The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has welcomed continued funding for the 150 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services around Australia announced/confirmed in Budget 2014.
Justin Mohamed, Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, said the Aboriginal population is growing and demand for services is increasing at more than 6% per year.
“The 2014 Budget funding means we can continue to provide high quality, culturally appropriate health care to our people for another year,” Mr Mohamed said today.
“However, we also need long-term planning and budget resources to build on recent health gains and create lasting improvements to the health of Aboriginal people.
“There is great risk that the introduction of a $7 co-payment for doctor’s visits will create new barriers to healthcare for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, including additional red tape for Community Controlled Health Organisations.
“Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are low income earners and suffer the highest level of chronic disease, requiring regular GP visits.
“State and territories have also been given the green light to charge for hospital emergency visits, creating a dangerous situation where people may not present for serious medical treatment for fear of the cost.
“We will get the most benefit from policy that encourages Aboriginal people to seek medical attention and seek it early, not make it even harder for them to get the care they need.
“It is also vital that the Federal Government guarantees the $80-90 million cut across Aboriginal Health does not impact on-ground services and Aboriginal health outcomes.
“Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations have a proven track record in providing a range of quality employment and education opportunities for Aboriginal people and boosting local economies.
“Given cuts to Aboriginal health and employment budgets they are even more valuable – providing employment and training opportunities to our people which in turn boost local economies and tackle some of the huge barriers to Aboriginal people achieving economic independence and quality of life.
“Healthy communities keep our kids in school, keep our adults in the workforce and allow great opportunities for Aboriginal contributions to the economy and broader community,” Mr Mohamed said.