Transcript of Interview on CAAMA Radio with Kyle Dowling

The Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, was interviewed on CAAMA Radio with Kyle Dowling on 5 July 2017

Page last updated: 06 July 2017

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5 July 2017

Ken Wyatt:What I like about the centre is that it is an alliance of organisations that have been heavily involved in research around many of the health issues impacting on our people. But what’s more important significant is that Congress is the lead agency or the lead player in all of this and having that Aboriginal leadership working so closely with the expertise and knowledge and skills and capability of research is fantastic.

Kyle Dowling: Ken Wyatt, the Federal Minister for Indigenous Health and Aged Care, recently congratulated the 11 organisations partnering in the new Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre.

Ken Wyatt: Any of us have the capability and capacity to take leading voices. It’s whether we have the confidence and courage to do it at times. And I think Congress has really set a framework for showing that they are leaders. That they are prepared to go and fight for the things they believe in, but equally they work very closely with people who’ve got a like-minded thinking who want to make a difference.

I think the other part that is important in this is their voices are also about translating research into real change on the ground in the community with families. And that’s an important translation of research into practice. And they’ve been around a long time so their knowledge of the health of people within the area, but not only the area, but nationally has been well-based on being involved with the community, listening to community, but treating community for the range of illnesses that they’ve seen over the years. So I want to complement them on their vision, but also being a leader to demonstrate that our voices do count. That they are important.

Kyle Dowling: : So Ken, can you just talk to us about the actual role of the Central Australia Academic Health Centre and the importance of the collaboration between Aboriginal community-controlled health services and leading medical researchers.

Ken Wyatt:What’s important about the centre is that it’s now recognised as a centre of excellence for research. That means it gives them access to Commonwealth funding out of the Futures Research Fund, but also NHMRC funding as well. They’re also recognised as being of a national standing in the quality of what they are capable of doing, but the team they have within that alliance. So you’re really saying that you- you’ve brought together this incredible group of skills, resources and thinking that will be used to tackle some of those complex issues on the ground.

Yesterday, Alan Cass talked about renal disease and the work that affected him into making the decision to look at the whole issue of progression to dialysis and what we still need to do. And he talked about some of the alarming figures here that- when you think about the number of Aboriginal people within the Territory- those figures are extremely high. So we’ve got to do something about it and that’s what he’s talking about when he is involved in this collaborative centre.

Kyle Dowling: Why Central Australia? Why was this area the right place for the centre?

Ken Wyatt: Look, I think it’s just natural to expect it to be here because you’ve got an incredible organisation like Congress. You have Aboriginal leadership here whose thinking and whose passion for making a difference for people here and across Australia. But you’ve also got these incredible alliances with Flinders Uni, Baker IDI, and there’s other collaborative members of that group who are also deliverers of services. And if we think of the history of the Territory, there have been some outstanding individuals that have been involved. So you only have to look at the Menzies Research Centre, the work that they have done. It’s a natural fix and it’s a good mix of bringing some incredible people together to work on these issues.

Kyle Dowling: Now the partners in the CAAHSC have identified research priorities. Can you touch on a little bit of those?

Ken Wyatt: The five areas that they have identified are good, but the one that excites me is the whole issue of workforce and development of capacity. But developing of capacity for Aboriginal research- there was a young woman I met yesterday who has become a researcher and her passion for that work now is growing. It’s- and she becomes an example for others that research is an important area and that I can do it, so can you. And that workforce capacity also means that they will be looking at, not only what’s needed today, but the type of skills we’ll need for tomorrow and the future. And aged care is in that mix.

I had a good meeting with Congress this morning about older people who live in this area that I need to have a look at the issues around their needs, but equally be made aware of the number of older people now living in community and what we have to do for them.

Kyle Dowling: Now, Central Research has been dubbed a hub of hope for Indigenous health. How would you describe Central Research as in fact being a hub of help for Indigenous hope.

Ken Wyatt: That whole hub of hope I see in an optimistic sense. I see it as a group of people believing what they do, but then wanting to turn that into having access to further work they have to do to find and identify reasons. And I use the term causes of the cause.

So what are the causes that cause an illness or what are the causes that cause renal failure. And then to look at how do we go upstream and prevent that from happening. So if it’s skin diseases, if it’s other factors that result in kidney failure, then how do we address and tackle those. But equally what they’ll be looking at is what treatment can we provide and what treatment can we also think about providing at the local community level because the problem with dialysis is that you really need to live with the chairs are that provide you with that life-saving support. But ultimately if we can find a cure for kidney failure then that makes it far more expecting of pushing out life, but also preventing kidney failure and giving people in any individual hope for a future, hope for a longer life because the point I want to make is that every person we lose out of our community is a history book.

We never write our histories, we never write our stories on paper. We only learn in transmission in conversation, art, the stories we tell dance. Now when we take one of those people out, that’s the end of that story. We can never go back and re-read it, and that’s why that the work that this centre does is critical in keeping people alive longer because young people like you will need the knowledge of the stories, but also the history and every aspect that gives us what is important spiritually, culturally, but as an identity as an individual within our community.

Kyle Dowling: Before I do let you go, I did just want to get a quick message from you. It is NAIDOC Week. Your message to everyone across the country on NAIDOC weekend, what NAIDOC means to you as an Aboriginal person?

Ken Wyatt: This week, celebrating and acknowledging the power of our languages, the importance of language, but even where we’ve think we’ve lost languages I’m often surprised with the older people within our communities who can still speak the language. And in my own country there are people teaching Noongar language and reviving the veracity of the language. Now language often is an identifier of who we are and what country we’re associated with.

NAIDOC Week is about celebrating, enjoying ourselves within our community, having fun, but also reflecting.

Kyle Dowling: Yes, well on that note, Ken thank you for taking out your time to have a chat with us here on CAAMA Radio and thank you for tuning in.

That’s going to be it for Strong Voices today. Thank you for tuning in. I hope you enjoyed the program. Make sure you check out our CAAMA webpage. It’s Make sure you check out our social media as well -our Facebook and Twitter. And we’ll be back the same time tomorrow.


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