The Close the Gap Campaign has welcomed the Federal Budget announcements of increased funding for aged care and sports and recreation in the Torres Strait Islands, as well as the ongoing roll out of Opal Fuel, as positive contributions to Indigenous health.
However, Campaign Steering Committee Co-Chairs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda, and Tom Calma, National Coordinator – Tackling Indigenous Smoking, were disappointed that the Budget was silent in relation to Indigenous-specific health initiatives that would benefit the majority of Indigenous Australians, particularly in relation to a national planning process for Indigenous health equality.
“While all initiatives that can benefit Indigenous health are to be welcomed, piecemeal approaches are not likely to work,” Mr Gooda said.
“A plan of how we will achieve Indigenous health equality by 2030, as committed to by this Government, is required so that resources can be strategically targeted to that end.
“Such a plan would also set out how Indigenous Australians are to secure their entitlement to mainstream health programs,” he said.
“The Australian Government must ensure that significant allocations from the ‘mainstream’ health initiatives announced last night reach Indigenous Australians and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector,” Mr Calma said.
“It is particularly vital that the e-health initiative, the after hours GP incentives and the nurse training package and nurse placement program for GPs announced in the Budget reaches Indigenous Australians,” Mr Gooda said.
The Steering Committee called on the Australian Government to ensure that Indigenous Australians enjoy the full benefit of these initiatives by working with the Indigenous health peak organisations and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector to address and remove any barriers to them accessing these programs.
“And the Campaign continues to call for the development of a national plan for Indigenous health equality to support this goal, in the broader context of the achievement of Indigenous health equality. That plan should address all of the social and cultural determinants of poorer Indigenous health,” Mr Calma said.
Media contacts: Louise McDermott - for Mick Gooda - 0419 258 597
Tom Calma – 0429 121 942