NACCHO political alert:Aboriginal Community Controlled Health can make a difference

Selwyn B

Selwyn Button, CEO of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) has welcomed these weeks’ findings

The release of Queensland’s version of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework report, and the Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG) release of Closing the Gap targets, further proves that good quality and comprehensive primary health care services, through community controlled organisations, supports communities in addressing Indigenous health needs.

The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare this week released jurisdictional versions of data and information gathered over the period 2001 – 2010.

Stemming from a range of providers across the health care industry aimed at addressing health concerns for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, these impacts were measured predominantly relating to secondary and tertiary care in hospital settings.

Selwyn Button, CEO of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) has welcomed these weeks’ findings.

“This data and information clearly supports the notion that in order to make longlasting impacts upon the overall health of our communities, we must continue to focus our efforts in providing good quality comprehensive primary health care,” Mr Button said.

“Many of the issues identified, like Type 2 Diabetes, kidney disease and smoking related illnesses are all better managed when people are accessing care through their local community controlled service provider and getting access to early intervention, support and ongoing care.

“Although this data is now two years old, over the past three years there have been major improvements in the overall numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

people accessing services and undertaking comprehensive health assessments for health workers to know and understand what their ongoing care needs are,” Mr Button stated.

Although the report shows that there have been improvements in overall avoidable mortality rates, deaths relating to circulatory disease and infant mortality rates, there are still some concerns in ongoing management of chronic disease, smoking rates across communities and smoking during pregnancy.

“Importantly this data clearly demonstrates that in Queensland we are taking the issue of early detection, diagnosis and management very seriously,” Mr Button said.

“Recent Medicare data shows Queensland has accounted for more than one-third of national health checks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in recent years.

“Queensland has the second largest population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the country.

“Approximately forty per cent of this population access regular care through community controlled services,” Mr Button stated.

“Undertaking this exercise annually and improving these numbers enables community controlled services to get a clear understanding of our communities, families and individuals health needs.

“We get a clear understanding of what is required to meet this growing demand for services to support better care and management of chronic diseases.

“Capturing baseline evidence will provide much clearer indication of our community’s needs and challenges that are ahead for us to address.

“This data must be used wisely to determine new investments and allocation of resources supporting quality care and improving outcomes for our people,” Mr Button advised.

More than sixty five percent of the COAG announcement of $1.6 billion towards Close the Gap went to non-Indigenous and mainstream services. This was based on data at the time showing that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were primarily receiving care through GP services and government-run facilities.

The evidence in Queensland shows otherwise.

“We are seeing significant improvements in accessing care through community controlled services and we must ensure that we address the funding imbalance to support this work.” Mr Button said.

Selwyn Button is the CEO of QAIHC, the peak body representing the Community Controlled Health Sector in Queensland at both a state and national level.

Media Enquiries: Judi Jabour, Campaign Capital, 0412 402 946.

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