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8 August 2018
Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM has congratulated State and Territory Health Ministers and Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt for escalating the health of First Nations people to a national priority.
“This unanimous commitment is a pivotal moment for Aborignal and Torres Strait Islander people and our nation as a whole,” said Minister Wyatt.
“It is a national decision but, more importantly, one that will support intensified local and family efforts to improve lives and extend opportunity for all.”
A Council of Australian Governments Health Council (CHC) meeting in Alice Springs, plus a special CHC Indigenous Health Roundtable agreed to prioritise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, describing the gatherings as a momentous opportunity.
Indigenous health will be on the standing agenda of CHC meetings - which are held up to four times a year - and the Indigenous Health Minister will attend all meetings from now on. An Indigenous Health Roundtable will be held at least once a year.
The Ministers welcomed the Indigenous leaders’ emphasis on the importance of mutual trust and respect, the need to increase cultural capability and eliminate racism in all health settings and services, and the importance of cultural safety in improving the health and wellbeing of First Nations people.
The Ministers acknowledged the breadth and depth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health knowledge, experience and leadership represented at the Roundtable, as well as the proven record of Aboriginal controlled health organisations in improving the health and wellbeing of First Peoples.
They also agreed to the immediate preparation of a national Indigenous Health and Medical Workforce Plan.
“This is about more Aboriginal doctors, nurses and health workers on country and in our towns and cities,” Minister Wyatt said.
“While it will be positive for First Nations jobs across Australia, it has particular potential for tackling chronic disease and improving the lives of people in remote communities.
“We can expect further announcements to bolster the local Aboriginal health workforce in coming months.”
Minister Wyatt also welcomed the CHC focus on priority conditions rheumatic heart disease, renal health, avoidable blindness, avoidable deafness, mental health, Human T-Lymohotropic Virus Type 1 and crusted scabies.
“The health of our First Nations people is everyone’s business,” said Minister Wyatt.
“I am confident this will be remembered as one of Australia’s most significant gatherings of Health Ministers.”
The communiques from both meetings are available at the COAG Health Council website.
Media contact: Nick Way, Media Adviser 0419 835 449
Authorised by Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Member for Hasluck.