Indigenous Health Budget Slashed
14 May 2014 at 12:29 pm
Indigenous Not for Profit Reconciliation Australia has asked what programs will need go to make the $165 million savings as part of the Federal Budget’s cuts to Indigenous health.
And the organisation said the $543 million in savings arising from the consolidation of programs announced by the Government must be reinvested in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable First Australians as highlighted in the recent Commission of Audit report.
“While we agree that consolidation can deliver greater efficiency and effectiveness any consolidation must be informed by evidence and a proper evaluation of existing programs,” Reconciliation Australia co-chairs Dr Tom Calma and Melinda Cilento said.
“We join many in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in acknowledging that some programs are not delivering the results we all strive for and believe that vigorous and transparent program logics and evaluation frameworks are essential to break this cycle.
“The time for evidence-based decision making and policy development is long overdue.
“Programs which are designed and controlled by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have proved to be effective and we repeat the advice given to successive Australian Governments that the voices of First Peoples must be central in decision making and they must be empowered to develop their own solutions, in collaboration with the government.”
The co-chairs said they were deeply concerned at the $165 million cut from the Indigenous health budget and wonder what programs will need to be cut to make these savings.
“What current services to Australia’s most disadvantaged people will end? How will the confidence, goodwill and participation in health systems that has been developing over the past few years be maintained and encouraged to flourish when program funding is cut?” they said.
“Cutting funds to long standing Indigenous peak bodies in a range of sectors, including the Torres Strait Regional Authority, will only diminish the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples further disempowering communities.”
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) said it was vital that the Federal Government guaranteed the $80-90 million cut across Aboriginal Health does not impact on-ground services and Aboriginal health outcomes.
“Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations have a proven track record in providing a range of quality employment and education opportunities for Aboriginal people and boosting local economies,” Justin Mohamed, Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, said.
“Given cuts to Aboriginal health and employment budgets they are even more valuable – providing employment and training opportunities to our people which in turn boost local economies and tackle some of the huge barriers to Aboriginal people achieving economic independence and quality of life.
“Healthy communities keep our kids in school, keep our adults in the workforce and allow great opportunities for Aboriginal contributions to the economy and broader community.”
However NACCHO welcomed the continued funding for the 150 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services that was included in the Budget.
Mohamed said the Aboriginal population was growing, and demand for services is increasing at more than 6 per cent, per year.
“The 2014 Budget funding means we can continue to provide high quality, culturally appropriate health care to our people for another year,” Mohamed said.
“However, we also need long-term planning and budget resources to build on recent health gains and create lasting improvements to the health of Aboriginal people.
“There is great risk that the introduction of a $7 co-payment for doctor’s visits will create new barriers to healthcare for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, including additional red tape for Community Controlled Health Organisations.
“Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are low income earners and suffer the highest level of chronic disease, requiring regular GP visits.
“State and territories have also been given the green light to charge for hospital emergency visits, creating a dangerous situation where people may not present for serious medical treatment for fear of the cost.
“We will get the most benefit from policy that encourages Aboriginal people to seek medical attention and seek it early, not make it even harder for them to get the care they need.”
Treasurer’s Budget speech is HERE
The details of the Budget’s Social Services package can be found HERE
The Budget Papers can be found HERE