Key partnershipsThe National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality Council (NATSIHEC) advises the Australian Government on working towards the provision of equitable and sustainable health. NATSIHEC's primary focus in 2012 and 2013 has been on the development of this Health Plan. The NATSIHEC Terms of Reference are outlined below.
A Stakeholder Advisory Group was established to guide development of the Health Plan and brought together government and organisations with expertise in Indigenous health and broader health issues. The Stakeholder Advisory Group was co-chaired by David Learmonth, Deputy Secretary, Department of Health and Ageing and Ms Jody Broun, co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality Council—Terms of ReferenceNATSIHEC will advise the Minister for Indigenous Health:
In developing this advice, NATSIHEC should consider a range of matters, including but not limited to the following:
- on the development of a National Indigenous Health Plan;
- on the development and monitoring of health related goals and targets to support the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) commitment to closing the gap in outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and
- on other Ministerial priorities as requested, including child and adolescent health, drug and alcohol, mental health, social and emotional wellbeing and health workforce issues.
- how current activities to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people align with the Government’s commitment to close the gap and improve health outcomes for all Australians;
- existing health policy and programs and their effectiveness at a regional, rural, remote, metro and national level;
- work being progressed through other fora including but not limited to the COAG Health and Ageing Working Group and the COAG Working Group on Indigenous Reform;
- current barriers to Indigenous people accessing adequate health services and how these might be best overcome;
- the interaction between mainstream health services and Indigenous-specific health services;
- the need for a whole-of-government approach to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and well-being;
- the need for coordination and integration of various national, regional, remote and rural programs and initiatives;
- existing gaps in data and how these might be addressed in the future;
- the social and environmental determinants of health that impact on Indigenous health to ensure goals and targets to support the Government’s commitment to improving Indigenous life expectancy and reducing child mortality are properly evidence-based;
- national and international strategies for improving Indigenous health and building capabilities; and
- how to maximise effective internal and external stakeholder relationships and increase community involvement in the Government's Indigenous health agenda.
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National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan Stakeholder Advisory Group—Terms of ReferenceThe Stakeholder Advisory Group will advise on the development of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (NATSIHP). The advisory group will bring together government and organisations with expertise in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, the health sector, and the social determinants of health.
Role and FunctionThe role of the advisory group is to:
- Drive and inform the development of the NATSIHP through a meaningful partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Support the development of the NATSIHP by providing advice on the key policy priorities to be addressed in the plan, including:
- reviewing current policies to identify gaps and emerging issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander well-being; and
- how best to address and position the social determinants of health.
- Offer guidance on:
- the development of discussion papers, including for consultation and engagement purposes;
- the draft NATSIHP and its revisions; and
- identifying and influencing priorities for research.
TimeframesThe advisory group will commence in early 2012 and cease by December 2013.
ChairThe advisory group will be co-chaired by a Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing and a co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
SecretariatThe Department of Health and Ageing will provide Secretariat support for the advisory group through the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.
Frequency of meetingsThe advisory group will meet up to six times a year, and more frequently if required. Meetings will include face-to-face meetings and teleconference.
Issues may be considered out of session and bi-laterally with member organisations where required.
Governance and ReportingThe advisory group will report to the Minister for Indigenous Health through the Secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing.
Relationship to other Committees
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- The Stakeholder Advisory Group will work closely with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality Council (NATSIHEC) and the National Health Leadership Forum of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. NATSIHEC will advise the Minister for Indigenous health on development of the Plan.
- The Stakeholder Advisory Group will invite external advice on specific issues as required.
Community ConsultationsThe Australian Government held a series of 17 nation-wide open community consultations, including a youth specific consultation, and conducted an online submissions process to capture different views and ideas. To provide context and guidance for the consultations and submissions process, the Department developed a Discussion Paper which sought responses to a range of questions to help shape the development of the Health Plan. On behalf of the Australian Government, the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence, in partnership with Mirri Mirri Productions and the George Institute for Global Health, facilitated the youth consultation. KPMG, in partnership with Mr William ‘Uncle Benny’ Hodges, facilitated each of the 16 community consultations.
The consultation and submission process provided an opportunity for key stakeholders to play an active role in ensuring the Health Plan identified the key health issues and necessary priorities to further close the gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
770 representatives from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, health and social determinants of health organisations, peak bodies and state and territory governments participated in the 17 community consultations and provided information across a range of issues to inform the development of the Health Plan. The key themes which emerged from the community consultations included:
Details about the locations and representative organisations at each community consultation can be found at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan website (www.health.gov.au/natsihp).
- access to health services, including the availability of specialists or transport to medical services;
- the importance of education, not just about formal schooling (although this is very important), but also about health education and literacy;
- workforce including the recruitment, retention and training of not only Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals but also mainstream health workers in regional and remote areas;
- the need for more integration and coordination of service provision;
- food and nutrition including the affordability and availability of healthy foods, particularly the importance of this in the early years; and
- mental health and grief and loss and the impacts this has on overall health and wellbeing, including that of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health organisation workers in communities.
Written submissionsA total of 141 written submissions were received from individuals and organisations from across the country. Some of the key issues discussed in the submissions were:
A list of the published written submissions received can be found at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan website (www.health.gov.au/natsihp).
- A comprehensive approach to primary health care is required that takes into account the social determinants of health, health inequalities, health promotion, illness prevention, treatment and care of the sick, community development, advocacy, rehabilitation, inter-sectoral action and population health approaches;
- racism and experience of discrimination is linked to poor self-assessed health status and has a negative impact on health;
- a focus on mental health and the impacts this has on overall health and wellbeing;
- workforce issues, such as recruitment of more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the health workforce; additional support to retain health professionals in rural and remote locations; and a culturally competent workforce in health and other services sector; and
- an evidence-based approach to making the health system work better for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Expert ForumsNATSIHEC hosted three forums as an opportunity to bring together experts from around Australia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and mainstream health and determinants. The purpose of the meetings was to provide an opportunity to build the vision and identify the opportunities and risks that needed to be considered in developing the Health Plan.
A list of the organisations/experts in attendance at each forum can be found at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan website (www.health.gov.au/natsihp)