New Health Plan to Help Close the Gap
The Australian Government has released the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan – an evidence-based policy framework to guide policies and programs to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health over the next decade.
Launching the plan today, the Minister for Indigenous Health Warren Snowdon said it was central to the Australian Government’s targeted approach to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can enjoy the same standard of health as other Australians.
“The health plan builds on the benefits already achieved through the Australian Government’s agenda to close the gap in life expectancy and child mortality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and the broader population,” he said.
“It continues the significant efforts made by the Australian Government since the establishment of the Closing the Gap Framework in 2008.”
The health plan adopts a strengths-based approach to ensure policies and programs improve health, social and emotional wellbeing and resilience, and promote positive health behaviours.
It emphasises the centrality of culture in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the rights of individuals to a safe, healthy and empowered life.
“The health plan follows extensive consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their representatives, and sets a pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policy for the next 10 years,” Mr Snowdon said.
A series of 17 nationwide consultations were held with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, communities and groups, and representatives from departments with complementary health and social determinants, to identify the factors most important to improving the health of Indigenous peoples.
The consultations were complemented by over 140 written submissions and a series of roundtables to gather expertise on a range of specific issues relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
The development of the health plan was also informed by advice from the Australian Government’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality Council and the Health Plan Stakeholder Advisory Group.
Over the next 10 years, projected funding for health programs specifically designed and targeted to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is estimated to be around $12 billion from 2013-14 to 2023-24.
This $12 billion is in addition to health services provided and funded for the whole population through the Commonwealth’s commitment to hospital funding, Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and other multi-billion dollar investments being made by the Commonwealth to improve the social determinants of health, including for education, employment and housing.
Mr Snowdon also used the launch of the health plan to reiterate his call to state and territory governments to publicly commit their contributions to the new National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes.
Implementation of the health plan will commence with the development of Commonwealth and jurisdictional implementation plans to articulate the activities and arrangements needed to help drive priorities and broader Closing the Gap targets.
A copy of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, along with details of the development process, can be found at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (NATSIHP) website.