$51 MILLION FOR RENEWED COMMITMENT TO CLOSING THE GAP

The Morrison Government is increasing its efforts towards Closing the Gap in health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

 

I am today announcing $51 million in funding under the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme for a range of targeted new initiatives to improve services and health and wellbeing.

 

An exciting component of this is provision of up to $25 million in grants to communities and organisations to implement their proposals to improve local health.

 

The Emerging Priorities grant round will be a competitive process and open for applications from mid-year, with funding available in 2019-20.

 

Outcomes from the round will support projects which address new or changing health care needs. Our Government is committed to explore new and better ways to meet the health needs of Indigenous people, in close collaboration with local communities.

 

The remainder of the funding focuses on increasing the number of Indigenous Australians working in health, improving capital infrastructure, birthing on country, and improving the health data base which is vital to ensure programs are working effectively.

 

Growing the Indigenous health workforce has multiple benefits. It encourages a culturally safe health sector and provides employment and positive role models for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

 

The Government will provide $4.6 million over three years to the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Academy. This funding will allow the academy to build on its work in Darwin and expand to several other sites across the nation. 

 

The COAG Health Council has committed to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to develop a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Medical Workforce Plan.

 

This will include practical actions to drive better health outcomes for First Nations people.

 

Our Government has approved funding for the development of the Plan. It will be a collaborative effort that draws on the expertise of many working tirelessly on Closing the Gap, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, state and territory governments and other key stakeholders.

 

Our Government continues to improve access to quality health services by investing in capital works for Indigenous-specific health facilities.

 

We will provide:

 

·         $7 million for infrastructure support to remote Indigenous health services.

·         $1.5 million to build three specialist storage units to support First Australians needing lifesaving kidney dialysis treatment, and

 

Funding of up to $2.8 million will also be provided to the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUHI) to support a second Birthing in Our Country Hub in North Brisbane.  This will allow IUHI to expand culturally-centred maternity services in a growing population corridor.

 

To improve our evidence base, we will commit $2 million to a series of significant projects to improve data on Indigenous health. These projects will be carried out by the premier data agencies, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

 

The data will enable better targeting and effectiveness of health programs. The projects will provide a better understanding of the physical and mental health issues experienced First Nations Australians, and how health services are being used. This information is essential to help in Closing the Gap.

 

Our Government will also provide one-off payments totalling $8 million to Aboriginal Community Control Health Services (ACCHS) operating in the most remote areas.

 

This payment will support remote ACCHS to continue to deliver culturally appropriate health care, including measures to increase the safety of ACCHS workers. The funding will go to 39 ACCHS located in very remote areas which currently receive funding to deliver comprehensive primary health care.

 

We are investing $4.1 billion in Indigenous health from 2019-20 to 2022-23, an increase of around 4 per cent a year, to achieve our health targets and drive actions under the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-23.