Queensland Government turn their back on Indigenous Health

Picture above ; Selwyn Button having a close shave with Warren Snowdon Minister of Indigenous Health (movember event)

The decision to cut funding grants to non-government health providers is a clear demonstration that the Queensland Government is seeking to shirk their responsibility to primary health care provision across the state, assuming that the Federal Health departments pick up the costs.

Selwyn Button, CEO, Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC), was blunt in his appraisal. “The State Government is looking to walk away from millions of dollars worth of investment to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders,”

Mr Button said. “This decision is nothing more than a cost cutting measure which will impact on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders, including those with type 2 diabetes and chronic heart disease,”

Mr Button stated. “These chronic diseases are best supported by good nutrition programs, healthy lifestyle changes and participation in physical activities. “Unfortunately these are the programs and positions being subjected to the latest round of government budget cuts.

“The Minister questions Commonwealth support to preventative health programs, if this is an issue, then the most logical way to address this is to provide support to community controlled health services,” Mr Button said.

This can be achieved through greater access to Commonwealth programs such as Medical Benefits Scheme and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which is limited in its expenditure on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“This would be a far more worthwhile strategy, and requires negotiations between Queensland Health and the community controlled sector, not just making rash decisions about what the State Government considered ineffective programs. “Many of these initiatives have become integral parts of the overall primary health care models, which is being delivered by community controlled services in Queensland every day.

“There is clear evidence to demonstrate improvements in accessing care, and this is just not being considered at this point, and we have to ask the important question, why are we not being consulted?” Mr Button said. “Additionally, the Minister has stated his commitment to honouring the previous National Partnership Agreements (NPA), and we see that there are existing commitments and initiatives outlined within the NPA on Indigenous Health that are yet to be implemented.”

Selwyn Button is CEO of Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC), which is 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.

One comment on “Queensland Government turn their back on Indigenous Health

  1. It is refreshing to see an enthusiastic challenge by QAIHC CEO Mr Selwyn Button on the government’s lack of commitment to funding Primary Health Care which is the most effective model of addressing the health of Indigenous People ( as proven by many reputable health organisations around the world). Primary Health Care models such as the Community Controlled Health Services currently have the inability to expand services for delivery of promotion and prevention programs and clinical services and hence can only provide services to a fraction of the Indigenous Population yet with high demands on reporting requirements to support this limited model. More so the government is pushing for Community Controlled Health services to be more heavily weighted as a business model within the Medicare system including supporting clinical staffing such as Doctors! While it is appreciated that mainstream GPs do provide services to Indigenous Patients who may prefer these services for many reasons, it is quite clear that it is the government’s intention to shift the care of Indigenous People predominantly to mainstream services. Unfortunately this is unlikely to address the complexity of Indigenous Health to impact on the wider community significantly especially based on the emphasis of a business model in mainstream services. I agree with Mr Button that the government and its health advisors are ignoring the evidence for funding and supporting an effective Primary Health Care model and therefore turning its back on Indigenous People despite its claims to the contrary.

    Dr Virja Panday
    Senior Medical Officer
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Services, Mackay
    email : virja@atsichs.org.au

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