The Close the Gap campaign calls on the Federal Government to prioritise Indigenous health in its May 2017 budget.
The Campaign released its 2017 Budget Position, listing nine priorities that will help close the gap in health inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“The Close the Gap campaign priorities are not new. Governments know these priorities well. Yet the health gap remains a national tragedy. Indigenous people have a life expectancy of at least 10 years less than their non-Indigenous peers,” said Patricia Turner, Co-Chair of the Close the Gap Campaign and CEO of National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.
“A nation as wealthy as ours should fund the critical health care of less than 3 per cent of its entire population.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is a national priority, and we are repeatedly told it has bi-partisan support. We need to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and involve them in developing solutions. We need to employ Indigenous people to deliver services in their own communities,” Ms Turner said.
“We must support and fund the services that provide the best outcomes for Indigenous health within Australia. Governments cannot achieve this by handing over a lump sum of money and hoping the gap will close. It is achieved but by being committed and helping sustain the function of our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services,” Ms Turner said.
The Close the Gap campaign urged the Treasurer to commit to adequately funding the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 and its subsequent Implementation Plan.
“The Implementation Plan has targeted activities that require adequate resourcing,” said Dr Jackie Huggins, Co-Chair of the Close the Gap Campaign and Co-Chair for the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
Ms Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia, urged the Government to invest for the long-term by supporting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.
“Dedicated funding for allied health, medicine, nursing, midwifery and health workers as well as for the national Indigenous organisations who are involved in workforce development will contribute significantly to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes for our people and communities.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 3 per cent of our population but less than 1 per cent of our health workforce,” Ms Murray said.
The Close the Gap campaign called on the Government to ensure that funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) recognises the estimated 45 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.
“The NDIS and the Indigenous Advancement Strategy should prioritise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability,” said Damian Griffis, CEO of the First Peoples Disability Network.
The Close the Gap campaign remains optimistic that health equality is possible if governments commit to long-term investment and to working with Aboriginal communities.