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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 2046 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

issues of the population. There was a group that had a range of problems, but the majority of that indigenous community did not have health problems at all and did not regularly attend hospital for care. So we need to be mindful not to stereotype or to assume that no significant gains have been made across the board in indigenous health.

We all know that the World Health Organisation defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The national Aboriginal health working parties, in relation to the development of the Aboriginal health strategic working plan, also describe health from an indigenous perspective as determining all aspects of their life, including control over their physical environment, dignity, community self-esteem and justice.

It is not really a matter of the provision of doctors, hospitals and medicines or the absence of disease and incapacity. Indeed, the strategic plan for national Aboriginal health refers to not just the physical wellbeing of the individual but also the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the whole community. This is a whole-of-life view and it includes the cyclical concept of life, death, life.

Each of the speakers has referred to the issues we need to address in order to raise the level of health of and provision of health to indigenous people and communities. All of those issues are as relevant here in the ACT as they are elsewhere, and we need to continue to be mindful of the fact that in the ACT we are faced with the same issues that all governments around Australia have that have responsibility for indigenous issues.

There is now this well-acknowledged and recognised relationship between socio-economic status and health, and it is by addressing the causes of low socio-economic status that we can best address issues of health, welfare and wellbeing. It cannot be gainsaid that, as the socio-economic position improves-for all communities-the health status of people on a particular socio-economic gradient improves. This gradient, from poorest to wealthiest, has been observed for most of the major causes death.

It is true that there is a range of programs and initiatives in the ACT, and one of the tasks facing us is the delivery of across-the-board, holistic services to indigenous people. We need to look at this seriously, and I have asked the Chief Minister's Department to co-ordinate, on behalf of the government, the development and genuine assessment of an all-of-government approach to the delivery of services to indigenous people. That is currently being done, and I am hopeful that I will be in a position within the next few weeks to make a statement on a new, focused approach to the delivery of services aimed at addressing issues affecting, in particular, indigenous people in the ACT.

Ms Tucker referred to a significant report of the health committee, which was delivered towards the end of the last Assembly and which is yet to be responded to by the government. I propose at this stage to respond to that report in the next sitting week. It goes to some of the issues affecting the indigenous community that each of the speakers has addressed today.

When we talk about indigenous health in the ACT there is always a focus on Winnunga Nimmityjah, its capacity and the services that are provided there. That service has grown enormously since it was established 10 years ago in the second Assembly, as I recall. I believe Mr Berry was the relevant minister who directed the establishment of

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