Updated at 7.00 Pm 18 March 2014 the above heading should read
Will Government funding of $1.3 billion be enough to Close the Aboriginal health Gap ?
See Official Press Release below after the SBS interview
“The government is responding to the call to Close the Gap with around $800 million in grant funding to organisations for Indigenous specific primary health and allied health care, the majority of which are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs).
ACCHOs deliver culturally appropriate and sustainable primary health care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Many communities have different cultures and histories so different needs may need to be addressed by locally developed, specific strategies,” .
Says Assistant Minister for Health Senator Fiona Nash talking with SBS this week (refer official press release below for funding details)
This is Justin Mohamed statement about the need to Close the Gap
Unless the critical social issues of housing, education and self-determination that contributed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health inequality were adequately addressed, along with health funding, then it could take many generations to Close the Gap.
“In many rural, remote and urban areas we have many generations of a family living under one roof with high unemployment ,low income, no food in the fridge and the kids unable to attend school or do their homework because of the overcrowded living conditions.
The Aboriginal community controlled health services operate on multiple levels, and contribute significantly not just to cutting edge primary health care services, but to addressing some of the key social determinants as well, such as meaningful, employment, training, and leadership development.
The importance of our NACCHO member Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHS) to Close the Gap is not fully recognised by governments.
The economic benefits of ACCHS has not been recognised at all.
We provide employment, income and a range of broader community benefits that mainstream health services and mainstream labour markets do not. ACCHS need more financial support from government, to provide not only quality health and wellbeing services to communities, but jobs, income and broader community economic benefits
Justin Mohamed NACCHO chair will be speaking at the National Press Club 2 April
“Investing in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health makes economic sense “
For a country rich in resources and opportunity, the Indigenous people of Australia do not share the same fortune when it comes to health.
These are startling statistics from a country that enjoys the privilege of having one of the highest life expectancies in the world. For a country rich in resources and opportunity, the Indigenous people of Australia do not share the same fortune when it comes to health.
The reasons for the gap in Indigenous health are complex. Decades of discrimination, inaccessible health services, a misrepresentation of Indigenous Australians working in the health industry and failure to address root causes such as substandard education, housing and infrastructure all contribute.
Oxfam’s National Close the Gap day is March 20, a day designed to create awareness, spark conversation and remind politicians on the inequality of health care that exists in our own country.
Last year 145,000 people registered to support the campaign by holding a small event, like a morning tea, to discuss Indigenous health with family, friends and colleagues.
Oxfam Australia’s Indigenous Rights Policy Advisor Andrew Meehan says support of the campaign has helped put Indigenous health back on the agenda with government officials. “Registered events this year have now hit a record of 1060, showing an undeniable groundswell of support from everyday Australians expecting governments to keep their promise to invest in Indigenous health. It’s clear Australians care about this issue and expect our leaders to act,” Meehan said.
In 2008 The Council of Australian Government set a series of goals to decrease the general gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Earlier this year the progress of these goals were reviewed. In the areas of health, the goal of closing the life expectancy gap by 2031 has seen little improvement. Only the Northern Territory looks set to achieve this goal. More optimistic though is the goal of halving the gap in Indigenous mortality rates in children under five. If the current rate of improvement continues this goal is set to be achieved by 2018.
A number of aid organisations and humanitarian groups are working tirelessly to do their bit to close the gap, One Disease at a Time is a not for profit organisation with the vision to systematically target and eliminate one disease at a time. Currently in its sights is scabies, a highly contagious skin disease which affects seven out of ten children Indigenous children before their first birthday. Left untreated, scabies can lead to chronic disease and even death.
It can be disfiguring, children are forced to miss school and employment and personal relationships can be impacted. “Recognising the importance in giving kids the best start in life, one of our core program goals is to reduce scabies rates in children under five years old. Among children living in households with crusted scabies, we have seen an 88 per cent reduction in their time spent in hospital for scabies,” says founder of One Disease at a Time Dr Sam Prince.
One Disease at a Time work closely within communities to achieve their goals, something Meehan says is a critical element in closing the gap. “We’re pushing the government to invest in community controlled health. These are the people better placed to identify the services that are actually required. Focusing on this area is also an investment in jobs, giving these people an opportunity into a health career path,” he says.
The PM Tony Abbott recently released at the Closing the Gap Report in Canberra with Tom Calma and Justin Mohamed above
Assistant Minister for Health Senator Fiona Nash says the government is responding to the call with around $800 million in grant funding to organisations for Indigenous specific primary health and allied health care, the majority of which are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). “ACCHOs deliver culturally appropriate and sustainable primary health care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Many communities have different cultures and histories so different needs may need to be addressed by locally developed, specific strategies,” she says.
Further to this, a $1.3 billion dollar investment in 2013-14 has been pledged for health projects including child and maternal health and the management of chronic diseases with specific focus on reducing the factors that create risk for disease including smoking and diet.
Dr Prince believes the secret to success in closing the gap is sharing stories of hope. “These will serve to ignite change in Indigenous communities, amongst the next generation of medical practitioners, and Australians as a whole.”
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE From Senator Nash’s Office
What current government initiatives are in place to tackle the gap in Indigenous health care?
ON CLOSE THE GAP DAY March 20 show your support
by changing your Facebook or Twitter profile to CLOSE THE GAP