IAHA Response to NATIONAL BUDGET 2016-2017

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) asserts that a strong and visible commitment by governments to building a culturally safe and responsive health system that provides equitable access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to allied health services is required in order to really make a difference. This was not evident in the National Budget 2016-2017, where the focus was unapologetically on ensuring ‘Australia continues to successfully transition from the mining investment boom to a stronger, more diversified, new economy’.

IAHA welcomes the Government’s announcement of the Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme – which aims to provide public dental services to all children and adult concession card holders, as well as the Taking More Action to Prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. The Government has promised the $10.5 million over four years from 2016-2017 to reduce the occurrence of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), focusing on prevention of FASD in high risk, remote and rural communities. IAHA further welcomes the Government’s commitment to spending $2.9 billion in additional funding to state and territory’s public hospitals.

“Investing in schemes that aim to improve oral health and reduce the occurrence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is positive, however the impact of these upon the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must be not be ignored,” said IAHA Chief Executive Officer Ms Donna Murray. “Particular attention to the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be an essential component of the implementation of such schemes.”

The Government also announced $21.3 million will be allocated to the trial of the Health Care Homes model which was recommended by the Primary Health Care Advisory Group’s Report — Better Outcomes for People with Chronic and Complex Health Conditions.

“Given the proportionately high population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with chronic conditions and complex care needs, the outcomes of trialling the Health Care Homes model will have implications for their long term care,” said Ms Murray. “We encourage engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to increase participation and advocate a coordinated interdisciplinary approach to chronic disease management where allied health plays a critical role.”

The Government also announced the intent to increase efficiencies in the Health Flexible Funds, aimed over three years from 2017-2018. The Government plans to achieve this by reducing uncommitted funds and continuing the current pause in indexation of funds for a further two years, among other methods.

“IAHA agrees there is a need to increase efficiencies across the health system as a whole,” said Ms Murray. “However it is essential that these efficiencies are not achieved at the expense of valuable programs and initiatives that build an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce and contribute to achieving health equality more broadly.”

Although existing and new health initiatives stated in this years’ budget will indirectly benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, it remains to be seen how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will access these mainstream services, and how relevant they will be to the unique needs and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

To view the full Budget 2016-2017 please click here.

To view what others reaction to the Health Budget 2016-2017 click here.

May 4, 2016


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