14 May 2014
Federal Budget supports Indigenous Community Controlled
Health Services …. for now.
Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) has cautiously welcomed the continued funding for the 150 Aboriginal Community Controlled health services both in Queensland and nationwide.
Selwyn Button, CEO, QAIHC, said that the 2014-15 Federal Budget shows that the Government is listening, however the Budget outcome could pose a risk to Indigenous health for the long term.
“We applaud the creation of the new Health Research Future Fund, this has the potential to explore health innovation for our most vulnerable groups,” Mr Button said.
“The implementation of the yet to be released report by Professor John Hovarth on Medicare Locals, and the creation of a new Primary Health Network through amalgamating the Medicare Locals will create opportunities for Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Services.
“However, whilst this Budget means that we can continue to provide high quality health care to our mob, the funding is only for the next twelve months.
“As the peak organisation representing the Indigenous community controlled health sector in Queensland, it is important that our good work continues for the long term,” Mr Button stated.
“It is on record that our health organisations here in Queensland are leading the way in providing healthy outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“It’s time to think long term and continue our proven success with community controlled Indigenous health, so to plan just twelve months in advance, which is what this Budget allows, could be seen as short sighted.
“We must also have a guarantee from the Federal Government that the $80-90 million dollar cuts across Indigenous health does not impact on the vital and successful work we are doing with our community controlled health organisations,” Mr Button said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are often low income earners, yet suffer from the highest level of chronic diseases.
“We can see that the introduction of a $7 co-payment for doctor visits has the potential to create a whole new set of administrative and access barriers for our people, and this will need to be addressed.
“It is a concern that $165 million has been cut from the Indigenous Health budget, however it is clear that consolidation of services can deliver more efficient health services, as long as these services are founded on evidence-based policy development and implementation.” Mr Button stated.
As the recently released Federal Government report, National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care: First national results June 2012 to June 2013 advised, there are significant health improvementsacross a number of areas of Indigenous primary health care, with Queensland leading the way.
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