Memorandum of Understanding with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
The purpose of the MoU with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was to add to the number of partnerships to deliver ongoing affordable and accessible health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The signing in March 2015 of the MoU with the RAAF signified NACCHO’s efforts in bolstering our commitment towards Closing the Gap. The five (5) year commitment is another step forward addressing joint health priorities.
Acting Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Leo Davies AO CSC, said “that the MoU was part of the Air Force’s commitment to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal Australians. The Air Force is committed to playing our part in closing the gap for Aboriginal Australians. This partnership with NACCHO will facilitate RAAF Dental personnel to work alongside Aboriginal Health Workers in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations. This will help reduce waiting time for Aboriginal health services and allow more Aboriginal people to access the care they need. It will also provide benefits for RAAF dentists who will be able to use their skills in different health settings and patients with complex needs.”
Our Health Services, run by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people, are the preferred provider of primary health for Australia’s Aboriginal population and demand is growing at around 6% per year. In many locations we have waiting lists for our services, especially in high demand specialities like dentistry. We have a chronic shortage of health specialists, especially in some of our regional and remote areas. This is why this partnership with the RAAF is so important. Getting more Aboriginal people into dental services means we can have an impact not just on oral health but in other health areas too.
RAAF Kummundoo Programme The programme with the RAAF is described in the following extract. “As part of our NAIDOC Week celebrations last year, the Chief launched an Air Force Indigenous Handbook. The idea was to provide basic information about our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and about Air Force Indigenous programs. It was in that handbook that we first announced Kummundoo as part of our vision for the Air Force Indigenous Strategy: Our Place – Our Skies.
To my mind, Kummundoo is a very good choice of name for at least three reasons:
- First, to choose an Aboriginal word that honours an ancient language (in this case the language of the Queensland Kalkadoon people);
- Second, the word Kummundoo translates as “eagle” – and as I’m sure most of you are aware, the eagle is a very important part of our Air Force culture; and
- Finally, Kummundoo, to my ear sounds very much like the phrase “Come-and-Do” – it has an active dimension to the sound. And I think that’s appropriate.
We, in Air Force, have greatly admired the work that has been done by Army’s Aboriginal Community Assistance Program over the years. I am pleased that through the Kummundoo initiative, we too will have the opportunity to partner with communities across Australia.
In essence, Kummundoo will create opportunities for small teams of Air Force people to be deployed to assist communities on agreed local issues. And the scope of potential opportunities is very broad. That’s because we have such a wide cross section of workforce skills – in particular our trades and professions.
Now, while we hope that agreed Kummundoo initiatives will be beneficial to communities, there are some very real benefits to Air Force as well. For example:
- Through Kummundoo, we will have a growing number of in-Service, culturally aware people who have participated in the program. And that awareness makes us stronger;
- Kummundoo will provide a powerful opportunity to showcase our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander role models – and also our non-Indigenous role models;
- Kummundoo will promote a greater awareness in community about our Air Force Indigenous youth programs, and about our career options, and the ADF specialised pathways to employment programs;
- As a secondary benefit, we anticipate that Kummundoo will contribute to our workforce retention strategies, and finally, it will provide an opportunity for Air Force people to exercise their skills and showcase their professionalism in quite unique environments; and
- In essence, Kummundoo is very much a win-win proposition.
Before I close, the Chief has asked me to pass on his appreciation for the way in which the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation has embraced this opportunity and worked so positively with Air Force to create this Memorandum of Understanding.
To you, Chief Executive Officer Lisa Briggs, and to you, Board Chairperson Matthew Cooke, I congratulate you and your team. Your sense of what is possible, and your willingness to make this idea a reality, is commendable. The Chief and I look forward to hearing positive things about Kummundoo in the very near future.”