The most effective and sustainable way to engage Aboriginal people is the community controlled model, underpinned by principles of self-determination and community development. Real savings and progress in healthy outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can only be made by shifting expenditure on hospitals to Comprehensive Primary Health Care providers, who deliver preventative treatments.
NACCHO reject proposed additional healthcare costs, in the form of a GP co-payment and a rise in the cost of accessing PBS medicines, which would discourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients seeking preventative health care and proactively managing chronic disease. Reducing the Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS) rebates and incentives would impact the capacity of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) to develop and maintain a sustainable service delivery model.
Recommit to the funding of health promotion and early intervention programs, which deliver long-term benefits through improved health and wellbeing and reduce the burden on the healthcare system at the tertiary and acute end of care. To ensure continued inroads to Close the Gap in overall life expectancy and the infant mortality gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-specific population health initiatives and child and maternal health programs must be maintained.
Focus needs to be placed on redirecting the expenditure gap in the mainstream services with relatively lower uptake by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the ACCHS sector to better meet demand.
ACCHS provide a long-term employment pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but uncertainty discourages greater uptake of positions in the sector. Greater funding commitments are required to facilitate pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become health professionals across a diverse range of professions, such as clinical workers, administrative officers and in management.
Funding for ACCHS should be at a minimum indexed for population growth, demand for services and inflation.
The shift away from National Partnership Agreements and the defunding of the COAG Reform Council challenges the transparency and independence of measuring progress in Closing the Gap targets. Renewed commitments are needed to ensure monitoring of outcomes and allocation of resources remains equitable and relevant.