31st Aug 2016

Congress welcomes new government’s focus on social determinants of health

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) congratulates Territory Labor on winning the NT election and applauds its commitment to investing in a good start to life as well as other social determinants of Aboriginal health.

“If we get the beginning right we can change a person’s whole life story,” said Congress CEO, Ms Donna Ah Chee.

“Since 2009, Congress has provided the Nurse Family Partnership Program, a key parenting support program providing sustained nurse home visits for vulnerable families from early pregnancy until a child is two years of age. The new government is the first of any state or territory to join the Commonwealth Indigenous Health Division in expanding this vital program in the NT. It is great to see the NT government commit its own funds to this important program as too often in the past funds intended to help address Aboriginal disadvantage has been used by NT governments for other purposes,” she added.

“In addition to supporting early childhood development, Labor has committed to restoring funds to improve primary and secondary education especially in remote schools, including re-establishing more than 60 teaching positions previously cut.

“Another critical vote changing issue raised by Aboriginal people throughout the election campaign process was the current housing shortage and Labor has committed to do more in this area as well. Aboriginal people, particularly those living remote, should not have to resort to legal action to access basic home repairs and maintenance.

“Alcohol is another priority social determinant of health. Congress has advocated for many years that Point of Sale ID and a Banned Drinkers register is a more efficient and fairer way to reduce alcohol supply to Territorians who need it, rather than police presence at outlets. Implementing this new system requires careful planning. Congress will work with partners in the Peoples Alcohol Action Coalition to assist the new government to get this right.

Congress also welcomes the new government’s promise to work with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, and to continuing to transition remote health clinics to Aboriginal community control, a proven best practice model.

“Congress looks forward to working in genuine partnership with the new government as it implements its commitment to early childhood and adolescence, mental health, alcohol and the transfer of at least one clinic a year to Aboriginal community control as key to closing the gap on Aboriginal disadvantage.

“It is very clear that no NT government can rely on the continuing support of Aboriginal communities without effecting real change. Aboriginal people have had enough of empty promises,” Ms Ah Chee concluded.

Media contact: Emily MacKenzie, 0408 741 691 or communications@caac.org.au.