Early Successes in Efforts to ‘Close the Gap’
A new report on the Australian Government’s multi-million dollar commitment to tackling chronic disease in Indigenous communities shows positive progress is being made.
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9 Dec 2010
Minister for Indigenous Health Warren Snowdon said a new report on the Australian Government’s multi-million dollar commitment to tackling chronic disease in Indigenous communities shows positive progress is being made.
The Indigenous Chronic Disease Package Annual Progress Report 2009-10 is the first government report detailing the achievements and progress of the historic commitment to help close the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
The Australian Government’s Indigenous Chronic Disease Package committed $805.5 million over four years to target chronic disease such as diabetes and cancer-which are responsible for a large amount of the disease burden affecting Indigenous people.
This package is part of the $1.6 billion National Partnership Agreement which was agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments in November 2008.
The annual report shows that since July 2009 the following progress has been made:
- 294 new positions added to the Indigenous Health Workforce across the nation, including :
- 95 Indigenous Health Project Officers
- 83 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Workers
- A Tacking Smoking and Healthy Lifestyle workforce including 41 Healthy Lifestyle Workers, 21 Tobacco Action Coordinators and 20 Tobacco Action Workers
- 20 additional Practice manager and 14 other health professional positions
- 29,799 Indigenous adult health checks completed, an increase of 26 per cent on 2008-09
- 138,055 Indigenous clients now using chronic disease management plans, a 35 per cent increase on 2008-09
- Employment of the first National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Dr Tom Calma, to lead and mentor the new Tackling Smoking workforce
- Expansion of specialised care into rural and remote areas, with more team visits by specialists, general practitioners an allied health professionals.
“The Indigenous Chronic Disease Package Annual Progress Report 2009-10 is testament to the progress being made by the Australian Government to Closing The Gap in Indigenous Health outcomes.
“We know that as a group, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the nation and much of the excess burden of disease experienced by Indigenous people can be prevented and managed with better access to health services, education, and support for lifestyle.
“That’s what this Indigenous Chronic Disease Package aims to achieve, as it helps build a primary health care system that meets the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We are taking positive steps towards this goal and this report illustrates that.
“The Indigenous Chronic Disease Package Annual Progress Report 2009-10 shows the Australian Government has funded an extra 294 positions around the nation for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health workforce. We know a strong and culturally competent workforce is a key component of ensuring Indigenous people get access to health services, so this is a very important milestone.
‘The report also shows that more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are accessing health services with 29,799 Indigenous adult health checks completed, an increase of 26 per cent on 2008-09 and a 35 per cent increase of the number of Indigenous clients using chronic disease management plans to 138,055 Indigenous clients (up from 2008-09).”
“While we are making positive steps forward, the report also points out that there are still challenges ahead to ensure our health system is more responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the Australian Government is committed to achieve this,” Mr Snowdon said.
“I acknowledge and thank the many people, organisations and communities which have dedicated themselves to closing the gap and supported work undertaken through this package, this progress would not have been achieved without your assistance.”
“This year we will see the primary healthcare workforce expanded, and a new targeted national campaign launched to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s awareness of chronic disease and promote how they can access healthcare. Local community-run campaigns will also promote better health and wellbeing within communities.”
Mr Snowdon also launched a new GP Resource Kit which provides information to GPs and primary health care teams on how they can use various parts of the package to improve the care provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.
The GP Resource Kit which includes a booklet and 11 detailed cards providing information on initiatives under the Indigenous Chronic Disease Package (ICDP) including the Practice Incentive Program, Indigenous Health Incentive and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Co-payment Measure, as well as information aimed at helping to prevent, detect and manage chronic disease.
Copies of the Indigenous Chronic Disease Package Annual Progress Report 2009-10 and the GP Resource Kit are available through the Department of Health and Ageing website.
Media Contact: For more information contact the Minister’s Office on 02 6277 7820
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