NACCHO political alert: ‘Cut the cash and we won’t close the gap’ says Dr Ngiare Brown

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“I know that it has been said within the Coalition that health and education will have to take some funding hits,” Dr Brown said. “We cannot possibly progress this nation unless we are investing more in health and education, public health and education, so that we all have an equal opportunity at what that represents. I will absolutely be pushing the health bandwagon.”

Dr Ngiare Brown, Warren Mundine’s deputy on the government’s indigenous council, says ‘it’s often the layers of red tape and bureaucracy that suck up the resourcing’. Source: News Corp Australia Exclusive: Patricia Karvelas Photo: Ray Strange

ABORIGINAL doctor Ngiare Brown and  NACCHO  Executive Research Manager has vowed to use her new role as deputy head of Tony Abbott’s indigenous council to argue that cuts to indigenous health or education would be detrimental to efforts to close the disadvantage gap.

Dr Brown, who was in one of the first groups of Aboriginal medical graduates in Australia and previously an indigenous health adviser to the Australian Medical Association, was yesterday appointed as Warren Mundine’s deputy after receiving the backing of council members and the Prime Minister.

In an interview with The Australian, Dr Brown said she supported the priorities of the new council to boost school attendance and enhance economic independence. Given her background in health, she would also articulate the need for better health for indigenous people.

Mr Mundine said Dr Brown was a fantastic choice for deputy.

“I’m glad that all the council members and the PM support this move,” he said. “She’s very well experienced and she’s a great asset as deputy chair.”

In January, Mr Mundine said it was unrealistic to expect indigenous affairs spending to be immune from expected budget cuts and that, despite being the head of Mr Abbott’s indigenous advisory council, he could not cast a “force field” to exempt Aborigines from the broader budget agenda.

Dr Brown said she believed existing funding could be better spent, with less on bureaucracy, but urged that there be no net reduction in health and education.

“It is about school attendance but also performance and successful completion, pathways into opportunities into employment and further education,” she said.

“Being economically stable, too, all of those things we can’t do unless we are healthy. And the best model that we have for health service delivery in this country and comprehensive primary care are the Aboriginal community control health services.”

She said she was “absolutely” worried about cuts.

“I know that it has been said within the Coalition that health and education will have to take some funding hits,” Dr Brown said. “We cannot possibly progress this nation unless we are investing more in health and education, public health and education, so that we all have an equal opportunity at what that represents. I will absolutely be pushing the health bandwagon.”

She said if targets were to be achieved, cuts should not come from indigenous affairs.

“They should not be coming from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,” she said. “They should not be coming from the public health system in particular nor the public education system. Because every child, every individual, every citizen has a right to those systems and they should be supported by government.”

She said waste on bureaucracy was concerning. “I am all about effectiveness and efficient spend,” she said. “But I am also about investment and if you look at community-based services they are extraordinary exemplars of how we can do it well and, in many instances, it’s often the layers of red tape and bureaucracy that suck up the resourcing.”

You can hear Dr Ngiare Brown speak at the NACCHO SUMMIT

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The importance of our NACCHO member Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHS) 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.

A good way of demonstrating how economically valuable ACCHS are is to showcase our success at a national summit.

SUMMIT WEBSITE FOR MORE INFO

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