Aboriginal #heart #stroke Health : $15 million #HealthBudget17 Investment in #PhysicalActivity and #healthylifestyles to #takethepressuredown

“We walk from the pier to the swimming pool, but everyone walks their own pace and distance.

Before walking, an Aboriginal health worker takes the blood pressure of the walkers to let them know how their general health is.

The group was about “more than just walking”, with general health checks and healthy food offered as part of the weekly meet-up .We have young and old, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and everyone gets on really well.”

Community liaison officer Joe Malone : Run jointly by Heart Foundation Walking and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Community Health Service Northgate QLD , the meetings help keep local residents active.

Read Full story HERE

To find a local walking group, head to the Heart Foundation Walking website or call 1300 362 787

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : ” High blood pressure is a silent killer ” new Heart Foundation guidelines

“Disturbingly, about half of Australian adults are not physically active enough to gain the health benefits of exercise. This includes just under half of young people aged 25 to 34 years old. This puts them at higher risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers and dementia in later life.

“But even moderate exercise is like a wonder drug. Being active for as little as 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can reduce risk of death from heart attack by a third, as well as help you sleep better, feel better, improve your strength and balance, and maintain your bone density. It also manages your weight, blood pressure and blood cholesterol. So we are delighted by the news of the Prime Minister’s $10 million walking challenge.”

Heart Foundation National CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly see full below

 ” The Stoke Foundation is excited to announce that the Stroke Foundation is partnering with Priceline Pharmacy for the 2017 Australia’s Biggest Blood Pressure Check campaign.

Australia’s Biggest Blood Pressure Check will take place Wednesday 17 May – Wednesday 14 June with a target to deliver 80,000 free health checks at over 320 locations around Australia including Priceline Pharmacy stores, selected shopping centres and Queensland Know your numbers sites.

Find your nearest free health check location HERE or your Aboriginal Community Controlled Health ( ACCHO )

Heart Foundation applauds Budget funding for Healthy Heart package

At a glance

Regular walking or other physical activity reduces:

  • All-cause mortality by 30%
  • Heart disease and stroke by 35%
  • Type 2 diabetes by 42%
  • Colon cancer by 30%
  • Breast cancer by 20%
  • Weight, blood pressure and blood cholesterol

The Heart Foundation welcomes a $10 million commitment in the Federal Budget to get more Australians active by investing in a walking revolution, and $5 million dedicated to helping GPs to encourage patients to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced that $10 million over two years will be allocated to the Heart Foundation to lead the Prime Minister’s Walk for Life Challenge, which will support up to 300,000 Australians to adopt the easy way to better health – regular walking – by 2019.

“Physical inactivity takes an immense toll on the Australian community, causing an estimated 14,000 premature deaths a year – similar to that caused by smoking,” said Heart Foundation National CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly.

Heart Foundation Walking is Australia’s only national network of free walking groups. It has helped more than 80,000 Australians walk their way to better health since the program began in 1995, and currently has nearly 30,000 active participants. “We need to inspire Australians to be more active, and walking groups are a cheap, fun and easy way for them to get moving,” Professor Kelly said.

The Heart Foundation wants to see everyone ‘Move More and Sit Less’, including school students, sedentary workers and older Australians. “So we welcome the Government’s National Sports Plan, also announced in the Budget, to encourage physical activity at all levels, from community participation to elite sports.

“The Heart Foundation is also pleased to see a renewed commitment of more than $18 million to the National Rheumatic Fever Strategy, a critical program if we are to Close the Gap in health for Indigenous communities,” said Professor Kelly. “And we welcome the listing of the new heart failure medication Entresto on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, making it affordable for many more Australians, as well as funding for research into preventative care, and the development of a National Sport Plan, with its emphasis on participation.”

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who experience and die from cardiovascular disease at much higher rates than other Australians. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, when compared with other Australians, are:

  • 1.3 times as likely to have cardiovascular disease (1)
  • three times more likely to have a major coronary event, such as a heart attack (2)
  • more than twice as likely to die in hospital from coronary heart disease (2)
  • 19 times as likely to die from acute rheumatic fever and chronic rheumatic heart Disease (3)
  • more likely to smoke, have high blood pressure, be obese, have diabetes and have end-stage renal disease.(3)

From Heart Foundation website

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @KenWyattMP Press Release : Indigenous health programs boost in the Federal Budget

 ” Budget measures will improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the Government is now investing $3.6 billion over four years from 2017-18 for the Indigenous Australians’ Health Program, representing an increase of $724 million compared to expenditure over the previous four years.

“Continued growth in the Program will improve access to culturally appropriate comprehensive primary health care for Indigenous Australians, as well as address areas of critical need through targeted investments that are expected to accelerate progress in closing the gap in health disparity,”

The Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt pictured above from 2008 Close The Gap launch

“Many of the other mainstream budget health measures will also impact on Indigenous Health,

In particular re-introducing indexation to MBS payments will provide increased Medicare funding to eligible providers including Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs). The unfreezing of indexation will be a staged approach commencing in 1 July 2017 with GP bulk-bulling incentives.”

“I am particularly pleased that 46 of the 200 preferred sites for Health Care Homes are Aboriginal Medical Services, including ACCHSs, although the final number of participating sites will not be known until agreements are reached.”

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs)

Download copy of this Release  KEN Wyatt Minister release

The Australian Government has continued its commitment to provide better health services for Indigenous Australians with a funding boost in the Federal Budget.

The Turnbull Government has continued its commitment to provide better health services for Indigenous Australians with a funding boost in the Federal Budget.

“The growth in the Program has allowed us to develop innovative targeted initiatives. For example, an additional investment of approximately $6 million for the extension of the Reducing Rheumatic Heart Fever among Indigenous Children Budget measure will expand the Rheumatic Fever Strategy to include other environmental and health care measures to prevent the incidence of Acute Rheumatic Fever, and improve data and reporting systems.

“The majority of investment in Indigenous health continues to rely on mainstream health expenditure through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), hospitals and National Partnership Payments of $53 million (2015-16 to 2019-20).”

Minister Wyatt said the Support for Community Pharmacies – Increasing Patient Access to Medication Management Services budget initiative allows pharmacists to offer services during patient home visits – or at an alternative preferred location for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients – to identify medication or compliance problems and to provide education on the correct use of medicines and monitoring devices.

“This measure also releases funding previously held in the Contingency Reserve to continue programs under the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA), including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Programs.”

Other health initiatives that will impact on better health care for Indigenous people include:

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) – Improving access
The Government is reducing the cost of medicines by $1.8 billion over five years to make medicines more affordable. Our careful management of PBS spending means that we are able to list new, effective medicines on the PBS when they become available. This includes new listing of ferrous fumerate and ferrous fumerate with folic acid on the PBS which are used to treat iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemias which are prevalent in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Maintaining Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services Pharmaceutical Dispensing
Ensures continued remuneration for pharmacists supplying PBS medicines to individuals through the Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services (RAAHS) program.

“The Federal Budget gives us cause to pause and consider the many opportunities we have to accelerate progress in this space,” Minister Wyatt said.

Delivering Improved Mental Health Services
The Turnbull Government is building on its mental health reforms by delivering another boost of more than $170 million for mental health support, treatment and research that will directly benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This includes people living in rural and remote regions of Australia will now receive significantly improved access to psychologists, under a new $9.1 million telehealth initiative set to roll-out later this year.

Fighting childhood cancer
The Government is contributing $79 million to cancer research including $10.8 million to fight childhood cancer. This includes $1.4 million for pediatric brain cancer clinical trials and $4.4 million for Cancer Australia.

CanTeen will also receive $5 million to support clinical trials in adolescents and young adults as one of the first allocations from our landmark $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

Better support for children living with diabetes
The Government will provide $54.0 million over five years from 2016 17 to provide free access to continuous glucose monitoring devices for children and young adults under 21 years of age who face extra challenges managing their type 1 diabetes. Continuous glucose monitoring devices assist in managing type 1 diabetes by automatically checking an individual’s blood sugar levels and reducing the need for finger prick tests.

The Government will simplify and reduce patient contribution arrangements from 1 July 2017 for the Insulin Pump Program (the Program), which provides subsidised access to insulin pumps for children with type 1 diabetes. This will ensure children with type 1 diabetes will have more affordable access to insulin pumps.

NACCHO Aboriginal #HealthBudget17 : Indigenous health funding not enough says #ClosetheGap co-chairs

“The Close the Gap Campaign priorities are not new. Governments know these priorities well. Yet the health gap remains a national tragedy,”

Indigenous people have a life expectancy of at least 10 years less than their non-Indigenous peers.

A nation as wealthy as ours should fund the critical health care of less than 3 per cent of its entire population,

The Commonwealth must work in full partnership with the state and territory governments to address all Aboriginal health needs.We especially need to agree on a national strategy to address the social and cultural determinants of health.

Every child under four must have ready access to early childhood education; every family should be able to live in decent social housing which is not over-crowded; and every working age person should be able to be gainfully employed.

These are immediate priorities because the social determinants of health account for more than 30% of the burden of disease that affects our people.

There is no other sector of Australian society that would tolerate the conditions our people live in and the lack of opportunity we have to improve these conditions.”

Pat Turner (pictured above), Co-Chair of the Close the Gap Campaign and CEO of National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.Pictured above at Redfern Statement launch

Indigenous health representatives met in Canberra this week to consider the Federal Government’s 2017 budget, with Close the Gap Campaign Co-Chair Dr Jackie Huggins reflecting disappointment in the figures.

“More investment is needed to close the health gap experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Funding cuts will not close this gap,” Dr Huggins said.

“We need to train and support more Indigenous health practitioners, doctors and nurses; and it is essential that we put the social determinants of health at the centre of this debate.”

Dr Huggins, who is also Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, said she would like to see disability, incarceration and justice measurements added to the Close the Gap targets.

The Close the Gap Campaign’s 2017 Budget Position paper (pdf) lists eight priorities that will help close the gap in health inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Including Recommendation 4

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) are supported to provide high-quality, comprehensive and accountable services that are locally responsive to identified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health needs by:

a. Providing sufficient funding to identify and fill the primary health care service gaps; and

b. Systematic assessment of health outcomes/needs, workforce capability and service capacity undertaken to inform the development of the core services model, future workforce requirements and investment and capacity building priorities

c. Ensure Primary Health Networks are directed to support and partner with ACCHS as the preferred providers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services.

The ACCHS sector provides inherent advantages for closing the gap. Firstly, its service model is the provision of comprehensive primary health care. This model of care is needed because of the higher levels and earlier age onset of illness, the much greater levels of comorbidity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – and the need to address the fundamental determinants of health if the gap is to be closed. ACCHS were established because of the inability of mainstream services to deliver for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and have a critical role to play in closing the Gap.

The ACCHS sector is a major employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at all levels. In many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the ACCHS operates as the primary employer. These are real and essential, skilled jobs. A long-term plan for building the capabilities of ACCHS is overdue.

The Campaign calls on Government to provide greater surety of funding to enable ACCHS to enhance their capacity to undertake long-term service and workforce planning – particularly in relation to primary health care service gaps. We know that sustainable, long-term services deliver the best health outcomes.

We further propose that ACCHS be treated as preferred providers for health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people unless it can be shown that alternative arrangements can produce better outcomes in terms of quality of care and access to services. We believe the evidence shows this and we support government using an objective, informed evidence base to guide future decisions.

Press release part 2

The Indigenous Health budget for the next financial year is $881 million, compared to $798 million allocated this financial year. The $83 million increase is primarily attributed to population increase and indexation.

Dr Huggins and Ms Turner said the Government’s decision to restore indexation of the Medicare Benefits Scheme is a good outcome. They said this was a priority for the Close the Gap Campaign after Parliament introduced the freeze on Medicare benefits in 2013-14.

The Government had previously announced a $40 million investment over four years to strengthen the evaluation of Indigenous Affairs programs. Improved reporting, monitoring and evaluation of contracts, programs and outcomes is expected to underpin this.

The Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has released statements about the Medicare Guarantee Fund and other budget commitments on health.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has released statements about investment in Indigenous research and evaluation and the Indigenous business sector strategy.

Photo: Close the Gap Campaign Co-Chair Pat Turner.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #HealthBudget2017 : Peak Indigenous bodies and Opposition parties respond to #Budget2017

 ” Treasurer Scott Morrison says the 2017 Budget will show that the Government understands the frustrations of many Australians.

For Indigenous Australians, the greatest frustration is the slow pace of change in closing the gap in disadvantage, and the continuation of poor health and wellbeing.

The Australian Government must commit to a new relationship and genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in decisions made about Indigenous Australians; decisions that address housing, health, education, justice, disability and representation.

If the Government is serious about closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage, it is essential that secure, long term funding be allocated to:

 1.Building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical workforce;

 2.Resourcing the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 (NATSIHP); and

3. Tackling and abolishing racism in the Australian health system.”

Does the 2017 Budget show that the Government understands the frustrations of Indigenous Australians? Questions  the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association see article 2 below

 ” Peak Indigenous groups have responded to the federal budget, saying its new measures are out of touch and fail to reach real solutions for Indigenous Australians .

National Congress of Australia’s First People Co-Chair Rod Little says Indigenous people are invisible. “

From NITV The Point report Nakari Thorpe ( see article 1 Below )

In February of this year the Prime Minister reported that only one of the six targets that have been set for closing the gap is on track, and those targets don’t go near representing all of the social and economic issues that need addressing.”

The government is failing to adequately address the disadvantage experienced by the nation’s First Peoples, failing to inject any sense of urgency in turning around these issues, and failing to listen to, and work with First Peoples,

That government needs listen to, and work with, First Peoples to accelerate progress is unquestionable, but nowhere is the urgency to do that evident in this Budget.”

If the government can afford to build a dozen multi-billion dollar submarines, or give tax cuts to corporations, it can afford to address the wellbeing of just 3% of the population, and the First Peoples of the land,”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights organisation ANTaR today expressed dismay at the lack of urgency and substance in the Federal Budget to address the ongoing disadvantage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. (see article 3 below )

“The 2017 budget fails to deliver for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians,” leader of the opposition Bill Shorten, Senator Patrick Dodson, Warren Snowden, Linda Burney and Senator Malarndirri McCarthy said in a joint statement.

While the budget includes piecemeal proposals for better employment and health outcomes, there is no comprehensive strategy to make progress on the stalled Closing the Gap targets, or to address other longstanding issues such as the incarceration crisis.

The budget also fails to secure the future of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples with proper funding. Congress is our independent, elected, national Indigenous representative body – it must be respected and resourced.

The government’s entire approach to Indigenous affairs is defined by savage cuts to services, a loss of local control, a failure to listen to Indigenous voices, and policy-making which is paternalistic and overly bureaucratic.”

 Leader of the opposition Bill Shorten, Senator Patrick Dodson, Warren Snowden, Linda Burney and Senator Malarndirri McCarthy said in a joint statement.

Download Full Press Release here Labor Budget 2017

“Whatever happened to Prime Minister Turnbull’s flagship health reform? This time last year Malcolm was out there spruiking his Health Care Homes initiative to revolutionise Medicare for chronic disease, yet last night we saw the funding for this initiative cut and kicked two years down the road while trial sites are delayed until October.

“Not only are they unpicking their own reform program designed to treat people with chronic illnesses, there is next to nothing for programs to help prevent Australians developing debilitating chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease in the first place, particularly in children.

In case there was any doubt, this budget also confirms this Government has no commitment to Closing the Gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health.”

Leader of the Australian Greens Dr Richard Di Natale

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues in the budget largely unaddressed: Greens

The Treasurer might have vaguely mentioned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues in his budget speech, but the detail doesn’t back up the rhetoric, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

“What you don’t see included in the budget papers can be just as concerning as what you do include.

This is definitely the case for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues in the 2017 Federal Budget.

“There is no commitment resources to the Redfern statement, this is despite it being a document backed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and peoples as essential to close the gap.

“The Redfern Statement is a strong blueprint to close the gap and finally reconciling our First Peoples but remains unaddressed by the Federal Government, who keep saying they will listen but then don’t.

“There is also no addition funding for National Congress of Australia’s First People. At the moment that team are under resourced, having had their funding cut in a previous budget, they need more funding desperately.

“The Abbott Government gutted half a billion from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander funding when they rolled out the Indigenous Advancement Strategy. Although there has been a marginal increase, it does not come close to topping that money back up to original levels.

“When key markers to Close the Gap continue to go backwards, and the Minister is scratching his head as to why, perhaps it is because they removed a lot of money and pushed many of the services to be mainstream rather than Aboriginal-led.

“The Government should actually listen to the host of Aboriginal voices who are offering solutions to reduce disadvantage and reconcile with our First Peoples. We need to be moving forwards, not backwards”.

Article 1 : From NITV The Point report Nakari Thorpe 

Indigenous peak bodies have converged on Canberra this week to respond to the federal budget, announced on Tuesday night by Treasurer Scott Morrison.

View NITV Interview Here

They say the Turnbull Government is out of touch and many of its measures affecting Indigenous Australians are not enough. They’re calling on the Coalition to work with First Nations peoples to reach real solutions.

National Congress of Australia’s First People Co-Chair Rod Little says Indigenous people are invisibile.

“We should be featuring more prominently in a national budget,” he said.

Congress Co-Chair Jackie Huggins agrees.

“We have been lumped in with a whole range of the people and really buried under those statistics,” she said.

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care CEO, Gerry Moore, says the budget fails Indigenous children.

“This isn’t anywhere near enough and the government need to think seriously about the children of our future, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” he said.

NATSILS CEO Cheryl Axleby says while she welcomes the coalition’s reversal of cuts to community legal centres, she warns against action stopping there.

“We’re calling for a justice target, in line with the Closing the Gap targets, we need to have a focus on justice if we really want to see solutions to addressing this issue in Australia,” she said.

Damien Griffis, from the First People’s Disability Network, says the Medicare price hike to fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme is not enough.

He says an Aboriginal-owned and operated disability service system is needed.

“That needs to happen urgently. It needed to happen yesterday frankly, so that we can get equal and fair access to the NDIS,” he said.

Labor MP Linda Burney says the Government’s economic blueprint neglects Indigenous Australians.

“It has no vision, it does not anticipate the real issues that are coming up for the Aboriginal space. It also is going to put more money into the pockets of bureaucracies and consultants not out there on the ground where it’s needed,” she told NITV News.

Article 2 Does the 2017 Budget show that the Government understands the frustrations of Indigenous Australians?

Download the AIDA Press Release Australian Indigenous Doctors Assoc Budget 2017

Treasurer Scott Morrison says the 2017 Budget will show that the Government understands the frustrations of many Australians. For Indigenous Australians, the greatest frustration is the slow pace of change in closing the gap in disadvantage, and the continuation of poor health and wellbeing.

The announcement to lift the freeze on Medicare rebates and increase the Medicare levy is encouraging for disadvantaged Australians. The lift allowing GP’s to charge more for their services, will hopefully see bulk-billing practices remain operational or increase in number, and the increase to the levy to provide long term secure funding for the NDIS is wanted.

AIDA welcomes the announcement of the Indigenous Research Fund but would have preferred more commitment to resourcing existing Indigenous health programs and service delivery. We also welcome the budget measures that are specifically aimed at closing the employment gap, but we more commitment around the other health targets in needed.

It has also been promising to see measures to enhance the delivery and relevance of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy. We note that it has already been reviewed by a Senate committee and the Australian National Audit Office and look forward to the implementation of the recommendations contained in those reports.

The Australian Government must commit to a new relationship and genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in decisions made about Indigenous Australians; decisions that address housing, health, education, justice, disability and representation.

Article 3 ANTAR

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights organisation ANTaR  suggested what could be funded immediately to start to signal that government is taking the health and wellbeing of First Peoples seriously.

1. Restoring previous funding levels to the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples as the national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

2. Funding the establishment of peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing and education organisations to provide a national voice for those issues

3. Provide sufficient funding for the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023

4. Fund the development of a long-term National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Cultural Determinants of Health Strategy

5. Fund a national Inquiry into institutional racism in the health system

6. Prioritise disability services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including through making disability a priority in the Indigenous Advancement Strategy and quarantine an equitable share entitlement of the NDIS according to need

7. Ensure adequate funding for Aboriginal Family Violence Protection Legal Services, including through allocating funding to ensure there is national coverage (regardless of geographic location) of FVPLS services.

8. Ensure funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) that is able to meet the level of need, including through implementing the Productivity Commission’s Recommendation from its Access to Justice Arrangements Inquiry Report to provide an additional $120 million of Commonwealth funding to the Legal Assistance sector.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal #HealthBudget17 : #Budget2017 Are we investing enough in #healthyfutures to #closethegap ?

‘It is unacceptable that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to have poorer health and a much lower life expectancy than the general population, and that this Budget has overlooked that massive inequity.

COAG’s recent re‑commitment to prioritising improving outcomes for Australia’s First Peoples should have been supported by appropriate funding and support for locally developed responses.

‘A commitment should have been made to appropriately fund the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 and its Implementation Plan”

 AHHA Health Budget 2017

 ” It is disappointing that Indigenous health interventions must also wait for the “third wave” of reform in another two years. However, the Closing the Gap falls within the Prime Minister’s portfolio.”

PHAA Press release

” There are no real funding commitments in this Budget to Close the Gap of Indigenous disadvantage. This is a disgrace. In fact there is a decrease of $16 million in National Partnership for Remote Housing funding to the NT.”

NT Federal Labor politicians

 ” Reconciliation Australia is concerned with the lack of a clear plan to close the gap, and to take the next steps toward constitutional recognition and treaty.

The Prime Minister’s latest Closing the Gap report, which revealed six of seven targets are not on track, is clear proof that targeted and sustained resources are needed to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, education and employment disparities.”

Justin Mohamed CEO Reconciliation Australia and former NACCHO chair

 Picture above from Government Budget Brochure Page 15  Investing in a healthy Australia but does not mention Aboriginal /Indigenous Health.

“We acknowledge extra funding for the Rheumatic Fever Strategy, in response to calls in the 2016 AMA Indigenous Health Report Card.”

Dr Gannon said that tonight’s Health Budget effectively ends the era of disastrous co-payment and Medicare freeze policies, and creates an environment for informed and genuine debate about the numerous other areas of unfinished business in the health portfolio.

“We now need to shift our attention to gaining positive outcomes for public hospitals, prevention, Indigenous health, mental health, aged care, rural health, private health insurance, palliative care, and the medical workforce,”

Dr Michael Gannon AMA president  

“We are also particularly pleased that the Government has listened closely to RDAA and opted not to include the Indigenous Health Incentive and Procedural GP Practice Incentive as part of the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) Quality Improvement Incentive measure.

“This will mean that only general practices that are actively providing Indigenous healthcare and/or procedural GP services to their communities will continue to have access to the important funding support provided under these specific areas of the PIP.”

Rural Doctors Press Release rural doctors health Budget2017

 ” Prioritising Mental Health, Preventive Health and Sport

Significantly, the 2017-18 Budget puts a strong focus on mental health and preventive health-key elements of our Long-Term National Health Plan.

The Turnbull Government is building on its mental health reforms by delivering another boost of more than $170 million for mental health support, treatment and research.

This includes $80.0 million of additional funding, contingent on matched commitments from the states and territories, to maintain community psychosocial services for people with mental illness who do not qualify for assistance through the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

People living in rural and remote regions of Australia will now receive significantly improved access to psychologists, under a new $9 .1 million telehealth initiative set to roll-out later this year.

And we are providing $11.1 million to prevent suicide in specific locations – hotspots – where suicide incidents repeatedly occur. Crisis help signage and infrastructure such as barriers will deter suicide attempts, and the capacity of existing crisis line services to respond to cries for help will be improved.”

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health Full Press Release

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP Budget 2017 Press Release

Health Budget 2017–18

This page provides access to stakeholder information on the Health Portfolio’s 2017-18 Budget measures

Medicine’ budget – not a health budget: Where is the investment on tackling obesity, tobacco and alcohol?

The Prime Minister’s rhetoric on prevention falls way short when looking at the expenditure in the budget. In February the Prime Minister announced a focus on prevention and was followed shortly after by the Health Minister commitment to “tackling obesity”. The three most significant causes of ill health in Australia are tobacco, alcohol and poor nutrition – yet these barely receive a mention in the health budget.

The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) expressed disappointment in the lack of investment in prevention. Expenditure on prevention is likely to remain close to 1.5% of the health budget while the major issues of tobacco, obesity and alcohol remain with minimal increases in funding compared to the investment to remove the freeze on the Medicare rebate Australia is lagging considerably compared to places like Canada and New Zealand where over 5% of the health budget is committed to prevention”.

Michael Moore, CEO of the PHAA.Statement from the Public Health Association of Australia

Preventive health 

It is disappointing to see that there will effectively be no increase to the percentage of funding for preventive health in the Budget. This is particularly disappointing considering the announcement by the Prime Minister and the Health Minister in February that there would be a new focus by Government on prevention.

By directing health funding toward the root causes of diseases, particularly those which are largely attributable to environmental factors such as obesity, alcohol and tobacco the general health of the population will increase significantly. This is why the PHAA proposes that preventive health should compare favourably to countries like Canada and New Zealand with prevention at 5% of the Health Budget.

Tobacco

Although there was some good news on tobacco the failure to provide adequate funding for public education on tobacco is deeply disappointing. This is an area where the government has dropped the ball in recent years. They receive around $10bn p.a. from tobacco revenue, but have failed to restore funding for the crucial media campaigns needed to underpin smoking prevention, especially for people in vulnerable and lower socio-economic groups where smokers are concentrated”.

Obesity – a missed opportunity

“Obesity is currently the second highest contributor to the burden of disease in Australia which costs billions to the public and private sectors annually, and it’s time we seek a proactive solution,” according to Michael Moore.

However, PHAA cautions that these are not the types of structural interventions required to fully address the problem, which are necessary if the Government is genuinely committed to tackling obesity as was announced by the Prime Minister in February this year.

“A levy on sugary drinks has proven benefits which we’ve seen in other nations like Mexico which have adopted this approach, therefore it is an essential preliminary step toward controlling the obesity epidemic”, Mr Moore said.

The introduction of a sugar levy would also have delivered additional funds which would have allowed further investment in prevention around obesity and other diet related disease.

The PHAA strongly advocates for a national, coordinated plan to tackle the problem of obesity in Australia, which has become a leading issue due to its high prevalence and severe associated health and social impacts.

Budget 2017 sees Medicare rebate freeze slowly lifted and more funding for the NDIS: experts respond Via The Conversation

Tonight’s Budget is a winner for doctors and pharmacy interests as the Medicare rebate freeze is lifted and a new collaborative approach is embedded in a series of compacts with industry groups, but time will tell whether this will contribute to building a healthy Australia,’

As expected, the government has announced a progressive lifting of the Medicare rebate freeze. Together with removing the bulk-billing incentive for diagnostic imaging and pathology services, as well as an increase in the PBS co-payment and related changes, this will cost a total of A$2.2 billion over the forward estimates.

Other announcements include:

  • From July 1, 2019, an increase in the Medicare levy from 2% to 2.5% of taxable income, with the extra half a percent directed towards the NDIS
  • $1.2 billion for new and amended listings on the PBS, including more than $510 million for a new medicine for patients with chronic heart failure
  • a A$2.8 billion increase in hospitals funding over forward estimates
  • $115 million for mental health, including funding for rural tele-health psychological services, mental health research and suicide prevention
  • $1.4 billion for health research, including $65.9 million this year to help research into children’s cancer.

All up, these commitments equate to A$10 billion.

Medicare rebate freeze

Stephen Duckett, Health Program Director, Grattan Institute

As foreshadowed in pre-budget leaks, the government is slowly unthawing the Medicare rebate freeze, but at a snail’s pace. At a cost of A$1 billion over the forward estimates, indexation for Medicare items will be introduced in four stages, starting with bulk-billing incentives from July 1, 2017.

General practitioners and specialists will wait another year – until July 1, 2018 – for indexation to start up again for consultations, which make up the vast bulk of general practice revenue. Indexation for specialist and allied health consultations is slated to start from July 1, 2019.

Certain diagnostic imaging items (such as x-rays) will be the last cab off the rank. Indexation will start up again from July 1, 2020.

There is no mention of reintroducing indexation for pathology items. This may be due to the recognition that there is money to be saved in pathology.

Regardless of the reaction of medical lobby groups, it is too early to tell whether this glacially slow reintroduction of indexation will be enough to keep bulk-billing rates at their current levels. Practice costs and income expectations of staff have not increased dramatically over the freeze period as the Consumer Price Index has been moving slowly. But each additional day of a freeze means costs and revenues fall further out of alignment.

The jury will be out for a while on whether reintroduction of indexation is enough to restore the Coalition’s tarnished Medicare credentials with voters.

Certainly, the slow phase-in may attract cynicism, with a legitimate perception the government is doing the minimum necessary and at the slowest pace to ensure the issue is off the agenda before a 2019 election.

There is no sign in the budget that the government has sought any trade-offs from the medical profession in exchange for the reintroduction of indexation, so we will have to wait to put in place better foundations for primary care reform.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

Helen Dickinson, Associate Professor, Public Service Research Group, UNSW

Since its inception, a number of bitter political battles have been fought over how the National Disability Insurance Scheme should be funded. Many have been nervous the current Productivity Commission review of the costs of the scheme could lead to a scaling back of the NDIS before it is fully operational.

The NDIS operates under a complex funding arrangement split between federal, state and territory governments. Until now it has been unclear where the federal component of this commitment will come from, and a significant gap was emerging from the middle of 2019.

Today’s budget promises to fill this funding gap, in part through an increase by half a percentage point in the Medicare levy from 2% to 2.5% of taxable income. Of the revenue raised, one-fifth will be directed into the NDIS Savings Fund (a special account that will ensure federal cost commitments are met).

A commitment has also been made to provide funding to establish an independent NDIS quality and safeguards commission to oversee the delivery of quality and safe services for all NDIS participants.

This will have three core functions: regulation and registration of providers; complaints handling; and reviewing and reporting on restrictive practices. While such an agency will be welcomed by many, the devil will be in the detail as to whether it is possible to deliver this in practice.

But how has the Government prioritised Indigenous spending?

NITV Report

The Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion, said in a statement that his department’s major focus is to drive jobs, growth and investment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by supporting them into employment and growing the Indigenous business sector.

Here’s how Indigenous Affairs measured up.

INDIGENOUS BUSINESS

The government will redirect $146.9 million over four years from Indigenous Business Australia to the Department of the Prime Minister to facilitate the delivery of innovative and effective support for Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs.

Services will include workshops, business planning and training. The measure will also provide tailored loan products, including capital assistance for Indigenous entrepreneurs who would like to establish or grow their business

CASHLESS DEBIT CARD

The government will also extend and expand  cashless debit card trials.

The two trial sites in Ceduna, South Australia, and the East Kimberley, in Western Australia, will be extended for a further 12 months, until 30 June 2018.

Another two new locations will be trialled from 1 September 2017

CLOSING THE GAP

To help close the employment gap, the government says it will inject $55.7 million over the next five years to reach the employment target.

The government will provide $55.7 million over five years from 2016-17 to help meet their Closing the Gap employment targets for Indigenous Australians. This measure will enable stronger engagement by employment service providers with Indigenous communities and provide enhanced support for Indigenous participants.

This measure includes:

• $33.2 million over five years from 2016-17 to deliver pre-employment training and mentoring for Indigenous participants, and to expand access to the Transition to Work program to all Indigenous job seekers aged 21 years or under;

• $17.6 million over five years from 2016-17 to trial additional employment assistance to Indigenous prisoners, to ensure they are provided with better preparation and assistance to transition from prison to an employment assistance program after their release. The measure includes additional support in the immediate post-release period, as part of the government’s response to COAG’s 2016 Prison to Work Report;

• $5.0 million over four years from 2017-18 to support the implementation of community-designed and delivered employment services in Yarrabah, Queensland.

• Immediate access to increased wage subsidies (from $6,500 to $10,000) for Indigenous participants to better support their employment outcomes, with funding to be met from within the existing Wage Subsidies Funding Pool.

To help close the gap in literacy achievement, the government will provide $5.9 million over four years from 2017-18 to trial the use of digital applications to improve English literacy outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The trial will be undertaken over two years, 2019 and 2020, in 20 preschools around Australia.

POLICIES & PROGRAMS

The government will provide $52.9 million over four years to implement a whole-of-government research and evaluation strategy for policies and programs affecting Indigenous Australians, including the establishment of an Indigenous Research Fund.

This measure includes three components:

• $40.0 million over four years from 2017-18 to strengthen evaluation of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

• $10.0 million over three years from 2017-18 to establish an Indigenous Research Fund that will add to the Indigenous policy evidence base.

• $2.9 million over four years from 2017-18 for the Productivity Commission to enhance its role in Indigenous policy evaluation and to expand the Commission to include an additional Commissioner with relevant experience in Indigenous policy.

While the government will continue to sell its budget, time will only tell its true effect on Indigenous Australians.

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

Download Press Release AHHA Health Budget 2017

‘Health Minister Greg Hunt has placed substantial trust through formal compacts with five professional groups – the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Pharmacy Guild, Medicines Australia and the Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association – in a budget which partly overturns horror budgets of the past.

‘It is now up to these groups and the Minister to ensure that this trust, and the funds being directed towards their interests, are well-invested for a healthy Australia.

‘There is a very real risk that tonight’s Budget will reward an increased volume of services and products, rather than incentivising a shift to greater value-based care and better health outcomes, particularly for the most vulnerable members of our community.

‘We commend the Minister’s pursuit of a more strategic approach to health policy, but the four pillars must be expanded to include primary care, aged care, Indigenous health, and better health outcomes.

‘The Minister’s three waves of reform are a guide for the remaining years of this Government’s term, but it is most disappointing that hospitals, primary care, prevention and Indigenous health are in the last wave of priorities.

‘The reform agenda needed across these areas is substantial, and won’t be put to bed solely by the formation of compacts with doctors and pharmacy industry groups.

Medicare

‘The progressive lifting of the freeze on Medicare payments for GP and specialist consultations and procedures may assist in shoring up Medicare, but risks continuing to drive volume in use of health services at the expense of value.

‘We hope that doctors – and particularly specialists – will play their side of their bargain and commit to bulk-billing for the many services which currently have large out-of-pocket costs associated with them,’ says Ms Verhoeven.

‘Higher out-of-pocket costs lead to less use of primary health care by people who cannot afford any kind of co-payment, which in turn leads to increased public hospital attendances and higher health costs down the track.

‘The Minister has proposed the Medicare Guarantee Fund as a measure to provide certainty for health funding, but it appears to be an exercise in compartmentalising health funding which could lead to longer term jeopardy should the coffers not be full enough.

Primary care

‘AHHA welcomes the Commonwealth’s ongoing commitment to its previously announced Health Care Homes trial as the beginning of a much-needed reform journey for primary health care in Australia. The funding for pharmacists to play a role in the trial is welcomed – Health Care Homes must be more than just a new way to fund care, and must focus on the most efficient and effective ways to provide care to people with high burdens of disease.

‘The development of a national minimum data set for primary care was flagged last year by the Primary Health Care Advisory Group as critical infrastructure for Health Care Homes, but there appears to be limited action. Data provision should be a trade-off with doctors for the Medicare rebate thaw.

‘Moving to an opt-out mechanism for the My Health Record, and ensuring substantial investment for this is commendable.

Hospitals

‘While growth funding for public hospitals is settled until 2021 with just over $2 billion in additional funding, there remains considerable uncertainty over post-2020 hospital funding and the method of indexation for future years. Hospital funding requires a sustainable, long-term solution that is part of an overall strategy to shift from volume to value-based care, and that leverages the investments being made in primary care and in Primary Health Networks.

Preventive health

‘It is disappointing that the Prime Minister’s interest in preventive health, announced in a National Press Club speech earlier this year, has not been a greater focus of this budget. Preventive health requires long-term national leadership and sustained investment to reduce illness, prevent disease and promote wellness. This in turn reduces individual, intergenerational and health system burden, improves health system resource use and boosts productivity through greater economic participation and productivity. Australia spends less on public health and prevention than most other OECD countries.

‘It is time to make prevention a more prominent part of the Commonwealth’s health agenda, and acknowledge that more is needed than just spending on sports and exercise programs —you can’t have a healthy economy or healthy budgets if you don’t support a healthy population.

Medicines

‘AHHA supports the Commonwealth’s move to encourage doctors and patients to choose generic medications when appropriate over the more expensive brand name drugs. There must be a firm commitment to put savings from the shift to generic medicines back into the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Private health insurance

‘AHHA is disappointed by the lack of progress in reforming private health insurance as part of tonight’s Federal Budget. This is a major let-down for policy holders who have been hit with substantial rises in health insurance premiums – and who remain very concerned about the value and transparency of their policies.

Oral health

‘Tonight’s Budget was a lost opportunity for greater equity in dental care by not restoring funding previously agreed to under the National Partnership Agreement for public dental services to adults. Last December the Commonwealth provided less than a fortnight’s notice to the states and territories of a significant cut to public dental funding—from $155 million in calendar year 2016 down to $128 million in calendar year 2017. The real pain is being felt by vulnerable population groups unable to afford private dental care.

Mental health

‘AHHA welcomes the $80 million investment for community psychosocial services for people who do not qualify for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.  We note this is contingent on matched commitments from the states and territories.

‘Investment in mental health services for veterans is also welcome – although we note that much of the $350 million allocated is for improvements to IT systems for claims processing, rather than for direct service provision.

Download press release Mental Health Budget 2017

Download Press Release Lifeline health Budget2017

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

‘We welcome the commitment of $7.6 million over 4 years for a National Partnership Agreement on Rheumatic Fever Strategy.

‘It is unacceptable that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to have poorer health and a much lower life expectancy than the general population, and that this Budget has overlooked that massive inequity. COAG’s recent re‑commitment to prioritising improving outcomes for Australia’s First Peoples should have been supported by appropriate funding and support for locally developed responses.

‘A commitment should have been made to appropriately fund the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 and its Implementation Plan.

Health sector feels the warmth in Budget 2017, but rural health still needs some extra layers

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) has welcomed key elements of tonight’s Federal Budget, saying it shows recognition by the Federal Government of key concerns of RDAA and other medical groups, as well as recognition of the importance of the primary health sector in keeping Australians healthy and out of hospital.

“Overall, and certainly compared with previous federal budgets, this is a good budget for the health sector” RDAA President, Dr Ewen McPhee, said.

“Having said that, more work is required to fully address rural health issues, and we look forward to working with the Government to achieve this.

“We strongly welcome the Government’s decision to lift the indexation freeze onMedicare patient rebates, commencing with bulkbilled incentives for GP consultations from 1 July this year; standard GP consultations and other specialist attendances from 1 July 2018; specialist procedures and allied health from 1 July 2019; and targeted diagnostic imaging services from 1 July 2020.

“We would have preferred the freeze to be lifted in full immediately, but we accept the approach of the Government in lifting it incremently over forthcoming years.

“The lifting of the freeze on bulkbilled incentives for GP consultations will particularly benefit many rural and remote patients who rely strongly on bulkbilled consultations to afford their medical care.

“We are also particularly pleased that the Government has listened closely to RDAA and opted not to include the Indigenous Health Incentive and Procedural GP Practice Incentive as part of the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) Quality Improvement Incentive measure.

“This will mean that only general practices that are actively providing Indigenous healthcare and/or procedural GP services to their communities will continue to have access to the important funding support provided under these specific areas of the PIP.

“We also welcome some added support for the Health Care Homes initiative, through delaying the introduction of the initiative until 1 October 2017 for a first tranche of practices and until 1 December 2017 for a second tranche. A general practice research pilot will also support practices to provide continuity of care for their patients across the health system. It is also good to see funding support for community pharmacies to participate in the Health Care Homes initiative.

“We believe, however, that additional funding support for practices will be required to ensure the Health Care Homes initiative is fully successful.

“We welcome acknowledgement by the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt MP, that as part of a forthcoming second wave of the Government’s National Health Plan, there will be (amongst other things) a focus on addressing health workforce maldistribution between urban and rural areas.

“As part of this focus, and in line with a major initial focus of the National Rural Health Commissioner role (the legislation for which is anticipated to soon be passed by the Senate), we will be keen to see significant funding committed in future federal budgets to the development and rollout of the Government’s promised National Rural Generalist Program.

“This Program will be essential in delivering to rural and remote Australia the next generation of doctors with advanced medical skills — including in obstetrics, anaesthetics, general surgery, emergency medicine, advanced mental healthcare and Indigenous healthcare.

“We welcome funding already announced by the Government that will ensure rural and remote patients benefit from increased access to psychology services via Medicare funded video consults with distant psychologists.

“Additionally, we welcome significant additional funding in the areas of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and mental health.

“It was great to see Minister Hunt attend tonight’s Health Budget lockup to address health sector stakeholders — it underlines the consultative approach that he, along with the Federal Assistant Minister for Health, Dr David Gillespie MP, and the Federal Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM MP, have been adopting in developing an holistic plan to take healthcare in Australia into the future.

“Rebalancing the distribution of doctors and other health professionals between urban and rural Australia will continue to be a key challenge, and we look forward to working with the Government to deliver a vibrant and sustainable rural health workforce for the years to come.”

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Budget2017 : Indigenous leaders focus on health funding in May 2017 budget

The Close the Gap campaign priorities are not new. Governments know these priorities well. Yet the health gap remains a national tragedy. Indigenous people have a life expectancy of at least 10 years less than their non-Indigenous peers.

A nation as wealthy as ours should fund the critical health care of less than 3 per cent of its entire population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is a national priority, and we are repeatedly told it has bi-partisan support.

We need to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and involve them in developing solutions. We need to employ Indigenous people to deliver services in their own communities.”

Patricia Turner CEO of National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation pictured above at last years Redfern Statement with Dr Jackie Huggins Co-Chair of the Close the Gap Campaign

Download the Campaign’s 2017 Budget Position paper list of nine priorities

2017 CTG Campaign Federal Budget Position Paper

The Close the Gap campaign has a close eye on the Federal Government’s commitment to Indigenous health in its May 2017 budget.

The Campaign’s 2017 Budget Position paper lists nine priorities that will help close the gap in health inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

The Close the Gap campaign urged the Federal Government to commit to adequately funding the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 and its subsequent Implementation Plan.

“The Implementation Plan has targeted activities that require adequate resourcing,” said Dr Jackie Huggins, Co-Chair of the Close the Gap Campaign and Co-Chair for the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

Example Recommendation 4

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) are supported to provide high-quality, comprehensive and accountable services that are locally responsive to identified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health needs by:

a. Providing sufficient funding to identify and fill the primary health care service gaps; and

b. Systematic assessment of health outcomes/needs, workforce capability and service capacity undertaken to inform the development of the core services model, future workforce requirements and investment and capacity building priorities

c. Ensure Primary Health Networks are directed to support and partner with ACCHS as the preferred providers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services.

The ACCHS sector provides inherent advantages for closing the gap. Firstly, its service model is the provision of comprehensive primary health care.

This model of care is needed because of the higher levels and earlier age onset of illness, the much greater levels of comorbidity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – and the need to address the fundamental determinants of health if the gap is to be closed.

ACCHS were established because of the inability of mainstream services to deliver for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and have a critical role to play in closing the Gap.

The ACCHS sector is a major employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at all levels. In many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the ACCHS operates as the primary employer. These are real and essential, skilled jobs. A long-term plan for building the capabilities of ACCHS is overdue.

The Campaign calls on Government to provide greater surety of funding to enable ACCHS to enhance their capacity to undertake long-term service and workforce planning – particularly in relation to primary health care service gaps. We know that sustainable, long-term services deliver the best health outcomes.

We further propose that ACCHS be treated as preferred providers for health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people unless it can be shown that alternative arrangements can produce better outcomes in terms of quality of care and access to services. We believe the evidence shows this and we support government using an objective, informed evidence base to guide future decisions

Press Release Cont:

Ms Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia, urged the Government to invest for the long-term by supporting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.

“Dedicated funding for allied health, medicine, nursing, midwifery and health workers as well as for the national Indigenous organisations who are involved in workforce development will contribute significantly to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes for our people and communities.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 3 per cent of our population but less than 1 per cent of our health workforce,” Ms Murray said.

The Close the Gap campaign called on the Government to ensure that funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) recognises the estimated 45 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

“The NDIS and the Indigenous Advancement Strategy should prioritise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability,” said Damian Griffis, CEO of the First Peoples Disability Network.

The Close the Gap campaign remains optimistic that health equality is possible if governments commit to long-term investment and to  working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

7 BETTER WAYS TO SPEND $7 BILLION – INDIGENOUS HEALTH

The Australian Healthcare Reform Alliance (AHCRA) today called on the Government to re-direct funding in the upcoming Budget from the $7 billion private health insurance (PHI) rebate to improve the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

AHCRA is a coalition of peak health organisations working together to create a better and fairer health system for Australia’s future.

“Indigenous health is the number one health issue facing Australia. It is unacceptable that in Australia today Indigenous people have significantly poorer health and a much lower life expectancy than the non-Indigenous population,” Jennifer Doggett, ACHRA Chair, said today.

“It is also unacceptable that despite their much greater health need, Indigenous Australians receive much less benefit from the $7b PHI rebate than non-Indigenous Australians (due to their much lower levels of PHI membership).

“Re-directing funding from the PHI rebate to Indigenous health services would help address this imbalance in funding. This should be used to support a comprehensive population-wide approach that incorporates the social determinants of health and empowers people to take control of their own lives and improve their health through culturally appropriate mechanisms.

“At the centre of efforts to close the health and life expectancy gap are community- controlled health services which provide person-centred and to culturally relevant care, including both a biomedical and preventative health focus. These services, and their representative body NACCHO, require more consistent and assured long-term funding to enable effective planning and capacity development that will deliver the best possible outcomes.

“Therefore, AHCRA supports the allocation of funding from the PHI rebate to achieve the following:

Allocate secure long-term funding to progress the strategies and actions identified in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan Implementation Plan.

Provide secure, long-term funding for the Rural Health Outreach Fund and Medical Outreach Indigenous Chronic Disease Program.

Allocate sufficient and secure long-term funding to the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector to support the sector’s continued provision of Indigenous-led, culturally sensitive healthcare.

Build and support the capacity of Indigenous health leaders by committing secure long-term funding to the Indigenous National Health Leadership Forum.

 Reinstate funding for a clearinghouse modelled on the previous Closing the Gap clearinghouse, as recommended in the latest draft of the Fifth National Mental Health Plan.

“The health and well-being of Indigenous Australians should be a higher priority for funding than PHI industry subsidies. AHCRA calls on the Federal Government to re-direct funding from the $7b rebate in order to close the health and life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” Ms Doggett said.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health in next weeks #Budget2017 : Investment and recommendations required to #ClosetheGap

 

With #budget2017 cut backs to education announced this week , peak health bodies RACGP, Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), Vision 2020 and the  Australian Healthcare Reform Alliance (AHCRA) have released to NACCHO Aboriginal health investments and recommendations required to Close the Gap

” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leadership and authentic community engagement is crucial to achieving improved health outcomes.

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector is of vital importance in delivering effective, culturally appropriate care to Australia’s First Peoples; and service development and provision should be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations where possible.

The sector must have long-term and secure funding to both retain and grow their capacity.

To address the inequity that exists between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians and improve access to care, continuing focus and appropriate funding is required.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 (NATSIHP) Implementation Plan in 2015 has not been supported with sufficient, secure funding and resources, which is risking its success.

Funding uncertainty and changes creates significant issues for the continuity of services to patients and for organisations in retaining and building their capacity.”

Extract from  The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP)  pre-budget submission for 2017-2018, Healthy people, Healthy Lives, which outlines key health funding recommendations for the Australian Government.Press Release 1 below

” Areas that RDAA has highlighted as needing further investment through this year’s Budget include: Better supports for rural and remote general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, to allow them to participate effectively in the first stage implementation of Health Care Homes.

It is essential that the higher costs associated with delivering high quality healthcare in rural and remote settings are realistically assessed, and that additional funds for practice support and infrastructure development are provided, to allow rural and remote general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to participate in the first stage implementation”

President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), Dr Ewen McPhee. Press release 2 below

 ” Vision 2020 Australia and the eye health and vision care sector are calling on the Australian Government to reinforce its commitment to equitable eye health and vision care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when the 2017-18 Budget is handed down on 9 May”

Carla Northam, CEO of Vision 2020 Australia, says: Focusing on eye health and vision care is an important part of closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Press Release 3 below

Press Release 1 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and @TheRACP #Budget2017 submission : Healthy people, Healthy Lives

Download the full submission here :

healthy-people-healthy-lives-racp-pre-budget-submission-2017-18

The submission addresses various topics including child and adolescent health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, preventive health, climate change and health, as well as health system reform.

The submission makes a range of recommendations including:

  •  increased investment in early childhood development to give all Australians the best, healthiest start in life
  •  concerted efforts to close the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians
  •  strong preventive health measures which will reduce preventable illness and disease, focusing in particular on reducing the harms of alcohol and increasing the availability of alcohol treatment services to those who need them
  •  funding for a national campaign to encourage conversations about end-of-life care preferences, and the development of flexible models of care that enable people to receive palliative care at home.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health :  Healthy People, Healthy Lives:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to experience poorer health outcomes than non-Indigenous Australians. The latest ‘Closing the Gap’ report found that Australia is not currently on track to close the life expectancy gap by 2031 – with the gap remaining close to ten years for both men and women.

To address the inequity that exists between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians and improve access to care, continuing focus and appropriate funding is required.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 (NATSIHP) Implementation Plan in 2015 has not been supported with sufficient, secure funding and resources, which is risking its success.

Funding uncertainty and changes creates significant issues for the continuity of services to patients and for organisations in retaining and building their capacity.

The RACP strongly supports existing programs to improve equitable access to specialist care, including the Rural Health Outreach Fund (RHOF) and Medical Outreach Indigenous Chronic Disease Program (MOICDP). The RACP recommends that the Australian Government continue its investment in these programs, undertaking evaluation to ensure the funding models are achieving positive health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Given the recent focus by the Australian government on improving mental health and reducing suicide rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the RACP supports the analysis, reporting and implementation of evidence-based solutions, with input from and led by these communities, to improve the quality and delivery of mental health promotion and suicide prevention services. The RACP supports the establishment of clearinghouses which enable effective access to relevant, high quality information and resources to support these efforts.

The RACP recommends that the Australian government:

  • Allocate secure long-term funding to progress the strategies and actions identified in the NATSIHP Implementation Plan.
  • Provide secure, long-term funding for the Rural Health Outreach Fund (RHOF) and Medical Outreach Indigenous Chronic Disease Program (MOICDP).
  • Allocate sufficient and secure long-term funding to the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector to support the sector’s continued provision of Indigenous-led, culturally sensitive healthcare.
  • Build and support the capacity of Indigenous health leaders by committing secure long-term funding to the Indigenous National Health Leadership Forum.
  • Reinstate funding for a clearinghouse modelled on the previous Closing the Gap clearinghouse, as recommended in the latest draft of the Fifth National Mental Health Plan.

Healthy People, Healthy Lives:  Preventive Health

A clear, appropriately funded, nationally-coordinated strategy for preventive health must be prioritised in the Federal Budget.

Preventive health measures can have a powerful impact on the overall health of a population, particularly as the number of Australians living with chronic conditions continues to grow. Chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, cancer, and type II diabetes account for 85 per cent of the burden of disease in Australia.

Investing in reducing the harms of alcohol

As a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions, it is clear that alcohol is a major risk factor for chronic disease, and efforts to reduce alcohol consumption must be central to preventive health measures. Alcohol-related harms create enormous social and economic costs to Australian society, with estimates putting the annual costs of alcohol misuse at between $15 billion and $36 billion.

 The RACP calls on the Australian government to increase funding for alcohol treatment and prevention services, with specific funding allocated towards making these services available outside major metropolitan centres and to groups at greatest risk, including young people, risky drinkers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The RACP has long considered the WET and rebate to be particularly dangerous as they encourage the production and consumption of cheap wine, whose low price makes its attractive to underage and problem drinkers. The RACP is very disappointed that the Australian Government has watered down its proposed tightening of the WET rebate announced in the 2016-17 Federal Budget. The RACP considers this a backward step in efforts to reduce the harms of alcohol.

The RACP recommends that the Australian government:

• Develop a national preventive health strategy to address and lower risk factors for preventable illnesses and diseases.

• Increase funding for alcohol treatment including workforce development to address unmet demand for treatment.

• Increase funding for prevention services in order to reduce the incidence of alcohol use disorders.

• Reform alcohol taxation to introduce a volumetric taxation system for all alcohol products and abolish the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) and rebate.

• Allocate a proportion of the increased revenue raised from volumetric taxation to funding alcohol treatment and prevention services.

Press Release 3 Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), 

Australia’s rural doctors are urging the Federal Government to use next week’s Budget to lay down realistic funding to help transform a number of “very promising” healthcare initiatives into reality.

President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), Dr Ewen McPhee, said the Government has some “innovative and potentially game-changing healthcare initiatives” ready at the boarding gate, and with realistic funding allocated in the Budget they would be well on their way to lift-off.

“We’re not seeking any new measures in next week’s Budget” Dr McPhee said.

“What we are hoping for is realistic funding for the exciting new health policy initiatives that the Government has already announced and that are already in the pipeline.

“A number of ground-breaking initiatives have been announced by the Government — like the establishment of Health Care Homes, the National Rural Health Commissioner role and a National Rural Generalist

Program to deliver more of the next generation of doctors with advanced skills to rural Australia.

“Each of these initiatives have real potential to significantly improve the health outcomes of those living in the bush. A combined injection of focused planning and realistic funding will ensure they deliver to best effect in the unique settings of rural and remote medical practice.

“With the legislation for the National Rural Health Commissioner expected to soon pass the Senate, it will be important to ensure that the role has the financial and other resources required to effectively deliver on its key outcomes, and to enable it to start its important work as soon as possible.

“While the funding allocated to the role is a good start and is welcomed, we believe additional funding may be required to ensure the full success of the role.

“Likewise, the development and delivery of a National Rural Generalist Program — a key election promise by the Turnbull Government — will require adequate funding to underpin its establishment and ensure its success going forward.

“And while the Health Care Homes initiative shows real promise in delivering an innovative approach to healthcare delivery into the future, significant additional funding will be needed to ensure this initiative is successful, especially in rural and remote Australia.

“Expenditure on health is an investment in the future wellbeing and productivity of all Australians — this is particularly so in the primary healthcare sector, which forms the core of the Australian health system.

“It is great to see that the Government understands this — a key example is its welcome recent announcement to ensure that rural and remote patients benefit from increased access to psychology services via Medicare-funded video consults with distant psychologists.

“Providing realistic levels of investment to support health system reform and the transition to new healthcare delivery arrangements will be key to achieving change successfully, especially in the bush.”

Areas that RDAA has highlighted as needing further investment through this year’s Budget include:

  • Providing base level funding to each state and territory to establish and maintain a Rural Generalist training pathway
  • Recognition of the higher costs and complexity of rural practice, and of the advanced skills needed for Rural Generalist practice, through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS)
  • Removal of the Medicare indexation freeze, which continues to negatively impact on rural and remote patients and the viability of rural and remote practices
  • Providing and prioritising rural and remote training options during initial medical training, to enable more medical students to sample the rewarding nature of rural and remote practice
  • Expanding the Rural Junior Doctor Innovation Fund to include key pre-vocational terms, to facilitate a streamlined pathway for Rural Generalist trainees in all states and territories
  • Supporting training programs and locations that have demonstrated post-Fellowship retention of medical trainees into rural and remote practice

Press release 3 .Budget must close the gap for vision

The Australian Government must help to close the gap for vision by supporting better eye health and vision care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in this year’s Federal Budget.

Significant and troubling eye health inequities exist between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

Among these is the prevalence of vision impairment and blindness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – three times that of non-Indigenous Australians.

Vision 2020 Australia and the eye health and vision care sector are calling on the Australian Government to reinforce its commitment to equitable eye health and vision care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when the 2017-18 Budget is handed down on 9 May.

Carla Northam, CEO of Vision 2020 Australia, says: ‘Focusing on eye health and vision care is an important part of closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

‘The eye health and vision care sector has a long history of collaboration and utilising its collective expertise to identify policy priorities in this area.

‘But, ultimately, the sector requires the support of the Australian Government to improve eye health and vision care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’

Despite poor eye health and vision care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, around 90 per cent of vision impairment and blindness is preventable or treatable, highlighting the need for continued funding and policy support at a national level.

Jaki Adams-Barton, Chair of the Vision 2020 Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee and Manager of The Fred Hollows Foundation’s Indigenous Australia Program, says there are a number of areas that require urgent attention.

‘Uncorrected refractive error causes almost two-thirds of vision impairment among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Although spectacles are the easiest and most cost-effective solution, Australia is yet to implement a nationally consistent subsidised spectacles scheme, which would help improve access to prescription glasses in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,’ Ms Adams-Barton says.

‘Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, yet backlogs prevent access to surgeries that allow people to instantly see.

Equitable access to eye health care services is critical to reducing high rates of avoidable blindness, and systems need to immediately react, and also be reformed, to ensure this is sustainable in the future.

‘Australia is the only developed country in the world to still have active trachoma in remote Aboriginal communities. While the numbers are low, it unfortunately still exists. We need to implement the World Health Organisation’s SAFE strategy in its entirety, specifically focusing on the Environmental element, to eliminate trachoma by 2020 and ensure measures are sustainable into the future.’

Ms Northam says: ‘Coordination is key to the delivery of successful eye health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly those in regional and remote areas.

‘Vision 2020 Australia looks forward to seeing what the 2017-18 Federal Budget holds, and, beyond that, continuing to work with the sector and the Australian Government to improve eye health and vision care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

 Press Release 4  : 7 BETTER WAYS TO SPEND $7 BILLION – MENTAL HEALTH

The Australian Healthcare Reform Alliance (AHCRA) today called on the Government to re-direct funding in the upcoming Budget from the $7 billion private health insurance (PHI) rebate to increase services for people with mental illnesses.

AHCRA is a coalition of peak health organisations working together to create a better and fairer health system for Australia’s future.

“In an environment of increasing demand and limited resources, AHCRA acknowledges the need to make tough choices. This means recognises the futility of continuing to subsidise wasteful and poorly targeted private health insurance rebates and directing the saved funding into an area of greater need, such as mental health services,” Dr Sebastian Rosenberg, AHCRA Spokesperson on Mental Health and Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Policy at the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney, said today.

“Abolishing the PHI rebate would free up around $7 billion in health funding, effectively permitting close to doubling the amount available in Australia to deliver mental health care. While representing 13% of the total burden of disease, mental health currently receives only around 5% of the health budget.

“We have better evidence than ever before about what works in mental health care but without adequate resources we have been fighting with one arm tied behind our backs. Choosing to end subsidies to the private health insurance industry frees Australia to finally develop a contemporary and community-based mental health system on which the community can rely.

“This new funding should not be used to replicate our existing bed-based system of mental health care. Instead, the new funding should be purposively directed towards early intervention and hospital avoidance. This would develop a new range of community-based services designed to fill the service void existing between the GP and the public hospital emergency department.

“A new system such as this would have massive positive impacts not only on individuals and their families but on the overall productivity of the Australian economy” Dr Rosenberg said.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and @TheRACP #Budget2017 submission : Healthy people, Healthy Lives

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” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leadership and authentic community engagement is crucial to achieving improved health outcomes.

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector is of vital importance in delivering effective, culturally appropriate care to Australia’s First Peoples; and service development and provision should be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations where possible.

The sector must have long-term and secure funding to both retain and grow their capacity.”

Extract from  The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP)  pre-budget submission for 2017-2018, Healthy people, Healthy Lives, which outlines key health funding recommendations for the Australian Government.

First Aboriginal eye doctor Kris Rallah-Baker working at Sunrise health clinic at Mataranka in the Northern Territory. Photo: Michael Amendolia

Download the full submission here :

healthy-people-healthy-lives-racp-pre-budget-submission-2017-18

The submission addresses various topics including child and adolescent health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, preventive health, climate change and health, as well as health system reform.

The submission makes a range of recommendations including:

  •  increased investment in early childhood development to give all Australians the best, healthiest start in life
  •  concerted efforts to close the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians
  •  strong preventive health measures which will reduce preventable illness and disease, focusing in particular on reducing the harms of alcohol and increasing the availability of alcohol treatment services to those who need them
  •  funding for a national campaign to encourage conversations about end-of-life care preferences, and the development of flexible models of care that enable people to receive palliative care at home.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health :

Healthy People, Healthy Lives:

RACP Pre-Budget Submission 2017-18

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to experience poorer health outcomes than non-Indigenous Australians. The latest ‘Closing the Gap’ report found that Australia is not currently on track to close the life expectancy gap by 2031 – with the gap remaining close to ten years for both men and women.

To address the inequity that exists between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians and improve access to care, continuing focus and appropriate funding is required.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 (NATSIHP) Implementation Plan in 2015 has not been supported with sufficient, secure funding and resources, which is risking its success.

Funding uncertainty and changes creates significant issues for the continuity of services to patients and for organisations in retaining and building their capacity.

The RACP strongly supports existing programs to improve equitable access to specialist care, including the Rural Health Outreach Fund (RHOF) and Medical Outreach Indigenous Chronic Disease Program (MOICDP). The RACP recommends that the Australian Government continue its investment in these programs, undertaking evaluation to ensure the funding models are achieving positive health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Given the recent focus by the Australian government on improving mental health and reducing suicide rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the RACP supports the analysis, reporting and implementation of evidence-based solutions, with input from and led by these communities, to improve the quality and delivery of mental health promotion and suicide prevention services. The RACP supports the establishment of clearinghouses which enable effective access to relevant, high quality information and resources to support these efforts.

The RACP recommends that the Australian government:

  • Allocate secure long-term funding to progress the strategies and actions identified in the NATSIHP Implementation Plan.
  • Provide secure, long-term funding for the Rural Health Outreach Fund (RHOF) and Medical Outreach Indigenous Chronic Disease Program (MOICDP).
  • Allocate sufficient and secure long-term funding to the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector to support the sector’s continued provision of Indigenous-led, culturally sensitive healthcare.
  • Build and support the capacity of Indigenous health leaders by committing secure long-term funding to the Indigenous National Health Leadership Forum.
  • Reinstate funding for a clearinghouse modelled on the previous Closing the Gap clearinghouse, as recommended in the latest draft of the Fifth National Mental Health Plan.

Healthy People, Healthy Lives:

RACP Pre-Budget Submission 2017-18

Preventive Health

A clear, appropriately funded, nationally-coordinated strategy for preventive health must be prioritised in the Federal Budget.

Preventive health measures can have a powerful impact on the overall health of a population, particularly as the number of Australians living with chronic conditions continues to grow. Chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, cancer, and type II diabetes account for 85 per cent of the burden of disease in Australia.

Investing in reducing the harms of alcohol

As a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions, it is clear that alcohol is a major risk factor for chronic disease, and efforts to reduce alcohol consumption must be central to preventive health measures. Alcohol-related harms create enormous social and economic costs to Australian society, with estimates putting the annual costs of alcohol misuse at between $15 billion and $36 billion.

 The RACP calls on the Australian government to increase funding for alcohol treatment and prevention services, with specific funding allocated towards making these services available outside major metropolitan centres and to groups at greatest risk, including young people, risky drinkers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The RACP has long considered the WET and rebate to be particularly dangerous as they encourage the production and consumption of cheap wine, whose low price makes its attractive to underage and problem drinkers. The RACP is very disappointed that the Australian Government has watered down its proposed tightening of the WET rebate announced in the 2016-17 Federal Budget. The RACP considers this a backward step in efforts to reduce the harms of alcohol.

The RACP recommends that the Australian government:

Develop a national preventive health strategy to address and lower risk factors for preventable illnesses and diseases.

• Increase funding for alcohol treatment including workforce development to address unmet demand for treatment.

• Increase funding for prevention services in order to reduce the incidence of alcohol use disorders.

• Reform alcohol taxation to introduce a volumetric taxation system for all alcohol products and abolish the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) and rebate.

• Allocate a proportion of the increased revenue raised from volumetric taxation to funding alcohol treatment and prevention services.

Press Release

RACP President Dr Catherine Yelland said that the Australian Government must commit sustained funding to ensure the Australian healthcare system is able to support the health needs of all Australians.

“We need a health system that gives all Australians the best chance of living long and healthy lives; offering high quality, patient-centred care underpinned by clinical best practice.

“We need a system that is innovative, with a focus on integrated care and preventive health so that unnecessary health costs and avoidable illnesses are minimised.

“RACP members provide specialist medical care to Australians at every stage of their lives and their recommendations to the Government on healthcare policy are summarised in this submission. We hope the Australian Government is listening closely,” said Dr Yelland.

About The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP):

The RACP trains, educates and advocates on behalf of more than 15,000 physicians and 7,500 trainee physicians across Australia and New Zealand.

The College represents a broad range of medical specialties including general medicine, paediatrics and child health, cardiology, respiratory medicine, neurology, oncology, public health medicine, occupational and environmental medicine, palliative medicine, sexual health medicine, rehabilitation medicine, geriatric medicine and addiction medicine. Beyond the drive for medical excellence, the

RACP is committed to developing health and social policies which bring vital improvements to the wellbeing of patients.

The College offers 60 training pathways. These lead to the award of one of seven qualifications that align with 45 specialist titles recognised by the Medical Board of Australia or allow for registration in nine vocational scopes with the Medical Council of New Zealand.