NACCHO NEWS ALERT: COAG Health Ministers Council Communique acknowledge the importance #ACCHO’s advancing Aboriginal health

 

  Included in this NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert

  1. All issues 11 included in  Communique highlighting ACCHO health
  2. Health Ministers approve Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy
  3. Transcript Health Minister Hunt Press Conference

” The Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, attended the COAG Health Council discussed the Commonwealth’s current work on Indigenous health priorities.

In particular this included the development of the 2018 iteration of the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 that will incorporate strategies and actions to address the social determinants and cultural determinants of health.

Ministers also considered progress on other key Indigenous health issues including building workforce capability, cultural safety and environmental health, where jurisdictions can work together more closely with the Commonwealth to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Ministers acknowledged the importance of collaboration and the need to coordinate activities across governments to support a culturally safe and comprehensive health system.

Ministers also acknowledge the importance of community controlled organisations in advancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. ”

1.Development of the next iteration of the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023 COAG Health Council 

Read over 50 NACCHO NATSIHP Articles published over past 50 years

INTRODUCTION

The federal, state and territory Health Ministers met in Brisbane on August 4 at the COAG Health Council to discuss a range of national health issues.

The meeting was chaired by the Victorian Minister for Health, the Hon Jill Hennessy MP.

Health Ministers welcomed the New South Wales Minister for Mental Health, the Hon Tanya Davies MP, the Victorian Minister for Mental Health, the Hon Martin Foley MP, the ACT Minister for Mental Health Mr Shane Rattenbury and the Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP who participated in a joint discussion with Health Ministers about mental health issues.

Major items discussed by Health Ministers today included:

2.Andrew Forrest and the Eliminate Cancer Initiative

Mr Andrew Forrest joined the meeting to address Health Ministers in his capacity as Chairman of the Minderoo Foundation to discuss the Eliminate Cancer Initiative. The Minderoo Foundation is one of Autralia’s largest and most active philanthropic groups. It has established the Eliminate Cancer Initiatve (the Initiative), a global initiative dedicated to making cancer non-lethal with some of the world’s leading global medicine and anti-cancer leaders.

The Initiative is a united effort to convert cancer into a non-lethal disease through global collaboration of scientific, medical and academic institutes, commercially sustained through the support of the philanthropic, business and government sectors worldwide.

Australia has a critical role to play in this highly ambitious and thoroughly worthwhile goal.

3.Family violence and primary care

Today, Health Ministers discussed the significant health impacts on those people experiencing family violence.

Health Ministers acknowledged that health-care providers, particularly those in a primary care setting, are in a unique position to create a safe and confidential environment to enable the disclosure of violence, while offering appropriate support and referrals to other practitioners and services.

Recognising the importance of national leadership in this area, Ministers agreed to develop a plan to address barriers to primary care practitioners identifying and responding to patients experiencing family violence.

Ministers also agreed to work with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners to develop and implement a national training package.

Further advice will be sought from Primary Health Networks on existing family violence services, including Commonwealth, State and NGO service providers in their regions, with a view to developing an improved whole-of-system responses to the complex needs of clients who disclose family violence

4.Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan

Health Ministers endorsed the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan 2017-2022 and its Implementation Plan.

The Fifth Plan is focused on improvements across eight targeted priority areas:

1. Achieving integrated regional planning and service delivery

2. Effective suicide prevention

3. Coordinated treatment and supports for people with severe and complex mental illness

4. Improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide prevention

5. Improving the physical health of people living with mental illness and reducing early mortality

6. Reducing stigma and discrimination

7. Making safety and quality central to mental health service delivery

8. Ensuring that the enablers of effective system performance and system improvement are in place

The Fifth Plan also responds to calls for a national approach to address suicide prevention and will be used to guide other sectors and to support health agencies to interact with other portfolios to drive action in this priority area.

Ongoing collaboration and engagement across the sector and with consumers and carers is required to successfully implement the Fifth Plan and achieve meaningful reform to improve the lives of people living with mental illness including the needs of children and young people.

Health Ministers also agreed that mental health workforce issues would be considered by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council.

5.The National Psychosocial Supports Program

Health Ministers agreed to establish a time-limited working group to progress the Commonwealth’s National Psychosocial Supports program. This will have the objective of developing bilateral agreements to support access to essential psychosocial supports for persons with severe mental illness resulting in psychosocial disability who are not eligible for the NDIS.

Those bilateral agreements will take into account existing funding being allocated for this purpose by states and territories.

6.Strengthened penalties and prohibition orders under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law

Health Ministers agreed to proceed with amendments to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law) to strengthen penalties for offences committed by people who hold themselves out to be a registered health practitioner, including those who use reserved professional titles or carry out restricted practices when not registered.

Ministers also agreed to proceed with an amendment to introduce a custodial sentence with a maximum term of up to three years for these offences.

These important reforms will be fast tracked to strengthen public protection under the National Law. Preparation will now commence on a draft amendment bill to be brought forward to Ministers for approval, with a view to this being introduced to the Queensland Parliament in 2018. The Western Australian Parliament is also expected to consider legislative changes to the Western Australian National Law.

7.Amendment to mandatory reporting provisions for treating health practitioner

Health Ministers agree that protecting the public from harm is of paramount importance as is supporting practitioners to seek health and in particular mental health treatment as soon as possible.

Health Ministers agreed that doctors should be able to seek treatment for health issues with confidentiality whilst also preserving the requirement for patient safety.

A nationally consistent approach to mandatory reporting provisions will provide confidence to health practitioners that they can feel able to seek treatment for their own health conditions anywhere in Australia.

Agree for AHMAC to recommend a nationally consistent approach to mandatory reporting, following discussion paper and consultation with consumer and practitioner groups, with a proposal to be considered by COAG Health Council at their November 2017 meeting, to allow the amendment to be progressed as part of Tranche 1A package of amendments and related guidelines.

8.National Digital Health Strategy and Australian Digital Health Agency Forward Work Plan 2018–2022

Health Ministers approved the National Digital Health Strategy and the Australian Digital Health Agency Work Plan for 2018-2022.

Download Strategy and work plan here  

The Strategy has identified the priority areas that form the basis of Australia’s vision for digital health.

This Strategy will build on Australia’s existing leadership in digital health care and support consumers and clinicians to put the consumer at the centre of their health care and provide choice, control and transparency.

Expanding the public reporting of patient safety and quality measures

Health Ministers supported Queensland and other interested jurisdictions to collaboratively identify options in relation to aligning patient safety and quality reporting standards across public and private hospitals nationally.

Ministers agreed that the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) would undertake work with other interested jurisdictions to identify options in relation to aligning public reporting standards of quality healthcare and patient safety across public and private hospitals nationally.

The work be incorporated into the national work being progressed on Australia’s health system performance information and reporting frameworks.

 

9.National human biomonitoring program

Health Ministers noted that human biomonitoring data can play a key role in identifying chemicals which potentially cause adverse health effects and action that may need to be taken to protect public health.

Health Ministers agreed that a National Human Biomonitoring Program could be beneficial in assisting with the understanding of chemical exposures in the Australian population.

Accordingly, Ministers agreed that the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council will explore this matter in more detail by undertaking a feasibility assessment of a National Human Biomonitoring Program.

Clarification of roles, responsibilities and relationships for national bodies established under the National Health Reform Agreement

States and territories expressed significant concern that the proposed Direction to IHPA will result in the Commonwealth retrospectively not funding activity that has been already delivered by states and territories but not yet funded by the Commonwealth.

States and territories were concerned that this could reduce services to patients going forward as anticipated funding from the Commonwealth will be less than currently expected.

The Commonwealth does not agree with the concerns of the states and territories and will seek independent advice from the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) to ensure hospital service activity for 2015-2016 has been calculated correctly. The Commonwealth committed to work constructively and cooperatively with all jurisdictions to better understand the drivers of increased hospital services in funding agreements.

10.Legitimate and unavoidable costs of providing public hospital services in Western Australia

Health Ministers discussed a paper by Western Australia on legitimate and unavoidable costs of providing public hospital services in Western Australia, particularly in regional and remote areas, and recognised that those matters create a cumulative disadvantage to that state. Health Ministers acknowledged that Western Australia will continue to work with the Commonwealth Government and the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority to resolve those matters.

11.Vaccination

Health Ministers unanimously confirmed the importance of vaccination and rejected campaigns against vaccination.

All Health Ministers expressed their acknowledgement of the outgoing Chair, the Hon Ms Jill Hennessy and welcomed the incoming Chair Ms Meegan Fitzharris MLA from the Australian Capital Territory.

Health Ministers approve Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy

Digital information is the bedrock of high quality healthcare.

The benefits for patients are signicant and compelling: hospital admissions avoided, fewer adverse drug events, reduced duplication of tests, better coordination of care for people with chronic and complex conditions, and better informed treatment decisions. Digital health can help save and improve lives.

To support the uptake of digital health services, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council today approved Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy (2018-2022).

Download Strategy and work plan here  

In a communique issued after their council meeting in Brisbane August 4 , the Health Ministers noted:

“The Strategy has identified the priority areas that form the basis of Australia’s vision for digital health. It will build on Australia’s existing leadership in digital health care and support consumers and clinicians to put the consumer at the centre of their health care and provide choice, control, and transparency.”

Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) CEO Tim Kelsey welcomed COAG approval for the new Strategy.

“Australians are right to be proud of their health services – they are among the best, most accessible, and efficient in the world.

Today we face new health challenges and rapidly rising demand for services. It is imperative that we work together to harness the power of technology and foster innovation to support high quality, sustainable health and care for all, today and into the future,” he said.

The Strategy – Safe, seamless, and secure: evolving health and care to meet the needs of modern Australia – identifies seven key priorities for digital health in Australia including delivery of a My Health Record for every Australian by 2018 – unless they choose not to have one.

More than 5 million Australians already have a My Health Record, which provides potentially lifesaving access to clinical reports of medications, allergies, laboratory tests, and chronic conditions. Patients and consumers can access their My Health Record at any time online or on their mobile phone.

The Strategy will also enable paper-free secure messaging for all clinicians and will set new standards to allow real-time sharing of patient information between hospitals and other care professionals.

Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Dr Michael Gannon has welcomed the Strategy’s focus on safe and secure exchange of clinical information, as it will empower doctors to deliver improved patient care.

“Doctors need access to secure digital records. Having to wade through paperwork and chase individuals and organisations for information is

archaic. The AMA has worked closely with the ADHA on the development of the new strategy and looks forward to close collaboration on its implementation,” Dr Gannon said.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) President Dr Bastian Seidel said that the RACGP is working closely and collaboratively with the ADHA and other stakeholders to ensure that patients, GPs, and other health professionals have access to the best possible data.

“The Strategy will help facilitate the sharing of high-quality commonly understood information which can be used with confidence by GPs and other health professionals. It will also help ensure this patient information remains confidential and secure and is available whenever and wherever it is needed,” Dr Seidel said.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia National President George Tambassis said that technology would increasingly play an important role in supporting sustainable healthcare delivery.

“The Guild is committed to helping build the digital health capabilities of community pharmacies and advance the efficiency, quality, and delivery of healthcare to improve health outcomes for all Australians.

“We are working with the ADHA to ensure that community pharmacy dispensing and medicine-related services are fully integrated into the My Health Record – and are committed to supporting implementation of the National Digital Health Strategy as a whole,” George Tambassis said.

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) President Dr Shane Jackson said that the Strategy would support more effective medicationmanagement, which would improve outcomes for patients and improve the efficiency of health services.

“There is significant potential for pharmacists to use digital health records as a tool to communicate with other health professionals, particularly during transitions of care,” Dr Jackson said.

The Strategy will prioritise development of new digital services to support newborn children, the elderly, and people living with chronic disease. It will also support wider use of telehealth to improve access to services, especially in remote and rural Australia and set standards for better information sharing in medical emergencies – between the ambulance, the hospital, and the GP.

Consumers Health Forum (CHF) Leanne Wells CEO said that the Strategy recognises the importance of empowering Australians to be makers and shapers of the health system rather than just the users and choosers.

“We know that when consumers are activated and supported to better self-manage and coordinate their health and care, we get better patient experience, quality care, and better health outcomes.

“Digital health developments, including My Health Record, are ways in which we can support that to happen. It’s why patients should also be encouraged to take greater control of their health information,” Leanne Wells said.

Medical Software Industry Association (MSIA) President Emma Hossack said that the Strategy distils seven key themes that set expectations at a national level.“The strategy recognises the vital role industry plays in providing the smarts and innovation on top of government infrastructure.

This means improved outcomes, research, and productivity. Industry is excited to work with the ADHA to develop the detailed actions to achieve the vision which could lead to Australia benefitting from one of the strongest health software industries in the world,” Emma Hossack said.

Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA) CEO Dr Louise Schaper welcomed the Strategy’s focus on workforce development.

“If our complex health system is to realise the benefits from information and technology, and become more sustainable, we need clinical leaders with a sound understanding of digital health,” Dr Schaper said.

The Strategy was developed by all the governments of Australia in close partnership with patients, carers and the clinical professionals who serve them – together with leaders in industry and science.

The Strategy draws on evidence of clinical and economic benefit from many sources within Australia and overseas, and emphasises the priority of patient confidentiality as new digital services are implemented.

The ADHA has established a Cyber Security Centre to ensure Australian healthcare is at the cutting edge of international data security.

The ADHA, which has responsibility for co-ordinating implementation of the Strategy, will now be consulting with partners across the community to develop a Framework for Action. The framework will be published later this year and will detail implementation plans for the Strategy.

The National Digital Health Strategy Safe, seamless and secure: evolving health and care to meet the needs of modern Australia is available on

https://www.digitalhealth.gov.au/australias-national-digital-health-strategy (https://www.digitalhealth.gov.au/australias-national-digital-health-strategy)

Greg Hunt Press Conference

Topics: COAG Health Council outcomes; The Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan; support for doctors and nurses mental health; hospital funding; same-sex marriage

GREG HUNT:
Today was a huge breakthrough in terms of mental health. The Fifth National Mental Health Plan was approved by the states.

What this is about is enormous progress on suicide prevention. It has actually become the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, so a real focus on suicide prevention.

In particular, the focus on what happens when people are discharged from hospital, the group in Australia that are most likely to take their own lives.

We actually know not just the group, but the very individuals who are most at risk. That’s an enormous step.

The second thing here is, as part of that plan, a focus on eating disorders, and it is a still-hidden issue. In 2017, the hidden issue of eating disorders, of anorexia and bulimia, and the prevalence and the danger of it is still dramatically understated in Australia.

The reality is that this is a silent killer and particularly women can be caught up for years and years, and so there’s a mutual determination, a universal determination to progress on eating disorders, and that will now be a central part of the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.

And also, as part of that, we’ve included, at the Commonwealth’s request today, a real focus on early intervention services for young people under 16. Pat McGorry has referred to it as CATs for Kids, meaning Crisis Assessment Teams, and the opportunity.

And this is a really important step because, for many families, when they have a crisis, there’s nowhere to turn. This is a way through. So those are all enormous steps forward.

The other mental health area where we’ve made big, big progress is on allowing doctors to seek routine mental health treatment.

There’s an agreement by all of the states and territories to work with the Commonwealth on giving doctors a pathway so as they can seek routine mental health treatment without being reported to the professional bodies.

JOURNALIST:
What has led to the increased focus on eating disorders? Has there been an uptick in the number of suicides resulting from that, or has there been an uptick in the number of cases?

GREG HUNT:
No, this has been silently moving along. It’s a personal focus. There are those that I have known, and then when we looked the numbers shortly after coming in, and dealt with organisations such as the Butterfly Foundation, they explained that it’s been a high level issue with the worst rate of loss of life amongst any mental health condition.

And so that’s a combination both of suicide, but also of loss of life due to physical collapse. And so it’s what I would regard as a personal priority from my own experience with others, but then the advocacy of groups like Butterfly Foundation has finally landed. It should’ve happened earlier, but it’s happening on our watch now.

JOURNALIST:
That would be my next question, is that I’m sure advocacy groups will say this is great that it’s happened, but it’s taken the Government so long. Why is it that you’re focussing on it now as opposed to…?

GREG HUNT:
I guess, I’ve only just become Minister. So from day one, this is one of the things I’ve wanted to do, and I’m really, personally, deeply pleased that we’ve made this enormous progress.

So I would say this, I can’t speak for the past, it is overdue, but on our watch collectively we’ve taken a huge step forward today.

Then the last thing is I’ve seen some reports that Queensland and Victoria may have been upset that some of their statistical anomalies were referred to what’s called IHPA (Independent Hospital Pricing Authority).

The reason why is that some of their figures simply didn’t pass the pub test.

The independent authority will assess them, but when you have 4000 per cent growth in one year in some services, 3300 per cent growth in some years in other services, then it would be negligent and irresponsible not to review them.

It may be the case that there was a more than 40-fold increase in some services, but the only sensible thing for the Commonwealth to do is to review it.

But our funding goes up each year every year at a faster rate than the states’ funding, and it’s gone up by $7.7 billion dollars since the current health agreement with the states was struck.

JOURNALIST:
Is that, sorry, relating to private health insurance, or is that something separate?

GREG HUNT:
No, that’s just in relation to, a couple of the states lodged claims for massive growth in individual items.

JOURNALIST:
Thank you. So was there a directive given today regarding private health policies to the states? Was that something that was discussed or something that …?

GREG HUNT:
Our paper was noted, and the states will respond. So we’ve invited the states to respond, they’ll respond individually.

JOURNALIST:
And regarding that mental health plan, besides their new focus on eating disorders, how is it different from previous mental health plans?

GREG HUNT:
So, a much greater focus on suicide prevention, a much greater focus on eating disorders, and a much greater focus on care for young children under 16.

JOURNALIST:
Is that something that you can give more specific details about? You’re saying there’s a much greater focus, but is there any specific information about what that would mean?

GREG HUNT:
As part of the good faith, the Commonwealth, I’ve written to the head of what’s called the Medical Benefits Schedule Review, so the Medicare item review, Professor Bruce Robinson and asked him and their team to consider, for the first time, specific additional treatment, an additional treatment item and what would be appropriate for eating disorders.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #PSA17SYD Minister Hunt announces Aboriginal Health Services will be able to employ a pharmacist if a link with a community pharmacy is not available

 ”  I have reached agreement with the PSA and Pharmacy Guild of Australia to allow Aboriginal health services to employ pharmacists if there were local areas problems in accessing pharmacy services. “

The Federal government is moving to give certainty to community pharmacy over location rules, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

Rural and Indigenous health advocacy through the infrastructure of community pharmacy

 ” The standard of health care for rural areas should be equal to the standards available in metropolitan areas. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia (the Guild) is guided by the principle that all Australians have a right to equity and access to community pharmacy services.

The Guild represents pharmacists who are the proprietors of community pharmacies. Approximately 20% of the total 5,350 community pharmacies across Australia are located within Categories 2-6 of the Pharmacy Access/Remoteness Index of Australia (PhARIA). “

SEE WEBSITE

Speaking at PSA17 in Sydney today, Mr Hunt announced a raft of initiatives which he says will exemplify the “vital role” the profession plays in primary health care.

Reported by AJP

A key announcement is that the government will soon introduce legislation to remove the existing sunset clause on pharmacy location rules, a move that drew applause from the floor.

Mr Hunt said feedback from pharmacy owners on location rules was that:

“The threat of taking location rules away was a threat to their very existence” and had prompted the government to action.

Mr Hunt also announced he had reached agreement with the PSA and Pharmacy Guild of Australia to allow Aboriginal health services to employ pharmacists if there were local areas problems in accessing pharmacy services.

The Minister also provided details on recent 6CPA pharmacy trial announcements around asthma management and ensuring culture-specific medicine reviews in indigenous communities.

Funding would be provided for a pharmacist and consumer awareness campaign around biosimilar medicines, he also announced.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : Do @GregHuntMP and @KenWyattMP have clear priorities and direction to save health ?

greg-and-ken

With parliament resuming tomorrow we take a look at what the new Minister for Health Greg Hunt and Ken Wyatt AM Minister for Indigenous Health  are building – A national, long-term health plan . Mr Hunt said he had discussed with the Prime Minister the need for a long-term health strategy, across four key areas, to take the health system and “help lift it and build it to be the best in the world”.

(1) Rock-solid commitment to support for Medicare and universal healthcare with funding growing every year.

(2) A deep, rock-solid commitment to our hospital system, both public and private that work together, with funding growing every year.

(3) The third pillar being our deep and my personal, passionate commitment to mental health and preventive health and support for indigenous health, something so profound to so many Australians.

(4) Medical research where we bring together the work of the NHMRC, the Biomedical Translation Fund, and the Medical Research Future Fund – three essential elements.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister of Health  From doorstop interview 4 February : Launch of the Turnbull Government’s $125 million NHMRC funding into medical research : Download interview-with-greg-hunt

 ” Also on the minds of many in the sector is the Nous review of the roles and functions of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the state/territory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health peak bodies (more background about this review is here).

In our interview, Wyatt said he would be guided by the findings of the Nous review, and that he would be “looking for a common position that strengthens the role of NACCHO and all the affiliates”.

“In times of uncertainty, it’s important that we create certainty,” he said.

Shortly after Ken Wyatt AM was sworn in as Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health  he made time for an interview in his Canberra office with Croakey contributors Summer May Finlay (former Policy Officer at NACCHO ) and Dr Megan Williams : see Article 2 below

Greg Hunt’s priority: clear direction to save health

The Turnbull government will move to reclaim the health policy debate after new minister Greg Hunt identified the need for a long-term strategy to strengthen Medicare, support hospitals, facil­itate world-class medical research and encourage people to take ­better care.

As reported by The Australian

After a first term dominated by budget cuts and reviews, the Coalitio­n was savaged at the polls, not only because of Labor’s contentious “Save Medicare’’ campaign but also a lack of overarching policy direction.

An expenses scandal then prompted the resignation of Sussa­n Ley as health minister and gave Malcolm Turnbull the opportunity to reset relations with the sector under Mr Hunt, the adept former minister for industry, innov­ation and science and, before that, environment.

Three weeks into his new role, Mr Hunt told The Weekend Australian the government was “rock solid” in its support for Medicare but it was too early for him to ­comment on the future of the ­indexation freeze.

He said Australia’s health system, while strong, needed clearer direction to cope with an ageing population, lifestyle diseases and the threat of pandemics and antimicrobial resistance.

“Medicare, let’s be honest, started under Labor, but you’ve also got the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that came in under Menzies and private health insur­ance which came in under Menzies, and was extended and really saved by John Howard and Michael­ Wooldridge,” Mr Hunt said. “We are a part, are credited with two of the three pillars of the federal health system, and we’re committed to all of them. I’m not sure Labor is committed to private health.”

While generally guarded on issues­ related to funding, Mr Hunt said he had discussed with the Prime Minister the need for a long-term health strategy, across four key areas, to take the health system and “help lift it and build it to be the best in the world”.

Stakeholder groups are being consulted on Mr Hunt’s plan to strengthen Medicare and universal access, support hospitals under Australia’s public-private hybrid, prioritise preventive health (espec­ial­ly in relation to mental health) and boost medical research­.

Mr Hunt suggested that he had underestimated the challenge of mental illness, even though his mother had bipolar disease and the last time he visited her was in a mental hospital.

“It’s very real for me, very real, and when I raised this publicly, and hadn’t really talked about it like most Aussie males, I’ve never had such a widespread response of people wanting to talk to me on the streets of my own electorate and elsewhere in Australia,” he said.

“The degree of the problem I imagined I understood but in fact it’s deeper and broader than I ever understood.”

With mental health and preventive health combined, the Prime Minister this week foreshadowed “a new focus on preventive health (that) will give people the right tools and information to live active and healthy lives”.

Mr Hunt said that Melbourne, and to a lesser extent Sydney, were among the world’s top three biomedical hubs and he wanted Australia­ to become the “world leader in genomics and precision medicine”.

Following the federal government’s pre-election public hospital funding injection, Mr Hunt said that he was confident it could come up with a long-term agreement with the states by the end of next year.

This would probably precede the next election, although Mr Hunt said it was “not a political goal but a policy goal”.

One of his more immediate tasks will be to approve health- insurance­ premium increases from April 1. Mr Hunt said he wanted to “make sure we get value for money” and was committed to ongoing reform.

croakeysmall

Article 2

kentweet

Shortly after Ken Wyatt AM was sworn in as Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health last week, he made time for an interview in his Canberra office with Croakey contributors Summer May Finlay and Dr Megan Williams.

The insights, including a commitment to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to primary healthcare, are likely to be of interest to many, particularly given funding uncertainty and cuts that have undermined the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, organisations and services in recent years.

  •  Summer May Finlay is a Yorta Yorta woman, public health practitioner and PhD scholar at the University of South Australia.
  • Dr Megan Williams, who is a descendent of the Wiradjuri people of central NSW and also has English and Irish heritage, is a Senior Research Fellow at Western Sydney University.

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Summer May Finlay and Megan Williams write:

Meeting with Minister Wyatt within hours of his being sworn in as a Minister provided the opportunity for questions about the direction of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policy.

Given Wyatt is the first Aboriginal person to serve on the frontbench in the House of Representatives, and because so much uncertainty and shrinkage has occurred in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service funding under the Coalition Government whom he serves, he will no doubt face enormous pressure from diverse Aboriginal communities and organisations.

We met particularly to ask about the role the health portfolio will take to address the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, given that justice is a determinant of health. We had read Wyatt’s statements as Assistant Minister about the need to address such determinants.

Having previously provided him with a copy of our #JustJustice book, which contains dozens of examples of ‘what works’ as determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,we were keen to hear what he would take forward.

As Member for Hasluck in Western Australia for the Liberal Party of Australia and a long-term public servant, Wyatt is not new to Parliament nor Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy and leadership, and indeed has previously had carriage of Indigenous Health as an Assistant Health Minister.

He can discuss with authority the complexity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health status, and the contributing individual and structural factors. His extensive career working in Aboriginal affairs in numerous capacities around Australia, and many of his positions in and outside the health sector obviously contribute.

Broad experience

In terms of understanding determinants of health, Minister Wyatt initially trained as a primary school teacher and taught for a number of years before moving into public administration. He was also involved in health education and developed health curriculum.

While in the education system he was offered the opportunity to work for the WA Health Department’s Aboriginal health policy unit with only two staff – himself and a non-Indigenous doctor. He said the move was a “great transition to another agency and a different experience”, and that “it was a period of new learning and fighting different battles”.

This was at the time the National Aboriginal Health Strategy (NAHS) was launched – the first serious attempt to reduce the health inequity between Aboriginal people and other Australians.

While it remains a key guiding document informing subsequent policies, Wyatt witnessed first-hand the way some state-based Ministers rushed the endorsement of the policy, and the 1994 evaluation findings that it was never fully implemented.

After four years in WA Health, Wyatt again worked in the education sector, before shifting across to become the Director of Aboriginal Affairs in NSW Health. In preparation for this, Wyatt remembered consulting with NSW Aboriginal Elders and service providers. During his five-year directorship, he worked closely with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services (ACCHOs).

Reflecting on this time, Wyatt saw how it made sense for governments to fund ACCHOs directly to deliver services, because of their success, and to avoid duplication. Wyatt had close contact with Maari Ma Health in particular, an Aboriginal Medical Service providing health services for Aboriginal people in their area, contracted by NSW Health.

Wyatt recalled that formal assessment of Maari Ma’s service outcomes showed “results were far better than what we had ever achieved as a health department”. This was a clear example of the strength of ACCHOs, “showing that a local Aboriginal organisation with the local communities, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, could deliver a better service than what NSW [government] were.”

With every new Minster comes the likelihood of change; Wyatt brings more experience to the federal leadership position for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health than any of his predecessors or peers.

Minister Wyatt also comes to the portfolio after a period of turbulence in Indigenous health and Indigenous affairs more broadly.

The Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) restructured and cut funding, causing “uncertainty, stress and anxiety”, according to submissions to the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee. 

The IAS also forced a competitiveness between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services never before encountered, and contributed significantly to stress on the ACCHO sector, which was already under pressure and inadequately funded to meet demand, in a policy environment that has pushed the “mainstreaming” of Indigenous health services.

The sector now also faces further uncertainty given that the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review, the Medicare rebate freeze, and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Review all have implications for the work of ACCHOs.

Also on the minds of many in the sector is the Nous review of the roles and functions of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the state/territory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health peak bodies (more background about this review is here).

In our interview, Wyatt said he would be guided by the findings of the Nous review, and that he would be “looking for a common position that strengthens the role of NACCHO and all the affiliates”.

“In times of uncertainty, it’s important that we create certainty,” he said.

Addressing social and cultural determinants of health

In his role as Minister for Indigenous Health, Wyatt wants to see improved primary health care access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This includes through ACCHOs and mainstream services.

In terms of mainstream health care access, Wyatt cited the challenges of geographical diversity, institutional racism and the need to address social and cultural determinants of health.

These challenges have long been poorly met by mainstream health services, yet better addressed by ACCHOs.

To address institutional racism and champion work on social and cultural determinants of health, a cross-portfolio working group endorsed by a cabinet sub-committee has been established.

Wyatt acknowledges that “social and cultural determinants of health underpin everything that we do”, sending a message of hope for achieving core components of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan Implementation Plan, launched in 2015.

We have learnt from the limitations of NAHS implementation that mechanisms of accountability are crucial.

The role of the new Social and Cultural Working Group is unclear, but at the very least is intersectoral, consisting of the Departments of Health and Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, including:

  • Richard Weston from the National Health Leadership Forum and the Healing Foundation, as Co-Chair
  • Pat Turner from NACCHO
  • Donna Ah Chee, Julie Tongs and Mark Wenitong with expertise across early childhood, comprehensive primary health care, acute care and justice, among other issues.

Moving forward?

Minister Wyatt clearly has some significant challenges ahead. Given his commitment to action on the social and cultural determinants of health, he will have to forge effective ways of working across sectoral and jurisdictional boundaries.

While governments have a long history of poor accountability in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, the solutions are well identified about how to deliver and evaluate effective and efficient care.

Countless calls for national leadership have been made and, now that we have an experienced, respected and respectful Aboriginal Minister at the helm, many will be hoping that he can achieve the level of change needed, including a strengthening of ACCHOs in funding, certainty and influence over mainstream models of care, and effective outcomes from the new social and cultural unit.

 

NACCHO Promotion

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NACCHO has announced the publishing date for the 9 th edition of Australia’s first national health Aboriginal newspaper, the NACCHO Health News .

Publish date 6 April 2017

Working with Aboriginal community controlled and award-winning national newspaper the Koori Mail, NACCHO aims to bring relevant advertising and information on health services, policy and programs to key industry staff, decision makers and stakeholders at the grassroots level.

And who writes for and reads the NACCHO Newspaper ?

km-kw

While NACCHO’s websites ,social media and annual report have been valued sources of information for national and local Aboriginal health care issues for many years, the launch of NACCHO Health News creates a fresh, vitalised platform that will inevitably reach your targeted audiences beyond the boardrooms.

NACCHO will leverage the brand, coverage and award-winning production skills of the Koori Mail to produce a 24 page three times a year, to be distributed as a ‘lift-out’ in the 14,000 Koori Mail circulation, as well as an extra 1,500 copies to be sent directly to NACCHO member organisations across Australia.

Our audited readership (Audit Bureau of Circulations) is 100,000 readers

For more details rate card

Contact : Colin Cowell Editor

Mobile : 0401 331 251

Email  : nacchonews@naccho.org.au

 

 

 

 

NACCHO Press Release : NACCHO Chair welcomes new Health Minister Greg Hunt and Ken Wyatt as new Indigenous Health minister

 kw

” We congratulate Mr Hunt on his appointment as Health Minister and look forward to meeting with the minister to discuss the importance of Aboriginal led medical services in developing and delivering health programs for more than 750,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote, regional and urban communities.

NACCHO has a very productive working relationship with Ken Wyatt in his role as Assistant Minister for Health and we’re very pleased it will continue now he is elevated to Minister for Indigenous Health and Aged Care –  the first Aboriginal Australian to hold the office of Commonwealth Minister.”

National Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chair, Matthew Cooke:

Photo above 2008 : On the back of mounting community calls for action Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott signed the Close the Gap Statement of Intent in March 2008. Key ministers and other state and territory leaders soon followed. Here, Aboriginal parliamentarian, Ken Wyatt, signs the Close the Gap Statement of Intent

Download the NACCHO press release

naccho-welcomes-minister-greg-hunt-and-ken-wyatt

NACCHO the peak body for Aboriginal health services is looking forward to working with newly appointed Health Minister Greg Hunt and Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt to close the gap in health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

” NACCHO is especially proud to see Minister Wyatt attain such a senior position in the Turnbull government. The historic promotion, one of many for this Member of Parliament, is an acknowledgment of the high regard he achieved working as an assistant minister, his attention to detail and how respected he is in the Aboriginal community and health sectors across Australia.

As a previous Director of Aboriginal Health in the public services of NSW and WA he brings a unique perspective to the role. NACCHO will assist him in meeting the expectations of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to enjoy a quality of life through whole-of-community self-determination.

Minister Wyatt has many years of experience working in both Indigenous health and education, which is invaluable at a ministerial level and the understanding, needed to make progress towards Close the Gap targets” he said.

Mr. Cooke also thanked outgoing Health Minister Sussan Ley for her work in the portfolio and her support for NACCHO.

Last year 140 Aboriginal community controlled health organisations (ACCHOs) provided nearly 3 million episodes of care to over 340,000 clients.

” It is clear that putting Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands is working ” Mr Cooke said

Ken Wyatt: new minister to tackle how Indigenous health funding used

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 ” In health, Wyatt said he wanted particular improvements for children below the age of eight and young people generally.

Improving social determinants of health would help extend lifespan and achieve parity with all Australians.

The incoming Indigenous health minister, Ken Wyatt, has said he wants to tackle the “industry” in Aboriginal affairs siphoning funds into administration rather than frontline services ”

Wyatt made the comments to ABC Radio National on Thursday in an interview about his appointment as aged care and Indigenous health minister, which will make him the first Indigenous person to hold a commonwealth ministry.

Paul Karp writing in the Guardian

Wyatt has also broken from his Coalition colleagues who criticise Labor for considering debate on treaties with Indigenous people at the same time as constitutional recognition, saying the two are not in conflict and a “dual conversation” is possible.

He agreed it was in a sense “unbelievable” that it had taken this long for an Indigenous person to reach the ministry.

He said he and the other Indigenous members of parliament held their positions on merit and that sent “a very strong message to young Aboriginal Australians that their hopes and aspirations can be achieved in many arenas”.

“The ministerial appointment, including colleagues on the other side who have shadow appointments, sends home a very strong message that we can stand as equals amongst our peers.”

Wyatt agreed his appointment meant the federal government could implement policies that affected Indigenous people in a less paternalistic way, citing his participation on a cabinet subcommittee for Indigenous affairs. “Since I’ve been in the parliament … we’ve had the opportunity of shaping people’s thinking to focus on Indigenous issues in a different way.”

The emphasis had shifted to “working with Aboriginal people rather than doing things with them”, and he said working alongside Indigenous people had helped others understand issues in Indigenous communities.

Wyatt said he would aim to achieve “an all round improvement in Indigenous affairs, including the industry that has evolved around Aboriginal affairs that sees money being siphoned off to administration rather than directly to frontline [services]”.

In health, Wyatt said he wanted particular improvements for children below the age of eight and young people generally. Improving social determinants of health would help extend lifespan and achieve parity with all Australians.

On Wednesday night Wyatt told ABC’s 7.30 he still believed Australia was on track to achieve recognition of Indigenous Australians in the constitution.

He said aspirations among some Indigenous Australians for a treaty had not caused momentum for recognition to stall but had sparked a “dual conversation” on both concepts, which were not in conflict.

“I would certainly hope that we don’t abandon, nor set aside, our desire to have recognition within the foundation document of this country’s frameworks,” he said.

The comments are at odds with his Coalition colleagues who argue that Labor’s consideration of a treaty with Indigenous Australians puts at risk a “meaningful but modest” change in the form of constitutional recognition.

Wyatt did agree that recognition was the main priority, saying treaties are “a way forward but they’re not set in the … country’s [foundation] document and I’d rather see recognition first and then treaty”.

“I think the strength is in the constitution, because the constitution is the document that the high courts base their decisions around when challenges occur and in which legislation is framed against our founding document.”


NACCHO Advertisement

nhn

NACCHO has announced the publishing date for the 9 th edition of Australia’s first national health Aboriginal newspaper, the NACCHO Health News .

Publish date 6 April 2017

Working with Aboriginal community controlled and award-winning national newspaper the Koori Mail, NACCHO aims to bring relevant advertising and information on health services, policy and programs to key industry staff, decision makers and stakeholders at the grassroots level.

And who writes for and reads the NACCHO Newspaper ?

km-kw

While NACCHO’s websites ,social media and annual report have been valued sources of information for national and local Aboriginal health care issues for many years, the launch of NACCHO Health News creates a fresh, vitalised platform that will inevitably reach your targeted audiences beyond the boardrooms.

NACCHO will leverage the brand, coverage and award-winning production skills of the Koori Mail to produce a 24 page three times a year, to be distributed as a ‘lift-out’ in the 14,000 Koori Mail circulation, as well as an extra 1,500 copies to be sent directly to NACCHO member organisations across Australia.

Our audited readership (Audit Bureau of Circulations) is 100,000 readers

For more details rate card

Contact : Colin Cowell Editor

Mobile : 0401 331 251

Email  : nacchonews@naccho.org.au

 

 

 

 

NACCHO News: Greg Hunt new Minister ” My health vision is simple, help give Australia the best health care system in the world

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” Like every Australian, I have been privileged all my life to know and to meet and to be taken care of by the magnificent dedicated, professionals of our Australian health system.

The doctors, the nurses, the allied health care professionals, the researchers. These are the people that actually represent health in Australia.

The first thing I want to do is to acknowledge the role of our health care workers. Our professionals and also our volunteers whom we met here today at Peninsula Health.

They all give a fabulous contribution. We have some of the best health care professionals in the world.

There are extraordinary Australians involved in this sector. Then let me look forward to the vision.

My vision and our vision is very simple. That is to help give Australia the best health care system in the world.”

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP speaking at the Frankston Hospital about his appointment Minister for Sport and Health .

Photo above Greg Hunt and Sussan Ley 2016

Health touches every Australian. Every Australian parent, whether it’s of a young child, whether it’s of somebody who is older, every Australian young person, person in their middle age or senior simply wants to know that they can access doctors and nurses and simply wants to know that they can get the medicines that they need when they need it. That’s what health is about.

We are here in Frankston Hospital and I am very privileged to be Australia’s new health minister. I am especially pleased to be here, of all places, today.

My mother was a nurse and she worked here at Frankston Hospital. My wife is a nurse, my father met my mother here at Frankston Hospital and he spent his last weeks in the care of the magnificent staff here at Frankston Hospital.

Like every Australian, I have been privileged all my life to know and to meet and to be taken care of by the magnificent dedicated, professionals of our Australian health system.

The doctors, the nurses, the allied health care professionals, the researchers. These are the people that actually represent health in Australia.

The first thing I want to do is to acknowledge the role of our health care workers. Our professionals and also our volunteers whom we met here today at Peninsula Health.

They all give a fabulous contribution. We have some of the best health care professionals in the world. We have almost undoubtedly the best volunteer system in the world.

To acknowledge their work is fundamental and it is of deep personal importance. This is a role about which I am genuinely passionate because it is about my own family, it is about everybody’s family and it is about my family’s origins.

I also want to acknowledge, as part of that, the role of magnificent organisations, such as the AMA.

Such as our private health insurers who allow people to have choice. Our health care policy professionals and I have had many discussions already today with people such as Michael Gannon.

I have had discussions with people from private health insurance, our pharmacists, the head of the Pharmacy Guild does have a pharmacy in my electorate, so we have a long standing relationship.

There are extraordinary Australians involved in this sector. Then let me look forward to the vision.

My vision and our vision is very simple. That is to help give Australia the best health care system in the world.

Greg Hunt new Health Minister  ” My vision is simple, help give Australia the best health care system in the world

To help give Australia the best health care system in the world. We are already outstanding. But we can be even better and that vision involves working with our medical researchers to find cures as we have seen with Gardasil and Venetoclax and different strains of cancer.

We can in our lives cure things which could never have been treated and the work we have seen here today Sue, in terms of the coronary care, is outstanding, that is absolutely the sort of breakthrough research applied by brilliant clinicians that makes a difference, that saves peoples’ lives.

I want to see us as the best health care system in the world and the best researchers in the world. In my previous role, I have seen how our innovation and science come together with our medical system to change peoples’ lives, to help provide cures.

Whether it is in areas such as cancer or diabetes. So many different other health areas. Stroke prevention, these are critical.

Then I want to go forward to looking at the system and within the system itself, let me start by making a statement.

Medicare is the fundamental underpinning of Australia’s health system. I have and we have a rock solid commitment to the future of Medicare.

It is simply indispensable and fundamental to our health care system. It is a deep personal passion and an absolute personal commitment and an absolute commitment of the Prime Minister and the Turnbull Government.

I also want to focus on mental health. This is something which, like many families, has touched my family.

I want mental health to be a critical part of my time in this role. I also want indigenous health to be a critical part of my time in this role.

Today, we celebrate the appointment of Ken Wyatt as not just the Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health, but the first indigenous Australian to be sworn in as a minister in the history of Australia.

That is a grand and important moment for Indigenous Australia and it is a grand and important moment for all Australians and something to celebrate and of which we should all be proud.

Finally, I want to note, in terms of sport. I am a sports fan and I am a sports dad.

What I want to do with sport is to have as many young Australians, as many Australians through their adult lives participate in sport.

I want to be the minister for participation in sport and yes, we have got to help make sure that our elite sports inspire young Australians to participate, bring us together and provide a way of bridging gaps across communities but above all else, I want to bring young Australians and those from disadvantaged backgrounds into a culture where they have sport, whatever is appropriate to them, as a fundamental opportunity.

I’d be happy to take any questions.

JOURNALIST:

Congratulations on your appointment. Are you open to repealing the Medicare freeze?

GREG HUNT:

You can understand I haven’t been sworn in yet. I wanted to set the vision today to talk with the representatives of so many sectors within the health space and as I say I have already had many calls so far.

I will continue to do that over the coming days and to take additional briefings and then once the swearing in as been completed, I will have more to say at that stage about particular policy directions but it is the vision of being the best health care in the world for Australians which I really want to set out today.

JOURNALIST:

Part of the calls that you did take today, did anyone bring up the Medicare freeze and the need to get rid of it?

GREG HUNT:

There will be a range of discussions and many people will raise many different things. I am setting out to listen and to hear, not just to listen but to hear and to learn over the coming days and weeks and progressively we will set out more policy directions but the broad vision is of the best health care system in the world.

I will work with doctors. I will work with nurses. I believe deeply in both professions. All our health care workers across different areas, especially our researchers as well.

I do want to reserve a special thanks to the nurses and to the GPs. One of the things that Michael Gannon said is he feels GPs may have been undervalued in Australia. I want to re-establish that value, their role, their importance, their trust in the community.

JOURNALIST:

When did the Prime Minister inform you about your appointment?

GREG HUNT:

These things are always finally confirmed later on in the process. There have been…

JOURNALIST:

Did you learn about your appointment through the Prime Minister or through media reports?

GREG HUNT:

I learned about my appointment through the Prime Minister.

JOURNALIST:

Are you disappointed to see less women in cabinet now?

GREG HUNT:

Look, there is always a balance. We have outstanding women. Remember this, we have Julie Bishop as Australia’s first female Foreign Minister.

There as the deputy leader of the Liberal Party. We have outstanding people but the point about diversity today is that Ken Wyatt has just been appointed as our first ever indigenous minister and that is a signature moment for Australia.

Long overdue. But finally realised. He will be outstanding, as is Dave Gillespie. I have to say David Gillespie, when I was ill in Canberra just a couple of months ago, made a home visit to me. He gets ten out of ten for his bedside manner.

JOURNALIST:

You are replacing a minister who resigned over an expenses scandal. There are reports you spent taxpayer money on family holidays. Can you talk to that?

GREG HUNT:

That is not a correct assessment of it. My role has always been to work as hard as I can and to visit communities and in the case of South-East Queensland, I was always working on things such as the biosphere, working on water quality, visiting sewerage treatment plants such as Luggage Point, Maroochy and others, working with environment groups, working with councils, working on so many different issues.

My approach has been to work as hard as I can and always be there for work and that is what has been the case and now it is about working even harder.

JOURNALIST:

Are you able to give a performance assessment on your predecessors time in this role?

GREG HUNT:

I have immense respect for both my predecessors, Peter Dutton and Sussan Ley. Each has made significant advances. It is a difficult and challenging area for the country because there is always more to be done.

Our task is get to be the best in the world whilst at the same time ensuring that we get the ultimate value for money and this is where the medium research comes in.

New drugs such as Venetoclax that I mentioned and Gardasil, will take real pressure off the health system and the off the health budget so as we can do more, even more.

Every year of course the health budget is going up and every year the Medicare budget is going up.

Every year the Medicare budget is increasing under the Turnbull Government and the broader health budget so I believe the predecessors have made very important steps but now it’s about building on that and taking it to that level.

JOURNALIST:

How would you describe Australia’s health system? Do you think it is a world class system?

GREG HUNT:

I think it is. People who come from elsewhere look at it and in many cases they wonder about how we achieve it but I think the answer is the medical staff.

We are blessed with the most extraordinary and outstanding GPs and specialised doctors, our surgeons and our physicians, our researchers, I am biased towards nurses, as the son of a nurse and as the husband of a nurse, I am biased to the nurses and our volunteers and our allied health workers. But I do, again, want to repeat that for GPs I want to be their Health Minister.

Thank you very much.

(ENDS)