Minister Butler -speech at NACCHO Members' Conference 20222
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.

Puggy Hunter

  • 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.