NACCHO Aboriginal Health joins other health peak bodies @AMAPresident @RACGP @RuralDoctorsAus @NRHAlliance welcoming the reappointment of the health ministry team but #ruralhealth no longer a distinct portfolio

 ” The Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) John Singer today joined other peak health bodies welcoming the election of Scott Morrison MP as the 30th Prime Minister of Australia and reappointments of Greg Hunt MP as the Federal Minister for Health, Ken Wyatt AM MP as the Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, and Senator Bridget McKenzie as the Federal Minister for Regional Services. “

See Part 1 NACCHO Media 

“With an election due in the first half of 2019, new Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made the right call in leaving Health in the safe hands of Greg Hunt.

A fourth Health Minister in five years would have undermined the priority that Australians place on good health policy,”

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone see in full part 2 Below

‘Health is an integral part of any Governments agenda and I look forward to working with Minister Hunt on the future direction of healthcare in Australia,’ 

Minister Hunt has worked closely with the RACGP over the past two years, achieving positive results, including investment into general practice research, the removal of the Medicare freeze and the return of general practice training to the RACGP.’

Dr Nespolon told newsGP see in full Part 3 Below

It was only on Friday last week that rural health sector stakeholders met in Canberra, for a meeting convened by the (former) Minister for Rural Health, to discuss the issues and solutions for achieving better health outcomes for rural Australia’, 

The key message of the Roundtable meeting was very clear. The health and wellbeing issues faced by rural and remote Australia cannot be addressed using market-driven solutions that work in the cities.’

We need a genuine, high level commitment from the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to deliver a new National Rural Health Strategy that will address the unacceptable gap in health outcomes for rural Australians. This is not the time to be relegating Rural Health to the back burner’.

National Rural Health Alliance Chair, Tanya Lehmann see in full Part 4 below

With Minister McKenzie receiving an expanded set of other portfolio responsibilities, we are worried that the significant level of focus she has given to Rural Health to-date will, due to her increased workload in other

There has never been a more important time for Rural Health to retain a distinct portfolio.

As a sector, Rural Health continues to face significant challenges, but also significant opportunities.

Rural Australians continue to have poorer health outcomes than their city counterparts, and poorer access to healthcare services.

There continues to be an urgent need to deliver more doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to rural and remote communities, with the advanced training required to meet the healthcare needs of those communities.”

Rural Doctors President, Dr Adam Coltzau see Part 5 below in full 

Part 1 NACCHO

I was very pleased to hear Mr Morrison’s at his first media conference after winning the leadership say that chronic disease was one of his top three priorities as he  ” was distressed by the challenge of chronic illness in this country, and those who suffer from it ” Mr Singer said from Hobart where he was hosting Ochre Day a National Aboriginal Men’s Health Conference opened by the Minister Ken Wyatt

“ Chronic disease is responsible for a major part of the life expectancy gap and  accounts for some two thirds of the premature deaths among our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

A large part of the burden of disease is due to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and chronic kidney disease. With the Prime Ministers increased support our 302 ACCHO clinics can be reduce by earlier identification, and management of risk factors and the disease itself.

Recently I attended the Council of Australian Governments Health Council meeting in Alice Springs, when it made two critical decisions to advance First Nations health. Firstly, it has made Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health a national priority, including by inviting the Indigenous Health Minister to all future meetings.

The Council also resolved to create a national Indigenous Health and Medical Workforce Plan, to focus on significantly increasing the number of First Nations doctors, nurses and health professionals.

However, NACCHO would also share our disappointment with Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) that Rural Health, while still being an area of responsibility for Minister McKenzie, will no longer have its own distinct portfolio under the revamped Coalition Government . ”

Minister Ken Wyatt Statement

I am honoured to be appointed as the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health in the Morrison Government. My focus will be building on the strong foundations we have in place through the 2018–19 Budget to deliver better outcomes for senior Australians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

We are investing an additional $5 billion in aged care over the next five years — a record amount — and our investments in the health of First Australians will be more targeted and based on what we know works. Our senior Australians are among our country’s greatest treasures.

They have earned the right to be cared for with dignity through our aged care system and this is something the Morrison Government is absolutely committed to delivering.

The aged care reform agenda we are implementing has already delivered senior Australians greater choice in the care they receive, and greater scrutiny of the sector — something that will be reinforced by the new independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission that will open its doors on 1 January 2019.

My administrative responsibilities will not change in the Morrison Government. However, the change to the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care reflects my focus on taking a broader, whole-of-government approach to advancing the interests of senior Australians.

Part 2 AMA 

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today that the AMA is pleased that Greg Hunt has been re-appointed Minister for Health.

Dr Bartone said that the health portfolio is broad and complex, and it takes time for Ministers to get fully across all the issues and get acquainted with all the stakeholders.

“Greg Hunt has been a very consultative Minister who has displayed great knowledge and understanding of health policy and the core elements of the health system,” Dr Bartone said.

“In his time as Minister, he has presided over the gradual lifting of the Medicare freeze and the major reviews of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and the private health insurance (PHI).

“And he has acknowledged that major reform and investment is needed in general practice.

“These are all complex matters that would have been challenging for a new Minister.

“It takes months for new Ministers to gain command of the depth and breadth of the Health portfolio.

“With an election due in the first half of 2019, new Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made the right call in leaving Health in the safe hands of Greg Hunt.

“A fourth Health Minister in five years would have undermined the priority that Australians place on good health policy,” Dr Bartone said.

Dr Bartone said that the AMA looked forward to continuing its strong working relationship with the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, who is also Minister for Indigenous Health.

The AMA has been advised that Senator Bridget McKenzie will retain Rural Health as part of her Regional Services, Sport, Local Government, and Decentralisation portfolio.

Part 3 RACGP 

Dr Nespolon believes Minster Hunt understands the fundamental role primary care plays in the wellbeing of all Australians and will continue to make general practice a focal point of Government health policies.

‘Health is an integral part of any Governments agenda and I look forward to working with Minister Hunt on the future direction of healthcare in Australia,’ Dr Nespolon told newsGP.

‘Minister Hunt has worked closely with the RACGP over the past two years, achieving positive results, including investment into general practice research, the removal of the Medicare freeze and the return of general practice training to the RACGP.’

Dr Nespolon said he is particularly keen to discuss matters that lie at the heart of general practice.

‘The RACGP will continue to work with Minister Hunt on our core patient priority areas, including preventive health and chronic disease management,’ Dr Nespolon said.

Minister Hunt was re-appointed to his position on the frontbench following a cabinet reshuffle that took place in the wake of last week’s Liberal Party leadership challenge. Ken Wyatt was also re-appointed as the Federal Minister for Indigenous Health and for Aged Care.

Part 3 National Rural Health Alliance 

The Ministerial line-up announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison has a glaring omission.

At a time when great swathes of rural and remote Australia are experiencing the impact of devastating drought conditions, including significant impacts on the health and wellbeing of our communities, the key portfolio of Rural Health is nowhere in sight.

The new Morrison Ministry does not include a Minister for Rural Health. That key responsibility was on Friday held by the Deputy Leader of the Nationals, Senator Bridget McKenzie. By Sunday it was gone.

‘It was only on Friday last week that rural health sector stakeholders met in Canberra, for a meeting convened by the (former) Minister for Rural Health, to discuss the issues and solutions for achieving better health outcomes for rural Australia’, National Rural Health Alliance Chair, Tanya Lehmann said.

‘The key message of the Roundtable meeting was very clear. The health and wellbeing issues faced by rural and remote Australia cannot be addressed using market-driven solutions that work in the cities.’

‘We need a genuine, high level commitment from the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to deliver a new National Rural Health Strategy that will address the unacceptable gap in health outcomes for rural Australians. This is not the time to be relegating Rural Health to the back burner’.

‘We call upon the Morrison Government to demonstrate it is fair dinkum about improving the health and wellbeing of rural Australians by reinstating Rural Health as a Ministerial portfolio and committing to the development of a National Rural Health Strategy’, Ms Lehmann said.

The Alliance welcomes the re-appointment of the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Federal Minister for Health and the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health, and acknowledges their continuing contribution to addressing the health and aged care needs of all Australians. We also welcome Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie’s contribution to regional services, sport, Local Government and decentralisation, however we remain concerned that rural health, as a separate Ministerial portfolio has been overlooked.

‘While we understand Minister McKenzie will continue to be responsible for Rural Health — and we very much look forward to continuing to work with her — we are concerned that this critical area will no longer have its own dedicated portfolio’, Ms Lehmann said.

Background:

The National Rural Health Alliance is the peak body for rural, regional and remote health. The Alliance has 35-member organisations representing the peak health professional disciplines (eg doctors, nurses and midwives, allied health professionals, dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, paramedics, health students, chiropractors and health service managers), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health peak organisations, hospital sector peak organisations, national rurally focused health service providers, consumers and carers.

Some of the worst health outcomes are experienced by those living in very remote areas. Those people are:

  • 1.4 times more likely to die than those in major cities
  • More likely to be a daily smoker, obese and drink at risky levels
  • Up to four times as likely to be hospitalised

Part 5 Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) 

Ministerial reappointments welcomed, loss of Rural Health portfolio not

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) has welcomed the reappointment of Greg Hunt MP as the Federal Minister for Health, Ken Wyatt AM MP as the Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, and Senator Bridget McKenzie as the Federal Minister for Regional Services.

However, the Association is disappointed that Rural Health, while still being an area of responsibility for Minister McKenzie, will no longer have its own distinct portfolio under the revamped Coalition Government.

“We strongly welcome the continuation of the federal health leadership team under the new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison” RDAA President, Dr Adam Coltzau, said.

“The Coalition has been making significant progress on important health policy issues, and looking forward there remain big reform agendas to be delivered in the health policy space, so it makes sense to have continued stable leadership here

“While we understand Minister McKenzie will continue to be responsible for Rural Health — and we very much look forward to continuing to work with her — we are concerned that this critical area will no longer have its own dedicated portfolio.

“With Minister McKenzie receiving an expanded set of other portfolio responsibilities, we are worried that the significant level of focus she has given to Rural Health to-date will, due to her increased workload in other

“There has never been a more important time for Rural Health to retain a distinct portfolio.

“As a sector, Rural Health continues to face significant challenges, but also significant opportunities.

“Rural Australians continue to have poorer health outcomes than their city counterparts, and poorer access to healthcare services.

“There continues to be an urgent need to deliver more doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to rural and remote communities, with the advanced training required to meet the healthcare needs of those communities.

“Retaining Rural Health as a distinct portfolio would assist in progressing solutions in this area.

“For example, the development of a National Rural Generalist Pathway — to deliver more of the next generation of doctors to the bush with the advanced skills needed in rural settings — would benefit greatly from continuing to receive the strong political focus of a dedicated Rural Health portfolio.

“There also continues to be an urgent need to make the most of new technologies like telehealth, to broaden access to healthcare for rural and remote Australians, in particular with their own GP.

“We strongly urge Prime Minister Morrison to consider retaining Rural Health as a dedicated portfolio under Minister McKenzie’s stewardship, to ensure the focus can remain firmly on delivering the best healthcare outcomes for rural and remote Australians.

NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health : Opening video #OchreDay2018 Minister @KenWyattPM urges Aboriginal men to be warriors for health and for our children’s welfare and future, every day.

  ” In the context of NACCHO Ochre Day — with its focus on men’s health — we need Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to continue stepping up across the board and being the warriors they have been for 65,000 years.

If we are to truly transform the health status of our First Australians, we need every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man to take responsibility and be proud of themselves and their heritage — proud of the oldest continuous culture on Earth, and the traditions that kept us healthy, from the very beginning.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture must also be front and centre of the early years of our children’s lives. 

It must be an integral part of our children’s early learning and quest for knowledge.

And our fathers, grandfathers and uncles — as well as our mothers, aunties and grandmothers — must play a key role in protecting our children.

Our men, in particular, must be warriors for our children’s welfare and future, every day.

Ken Wyatt AM, MP Minister for Indigenous Health opening speech Via Video : See Full Text part 2 

View Video HERE 

Today 200 + delegates at the Ochre Day Conference –Men’s Health, Our Way. Let’s Own It heard an address from The Hon. Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health.

The Minister highlighted that “This Day shines a light on the issues that affect the social and emotional health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

He asks them to become “home-based heroes — modern-day warriors for health and wellbeing — who are crucial in Closing the Gap in the health outcomes experienced by our First Peoples.

Wyatt believes and NACCHO Chairperson John Singer agrees “that we need every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man to take responsibility and be proud of themselves and their heritage — proud of the oldest continuous culture on Earth, and the traditions that kept us healthy, from the very beginning.”

Recently John Singer attended the Council of Australian Governments Health Council meeting in Alice Springs, when it made two critical decisions to advance First Nations health. Firstly, it has made Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health a national priority, including by inviting the Indigenous Health Minister to all future meetings.

The Council also resolved to create a national Indigenous Health and Medical Workforce Plan, to focus on significantly increasing the number of First Nations doctors, nurses and health professionals.

John Singer was also grateful that the former Turnbull Government has just committed $3.4 million over the next three years, to develop the Aboriginal Health TV network. It is an anticipated that this will deliver health and wellbeing messages through television screens in 144 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, reaching up to 1.2 million people each month.

Local community TV production will be fostered and encouraged, to ensure that the broadcasts are relevant and engaging for their audiences. Health messages will be delivered on issues such as smoking, eye and ear checks, skin conditions, diet, immunisation, sexual health, diabetes and drug and alcohol treatment services.

Ochre Day is an important Aboriginal male health initiative to help raise awareness as well as provide an opportunity to draw national public awareness to Aboriginal male health and social and emotional wellbeing.

https://nacchocommunique.com/category/aboriginal-malemens-health/

Part 2 Minister Ken Wyatt Transcript 

Good morning. In West Australian Noongar language, I say “kaya wangju” – hello and welcome.

I acknowledge the Muwinina people, on whose land you are gathered today, and pay my respect to Elders past and present.

Apologies that I am unable to join you in person — but I am grateful for the opportunity to address you about the critical importance of men’s health.

I congratulate the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation for the leadership it has shown in raising awareness of the importance of the health of First Nations men, through the creation of Ochre Day.

This Day shines a light on the issues that affect the social and emotional health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

This summit provides a welcome opportunity for all of you to hear the latest health and medical developments, share ideas — and learn more about how, together, we can improve the health of our men.

I believe that the word “ochre” perfectly encapsulates the way forward, to secure lasting change.

For thousands of years – and still today – ochre has been a marker of tradition and respect.

It has been dug up and used from time immemorial, to help tell our stories through decoration, dance and painting.

Like ochre, respect for culture will, I believe, play a vital role in improving the health of our First Nations people.

For at least 65,000 years, our societies have been family oriented, with responsibilities shared between men and women.

Women playing their key roles as mothers and protectors.

But equally, men, playing their parts as father figures and family shields.

Why am I saying this?

Because I believe that home-based heroes — modern- day warriors for health and wellbeing — are crucial in Closing the Gap in the health outcomes experienced by our First Peoples.

And in the context of Ochre Day — with its focus on men’s health — we need Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to continue stepping up across the board and being the warriors they have been for 65,000 years.

If we are to truly transform the health status of our First Australians, we need every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man to take responsibility and be proud of themselves and their heritage — proud of the oldest continuous culture on Earth, and the traditions that kept us healthy, from the very beginning.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture must also be front and centre of the early years of our children’s lives.

It must be an integral part of our children’s early learning and quest for knowledge.

And our fathers, grandfathers and uncles — as well as our mothers, aunties and grandmothers — must play a key role in protecting our children.

Our men, in particular, must be warriors for our children’s welfare and future, every day.

In a targeted manner, the development of local warriors has taken a significant step forward this month, with the new Hearing for Learning initiative, launched in the Northern Territory.

As you know, the alarmingly high rates of childhood ear infection in both regional and urban communities can hinder our children’s development and limit their opportunities as adults.

First Nations children suffer an average of 32 months of hearing loss compared with three months for other Australian children, as well as unacceptably high levels of otitis media.

A healthy ear one day may show signs of infection the next.

While doctors and specialists attend many communities and work hard with families to protect hearing, we need local people to continuously monitor our children’s ears and maintain strong messages about the importance of ear health.

With almost $8 million from the Turnbull and Northern Territory Governments, and the Balnaves Foundation, the Hearing for Learning initiative will develop a network of up to 40 ear health warriors, to do just that across 20 communities.

They will be local people, speaking their local languages, and living with and communicating directly with local parents and families.

They will strengthen and complement the work of fly-in fly-out ear specialists and protect the hearing of up to 5,000 children from birth to 16 years old.

Hearing for Learning aims to dramatically lift the capacity of families and communities to identify ear disease within the first few months of life and then maintain vigilance.

These ear health warriors will integrate with existing primary care services, assisting health professionals to diagnose and manage ear disease and where necessary, to refer children for specialist treatment.

I hold considerable hope for this project, and I believe there is potential for it to be replicated across other states and territories, once the implementation has been proven.

Building on this local warriors theme, I attended the Council Of Australian Governments Health Council meeting in Alice Springs earlier this month, when it made two critical decisions to advance First Nations health.

Firstly, it has made Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health a national priority, including by inviting the Indigenous Health Minister to all future meetings.

Secondly, the Council resolved to create a national Indigenous Health and Medical Workforce Plan, to focus on significantly increasing the number of First Nations doctors, nurses and health professionals.

This is about more Aboriginal doctors, nurses and health workers on country and in our towns and cities.

While it will be positive for creating First Nations jobs across Australia, it has particular potential for tackling chronic disease and improving the lives of people in remote communities.

This plan is a high priority and we can expect further announcements to bolster the local Aboriginal health workforce in coming months.

I would also like to highlight another national project which I believe has great potential to help improve men’s health awareness.

The Turnbull Government has just committed $3.4 million over the next three years, to develop the Aboriginal Health TV network.

This will deliver health and wellbeing messages through television screens in hundreds of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, reaching up to 1.2 million people each month.

Local community production will be fostered and encouraged, to ensure that the broadcasts are relevant and engaging for their audiences.

Health messages will be delivered on issues such as smoking, eye and ear checks, skin conditions, diet, immunisation, sexual health, diabetes and drug and alcohol treatment services.

Content will be developed by the Aboriginal Health TV Network in partnership with local Aboriginal health services, to ensure it is culturally appropriate and relevant.

The new network will also use social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to extend its reach and engagement.

Its potential is vast, and I encourage everyone to consider how the network could be used to engage local men and help them understand how they can improve their health.

The Turnbull Government’s commitment to working and walking together for better First Nations health is absolute.

The Government has also initiated development of a National Male Health Strategy for the period 2020-2030.

Building on the 2010 National Male Health Policy, a key consideration of the new Strategy will be addressing the specific health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and boys.

I look forward to hearing how your work during this two-day summit can inform the strategy.

Like every one of you here today, I am deeply committed to Closing the Gap.

Fundamental to this is the continuous improvement of the health of our First Nations men.

For now – and for the future – let’s join together with local men across the nation and support and encourage them to go forward as warriors for health.

Thank you.

 NACCHO Aboriginal Hearing Health : #OMOZ2018 Ear Health Project Officers will spearhead a new $7.9 million #HearingforLearning program to fight hearing loss among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander childre

Hearing for Learning aims to dramatically lift the capacity for communities to identify ear disease within the first few months of life.

Infants rarely show signs of ear pain, so infections are not detected and diseases like otitis media persist and progress.

By 12 months of age, only five per cent of First Nations children in remote communities have bilateral normal hearing, compared with over 80 per cent of children in the rest of Australia.

Children with undiagnosed hearing loss tend to fall behind at school due to delayed speech and language development.

This can have a huge impact on their early years, future employment opportunities and their chance of a happy and successful life.”

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM

The Territory Labor Government promised to put children at the centre of our decision-making, because we want a brighter future for our kids – a future filled with opportunity.

When we focus on the first 1000 days of a child’s life, we know we get better outcomes for their future, and that’s what this partnership aims to do.

Hearing health has an enormous impact on a child’s development, and by addressing this at a community level, the entire community will benefit.” 

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner

Watch video 

 

Read over 40 Aboriginal Ear and Hearing articles published by NACCHO over last 6 years

Hearing is essential for strong early childhood development and chronic hearing problems in children cause education difficulties leading to entrenched disadvantage.

The Hearing for Learning Initiative is a ground-breaking 5-year investment combining public and private funding to solve this serious health and education problem “

Professor Alan Cass Director Menzies School of Health Research

When we learned about the chronic nature of ear disease in children living in remote communities in the Northern Territory, we could not ignore the fact that this likely leads to profound disadvantage in health, education and employment outcomes.

We believe more must be done and the next step is to support the community to deliver a solution.

Philanthropy plays a unique role in recognising and piloting new approaches, however, it requires partnership with government to deliver these approaches at scale.

The Government is to be applauded for putting this unique partnership together to solve what has now become a serious epidemic.

Neil Balnaves AO, Founder, The Balnaves Foundation and Chancellor, Charles Darwin University

Dozens of local Ear Health Project Officers will spearhead a new $7.9 million program to fight hearing loss among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the Northern Territory.

The Hearing for Learning initiative will be established in 20 urban, rural and remote sites, where up to 40 local people will strengthen and complement the work of fly-in fly-out (FIFO) ear specialists.

“This is an exciting new opportunity to remove the preventable blight of hearing loss from current and future generations,” said Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM.

“These local ear health warriors will integrate with existing primary care services, to help protect the hearing of up to 5,000 children from birth to 16 years old.

“Lifting the capacity of local families to recognise, report and treat ear problems early promises to help our children reach their full potential.”

The initiative will be implemented by the Menzies School of Health Research and co-led by Professor Amanda Leach and Associate Professor Kelvin Kong.

The Hearing for Learning is a ground-breaking 5-year initiative by the Northern Territory Government, founded on scientific research by Northern Territory scientists at Menzies School of Health Research, combining public and private funding to solve this serious health and education problem.

$2.4 million from NT Government

$2.5 million from The Balnaves Foundation

$3 million from the Federal Government

Hearing for Learning aims to dramatically lift the capacity for communities to identify ear disease within the first few months of life,” said Minister Wyatt.

“Infants rarely show signs of ear pain, so infections are not detected and diseases like otitis media persist and progress.

“By 12 months of age, only five per cent of First Nations children in remote communities have bilateral normal hearing, compared with over 80 per cent of children in the rest of Australia.”

“Children with undiagnosed hearing loss tend to fall behind at school due to delayed speech and language development,” Minister Wyatt said.

“This can have a huge impact on their early years, future employment opportunities and their chance of a happy and successful life.”

The Menzies School of Health Research aims to make Hearing for Learning a care model that can be replicated across the nation.

Hearing for Learning will complement the Government’s existing ear health programs, including Healthy Ears, which together will receive funding of $81.8 million over four years from 2018–19.

This includes $30 million for a new outreach program to provide annual hearing assessment, referral and follow-up treatment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children before they start school.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #COAG Alice Springs 5 of 5 Posts : 1. Download or Read COAG Communique includes #Indigenous Health Roundtable #MyHealthRecord #Cancer #Hearing #Dental funding #Obesity #MentalHealth #Womens #Mens Health Strategies 2020 -2030 2.Download or Read Press Conference Transcript Ministers @GregHuntMP @KenWyattMP

 ” The Federal, State and Territory Health Ministers met in Alice Springs yesterday (2 August ) at the COAG Health Council to discuss a range of national health issues. 

The meeting was hosted by the Hon Natasha Fyles, the Northern Territory Minister for Health. The meeting was chaired by the Ms Meegan Fitzharris MLA, Australian Capital Territory Minister for Health and Wellbeing.

On Wednesday 1 August Health Ministers held a Roundtable with Indigenous leaders to listen to what is important to Indigenous people and to talk about how we can work together to improve health and healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to achieve equity in health outcomes.

A separate communique has been prepared for the Indigenous Roundtable.

Following the meeting the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care launched the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards – User Guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

See full COAG Health Miinisters Communique Part 1 Below or Download HERE 

CHC Communique 020818_1

On Wednesday 1 August, COAG Health Council (CHC) members met with Indigenous health leaders for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Roundtable.

All Ministers welcomed and valued this momentous opportunity to hear collectively from Indigenous health leaders. 

The COAG Health Council welcomed Minister Ken Wyatt, the Federal Minister for Indigenous Health to the meeting and expressed its deepest thanks to those Indigenous Leaders from across Australia who participated.” 

See full COAG Health Miinisters Indigenous Health Rundtable Communique Part 1 Below or Download HERE

CHC Indigenous Roundtable Communique_010818

 ” So there’s work that we’ve centred our attention on, working very closely with the community-controlled health sector across the nation, because these are two very significant illnesses that prevail within Aboriginal communities – avoidable blindness, avoidable deafness.

But we also want to look at some of those other underlying issues that impact on a child in their early years – crusted on scabies, we’ve just committed a substantial piece of work around to tackle that issue and look at solutions.

But the underlying social determinants are absolutely critical. But with the state and territory health ministers meeting here in Alice Springs, it means we will have a very serious discussion around the way in which the Commonwealth and state and territories work in partnership with Aboriginal people, not for us to deliver programs to them.

Because often change will only come when families have the ownership, when communities are those who determine the priorities that are needed, that then are given the level of support and resourcing that is important in the way that we’ve done with Purple House.

Ken Wyatt Greg Hunt Press Conference Alice Springs see Part 2 Below or Download Transcripts of both 

Before meeting

Press Conference 1 . pdf

 ” The best health comes from the community.

The best health comes when Indigenous communities and Indigenous leaders are able to take control, and that’s what they want to do.

They are saying – particularly through the ACCHOs – that we are able to help our own people if you give us the support and the tools, and that’s why the workforce plan is fundamental, coupled with additional support for research by and into Indigenous health.” 

Minister Greg Hunt after the COAG meeting

Greg Hunt Ken Wyatt Alice Springs Indigenous Health Press Conference

NACCHO COVERAGE THIS WEEK

1 of 5 NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Download @GrattanInst #MappingPrimaryCare ‏Report : Reform primary care to improve health care for all Australians says @stephenjduckett

2 of 5 NACCHO Aboriginal Health #COAG meeting Alice Springs : Time for COAG Health Council to address the Indigenous funding myth & ‘market failure’ says Ian Ring

3 of 5 NACCHO Aboriginal Health #COAG : Indigenous Health Leadership , Ministers @GregHuntMP @KenWyattMP and Australia’s Health Ministers gather in #AliceSprings to shine a spotlight on #Indigenous health

4 of 5 NACCHO Aboriginal Health #ACCHO Deadly Good News stories : Features #NT @DanilaDilba @EvonneGoolagong @DeadlyChoices #QLD @IUIH_ #SA @Nganampa_Health #WA @TheAHCWA #VIC @VAHS1972

 

Major items discussed by COAG Health Ministers today included:

1.National collaboration to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians 

Health Ministers held a strategic discussion on national collaboration to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The wide-ranging discussion covered the impacts of potentially preventable rates of eye disease, ear disease, kidney disease, crusted scabies, Rheumatic Heart Disease, Human T-Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 (HTLV-1) and mental health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Ministers identified opportunities for collaborative action to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes that builds on the work already underway across Australia.

Roundtable Report

Ministers acknowledged the breadth and depth of Indigenous health knowledge, experience and leadership represented at the Roundtable, as well as the proven record of Aboriginal controlled health organisations in improving the health and wellbeing of indigenous Australians.

Indigenous leaders spoke of the importance of mutual trust and respect, the need to increase cultural capability and eliminate racism in all health settings and services, and the importance of cultural safety in improving the health and wellbeing of indigenous Australians.

Ministers welcomed this message and agreed that cultural safety in providing healthcare to indigenous Australians was essential.

Ministers agreed to progress cultural safety training within their own jurisdiction and committed to explore the requirement for cultural safety training in health professionals registration.

Ministers agreed to progress initiatives to implement a Safe Patient Journey through the health care system within their own jurisdiction and committed to explore the requirement for cultural safety training in health professionals and tasked the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency to develop options  for the next CHC meeting in consultation with national bodies and indigenous health workforce representatives.

Indigenous leaders clearly outlined the importance of a workforce plan to guide action and inspire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to a successful career in health.

Ministers agreed to develop a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Plan with a first draft to be considered at the CHC’s next meeting, to be followed by consultation.

Ministers agreed to work with Indigenous leaders to develop a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Medical Workforce Plan.

Ministers acknowledged the many successes and achievements in Indigenous health outlined during the Roundtable and welcomed the expressions of hope for the future. Equally, Ministers acknowledged the challenges faced by indigenous people across urban, rural and remote communities.

Ministers acknowledged the experience of Indigenous people in health settings and noted the importance of a safe clinical and cultural health journey for Indigenous people.

Recognising the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  health and medical research and researchers, Commonwealth, states and territory Health Ministers commit to working together to strengthen Indigenous led health and medical research. This should include an enhanced focus on specific Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and medical research to improve outcomes for the community.

In recognition of the significant value of continuing to build mutual trust, respect and understanding, Ministers committed to an annual dialogue with Indigenous health leaders with the next Roundtable to occur in 12 months’ time. Further, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health has been established as a standing item on every COAG Health Council meeting.

Ministers further strengthened the accountability for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by agreeing to invite the Commonwealth Minister for Indigenous Health to every COAG Health Council meeting thus embedding consideration of these matters in all health discussions.

Ministers acknowledged the strong contribution by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in advancing improvements in Indigenous Health and the achievements of the Commonwealth, states and territories.

Ministers concluded a strategic discussion in the CHC meeting on Thursday 2 August by reaffirming their commitment to addressing gaps in Indigenous health outcomes.

The summary themes from the discussion are listed below:

  • Develop a National Indigenous Health and Medical Workforce Plan that provides a career path, national scope of practice and builds more balance of indigenous and non-indigenous people across all health professions, make health an aspirational career for Aboriginal people. This should include a specific focus on a national scope of practice for Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners.
  • Trust, hope, faith and strong relationships important to ensure services meet needs.
  • Need for deep listening at all levels.
  • Important to recognise and share the good things that are already happening and some of the recent positive announcements.
  • Tap into the centres of excellence that are already operating and build on success.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are invested in success and seek same investment from non-indigenous partners.
  • Need to have different approaches for urban, regional and remote communities to reflect the diversity of local needs, resources and capability across all settings.
  • Primary health care services critical to wellbeing to prevent the need for subsequent acute services, tackling chronic disease essential.
  • Make sure cultural capability and cultural safety are within legislation and policy frameworks.
  • It is important that there is collaborative, needs based planning and implementation rather than vertical disconnected programs, and funding needs to be long term to support sustainability.
  • Need a range of measures: personal health interventions as well as community strategies such as supply reduction of hazards.
  • It is important that other determinants such as housing, electricity and water are addressed.
  • In recognition of the importance of connection to country, services should also be on country where safe and appropriate.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait community leadership is critical to success

2.Mandatory reporting requirements by treating practitioners

Health Ministers approved a targeted consultation process for amendments to mandatory reporting requirements by treating practitioners. The targeted consultation process will seek feedback on proposed legislation that strikes a balance between ensuring health practitioners can seek help when needed, while also protecting the public from harm. The consultation process will involve professional bodies representing each registered health profession, consumer groups, National Boards and professional indemnity insurers. The

results of the targeted consultation process will inform a Bill to be presented to the Queensland Parliament as soon as possible.

Western Australia is not included in this process as its current arrangements will continue.

3.Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency

Health Ministers welcomed advice that all 15 health practitioner National Boards, their Accreditation Councils and AHPRA have partnered with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector leaders and organisations to sign a National Registration and Accreditation Scheme Statement of Intent to achieve equity in health outcomes.

This joint commitment aims to ensure a culturally safe health workforce, increasing participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the registered health professions along with greater access to culturally safe health services.

This work will reach over 700,000 registered health practitioners, over 150,000 registered students and the 740 plus programs of study accredited through the National Scheme. The launch was held on traditional lands of the Wurundjeri Peoples of the Kulin Nation in Melbourne, Victoria with a Welcome to Country and a traditional smoking ceremony.

4.Update on 2016-17 determination of national health reform funding

Health Ministers received an update from the Commonwealth Health Minister on the process and timing of the 2016-17 determination, and of the importance of rapidly setting the 2016-17 determination of the national health reform funding to provide certainty for hospital services into the future. Health Ministers also noted the work on improvements to the reconciliation process for inclusion in the next National Health Reform Agreement.

Ministers welcomed the appointment of Michael Lambert as the Administrator of the National Health Funding Pool.

5.Private patients in public hospitals.

Ministers agreed to commission an independent review of a range of factors regarding utilisation of private health insurance in public hospitals to report as soon as possible but no later than 31 December 2018.

6.Progress update on the National Health Reform Agreement

The Commonwealth Minister for Health provided an update on drafting of the National Health Reform Agreement. The Council noted the importance of a dispute resolution process.

7.National approach to hearing health

Minsters recognised that 3.6 million Australians currently experience hearing loss and that the prevalence of hearing loss is expected to more than double by 2060. Ministers discussed the economic, social and health impacts of hearing loss, particularly for the 90 per cent of

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in some remote communities who experience otitis media infections at any time. Ministers agreed to further consider a national approach to hearing health, following the Commonwealth’s response to the House of Representatives Inquiry Report ‘Still Waiting to be Heard’ expected later this year.

8.Public dental funding arrangements 

Ministers noted that the current National Partnership Agreement on Public Dental Services for Adults will end on 30 June 2019, and that the State and Territory public provider access to the Child Dental Benefits Schedule will end on 31 December 2019.

Ministers agreed that securing sustainable and fair future funding arrangements is critical to providing timely access to public dental care. Ministers agreed to commence formal negotiations to achieve fair, long-term public dental funding arrangements, including extension of access to the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.

9.Mutual recognition of mental health orders 

Ministers discussed the important issue of ensuring continuity of care for mental health consumers moving between jurisdictions with different legislation. Ministers agreed that work to ensure interoperability of mental health legislation between states and territories, as part of the 5th National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan is prioritised.

10.Recognising Continuity of Care for Consumers of Mental Health Services

The Council discussed and agreed to South Australia’s proposal that the COAG Health Council monitor the ongoing transition to the NDIS of mental health clients and to identify any emerging services gaps that need to be addressed in order to ensure continuity of support.

Ministers agreed that the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council work with the Disability Reform Council Senior Officials Working Group and provide advice at the next COAG Health Council on actions to resolve interface issues between health and disability services.

11.Obesity – limiting the impact of unhealthy food and drinks on children

The Queensland Minister led a discussion on a suite of actions to improve children’s diets and prevent child obesity with a focus on health care settings, schools, children’s sport and recreation, food promotion and food regulation.

The development of cross-sectoral initiatives with education and sport and recreation sectors was noted. Health departments were tasked with developing national minimum nutrition standards for food and drink supply in public health care facilities. The Queensland Minister presented a national interim guide for reducing children’s exposure to unhealthy food and drink marketing. This guide was endorsed by Ministers, noting that the guide is for voluntary use by governments.

Health Ministers noted the voluntary pledge made by the Australian Beverages Council Limited to reduce sugar across their portfolio of products by 20% on average by 2025.

12. Implementation of National Cancer Work Plan – Additional Optimal Cancer Care Pathway

Health Ministers endorsed the Optimal Cancer Care Pathway (OCP) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which is the first OCP under the National Cancer Work Plan that specifically addresses the needs of a cultural group. It is critical that cancer service systems are culturally responsive and competent to address the current and growing disparities in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians relative to non-Indigenous Australians. This OCP is designed to provide culturally safe and responsive healthcare, including acknowledging how social determinants can impact health outcomes. This OCP is to be used in conjunction with the 15 tumour-specific OCPs.

The OCP for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was developed collaboratively by Cancer Australia in partnership with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and Cancer Council Victoria. Ministers also gratefully acknowledge Aboriginal leadership in development of this pathway with input from an Expert Working Group and from Cancer Australia’s Leadership Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Control, as well as feedback from many Aboriginal Controlled Community Organisations and peak groups during the public consultation phase.

13. Public disclosure to support hospital and clinical comparisons

Ministers agreed to commit to create a data and reporting environment that increases patient choice through greater public disclosure of hospital and clinician performance and information.

Ministers noted it is the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) role to facilitate consistent and timely reporting of health and welfare statistics and performance information, including the publication of the MyHospitals and MyHealthy Communities websites following the cessation of the National Health Performance Authority.

All jurisdictions agreed to work with the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer in his investigation of the issue around a number of women being diagnosed with cancer, which may be linked to breast implants. This includes the role all jurisdictions play in reporting information to track the use of implants.

14.National Action Plan for Endometriosis

Ministers noted that the National Action Plan for Endometriosis has been finalised and was launched on 26 July 2018. All states and territories will be working with the Commonwealth toward implementation of the plan.

15.National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030 and National Men’s Health Strategy 2020-2030

Ministers noted that the Commonwealth is developing a National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030 and a National Men’s Health Strategy 2020-2030. Both Strategies are expected to be finalised and launched in early 2019.

16. Ministerial Advisory Committee on Out-of-Pocket Costs

Ministers noted the work being undertaken by the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Out-of-Pocket Costs. It was agreed that the Commonwealth release a detailed report of the activity of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Out-of-Pocket Costs including specific fee transparency options before the next COAG Health Council meeting so that decisive actions can be agreed.

17. Digital health

Jurisdictions reaffirmed their support of a national opt out approach to the My Health Record. Jurisdictions noted clinical advice about the benefits of My Health Record and expressed their strong support for My Health Record to support patient’s health.

Ministers acknowledged some concerns in the community and noted actions proposed to provide community confidence, including strengthening privacy and security provisions of My Health Record.

Part 2Press Conference Alice Springs

GREG HUNT: 
It’s a real honour to be here at Purple House with Ken Wyatt, Indigenous Health Minister, but of course the first Indigenous Minister in the history of the Commonwealth of Australia.

And then Sarah and her team, all of the members of Purple House. Purple House is about saving lives and protecting lives.

It’s about closing the gap so as in Indigenous Australians have a better shot at better kidney health. As the Chief Medical Officer was just explaining, dialysis means that the machines do the work of the kidneys where the kidneys have been damaged, and that means that people can help expel the toxins, can have a healthier life and deal with some of the challenges and they can be on dialysis and manage their lives for literally two decades or more in some cases, as Brendan was setting out.

Today, I am delighted to announce that the Australian Government will under the National Health and Medical Research Council. These projects will cover things such as lung function, reducing smoking during pregnancy, improving the health of blood and Ken will talk to you in particular about point-of-care testing in dialysis.

It’s about ensuring that whilst we clearly have not closed the gap yet, which is why we asked together – the Council of Australian Governments – to come to Alice Springs and to focus on Indigenous Australia. Whilst we haven’t closed that gap, we are making progress, important steps, but a whole lot more to go.

This funding builds on what we’ve done in supporting Purple House and builds on what we’ve done in supporting additional remote dialysis. I’ll ask Ken to talk about those, but today is a critically important day for investment in Indigenous health, research and training and improved outcomes. Each one of these projects, each one of these 28 projects has the potential to save lives and improve lives. Ken?

KEN WYATT:

It’s great to be here. I was in Darwin and I heard an elder from Tiwi Island talk about living life and enjoying it fully, until he had to go to Darwin, and he said when he went to a Royal Darwin Hospital he thought he was going for a prescription and tablets that would allow him to go home.

He said he never realised he would be married to a machine and never return to country. And what’s great is Purple House now provides that opportunity for elders and senior people within the community and younger ones who experience renal failure to go back to the point of where they grew up. Point-of-care testing makes it easier now to identify where we have renal problems and start to address the needs of individuals.

The $23 million that the Australian Government, the Turnbull Government have provided to Purple House means that the purple bus will reach further out into remote and isolated communities, but more importantly an increase in the number of dialysis point of access that enables both the use of chairs and other support programs that are important.

Over a period of time we’ve seen senior Aboriginal people make a decision to disengage from dialysis in regional hospitals, go back to country and die on country. This now changes that. This gives an incredible opportunity for people to spend time with their family, for culture and law to be passed on through those who have that task.

But more importantly, to keep families together and I think that the combination of the work that the Turnbull Government, and in particular Minister Hunt in his strong commitment to looking at the research that is required to close those gaps, has made an incredible difference. And it’s great having you here as well because you have also been an advocate and I’d like to invite you to make a couple of comments as well.

GREG HUNT:
Okay. We’re happy to take any questions.

JOURNALIST: 
Well, if I may kick it off. Minister Hunt, we’ve heard a lot of concerns about privacy issues regarding My Health. What benefits though are there in digitising health records?

GREG HUNT: 
Well, enormous benefits, and I have to say that the Northern Territory is one of the nation’s leaders on that front and I’ve been discussing this with the Northern Territory Minister, who’s been a great advocate and it crosses party lines.

But when you have a mobile population and they may not have their own records as most people don’t, they don’t carry their records with them, if they’re a mobile population, or if the medical community is moving, then what this does is it marries up your history and your chronic conditions and your medicines across the different points of care.

So this gives every Australian the capacity to have their health care system with them, if they want it. And in Indigenous Australia, and in particular in the Northern Territory, we see that this area is leading the nation in terms of engagement with the population on digital health. So for Indigenous Australia it’s going to be a real game-changer.

JOURNALIST:
Are you confident, Minister, that the changes you’ve made address the privacy concerns?

GREG HUNT: 
Yes, these are changes which come directly from the advice, request and sensible proposals put forward by the AMA and the College of GPs and really we’re doing two things, one, we are lifting Labor’s 2012 legislation to the same level as the practise of the last six years, which is an ironclad legislative guarantee that no health records will be released without a court order.

Secondly, once somebody seeks to have their record deleted, it will now be cancelled and fully deleted forever from the record so. If you seek to have it cancelled, if you seek to opt-out after a record’s been created, it’s gone forever, rather than the 130 years which was put in under Labor’s legislation.

JOURNALIST: 
Labor says the opt-out period should be put on hold. Will you do that?

GREG HUNT: 
That’s not the advice of the medical authorities who are very clear that they want this done this year, so we’ve extended by a month and we’ve worked with the medical authorities. I understand that Labor at the moment is being, shall we say, a little bit curious because only a few weeks ago they were welcoming this as a long-overdue step and when the legislation went through, unanimously, through the Parliament they praised this as an important and vital step forward.

JOURNALIST:
The Women’s Legal Service in Queensland says you haven’t done enough to address new concerns around My Health Record and that it may risk the safety of women fleeing abusing partners. Have you heard of those concerns and are you doing anything on that front?

GREG HUNT:
Yes, I’ve asked the head of the Digital Health Agency to talk with them and meet with them as a matter of priority. The advice I have is that there are very, very strong protections, but we’re always working with different groups and these have been raised and so the head of the Digital Health Agency will meet with and talk with those groups and take their concerns very, very seriously.

JOURNALIST:
Minister, what else is the federal government doing to help ensure that Indigenous people can live a healthy life in remote communities?

GREG HUNT:
Well, there’s a comprehensive program and I’ll ask Ken to address this in more detail. But you have of course the health treatment, and these 28 new projects are each about improving health in different areas, whether, as I say, it’s in relation to smoking rates for pregnant women, point of care for dialysis, whether it’s improving outcomes in relation to lung function.

But we’re also working through the education system on activity, on diet, and then of course there’s economic development, because you cannot escape the social determinants of health, they are a reality. That’s why Indigenous Australia has worse outcomes, because there are challenges that are unique to that community and we have to have a comprehensive program.

Now, Ken has, as much as any person in Australian history, helped drive that forward and he’s being supported on the ground. I have to say, Jacinta was one of the motivating sources for the COAG meeting to be here in Alice Springs. Ken?

KEN WYATT:
Some of the priorities that we’re working on are premised on rheumatic heart disease and the impact that that has from birth through to later adult life. The increasing number of people living with renal failure and certainly our research is showing that the onset might be as early as 19 years in males.

So there’s work that we’ve centred our attention on, working very closely with the community-controlled health sector across the nation, because these are two very significant illnesses that prevail within Aboriginal communities – avoidable blindness, avoidable deafness. But we also want to look at some of those other underlying issues that impact on a child in their early years – crusted on scabies, we’ve just committed a substantial piece of work around to tackle that issue and look at solutions.

But the underlying social determinants are absolutely critical. But with the state and territory health ministers meeting here in Alice Springs, it means we will have a very serious discussion around the way in which the Commonwealth and state and territories work in partnership with Aboriginal people, not for us to deliver programs to them. Because often change will only come when families have the ownership, when communities are those who determine the priorities that are needed, that then are given the level of support and resourcing that is important in the way that we’ve done with Purple House.

On the ground approaches work far better than if we try and tackle them from capital cities, and so this whole focus means that we bring health and health thinking and design and planning much closer. Our roundtable this afternoon with the Indigenous leaders is a reflection of us seeking their advice to look at what are the directions that we need to seriously consider, given the geographic diversity of our nation.

JOURNALIST:
Minister Wyatt, do you think there’s been enough done to explain, I guess, My Health? I mean, you’re here at Purple House where many languages are spoken other than English. Are you confident that the message is getting out there to those regional communities where English is perhaps third or fourth languages?

KEN WYATT:
Look, I think our Aboriginal health workers who are employed by many organisations, including state and territory health systems, provide that front line interaction. Because I once made a comment to a group of Aboriginal health workers in New South Wales that power doesn’t sit with the director or with the minister, the power of change and impact sits with the Aboriginal health workers who understand the families, understand the communities, that can speak language and understand the nuances of the relationships within a community. I think that’s where our best opportunity lies.

JOURNALIST:
Minister Wyatt, I think everybody would agree the syphilis epidemic is very high, too high, in Indigenous populations. What’s your plan to bring down those numbers?

KEN WYATT:
Well when that was first raised with us there were two steps we took. One is the Chief Medical Officer undertook a piece of work with the Australian Health Minsters’ Council because the predominance of that work in terms of surveillance, treatment, and the provision of treatment, really reside with state and territories. But also, Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations play a key role. James Ward has also developed community awareness materials that are pragmatic and practical and kids can relate to the messages in the materials that he has produced.

But also having the community-controlled health services now turn their attention to point of care testing, but more importantly around some of the messages of why it’s important to practice safe sex. The other avenue we use which is a great one is through some of the big sporting events – Adrian Carson in Brisbane will be holding a rugby knock out carnival in Townsville. Now, at that they’re anticipating somewhere between 10,000 and 16,000 people will turn up along with all of those playing, so it gives a great opportunity for the community-controlled health sector to get some of those messages into the community.

But our strategic approach is working with the jurisdictions and with the Aboriginal communities in making sure that we entrench a practice of identification of STIs, including HIV and blood-borne viruses where they may prevail, but then providing the level of treatment that is important in eradicating the challenge that we’ve had. We’ve seen this outbreak across the top end of Australia and certainly the level of commitment that we’ve had from states and territories has been tremendous.

JOURNALIST:
Is that going to be a similar approach for HLTV-1 virus?

KEN WYATT:
Yes, we’ve set aside through the AHMAC process $8 million, which will be part of a process of a round of discussions involving Aboriginal community-controlled health services, key researchers, but also the jurisdictions in identifying the priorities. We have to ascertain the extent of the spread of the virus and not only consider that, but consider research that’s been done overseas.

I’ve certainly read some of the research out of Japan in terms of transmission points, but we need to have a look at what is the challenge here in Australia. I know it was something that was identified in the Fitzroy Valley in the 80s and 90s and certainly I want to compliment my own department and Minister Hunt’s department on the work that they’ve been doing with our state and territory colleagues and the community-controlled health sector.

GREG HUNT:
Thank you very much.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #COAG meeting Alice Springs : Time for COAG Health Council to address the Indigenous funding myth & ‘market failure’ says Ian Ring

 ” COAG Health Ministers will discuss Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island health at their meeting in Alice Springs this week.

There is much to discuss. Ten years on from the start of Closing the Gap, progress is mixed, limited and disappointing, and the life expectancy gap is widening.

This is hardly surprising.

The National Partnership Agreements on Indigenous health, which spelt out the roles, responsibilities and funding of the Commonwealth and state and territory jurisdictions, have not yet been replaced by bilateral agreements.

Formal regional structures and agreements to bring together Aboriginal community controlled health and mainstream services have yet to be formalised nationally. On the broader front, culture, racism and social, political and economic issues cry out for attention.

The way forward is within the reach of the COAG Health Council.

If there is to be a point in retaining the goal to close the life expectancy gap, the hope is that COAG will now grasp that opportunity.”

Ian Ring AO Honorary Professorial Fellow Research and Innovation Division
University of Wollongong

Originally published in Croakey 

Much remains to be done in housing, the justice system is a debacle, and the question of an Aboriginal voice, one of the main priorities of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, remains unresolved.

Critically, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Health Implementation Plan, which was supposed to be the game changer for health, has become an unfunded plan of words not action and, after almost three years, basic core tasks such as defining service models and filling service gaps remain unfulfilled.

Misleading money myths

While money isn’t the only factor, money myths are playing an important role in the failure to close the gap.

A recent Productivity Commission report found that per capita government spending on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was twice as high as for the rest of the population.

The view that enormous amounts of money have been spent on Indigenous Affairs has led many to conclude a different focus is required and that money is not the answer.

But higher spending on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should hardly be a surprise.

We are not surprised, for example, to find that per capita health spending on the elderly is higher than on the healthier young because the elderly have higher levels of illness.

Nor is it a surprise that welfare spending is higher for Indigenous people who lag considerably in education, employment and income. There would be something very wrong with the system if it were otherwise.

The key question in understanding the relativities of expenditure on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is equity of total expenditure, both public and private, in relation to need, but the Productivity Commission’s brief is simply to report on public expenditure, and that can be misleading.

Massive market failure

For health services, while state and territory governments spend on average $2 per capita on Indigenous people for every $1 spent on the rest of the population, the Commonwealth spends $1.20 for every $1 spent on the rest of the population, notwithstanding that the burden of disease and illness for Indigenous Australians is 2.3 times the rate of the rest of the population. And total government expenditure on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is only about 60 per cent of the needs based requirements.

This is massive market failure.

The health system serves the needs of the bulk of the population very well but the health system has failed to meet the needs of the Indigenous population.

Mortality for the Indigenous population has flatlined since 2008 and the inevitable result is that the life expectancy gap is widening rather than closing.

This is not surprising since the Federal Government’s own reports clearly show that preventable admissions for Indigenous people, funded by the states and territories, are three times as high as for the rest of the population (see graphs below, and sources at the bottom of the post) yet use of the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), funded by the Commonwealth, appears at best to be a half and a third respectively of the needs based requirements for Indigenous people.

It is simply impossible for the mortality gaps to close under these conditions.

It is not that the Commonwealth is deliberately underfunding health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. However there are decades of experience establishing beyond all doubt that demand driven services designed to meet the needs of the bulk of the population will not adequately meet the needs of a very small minority of the population with very special needs.

In recognition of that, for over 40 years, the Commonwealth has been funding Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS), which evidence shows better meet those needs, but the coverage of those services is patchy and needs to be expanded.

It has been shown that the nonviolent death rate for at risk Aboriginal people can be halved in just over three years by systematic application of knowledge we already have. It really is within the grasp of the current government to turn things around and now is the time to do it.

Priorities to address

A key requirement is to address the shortfall in Commonwealth funding for out of hospital services, which is contributing to excessive preventable admissions funded by the states and territories, and to avoidable deaths.

A vital priority is seed funding for the provision of satellite and outreach ACCHSs that Indigenous people will access, and which provide the comprehensive services needed to fill the service gaps, to boost the use of MBS and PBS services to more equitable levels, and to reduce preventable admissions and deaths.

Additional funding is also required for mental health and social and emotional wellbeing services which are neglected in the Closing the Gap initiative.

And much more attention needs to be paid to the quality of services, with much needed investment in the training of clinicians, managers and public servants for the difficult and complex roles they have to play.

The ‘Refresh’: resource-free targets

The danger is that action will be put on hold in the belief that somehow the Closing the Gap ‘Refresh’ is going to solve everything!

The fear is that we have entered the world of magical targets – the kind where you just say what you would like to happen and that’s it, it just magically comes to pass without actually specifying, let alone actually doing all the things that are required to achieve the targets. It’s a bit like painting pictures in the sky: let’s put an end to war and famine without any thought or action about what would need to be done for those desirable things to come to pass.

With the Refresh target setting process, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on data issues while more or less completely overlooking consideration of the investment or services required to achieve the targets.

In an orthodox sensible planning process, target setting is an important element. Targets need to be directly related to overarching goals, and need to relate directly to the services, actions and investments that will be made to achieve the targets.

Timeframes setting out what is to be achieved in say 1 year, 5 years, 10 years etc are crucial, and both process and outcome targets need to be set. In the absence of this kind of process a belief that the Refresh will somehow turn things around may well be illusory.

It is extraordinary that the only response to the finding on the life expectancy target – that it not only won’t be met but is going backwards – is an apparent intent to freeze Commonwealth funding for Indigenous health services!

There is little point in having mortality goals which are clearly in jeopardy – and when the causes are not hard to define and the remedies clear – if there is insufficient action taken to actually achieve them.

The funds required for satellite and outreach ACCHS services to fill the service gaps, together with the other priorities described above, spread over a carefully prepared five year plan, are likely to be modest and would make a real and substantial improvement to the health of Indigenous people.

There is no call for some kind of special deal, but simply the same level of expenditure from both Commonwealth and state and territory governments for Australia’s Indigenous peoples that anyone else in the population with equivalent need would receive.

The way forward is within the reach of the COAG Health Council.

If there is to be a point in retaining the goal to close the life expectancy gap, the hope is that COAG will now grasp that opportunity.

Sources:

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : Download @aihw Aboriginal health organisations : Online Services Report—key results 2016–17 : Part 2 Is the Closing the Gap ‘too focused on prosperity debate

 ” The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples has also warned that a focus on “economic prosperity” in the current Close the Gap review “is misguided and should not serve as an overarching focus for government policy”.

The Lowitja Institute has called for “prosperity” to be ­removed as a criteria, saying it “has strong monetary connotations and does not adequately speak to the health and education sectors”, and warns that the ­review will fail “if effective partnerships and engagement, not consultation, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and communities is not undertaken from the start to the end of the process”.

From the Australian 14 July see Part 2 Below

Part 1 : Download Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations: Online Services Report—key results 2016–17

This ninth national report provides information on 266 organisations funded by the Australian Government to deliver health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These organisations contributed to the 2016–17 Online Services Report. Information is presented on the characteristics of these organisations; the services they provide; client numbers, contacts and episodes of care; staffing levels; and service gaps and challenges.

Some changes were made to the 2016–17 data collection, aimed at ensuring consistency in episode of care reporting between the different data collection systems. This resulted in a decrease in primary health episode of care counts in 2016–17. These are not comparable with previous collections, so comparisons are not presented in this report. See Chapter 2 for more information about the data collection, data quality and the impacts of these changes.

Download the full report 120 Page HERE

aihw-ihw-196

Key messages

1.A range of services are provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Of the 266 organisations in 2016–17:

  • 196 (74%) provided a range of primary health-care services to around 444,700 clients through 3.2 million episodes of care. Just over two-thirds of these organisations (136) were Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations. Services provided include: health promotion; clinical care; substance-use treatment and prevention; and social and emotional wellbeing support. These organisations also provided access to specialist, allied health and dental services, either on site or by facilitating off-site access. For example, most provided access to cardiologists (90%); renal specialists (87%); ophthalmologists (86%); paediatricians (90%); psychiatrists (87%); diabetes specialists (90%); and ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists (88%). They also provided access to dental services (94%) and to allied health services such as physiotherapists (89%); psychologists (93%); dieticians (95%); podiatrists (96%); optometrists (94%); and audiologists (91%).
  • Around 7,600 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff were employed by organisations providing primary health-care services and just over half of all staff (53%) were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (see Chapter 3).
  • 213 (80%) provided maternal and/or child health services through their primary health and/or New Directions funding. Around 8,400 Indigenous women were seen through 42,200 antenatal visits—an average of 5 visits per client (see Chapter 4).
  • 88 (33%) provided social and emotional wellbeing services. The 189 counsellors in these organisations saw around 16,300 clients, through 77,100 client contacts—an average of 5 contacts per client (see Chapter 5).
  • 80 (30%) provided substance-use services to around 39,400 clients through 197,700 episodes of care. Most episodes of care (88%) were for non-residential or after-care services (see Chapter 6).

2.Many funded organisations provide services in Remote and Very remote areas

Nearly half (46%) of the organisations funded to provide primary health-care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people did so in Remote or Very remote areas and they saw around 168,100 (38%) clients. Around 44% of employed staff (3,347 FTE) worked in Remote or Very remote areas, including a higher proportion of employed nurses and midwives (59% or 664 FTE) and a lower proportion ofemployed dental care staff (21% or 38 FTE).

There were more FTE nurses and midwives per 1,000 clients in Remote (3.5) and Very remote areas (4.4), compared with 2.6 per 1,000 clients overall. There were fewer doctors in Very remote areas (0.9 FTE doctors per 1,000 clients compared with 1.3 overall), perhaps reflecting a greater reliance on nurse-led clinics in these areas. Contacts by nurses and midwives represented half (51%) of all contacts in Very remote areas compared with 29% overall.

Over 800,000 episodes of care (25%) were provided to clients in Very remote areas. However, organisations in Very remote areas were still more likely to report staffing vacancies. Nearly one-third (31%) of reported health-staff vacancies were in organisations in Very remote areas. They also had more health-staff vacancies per 1,000 clients (1.0 compared with 0.7 overall). Organisations in Very remote areas were also more likely to report the recruitment, training and support of staff as one of the challenges they faced in providing quality care to clients (75% compared with 67% overall) as well as staff retention and turnover (75% compared with 57% overall).

3.Various group activities are run to promote health and wellbeing

Organisations delivered a range of group activities in 2016–17 to improve the health of the community:

  • Those funded to provide primary health-care services ran around 8,400 physical activity/healthy weight sessions; 4,300 chronic disease client support sessions; and 3,300 tobacco-use treatment and prevention sessions. Other common health promotion activities included campaigns to encourage immunisation services (in 81% of organisations), healthy lifestyle programs (75%) and sexual health/ education (71%).
  • With respect to maternal and child health services, around 20,300 home visits; 3,100 maternal and baby/child health group sessions; 2,100 parenting group sessions and 1,000 antenatal group sessions were provided.
  • In those funded to provide substance-use services, most (93%) provided community education, while 60% did school visits. Around 4 in 5 (80%) ran physical activity or healthy weight programs and around three-quarters ran tobacco-use treatment and prevention groups (76%),  alcohol-misuse  treatment and prevention groups (74%), living skills groups (75%), men’s groups (75%) and women’s groups (74%).

Things to note

  • Most (94%) organisations funded to provide primary health care also provided social and emotional wellbeing or mental health or counselling services, and over half (57%) had mental health promotion activities in 2016–17; however, nearly two-thirds of organisations still reported mental health and social and emotional wellbeing services as a service gap (63%). This was even higher (78%) in organisations funded to provide substance-use services, but not primary health care.
  • Some organisations indicated that clients with high needs had to wait too long for some services,   in particular to access dental services and mental health professionals. For example, 50 (27%) organisations providing on-site or off-site access to dental services still felt clients with high needs often had to wait a clinically unacceptable time for dental services. This was higher in organisations in Remote (44%) and Very remote (34%) areas.
Part 2 Is the Closing the Gap ‘too focused on prosperity debate

The Closing the Gap program aimed at reducing indigenous disadvantage has hit stasis 10 years after it began, with four of its seven measures expired, a review of the scheme still months off being completed and warnings from a range of peak organisations that some proposed criteria for replacement targets are irrelevant or unhelpful.

Some fear the 11th annual Prime Minister’s report due in February might focus more on ­details of the review and launching a reboot, rather than accounting for any actual achievements in the scheme’s aims.

Submissions to the review warn of a “dire need for greater government accountability” and say “a myopic focus on national statistics” in the past has led to the needs of individual remote communities being unmet, as well as criticising the awarding of contracts to mainstream organisations which “frequently lack the capacity, knowledge and cultural competence required to effectively deliver services to our communities”.

The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples has also warned that a focus on “economic prosperity” in the current review “is misguided … and should not serve as an overarching focus for government policy”.

The Lowitja Institute has called for “prosperity” to be ­removed as a criteria, saying it “has strong monetary connotations and does not adequately speak to the health and education sectors”, and warns that the ­review will fail “if effective partnerships and engagement, not consultation, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and communities is not undertaken from the start to the end of the process”.

It also warns of unhelpful uses of nationwide targets “which, due to data-collection protocols were unmeasurable, and secondly, did not seem to consider the distinct challenges faced at both the state and local levels”.

Of the four Closing the Gap targets that expired at the beginning of this month, just one — halving the gap in infant mortality rates — was said to be on track, ­although even that assessment has been questioned.

The other three — closing the gap on school attendance, halving the gap in reading and numeracy and halving the employment gap — expired without being on track.

Only two of the still active three targets are on track: getting 95 per cent of all indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education by 2025 and halving the gap for Year 12 or equivalent attainment by 2020.

A third, closing the life expectancy gap by 2031, is not on track.

The Weekend Australian understands two review workshops are scheduled in Canberra for the end of this month, for peak groups in the sector and others who have made submissions.

The review, which is being conducted by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet as a Council of Australian Governments exercise, is then expected to report back by October 31 with a new “framework, targets and performance indicators”.

However congress co-chair Rod Little warned this might still be merely a report that requires further refining, with the outcome that by next February, when the Prime Minister’s annual report should be delivered, “that’s one year that’s gone into reshaping the framework rather than working on outcomes”.

But he said the October deadline opened the door for further consolidation.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Download the ANAO Report : Primary Healthcare Grants under the IHAP Indigenous Australians’ Health Program : Effective high quality, comprehensive, culturally appropriate, primary healthcare services in urban, regional, rural and remote locations

” The bulk of IAHP expenditure is via grants. Since 2015, IAHP primary healthcare grants totalling approximately $1.44 billion have been awarded with 85 per cent of this funding going to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

The audit objective was to assess the effectiveness of the Department of Health’s design, implementation and administration of primary healthcare grants under the IAHP.”

Download the report HERE

ANAO Report PHC Grants Under IAHP – DoH

Summary and recommendations

Background

1. The Indigenous Australians’ Health Program (IAHP) was established in 2014 through the consolidation of four existing Indigenous health funding streams administered by the Department of Health (the department).

The IAHP aims to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with access to effective high quality, comprehensive, culturally appropriate, primary healthcare services in urban, regional, rural and remote locations across Australia.1

Primary healthcare services are usually the ‘entry point’ for persons into the broader health system and can be contrasted to services provided through hospitals or when people are referred to specialists.

The IAHP access to effective high quality, comprehensive, culturally appropriate, primary healthcare services in urban, regional, rural and remote locations

2. The bulk of IAHP expenditure is via grants. Since 2015, IAHP primary healthcare grants totalling approximately $1.44 billion have been awarded with 85 per cent of this funding going to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

3. As at March 2018, a total of 164 organisations are receiving IAHP primary healthcare grant funding. In 2016–17, IAHP-funded services provided primary healthcare services to an estimated 352,000 Indigenous Australians. This represents 54.2 per cent of the estimated total Indigenous population.

Rationale for undertaking the audit

4. The IAHP was selected for audit because it is intended to contribute towards achieving the Indigenous health-related ‘Closing the Gap’ targets regarding life expectancy and infant mortality. The program represents the Australian Government’s largest direct expenditure on Indigenous primary healthcare.

Audit objective and criteria

5. The audit objective was to assess the effectiveness of the Department of Health’s design, implementation and administration of primary healthcare grants under the IAHP.

6. To form a conclusion against this objective, the ANAO adopted the following high-level criteria:

  • Did the department design the IAHP primary healthcare components consistent with the Government’s objectives in establishing the IAHP?
  • Has implementation of the IAHP primary healthcare components been supported through effective coordination with key Government and non-Government stakeholders?
  • Has the department’s approach to assessing primary healthcare funding applications and negotiating funding agreements been consistent with the Commonwealth Grant Rules and Guidelines?
  • Has the department implemented a performance framework that supports effective management of individual primary healthcare grants and enables ongoing assessment of program performance and progress towards outcomes?

Conclusion

7. The department’s design and implementation of the primary healthcare component of the IAHP was partially effective as it has not yet achieved all of the Australian Government’s objectives in establishing the program. The department has not implemented the planned funding allocation model and there are shortcomings in performance monitoring and reporting arrangements. However, the department has consolidated the program, supported it through coordination and information-sharing activities and continued grant funding.

8. The Government’s original objectives in establishing the IAHP are due to be fully achieved in 2019–20, four years later than originally planned. The majority of IAHP primary healthcare grant funding to date has been allocated in essentially the same manner as previous arrangements rather than the originally intended needs based model. Program implementation has been supported through appropriately aligning funding streams to intended outcomes and coordination and information-sharing with relevant stakeholders.

9. Most aspects of the department’s assessment of IAHP primary healthcare funding applications and negotiation of funding agreements were consistent with the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines (CGRGs). The exception to this was the poor assessment of value for money regarding the majority of grant funds. The grant funding agreements were fit for purpose, but the department has not established service-related performance benchmarks for funded organisations that were provided for in most of the agreements.

10. The department has not developed a performance framework for the Indigenous Australians’ Health Program. Extensive public reporting on Indigenous health provides a high level of transparency on the extent to which the Australian Government’s objectives in Indigenous health are being achieved. However, this reporting includes organisations not funded under the IAHP and, as such, it is not specific enough to measure the extent to which IAHP funded services are contributing to achieving program outcomes.

11. In managing IAHP primary healthcare grants, the department has not used the available provisions in the funding agreements to set quantitative benchmarks for grant recipients. This limits its ability to effectively use available performance data for monitoring and continuous quality improvement. Systems are in place to collect performance data, but systems for collecting quantitative performance data have not been effective. Issues with performance data collection limit its usefulness for longitudinal analysis.

Supporting findings

Program design and implementation

12. The design of the IAHP was consistent with the Government’s objectives of achieving budget savings and reducing administrative complexity through consolidation of existing grant programs. The objective of allocating primary healthcare grant funding on a more transparent needs basis will not be achieved until 2019–20, four years behind the timetable agreed by Government in establishing the IAHP.

13. Three outcomes were established for the program and set out in published IAHP grant guidelines. One of the outcomes does not clearly identify the desired end result. IAHP funding, including the primary healthcare component, are appropriately aligned to the outcomes.

14. The department uses a wide variety of forums and networks to share information and seek feedback about its current and planned Indigenous health activities, including the IAHP. Some coordination and joint planning activities relating to primary healthcare have also been undertaken through the Aboriginal Health Partnership Forums.

Awarding Grants

15. Ninety eight per cent of IAHP primary healthcare grant funding has been provided through non-competitive processes. The department obtained Ministerial agreement for these processes.

16. Most aspects of the assessment of funding proposals were undertaken consistently with the CGRGs and IAHP guidelines. The exception was assessment of value for money. Assessment records for some funding rounds, including the $1.23 billion ‘bulk’ round undertaken in 2015, lacked evidence of substantive analysis of value of money considerations. The department was also unable to provide evidence it had undertaken a value for money assessment regarding the $114 million grant to the Northern Territory Government. In virtually all cases, risk assessments formed part of the assessment process.

17. Departmental delegates were provided with sufficient advice to enable them to discharge their obligations under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2014 in approving IAHP grant proposals. The timeliness of the advice varied, but was provided relatively quickly for the larger 2015 funding rounds.

18. Funding agreements are fit for purpose, using a grant head agreement and an IAHP-specific schedule. The specific services to be provided by each funded organisation are set out in separate Action Plans, which are appropriately referenced in the agreement schedule. The agreements with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations allow for the setting of individual performance targets, but no targets have been set. All agreements also clearly set out reporting requirements.

Monitoring and Reporting

19. The department has not established a performance framework for the primary healthcare component of the IAHP.

20. Systems are in place to collect performance data, but systems to collect quantitative performance data have not been effective. Several changes to data collection processes have resulted in an increased reporting burden on IAHP grant recipients and two six-monthly data collections being discarded or uncollected. These breaks in the data series limit its usefulness for longitudinal analysis of performance trends. The department has commenced projects to improve the quality of data, but has limited assurance over the quality of data collected before 2017 as it has not been validated.

21. The department relies on public reporting of a range of Indigenous health indicators to monitor achievement of program outcomes. The reporting includes data about services not funded under the IAHP. As such, it is not specific enough to measure the extent to which IAHP funded services are contributing to achieving program outcomes. The department was also unable to demonstrate how it used the data to inform relevant policy advice and program administration.

22. The department is not effectively using available performance data to monitor IAHP grant recipient performance and has not set quantitative national key performance indicator (nKPI) based benchmarks for grant recipients. The department’s ability to set performance expectations and assess actual performance is limited by the currency of data and variability in the content of Action Plans.

Recommendations

Recommendation no.1

Paragraph 3.21

The Department of Health improve the quality of IAHP primary healthcare value for money assessments, including ensuring their consistency with the new funding allocation model.

Department of Health response: Agreed.

Recommendation no.2

Paragraph 4.10

The Department of Health assess the risks involved in IAHP-funded healthcare services using various clinical information software systems to support the direct online service reporting and national key performance indicator reporting process, and appropriately mitigate any significant identified risks.

Department of Health response: Agreed.

Recommendation no.3

Paragraph 4.30

The Department of Health ensure that new IAHP funding agreements for primary healthcare services include measurable performance targets that are aligned with program outcomes and that it monitors grant recipient performance against these targets.

Department of Health response: Agreed.

Summary of entity response

23. The Department of Health (‘the Department’) notes the findings of the report and agrees with the recommendations.

It is pleasing that the report finds: the program has been consolidated and supported through coordination and information sharing activities; programme implementation has appropriately aligned funding streams to intended outcomes; and the objective of reducing administrative complexity has been achieved.

Work is already underway within the Department which aligns with the report’s recommendations, and the report provides a platform to continue these efforts. In particular, the Department has introduced more robust assessment processes for primary health care grants under the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme and has also commenced development of enhanced performance measurements of program outcomes, supported by an outcomes-focussed policy framework. The Department’s responses to the individual recommendations provide further detail.

The report identifies that the introduction of a new funding allocation model for the distribution of primary health care funding as announced in the 2014–15 Budget is yet to be completed and finds that this deferral has contributed to a partially effective implementation of the Australian Government’s objectives in establishing the programme. The Government announced in the 2018–19 Budget that the model will be implemented from 1 July 2019 and the Department will continue to work closely with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to deliver this important initiative. The Department notes that this deferral occurred in the context of extensive stakeholder engagement together with significant data improvement activities designed to support a robust and well-developed funding model.

Whilst the Department is committed to continuous improvement of the administration of the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme, the Department wishes to acknowledge and recognise the significant contribution our network of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are making to improve the health of their communities under the Australian Government’s Closing the Gap agenda

1. Background

Indigenous health and government funding

1.1 In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments set targets aimed at reducing or eliminating differences in specific outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. These Closing the Gap targets covered three broad areas, of which health was one. In 2013, the Australian Government released the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–23, which set out a 10 year plan for the direction of Australian Government Indigenous health policy. This was followed in 2015 by an Implementation Plan for the Health Plan. The Implementation Plan outlines the actions to be taken by the Australian Government, the Aboriginal community controlled health sector, and other key stakeholders to give effect to the Health Plan. Progress under the Implementation Plan is measured against 20 goals and 106 deliverables that were developed to complement the existing Closing the Gap targets.

1.2 While the 2018 Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap report and the 2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework report show gains have been made in some areas, Indigenous Australians continue to experience significantly poorer health outcomes than the general population.2 Life expectancy is about 10 years lower. Rates of chronic disease are higher, with some tending to occur at a younger age in Indigenous Australians compared to the general population. The overall burden of disease3 for Indigenous Australians is also 2.3 times higher. Some factors potentially impacting on health, such as smoking and obesity, are higher: the overall smoking rate is 2.7 times higher and Indigenous Australians are 1.6 times as likely to be obese as the general population. Some health interventions can have a long lead time before measurable impacts are seen across the target population—for example, up to three decades in the case of many smoking-related diseases.

1.3 The Australian and state and territory governments all fund Indigenous health. Estimated total direct funding on Indigenous health4 has increased since the setting of the Closing the Gap targets: from $4.76 billion in 2008–09 to $6.30 billion in 2015–16.5 Of this, expenditure specifically targeted at Indigenous Australians was $1.44 billion in 2015–16. The remainder is expenditure on ‘mainstream’ services used by Indigenous Australians, notably hospitals, and the cost of various Australian Government subsidies, including the Medicare Benefits Scheme and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Indigenous-related expenditure on public and community health services6 in 2015–16 is estimated at $1.73 billion. The Australian Government contributes 59 per cent of the total 2015–16 government expenditure on the Indigenous public and community health services category.

1.4 Measured on a per-person basis, total direct health funding on Indigenous Australians in 2015–16 by all Governments in Australia is 1.83 times greater than the direct health funding on non-Indigenous Australians. Funding on the public and community health services category of Indigenous health is 3.59 times higher.

The Indigenous Australians’ Health Program

1.5 The Department of Health (the department) has had primary responsibility for Commonwealth Indigenous health policy and funding since 1995. Since that time, the department’s role has been to improve both Indigenous Australians’ access to mainstream primary healthcare and increase the capacity of the Indigenous-specific sector to provide comprehensive primary healthcare.7

1.6 In the May 2014 Budget, the Australian Government announced the establishment of the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP). It was formed by consolidating four existing funding streams administered by the department, which between them included around 30 discrete funding components.8 The consolidation was intended to reduce administrative complexity and enable an improved focus on basic health needs (including clinical primary healthcare) at a local level to improve health outcomes. The stated high-level objective for the IAHP is:

to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with access to effective high quality, comprehensive, culturally appropriate, primary health care services in urban, regional, rural and remote locations across Australia.

1.7 A new primary healthcare grant funding allocation model was also to be developed for implementation from 2015–16. As discussed in Chapter 2, development and implementation of the new allocation model has been delayed.

1.8 With the exception of ‘social and emotional wellbeing’ activities being transferred to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet9, the range of activities funded by the department under IAHP are broadly similar to those under the pre-IAHP arrangements and funding levels have increased. In 2013–14, funding under predecessor grant programs was $682.3 million (excluding social and emotional wellbeing activities). The budget allocation for IAHP funding in 2017–18 is $856.1 million.

1.9 The bulk of IAHP expenditure is via grants. As at March 2018, $743.5 million of 2017–18 grant funds had been expended or committed.10 The largest component is grants to provide primary healthcare services to Indigenous Australians, which account for $461.5 million (62 per cent) of total IAHP 2017–18 expended and committed grant funding.11 Other significant grant funding areas under the IAHP relate to activities intended to increase Indigenous Australians’ access to mainstream services12 ($108 million, or 15 per cent) and funding for various maternal/early childhood health and anti-smoking activities (about five per cent each).

1.10 As at March 2018, 164 organisations are receiving IAHP primary healthcare grant funding. Around 140 of these organisations are Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), which collectively account for 85 per cent of total IAHP core primary healthcare grant funding in 2017–18. The remaining primary healthcare grant recipients include the Northern Territory Government, various public sector regional health bodies across several states, and a small number of private sector providers and non-government organisations.

1.11 The geographical distribution of the healthcare facilities receiving IAHP primary healthcare funding is shown in Figure 1.1.

Figure 1.1: Distribution of IAHP primary healthcare funded facilities

Source: Department of Health.

1.12 The 2017–18 primary healthcare grant funding amounts according to jurisdiction and remoteness index is shown in Table 1.1.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #MensHealthWeek 3 of 3 #OchreDay2018 News 1. @GregHuntMP announces a National Male Health Strategy to support the health of men and boys 2. @MyHealthRec Men encouraged to connect with their health with a #Myhealthrecord

During 2018 Men’s Health Week it is important to remember that in Australia, like most countries, males have poorer health outcomes on average than females.

More males die at every stage of life. Males have more accidents, are more likely to take their own lives and are more prone to lifestyle-related chronic health conditions than women and girls at the same age.

This is why I am announcing today, the beginning of a process to establish a National Male Health Strategy for the period 2020 to 2030. “

The Hon. Greg Hunt Minister for Health full press release Part 1

The AMA welcomes today’s announcement of the establishment of a 10-year National Male Health Strategy that will target the mental and physical health of men and boys.

The AMA called for a major overhaul of men’s health policy in April this year, including a new national strategy to address the different expectations, experiences, and situations facing Australian men.

Australian men are less likely to seek treatment from a general practitioner or other health professional, and are less likely to have the supports and social connections needed when they experience physical and mental health problems

We look forward to engaging with the Turnbull Government to develop initiatives to address the reasons why men are reluctant to engage with GPs, and the consequence of that reluctance, and to invest in innovative models of care than overcome these barriers “

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said the AMA was pleased that the Federal Government recognised that Australian males have poorer health outcomes, on average, than Australian females. In full Part 2 below

Encouraging men to discuss their health with their doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare specialist can be difficult.

My Health Record supports and assists men to have these conversations, enabling better connected care and, ultimately, better health outcomes,”

My Health Record gives men and the broader community the capacity to upload important health information including allergies, medical conditions and treatments, medicine details, test results and immunisations; supporting them in remembering the dates of tests, medicine names, or dosages “

Australian Digital Health Agency Chief Medical Adviser Clinical Professor Meredith Makeham said My Health Record provided many valuable benefits for men. in full Part 3 Below

NACCHO Aboriginal #MensHealthWeek and #OchreDay2018 Launch :

Download 30 years 1988 – 2018 of Aboriginal Male Health Strategies and Summit recommendations

To celebrate #MensHealthWeek NACCHO has launched its National #OchreDay2018 Mens Health Summit program and registrations

The NACCHO Ochre Day Health Summit in August provides a national forum for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male delegates, organisations and communities to learn from Aboriginal male health leaders, discuss their health concerns, exchange share ideas and examine ways of improving their own men’s health and that of their communities

The two day conference is free: To register

Part 1 Greg Hunt press release

The Australian Government will establish a decade-long National Male Health Strategy that will focus on the mental and physical health of men and boys.

During 2018 Men’s Health Week it is important to remember that in Australia, like most countries, males have poorer health outcomes on average than females.

More males die at every stage of life. Males have more accidents, are more likely to take their own lives and are more prone to lifestyle-related chronic health conditions than women and girls at the same age.

This is why I am announcing today, the beginning of a process to establish a National Male Health Strategy for the period 2020 to 2030.

Building on the 2010 National Male Health Policy, the strategy will aim to identify what is required to improve male health outcomes and provide a framework for taking action.

The strategy will be developed in consultation with key experts and stakeholders in male health, and importantly, the public will be invited to have a say through online consultation later this year.

Australian men and boys are vital to the health and happiness of their families and communities, but need to pay more attention to their own mental and physical wellbeing.

During Men’s Health Week, men are encouraged to talk about their health with someone they trust.

I encourage all men to take time this week to think about their own health and wellbeing and participate in events happening across the country.

The Turnbull Government provides funding to a number of organisations that focus on the health of men and boys including Men’s Health Information Resource Centre at Western Sydney University, Andrology Australia and the Australian Men’s Health Forum.

The National Male Health Strategy builds on and complements the National Women’s Health Strategy 2020 to 2030 I announced at the National Women’s Health Summit in February.

Part 2 AMA WELCOMES NATIONAL MALE HEALTH STRATEGY

The AMA welcomes today’s announcement of the establishment of a 10-year National Male Health Strategy that will target the mental and physical health of men and boys.

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said the AMA was pleased that the Federal Government recognised that Australian males have poorer health outcomes, on average, than Australian females.

“In Australia, men have a life expectancy of approximately four years less than women, and have a higher mortality rate from most leading causes of death,” Dr Bartone said.

“Australian men are less likely to seek treatment from a general practitioner or other health professional, and are less likely to have the supports and social connections needed when they experience physical and mental health problems.

“An appropriately-funded and implemented National Male Health Strategy is needed to deliver a cohesive platform for the improvement of male health service access and men’s health outcomes.

“This does not mean taking funding away from women’s health strategies. Initiatives that address the health needs of one gender should not occur at the expense of the other.

“Men and women should be given equal opportunity to realise their potential for a healthy life.

“The AMA congratulates Health Minister, Greg Hunt, for his decision to begin the process to establish a National Male Health Strategy for the period 2020 to 2030.

“We look forward to engaging with the Turnbull Government to develop initiatives to address the reasons why men are reluctant to engage with GPs, and the consequence of that reluctance, and to invest in innovative models of care than overcome these barriers.

“Compared to women, Australian men not only see their GP less often but, when they do see a doctor, it is for shorter consultations, and typically when a condition or illness is advanced.

“Men’s Health Week is an opportune time for Australian men to do something positive for their physical or mental health – book in for a preventive health check with a trusted GP, get some exercise, have an extra alcohol-free day, or reach out to check on the wellbeing of a mate.”

The AMA Position Statement on Men’s Health 2018 is at https://ama.com.au/position-statement/mens-health-2018

Background

  • Australian men are more than twice as likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than Australian women.
  • Men have a lower five-year survival rate for all cancers than women.
  • Australian men experience approximately 75 per cent of the burden of drug-related harm.
  • More than three in four suicide deaths in Australia are men, and intentional self-harm is the leading cause of death in men under 54 years of age.
  • Men are more likely to be in full-time work and may have less time for medical appointments.
  • Men are traditionally employed in high-risk jobs, especially in the trades, transport, construction, and mining industries.
  • Australian men are twice as likely as Australian women to exceed the lifetime risk guidelines for alcohol consumption, with one in four men drinking at a rate that puts them at risk of alcohol-related disease.

 

Part 3

Creating a My Health Record is one way men can be proactive about their health and make it a priority this Men’s Health Week, running between June 11 – 17.

My Health Record is a secure online summary of a person’s health information that can be accessed at any time by the individual and their healthcare providers.

Australian Men’s Shed Association Executive Officer David Helmers said My Health Record will make it easier for men who may find visiting healthcare professionals difficult or uncomfortable.

“We know that men often avoid having conversations about their health – particularly when those conversations involve visiting a healthcare provider.

“My Health Record takes some of the pain out of keeping a consistent record of our health and is a great platform for ongoing health management.

“Right from the get-go males are more likely to be involved in accidents or become ill, so as we age, it becomes even more important to stay on top of health information,” Mr Helmers said.

33 year-old Nick Morton was forced to take a serious look at his overall health after suffering a heart attack while working in North Queensland.

“I had a rupture in my artery wall – it was a big wake-up call going into cardiac rehab and I was the youngest by 20 years. I ended up really thinking about my health and becoming more aware of my medical history so I registered with My Health Record,” Mr Morton said.

After Nick returned to the family doctor back in his home state, his Melbourne based doctor was able to securely log onto My Health Record and view Nick’s Queensland medical history.

“It helped me having a digital copy of everything instead of having to go to my GP or cardiologist with a binder full of all my records,” Mr Morton said.

All Australians will have the benefit of receiving a My Health Record before the end of 2018, unless they choose not to have one.

Getting familiar with what is included in an individual’s personal record can assist in being prepared in an emergency like the one Nick Morton experienced. Nick now advocates a more proactive approach.

“I thought I was in control of my health and took it for granted like most blokes my age. There’s no excuse not to keep track of your health. Go to your GP and ask about my Health Record.”

Australian Digital Health Agency Chief Medical Adviser Clinical Professor Meredith Makeham said My Health Record provided many valuable benefits for men.

“Encouraging men to discuss their health with their doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare specialist can be difficult.”

“My Health Record supports and assists men to have these conversations, enabling better connected care and, ultimately, better health outcomes,” Dr Makeham said.

My Health Record gives men and the broader community the capacity to upload important health information including allergies, medical conditions and treatments, medicine details, test results and immunisations; supporting them in remembering the dates of tests, medicine names, or dosages.

A major advantage of having a My Health Record is individuals having 24-hour, 7 day per week access to their own health information.

For further information visit www.myhealthrecord.gov.au or call 1800 723 471

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #AFL @AlcoholDrugFdn #NRW2018 #WorldNoTobaccoDay : Senator Bridget McKenzie Minister for Sport and Rural Health supports Redtails Pinktails #SayNoMore Drugs, #Smoking and #FamilyViolence #SayYesTo #Education #Employment #Family #Community

 

 ” Over the weekend Senator Bridget McKenzie had a chat pregame to local Central Australia Redtails before they took on Darwin’s TopEnd Storm curtain raiser to AFL Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous round , a 6 hour broadcast on Channel 7 nationally : The Redtails and PinkTails Right Tracks Program is funded by the Local Drug Action Teams Program ”

See Part 1 Below

Part 2 Say No more to Family Violence all players link up

Part 3 #WorldNoTobaccoDay May 31 launched in the Alice

 ” Tobacco smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia and the Coalition Government is further committing to reduce the burden on communities.

In the lead up World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, today I am pleased to launch the next phase of the Coalition Government’s highly successful campaign Don’t Make Smokes Your Story,”

Watch video launch in the

The Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie was also is in Alice Springs to launch the next phase of the National Tobacco Campaign and said that smoking related illness devastates individuals, families and the wider community : see Part 3 below

PART 1

Arrernte Males AFL Opening Ceremony

Arrernte women AFL Opening Ceremony

Part 1 The Australian Government and the ADF are excited to welcome an additional 92 Local Drug Action Teams, in to the LDAT program

The Senator with Alcohol and Drug Foundation CEO Dr Erin Lalor and  General Manager of Congress’ Alice Springs Health Services, Tracey Brand in Alice Springs talking about the inspirational Central Australian Local Drug Action Team at Congress and announcing 92 Local Drug Action Teams across Australia building partnerships to prevent and minimise harm of ice alcohol & illicit drugs use by our youth with local action plans

WATCH VIDEO of Launch

The Local Drug Action Team Program supports community organisations to work in partnership to develop and deliver programs that prevent or minimise harm from alcohol and other drugs (AOD).

Local Drug Action Teams work together, and with the community, to identify the issue they want to tackle, and to develop and implement a plan for action.

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation provides practical resources to assist Local Drug Action Teams to deliver evidence-informed projects and activities. The community grants component of the Local Drug Action Team Program may provide funding to support this work.

Each team will receive an initial $10,000 to develop and finalise a Community Action Plan and then to implement approved projects in your community. Grant funding of up to a maximum of $30k in the first year and up to a maximum of $40k in subsequent years is also available to help deliver approved projects in Community Action Plans. LDAT funding is intended to complement existing funding and in kind support from local partners.

LDATs typically apply for grants of between $10k and $15k to support their projects

 

See ADF website for Interactive locations of all sites

The power of community action

Community-based action is powerful in preventing and minimising harm from alcohol and other drugs.

Alcohol and other drugs harms are mediated by a number of factors – those that protect against risk, and those that increase risk. For example, factors that protect against alcohol and other drug harms include social connection, education, safe and secure housing, and a sense of belonging to a community. Factors that increase risks of alcohol and other drug harms include high availability of drugs, low levels of social cohesion, unstable housing, and socioeconomic disadvantage. Most of these factors are found at the community level, and must be targeted at this level for change.

Alcohol and other drugs are a community issue, not just an individual issue.

Community action to prevent alcohol and other drug harms is effective because:

  • the solutions and barriers (protective/risk factors) for addressing alcohol and other drugs harm are community-based
  • it creates change that is responsive to local needs
  • it increases community ownership and leads to more sustainable change

Part 2 Say No more to Family Violence all players link up

Such a powerful message told here in Alice Springs today as the Redtails Football Club, Top End Storm football club, link arms with the Melbourne Football Club, Adelaide Football Club for the NO MORE Campaign AU before the AFL Indigenous Round started.

WEBSITE Link up and say ‘No More’

 

 Watch Channel 7 Coverage of this special statement from all players

Part 3 #WorldNoTobaccoDay May 31 launched in the Alice

Tobacco smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia and the Coalition Government is further committing to reduce the burden on communities.

In the lead up World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, today I am pleased to launch the next phase of the Coalition Government’s highly successful campaign Don’t Make Smokes Your Story,”

Watch the ABC TV Interview HERE

Watch video of launch in the Alice

Successful Tobacco Campaign Continues

Tobacco smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia and the Coalition Government is further committing to reduce the burden on communities.

The Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie was in Alice Springs to launch the next phase of the National Tobacco Campaign and said that smoking related illness devastates individuals, families and the wider community.

“In the lead up World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, today I am pleased to launch the next phase of the Coalition Government’s highly successful campaign Don’t Make Smokes Your Story,” Minister McKenzie said.

“The latest phase of Don’t Make Smokes Your Story continues to focus on Indigenous Australians aged 18–40 years who smoke and those who have recently quit. The campaign also concentrates on pregnant women and their partners with Quit for You, Quit for Two.

“An evaluation of the first two phases of the campaign revealed they had successfully helped to reduce smoking rates.

“More than half of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants who saw the campaign took some action towards quitting smoking — and 8 per cent actually quit.

“These are very promising stats, however, we must continue to support and encourage those Australians who want to quit, but need help.”

The launch of the next phase of the campaign aligns with World No Tobacco Day and this year’s theme is Tobacco and heart disease.

“Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in Australia, killing one person every 12 minutes,” Minister McKenzie said.

“There is a clear link between tobacco and heart and other cardiovascular diseases, including stroke — a staggering 45,392 deaths in Australia can be attributed to cardiovascular disease in 20151.

“Latest estimates show that tobacco use and exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke not only costs the lives of loved ones, but it costs the Australian community $31.5 billion in social — including health — and economic costs.”

“The Coalition Government, along with all states and territories, has made significant efforts to reduce tobacco consumption across the board.

“For example, we know that tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounting for more than 12 per cent of the overall burden of illness.

“The Coalition Government has recently invested $183.7 million continuing to boost the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program to cut smoking and save lives.

“This comprehensive program has helped to cut the rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people smoking and we want to build on this success.

“The Government’s investment in this program highlights our long-term commitment to Closing the Gap in health inequality.”

The ABS report Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People: Smoking Trends, Australia, 1994 to 2014-15, reported a decrease in current (daily and non-daily) smoking rate in those aged 18 years and older from 55 per cent in 1994 to 45 per cent in 2014-15, which shows Indigenous tobacco control is working.

For help to quit smoking, phone the Quitline on 13 7848, visit the Department of Health’s Quitnow website or download the free My Quitbuddy app.

Your doctor or healthcare provider can also help with information and support you may need to quit.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Youth Health News @KenWyattMP launches Aboriginal Youth Health Strategy 2018-2023, Today’s young people, tomorrow’s leaders at @TheAHCWA

“ The youth workshops confirmed young people’s biggest concerns are often not about physical illness, they are issues around mental health and wellbeing, pride, strength and resilience, and ensuring they can make the most of their lives

Flexible learning and cultural and career mentoring for better education and jobs were highlighted, along with the importance of culturally comfortable health care services.

While dealing with immediate illness and disease is crucial, this strategy’s long-term vision is vital and shows great maturity from our young people.”

Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Ken Wyatt, AM launched AHCWA’s Western Australia Aboriginal Youth Health Strategy 2018-2023, Today’s young people, tomorrow’s leaders at AHCWA’s 2018 State Sector Conference at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle. Read the Ministers full press release PART 2 Below

See Previous NACCHO Post

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @TheAHCWA pioneering new ways of working in Aboriginal Health :Our Culture Our Community Our Voice Our Knowledge

“If we are to make gains in the health of young Aboriginal people, we must allow their voices to be heard, their ideas listened to and their experiences acknowledged.

Effective, culturally secure health services are the key to unlocking the innate value of young Aboriginal people, as individuals and as strong young people, to become our future leaders.”

AHCWA Chairperson Vicki O’Donnell said good health was fundamental for young Aboriginal people to flourish in education, employment and to remain socially connected.

Download the PDF HERE

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) has this launched its new blueprint for addressing the health inequalities of young Aboriginal people.

“The Turnbull Government is proud to have supported this ground-breaking work and I congratulate everyone involved,” Minister Wyatt said.

“Young people are the future, and thinking harder and deeper about their needs and talking to them about how to meet them is the way forward.”

Developed with and on behalf of young Aboriginal people in WA, the strategy is the culmination of almost a decade of AHCWA’s commitment and strategic advocacy in Aboriginal youth health.

The strategy considered feedback from young Aboriginal people and health workers during 24 focus groups hosted by AHCWA across the Kimberley, Pilbara, Midwest-Gascoyne, Goldfields, South-West, Great Southern and Perth metropolitan areas last year.

In addition, two state-wide surveys were conducted for young people and service providers to garner their views about youth health in WA.

During the consultation, participants revealed obstacles to good health including boredom due to a lack of youth appropriate extracurricular activities, sporting programs and other avenues to improve social and emotional wellbeing.

Of major concern for some young Aboriginal people were systemic barriers of poverty, homelessness, and the lack of adequate food or water in their communities.

Significantly, young Aboriginal people shared experiences of how boredom was a factor contributing to violence, mental health problems, and alcohol and other drug use issues.

They also revealed that racism, bullying and discrimination had affected their health, with social media platforms used to mitigate boredom leading to issues of cyberbullying, peer pressure and personal violence and in turn, depression, trauma and social isolation.

Ms O’Donnell said the strategy cited a more joined-up service delivery method as a key priority, with the fragmentation and a lack of coordination in some areas making it difficult for young Aboriginal people to find and access services they need.

“The strategy provides an opportunity for community led solutions to repair service fragmentation, and open doors to improved navigation pathways for young Aboriginal people,” she said.

Ms O’Donnell said the strategy also recognised that culture was intrinsic to the health and wellbeing of young Aboriginal people.

“Recognition of and understanding about culture must be at the centre of the planning, development and implementation of health services and programs for young Aboriginal people,” she said.

“AHCWA has a long and proud tradition of leadership and advocacy in prioritising Aboriginal young people and placing their health needs at the forefront.”

Under the strategy, AHCWA will establish the Aboriginal Youth Health Program Outcomes Council and local community-based Aboriginal Youth Cultural Knowledge and Mentor Groups.

The strategy also mandates to work with key partners to help establish pathways and links for young Aboriginal people to transition from education to employment, support young Aboriginal people who have left school early or are at risk of disengaging from education; and work with local schools to implement education-to-employment plans.

More than 260 delegates from WA’s 22 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are attending the two-day conference at the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle on April 11 and 12.

Over the two days, 15 workshops and keynote speeches will be held. AHCWA will present recommendations from the conference in a report to the state and federal governments to highlight the key issues about Aboriginal health in WA and determine future strategic actions.

The conference agenda can be found here: http://www.cvent.com/events/aboriginal-health-our-culture-our-communities-our-voice-our-knowledge/agenda-d4410dfc616942e9a30b0de5e8242043.aspx

Part 2 Ministers Press Release

A unique new youth strategy puts cultural and family strength, education, employment and leadership at the centre of First Nations people’s health and wellbeing.

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM today launched the landmark Western Australian Aboriginal Youth Health Strategy, which sets out a five-year program with the theme “Today’s young people, tomorrow’s leaders”.

“This is an inspiring but practical roadmap that includes a detailed action plan and a strong evaluation process to measure success,” Minister Wyatt said.

“It sets an example for other health services and other States and Territories but most importantly, it promises to help set thousands of WA young people on the right path for healthier and more fulfilling lives.”

Produced by the Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) and based on State wide youth workshops and consultation, the strategy highlights five key health domains:

    • Strength in culture – capable and confident
    • Strength in family and healthy relationships
    • Educating to employ
    • Empowering future leaders
    • Healthy now, healthy future

Each domain includes priorities, actions and a “showcase initiative” that is already succeeding and could be replicated to spread the benefits further around the State.

Development of the strategy was supported by a $315,000 Turnbull Government grant, through the Indigenous Australians Health Program.

“I congratulate AHCWA and everyone involved because hearing the clear voices of these young Australians is so important for their development now and for future generations,” the Minister said.

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