NACCHO Members Elect New Chair and Deputy Chair

Oliver TyeFeature, News, Press Release

NACCHO Conference 2017
Newly elected NACCHO Chair, John Singer.
Photo: Geoff Bagnall

At the recent NACCHO Annual General Meeting in Canberra, The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation’s (NACCHO) 143 members have elected John Singer as their new Chairperson and Donnella Mills as Deputy Chairperson.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner said she was very pleased that the organisation would be led by two young, inspiring, and strong Aboriginal leaders who have the faith, confidence and authority to represent the views of, and lead the future direction for, our 143 member services across the country.

“They are both experienced administrators and visionary thinkers who will be great advocates for our member services. NACCHO will be in good hands with John and Donnella at the helm for the next 3 years,” she said.

Mr Singer’s family is from Ngaangtjara, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunyatjara Lands, which is the cross-border area of Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. He began working in community control at the Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Health Service where he started his health worker training, later completed in the late 1980s with the Nganampa Health Council.

John worked in Community Administration from 1989 to 1996 at Iwantja, Fregon, Pukatja and Papunya. In 1997, he became the Manager of Iwantja Clinic, which is one of Nganampa Health Council’s clinics. In 2000, he was appointed Director of the Nganampa Health Council and still holds this position today.

Over the years, John has participated on several Boards and Committees, including NACCHO. He was on the Board of the Aboriginal Health Council of SA Inc. (a representative since 1998 and Chairperson 2005, 2006–2009), Country Health SA, and the Anangu Remote Health Alliance (He was Chairperson 2005 and 2006).

John has a good understanding of governance, community control and government structures, and is very committed to improving the health and wellbeing of all urban, regional and remote Indigenous people.

With most of NACCHO members’ 302 clinics in regional and remote areas Mr. Singer said his life time of working in remote community controlled health clinic services will be critical in his national advocacy of unique issues facing our ACCHO’s.

“Aboriginal people still have far higher mortality rates than the average population and die at much younger ages. Despite government intentions to ‘close the gap’, the problem isn’t getting any better. Chronic disease and preventable health conditions are taking a toll on our communities and we need to find innovative ways to move the dial toward better health outcomes, he said.”

Ms Donnella Mills was elected the new NACCHO Deputy Chairperson was appointed Chairperson of Wuchopperen Health Service in 2016. Wuchopperen, which has health centres in Manoora and Edmonton, provides community controlled comprehensive primary health care, social and emotional wellbeing and family support services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the Cairns region.

Donnella is a Torres Strait Islander woman with ancestral and family links to Masig and Nagir in the Torres Strait. She is a Cairns – based lawyer with LawRight, a Community Legal Centre which coordinates the provision of pro bono civil legal services to disadvantaged and vulnerable members of the community.

Donnella is currently the project lawyer for the Wuchopperen Health Justice Partnership through a partnership with LawRight. This innovative Health Justice Partnership is an exciting model of providing access to justice, where lawyers and health professionals collaborate to provide better health outcomes and access to justice for patients with legal issues.

Donella said “she was very excited about the opportunity to contribute to working the new Chairperson, the new board and the NACCHO Executive to drive the national health debate, develop community led solution and to champion why Community-Controlled is the pinnacle model in achieving greater autonomy and self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Utilizing a legal lens in which to view health, social justice human rights and access to justice my commitment is to deliver expanded and enhanced innovative health services that are community driven and community led, addressing core systemic social determinant issues that have a direct impact on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Donnella said.

You can follow John Singer on Twitter @NACCHOChair and you can follow Donnella Mills @NACCHODepChair

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NACCHO Media contact Julian Fitzgerald 0413 982 224