NACCHO Aboriginal Health @AIDAAustralia News : The @AMAPresident Dr Tony Bartone speech opening #AIDAConf2019 : We must use collective wisdom and advocacy to ensure that #ClosingtheGap is not just words, but a meaningful and deliverable target. #HaveYourSayCTG

 

 “ The basic principles of successful Indigenous healthcare models should be better promoted as exemplars and replicated across the country.

This will support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to translate their knowledge into innovative practices that will help solve intractable health problems in their communities.

Governments at all levels must ensure that policy frameworks move towards harmonisation with norms recognising the autonomy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Governments must ensure that these frameworks are bolstered with adequate funding and workforce strategies to enable Indigenous communities to succeed in their pursuit of the right to health and wellbeing.

With the right support, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people stand to address health inequities by transforming services under their purview, as well as health services provided to Indigenous people by the mainstream.

As President of the AMA, I will continue to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is a key priority.”

President of the AMA Dr Tony Bartone opening speech

Photo above : Opening of #AIDAConf2019 a Welcome to Country from Larrakia Dr Jessica King. MC Jeff McMullen, keynotes  AIDA President Dr Kris Rallah-Baker, NLC CEO Marion Scrymgour, Danila Dilba ACCHO Olga Havnen, Dr Tony Bartone

I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we meet today, and I pay my respects to their elders, past and present.

Thank you to the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) for inviting me to speak at your annual conference. This is my third year attending, and I feel very privileged to be here.

The theme for this year’s Conference is ‘Disruptive Innovations in Health Care’.

As a General Practitioner who has been practising medicine for over 30 years, I well and truly understand that innovative health care is needed to achieve improved outcomes for patients.

Indeed, innovation will be crucial as we deal with a health system that is so under strain.

This is especially true for Indigenous health, given the much higher burden of disease and mortality rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the need for care to be delivered in a manner that is culturally safe.

We all know that Indigenous health statistics paint a bleak picture.

And we all know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have poorer health than other Australians.

Medical science is constantly evolving and we have, only in recent times, recognised the innovations and practices of Indigenous people here and overseas.

There are some parallels and similarities in the way Australia and Canada – both former British colonies – are trying to improve health care for First Nations peoples.

In both countries, we are trying to address a legacy of harm from the imposition of policies that resulted in poor health today.

Sadly, investments in Indigenous health are often inadequate, and they are implemented without proper engagement with, and direction by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We all know that this approach does not work.

However, I know that there are many innovative health services that are delivering high quality health care for their communities, driven by local leadership.

There are models of health care that are delivering proved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and these should be supported in terms of funding and workforce.

I was fortunate to visit one such model last year and see first-hand just one example of quality health services and witness the important work that they do.

There are others all underpinned by community oversight and direction. This sense of community leadership is a key feature.

I am sure you will hear of many more positive and innovative healthcare models throughout this Conference.

The problem with such models is that they are not being sufficiently resourced and funded to continue and further their development.

The basic principles of successful Indigenous healthcare models should be better promoted as exemplars and replicated across the country.

This will support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to translate their knowledge into innovative practices that will help solve intractable health problems in their communities.

Governments at all levels must ensure that policy frameworks move towards harmonisation with norms recognising the autonomy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Governments must ensure that these frameworks are bolstered with adequate funding and workforce strategies to enable Indigenous communities to succeed in their pursuit of the right to health and wellbeing.

With the right support, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people stand to address health inequities by transforming services under their purview, as well as health services provided to Indigenous people by the mainstream.

As President of the AMA, I will continue to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is a key priority.

I am very proud to lead an organisation that champions Aboriginal and Torres Strait health care.

This is demonstrated through:

  • the AMA’s Taskforce on Indigenous Health, which I am honoured to Chair;
  • having AIDA represented on the AMA’s Federal Council;
  • producing an annual Report Card on Indigenous Health;
  • supporting more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become doctors through our Indigenous Medical Scholarship initiative;
  • participation in the Close the Gap Steering Committee; and
  • participation in the END Rheumatic Heart Disease Coalition, among many other things.

 See all NACCHO and AMA Articles HERE 

The AMA also supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and is encouraging the Australian Parliament to make this a national priority.

I firmly believe that giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a say in the decisions that affect their lives will allow for healing through recognition of past and current injustices.

The AMA believes respecting the decisions and directions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should underpin all Government endeavours to close the health and life expectancy gap.

The AMA is pleased to see the agreement between the Council of Australian Governments and a Coalition of Peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations – an historic partnership to oversee the refresh of the Closing the Gap strategy.

See Coalition of Peaks Press Release this week

But this is not enough.

We must use this collective wisdom and advocacy to ensure that Closing the Gap is not just words, but a meaningful and deliverable target.

This is certainly an innovative approach to improving health and life outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

Since the beginning of the Closing the Gap strategy, progress has been mixed, limited, and, overall, disappointing.

This must change. It has to change.

It is simply unacceptable that year in, year out, we see the same gaps and the same shortfalls in funding and resources.

I hope that the partnership between COAG and the Coalition of Peaks will result in some real, meaningful change. It must.

Governments cannot keep promising to improve health and other services and not deliver on their commitments.

The AMA welcomed the stated intent of the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, to hold a referendum on Constitutional recognition for Indigenous peoples.

And I was disappointed by his recent announcement that an Indigenous voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution would not be included as part of this process.

Ken Wyatt has achieved a tremendous amount in his time as Minister, and I hope that Constitutional recognition is part of his legacy.

Let me conclude by saying that it is our responsibility as doctors to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can enjoy the same level of good health as their non-Indigenous peers – that they are able to live their lives to the fullest.

The AMA recognises that Indigenous doctors are critical to making real change in Indigenous health, as they have the unique ability to align their clinical and cultural expertise to improve access to services and provide culturally safe care.

The Indigenous medical workforce is steadily growing, but we need more Indigenous doctors. And dentists, nurses, social workers, and all other allied health specialists.

The AMA remains committed to working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to advocate for better Government investment and cohesive, coordinated strategies to improve health outcomes.

Thank you, and I wish you the very best for your Conference.

 Part 2  Have your say about what is needed to make real change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people #HaveYourSay about #closingthegap

There is a discussion booklet that has background information on Closing the Gap and sets out what will be talked about in the survey.

The survey will take a little bit of time to complete. It would be great if you can answer all the questions, but you can also just focus on the issues that you care about most.

To help you prepare your answers, you can look at a full copy here

The survey is open to everyone and can be accessed here:

https://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/coalition-of-peaks/have-your-say/

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #amafdw19 #Prevention #Smoking : At #NPC @AMApresident says the Federal Government must commit adequate resources to its proposed long-term national preventive health strategy :

“ Preventive health measures reduce the rate of chronic ill health and improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians, leading to better and healthier lives.

As a nation, we spend woefully too little on preventive health – around two per cent of the overall health budget.

A properly resourced preventive health strategy, including national public education campaigns on issues such as smoking and obesity, is vital to helping Australians improve their lifestyles and quality of life.

The Australian Government must commit adequate resources to its proposed long-term national preventive health strategy, and work with GPs to help improve the health of all Australians.

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, who addressed the National Press Club as part of Family Doctor Week, said the AMA is looking forward to working on the strategy, which Health Minister, Greg Hunt, first announced in a video message to the AMA National Conference in May.

Download full speech HERE

AMA President Press Club Address

” The Northern Territory Government has been judged to have been the worst-performing Australian government on tobacco control measures over the last 12 months, and shamed with the Dirty Ashtray Award for 2019.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the National Tobacco Control Scoreboard – run by the AMA and the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) – and the Northern Territory has managed to collect the dubious Dirty Ashtray Award 13 times.”

SEE Part 2 below NATIONAL TOBACCO CONTROL SCOREBOARD 2019

Read over 130 Aboriginal Health and Smoking articles published by NACCHO in the last 7 years 

Part 1 AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone Prevention Press Release

“Family doctors – GPs – are best placed to manage preventive health, and can assist their patients in managing issues such as weight, alcohol consumption, physical activity, stress, substance use, and quitting smoking.

“Managing weight is a vital part of preventive health. Carrying excess weight contributes to cancers, high blood pressure, and musculoskeletal disorders like bad backs and neck pain. It also affects general health and wellbeing.

“Too many Australians drink at harmful levels, and this is dangerous to their health. Drinking in moderation, and within the guidelines, is a message all Australians should be aware of, and if you are worried about alcohol consumption, talk to your GP.

“Tobacco kills. There is no way to sugar coat the dangers of smoking. If you smoke, you increase your risk of coronary heart disease and cancer.

“Smoking can cause cancer of the lung, oesophagus, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, cervix, colon, and rectum.

“If you want to quit smoking, start by seeing your family doctor.”

Dr Bartone will also announced the recipient of the 2019 Dirty Ashtray Award, which is presented to the government – Federal, State, or Territory – that has done the least over the past year to combat smoking.

AMA Family Doctor Week runs from 21 to 27 July 2019.

Background

  • In 2017-18, two-thirds of Australian adults and almost one-quarter of Australian children were overweight or obese.
  • Coronary heart disease is the nation’s leading single cause of death.
  • It is estimated that more than 1.2 million Australians have diabetes. The majority (85 per cent) have type 2 diabetes, which is largely preventable.
  • In 2013, diabetes contributed to 10 per cent of all deaths in Australia.
  • Tobacco is the leading cause of cancer in Australia.
  • In 2014-15, more than 1.6 million Australian males aged 15 years and over smoked, 90 per cent of whom smoked daily.
  • More than 1.2 million Australian females aged 15 years and over smoked, 91 per cent of whom smoked daily.
  • About one in 10 mothers smoked in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • In 2016, 57 per cent of daily smokers were aged over 40, and 20 per cent of daily smokers lived in remote and very remote areas of Australia.
  • Daily tobacco smoking has been trending downward since 1991, from 24 per cent to 12 per cent in 2016.
  • The proportion of people choosing never to take up smoking has increased to 62 per cent in 2016, from 51 per cent in 2001.
  • In 2016, almost one in three (31 per cent) current smokers aged 14 and over have used e-cigarettes.
  • Of current smokers in secondary school aged 16-17, more than one-quarter (26 per cent) smoked daily.

Sources: Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Heart Foundation.

 

Part 2 NATIONAL TOBACCO CONTROL SCOREBOARD 2019

To read all the states an Territories scores CLICK HERE

The Northern Territory Government has been judged to have been the worst-performing Australian government on tobacco control measures over the last 12 months, and shamed with the Dirty Ashtray Award for 2019.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the National Tobacco Control Scoreboard – run by the AMA and the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) – and the Northern Territory has managed to collect the dubious Dirty Ashtray Award 13 times.

In contrast, the Queensland Government has achieved a remarkable hat trick by topping the scoring to win the coveted National Tobacco Control Scoreboard Achievement Award for leading the nation in tobacco control measures.

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, today released the results of the AMA/Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) National Tobacco Control Scoreboard 2019 at the National Press Club in Canberra.

Dr Bartone congratulated Queensland on its strong consistent record in stopping people from smoking, and urged the Northern Territory to build momentum with its efforts on tobacco control, while noting the NT Government had amended and strengthened its tobacco control legislation earlier this year.

“The Queensland Government has continued to protect its community from second-hand smoke in a range of outdoor public areas including public transport, outdoor shopping malls, and sports and recreation facilities,” Dr Bartone said.

“Queensland Health is well ahead of other health services in recording smoking status, delivering brief intervention, and referring patients to evidence-based smoking cessation support such as Quitline.

“The Making Tracks – toward closing the gap in health outcomes for Indigenous Queenslanders by 2033 – Policy and Accountability Framework indicates a commitment to reducing smoking among Indigenous communities.

“Funding continues for the B.Strong Brief Intervention training program to strengthen primary healthcare services for Indigenous smokers by increasing the brief intervention skills of health professionals, access to culturally effective resources, and referral to Quitline.

“A dedicated smoking cessation website – QuitHQ – has been developed for the Queensland community, which includes quit support, information for health professionals, and smoking laws. Promotion of QuitHQ includes on-line messages and billboards.”

Dr Bartone said that the Northern Territory is showing signs of moving ahead with stronger tobacco control programs, but we are yet to see solid action and proper funding.

“The NT Government has  published a new Tobacco Action Plan 2019-2023 stressing the need for  media campaigns, smoke-free spaces, sustaining quit attempts and preventing relapse, and identifying priority populations,” Dr Bartone said.

“But these good intentions are yet to be backed with the necessary funding.”

Dr Bartone said the AMA would like to see the Federal Government take on a greater leadership role to drive stronger nationally coordinated tobacco control to stop people smoking and stop people taking up the killer habit.

“The Federal Government has not run a major, national media campaign against smoking since 2012-13, when plain packaging was introduced,” Dr Bartone said.

“Nor has it implemented any further product regulation or constraints on tobacco marketing in that time.

“We would like to see the National Tobacco Campaign reinstated with additional and sustained funding.

“The $20 million announced during the Federal election health debate is a welcome start, but falls well short of the $40 million a year that is needed for a sustained public education program.

“That is a mere 0.24 per cent of the $17 billion the Government expects to reap from tobacco taxes in 2019-20.

“The Government should also implement a systemic approach to providing support for all smokers to quit when they come into contact with health services.

“These key ingredients should be part of the Minister’s commitment, first announced at the AMA National Conference in May, to develop a National Preventive Health Strategy in consultation with the AMA and other health and medical bodies.

“Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Australia, causing 19,000 premature deaths each year.

“Two-thirds of all current Australian smokers are likely to be killed by their smoking. That is a staggering 1.8 million people.

“While Australia is a world leader in tobacco control, more needs to be done to help people quit smoking, or not take it up in the first place.

“Big Tobacco is attempting to distract attention from evidence-based measures that will reduce smoking, while promoting itself as being concerned about health.

“This is particularly outrageous from an industry whose products kill more than seven million people each year.

“It is crucial that Australia maintains its strong evidence-based policies and avoids being diverted by Big Tobacco’s new distraction strategies, particularly following disturbing evidence from the US and Canada about the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use.

“We must remain vigilant against any attempts to normalise smoking, or make it appealing to young people.

“This includes following the advice of the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Therapeutic Goods Administration in regulating e-cigarettes, and not allowing them to be marketed as quit smoking aids until such time as there is scientific evidence that they are safe and effective.”

The AMA/ACOSH National Tobacco Control Scoreboard is compiled annually to measure performance in combating smoking.

Judges from the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH), the Cancer Councils, and the National Heart Foundation allocate points to the State, Territory, and Australian Governments in various categories, including legislation, to track how effective each has been at combating smoking in the previous 12 months.

No jurisdiction received an A or B rating this year or last year.

AMA/ACOSH Award – Judges’ Comments

This year is the Silver Anniversary of the AMA/ACOSH National Tobacco Control Scoreboard. 

Since the introduction of the Award in 1994, daily smoking in Australia has halved from 26.1% in 1993 to 12.8% in 2016.

Importantly, the proportion of 12 to 17-year-old school students who have never smoked in their life has increased significantly from 33% in 1984 to 82% in 2017.

Australia has led the world in its implementation of a comprehensive approach to reduce smoking.

Since the early 1990s, Australia has implemented the following strategies to reduce smoking, many of which have been duplicated in other countries around the globe:

We call on the Australian, State and Territory Governments to implement the following recommendations:

  • allocate adequate funding from tobacco revenue (predicted to be $17 billion in 2019/2020) to ensure strong media campaigns at evidence-based levels;
  • ban all remaining forms of tobacco marketing and promotion and legislate to keep up with innovative tobacco industry strategies;
  • implement tobacco product regulation to decrease the palatability and appeal of tobacco products;
  • implement comprehensive action, including legislation, in line with Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to protect public health policy from direct and indirect tobacco industry interference, and ban tobacco industry political donations;
  • implement positive retail licensing schemes for all jurisdictions;
  • implement best practice support for smoking cessation across all health care settings;
  • ensure consistent funding for programs that will decrease smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other groups with a high prevalence of smoking; and
  • ensure further protection for the community from the harms of second-hand smoke.

Results

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth #SuicidePrevention @NMHC Communique : @GregHuntMP roundtable meeting to review investment to date in mental health and suicide prevention : #TimeToFixMentalHealth #TomCalma @AUMentalHealth @FrankGQuinlan @PatMcGorry @amapresident @headspace_aus

” Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, hosted a Government-led roundtable this week to review investment to date in mental health and suicide prevention, to hear from the sector on current gaps and priorities, to understand what is and is not working, and to advise on the upcoming national forum on youth mental health and suicide prevention.

Minister Hunt and Prime Minister Scott Morrison are committed to working towards zero-suicide for all Australians, including our youth.

From the National Mental Health Commission 6 June 

( The Indigenous ) Suicide rates are an appalling national tragedy that is not only depriving too many of our young people of a full life, but is wreaking havoc among our families and communities.

As anyone who has experienced a friend or family member committing suicide will know, the effects are widespread and devastating and healing can be elusive for those left behind.

It is time that we draw a line under this tragic situation that is impacting so significantly on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities  “

Noting Professor Tom Calma AO was a participant in the meeting via telephone link and opened the meeting with a discussion on Indigenous suicide. 

See this quote and 140 Plus Aboriginal Health and Suicide Prevention articles published by NACCHO in last 7 Years 

Those in attendance welcomed the Government’s commitment, with a number noting that suicide prevention needs to be a priority across all age groups, especially those groups with the highest suicide rates.

The conversation covered a range of key issues, challenges and opportunities for reform and action. Particular discussion points included:

  • Social determinants of mental health: there is a fundamental need to focus on the social determinants of mental health for all Australians, noting and emphasising the range of factors that contribute to distress in young Australians. This is an important factor for all young people and communities, with particular reference to the factors impacting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth.
  • The impact of trauma and disadvantage: conversation centred on the impacts of trauma and disadvantage and the importance of supporting, for example, young people in out-of-home care, those living in poverty and individuals who are in the justice system.
  • Support for children and families: in order to improve the lives of young Australians, there is a need to better support children and families in the early years. This includes support for neurodevelopmental disorders. In the same way headspace has been developed for young people, there was a suggestion that mental health services focused on children and families could show real benefits.  There is strong support for a focus on prevention
  • Support for Schools: a continued need was highlighted around the role of, and support for, schools, including primary schools and early learning centres. Schools are a critical component of a ‘whole of community’ approach in building supportive environments for children and young people.   It was suggested that for families who may not seek services but who were in need a way of ‘connecting’ may be through digital tools, to identify and support children and parents in those families.
  • Impact on youth: young people can be seriously impacted and influenced by the suicide death of other young people who are their friends, peers, family members or celebrities. More timely and sophisticated data and comprehensive local responses are needed to assist in the reduction of risk for further lives being lost following a suicide.
  • Data: The importance of being able to collect, analyse and provide accurate data was highlighted.  This data is significant across mental health services and particularly for suicide prevention, treatment and support services.
  • Service reform: there is a need for service reform to better respond to people with mental health concerns that are too complex to be managed by a GP at a primary health care level but not so acute as to require specialist tertiary mental health services. While there are some good programs and services to build upon, there is a lack of equity across all regions and access remains a key issue for those requiring psychological and other services. We also need to integrate mental health services with drug and alcohol services.
  • Workforce development: there is an urgent need to focus on training and supporting the diverse professionals working with those at risk of or with mental health issues – health and allied health staff, drug and alcohol workers, school counsellors, psychologists, peer workers and many others. The role of peer workers was recognised as being a critical one and this must be included in all workforce development strategies and initiatives.
  • Peer and carer support: many families and peers supporting those who are in suicidal distress and/or living with challenging mental health and drug and alcohol concerns needed immediate and quality support themselves as they are also at risk for mental ill-health. Families and friends are the largest non-clinical workforce providing care and support for Australians and there is an immediate need to provide better supports for them.
  • Regional and national leadership: while attendees were supportive of regional planning and action, it was suggested that stronger guidance at a national level was needed in order to ensure equity and quality of service responses across the country, with a recognition of the importance of the role of Primary Health Networks.  Further work is needed to ensure that the roles and responsibilities of all governments were clarified, together with accountability. The Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, and particularly the Suicide Prevention Implementation Plan, are key drivers for clearer accountability and integrated and coordinated responses.
  • Funding models: there was discussion on how best to fund services across the range of needs, including the current review of Medicare and the role of private health insurance.

A collective agreement and strong commitment was reached that a collaborative approach is vital to achieving improved mental health outcomes for all Australians, including children and youth.

There is significant support for a 2030 Vision for mental health and suicide prevention, to be led by the Commission and to ensure that the systematic changes required to best service the community can be identified, prioritised and achieved. This Vision would be look beyond the current plans and strategies.

Attendees acknowledged the commitment to mental health and quality program responses in recent years, together with the increased funding in the 2019/20 federal budget for expanded youth and adult mental health services in the community, together with initiatives to strengthen the collection of critical data around suicide and mentally healthy workplaces.  They also noted the current enquiries being undertaken by the Productivity Commission and the Victorian Royal Commission.  However, there needs to be an increased focus on longer term systems reform.  The Commission has been tasked with taking a leading role in this and will work closely with the sector to develop a reform pathway.

Participants embraced the importance of hope, recognising not only the significant investment to date but that youth mental health services in Australia have been copied by other nations.  There is strong support for improvements in mental health and suicide prevention across all levels of government and community.

As outlined by the Minister for Health, this was an opportunity to review the current status and continue this important discussion.  It is one of many conversations that will continue with the sector at organisational, group and individual levels.

The Commission will provide updates in sector engagement and discussions as they occur.

Lucy Brogden

Chair, National Mental Health Commission

Christine Morgan

CEO, National Mental Health Commission

 

NACCHO Aboriginal #AusVotesHealth #VoteACCHO Will preventative health be on the #Election2019 agenda today at the @PressClubAust debate between health ministers @CatherineKingMP and @GregHuntMP? #npc #auspol @_PHAA_ @amapresident @CHFofAustralia @Prevention1stAU

” Labor has vowed to ramp up the Australian government’s efforts to prevent people from becoming unwell if it wins the upcoming federal election.

The pledge comes as Health Minister Greg Hunt will have the opportunity to spruik the coalition’s record on improving people’s health in a debate with Labor’s health spokeswoman Catherine King.

The pair will go head-to-head at the National Press Club today ;

You can watch the debate from 12.30 pm on ABC TV

See media report Part 1 Below

” The health of Australians is far more likely to be advanced by spending money on preventing disease than it is curing or treating illnesses.

With an aging population and chronic disease snowballing, the current focus on health through the prism of hospitals and drugs is unsustainable.

Many Australians would be shocked to learn that less than 2% of the health budget is spent on prevention. We are calling for that to change.

Most OECD countries commit around 5% of health spending to prevention. On this Australia is lagging behind.”

We have shown what can be done by driving down smoking rates. While more needs to be done on tobacco, there is an urgent and growing need to apply that lesson to obesity, physical activity and alcohol consumption. “

PHAA CEO, Terry Slevin from the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) who recently launched its election manifesto at its Justice Health conference in Sydney in an attempt to pivot the health conversation towards prevention. See Part 2 Below

Download the PHAA Election Priorities Here

PHAA Policy Priorities 2019

“ The AMA is calling on Health Minister, Greg Hunt, and Shadow Health Minister, Catherine King, to use today’s Health Policy Debate at the National Press Club to fill the gaps in their respective overarching visions for the future health system in Australia.

The Australian health system is one of the best in the world, if not the best. But it will take strong leadership, hard work, good policy with long-term strategic vision, and significant well-targeted funding to keep it working efficiently to meet growing community demand.

“The health system has many parts, and they are all linked. Governments cannot concentrate on a few, and neglect the others. Otherwise, patients will be the ultimate losers. Whole patient care cannot be done in silos, in parts, or in isolation.

“Health is the best investment that any government can make. We expect to hear more detail on their intended investment from the major parties at the National Press Club today,”

Dr Tony  Bartone AMA President See Part 3 Below

” We don’t need more reviews. Experience has shown stopgap health policies won’t pay in the long run. The evidence here and internationally tells us that the best overall returns for the health dollar will come from nationally co-ordinated preventive health measures to counter modern malaises of obesity and chronic illness.

Closely linked to the prevention drive should be better resourced primary health services — GP-led team care for the growing number of chronically ill and older patients. People want affordable, convenient and reliable care close to home “

Update

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today that Labor has announced a comprehensive framework to re-energise a coordinated national preventive health strategy to keep Australians fitter and healthier and out of hospital.

Dr Bartone said the broad range of initiatives is welcome, but will ultimately require significantly greater funding to be truly effective for the long term. “Investing in preventive health saves hundreds of millions of dollars in health costs and improves lives,”

See Press Release HERE

AMA Prevention

Leanne Wells is chief executive of the Consumers Health Forum of Australia. See Part 4

‘We urge Health Minister Greg Hunt and Shadow Minister Catherine King to outline how they are going to get better bang for the health buck at today’s National Press Club debate’, says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

‘The Coalition, Labor, and the Greens are all promising welcome extra health dollars and reduced out-of-pocket costs for electors should they win government—but public commitment to getting better value for those dollars has been muted.

See AHHA Press Release Part 5

NACCHO has developed a set of policy #Election2019 recommendations that if adopted, fully funded and implemented by the incoming Federal Government, will provide a pathway forward for improvements in our health outcomes.

We are calling on all political parties to include these recommendations in their election platforms and make a real commitment to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and help us Close the Gap.

With your action and support of our #VoteACCHO campaign we can make the incoming Federal Government accountable.

See NACCHO Election 2019 Website

NACCHO Recommendation 6.Allocate Indigenous specific health funding to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations

  • Transfer the funding for Indigenous specific programs from Primary Health Networks to ACCHOs.
  • Primary Health Networks assign ACCHOs as preferred providers for other Australian Government funded services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples unless it can be shown that alternative arrangements can produce better outcomes in quality of care and access to services

Part 1 Media Coverage 

Health has been a key battleground for the election campaign so far, with both major parties spending weeks trying to convince Australians they will be best placed to look after them when they’re sick.

Labor has vowed to spend $2.3 billion over four years on improving the coverage of cancer services on Medicare and wants to spend an extra $2.8 billion on public hospitals.

But the coalition says it has funded hospitals at record levels, because its strong economic management has given it the cash to do so.

Mr Hunt has also argued his government has made far more medicines affordable by listing them on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which means they are subsidised by the government.

Improving the mental health of young and indigenous Australians is also in the coalition’s sights, with the party promising an extra $42 million for services that would do as much if it wins the national poll.

Labor has now turned its attention to stopping people from becoming ill in the first place, pledging $115.6 million worth of initiatives to promote health and prevent disease.

The prevention package includes implementing Australia’s first National Obesity Strategy.

That will involve spending $39 million over three years to roll out a national anti-obesity marketing campaign.

Smokers would be targeted by a separate $40 million anti-smoking campaign over four years to reduce cancer rates.

Money would also go toward a sun protection awareness campaign and initiatives to drive up early detection of bowel cancer.

Labor also wants to reduce harmful drinking, vowing $10 million worth of targeted campaigns, delivering warning labels on alcohol packaging and doing more to limit alcohol advertising to children.

Ms King stressed that almost a third of Australia’s burden of disease is preventable.

Every dollar spent on preventing people from becoming sick through lifestyle factors delivers almost $6 in health and productivity benefits, she said.

“Prevention is better than cure – both for our own health and the country’s.”

Part 2 PHAA

Australia invests a meagre 1.7% of the health system spending on preventative health – one of the lowest levels of the OECD economies. says we must match the world’s best practice of 5% to advance the health of Australians.

Download the PHAA Election Priorities Here

PHAA Policy Priorities 2019

The recent launch of the PHAA Immediate Priorities 5-point plan called for:

  • Setting the target of 5% of Australia’s health budget to focus on prevention
  • Protecting kids from marketing of tobacco, alcohol, junk food
  • Investing in sustained and effective community education programs on tobacco, healthy eating, alcohol and being physically active
  • Focusing on improved health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents, and
  • Curbing climate change with clear and effective action to ensure a healthy planet.

This plan was launched at our Justice Health conference to emphasise the importance of focusing on the people of greatest need.

“Those who come in contact with the justice system are often the most vulnerable. People with mental health issues, drug and alcohol problems, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are all overrepresented in our jails. If we aim for a fair go for all Australians, that requires us to focus our attentions on those with the greatest need.”

“If we get this right, we can add at least five more good years to people’s lives so they can enjoy the fruits of their labour, the celebrations and successes of our families and the people we love for longer. Surely this is a goal we all must share and pursue.”

“Health experts have the solutions; parliamentarians simply need to act. ”

Part 3 AMA

The AMA is calling on Health Minister, Greg Hunt, and Shadow Health Minister, Catherine King, to use today’s Health Policy Debate at the National Press Club to fill the gaps in their respective overarching visions for the future health system in Australia.

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said that the AMA has welcomed announcements from the major parties of new funding and strategies for public hospitals, cancer care, primary care, dental care for pensioners and seniors, Indigenous health, the lifting of the Medicare rebate freeze, and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), among others.

“The AMA will compare and contrast these policies and publicly rate them accordingly before election day,” Dr Bartone said.

“But we need to see the major parties announcing the missing pieces from their health care vision over the next two-and-a-half weeks, starting today.

“As the population ages and more people are living longer with multiple complex and chronic conditions, it is vital that Australia has a robust, connected, and holistic strategy to ensure improved health outcomes for patients throughout life.

“The big gaps include aged care, broad mental health strategies, comprehensive primary care and general practice investment, the private health sector, and prevention.

“The Australian health system is one of the best in the world, if not the best. But it will take strong leadership, hard work, good policy with long-term strategic vision, and significant well-targeted funding to keep it working efficiently to meet growing community demand.

“The health system has many parts, and they are all linked. Governments cannot concentrate on a few, and neglect the others. Otherwise, patients will be the ultimate losers. Whole patient care cannot be done in silos, in parts, or in isolation.

“Health is the best investment that any government can make. We expect to hear more detail on their intended investment from the major parties at the National Press Club today,” Dr Bartone said.

The AMA’s health policy wish list – Key Health Issues for the 2019 Federal Election – is available at https://ama.com.au/article/key-health-issues-2019-federal-election

The AMA will issue a health policy scorecard in the final week of the campaign.

Public Release. View in full here.

Part 4 Preventive measures the most effective health policy prescription

Health is once again a target for billions of taxpayer dollars in election promises that may soothe but never heal community concerns.

There has been no shortage of diagnoses about what ails the health system. A feature of Australia’s health policy in the past decade has been the preponderance of probes into various elements of the health sector, ranging from system-wide inquiries to more focused reviews of troubled areas.

The Coalition government, since coming to power in 2013, has instituted a clutch of reviews into key problem zones: primary care for the chronically ill, mental health, private health insurance, out-of-pocket medical costs, regulation and remuneration of pharmacies, and the efficacy of high-cost Medicare benefits.

These reviews produced various ideas for change and improvement, but community unease about health still creates a spike in public opinion surveys.

There were two recurring concerns raised by respondents to a recent survey conducted by the Consumers Health Forum. The issues were cost and uncertainty. These are worry points often reflected in the focus of the health policies announced so far in this federal election campaign.

The out-of-pocket costs dilemma confronting so many patients in Australia also is often connected to a widespread sense of uncertainty about healthcare and its co-ordination — what care is needed, its cost and where to go for appropriate treatment.

Our survey found most people were satisfied with the quality of the healthcare they received. However, a third encountered difficulties at every stage of the healthcare process, such as finding the right place to get care, deciding which provider to see and getting to see the provider they needed.

The unease about care costs and uncertain access to co-ordinated care have prompted a variety of responses from the political parties.

Labor has proposed a plan to reduce out-of-pocket costs for cancer patients; the Coalition is pledging support for streamlined access to integrated care for the over-70s and a new website detailing medical specialists’ fees. And both sides promise more hospital funding and a continuing stream of new drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

But there remains the reality that we are getting piecemeal measures when what is needed is a holistic approach with overarching strategies reflecting all of the modern world’s knowledge about the causes of ill health and our capacity to avoid ill health.

We are proposing that the next federal government give priority to three areas: childhood obesity, public dental services and primary healthcare. We don’t need more reviews. Experience has shown stopgap health policies won’t pay in the long run. The evidence here and internationally tells us that the best overall returns for the health dollar will come from nationally co-ordinated preventive health measures to counter modern malaises of obesity and chronic illness.

Closely linked to the prevention drive should be better resourced primary health services — GP-led team care for the growing number of chronically ill and older patients. People want affordable, convenient and reliable care close to home,

The political default on health is to offer more and bigger hospitals. We need to rebalance the investment to give more focus on comprehensive care in the community that reduces our dependence on hospitals.

Obesity is a dominant factor in chronic illness yet as a nation we have no coherent, effective strategy to counter poor diet and promotion to children of unhealthy food and drink, and to take other more practical measures, such as overcoming urban planning and transport obstacles to routine activities such as walking.

Modern economies and digital technology have brought new levels of consumer control and understanding to most corners of society. Yet health, despite the expertise of its practitioners and reliance on precision record-keeping elsewhere in healthcare, lags behind 21st-century potential when it comes to communications with patients. Instead, we as a wealthy country have hundreds of thousands of people each year putting off having scripts filled, seeing a specialist or living with the misery of toothache because they can’t ­afford a dentist.

Australia’s health system remains less efficient than it should be and federal-state divisions in health funding and the resistance of practitioners to change, or lack of support for practitioners to change, are significant impediments. We have seen in recent years welcome strides towards a more transparent and accountable health system. Consumers must be empowered with more government support for the development of consumer leadership and patient-centred care to improve not only health outcomes but also the working experience of clinicians.

Transforming services by encouraging consumer-influenced health services and patient engagement in healthcare can bring long-term benefits to Australia’s physical and fiscal health.

Leanne Wells is chief executive of the Consumers Health Forum of Australia.

Part 5

‘We urge Health Minister Greg Hunt and Shadow Minister Catherine King to outline how they are going to get better bang for the health buck at today’s National Press Club debate’, says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

‘The Coalition, Labor, and the Greens are all promising welcome extra health dollars and reduced out-of-pocket costs for electors should they win government—but public commitment to getting better value for those dollars has been muted.

‘For example, do you really need that extra appointment with the doctor to renew a script or have a specialist referral updated? Do you really need to pay a GP to carry out a treatment or give an injection when a trained nurse can do it just as effectively? Why are some treatments still subsidised by Medicare when more effective evidence-based treatments are available? Why get that injury treated in hospital when it could be done just as well at your local primary care clinic for a fraction of the cost?

‘We need to shift the whole system to value-based healthcare—that is, better outcomes for patients relative to costs—or the right care in the right place at the right time by the right provider.

‘This will often involve teams of health professionals providing ongoing care for chronic conditions—this has been proven internationally to be more effective, more timely and better value than traditional care systems.

‘Integrated or “joined up” care driven by results is better for the patient than care driven by number of consultations attended and/or the size of the patient’s wallet.

‘To their credit, during its current term the Government initiated a review of all Medicare item numbers for relevance and effectiveness. Progress has been limited to date, but the review is ongoing.

‘The Government also initiated an inquiry into out-of-pocket costs—but included only one consumer representative in a sea of medical and private health interests. One proposed outcome of the inquiry—compelling specialists to publish their fees on a government website—while laudable, is yet to see the light of day.

‘The Government introduced the Health Care Home model of integrated care, which is a move toward value-based healthcare. But it failed to attract enough ‘buy-in’ from medical practitioners or consumers—in part because of insufficient funding and poor planning. The Coalition’s recently announced policy of rewarding GP practices for people over 70 signing up or registering with the practice for chronic disease care is a renewed step in the right direction. So is the commitment of both major parties to Primary Health Networks tasked with introducing innovative and value-based primary healthcare regimes tailored to local circumstances.

‘The $2.3 billion investment pledged by Labor to address out-of-pocket costs for people with cancer is a much-needed response to the significant and unexpected costs faced by many people with cancer. But, apart from a suggested oncology Medicare item number available only through bulk-billing of patients, there is little detail as yet on how the initiative will ensure real value for patients while sidestepping unnecessary low value care.

‘Labor’s proposed Health Reform Commission, and the Greens’ similar proposed single funding agency are encouraging signs of political will to achieve better value and less waste by ending the “blame game” between various levels of government—but we would like to see more concrete actions detailed in their policies.

‘As a nation we also need to invest in appropriate Australian research into best value care—AHHA has recently launched the Australian Centre for Value-Based Health Care to support this work.

‘We call on all parties and candidates to commit to better bang for the health buck—a revamped value-for-money health system focused on what matters to patients’, Ms Verhoeven said.

Visit the Australian Centre for Value-Based Health Care here. To follow AHHA commentary throughout the election campaign, visit www.ahha.asn.au/election. This release is also available online.

NACCHO Aboriginal #AusVotesHealth and #Budget2019 3 of 5 : ACCHO Peaks and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community Stakeholders express disappointment in #Budget2019 @VACCHO_org @QAIHC_QLD @AMSANTaus @_PHAA_ @amapresident @LowitjaInstitut @congressmob @NationalFVPLS

1.QAIHC : Federal budget once again fails the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community

2. VACCHO :Federal Budget robbing Aboriginal people with disabilities to pay for tax cuts

3. AMSANT : The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister has all but admitted today there is no major item in the Federal budget for First Nations people.

4 .PHAA : Not enough investment in disease prevention

5.AMA : Government’s Budget announcements have set up a genuine health policy competition for the upcoming election.

With NACCHO TV Interview

6. Lowitja Institute : “An investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing

7. HealthInfoNet : How the #Budget2019 impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

8 .Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention

9. The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Australia’s Need More Than Promises.

10. Change the Record

11.National Peak Body for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services

12.Family Violence Prevention Legal Services

13. Reconciliation Australia : Greater vision and investment needed for First Nations as progress sidelined in federal budget

14. Indigenous groups denounce Australian budget as ‘punishing people in poverty

This weeks NACCHO Budget Coverage 

Post 1: NACCHO Intro #AusVotesHealth #Budget2019

Post 2: NACCHO Chair Press Release

Post 3:  Health Peak bodies Press Release summary

Post 4 : Government Press Releases

Post 5 : Opposition responses to Budget 2019 

Read all Budget 2019 Posts 

View NACCHO TV interview with NACCHO Chair HERE

1.QAIHC : Federal budget once again fails the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community

Josh Frydenberg’s budget has failed to fund Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations (AICCHO) to enable them to continue their work towards Closing the Gap.

The burden of disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland is unacceptable. 10% of our babies are born with low birthweight. Our children make up 49% of Queensland’s new and recurrent cases of acute rheumatic fever. Chronic diseases including diabetes continues to be on the rise. For our men aged 15-34 years, suicide rates are more than three times higher than non-Indigenous men.

Previous attempts by the Federal Government to achieve better health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the Closing the Gap agenda, have failed. Chronically under-funded government programs in AICCHOs contribute to this. This budget has funded a selection of specific projects for collaboration with community-controlled organisations at a strategic level, however the benefits will take years to trickle down to real action on the ground. Inadequate primary health care is a burden on the tertiary care system, contributing to excessive public expenditure.

“From health promotion and health literacy through to diagnosis, treatment, management and end of life care, investment in the health system is essential now if health equity is to be achieved.” Neil Willmett, CEO of Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) said.

“The AICCHO Sector is already achieving ground-breaking results in health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland. We are achieving more than ever before for less funding, but our Members are being expected to do even more because of the government’s continual failure to adequately resource the sector.”

QAIHC Chairperson, Gail Wason, explains “Community driven solutions are proven to be most effective. Our AICCHOs have been driving the solutions. Equitable to need, the sector receives 47% less Commonwealth funding than mainstream health services. This doesn’t equate to government supporting community led solutions. Government needs to prioritise greater investment in AICCHO’s, rather than just talking about Close the Gap.”

In Queensland there are 26 AICCHOs offering culturally appropriate comprehensive primary health care to over 180,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people make up 4.6% of Queenslanders, and that percentage is growing.

QAIHC is calling for political parties to respect and resource the Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Sector to achieve real results this election. You can follow the campaign via QAIHC’s social media platforms.

2. VACCHO :Federal Budget robbing Aboriginal people with disabilities to pay for tax cuts

Barriers to Aboriginal people accessing NDIS services are effectively funding tax cuts, according to Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) Acting CEO Trevor Pearce.

“While the Federal Government is claiming it will deliver a surplus and is offering pre-election tax cuts, part of that money is coming from the fact that two thirds of the funding allocated for Aboriginal people living with disabilities for NDIS services is unspent. It’s not unspent due to a lack of need but due to significant barriers preventing people from accessing the NDIS,” Mr Pearce said.

“How are we supposed to Close the Gap when there are 60,000 Aboriginal people living with disabilities who aren’t getting support, according to the First Peoples Disability Network?

“The fact that two thirds of all funds allocated to Aboriginal NDIS participants has been left unspent speaks volumes about the difficulties so many people in the community face in accessing the NDIS, especially in Aboriginal Communities.

“Knowing that pre-election tax cuts are being handed out while 60,000 Aboriginal people living with disabilities aren’t able to access services is nothing short of appalling.”

Mr Pearce said it was disappointing the Budget delivered nothing of substance for the working poor.

“We’re very concerned about the extension of the failed Cashless Debit Card trials and what that could mean for Victoria. Many of our Members are worried they could come here,” he said.

“It’s critical that the funding allocated to Aboriginal mental health and family violence issues not only be focused on delivery in remote areas. The majority of Aboriginal people live in urban and regional areas and live with similar levels of disadvantage, especially on these key issues.

“We know from data from our Members that the second highest prescribed medication in SOME clinics is antidepressants, just behind relievers commonly known as Ventolin. This tells us how prevalent mental health issues are in our Communities. An allocation of $5 million over four years nationally for youth suicide prevention is not going to make an impact on that significant a problem.

“We are also disappointed that dental health received no additional funding given spending in dental health actually saves money by preventing additional, more expensive health conditions.”

Mr Pearce said the Federal Budget did appear to have some highlights for Aboriginal people but the lack of clarity around much of the funding, and apparent lack of new money especially around Closing the Gap measures, meant it was difficult to be certain.

“The $10 million allocated to the Lowitja Institute is great, as funding Aboriginal-led and designed research is so important as part of self-determination,” Mr Pearce said.

“It’s good to see that the Medicare freeze has been lifted, and we hope that any GP practices that aren’t currently bulk billing Aboriginal people will start doing that given their increased funding.

“We look forward to further clarification on the Closing the Gap refresh spending and the realisation that self-determination and community control are fundamental to attaining this aim.”

3. AMSANT : The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister has all but admitted today there is no major item in the Federal budget for First Nations people.

Indigenous leaders and lobby groups are outraged because there are several items they say are priorities for funding including money to help drive the reform of the Closing The Gap process.

Featured:

Nigel Scullion, Indigenous Affairs Minister
Dr Jackie Huggins, National Congress.
Peter Yu, Broome indigenous leader
Marion Scrymgour, Tiwi Islands Regional Council
Wayne Butcher, Lockhart River mayor
John Paterson, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance

Listen HERE

4 .PHAA : Not enough investment in disease prevention

The 2019 federal Budget does too little to prevent Australia’s major illnesses, according to Public Health Association of Australia CEO Terry Slevin.

“Australia is one of the lowest investors in illness prevention of any OECD nation at less than 2% of our national health spending,” Mr Slevin said.

“Two of our biggest killers were conspicuous by their absence in the Budget – obesity and alcohol.”

“Nonetheless this Budget has some valuable and welcome investments:

  • Extension of the Child Dental Benefits Schedule ($1 Billion)
  • Mental health and suicide prevention commitments ($736M) – these are sorely needed
  • Research investment via the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) guarantees ($260M over 10 years) for preventive and public health research plus another $160M in Indigenous health research over 11 years
  • Global health research focused on antimicrobial resistance ($28M) is welcome
  • A tobacco control campaign at $20M over 4 years is a starting point, but smoking remains one of our biggest killers. We need to do much more to kick start serious tobacco control efforts.
  • Promoting social inclusion and being physically active via sports ($23.6M)
  • Take Home Naloxone Program ($7.2M) “Spending on good health care, effective drugs and research is important and essential.

But a continual downward spiral in real prevention is a trend we must seriously address.”

“We should have ambitious goals for real life-long health. To reach that point we need major action to contain the explosion of obesity and overweight in our community.”

“We need to do so much more to limit the harms of misuse of alcohol. And we have a massive gap to close regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.”

“But the long-term wellbeing of the community has not figured sufficiently in this budget,” said Mr Slevin.

“Like inaction on climate change, the budget does little to prevent a future illness tsunami.”

5.AMA : Government’s Budget announcements have set up a genuine health policy competition for the upcoming election.

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said this that the Government’s Budget announcements have set up a genuine health policy competition for the upcoming election.

“The Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has listened closely to the AMA and delivered a strong Health Budget, with a particular emphasis on primary care, led by general practice,” Dr Bartone said.

“Australia’s hardworking GPs will be happy to see a commitment of almost $1 billion to general practice. This includes matching Labor’s promise to bring forward by a year the lifting of the freeze on rebates for a range of Medicare GP items.

“Overall, the Government has delivered a much-needed significant investment to general practice – the driving force of quality primary health care in Australia.”

The GP package includes:

  • $448.5 million to improve continuity of care for patients over 70 with chronic conditions;
  • Quality Incentive Payments for general practices ($201.5 million);
  • $62.2 million for rural generalist training; and
  • $187.2 million for lifting of the freeze on GP items.

The AMA also welcomes:

  • Funding for new Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (PBS) medicines;
  • Retention of the Aged Care Access Incentive (ACAI); and
  • A rural workforce program.

Dr Bartone said there are obvious gaps in mental health, prevention, Indigenous health, pathology, and public hospital funding to improve all hospitals.

“We expect to hear more on these key areas from all parties before the election,” Dr Bartone said.

“Health Minister Hunt has worked closely with the AMA, especially on the primary care element of this Budget.

“Overall, the Government has produced a good start for a quality health policy platform for the election.

“We look forward to the Opposition making health a real contest when they roll out all their policies.”

Dr Bartone said there is still unfinished business with the Private Health Insurance reforms as they are implemented from this month, and with the ongoing work of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review, which must return any savings to new and improved MBS items.

6. Lowitja Institute : “An investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing

The Lowitja Institute welcomes the funding announcement in the Budget delivered by the Treasurer the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP.

The Institute is Australia’s national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research. We have a strong track record working with communities, researchers and policymakers. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community priorities and self-determination must be built into the national research agenda that informs state and federal policies and programs.

Our work embeds First Nations creativity, ingenuity and leadership in the decision making; this is critical to improving the health and wellbeing of Australia’s First Peoples.

We look forward to expanding our work in key research areas such as the cultural and social determinants of health, and health system improvements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We also look forward to continuing to build the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research workforce, and growing our national and international networks. Our innovations in knowledge translation will ensure the ongoing positive impact of our research.

7. HealthInfoNet : How the #Budget2019 impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Find information on and read about how it impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander , here:

8 .Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention

Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) Director Professor Pat Dudgeon and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health (NATSILMH) Chair Mr Tom Brideson cautiously welcomed yesterday’s mental health and suicide prevention budget announcements but looked forward to more detail being released before committing to a response. Professor Dudgeon said:

I am especially pleased to see commitments to a National Suicide Information System. This is something that CBPATSISP and, prior to that, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP)called for. But it must operate in our communities and it’s not clear on the information provided whether it will. This is critical, such a system should help us get the people and resources to where they are needed faster, to help prevent suicide ‘clusters’, and better assist Indigenous families and communities after a suicide.

Professor Dudgeon also welcomed a $5 million commitment to an Indigenous leadership group to implement an Indigenous suicide prevention strategy; and similar funding for Indigenous youth leaders to respond to Indigenous youth suicide. She said:

A national Indigenous suicide prevention strategy was developed in 2013 and about $20 million implementation funding given to the Primary Health Networks (PHNs). While many PHNs are doing the best they can, the key ingredient – Indigenous governance and leadership in how that money is spent – has too often been lacking. It is my hope that the new Indigenous leadership group will not only lead a more effective and efficient national and regional response to Indigenous suicide, but also address these accountability problems. But again, we need more information about how these bodies will operate, and the leaders must be Indigenous and enjoy wide community support. 

Mr Brideson called for greater funding for Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention:

$15 million Indigenous specific funding in a $461 million youth mental health and suicide prevention package, within a $736 mental health package, is not enough to meet our needs. Indigenous people comprise 3% of the population and have about double the suicide prevention needs, and three times the mental health needs, of other Australians. In terms of equity, we estimate about 9% of the total package, about $70 million, should be dedicated Indigenous expenditure. While this may seem a significant amount, it should not be forgotten that the bulk of Indigenous mental ill-health is preventable with access to primary mental health care, and yet the social costs of untreated Indigenous mental health difficulties are likely to run into the billions.

In fact, a long called for reinvestment funding approach to our mental health, particularly justice reinvestment, should eventually enable the Australian Government to make savings in many areas as well as making a big contribution to ‘Closing the Gap’ and Indigenous wellbeing. This is particularly in relation to the enormous cost of imprisoning over 13,000 Indigenous people, many of whom are in prison because of untreated mental health and related issues.  

Professor Dudgeon and Mr Brideson closed by calling on Ministers Wyatt, Hunt and Scullion, their shadow ministry counterparts and the newly announced Suicide Prevention Coordinator to meet with them and other Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention leaders to discuss the detail of the package, and ensure that Indigenous peoples get their fair share of the mainstream elements of the mental health, suicide prevention, drug strategy and other budget initiatives:

We will be working with other Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention leaders to ensure our people, and young people in particular, benefit from all the budget measures according to their greater need. This includes the extra funding for headspace, the adult mental health centres and many other promising mainstream initiatives. CBPATSISP and NATSILMH want to see a partnership approach with the Australian Government to help ensure we get the detail right, and that the total $736 million package results in better mental health and suicide prevention outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

9. The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Australia’s Need More Than Promises.

The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples welcomes the Australian Government’s commitment of additional funding to address key challenges; however, the budget lacks concrete measures in areas of high importance for First Peoples. More needs to be done to remedy the structural causes of the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians.

Read more

10. Change the Record

Change the Record has condemned the Federal Government’s Budget, demanding that the Government stays committed to self-determined legal services and stops punishing people struggling to make ends meet.

“Research shows that our people are locked up at such high rates because of the poverty we experience, especially for First Nations people with disability,” said Damian Griffis, co-chair of Change the Record.

“Instead of Budget providing a roof over our heads and meeting basic needs, this Government is punishing our people who are caught in the poverty trap. Sacrificing critical legal services and NDIS and punishing women through ParentsNext for budget surplus is inhumane – these are our lives they are playing with.

Read More Here

11.National Peak Body for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services

National Peak Body for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) released the following statementwarning abandoning the standalone Commonwealth Indigenous Legal Assistance Program after a 50 year long commitment threatens self-determination and cultural safety

NATSILS welcomes the overturning of the planned and ongoing cuts to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS), introduced in a 2013 ongoing savings measure.

However, Attorney-General Christian Porter is also walking away from the Commonwealth’s 50-year long commitment to ATSILS by disbanding the Indigenous Legal Assistance Program (ILAP), days after the Government’s Independent Review into the Indigenous Legal Assistance Program recommended retaining a standalone specific program.

12.Family Violence Prevention Legal Services

Also missing was core funding needed for the Family Violence Prevention Legal Services which released the following statement:

For the sixth year in a row, the Federal Budget brings no additional core funding for the crucial supports provided by Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLSs), with funding to end 30 June 2020. Antoinette Braybrook, Convenor of the National FVPLS Forum called on all parties to commit to ongoing funding and to keeping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women safe.

13. Reconciliation Australia : Greater vision and investment needed for First Nations as progress sidelined in federal budget

Reconciliation Australia has described the federal budget as “a disappointing missed opportunity to present a cohesive national narrative around closing the gap in social outcomes for First Nations people and addressing unfinished business of reconciliation.”

Chief executive, Karen Mundine, said the Prime Minister’s recent closing the gap report outlined the urgent need for further investment.

“Governmental support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services has not met the level of need of First Nation’s peoples,” said Ms Mundine.

“The frustration felt by First Nations people and other Australians with the results of the Closing the Gap Framework has been compounded with the lack of any national narrative in this federal budget,” she said.

Ms Mundine said this was illustrated by two significant funding decisions outlined in the budget; an insufficient $15 million investment into suicide prevention, despite the ongoing the crisis facing young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, and the decision to end the national stand-alone Indigenous Legal Assistance program and roll funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services into mainstream legal aid programs.

“The high level of suicide in First Nations communities and the growing rates of incarceration of First Nations women, men and children are two clear indicators of the need for greater investment but instead this budget has fallen short.”

“We urge the Government to reconsider, and increase investments in these two critical areas.”

Ms Mundine also said there was little in the budget to address the unfinished business of reconciliation and some of the foundational issues that require settlement.

“I also note this morning’s comments from the peak body representing the Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander health sector decrying the lack of funding in the budget for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services and the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector.”

“The connection between the material and cultural wellbeing of First Nations people and our national progress towards reconciliation are clear and we are concerned that the stalling of progress towards equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will not be remedied by this budget,” said Ms Mundine. “The lack of investment in services, further exacerbated by cuts to legal services, means that funding levels will not meet the clear needs of First Nations peoples.”

Ms Mundine said concerns about the budget were intensified by the optimism generated by last week’s signing of a partnership agreement between the Government and a Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks to progress closing the gap.

“Sadly, this optimism has not been supported by the budget with its lesson that ambitions for a surplus trump the needs of Australia’s First Nations peoples.”

Ms Mundine said the Australia is at a critical juncture in the reconciliation journey with constitutional reform and agreement-making stalled in Parliament notwithstanding strong public support.

“Despite our disappointment Reconciliation Australia hopes for greater bipartisan support for truth telling initiatives and progress constitutional reform and meeting the goals of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as expressed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.”

“These hopes are buoyed by the strong support for such initiatives shown by the Australian public, most recently in the results of our Australian Reconciliation Barometer survey which found that 95% of Australians believe that ‘it is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in matters that affect them’ and 80% believe it is important to
‘undertake formal truth telling processes’”.

“The imminent election provides an opportunity for Government and Opposition to clearly spell out their respective visions for how we this nation can improve the lives of First Nations people and bring us closer to a just, equitable and reconciled Australia,” Ms Mundine said.

14. Indigenous groups denounce Australian budget as ‘punishing people in poverty

Key Aboriginal organisations have expressed anger and disappointment with the budget, criticising the $129m expansion of the controversial cashless welfare card and the lack of new funding for health and legal services.

The chief executive of the National Coalition of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, Donnella Mills, said she was frustrated none of its budget priorities had been included.

“We called for an increased base funding for our health organisations, and an increase in capital works and infrastructure. We need funds for housing, which is a vital key to good health, and we sought a strengthening of support for mental health,” Mills said.

The government set aside $461m for youth mental health but only $5m over four years is earmarked for addressing Indigenous youth suicide, recently described by suicide prevention campaigner Gerry Georgatos as a “moral and political abomination.”

Mills said: “We welcome $5m for suicide prevention. That amount is just a starting point, and we have no detail on how it will be allocated.

“How is that $5m going to get into communities? How is it going to address housing, family violence?

“The treasurer kept on about how we are geared towards surplus. I would hope there’d be room in [the] government’s thinking to address the unmet needs of the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

Read all Peak Comments 

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal #Heart Health : Major health groups welcome cross-party @GregHuntMP  @billshortenmp commitment on health checks @amapresident @heartfoundation   @strokefdn  @ACDPAlliance @CHFofAustralia 

” The support for comprehensive health checks to tackle cardiovascular disease is an acknowledgement of the importance of general practice to preventive health care and we are looking forward to more promises ahead of the federal election

AMA President Tony Bartone welcomed the commitments see full press release Part 2

 “Chronic diseases affect half of the Australian population and are the leading cause of death in Australia , yet, many people are unaware of their risk and the first sign something is wrong is a trip to the hospital.

 Chronic diseases – including heart disease and stroke – account for more than one-third of health spending, with costs expected to increase as the population ages.

Investment in prevention is crucial to address the growing impact of chronic disease and reduce unnecessary hospitalisations,”

Chair of the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance Sharon McGowan said investment in comprehensive health checks would encourage people to consider their health before a crisis : See full Press Release Part 3 below

“ Even though there is one case of heart attack or stroke occurring in Australia every five minutes according to government figures, too many Australians don’t realise the importance of checking how their heart is performing.   This check should nudge more patients and their doctors to make that check.

Labor has announced that in government it would spend $170 million on a new Medicare item for comprehensive heart health checks to support doctors in better preventing, detecting and managing heart disease.

And from April 1 this year, the Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has announced there will be a dedicated Medicare item to support GPs to assess cardiovascular risk”

CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells

Read over 70 Aboriginal Heart Health articles published by NACCHO over last 7 years

Part 1 News summary AAP

Heart disease is a huge and often unrecognised problem for many Australians, and it is good news that both sides of politics today have announced their support for a comprehensive heart health check to be financed by Medicare.

When it comes to matters of the heart, the federal government and Labor are beating to the same rhythm each vowing millions to fund life-saving health checks.

One Australian dies of cardiovascular disease every 12 minutes, with one Australian experiencing a heart attack or stroke every five minutes.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten matched the $170 million over five years for general practice in Melbourne, just hours after a Liberal counterpart announced the same plan.

“Heart disease is Australia’s silent killer,” Mr Shorten told reporters on Sunday.

“My father died prematurely at the age of 70 with a catastrophic heart attack. We will make sure the funding is available so that everyone who wants to get a heart health check will be able to do so.

“It is good the government has agreed that to this proposition as well.”

The checks will be available through Medicare from April.

Health Minister Greg Hunt told Nine’s Weekend Today show it would mean “a better chance for people to have a proper test with their doctor”.

“They can see whether there are any issues either around their lifestyle or whether any further action needs to be taken,” he said.

National Heart Foundation chief executive Garry Jennings AO said it was an important announcement, not for what people will see rather what they won’t see as a result.

“You won’t see people who seem to be going happily through life and suddenly die from coronary disease or have a heart attack,” he said on Sunday, noting about four million Aussies with heart disease may have avoided the condition had they been checked.

Part 2 AMA president Tony Bartone also welcomed the commitments.

The commitment by both major parties to invest an estimated $170 million extra over five years into general practice to support longer health consultations is a welcome start to better investment in primary care.

“The support for comprehensive health checks to tackle cardiovascular disease is an acknowledgement of the importance of general practice to preventive health care,” AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today.

“Longer consultations enhance continuity of care, and the AMA looks forward to seeing further announcements detailing plans for investment in general practice in the lead-up to the next election.

“The recent report of the Medicare Benefits Schedule General Practice and Primary Care Clinical Committee recognised the central role of general practice in the health system and called for a significant new investment in general practice. All parties must heed this advice.

“Today’s announcements by the coalition and Labor, targeting one health condition, can be regarded as a good first step. However, much more is needed to support general practice in delivering holistic care to our patients and the whole community.

“It is heartening to see that, as we approach the Federal Election, the major parties have turned their attention to better supporting general practice.

“General practice is in urgent need of an injection of new funding as Australia tackles the growing burden of complex and chronic disease, and the need for prevention.

“High quality, GP led, patient-centred primary health care is key to improving the effectiveness of care, preventing illness, and reducing inequality, variation, and health system costs.

“There is no doubt that a significant investment now in general practice will bring the promise of long-term improvements in health care outcomes for patients and savings to the health system.

“The AMA’s priorities for investment in general practice are detailed in our 2019 Pre-Budget Submission. We will be calling on all major parties to release full details of their general practice policies and their vision for Australia’s health system well ahead of the election.”

The AMA Pre-Budget Submission is at https://ama.com.au/sites/default/files/budget- submission/AMA_Budget_Submission_2019_20.pdf

Part 3 Health groups welcome cross-party commitment on health checks

The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance welcomes support by the Australian Government and the federal Opposition for a Medicare item to prevent and manage vascular disease – heart, stroke, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes. Funding for an integrated health check has also been backed by the Australian Greens.

Alliance members, including the National Heart Foundation, Stroke Foundation, Diabetes Australia, Kidney Health Australia and Cancer Council Australia, have long championed integrated health checks to stem the tide of Australia’s chronic disease burden.

Chair of the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance Sharon McGowan said investment in comprehensive health checks would encourage people to consider their health before a crisis.

Around one-third of chronic disease could be prevented through modifiable risk factors, such as smoking, unhealthy weight, poor diet and high blood pressure. Although the new item has been focused around vascular disease, key risk factors, such as smoking, cause several chronic diseases and many people suffer co-morbidities through lifestyle.

Ms McGowan said today’s announcement was an important step forward in Government recognition of the importance of prevention as well as cure.

“A Medicare item for integrated health checks provides an important opportunity for people to consider their risk in consultation with their GP and take steps to reduce their risk through lifestyle changes and/or medication,” she said.

Chronic diseases – including heart disease and stroke – account for more than one-third of health spending, with costs expected to increase as the population ages.

“Investment in prevention is crucial to address the growing impact of chronic disease and reduce unnecessary hospitalisations,” Ms McGowan said.

“The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance welcomes the cross-party support for comprehensive health checks to reduce disease risk and improve the health and wellbeing of Australians.”

Part 4 Consumers Health Forum

Heart disease is a huge and often unrecognised problem for many Australians, and it is good news that both sides of politics today have announced their support for a comprehensive heart health check to be financed by Medicare.

“Even though there is one case of heart attack or stroke occurring in Australia every five minutes according to government figures, too many Australians don’t realise the importance of checking how their heart is performing.   This check should nudge more patients and their doctors to make that check,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

“Labor has announced that in government it would spend $170 million on a new Medicare item for comprehensive heart health checks to support doctors in better preventing, detecting and managing heart disease.

“And from April 1 this year, the Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has announced there will be a dedicated Medicare item to support GPs to assess cardiovascular risk.

“We also need to do much more in the way of preventive health measures to educate people and promote better diet and lifestyles to reduce obesity and other chronic illnesses that increase the risk of heart disease.

“The heart check plan is a good down payment in the wider investment we need in prevention.  It should also provide a platform for more announcements to come about supporting general practice to better prevent and manage chronic disease in enrolled patients.  We will be watching the development of those approaches with much interest.

“The suggestion that this heart health check be part of a Medicare-funded comprehensive health check for other lifestyle risk factors should be embedded in the Health Care Home enrolment model making the most of general practitioners as the accessible, appropriate and trusted setting for preventive health care.

“However, we need to acknowledge that a new Medicare item number is not an end in itself.  Such a development needs to be accompanied by a package of wider reforms that include patient supports such as self-management programs, access to health coaching and use of patient activation measures by GPs so they better understand the likelihood that patients are receptive to and will follow up on lifestyle advice.

“In our Federal Budget submission, we called for more support for patients to take an active and engaged interest in their health care and support for doctors to encourage that engagement.  The Consumers Health Forum will be reinforcing those calls in our soon-to-be released election priorities,” Ms Wells said.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @TheAHCWA Chair Vicki O’Donnell and Moorditj Koort’s ACCHO express deep concern over the Federal Government’s decision to award over $1.6m to a non-Indigenous organisation

“It is quite concerning, considering there are only two Aboriginal Health Services in the Perth Metropolitan Region. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have been consulted,.

From an economic standpoint, Moorditj Koort should have been considered for the government grant as research shows Indigenous organisations deliver greater outcomes than non-Indigenous organisations. ”

Moorditj Koort’s CEO Jonathon Ford said the organisation was not consulted by the government to apply for the grant. Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre has been Indigenous-owned and run in Perth since it was founded in 2010 See Part 2 Below 

Chair of the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA), Vicki O’Donnell has expressed deep concern over the Federal Government’s decision to award over $1.6m to a non-Indigenous organisation to deliver primary health care to Indigenous Australians.

AHCWA is the peak body for its 23 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across WA.

On February 14th, the Prime Minister stated “Governments fail when accountabilities are unclear ,when investment is poorly targeted, when systems aren’t integrated.

And when we don’t learn from evidence.”

Read Download HERE 

We have major concerns with the procurement process in relation to this funding decision.

  • How was the need for this additional service determined when there are already existing services in the area including Mooditj Koort, Derbarl Yerrigan and other not-for profit services? Is this not a duplication of services?
  • How would Redimed add value to the services already being provided in Midland given the existence of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) that have already built connections with the local Aboriginal community?
  • Why was the funding approval process not subject to an open tender process in fairness to existing agencies?
  • How was the capacity of the grant recipient to deliver the contract determined in terms of clinical accreditation and experience in delivering primary health care to Aboriginal people?
  • What is the rationale for introducing an additional non-Indigenous provider to deliver primary health care services to the area, rather than increasing the capacity of the two current ACCHS operating in Midland?

The AMA 2018 Report Card on Indigenous Health highlights the fundamental issues such as committing to equitable needs-based funding; systematically costing, funding, and implementing the ‘Closing the Gap’ health and mental health plans; identifying and filling the gaps in primary health care; addressing environmental health and housing; addressing social determinants; and Aboriginal leadership.

“Sizeable and rapid health gains would result from additional primary health care services and targeted improvements to existing primary health services to prevent, detect, and then manage the conditions that lead to potentially preventable hospital admissions and deaths.

By definition, it is these conditions that must be addressed if the life expectancy gap is to close….these services should generally be provided by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services that are more accessible, perform better in key areas, and are the most cost-effective vehicles for delivering primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

Read Download AMA Report Card HERE

The decision to award such significant funding to a non-Indigenous organisation goes completely against the sentiments made in Prime Minister’s recent statement at the launch of the Closing the Gap Report

BACKGROUND NIT 

Over $1.6 million of funding for Indigenous health services has been awarded to a non-Indigenous health organisation.

Redimed, a private Perth-based company, has been the recipient of an Indigenous Comprehensive Primary Health Care grant worth $1,692,856 from the Commonwealth Department of Health.

Redimed’s grant application was labelled as targeted or restricted, indicating other organisations may not have been invited to tender.

The number of organisations asked to apply is unconfirmed and questions are arising over the suitability of selecting a non-Indigenous organisation to deliver culturally competent health services to Indigenous peoples.

The Australian Health Review reported in 2017 that Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Services are more effective at improving Indigenous health than other health providers as they are specialised in delivering care that is consistent with Indigenous patient needs.

“Simply, we have evidence that we can do better with the same amount of funds,” Mr Ford said.

He said it is ethically wrong for non-Indigenous organisations to receive Indigenous health funds.

“Our Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations have the right to self-determination and self-management under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Ford said he is unsure why the government would give a hefty sum like that awarded to Redimed without consulting the First Nations people of the land in Perth.

“I do know that unless government begins to enable our Aboriginal Organisations to provide community driven strength-based approaches to our people, it will not close the gap.”

National Indigenous Times can report that Redimed has registered a new business name: Aboriginal Health Care 360. It is unclear whether Redimed is collaborating with 360 Health which provides some Indigenous health care services.

Redimed owner Dr Hanh Nguyen was contacted for comment, however no response was received.

The funding issue is expected to be brought up in Friday’s Senate Estimates.

Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt did not respond to National Indigenous Times’ requests for comment.

By Hannah Cross

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #RefreshtheCTGRefresh : Read and /Or Download #ClosingtheGap response Press Releases from Pat Turner NACCHO CEO @June_Oscar @congressmob @closethegapOZ @amapresident @RACGP @RecAustralia @Change_Record @Mayi_Kuwayu

Close the Gap Campaign

AMA

RACGP

Reconciliation Australia

Change the Record

AMSANT Darwin

Mayi Kuwayu /ANU

Greens

Introduction NACCHO Closing the Gap response CEO Pat Turner AM 

On the floor of Parliament yesterday, the Prime Minister spoke of a change happening in our country: that there is a shared understanding that we have a shared future- Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, together. But our present is not shared. Our present, and indeed our past is marred in difference, in disparity. This striking disparity in quality of life outcomes is what began the historic journey of the Closing the Gap initiatives a decade ago.

But after ten years of good intentions the outcomes have been disappointing. The gaps have not been closing and so-called targets have not been met. The quality of life among our communities is simply not equal to that of our non-indigenous Australian counterparts.

Yes change must come from within our communities, but change must also come from the whole of Australia. We must change together.

The time has come for our voices to be heard and for us to lead the way on Closing the Gap. We are ready for action. ”

Pat Turner AM is the CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

But I’m ever hopeful that change is near. I was heartened by the statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday on the floor of Parliament. For the first time, I heard a genuine acknowledgement of why the Closing the Gap outcomes seem steeped in failure. I heard an acknowledgement that until Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are brought to the table as equal partners, the gap will not be closed and progress will not be made. This is a view that our community has expressed for many years – a view I am encouraged has finally been heard.

Historically, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leaders have not been equal decision-makers in steering attempts to close the unacceptable gaps between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and the broader community. Our struggle as community-controlled organisations to even gain a voice at the table  – let alone for governments to actually listen to us – has long been at the crux of the disappointing progress.

Last year, an accord on the first stage of the Closing the Gap Refresh languished because discussions were not undertaken with genuine input from community members. We turned an important corner in December when an historic agreement was reached to include a coalition of peak bodies as equal partners in refreshing the Closing the Gap strategy.

We now need to ensure that the agreement blossoms into genuine action.

We simply cannot let this opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of our people slip by. Government cannot be allowed to drag the chain on this until it becomes another broken promise.

We are doing the heavy lifting and have drafted a formal partnership agreement for the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to consider. We are determined to do all that we can to fulfil COAG’s undertaking to agree formal partnership arrangements by the end of February.

The agreement sets out how we all work together and have shared and equal decision making on closing the gap. We are confident that a genuine partnership will help to accelerate positive outcomes to close the gaps.

The lack of progress under Closing the Gap is the lived reality of our people on the ground everyday. They are being robbed of living their full potential. Sadly, attending the funerals of people in our community – including increasingly young people taking their own lives – is all too common.

A coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies from across the nation has formed to be signatories to the partnership arrangements. We are now almost 40* service delivery, policy and advocacy organisations, with community-control at our heart. This is the first time our peak bodies have come together in this way.

Our coalition brings a critical mass of independent Indigenous organisations with deep connections to communities that will enhance the Closing the Gap efforts. We are a serious partner for government. We want to ensure our views are considered equal and that we make decisions jointly.

We cannot continue to approach Closing the Gap in the same old ways. The top-down approach has reaped disappointing results as evidenced by the lack of progress of previous strategies to reach their targets.

We must not lose sight of the most crucial point of Closing the Gap, which is to improve the everyday lives of our people. We must ensure our people are no longer burdened with higher rates of child mortality, poorer literacy, numeracy and employment outcomes and substantially lower life expectancies.

Yesterday on the floor of Parliament, the Prime Minister said that this will be a long journey of many steps. And I say, we have been walking for centuries. We have journeyed far and we will keep walking forward and climbing up until we reach a place where we are all on equal ground.

I also heard the Leader of the Opposition say that the burden of change needs to be carried by non-Indigenous Australians in acknowledging that racism still exists, that our justice system is deeply flawed and that generational trauma cannot be ignored.

Yes change must come from within our communities, but change must also come from the whole of Australia. We must change together.

The time has come for our voices to be heard and for us to lead the way on Closing the Gap. We are ready for action.

1 .Close the Gap Campaign

“We have had so many promises and so many disappointments. It’s well and truly time to match the rhetoric. We cannot continue to return to parliament every year and hear the appalling statistics,

 Last December, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), led by the Prime Minister, agreed to a formal partnership with peak Indigenous organisations on Closing the Gap.

We strongly support the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak bodies that has formed to be signatories to the partnership agreement with COAG, and for them to share as equal partners in the design, implementation and monitoring of Closing the Gap programs, policies and targets.

This partnership really does have the potential to be a game changer. It means active participation in decisions about matters that affect us. It will allow the voices of Indigenous Australians at community, local and national levels to be heard. “

The Co-Chairs of the Close the Gap Campaign, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO and the Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Rod Little, say that commitment must be followed by action.

It was imperative for Australian governments to have an agreement in place by the end of February with the coalition of more than 40 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and justice groups, so all stakeholders can get onto the “nitty gritty” of the Closing the Gap Refresh with new targets set to be finalised by mid year. ”

National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS) Forum convenor Antoinette Braybrook 

Download CTG Press Release

1.Close the Gap response to CTG

2.AMA

“After more than a decade, the lack of resourcing and investment in the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continues to see unacceptable gaps across a range of outcomes.

The lack of sufficient funding to vital Indigenous services and programs is a key reason for this.”

The AMA supports the comments made by Ms Pat Turner, CEO of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) who said: ‘While our people still live very much in third-world conditions in a lot of areas still in Australia … we have to hold everybody to account’.

Closing the Gap targets are vital if we are to see demonstrable improvements in the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The call for a justice target and a target around the removal of Aboriginal children should be considered.

The AMA welcomes the decision of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to agree a formal partnership with us on Closing the Gap. This is an historic milestone in the relationship between Governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.” 

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone

Download the AMA Press Release

2 AMA Closing the Gap progress disappointing

See all NACCHO AMA posts

3.RACGP

‘This year’s Closing the Gap report reminds us that whilst we are making important progress, we are still not doing enough for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

It’s critical we get this right. Our people deserve to live full and healthy lives, like every other Australian. We know the best way to achieve this is when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a say in the decisions that impact them.

Governments must acknowledge the critical role of primary healthcare and particularly the culturally responsive care offered by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in Closing the Gap “

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, told newsGP he welcomes the Prime Minister’s commitment to establishing a formal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the Closing the Gap Strategy.

Read full Press Release HERE

Read NACCHO RACGP articles HERE

4.Reconciliation Australia

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and peak bodies have been demanding a greater say in the policy priorities, and design and implementation of programs around the CTG since its inception over a decade ago. Today’s commitment by the Prime Minister, supported by the Opposition Leader, is welcome albeit overdue, and builds on the COAG commitment in December.

It is simple common sense that people, who live each day with the problems CTG is trying to address, will have the greatest knowledge and understanding of the causes and solutions to these problems “

Karen Mundine, CEO of Reconciliation Australia, said her organisation was disappointed by the failure but remained hopeful that a bipartisan commitment to a greater First Nations’ voice in the planned refresh of the CTG would lead to more effective programs being delivered in partnership with communities.

Download the Press Release

4.Reconciliation Aust CTG Response

5.Change the Record

 “Change the Record calls on the Prime Minister to listen to the majority of        Australians who believe governments must act to close the gap on justice, as shown by the 2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer results.

“Almost 60% of Australians want the Federal Government to include justice in Closing the Gap, and 95% agree our people should have a say in matters that affect us,”

In the past year the Government engaged selected stakeholders in a nation-wide consultation, however many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations were excluded. Change the Record stands in support of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak bodies as they push for a formal partnership agreement to finalise the Closing the Gap Refresh.

This historic step to make our peak bodies equal partners with Government is critical to our self-determination and to Closing the Gap,”

Change the Record co-chair Damian Griffis.

Download the CTG Press Release

5. Change the Record

6. AMSANT Darwin

We would have loved to be part of those discussions about what to prioritise. We absolutely support education being a top priority target, but we need to ensure we are also prioritising some of those targets such as housing.”

You are not going to get kids to go to school if they haven’t had a decent night’s sleep because of an overcrowded house, you are not going to get kids to go to school if they haven’t got food in their tummy … you ain’t going to get kids to go to school if parents are not encouraging them to go to school due to lack of support services for parents”,

John Paterson AMSANT Darwin

From SMH Interview

7.Mayi Kuwayu /ANU

 ” The refreshed targets help us focus on progress and achievement. Most of these refreshed targets are not dependent on how things are going within the non-Indigenous population (they are not moving targets) — they are absolute, fixed targets that we can work towards. For example, the old target of “halve the gap in employment by 2018” is replaced by “65 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth (15-24 years) are in employment, education or training by 2028”.

Further, the refreshed targets are evidence-based and appear to be achievable.

This is a change from the original targets which the evidence showed could never have been met. They were always going to fail. This is a problem because it has reinforced the idea held by many in the wider Australian community that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inequality was “too big of a problem” and could never be overcome. Or even worse, it supported the myth that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves were the problem

Ray Lovett, Katherine Thurber, and Emily Banks are part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, and conduct research on the social and cultural determinants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

Their approach is to conduct research in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, communities, and organisations, and to frame research using a strengths-based approach, where possible. Follow the program @Mayi_Kuwayu Professor Maggie Walter is the Pro Vice-Chancellor Aboriginal Research and Leadership at the University of Tasmania.

 Read Article in Full 

8.Greens

” Mr Morrison’s closing the gap address was paternalistic and patronising and a clear indication that he doesn’t get it.

Mr Morrison lectured the Parliament about co-design and collaboration but he does not practice what he preaches

The Coalition was dragged kicking and screaming to a co-design approach and the Government’s failure to listen when the process started was in fact the reason we are so delayed with the Close the Gap refresh.

You would think that he was the first person to think of collaboration and co-design!

Senator Rachel Siewert 

Download the Greens CTG Press Release

8.Greens Party CTG Response

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #refreshtheCTGRefresh : @NACCHOchair Welcomes the release of the @AMAPresident 2018 Report Card on Indigenous Health and joins its call for rebuilding the #ClosingtheGap health strategy from the ground up

It’s been a decade since the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) launched the Closing the Gap Strategy, with a target of achieving life expectancy equality by 2031

But 10 years on, progress is limited, mixed, and disappointing. If anything, the gap is widening as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health gains are outpaced by improvement in non-Indigenous health outcomes.

The Strategy has all but unravelled, and efforts underway now to refresh the Strategy run the risk of simply perpetuating the current implementation failures.

The Strategy needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, not simply refreshed without adequate funding and commitment from all governments to a national approach.”

The Closing the Gap Strategy is unravelling, and must be rebuilt from the ground up to have any chance of closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone said today at the launch of the AMA report at the ATSICHS ACCHO in Brisbane : Interview with The Guardian Part 3 Below 

Download the 24 Page AMA Report 

AMA Indigenous Health Report Card 2018 (2)

Dr Tony Bartone (left ) and Ms Donnella Mills ( Second left ) on tour of ATSICHS

We congratulate the AMA on their work to support closing the gap and endorse the recommendations in the report.”

The report highlights research which indicates the mortality gaps between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians are widening, not narrowing.

Urgent and systematic action is needed to reverse these failures and to have any prospect of meeting the Council of Australian Governments’ goal to Close the Gap in life expectancy by 2031

NACCHO calls for the immediate adoption of the Report Card’s recommendations.

We are seeking a formal partnership between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and governments to be included in the Closing the Gap Refresh policy , Aboriginal people need to be at the centre of Closing the Gap strategies; the gap won’t close without our full engagement and involvement.

The Chairperson of the peak body for Aboriginal controlled health services Ms Donnella Mills today welcomed the release of the AMA’s 2018 Report Card on Indigenous Health and joined its call for rebuilding the Closing the Gap from the ground up. See full NACCHO Press Release HERE 

It doesn’t mean that things aren’t improving, because health outcomes for our people are improving

The challenge is that we’re trying to actually improve the pace of that improvement faster than some of the healthiest people in the world, which is what Australians enjoy – one of the healthiest countries on the globe.

So you’re trying to actually close the gap between some of the sickest people in the world to some of the healthiest people in the world – it was always an ambitious target.”

Adrian Carson, CEO of the Urban Institute of Indigenous Health, said while national outcomes lagged behind, he had seen “significant” health improvements at a local level in south-east Queensland. see Part 3 below or in full here 

Busting the myth that Indigenous-led organisations ‘don’t deliver’

Dr Bartone today launched the AMA Indigenous Health Report Card 2018, the AMA’s annual analysis of an area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health across the nation.

This year’s Report Card scrutinises the 10-year-old Closing the Gap Strategy, and recent efforts to “refresh” the Strategy.

“It’s been a decade since the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) launched the Closing the Gap Strategy, with a target of achieving life expectancy equality by 2031,” Dr Bartone said.

“But 10 years on, progress is limited, mixed, and disappointing. If anything, the gap is widening as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health gains are outpaced by improvement in non-Indigenous health outcomes.

“The Strategy has all but unravelled, and efforts underway now to refresh the Strategy run the risk of simply perpetuating the current implementation failures.

“The Strategy needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, not simply refreshed without adequate funding and commitment from all governments to a national approach.”

The Report Card outlines six targets to rebuild the Strategy:

  • committing to equitable, needs-based expenditure;
  • systematically costing, funding, and implementing the Closing the Gap health and mental health plans;
  • identifying and filling primary health care service gaps;
  • addressing environmental health and housing;
  • addressing the social determinants of health inequality; and
  • placing Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands.

“It is time to address the myth that it is some form of special treatment to provide additional health funding to address additional health needs in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population,” Dr Bartone said.

“Government spend proportionally more on the health of older Australians when compared to young Australians, simply because elderly people’s health needs are proportionally greater.

“The same principle should be applied when assessing what equitable Indigenous health spending is, relative to non-Indigenous health expenditure.

“The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander burden of disease is 2.3 times greater than the non-Indigenous burden, meaning that the Indigenous population has 2.3 times the health needs of the non-Indigenous population.

“This means that for every $1 spent on health care for a non-Indigenous person, $2.30 should be spent on care for an Indigenous person.

“But this is not the case. For every $1 spent by the Commonwealth on primary health care, including Medicare, for a non-Indigenous person, only 90 cents is spent on an Indigenous person – a 61 per cent shortfall.

“For the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the gap is even greater – 63 cents for every dollar, or a 73 per cent shortfall from the equitable spend.

“Spending less per capita on those with worse health, and particularly on their primary health care services, is dysfunctional national policy. It leads to us spending six times more on hospital care for Indigenous Australians than we do on prevention-oriented care from GPs and other doctors.

“We will not close the gap until we provide equitable levels of health funding. We need our political leaders and commentators to tackle the irresponsible equating of equitable expenditure with ‘special treatment’ that has hindered efforts to secure the level of funding needed to close the health and life expectancy gap.”

AMA Media Coverage 

The AMA 2018 Indigenous Health Report Card is at https://ama.com.au/article/2018-ama-report-card-indigenous-health-rebuilding-closing-gap-health-strategy-and-review

Part 2 : The Chairperson of the peak body for Aboriginal controlled health services Ms Donnella Mills today welcomed the release of the AMA’s 2018 Report Card on Indigenous Health and joined its call for rebuilding the Closing the Gap from the ground up.

Download the full NACCHO Press Release HERE

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chairperson, Ms Donnella Mills said, “We congratulate the AMA on their work to support closing the gap and endorse the recommendations in the report.”

The report highlights research which indicates the mortality gaps between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians are widening, not narrowing.

The AMA estimate that the Commonwealth government spend on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is only 53% of needs-based requirements. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have at least twice the per capita need of the rest of the population because of much higher levels of illness and burden of disease.

“This underspend represents a significant failure” Ms Mills said. “Genuine commitment by Australian governments to Closing the Gap requires equitable funding.”

The funding shortfall is particularly important for primary health care services where big gains could be made in improving health, keeping people out of hospital and preventing premature deaths. Funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, which deliver accessible, culturally safe, comprehensive primary health care across Australia, is not keeping up with need.

Alongside the increased funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service there is an urgent need for government to address the environmental health, housing and other social determinants of health inequality.

NACCHO, its Affiliates and members will continue to work with the AMA to urge the adoption of the Report Card’s recommendations by Australian governments.

Part 3 Busting the myth that Indigenous-led organisations ‘don’t deliver’

From NITV

Adrian Carson, CEO of the Urban Institute of Indigenous Health, said while national outcomes lagged behind, he had seen “significant” health improvements at a local level in south-east Queensland.

He urged governments to place more trust in Indigenous-led organisations to deliver services.

“This country’s still got a crisis in terms of its relationship with the First People,” Mr Carson told NITV News.

“The narrative’s a negative one, it’s always deficit-based, but we turn around and look at what parts of our sector are doing… we’re actually coming up with improved health outcomes within our community – they’re actually solutions that could benefit the whole country.

So this whole idea that somehow our communities can’t be trusted, or that we don’t have the capacity to deliver, is a myth.”

Mr Carson said while he welcomed the AMA’s report, it was important to take a proactive approach rather than dwelling on negative statistics.

“It doesn’t mean that things aren’t improving, because health outcomes for our people are improving,” he said.

“The challenge is that we’re trying to actually improve the pace of that improvement faster than some of the healthiest people in the world, which is what Australians enjoy – one of the healthiest countries on the globe.

“So you’re trying to actually close the gap between some of the sickest people in the world to some of the healthiest people in the world – it was always an ambitious target.”

Part 4 The Guardian Interview

The Australian Medical Association says the Closing the Gap strategy has “all but unravelled” and insists that the policy needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, starting with boosting health expenditure on Indigenous Australians and putting Aboriginal healthcare in Aboriginal hands.

A refresh of the program is expected to be considered at the December meeting of the Council of Australian Governments, but the AMA president, Tony Bartone, says Closing the Gap needs root-and-branch reform, not changes “without adequate funding and commitment from all governments to a national approach”.

Read in full 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health NEWS ALERT : @AMAPresident speech to Indigenous Doctors @AIDAAustralia #AIDAConf2018 – Making Indigenous health an election issue -Together we can indeed turn vision into action.

 

” The latest data indicate that only three of the seven Closing the Gap targets are on track to be met.

This is a potent political message to get the attention of the major parties and the broader Australian community – the voters.

And we now have a significant opportunity to advocate strongly for Government action to do better – a Federal Election is drawing closer.

The coming months are the perfect time to campaign and advocate to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.”

Everybody knows that health policy changes votes.

There will be more significant funding announcements across the health portfolio in the next six to nine months.

We must ensure that Indigenous health gets its fair share.”

Tony Bartone AMA President AIDA Conference 28 September

Picture above : Dr Bartona congratulating Dr Kris Rallah-Baker new AIDA president and looking forward to welcoming him at AMA Federal Council. 

Picture below Dr Bartone meeting with the Minister and NACCHO Executive team

Read over 30 NACCHO Aboriginal Health posts from the AMA

I acknowledge the Wadjuk Noongar people – thetraditional owners and custodians of the land, and pay respects to their elders, past and present.

My thanks to the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association for the invitation to speak here today. It is a great privilege.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face adversity in many aspects of their lives.

There is arguably no greater indicator of disadvantage than the appalling state of Indigenous health.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are needlessly sicker, and are dying much younger than their non-Indigenous peers.

What is even more disturbing is that many of these health problems and deaths stem from preventable causes.

There are many groups and organisations dedicated fulltime to changing things – AIDA, NACCHO, Lowitja, Aurora, the Medical Colleges, the universities, AMSA (our medical students), the nurses and midwives, and other foundations and agencies. Too many to mention.

And there are many individuals who campaign long and loud and hard – people like our MC today, Dr Jeff McMullen.

The AMA places improving Indigenous Health always as a major priority in our advocacy.

I see our role more as a catalyst for political action.

We have significant influence within Federal politics in Canberra across the whole spectrum of health.

We have policy, much of it contained in our annual Report Cards.

And we respond to policy or funding announcements – or lack of them – at Budget time.

Tragically, we have seen more cuts than top-ups. Funding is going backwards.

The core of AMA policy is the same as everybody at this Conference – proper funding for proven targeted programs and services that are delivered in a community-controlled way.

The AMA will work closely with all stakeholders to ensure all our policies get the attention and responses they deserve.

But, as we all know, the battle to gain meaningful and lasting improvements has been long and hard, and it continues.

The statistics speak for themselves:

  • A life expectancy gap of around ten years remains between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
  • The death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is still more than double the rate for non-Indigenous children.
  • Preventable admissions and deaths are three times higher in ATSI people.
  • Medicare expenditure is about half the needs-based requirements, and PBS expenditure is about one third the needs-based requirements.

On top of this, we have the Closing the Gap targets to map progress – or measure failure.

The latest data indicate that only three of the seven Closing the Gap targets are on track to be met.

The target to halve the gap in child mortality by 2018 is on track.

The target to have 95 per cent of all Indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education by 2025is on track.

The target to close the gap in school attendance by 2018is not on track.

The target to halve the gap in reading and numeracy by 2018 is not on track.

The target to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment by 2020 is on track.

The target to halve the gap in employment by 2018 is not on track.

The target to close the gap in life expectancy by 2031 is not on track.

Three out of seven is not good.

This is a potent political message to get the attention of the major parties and the broader Australian community – the voters.

And we now have a significant opportunity to advocate strongly for Government action to do better – a Federal Election is drawing closer.

The coming months are the perfect time to campaign and advocate to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

Everybody knows that health policy changes votes.

The Coalition almost lost Government in 2016 because of health policy.

It is not surprising that we are currently seeing a much higher profile for health issues.

We currently have a focus on aged care. The Government has announced a Royal Commission.

This week the Government announced more funding for meningococcal vaccine.

There is an ongoing review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

The Health Minister relishes making regular ‘good news’ announcements of new drugs and treatments under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – the PBS.

Changes to private health insurance will be announced soon.

And there will be a bidding war on public hospital funding, just like we saw this week on MRI machines.

All these things cost money – lots of money.

There will be more significant funding announcements across the health portfolio in the next six to nine months.

We must ensure that Indigenous health gets its fair share.

The AMA has repeatedly said that it is not credible that Australia, one of the world’s wealthiest countries, cannot address the health and social justice issues that affect three per cent of its citizens.

We will continue to work with all governments and all political parties to improve health and life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

More importantly, we will work tirelessly with you to achieve our shared goals.

Together we can indeed turn vision into action.