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