In partnership with state and territory governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, the Morrison Government has released a national policy framework to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the next 10 years.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt and Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, said the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–2031 would make a significant contribution.
“The Health Plan is the first national health document to address and embed the health targets and Priority Reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” Minister Hunt said.
“In particular, the Health Plan prioritises the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health sector and the imperative for mainstream health services to provide culturally safe and responsive care.
“The Health Plan represents a fundamental shift in the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and organisations.”
The Health Plan recognises that historic and systemic factors have resulted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having a burden of disease 2.3 times that of non-Indigenous Australians.
Minister Wyatt said the Health Plan will guide existing and future investment.
“This year we have already announced $254 million to improve infrastructure in community controlled health services, $45 million to improve healthy birthweight under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, and a further $781 million, predominantly for aged care and mental health - measures all strongly aligned with the priorities in the Health Plan,” Minister Wyatt said.
“Further opportunities, including through funding reprioritisation, will be identified as we begin the important task of implementing the Health Plan.”
CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia and Chair of the Health Plan Working Group, Donna Murray, said for sustainable change the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their voices was essential.
“It is important that we have worked in true partnership with government to develop this Health Plan, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know what is best for our own health and wellbeing - which we provided in My Life, My Lead consultation processes,” Ms Murray said.
“We have ensured that the Health Plan reinforces the importance of strengths-based and rights-based approaches that embed the cultural and social determinants of health in determining our own priorities and solutions.
“I welcome, too, that the Health Plan is informed by the fundamental role that connection to Country, family, kinship and community play in our health and wellbeing.”
The Health Plan will hold governments and the mainstream health system accountable for progress against its objectives, through an accountability framework and independent
mid-cycle and end-of-cycle progress reviews.
The Health Plan complements the National Preventive Health Strategy, launched this week, with significant focus on preventive health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.