NACCHO affiliate news alert:Plea for Aboriginal health funds


WA’s peak Aboriginal health group says almost 100 services and more than 300 jobs are under threat because the State Government is dragging its feet to sign up to a new $150 million funding agreement.

Picture above and more info

Cathy O’Leary, Medical Editor, The West Australian

The Aboriginal Health Council of WA, which oversees the Aboriginal Medical Service, wants the Government to commit in writing to the next four-year Council of Australian Governments funding agreement for Closing the Gap in Aboriginal Health Outcomes before it goes into caretaker mode.

Chairwoman Vicki O’Donnell said the current funding ended in June, and the May Budget was too late to find out how much would be provided in the future, particularly for staff who did not know if there would be cutbacks and whether they would still have a job.

Health Minister Kim Hames said the Liberal-Nationals Government had given $117.4 million in 2009 towards closing the gap in Aboriginal health. Dr Hames said future funding for the program would be considered as part of the Budget process.

“The significant improvements we’ve made to date to the health outcomes of Aboriginal people in WA now face an uncertain future due to the lack of clarity over the program’s ongoing funding,” Mrs O’Donnell said.

“Since the four-year COAG funding agreement commenced, we have seen healthcare services delivered to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in rural, remote and metropolitan regions we’ve never been able to reach before.”

Mrs O’Donnell said the national partnership agreement had helped set up and expand 98 Statewide services, including 23 programs addressing chronic disease and specialist mental health services.

“Without the Government’s continued support and its investment in the health … of Aboriginal people in this State, 98 critical health services will cease and over 300 jobs will be lost in the workforce, 70 per cent of which are held by Aboriginal people,” she said.

“Not having made a commitment at this late stage to continuing this approach and renewing the COAG funding agreement is bordering on recklessness. The situation is critical.”

New approach starting to ‘close the gap’ in WA Aboriginal Health

This is a WA government press release FYI 16 October 2012

The State Government’s biggest single investment into Aboriginal health in Western Australian history had resulted in nearly 100 new services for Aboriginal people and more than 100 new Aboriginal health employees, Health Minister Kim Hames said today.

Under the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) Closing the Gap National Partnership Agreement, which is now in its final year, the State Government has provided $117.43million to ‘close the gap’ between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health.

Dr Hames said about $80 million to date had been directed into new programs and services to improve smoking rates, primary health care and a healthy transition to adulthood for Aboriginal people.

“One of the biggest achievements under the Closing the Gap initiative is the creation of more than 400 new positions – more than 60 per cent in regional and remote areas – to support 98 new Aboriginal services across the State,” he said.

The Minister said the initiative had also provided WA Health with an opportunity to change the way it developed and implemented health services for Aboriginal West Australians.

“The State Government has decentralised its approach and established nine metropolitan and regional Aboriginal Health Planning Forums to foster a genuine partnership between ourselves, non-government and Aboriginal communities at a local level,” he said.
 “We have moved away from the ‘one size fits all’ approach by recognising each region and its population is unique in its cultural diversity, and therefore requires a customised approach to planning and delivering services.

“At February 2012, the number of Aboriginal people employed in the WA health sector has risen by 111 to 314 employees.

   Fact File

  • WA Health developing business plan to potentially continue Closing the Gap initiative past the final year of the initial COAG agreement

Minister’s office – 08 6552 5300