NACCHO Aboriginal health news alert: Confusion still surrounds future of Aboriginal health in new government structure

Balupalu-Yunup-Djuwalpi-and-Djawa-Yunupingu-Mills-Scullion

“A spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Abbott told AAP indigenous health would be the responsibility of Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and indigenous health programs would fall under the department of PM&C.”

Lisa Martin AAP News  (full report below) Picture above Senator Nigel Scullion and Warren Mundine at the recent  Garma Festival

Confusion still surrounds the future department /minister responsible for Aboriginal health under the new Abbott government  sworn in yesterday (18 September 2013)

In an interview with NITV the new Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Senator Nigel Scullion responded to NITV concerns about the  Indigenous Health portfolio by confirming that Senator Fiona Nash will be responsible for Aboriginal Health as the new Minister for Rural Health under Peter Dutton the new Minister for Health.

But Senator Scullion told NITV National News he would work closely with Senator Fiona Nash – who has the assistant health portfolio.

There is a minister for rural health, or a deputy minister, an assistant minister for health and that’s Senator Fiona Nash. I’ll work very closely with Senator Nash.. she’s one of my colleagues in the Senate, she’s going to make an excellent minister.

“Clearly in terms of many of the demographics in need of health, in regional and remote areas, certainly in those areas will come under her commute, so it hasn’t been abandoned it’s just simply been placed in another area.

“…We are going to have a very very good focus and a fresh focus on Indigenous health.”

In the interview the Senator praised NACCHO member  Aboriginal community controlled health organisations as “Top of the BOX” second to none as well run organisations not only in the Aboriginal context but in the national context.

VIEW NITV Nigel Scullion Interview here on NACCHO TV

However AAP news service today is reporting (see full report below) that spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Abbott told AAP indigenous health would be the responsibility of Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and indigenous health programs would fall under the department of PM&C.

In an interview with NITV last night the Chair of NACCHO Justin Mohamed welcomed the opportunity to work with all ministers and advisors in the new Abbott government to discuss investment in Healthy futures for generational change.

VIEW NITV interview with Justin Mohamed here on NACCHO TV

An official NACCHO response to the new ABBOTT government’s allocation of Indigenous Health will be available in the next few days when the position becomes clearer.

FULL AAP REPORT

AUSTRALIA’S former indigenous health minister is concerned Prime Minister Tony Abbott has not retained the position in his ministry and warned it may affect progress on closing the gap.

Northern Territory Labor MP Warren Snowdon, who was the first indigenous health minister from 2009 until Labor lost power, is concerned about whether Aboriginal health is actually a priority for the incoming government.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has flagged he will move indigenous affairs under the umbrella of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).

But in administrative arrangements released on Wednesday there is no specific reference to indigenous health in either PM&C, the department of health or ministerial responsibilities.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Abbott told AAP indigenous health would be the responsibility of Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and indigenous health programs would fall under the department of PM&C.

Asked if the absence of a specific minister could negatively impact efforts to achieve the close the gap targets and improve life expectancy, Mr Snowdon told AAP: “I think it is a problem.”

The life expectancy gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians is 11.5 years for men and 9.7 years for women.

This year’s report card on it said efforts to close the gap on life expectancy by 2031 were falling behind.

Mr Snowdon, who released Australia’s first national indigenous health plan in July, says he is concerned about the Abbott government’s commitment to it.

The coalition dismissed it as an exercise in political spin and lacking substance when it was released.

Mr Snowdon is also worried about progress on negotiations for a new national partnership agreement between states and territories on indigenous health.

The previous agreement expired in June and had $1.57 billion in combined federal and state funding.

Labor committed $777 million until 2016 in the May budget towards the national partnership agreement, but so far only Victoria has offered money.

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