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AHHA weighs in on Closing the Gap

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has responded to the 10-year-review of the Closing the Gap Strategy, and says all governments need to present a united front to improve Indigenous health.

Chief executive Alison Verhoeven said that just last year six of the seven campaign targets were not on track, and AHHA members wanted to see governments reaffirm their commitment to closing the gap.

“All governments – federal, state and territory – must urgently work together and in meaningful partnership with Australia’s First Peoples if we’re serious about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians living just as long and as healthily as non-Indigenous Australians,” she said.

“Let’s not see governments play the blame game when it comes to the health of our First Peoples; let’s see the federal government properly fund primary healthcare services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“Let’s see all Australian governments affirm or reaffirm their commitments made through the Close the Gap Statement of Intent; let’s see premiers, chief ministers, and health and Indigenous affairs ministers in every jurisdiction provide regular and public accountability on their efforts to address the inequality gaps in their state or territory.”

Verhoeven said a funding shortfall was one of the main reasons disease rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians remained more than two times higher than the rest of the population, but there was support for reforms.

“The current refresh process of the Closing the Gap Strategy is an opportunity for wide-sweeping reform, which is desperately needed,” she said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must be partners in leading the refresh of the Closing the Gap Strategy based upon the principles of self-determination and reconciliation – there is strong evidence that self-determination and meaningful reconciliation are the best way to improve outcomes over the long term.

“We know that the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023 must be funded, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce must be supported and grown, and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector must be supported.

“Let’s not be afraid to put Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands.”

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