“I look forward to working with all stakeholders in the future. It is through the outstanding work of groups like the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health, the advocacy of organisations like NACCHO and partnering with local communities that we will one day see an Australia where all Australian’s have exactly the same life expectancy, the same opportunities for good health – and the gap closed.”
The Hon. Ken Wyatt Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care introduces himself to our members and stakeholders and tells of his plans to build strong, resilient communities capable of closing the gap.
Article from Page 11 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper out Wednesday 16 November , 24 Page lift out Koori Mail : or download
naccho-newspaper-nov-2016 PDF file size 9 MB
The health and well-being of our first Australians is an issue very close to my heart. I believe it is everyone’s business to ensure every Australian has the same opportunities for good health and long life.
It is a fundamental human right, and a reasonable expectation, that any baby born in Australia, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, should have the best possible start to life, the prospect of good health and the same rates of life expectancy.
I grew up in the WA Wheatbelt town of Corrigin, where I was given the opportunity of a good education. It’s something I grabbed with both hands, because I knew that it was important. I think that’s what inspired me to become a teacher.
After 16 years teaching in classrooms I entered the public service – helping to shape Indigenous education and health policies in WA and NSW. Now as the Federal Minister responsible for Indigenous Health I hope to shape a better future for all Indigenous Australians.
A decade after the campaign to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians began we are starting to see positive change. But, we still have a way to go before the health and life expectancy of all Australians is equal.
The 2016 Closing the Gap report reveals the target to halve the disparity in child mortality rates by 2018 is on track and immunisation rates are high.
There have also been improvements in the Indigenous mortality rate from chronic diseases, particularly circulatory disease. But, Indigenous cancer mortality rates are rising and the gap there is widening.
The report also shows that we are not yet on track to close the gap in life expectancy by 2031. There still remains a 10.6 year difference for males and 9.5 year difference for females compared with non-Indigenous Australians.
Our Indigenous communities are increasingly under threat from the scourge of illicit drugs such as ice, and we have some of the highest suicide and domestic violence rates in the country.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women are more likely to be hospitalised for family-related assault than non-Indigenous Australians, 28 times more likely for men and 34 times more likely for women.
This needs to change and these are issues we as a Government are addressing urgently.
Our National Ice Action Strategy will see $241 million spent over four years for local specialist drug and alcohol treatment services through Primary Health Networks (PHN), with the close involvement of Aboriginal community controlled health services.
We are committed to tackling domestic violence rates in our Indigenous communities, with $85 million allocated over three years to improve access to culturally sensitive, integrated mental health services.
Under this initiative, PHN’s will plan, commission and implement services joining up closely related services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health, social and emotional wellbeing, suicide prevention, alcohol and other drug treatment.
Primary Health Networks in each region will collaborate closely with relevant local Indigenous and mainstream primary health care organisations, including Aboriginal community controlled health services and peak bodies.
Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull, recently announced a $100 million domestic violence action plan that will make a real difference in keeping women and children safe. The plan includes $21 million to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In October, I travelled to WA’s Kimberley region, with Health Minister Sussan Ley and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, to see first-hand a community plagued by suicide, drug and alcohol addiction and domestic violence.
We sat down with local leaders to listen to their stories and to hear their thoughts on what services they need, and how we as a government can support their efforts to tackle suicide, drugs and domestic violence.
This is the first of many round table style talks I plan to hold with local groups around the country, because I believe that it is by listening and working together that we will build strong, resilient communities capable of closing the gap.