NACCHO Affiliates #IndigenousVotes : Aboriginal health and inequality must be front and centre in election priorities

Page 11

“It’s a very significant achievement that demonstrate the capacity of Aboriginal communities, even those otherwise regarded as in in crisis, to provide the leadership, governance and increasingly, the workforce needed to deliver the quality health services essential to closing the health gap.”

 Chief Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT (AMSANT), John Paterson :

We’re not fooled, the end result of all this is that ongoing, unnecessary slashing of health funding has serious implications for Aboriginal peoples.

The truth is, the vicious budgetary measures of 2014 still remain. You can’t ‘cut’ your way to Closing the Gap

Prime Minister Turnbull has failed on his Close the Gap promise of it is time for Governments to ‘do things with Aboriginal people, not do things to them’.

We know all too well that you can’t have jobs and growth if you don’t have fundamental investment in health and education

Jill Gallagher AO, VACCHO CEO

From Page 11 Aboriginal Health Newspaper 29 June 24 Pages Insert Koori Mail

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 AMSANT urges all parties and candidates in the Federal election to place greater priority on Aboriginal health. We need bipartisan support from political parties to seriously tackle the unacceptable health gap and the deep and disabling inequality on which it is based.

The evidence is clear on what needs to be done. However, political commitments must match the evidence and funding must be provided according to need.

AMSANT urges the following priorities be supported:

  1. Funding for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan
  • We now have an agreed national plan to tackle Aboriginal health, but it’s worth nothing if it isn’t fully funded.
  1. Sustainable needs-based funding for the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) sector, including resuming indexation of Medicare
  • The ACCHS sector’s model of comprehensive primary health care is proven and evidence-based with a culture of continuous quality improvement. ACCHSs are best placed to deal with the rising tide of Indigenous chronic disease that represents one of the biggest challenges facing health budgets and infrastructure.
  • Government can use its investment and procurement leverage to build the ACCHSs sector by giving preferred provider status to ACCHSs. Competitive tendering has seen service contracts go to NGO and private providers, leading to poor investment outcomes: fragmented, inefficient and culturally inappropriate care and reduced Aboriginal employment and career pathways.
  • End the freeze on the indexation of Medicare, that has seen a steady decrease in funding for GP services in our sector.
  1. Funding the core services of comprehensive primary health care through regionalised ACCHSs
  • Effective, holistic care requires the full suite of comprehensive primary health care services to be available, including early childhood, AOD and social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) services, family services and preventative care.
  • The recent Mental Health Commission report highlighted Aboriginal mental health and SEWB as a priority noting that mainstream approaches had largely failed Aboriginal people. The Commission recommended that such services be provided within Aboriginal primary health care.
  • AOD, SEWB and mental health funding shifted to the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) must be repatriated to the Commonwealth Department of Health to be included in ACCHSs’ core funding.
  1. Improved funding and action on the social determinants of health, including housing
  • The social determinants of health are the biggest drivers of health inequality and require significantly increased investment if we are to see ongoing progress in reducing the health gap.
  • Lack of housing and overcrowding remain critical problems, particularly in remote communities. Re-funding of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing, with a focus on community housing models and greater Aboriginal involvement is a priority.
  • Improved education and employment outcomes are key. Increasing early childhood education and tackling inequitable funding, for example, through the Gonski reforms, will result in improved health and employment outcomes.
  • In remote areas prevocational training, including numeracy and literacy, are important needs along with flexible employment and participation options and on the job training and support.

Smokes and mirror budget fails to heal previous health funding cuts

From VACCHO’s perspective there are two related deficiencies in this year’s Federal Budget.

  • The lack of funding to implement the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan
  • Failure to reverse all the hidden cuts to Aboriginal Primary Health funding caused by the freezing of Medicare rebates and the establishment of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS).

Jill Gallagher AO, VACCHO CEO says “We’re not fooled, the end result of all this is that ongoing, unnecessary slashing of health funding has serious implications for Aboriginal peoples.”

VACCHO as a partner of the National Close the Gap Campaign supports the ask of Government to provide details on resourcing for the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.

There is no allocation of funds in the Budget Portfolio Statement for the Implementation Plan and yet long term, sustainable funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is what is so desperately needed.

There is no sustainable support for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services still reeling from $534 million cuts to funding due to the IAS and continued funding deficits resulting from freezes to Medicare rebates introduced in 2014.

For our Member organisations who have a proven track record of improved health outcomes, this limits service provision to their most vulnerable community members. However, $21.3 million has been allocated to trial “medical homes” funding packages for people with chronic and complex conditions.

“The truth is, the vicious budgetary measures of 2014 still remain. You can’t ‘cut’ your way to Closing the Gap” says Jill Gallagher AO.

There is no attempt in the current budget to repair damage caused by the IAS via funding cuts and the poorly targeted distribution of resources, despite severe criticism recently tabled by the Finance and Public Administration References Committee Inquiry.

VACCHO welcomes continued implementation on Palliative Care and National Blood Borne Virus strategies 2014-17 and the addition of new medications on the PBS including Hepatitis B and cancer drugs.

However, we want to see additional implementation measures and call on the Government to take action that:

  • Allocates increased tobacco tax revenue to preventative health initiatives.
  • Increases hospital investments which are reflective of the amounts cut in the 2014 budget with indexation.
  • Expands the new dental scheme for adults and children beyond publicly funded dental services to increase access by vulnerable communities.
  • Maintains accessibility of medications through the recommendations of the Medicare Review.

Prime Minister Turnbull has failed on his Close the Gap promise of “it is time for Governments to ‘do things with Aboriginal people, not do things to them’.

“We know all too well that you can’t have jobs and growth if you don’t have fundamental investment in health and education” says Jill Gallagher AO.

Corrected version of Page 3 Printed Newspaper

IAHA

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