The peak Aboriginal health body, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) welcomed the Senate Select Committee’s interim report on health, including recommendations to reinstate all funding to Aboriginal health and abandon plans for the GP co-payment.
NACCHO Chairperson Matthew Cooke said NACCHO was among the overwhelming chorus of experts against the proposed GP co-payment.
“Put simply, the GP co-payment will significantly impede efforts to help close the gap.
“We need to look for ways we can entice Aboriginal people to see their local doctor, not increase the barriers for them seeking appropriate and regular health care.”
Mr Cooke said the Senate report also raised concerns about the operation of the 30 new Primary Health Networks (PHNs) that are replacing the existing 63 Medicare Locals.
“While expressions of interest to run the PHNs were released last week, there are many questions which remain about what role and function they will play in respect to Aboriginal health.
“If the Abbott Government foresees a role for PHNs to contribute to Closing the Gap, how will they ensure that the composition of the PHNs, including their Board Governance, Clinical Councils and Community Advisory Committees, are representative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and populations?
“Will there be a requirement for the PHNs to engage with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services as a primary health care provider in their regions?
“The government needs to clarify how the PHNs plan to engage with Aboriginal people under this new system.”
Mr Cooke said he looked forward to engagement with the Senate Committee as they focus in more closely on Aboriginal health in future reports.
“We must look for ways to improve the health of Aboriginal people and invest in services that are working for Aboriginal people.
“NACCHO’s 10 point plan, report card and economic value report provide government leaders with a strong evidenced-based platform to continuing to meet the Closing the Gap targets of reducing child mortality rates and increasing life expectancy.
“Increasingly Aboriginal people are using Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services over mainstream services.
“We welcome the opportunity to work with the Senate Select Committee and the government as it further engages with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and works towards closing the health gap.”
NACCHO submission to the Senate Inquiry available at https://nacchocommunique.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/naccho_select-committee-on-health_final-2.pdf