uptake of respectful relationships programs nationally.

Recommendation 11 – Bans on pornography

Support for strengthened, but uniform laws relating to access to pornography, across Australia and between different racial groups. If there exists legislation banning pornography, it shouldn't just target Aboriginal people.

In relation to the pornography restrictions applying under the Northern Territory Emergency Response, the Australian Government is about to embark on a formal community engagement process about those measures affected by the former Government's suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

Recommendation 12 – The Little Children are Sacred report

That this summit whilst support most of the 'Little Children are Sacred' report findings, highly recommends the following 15 specific recommendations as discussed in our workshops

See below.

12.1 That the government actively support Aboriginal men to engage in discussions about, and address, child sexual abuse and other violence in communities (p 160)


FaHCSIA's leadership program will be operating more intensively throughout the Northern Territory and will support more opportunities for these discussions.

12.2 That an education campaign be conducted to inform communities of:

a) the meaning of and rationale for film and television show classifications

b) the prohibition contained in the Criminal Code making it an offence to intentionally expose a child under the age of 16 years to an indecent object or film, video or audio tape or photograph or book and the implications generally for a child's well being of permitting them to watch or see such sexually explicit material (p 200)

Under the Northern Territory Emergency Response, an education program commenced on 27 March 2008 which provided information to Aboriginal men and women in NTER communities, in separate workshops, about the national classification system and pornography offences and emphasising the need to protect children from explicitly sexual and violent material. Some 33 workshops have been conducted across 17 communities to date, with more still to be run. Workshops were held at the Mens' Summit in June-July 2008. Training materials including a flipchart were produced as part of this program. The workshops are conducted by the NT Department of Justice and National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect NT (NAPCAN). An evaluation of the program is currently underway.

12.3 That, as soon as possible, the government, in consultation with Aboriginal communities and organisations, develop, implement and support programs and services that address the underlying effects of both recent and 'intergenerational' trauma suffered in Aboriginal communities and enhance the general emotional and mental well being of all members of those communities (p 140)

A major Initiative of the 2009 Budget is the establishment of a Healing Foundation to address trauma and healing in the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community with a particular focus on Stolen Generations.  The Foundation will receive $26.6 million over four years with a view to also attracting corporate and philanthropic investment.

Consultations on a preferred model and framework for the body are being led by a team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and take place up until the end of July. Written submissions can also be made to: The team's Discussion Paper includes a special focus on men and women's health. This paper can be found on the fahcsia website.

12.4 That, in order to provide access to comprehensive quality primary health care, DHCS advocate for increased Australian Government funding and continue as a matter of priority the roll out of the Primary Health Care Access Program (p 140)

The Australian Government's expansion of Indigenous primary heath care services under the previous Primary Health Care Access Program is being continued in the NT under the Expanding Health Service Delivery Initiative (EHSDI), and the Closing the Gap – NT initiative announced in the 2009 Budget. (See response under Recommendation 2).

12.5 That the government continue to implement the Alcohol Framework as a matter of urgency and focus on reducing overall alcohol consumption and intoxication and not just on 'visible' or 'risky drinking

The Northern Territory and Australian Governments have established an Alcohol Measures Working Group to address a wide range of supply and demand issues.

See information under Recommendation 2 and the Recommendation below as to Australian Government additional investment to target drug and alcohol abuse in the Northern Territory.

12.6 That, as a matter of urgency, the government makes greater efforts to reduce access to takeaway liquor in the Northern Territory, enhance the responsible use of takeaway liquor, restrict the flow of alcohol into Aboriginal communities and support Aboriginal community efforts to deal with issues relating to alcohol

12.7 That the government develop and implement a multi-faceted approach to address the abuse of illicit substances in Aboriginal communities in particular cannabis abuse, including prevention, intervention and enforcement strategies which recognise:

a) the geographic context of substance abuse, that is urban and remote locations and the implications this has for effective prevention, intervention and enforcement

b) population based, youth-focused prevention and intervention strategies that integrate substance abuse, mental health and other health and welfare concerns into youth programs.

The Australian Government has for several years funded the Substance Abuse Intelligence Desk located in Alice Springs, and staffed by NT police to target illegal substance trafficking in the cross-border regions of the NT, SA and WA, together with an operational drug detector dog unit. Drug related arrests and charges, seizures of drugs, petrol and alcohol have resulted from these enforcement activities. In June 2008, a second Substance Abuse Intelligence Desk was opened in Katherine.

Under the NTER, the Australian Government is providing funding for the expansion of Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) treatment and rehabilitation services across the NT. Fourteen AOD positions consisting of two AOD registered nurses (RN) and 12 Indigenous Community Support Workers (CSW) have been funded in six Aboriginal Medical Services across the NT including: Danila Dilba, Darwin; Miwatj, Nhulunbuy; Katherine West Health Board, Katherine; Wurli Wurlinjang, Katherine; Anyinyingi, Tennant Creek; Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, Alice Springs. These positions are complemented by a further eight AOD positions funded through the '2006 COAG Substance Use' measure in four Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) and four NT Department of Health and Families health centres across the NT.

An independent evaluation of the NTER AOD response is due for completion in September.

In the 2009 Budget the Australian Government committed a further $4.2 m over three years under Closing the Gap – Northern Territory for Alcohol and Other Drug services.

In the 2009 Budget the Australian Government is also providing $28.4 million over three years for youth projects, services and infrastructure to promote positive behaviours among young people.


12.8 That an education campaign be conducted to target gambling in Aboriginal communities, showing the impacts of gambling and especially the risk posed to children who are unsupervised while parents are gambling.

In October 2008, the Australian Government released the timetable and terms of reference for the Productivity Commission's update to its 1999 inquiry into Australia's gambling industries.

The inquiry commenced on 24 November 2008, with the Commission is expected to provide a draft by mid-2009 and a final report before the end of 2009.


12.9 That further research be carried out on the effects of gambling on child safety and wellbeing, and that consideration be given to the enactment of local laws to regulate gambling as part of the community safety plans to be developed pursuant to recommendation 79.

See 12.8

12.10 Given the extent of overcrowding in houses in Aboriginal communities and the fact this has a direct impact on family and sexual violence, the Inquiry strongly endorses the government's reform strategy of critical mass construction in targeted communities, and recommends the government take steps to expand the number of communities on the target list for both new housing and essential repairs and maintenance in light of the fact that every community needs better housing urgently.

The Council of Australian Governments has committed an extra $1.94 billion over ten years, commencing this year, to reform housing and infrastructure arrangements in remote Indigenous communities. This will bring a total investment of up to $5.48 billion over ten years, allowing for the construction of up to 4,200 new houses to be built in remote Indigenous communities with a program of major repairs starting in 2008-09, improved tenancy management services, increased local training and employment opportunities in construction and housing management.

As part of this commitment, all Australian governments have agreed to significant policy reform. On Aboriginal land, houses are now being built where a lease has been negotiated with land owners.

Governments have a responsibility to ensure that houses allocated on the basis of need, that they are maintained and upgraded and that tenants' obligations and protections are upheld. There is no obligation on Government to ensure this happens if houses are built without a lease. Elsewhere in Australia, public housing is built on land owned by the government. Requiring a lease on Aboriginal land for housing, is a lesser and more flexible solution to what is normally required elsewhere in Australia.

Housing leases have been negotiated with traditional land owners in 10 communities across the Northern Territory and APY lands. Extensive community consultation on housing design and location follows the finalisation of the lease.

12.11 That further work be undertaken by DEET in regard to the development of innovative employment training options for Aboriginal communities in such areas as the creation and support of local industries, use of cultural skills and knowledge, community leader roles, and brokerage/liaison with external agencies, and that this be supported through adequately resourced adult education and training.

See Recommendations 18 and 19 for more information on opportunities within Australian Government programs on Indigenous training and employment.

The 2009-10 Australian Budget allowed for the recruitment of 15 more local people as Indigenous engagement officers in NT communities, on top of 15 currently employed. These engagement officers work with Government Business Managers to improve dialogue between governments and communities.


12.12 That efforts be made to develop a local workforce to address health and welfare issues within communities to provide a base of continuity for more transient professional responses, and linking professionals to mentor and support these workers.

The Australian Government is actively working to expand the local Indigenous workforce in health service delivery. Since 2006 a total of 570 sustainable jobs identified for Indigenous Australians have been funded from CDEP activities in health and aged care support. The funding for the jobs has included an element to support appropriate training and professional development.

12.13 That government provide support for the development of Aboriginal people as local community development workers (with either defined or generic roles) to improve capacity, problem solving and administrative self-sufficiency within communities.


Under the reformed Community Development Employment Projects Program (CDEP) there will be a strong focus on both work readiness and community development in remote areas. The community development stream will increase resources for local community development workers and aims to improve capacity, problem solving and administrative self-sufficiency within communities.

The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs also provides leadership development training for people in communities to develop their capacity to undertake community leadership roles. This program will be run more intensively in the Northern Territory in the following year.

12.14 That the NT Public Sector, led by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment and DEET, make renewed efforts to increase the level of Indigenous employment in the Northern Territory Public Sector and in the non-government and private sector respectively.

The Australian Government has funded the Australian Public Service Employment Strategy for a further three years at a cost of $6 million.

In November 2008, the Council of Australian Governments agreed to expand Indigenous employment opportunities in the public sector with the aim of increasing Indigenous employment to 2.6 per cent or more by 2015, reflecting Indigenous representation within the broader population.

12.15 That, in recognition of the importance of community employment in addressing the existing dysfunction, and the need for more community housing, an intensive effort be made in the area of training and employment of local Aboriginal people in the construction and repair and maintenance of houses in Aboriginal communities, with input from DEET as appropriate.

In November 2008 the Council of Australian Governments announced the Remote Indigenous Housing National Partnership which will provide $5.5 billion over the next 10 years for housing reforms in remote Indigenous communities across Australia.

As part of the package local people will have access to training and real job opportunities, learning trades through capital works and property management, such as the construction of new houses and major upgrades to existing houses, and the expected ongoing repairs and maintenance of the houses.  Approximately 2000 jobs will be created.

The funding will also support hostel and subsidised rental accommodation in regional areas that will assist people from remote Indigenous communities to access training, education, employment and support services.


Recommendation 13 – Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission findings

This Summit calls on the Federal Government and the Northern Territory Government to address the challenges as outlined by this summit and findings of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission 2001-2006

The reports of the former Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (now the Australian Human Rights Commission) and the Aboriginal Mens' Health Summit have contributed in significantly to public discussions of a wide range of issues.

13.1 Turn governments commitments into action: governments have been making commitments to address family violence for some time already. What we need is concerted, long term action which meets these commitments.

See response to Recommendation 9.

13.2 Indigenous participation: this action must be based on genuine partnership with Indigenous peoples and with our full participation

The Australian Government is committed to building a genuine, sustained and constructive

engagement and partnership with Indigenous people in the Northern Territory and

across Australia. 

The Australian Government recently announced the establishment of Remote Service Delivery sites across Australia, with a view to raise the standard and range of services delivered to Indigenous families to be broadly consistent with those provided to other Australians in similar sized and located communities.

One of the key outcomes of the Remote Service Delivery sites is the development of Local Implementation Plans.  The Plans will set out locally agreed priorities, actions, responsibilities and commitments.  They will be based on the needs identified in the baseline mapping to be undertaken in each of the locations.  They will also be informed by local communities and other stakeholders (eg not-for-profit organisations and business/industry partners).

13.3 Support Indigenous community initiatives and networks: there are significant processes and networks already in place in Indigenous communities to progress these issues. We need to support them to lead efforts to stamp out violence, including by developing the educational tools to assist them to identify and respond to family violence

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner

identified a number of promising practices at the community level which involved Indigenous people working to reduce levels of violence in their communities. Dissemination of this information is encouraged.

13.4 Human rights education in Indigenous communities: there is a need for broad based education and awareness raising among Indigenous communities. Working with communities to send strong messages that violence won't be tolerated, that there are legal obligations and protections, and that individuals have rights, are critical if we are to stamp out family violence

Federal and State Attorney-General's Departments, the Australian Human Rights Commission and state and territory Anti-Discrimination Commissioners provide human rights training and guidance. The National Human Rights Consultation has commenced and provides an opportunity to share views on human rights with the independent committee conducting the consultations. The eminent human rights lawyer, Father Frank Brennan, is chairing the committee which is expected to hold consultations in the Northern Territory, including some remote Aboriginal communities in June 2009.

One of the most important human rights is the right of all Australians to participate fully and freely in national political life. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirms Indigenous rights to be involved in the democratic process.

In the 2009 Budget the Australian Government has provided $13.0 million over four years to the Australian Electoral Commission for an Indigenous Electoral Participation program, aimed at increasing levels of enrolment, voter turnout and formal voting in urban, regional and remote communities.

13.5 Don't forget our men and don't stereotype them as abusers: Family violence is fundamentally an issue of gender equality. We need strong leadership from women, but we also need the support of Indigenous males if we are to make progress in stamping out violence. Indigenous males need to model appropriate behaviour, challenge violence and stand up against it, and support our women and nurture our children

An Indigenous Family Violence Forum in Canberra in January 2009 highlighted the desire of Indigenous men to support women in standing up against perpetrators of violence in the community. Their leadership and support was strongly welcomed by the women at this forum.

One idea supported at this forum was that every time someone speaks at a conference or meeting, they should upfront declare their opposition to violence along with their acknowledgement of country.

The leadership and courage behind the Inteyerrkwe Statement was also very powerful in challenging negative stereotypes.

A lot is also happening in the non-Government sector to build community awareness and reduce sterotypes. Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation recently launched a “Respect” campaign. Reconciliation Australia has also launched a national advertising campaign run on billboards and television, aimed at challenging perceptions and stereotypes about Indigenous Australians.

The Australian Government recently provided a further $10.8 million over three years from 1 July 2010 for Reconciliation Australia to further its work.

13.6 Look for the positives and celebrate the victories: there are good things happening in Indigenous communities, even if the national media is not interested in reporting them. We need to confront family violence, but also do so by reinforcing the inherent worth and dignity of Indigenous peoples, not by vilifying and demonising all Indigenous peoples

Supported. It is important that Aboriginal people or any group for that matter not be stereotyped. The individuality of identity Aboriginal people as First Peoples, and their rights and capabilities to speak out and take initiative must be valued and recognised.

13.7 Re-assert our cultural norms and regain respect in our communities: Family violence and abuse is about lack of respect for Indigenous culture. We need to fight it as Indigenous peoples, and rebuild our proud traditions and community structures so that there is not place for fear and intimidation


13.8 Ensure robust accountability and monitoring mechanisms: There must be accountability measurements put into place to hold governments to their commitments. This requires the development of robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. These will also allow us to identify and celebrate successes

A key element of current Commonwealth, state and territory programs is the adoption of measurable targets. Progress to achievement of the six Closing the Gap targets will be measured against agreed milestones, and included in regular reporting.

The COAG Reform Council is monitoring progress in implementing the COAG reform agenda and will review progress against the six targets in its annual report.

It is also important that, in monitoring progress, we establish whether the rate of improvement is sufficient to meet each of the COAG targets. If progress is not sufficient, then policy and program settings will need to be reviewed.

The new Remote Service Delivery Strategy will include base line mapping of social and economic indicators, government investments, services and service gaps in each priority community; a coordinated, comprehensive local implementation plan, and monitoring of the plans to ensure agreed priorities are delivered.

13.9 Change the mindset: we require a change in mindset of government from an approach which manages dysfunction to one that supports functional communities. Current approaches pay for the consequences of dysfunction, rather than taking positive steps to overcome it. We need a proactive system of service delivery to Indigenous communities focused on building functional, healthy communities

It is important to recognise and build on the strengths of communities as well as tackling the factors that contribute to dysfunction. In announcing the new Remote Service delivery Strategy, the Government has acknowledged the need for a fresh approach to service delivery.

13.10 Targeting of need: let us be bold in ensuring that program interventions are targeted to address need and overcome disadvantage. As it stands, government programs and services are not targeted to a level that will overcome Indigenous disadvantage. Hence, they are not targeted in a way that will meet the solemn commitments that have been made. They are targeted to maintain the status quo.

See information provided under Recommendation 7 on the Closing the Gap targets, the new Australian Government investment of $5.9 billion and established review mechanisms.

The new Remote Service Delivery Strategy is also a new way of delivering services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities. It aims to raise the standard and range of services delivered to Indigenous families to be broadly consistent with those provided to other Australians in similar sized and located communities.

Recommendation 14 – Closing the Gap

This Summit whilst supporting the CLOSE THE GAP statements of intent requests both the Federal Government and the Territory government to clearly communicate the benchmarks and targets, to ensure that we are progressively realising our shared ambitions.

Supported. The Prime Minister has undertaken to report to Parliament each year on progress against each of the Closing the Gap targets.

Recommendation 15 – A National Male Health Day

Establishment of a National Aboriginal Male Health day on an annual basis on the 1st of July to coincide with NAIDOC week.

We are advised that a second Aboriginal male health summit is being planned by Sunrise Health Service for the Katherine area at the end of June 2009.

Recommendation 16: Male Network

That an Aboriginal male network be established from this Summit to support the ongoing contact established between us and the implementation of the actions identified, the views and ideas expressed here.

The Australian Government would be pleased to work with the leadership group from the Aboriginal Male Health Summit in the future, and may consider providing assistance in a follow up leadership workshop.

Recommendation 17 – Tax free status for community based professionals

Three year tax-free status for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal professionals, such as doctors, health workers, teachers, and policy working in for identified communities. Also incentives to employ Aboriginal people in similar positions.

Taxation policy is complex and the economic impacts of changes in taxation need to be examined carefully. On 13 May 2008, the Australian Government announced the review into Australia's Future Tax System. The review is examining Australian Government and state taxes, and interactions with the transfer system. It will make recommendations to position Australia to deal with the demographic, social, economic and environment challenges of the 21st century.

Although public consultations have drawn to an end, officials did recently meet with representatives of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress in regards to alcohol taxation policy. It may be possible through this connection established by Congress to discuss this recommendation (about attracting and retaining community based professionals) further with Treasury. Published submissions and more information on the review are available at:

Recommendation 18 – Man power planning

Utilise a manpower planning approach to ensure the matching of Aboriginal males to employment development. Such an approach can be incorporated into a broad scale policy such as NT Intervention, but must incorporate senior community members in it's implementation and would involve the following principles:

  • identify employment opportunities in communities, utilising the range of new positions such as identified or implied in the recommendations of the Little Children are Sacred report, as well as other positions identified through community consultations

  • identify appropriate Aboriginal males to be appointed to roles (cultural brokers or other senior knowledge positions) or to be recruited as workers

  • all trainees or early position workers to be mentored in both the content of the position and separately into working processes and the particular needs of the position

  • all workers to have training pathways developed, and for these pathways to be funded

All Australian governments are now committed to the goal of halving the employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade. From 1 July 2009, the new employment services will be required to have a comprehensive regional Indigenous employment strategy. 

The Australian Government has reformed Job Network to focus resources on the most highly disadvantaged job seekers. Twenty-five of the new Job Service providers are now Indigenous businesses around the country.

Job Services will be able to give people looking for a job an Employment Pathway Plan that is as individual as they are. A plan that can include literacy and numeracy programs, work experience, help with resumes, trade equipment and training.

The Australian Government has also committed $764 million over five years to a reformed and expanded Indigenous Employment Program (IEP). The reformed IEP will support communities to develop their own economic development strategies. More Indigenous people will receive training and assistance to find employment, and more Indigenous Australians will be supported to start their own business.

“Manpower planning”, mentoring and training are all able to be funded under the reformed and expanded IEP, with preference given to proposals that result in sustainable jobs.

The IEP Employment Panel will work with employers to provide sustainable jobs and career pathways for Indigenous Australians. The IEP Economic Development and Business Support Panel will help communities and organisations develop businesses, and develop local and regional economies

Reforms to these programs will also enable the employment services providers to address various health, alcohol and substance abuse issues which may be preventing a person from taking up work or training opportunities.

In remote areas, the Community Development Employment Projects program will have a much stronger focus on supporting people, including in issues such as literacy and numeracy, so that they are able to take up jobs that do become available in the community and region. The work-readiness activities will give people access to life/ foundation skills support, English literacy and numeracy training, basic work skills, mentoring and mobility support.

CDEP has now been restructured with more focus on community development and supporting local projects. Community development workers and local engagement officers will be better resourced.

The Government has also developed with States and Territories a National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Economic Participation.  This will result in:

  • the creation of approximately 2000 jobs in government service delivery

  • strengthening Government procurement policies to maximise Indigenous employment

  • expanding Indigenous employment in the public sector with the aim of ensuring Indigenous representation is at least equivalent to their share of the working age population by 2015; and

  • incorporating strategies to build Indigenous workforces into all the major Council of Australian Government reforms.

As a further step in the Government's response to the global recession, a Jobs and Training Compact has been announced.  Assistance under the scheme will include a $650m Jobs Fund for local communities.  This will help support local jobs and training through community projects in regions hardest hit by the economic downturn and the appointment of Local Employment Coordinators in seven key locations to coordinate effort to support jobs and training.

Recommendation 19 – Economic empowerment of Aboriginal males

Building the capacity of Aboriginal males in literacy and numeracy to access locally-based jobs, better support for establishing local Aboriginal-run businesses to tap into the minerals boom, agriculture, aquaculture or whatever is relevant to their traditional country.

Recommendation 20 – Recognise the need for cultural knowledge in all positions

Job descriptions for community employment should include more detailed criteria around cultural knowledge.

This recommendation is directed at community organisations.

Recommendation 21 – Superannuation

Change superannuation access to reflect that if Aboriginal males have a life expectancy 20 years less (59+) than non-Aboriginal males (79+) that these funds can be accessed at an earlier age

The Australian Government's priority is to close the gap in real life outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians so that Indigenous people can enjoy the same benefits and opportunities as other Australians.

Recommendation 22 – NTER

That this summit endorses Congress' recent position paper on the Australian and Northern Territory Government Emergency Response to Child Sexual Abuse in the Northern Territory.

That the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress believes that there is an urgent need to reform the racially discriminatory aspects of the emergency response while continuing to implement the large investment in new services and programs across a broad range of social determinants of health.

The Government announced its full response to the NTER Review recently, as well as the beginning of community consultations on NTER measures.

After intensive community consultation, legislation to make the Racial Discrimination Act apply to NTER measures will be introduced into Parliament in October 2009.

The Government introduced legislation on 18 March 2009 to ensure people in the Northern Territory subject to income management have access to the full range of appeal rights, including through the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The Government has indicated that in continuing our work in the Northern Territory we must better engage Indigenous people in developing and driving solutions, foster local leadership and encourage greater personal and community leadership. In the 2009 Budget the Australian Government has invested $36.4 million to engage and involve Indigenous people at the community and local level in policy development and service delivery. 

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