About the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan sets the overarching policy for Indigenous health. We use it to guide the development of policies, programs and initiatives to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing outcomes.
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023 is an evidence-based policy framework designed to guide policies and programs to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health over the decade from 2013 to 2023.
The vision of the health plan is:
- that the Australian health system is free of racism and inequality
- for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have access to health services that are effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable.
Together with strategies to address social inequalities and determinants of health, this provides the necessary platform to reach health equality by 2031.
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan is an evidence-based policy framework. It guides policies and programmes that improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
Health plan refresh
We are in the process of developing a refreshed 10-year health plan in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts. While the current health plan is not due to expire until 2023, doing the refresh now allows us to align it with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and other whole-of-population health strategies under development.
The refreshed health plan will focus on prevention. It will seek to align policies and priorities at the national level to better acknowledge the role of the cultural and social determinants of health in health outcomes. The health plan will support:
- the ongoing leadership of the community-controlled sector
- better accountability to improve the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout the whole health system.
We expect to finalise the refreshed health plan in mid-2021.
My Life, My Lead
In 2017, the Implementation Plan Advisory Group (IPAG) led an extensive consultation process called My Life, My Lead. The group listened to people share their stories and experiences, and this is informing the refresh of the health plan. The key themes that emerged were that to make a difference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives, governments need to:
- recognise that culture and family are central for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- partner with communities to:
- build capacity
- get people used to using health services
- support longer-term, coordinated, place-based approaches
- recognise and address the effects of underlying trauma
- improve access to health, education, employment and social services by:
- addressing systemic racism
- improving cultural competency in service staff.
Our Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023 outlines what stakeholders need to do to put the health plan into action. Stakeholders include:
- Australian Government departments
- the Aboriginal community controlled health sector (ACCHS)
- national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health bodies
- other health-related government agencies.
The implementation plan’s vision is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to enjoy long and healthy lives, with culture at the centre of their wellbeing.
The implementation plan guides investment and funding decisions for programs and initiatives that improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This includes:
- funding through mainstream programs:
- the Medicare Benefits Schedule
- the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
- aged care
- health workforce
- public hospital funding
- Indigenous-specific funding through the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP).
The Australian Government has committed $4.1 billion for Indigenous-specific health initiatives through the IAHP over 4 years to 2022–23. This includes an annual increase of around 4%. The Aboriginal community controlled sector receives around two-thirds of the total IAHP funding.
We reported on the progress made towards implementation plan goals in our 2019 report card.
Some key achievements were that:
- all 3 goals in the maternal health and parenting domain are on track to be achieved by 2023
- the 88% immunisation target for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 1 year olds is on track to be met by 2023
- as at 31 December 2018, 97% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5 years were fully immunised, compared with 95% of other children
- all goals relating to smoking are on track to be achieved by 2023, which should reduce the burden of disease over time.
Goal tracking tool
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has developed an interactive tracking tool for the implementation plan goals. The tool presents data for each of the 20 goals and assesses progress against the goals at a national level.
The AIHW also produced a technical companion document that:
- explains how the implementation plan goals were selected
- gives details of data sources and baseline measures.
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan contact
Contact us with questions, comments or feedback on the refreshed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan.