The Albanese Government’s health priorities and election commitments will drive timely improvements across a range of crucial areas highlighted in the latest report card on the health of Australians.
The good news in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) ‘Australia’s health 2022’ report is we are generally living longer, healthier lives.
However, the report highlights key health challenges facing Australia, including the prolonged impact of COVID, the health of First Nations peoples, mental health and chronic disease.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the standout health issue of the past two years.
It is a timely reminder that all eligible Australians get their third and fourth doses of COVID vaccinations.
It has never been harder or more expensive for Australians to see a doctor, with the report noting 1 in every 6 people felt they waited longer than acceptable for a GP appointment.
The Albanese Government is committed to investing in general practice and strengthening Medicare with almost $1 billion of investment to make it easier to see a doctor, as well as delivering 50 urgent care clinics.
The Government is acutely aware that the pandemic has seen an increase in psychological distress, with young Australians particularly hard hit, and a rise in the use of mental health services.
We will strengthen our mental health system across several fronts. We will provide more accessible online mental health services to regional Australians, develop a free mental health check tool, invest in mental health and wellbeing centres or initiatives at key locations, and expand access to suicide prevention services and training.
The report points to the mortality rate among First Nations peoples being twice that of other Australians. The Government’s reforms will help address care disparities for people with the lowest access and the poorest health outcomes, including First Nations peoples.
Initiatives include expanding the First Nations health and care workforce including supporting an additional 500 First Nations people to become health care workers, doubling funding to combat Rheumatic Heart Disease, establishing a dedicated Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence to improve premature birth outcomes, investing in dialysis treatment, aged care and cardiovascular health.
We will also align our primary health care reforms with a commitment to shift towards more effective and sustainable preventive health, embedding it in everyday primary health care.
Comments attributable to Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler:
“The Albanese Government has the policy agenda to tackle the health challenges and underlying social determinants as highlighted in the AIHW report.
“We are tackling inequities across our community that ultimately affect our health by addressing low wages, improving education, particularly early childhood education through our childcare reforms, and getting more women into the workforce.
“We will build a stronger, fairer and more sustainable Australia for all Australians.”
“In highlighting the pandemic as the standout health issue over the past two years, the AIHW reminds us still face very real challenges this winter.
“The clear message is – get your booster shot. Check if you’re eligible for your third or fourth shot and book an appointment today.”