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NACCHO welcomes ALP pledge of additional $115.1 million to focus on Aboriginal health

NACCHO has welcomed the commitment made by Labor leader Bill Shorten to pledge an additional $115.1 million toward Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health if a Labor government is elected on 18 May.

“We are encouraged by the funding commitment made by the Labor Party today,” said NACCHO Acting Chair, Donnella Mills.

“This level of funding shows an acknowledgment of the unequal burden Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities face when it comes to health outcomes.

“Our communities face a life expectancy gap of ten years less than non-Indigenous Australians – and this gap is only widening. And the death rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is more than double the rate of non-Indigenous children. How can this be?.”

Mills said, “The current national health policy hasn’t addressed the urgent needs that Indigenous peak organisations and medical professionals have been advocating for.”

“We hope to see a new direction embraced by all parties – one that places Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health at the forefront of national policy and one that has a genuine partnership and shared decision making with community health providers and organisations,” she said.

The pledge will include:

  • $29.6 million for reducing Indigenous youth suicide by funding Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to support teams of paediatricians, child psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses and Aboriginal Health Practitioners. A dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Plan will also be commissioned.
  • $33 million to address rheumatic heart disease across 25 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities including education and awareness campaigns, improved health hygiene programs and school-based health promotion.
  • $13 million to Close the Gap in vison loss to implement eye health coordinators, improve case management and outreach services and the establishment of a new eye health centre to service the needs of the North west of Western Australia.
  • $20 million for sexual health promotion by restoring funding to the Northern Territory Aids and Hepatitis Council and developing a workforce plan to ensure capacity to deal with sexual health issues, including the syphilis outbreak.
  • $16.5 million to roll out a national Deadly Choices campaign to promote positive health and lifestyle choices and to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to make their own health life choices to improve health outcomes.
  • $3 million to provide Health Justice Partnerships for at-risk communities to achieve better health and justice outcomes for vulnerable communities.
  • Reinstating the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality Council (NATSHIEC), a commitment to working collaboratively with First Nations peak organisations on a revitalised Closing the Gap framework and increasing the appointment of Indigenous staff and community representatives on Primary Health Network boards.

NACCHO Acting Chair Donnella Mills said, “I am encouraged that a Labor government will prioritise Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations as the recipient of this additional funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.”

“An appropriately resourced Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector represents an evidence-based, cost-effective and efficient solution for Closing the Gap in health outcomes.”

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