Oral Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Health of our nations in our hands (#3)

Donna Murray 1
  1. Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Deakin West, ACT, Australia

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), a not for profit, member based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health organisation, asserts that strong leadership can enable individuals and organisations to develop economically, socially, culturally to prosper and contribute to our own growth as strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, organisations and nations.

IAHA has embedded nation building or nation re-building approaches into its foundation document Cultural Responsiveness in Action: An IAHA Framework [1].

Nation building processes leading to self-governance and self-determination are keys to addressing cultural determinants of health. The achievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality requires leaders and managers to have leadership and governance structures and processes that enables and supports growth and development, appreciates and values diversity, is based on meaningful partnerships and is leading with a shared vision and collective purpose.

The historical approach to development, decision-making and service delivery has consistently been inadequate to meet the needs of Australia’s First Peoples. Nation building approaches respect and support autonomy, self-determination, leadership development and self-governing arrangements.

When taking a nation building approach[2] to governance and development, culture is seen as a strength and asset; decision making is able to be longer term, strategic and owned by Australia’s First peoples; future agenda setting is directed by Australia’s First peoples; development is seen as an interrelated social, economic and cultural determinant; leaders act as stewards, nation-builders, mediators and mobilisers, and can make decisions based on plans; accountability is focused on collective goals; and governing rules and frameworks reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander political cultures and concepts.

Strengthening the leadership and governance capacity of Australia’s First Peoples will lead to renewal of healthy, empowered communities that are key drivers in the delivery of culturally safe and responsive services that meet community needs.

[1] Indigenous Allied Health Australia 2015, Cultural Responsiveness in Action: An IAHA Framework. Retrieved January 2016 from http://iaha.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/2015-IAHA-Cultural-Responsiveness-Framework-WEB.pdf

[2] Adapted from S. Cornell, Two approaches to the development of native nations, Rebuilding Native Nations, University of Arizona Press, 2007. Source: Reconciliation Australia Indigenous Governance Toolkit. Viewed December 11 at: 2014 http://www.reconciliation.org.au/governance/toolkit/9-0-networks-and-relationships.