Josh Frydenberg’s budget has failed to fund Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations (AICCHO) to enable them to continue their work towards Closing the Gap.
The burden of disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland is unacceptable. 10% of our babies are born with low birthweight. Our children make up 49% of Queensland’s new and recurrent cases of acute rheumatic fever. Chronic diseases including diabetes continues to be on the rise. For our men aged 15-34 years, suicide rates are more than three times higher than non-Indigenous men.
Previous attempts by the Federal Government to achieve better health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the Closing the Gap agenda, have failed. Chronically under-funded government programs in AICCHOs contribute to this. This budget has funded a selection of specific projects for collaboration with community-controlled organisations at a strategic level, however the benefits will take years to trickle down to real action on the ground. Inadequate primary health care is a burden on the tertiary care system, contributing to excessive public expenditure.
“From health promotion and health literacy through to diagnosis, treatment, management and end of life care, investment in the health system is essential now if health equity is to be achieved.” Neil Willmett, CEO of Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) said.
“The AICCHO Sector is already achieving ground-breaking results in health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland. We are achieving more than ever before for less funding, but our Members are being expected to do even more because of the government’s continual failure to adequately resource the sector.”
QAIHC Chairperson, Gail Wason, explains “Community driven solutions are proven to be most effective. Our AICCHOs have been driving the solutions. Equitable to need, the sector receives 47% less Commonwealth funding than mainstream health services. This doesn’t equate to government supporting community led solutions. Government needs to prioritise greater investment in AICCHO’s, rather than just talking about Close the Gap.”
In Queensland there are 26 AICCHOs offering culturally appropriate comprehensive primary health care to over 180,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people make up 4.6% of Queenslanders, and that percentage is growing.
QAIHC is calling for political parties to respect and resource the Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Sector to achieve real results this election. You can follow the campaign via QAIHC’s social media platforms.
Media contact: Clare Butterfield, Manager, Communication and Marketing, 0450 095 822
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