NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NT mob 80%+ less Medicare funding

NT mob 80%+ less Medicare funding

Medicare, Australia’s universal health insurance scheme, provides financial protection against the cost of medical bills, and makes public hospital care available without any charge to the patient. For the large majority of Australians in urban settings, it is a brilliant system – providing subsidised access to care. But subsidised access is only useful for those who have access. If there is no doctor nearby, there is nothing to subsidise. This creates a huge inequity – most of Australia has good access to doctors, but the NT does not.

NT residents receive roughly 30% less Medicare funding per capita than the national average (A$648 compared with A$969). The gap is worse for First Nations Australians in the NT, who attract only 16% of the Medicare funding of the average Australian. The inequitable funding is even worse when the poorer health status of First Nations Australians and the additional costs associated with geographical remoteness are taken into account. Despite Medicare’s intended universality, the NT is systematically disadvantaged.

People in the Territory have poorer access to primary health care, which includes GP services and those provided by Aboriginal community-controlled health services. Aboriginal health services receive some special additional funding separate from the Medicare-billing funding. However, even with that extra funding, there is still a shortfall  to NT residents of about A$80 million each year.

To view The Conversation article First Nations people in the NT receive just 16% of the Medicare funding of an average Australian click here.

Photo: Shutterstock. Image source: The Conversation.

Comprehensive truth-telling project

The most comprehensive truth-telling project in Australian history is documenting every law and policy that has targeted or had a disproportionate impact – deliberate and accidental – on Indigenous people since 1788 commencing with NSW. “Towards Truth” is the first attempt to chronicle in forensic, legal detail the story of how Australian governments and institutions have touched every aspect of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The interactive database The interactive database has drawn on the pro-bono skills of legal researchers from some of Australia’s top law firms to document the story of colonisation in NSW. Pioneered by Professors Megan Davis and Gabrielle Appleby, two constitutional lawyers from UNSW Law involved in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the University of NSW’s Indigenous Law Centre are creating the database and website to tell the story of how dispossession has occurred methodically under the rule of law.

Towards Truth’s project coordinator is 30-year-old lawyer Corey Smith, a Ngemba man whose work on the database helped him understand in vivid detail the pressures on his own great grandmother May Biles not to be proud of her Aboriginality. May lived in Brewarrina at a time when the NSW government exempted Aboriginal people from the draconian restrictions of the Aborigines Protection Act if they could prove they did not speak their language or associate with other Aboriginal people. “It meant access to publicly-funded health, education and housing,” Mr Smith said.

To view The Australian article Facing the truth about Indigenous Australians in full click here.

Indigenous lawyer Corey Smith. Photo: John Feder. Image source: The Australian.

AMA election health report card

The AMA’s election health report card released yesterday, gives Australians an overview of each of the major parties’ health commitments made during the campaign so far. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said healthcare, for good reason, had been one of the major concerns of the public during the election campaign, but despite this neither major party had committed to a public hospital funding model which would help alleviate the enormous stress on the hospital system.

“The AMA’s logjam campaign has called on Government and Opposition to commit to a new hospital funding agreement with State Governments, aimed at addressing the crisis of ambulance ramping, overloaded emergency departments and delayed essential surgery,” he said. “But the lack of commitment to the necessary $20.5 billion investment is disappointing as the incoming PM, whoever it may be, will be forced to negotiate a new agreement with States regardless.

To view the AMA’s media release AMA releases its election report card in full click here.

Lifting of alcohol bans “disgraceful”

Booze will be allowed back into hundreds of NT remote Indigenous communities under “disgraceful” new laws replacing Intervention-era alcohol bans. The NT government says its amended liquor laws, which were passed by parliament late on Tuesday this week, will give communities “greater power” to choose if they want alcohol restrictions when a commonwealth law expires in July.

But social service groups say the legislation is disappointing, disgraceful, and lacks integrity. “The passing of this legislation before any consultation has been done with Aboriginal communities and against the advice of Aboriginal community controlled organisations in the NT is disgraceful,” NT Council of Social Service chief executive Deborah Di Natale says. “At best the government’s process around these significant liquor changes, lacks integrity.”

Under the law, communities must choose to remain alcohol free. If they don’t there will be no alcohol restrictions or bans when the commonwealth law expires on 17 July this year. The Northern Land Council called on the NT government to withdraw the legislation and consult with health experts and Indigenous groups. “For us this is about our lives and our people,” chair Samuel Bush-Blanasi said. “The government has to take time to listen to the concerns of our health professionals and community leaders when they are making these important decisions that affect our mob out bush.”

To view the The West Australian article NT laws replacing remote booze ban slammed click here.

Image source: news.com.au.

Optimising health checks research

UNSW Sydney researchers will receive $4.7 million in funding from the NSW government for prevention research in infectious diseases, drug and alcohol use and primary health care.

The funding, announced as part of NSW Health’s Prevention Research Support Program (PRSP), is designed to support NSW research organisations conducting prevention and early intervention research that aligns with NSW Health priorities. The program supports research infrastructure and strategies to build research capability and translate evidence from research into policy and practice.

A team of researchers at The Kirby Institute at UNSW have been awarded $1.8 million to undertake research aimed at preventing people acquiring a range of infectious diseases, including:

  • Developing capacity for the evaluation of HIV prevention interventions implemented within clinics and community settings
  • Monitoring and evaluation of hepatitis C elimination
  • Organising and co-designing HPV immunisation services with students with disabilities
  • Community led models to optimise the uptake of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health checks and embed syphilis testing.

“The Kirby Institute has a strong track record of impactful prevention and early intervention research, including scale-up of HIV prevention programs, research to prevent STIs among young Aboriginal people and studies to prevent the spread of hepatitis C in prisons,” the Kirby Institute’s Director, Professor Anthony Kelleher, said.

To view UNSW Sydney Newsroom article UNSW receives $4.7m to pursue health prevention research click here.

Image: Shutterstock, UNSW Sydney website.

Protecting mob this winter

The NSW Government has produced a range of COVID-19 and flu information resources specifically for Aboriginal communities

You can access the resources, including the video below here.

Concerns over lack of gender-affirming care

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is extremely disappointed with recent comments made by members of the federal government regarding the trans and gender diverse community. AMSA expresses deep concern over the stigmatising representations of the trans community in the political debate, a lack of gender-affirming care in political statements and the disregard for the mental health of trans and gender diverse communities.

“Gender affirming care is not a matter of personal belief or subjective concern – it is a matter of access to evidence-based, patient-centred healthcare,” said Flynn Halliwell today, Chair of AMSA Queer. “Not only is the ‘concern’ purported by our politicians regarding children’s access to gender affirming surgery stigmatising, but it is also factually incorrect,” continued Mr Halliwell. In Australia, genital surgery is only available to adults over the age of 18 years old [1].

“Trans and gender diverse people are continually being framed as talking points for political attention, without consideration of subsequent effects on the mental health and wellbeing of these communities. Publicly debating the validity of gender-affirming healthcare is not the solution. It is part of the problem.”

To view the AMSA media release in full click here.

Image source: University of Florida website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

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