Media Release: Community input, resources needed for healthy future of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan

introThe National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement today that an implementation plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan will be developed by the end of the year.

Download the NATSIHP Plan Here

NACCHO chairperson Justin Mohamed said the 10-year health plan had been developed with extensive consultation with NACCHO and Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander health stakeholders in urban, regional and remote community settings.

“The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan is a great example of a blueprint harnessing the expertise and deep knowledge of Aboriginal people for better health outcomes in their communities,” Mr Mohamed said today.

“I welcome in particular the long-sought acknowledgement that racism continues to have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Factors such as person’s social and economic position in life, exclusion from participation in society and employment and exposure to stress can all influence their health throughout life.

“The Plan addresses many issues for the delivery of health services and outcomes, but there remains serious concerns about the cuts to Aboriginal health funding and the Medicare co-payment announced in the Federal Budget.

“NACCHO and its member services look forward to working with the Federal Government on the exciting next phase of the Plan – a comprehensive implementation strategy with meaningful targets and adequate resources.

“Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations have a proven track record in providing a range of quality employment and education opportunities for Aboriginal people and boosting local economies.

“We would embrace continued consultation and involvement with on-ground Aboriginal services and communities to increase access to culturally appropriate, community-driven health care,” Mr Mohamed said.
Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533

Alliance sets sights on final elimination of blinding trachoma in Central Australia

nac-35-aAboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, former Governor-General Michael Jeffery, government services, civil society organisations and not-for-profits will gather in Alice Springs from today to work towards the common goal of eliminating trachoma, the leading infectious cause of avoidable blindness.

Australia is the only developed country in the world where trachoma is still endemic and it is only found in remote and very remote Aboriginal communities in SA, WA and NT.

Major General Michael Jeffery will launch a Tri-State Trachoma Elimination Program today that will build on the progress that Aboriginal controlled health services, civil society and government service providers have already made on reducing trachoma in 200 at risk remote Aboriginal communities.

Major General Jeffery said the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust is supporting this program as part of a Commonwealth-wide effort to eliminate trachoma that will form part of a tribute to Her Majesty’s 60 years of service to the people of the Commonwealth.

“There is no place in modern Australia for the avoidable pain and devastating loss of vision caused by trachoma,” Major General Jeffery said.

“The Tri-State Trachoma Elimination Program launched today is an important step towards Australia meeting the global and Commonwealth targets to eliminate blinding trachoma by 2020.

“It will be a concrete step towards closing the gap in eye health, and will ensure all elements of the World Health Organisation’s S.A.F.E. (Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness, and Environmental hygiene) protocol are brought to bear on trachoma elimination.

“This Program will importantly demonstrate a model based on Aboriginal leadership and community ownership of measures to eliminate trachoma in remote communities.”

Justin Mohamed, Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, said the program would help end the disparity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ eye health and mainstream Australia.

“Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people are six times more likely to go blind than the rest of the Australian community.  As much as 94% of vision loss is treatable or preventable. We can make a significant difference with strategies ranging from better access to surgery to cleaner water supply and helping schools to enforce hand and face washing.

“The vision and scope of this program is bold but developing countries with far less resources have eliminated trachoma so it is definitely achievable,” Mr Mohamed said.

Media contacts:
Jane Garcia (NACCHO) 0434 489 533
Dan Haldon (General Jeffery) 0434 633 449

NACCHO media release: Aboriginal health gap in danger of blowing out

Justin - NACCHO Chair

Pictured: Justin Mohamed

The national Aboriginal primary health peak, the National Community Controlled Health Organisation
(NACCHO) today warned that the significant inroads being made to close the health gap for Aboriginal
people was in danger of being eroded without urgent commitment from all states and territories.

NACCHO Chair, Justin Mohamed said the National Partnership Agreement to Close the Gap signed by
all states and territories in 2008 had now expired and inaction threatened to derail the gains made in
the health of Aboriginal people across the country.

“Commendably, both the Commonwealth and Victorian governments have shown leadership and resigned to the Agreement before it expired at the end of June,” Mr Mohamed said.

“The WA government has also rolled funding over for another 12 months as they undergo a review of
Aboriginal health expenditure.

“Critical health programs are now at risk if other states and territories continue to avoid putting in their
share to close the appalling life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people which
can be up to seventeen years difference.

“It is simply unacceptable that this issue isn’t being given priority by all states and territories given how
far we have come already and how far we have yet to go.

“We need to see generational change for our people to break the cycle of poor health and it is
extremely disappointing that some state and territory leaders seem to think the issue will go away if
they ignore it long enough.”

Mr Mohamed, speaking at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Summit in
Victoria today, said the evidence was there that close the gap initiatives were working and that
Aboriginal health provided by Aboriginal people in their own communities was having a real impact.

“The summit today has provided a great opportunity to showcase the incredible contribution Aboriginal
Community Controlled Health Organisations are making in their communities.

“We have concrete evidence that Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands is what is really making the
difference in achieving health outcomes for our people.

“We are seeing big improvements in child birth weights, maternal health and management of chronic
diseases like diabetes.

“There is still a long way to go so we must maintain the momentum and continue to fund and support
the community controlled health model which has for 40 years now proved its worth.”

Media contact: Olivia Greentree 0439 411 774