17 April 2019

A Shorten Labor Government will prioritise the health and wellbeing of First Nations peoples by delivering a $115.1 million package that will put First Australians at the centre of decision-making – from primary care delivery to health research.

Every Australian, Indigenous or non-Indigenous, should have access to the health services they need, where and when they need them.
Improving the health status of First Australians is critical to our journey towards reconciliation. Labor believes innovative and culturally appropriate healthcare models are central to improving the health outcomes of First Australians and closing the gap.
Labor’s plan will improve access to culturally appropriate health care by:

  1. Investing $29.6 million in reducing youth suicide and poor mental health
    Labor will provide this urgent investment to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide in highly vulnerable communities.  Funding will be provided through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services – supporting teams of paediatricians, child psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners.  We will also task the National Indigenous Health Equality Council to work with the National Mental Health Commission to develop an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Plan.
  1. $33 million to address rheumatic heart disease
    Rheumatic heart disease is a preventable cause of heart failure, death and disability, but it is sadly still common in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  A Shorten Labor Government will invest $33 million across 25 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for on-the-ground action to prevent and eliminate rheumatic heart disease, including education and awareness campaigns, improved health hygiene programs and school-based health promotion.
  1. $13 million to Close the Gap on vision loss
    Vision loss alone accounts for around 11 per cent of the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.  Wholly preventable eye diseases and blindness should be unacceptable in a developed nation like Australia. Labor’s commitment will include $8.5 million in implementing regional eye health coordinators, improved case management and outreach services, and $4.5 million to establish a new place-based eye health centre to service the needs of North West of Western Australia.
  1. $20 million for sexual health promotion
    Labor will invest in sexual health promotion and make it a health priority in Northern Australia.  Labor will restore funding to the Northern Territory Aids and Hepatitis Council, which has suffered savage cuts under the Liberals, and put in place a workforce plan to make sure there are resources to deal with sexual health issues, including the syphilis outbreak across Northern Australia.
  1. $16.5 million to promote healthy choices
    Labor will invest $5.5 million per year to roll out a national Deadly Choices campaign to promote positive health and lifestyle choices. Deadly Choices is a proven health promotion campaign empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to make their own healthy life choices as the first and most important step to improving health outcomes.
  1. $3 million to target health awareness in at-risk communities
    First Nations people represent three per cent of the total population and yet are 30 per cent of the national prison population. Labor will provide $3 million in seed funding for Aboriginal Medical Services to develop programs to achieve better health and justice outcomes for vulnerable communities.

As part of this strategy, Labor will prioritise Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations by ensuring they have a primary role in delivering culturally appropriate and regionally specific primary healthcare services, including reviewing their funding agreement with the Commonwealth.
We will put First Nations peoples in control of their own health and wellbeing by reinstating the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality Council (NATSIHEC), which was abolished in 2014 by the Abbott Government.
And we will revive the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-23, reviewing the implementation plan within the first year of Shorten Labor Government and strengthening it with First Nations peoples and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.
Labor will continue to work with First Nations peak organisations on a revitalised Close the Gap framework, ensuring we have a comprehensive, national plan to close the gap on Indigenous health outcomes.
Further, Labor will work to increase the appointment of staff or community representatives on Primary Health Network boards.
Importantly, Labor’s plan will be co-designed with and led by First Nations peoples – driven by the Aboriginal health workforce, to ensure that First Australians experience the most fundamental right of all: the right to grow old.
Only Labor cares about a public health system for all Australians and is committed to addressing the injustice of poor health outcomes for First Nations peoples.
This election will be a choice between proper funding to improve the health outcomes of First Australians under Labor, or tax cuts for the top end of town under the Liberals. 
After six years of Liberal cuts and chaos, our united Labor team is ready.