18 October, 2022
Minister for Health and Aged Care The Hon. Mark Butler’s opening remarks at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022
National Convention Centre Canberra, 18 October 2022.
- Good afternoon. Thank you Donella and Pat for welcoming me here today.
- I would like to acknowledge we meet today on the land of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people and pay my respects to the elders, part present and to our emerging leaders.
- It is a pleasure to be here on behalf of the Prime Minister who was regrettably unable to attend the event.
- Many of those emerging First Nations leaders have attended your youth conference here over the past day. I hope they found this opportunity to be beneficial and formed new connections.
- It is great to see our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth participating in these forums and interacting with each other and sharing their unique cultural learnings and understandings; bringing forward their culture and their identity to be part of a better and informed future.
Health Ministers’ Meeting
- Just over a week ago it was great to be able to reconvene what we call the ATSI Roundtable for health – bringing together all the Health Ministers from States and Territories and the Commonwealth along with representatives from across the Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander community controlled and health sector leadership.
- The Roundtable has been unable to meet recently, and it was a priority for this government to convene it as quickly as possible following our election.
- The Roundtable was important for highlighting the challenges in workforce, in service delivery, in embedding culturally safe practices across the health system.
- All health ministers have prioritised this work, including the Commonwealth through myself and Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy.
- One way that the Commonwealth Government can lead in this work is to take real steps to implement the letter and the spirit of the Coalition of Peaks Priority Reforms.
- Priority reform 2 emphasises the role of the community-controlled health sector, and the role of governments in building and strengthening the sector.
- This is a critical area for this government to build and grow. The work of ACCHOs around the country isn’t just a model for First Nations health, it’s a model for the whole health sector.
- It’s why I have directed the commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care to audit all programs delivering services to First Nations communities that are not currently being delivered by First Nations organisations.
- It’s why I announced last week that the Puggy Hunter Scholarship Scheme – our leading program encouraging entry-level Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health students to complete their studies and join the health workforce – needed to be handed over to First Nations control.
- For me, there couldn’t be a more important first step in this process. Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter was of course an incredible health leader and Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).
- Our ambition is to transition more programs to First Nations control over the course of this government.
You can download the complete speech here.