eMessage ATSIEB Chairperson – 29 October 2021

Yuma Community members,

I hope this message finds you and your families well.

I would again like to acknowledge our frontline essential workers including our Aboriginal community-controlled organisations for their efforts during the extended lockdown period. Because of you, many families have been supported and cared for which has also allowed us to transition out of lockdown. As restrictions have eased and we can see family, enjoy the warm weather and travel, it’s still important to remember ways to minimise the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19. As I’ve shared in the previous e-message, please stay up to date by checking the COVID-19 website.

COVID 19 Update

COVID 19 Vaccination- Message from our Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander community members

It’s exciting to see the new video by ACT Health that includes some of our community Elders, young people, carers and front-line workers helping to spread the message of the importance of being vaccinated. We know that our only real defence against COVID is to be vaccinated. This may raise lots of questions about the vaccine and its important that you can speak to someone such as your GP who can help answer some of those things you’re not sure about. If you would like to check out the video and get more advice or supports available around COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, please click on the link here.

Getting your COVID-19 vaccination

Getting vaccinated will help protect you, your family, your friends and your mob from getting sick. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 years and over can get the COVID-19 vaccine at:

  • Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services
  • any ACT Government clinic
  • participating GPs and pharmacies
  • We are also running drop-in COVID-19 vaccination clinics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in October 2021.

For more information visit the COVID-19 vaccination page.

ATSIEB Community Engagement

With the recent easing of restrictions, Elected Body members are looking forward to engaging with the community. Our engagement with the community is central to the success of the Elected Body and we will continue to find ways to do this that considers everyone’s health and safety whilst meeting social distancing requirements.

In the coming months we will be developing our community consultation plan and would like to hear from you about the ways you would like to be engaged. If you have any ideas around how ATSIEB members can engage with community, I encourage you to send these through to our secretariat.

Upcoming Community Engagement and Codesign

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Online Community Forum

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 community online forum will be held on Wednesday 3 November, 10am-11am. This is an opportunity for members of the community to join the discussion about COVID-19 in our community, including how the virus is spreading, keeping our community safe, vaccinations and drop-in clinics. Dr Vanessa Johnston, Deputy Chief Health Officer, will be joining to answer our community’s questions and concerns. If you would like to join the forum click here.

If you’d like more information or you’d like to ask a question before the forum, please email Covid19heccloaboriginalandtorresstraitislander@act.gov.au

A social media tile and poster has been attached for you to promote across your own networks. A dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander page on the ACT Covid-19 website has been established, and includes the recently developed video, encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.

Codesign of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Commissioner for the ACT

The Our Booris Our Way report called for the appointment of a Commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in the ACT. The Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research has been engaged by the ACT Government to facilitate the co-design of this role with the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The team is led by Professor Larrissa Behrendt, Professor Lindon Coombes and Associate Professor Paul Gray. A brief discussion paper has been developed by Jumbunna to inform you about the proposed role, along with an information sheet for participants.

We want to hear from community members and other stakeholders about the proposed Commissioner role. There are a number of opportunities for community members to get involved.

Discussion Paper Briefing Session

We are also hosting a briefing about the project, talking through the Discussion Paper. This session will take 1 hour and will be held online on Friday 5 November, from 1pm. Register for that session.

Co-Design Sessions

We will be holding a series of co-design sessions to hear from you about the role. The co-design sessions will take up to 3 hours and will be hosted in community, with light refreshments provided. These are expected to be held in late November. If you would like more information please call UTS Jumbunna on 02 95149655 or email paul.gray@uts.edu.au

Key Updates

ACT Education Directorate – Warrumbul Yerra Supporting our Kids in school

Warrumbul Yerra is a program available through the ACT Education Directorate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in years 1-10 who are having difficulties returning or trying to re- engage in ACT Public Schools. The program works with children and young people and their families by identifying their wellbeing needs and by providing intensive support that is culturally competent.

If you have a child or student that could benefit from the program, I encourage you to get in touch with your school and ask for a referral.

ACT Budget 2021-2022 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Initiatives

The ACT Government recently announced the ACT 2021-2022 Budget. The Elected Body note the importance of ongoing investment in our community in ways that are impactful and contribute to better outcomes and quality of life. Below are some of the key budget items, to find out more please check out the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander budget statement.

  • $920,000 for 2021-22 to 2024-25 for an Aboriginal Business Support Package to deliver enhanced Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business support, including a Business Accelerator Program and a networked concierge service that will link Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses to appropriate support mechanisms
  • $15.463m for 2021-22 to 2024-25 to fund and construct a purpose-built facility for Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation on their current premises in Wanniassa
  • $6.009m for 2021-22 to 2024-25 for the establishment of a Healing and Reconciliation Fund to support and deliver on local priorities set out in the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement 2019-2028. An additional $14 million is provisioned beyond the 2024-25 financial year to bring the total investment over ten years to $20 million
  • $790,000 (Safer Families Levy – $144,000 offset) from 2021-22 to 2024-25 to strengthen domestic and family violence responses for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community
  • $9.058m for 2021-22 to 2024-25 to continue the Muliyan Off-Campus Flexible Learning Program which provides culturally safe supports for 30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who are disengaged or disengaging with education
  • $2.212m (including $1.962m offset from the Health Funding Envelope) for 2021-22 to 2024- 25 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific mental health services to provide an ongoing culturally appropriate Suicide Prevention Program.
  • $803,000 ($503,000 Offset – Health Funding Envelope) in 2021-22 to commence design work on the redevelopment of the Watson Health Precinct to provide preliminary design for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residential rehabilitation facility and for the redevelopment of the current facilities on the site. This measure is listed as an offset against the Health Funding Envelope and also includes capital funding
  • $2.314m (with $1.476m offset from Health Funding Envelope) for 2021-22 to Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services for services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees at the AMC
  • $2.018m for 2021-22 to 2024-25 to fund the Community Legal Assistance sector, including for the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT, to ensure community-based legal assistance organisations can maintain service delivery levels. The $2.018m also includes funding for Canberra Community Law, Care Inc., and the EDO
  • $714,000 for 2021-22 (fully offset) for upgrades to the Galambany Circle Sentencing court room.
  • $311,000 for 2021-22 (one year only) to fund a temporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Families Advocate, (plus additional staff member), pending the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Commissioner.

As we move towards our ‘new-normal’, I would like to remind families to remain vigilant with the spread of COVID. While restrictions have eased, the virus is still active in our community. To ensure we protect our Elders and our most vulnerable, please ensure that you follow the advice from ACT Health.

Djan Yimaba Yara
(Thank you and Bye in Ngunnawal language)

Lynnice Church

Chairperson

ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body