Gillard Backflip on Indigenous Health Minister Praised
Tuesday, 14th September 2010 at 1:54 pm
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) says it's ‘delighted’ with Julia Gillard’s decision to retain Warren Snowdon as dedicated Indigenous Health Minister just days after the portfolio was scrapped.
Prime Minister Gillard reversed her decision to scrape the portfolio, and reinstated Warren Snowdon as Indigenous Health Minister to work in collaboration with the Health Minister Nicola Roxon.
ANTaR President Janet Hunt says in reversing her decision on a dedicated Indigenous Health Minister, the Prime Minister’s responsiveness to the concerns of the sector is to be commended.
Hunt says the move signals the Government’s respect for the role and expertise of the Indigenous health sector and a real willingness to listen.
She says Minister Snowdon has shown a deep commitment to achieving Indigenous health equality and has developed strong relationships with the Indigenous health sector.
Queensland’s peak Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander health body has welcomed the decision but expressed concern that the move may limit the sector’s ability to meet with the senior Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon.
CEO of the Queensland Aboriginal & Islander Health Council Selwyn Button says in the Westminster system the real power lies with the senior Minister and they would be extremely concerned if Snowdon’s reappointment meant their access to Nicola Roxon was curtailed.
Button says there is already a growing concern amongst the Aboriginal community-controlled health services, which QAIHC represents, that Aboriginal voices were being lost in the national debate around health care reform.
He says while having a dedicated minister for Indigenous health has its benefits, in itself it won’t be the catalyst for the reforms that are needed in the sector unless both Snowdon and Roxon are prepared to enter into dialogue with the Aboriginal community-controlled sector.
ANTaR is a Not for Profit national advocacy organisation dedicated to the rights – and overcoming the disadvantage – of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.