The NHLF objectives are:
- Eliminating Racism (to improve health outcomes)
- Asserting Self-determination and First Peoples Rights
- Lead collective decision-making in national health policy
- Asserting investment in the Social Determinants of Health
- Asserting the Cultural Determinants of Health
These objectives reflect the work of the NHLF since its inception. The priorities reflect our work and will remain until such time that we see truth telling and genuine respect for the First Nations People of Australia. Accordingly, the priorities for the foreseeable future are:
1. System-wide monitoring, reporting and investment for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan.
The NHLF will continue to advocate for accountability within the health system to achieve our vision and the vision of the Health Plan that is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enjoy long, health lives that are centred in culture, with access to services that are prevention focused, culturally safe and responsive, equitable and free of racism.
- The NHLF calls for action and true accountability by all Australian governments in the implementation, monitoring and reporting of the Health Plan to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the public.
2. System-wide monitoring, reporting and investment for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan (referred to as the National Workforce Plan).
The NHLF will continue to campaign for investment and full implementation and accountability of the National Workforce Plan to achieve our goal of locally qualified and skilled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce across the health system, to lead the delivery of culturally and clinically safe health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people regardless of where they access health care must be achieved.
- The NHLF calls for investment, action, and true accountability by all Australian governments in the implementation, monitoring and reporting of the National Workforce Plan to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and the public.
3. Self-determination across our national institutions through constitutional reform and supporting the recommendations that arose from the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
The legal and political reform, along with the cultural determinants of health are at the heart of achieving self-determination across our national institutions through constitutional reform and supporting the recommendations that arose from the Uluru Statement from the Heart. If Australia can take the significant step towards constitutional reform; self-determination across all aspects of government and public policy improved outcomes across all socioeconomic indicators will, in time, follow.
- The NHLF calls for all Australian governments to support and enact the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
If Government’s adhere to the call for action we are more likely to achieve the Priority Reforms under the National Agreement to Closing the Gap.
4. Addressing systemic racism
To achieve the Health Plan’s vision, governments and non-government organisations must embed culturally safe ways of practice including listening and following the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities determining what they need and want to do.
Cultural safety is a mechanism to address racism and must be embedded into our corporate and non-for-profit sectors when they sign onto campaigns or develop reconciliation actions plan. Without doing so, means that the values and ethics of organisations are not scrutinise sufficiently to stamp out discrimination and discriminatory policies, procedures, and practices of staff.
- The NHLF calls for coordinated and long-term action to eliminate racism and discrimination without our institutions.
5. Investment in the social determinants of health especially those that have greatest impact on health outcomes – housing, justice, climate change and investment in services.
Genuine needs-based funding and accountability is essential to achieving equity in health and access to culturally safe care. This funding must cut across the social determinants of health as the intersection of these elements have a real – truthful – impact on peoples physical, social, mental health, and social and emotional well-being.
- The NHLF calls for genuine needs-based funding for the social determinants of health
Australia has had many coronial inquests into the preventable deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody since the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. These inquests continue to reveal the ongoing deficiencies of both our health and justice systems. Coronial inquests examining the preventable deaths of Indigenous peoples attending health care services, combined with over a decade of policy failure to close the gap of health inequality, have highlighted how the health system – independently of the legal system – produces discriminatory practices based on the bigotry of the workforce. We have recently had two coronial inquests into Aboriginal deaths that examined whether systemic racism was a potential contributing factor, yet we have yet to see change.
- The NHLF calls for social justice and human rights-based approaches to be the normal practice within law enforcement and justice systems.
The impact of Climate Change in Australia on the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is growing in its seriousness and importance for the NHLF. Substantial health inequalities endure between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians in key areas of health such as life expectancy, chronic and communicable diseases, child and maternal health and mental health. These disparities re compounded and perpetuated through the inequities of care for country and the impact of climate change in Australia.
- The NHLF calls genuine investment in and support for solutions that are locally identified to address climate change.
Key Areas of Advocacy
Members of the NHLF are advocating strongly in a number of key areas that have
significant national implications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health:
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan
The second National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan for 2021 to 2031 was released 15 December 2021. To access the plan click here.
The new Health Plan was developed partnership with members of the NHLF, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities and the Government. This Plans what can achieve when co-design is based on empowerment, trust and mutual respect.
NHLF members co-designed this new plan and advocated for the Plan to focus on
- Embedding the social determinants of health and cultural determinants of health;
- Ensuring alignment with government policies and priorities; and
- ensuring transparency and true accountability of government agencies.
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce and Implementation Plan 2021-2031 was released 13 March 2021. To access the Plan click here
This Plan is the first of its kind. It seeks to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people equally represented alongside non-Indigenous workers across the health sector by 2031. This plan includes an implementation component that ensures we see concrete actions and accountability measures for governments to be judged by.
Close the Gap Campaign
The NHLF was instrumental in the formation of the Close the Gap Campaign and continues to lead the Campaign as the senior collective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leadership. Committed to achieving health equality, the NHLF draws strength from cultural integrity, the evidence base and community.
Click here More information on the Close the Gap Campaign.
Partnerhsip for Justice in Health
Statement of Intent
The Partnership for Justice in Health (P4JH) is an alliance of self-determining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics, legal experts, and national peak health and justice organisations committed to working together to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and justice outcomes through addressing racism at individual, institutional and systemic levels, specifically focusing on the health and justice systems.
We formed in 2017 in response to the ongoing impacts of racism to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian health system, particularly following the death of Wiradjuri woman Naomi Williams and her unborn child at Tumut Hospital in NSW. Since this time, we have worked and grown together, building a shared understanding. From this place of knowing, articulating and addressing the impacts of racism, we stand together and call for national action.
Thirty years after the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, recommendations and actions from this and a plethora of subsequent reviews, inquiries, reports, evaluations, and strategies, lay dormant and the harmful and destructive impacts of racism on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing endures. We believe the stakes are too high to wait any longer for substantive and effective action from Australian governments, as such we formed the P4JH to initiate and influence systemic change.
As leaders operating at the interface of the health and justice systems, we commit to harnessing our leadership, influence, and networks towards realising our vision ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People enjoy health and wellbeing that is free of racism in the health and justice systems’.
Who We Are
Collectively we are well positioned to play a lead role in addressing racism and discrimination across the health and justice systems. We have:
- a comprehensive understanding of the evidence and issues and lived experiences
- professional expertise and experience in redress, cultural safety, shared decision-making and determination
- influence, connections and extensive networks across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia and Governments, and
- a demonstrated track record in cross sectoral collaboration and delivering services in partnership.
We will commit to working together to establish an ongoing national campaign to influence systemic change and eliminate racism across the health and justice systems, and ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are at the centre of driving solutions, that includes:
- establishing, managing and maintaining an authoritative online hub or website
- providing access to and collaborating on research
- developing and distributing resources
- promulgating best practice evidence-based approaches
- providing referral, information and contacts and
- managing the P4JH in line with the principles of Indigenous leadership, governance and self-determination.
- ABSTARR Consulting
- Australian Indigenous Doctors Association
- Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives
- Indigenous Allied Health Australia
- Indigenous Crises Response and Recovery
- Lowitja Institute
- National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners
- National Justice Project
Coalition of Peaks - National Agreement on Closing the Gap
- Members of the NHLF are part of the Coalition of Peaks.
The Coalition of Peaks came together to change the way Australian governments work with our people. As community-controlled organisations, we work for and are accountable to our communities, not governments. We share a belief that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should have a meaningful say on policies and programs that impact on us through formal partnerships with Australian governments at all levels.
The National Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect on 27 July 2020. The National Agreement sets out how governments and the Coalition of Peaks will work together to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Click here for more information on the Coalition of Peaks