Western Australia Minister for Health and Indigenous Affairs Kim Hames
$128.7 Million Reform Roll-Out To Improve Aboriginal Health
Victor P Taffa
The Western Australia State Government today launched the roll-out of its $128.7 Million reform program under COAG National Partnership agreements to improve Aboriginal health in Western Australia in the next four years.
Health and Indigenous Affairs Minister Kim Hames said the $128.7 Million represented the single biggest investment into Aboriginal health reform in the State’s history.
“This significant investment demonstrates that the Liberal-National Government is genuine about addressing the inequities in health outcomes between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal Australians.” Dr. Hames said.
“It signals a new way for WA Health of how we do business with Aboriginal communities.”
“For the first time, Aboriginal people have been involved in both the planning and development process to improve the delivery of Aboriginal health services across WA.”
“We will be funding more than 80 health programs and services to Aboriginal communities throughout the State.”
“This will lead to the creation of 180 dedicated positions for Aboriginal people across health services.” Dr. Hames said.
Across the State, a network of Aboriginal Health Liaison Officers will be employed to provide support for Aboriginal patients in their journey through the hospital and primary health care systems. These positions will be placed in a variety of locations such as hospitals, Aboriginal Medical Services and General Practice.
An additional investment of $17.1 Million from the Federal Government is being directed towards Aboriginal early childhood development programs.
Both State-wide and regional initiatives have been developed, including a significant investment into dedicated Aboriginal mental health services of more than $44 Million during the four years.
Of this, $22 Million will go to the new Mental Health Commission for the establishment of dedicated State-wide Aboriginal mental health services. The remaining $22 Million will be invested in regionally developed social and emotional well-being services for young Aboriginal people.
Other key initiatives include enhancing child health and maternal health services; targeting smoking through healthy lifestyle programs; diabetes and chronic disease management; and improving access to GP-type services, including those provided by Aboriginal Medical Services.
“We are determined to achieve improvements to close the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal West Australians and to halving the mortality gap for children under five years.” the Minister said.
“Since August 2009, Aboriginal people have taken part in Aboriginal health planning forums in the metropolitan area and regional WA to develop local Aboriginal health plans.”
“This grassroots approach has brought agencies providing the services and local communities together to develop plans to meet Aboriginal health needs and address service gaps across the State.”
“This approach is about getting the best possible targeted health improvements in close collaboration between GP’s, Aboriginal Health Services and the public health system.” Dr. Hames said.
The Aboriginal Health Partnership Group, which includes representatives from WA Health, the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA), WA GP Network, Department of Health and Ageing and Office of Aboriginal Health, has supported the funding allocations for WA’s COAG Aboriginal health reform initiatives in each region.
Chair of AHCWA, Vicki O’Donnell, said the additional State Government funding would help to improve life for many Aboriginal people.
“This is a major event in Aboriginal health and is an important step to ensuring Aboriginal people in WA reach the same levels of life expectancy and have the same access to health services as the rest of the Australian population.” Ms. O’Donnell said.
WA General Practice Network, chief executive officer, Debra Salway welcomed the opportunity to be part of the real consultative process between both Aboriginal communities and service providers across the State.
“We know Aboriginal West Australians use mainstream services, we know they need better access to culturally secure care – these announcements are a win-win for improving Aboriginal health outcomes.” Mrs. Salway said.
It’s anticipated the first round of service agreements will be finalised by the end of this month.
Funding has been allocated per region as shown in the table below:
|Region||Approx amount in Millions|
|Great Southern||$ 4.2|
|South Metro||$ 12.0|
|North Metro||$ 9.6|
|Metro Wide||$ 12.1|