Apunipima responds to budget and its effect on the health of Cape York people

Media Release 15 May 2014

Apunipima responds to budget and its effect on the health of Cape York people

Chief Executive Officer of Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Cleveland Fagan responded to Tuesday’s budget delivered by Treasurer Joe Hockey by saying,

“We see this as a very short sighted budget that will severely affect the health and wellbeing and long term health outcomes for all Australians, let alone those in remote aboriginal communities like Cape York.

“Evidence shows the key to long term health gains is early access, early intervention and prevention, treatment and management of disease and this is delivered through the community controlled sector’s primary health care model.

“For the last 8 years, Apunipima has been working with Cape York communities to close the gap in mortality and put their health as a priority. Overtime we have seen a steady increase in access to primary care services across the board but particularly in relation to increased access to ante natal and early life care, with immunisation rates in the Cape averaging over 90% for example.

“The introduction of co-payments will mean many with the greatest need will simply not access the health services they need for fear of being unable to pay.

“With rates of chronic illness like diabetes at epidemic proportions in the Cape, this will lead to higher rates of hospital admissions, emergency evacuations, co morbidities and preventable deaths. This is costly not only to the hospital system but to communities who are losing increased numbers of loved ones due to preventable deaths.

“We also know that in remote areas like Cape York, job opportunities and employment for young people is rare and this has a serious impact on social and emotional wellbeing, particularly among young men.

“By increasing costs for learning opportunities and preventing access to welfare for six months at a time young people in Cape York will have less opportunity than then have now with access to jobs and training in Cape York extremely limited as it is.

“This has the potential to see an increase in suicide rates that are already at higher than national average levels.

“Whilst welcoming investment into medical research that will have long term benefits in terms of developing cures for disease, evidence shows that prevention of chronic illness like diabetes, COPD and heart disease is critical now to be able to reduce the health burden.

“The state government has been systematically reducing prevention and promotion programs and in Cape York, Apunipima is the only service to continue this work.

“We are also greatly concerned by the omission of any reference to ‘Close the Gap’ within the budget and that has been a key government commitment for many years. It appears that indigenous health has been absorbed into the mainstream and there is a concern that this omission, along with the introduction of co-payments and a redirection of funding into medical research of cure rather than prevention will widen, rather than close the gap. We question whether the Abbott Government still supports Close the Gap.

“The Treasurer has delivered a severe budget that targets those most in need and has been clear that we need to reduce the health spend as a nation.

“Here at Apunipima, we believe we have the solution, a blueprint to Close the Gap in mortality reduce morbidity and the burden of chronic disease, increasing health gains and health outcomes for the people of Cape York.

“We know that through the primary health care stream we can do this more efficiently than the current service.

“With our emphasis on community control, self-determination and delivering services that address whole of family and community health we can increase early access, promote healthy choices, prevent chronic disease and work with communities to manage the existing burden of disease preventing avoidable hospital admissions and preventable deaths all within the existing budget and meet the COAG targets for Cape York.

Note to Editors

Apunipima is pronounced ‘A – poo – na – pee – ma’

For further information please contact:

Emma Pickering 07 4037 7244 / 0457 989 407

Juliana Doupe 07 4037 7256 / 0439 269 288

Apunipima Cape York Health Council     


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