Media Releases

Anti-smoking program in limbo as government stalls on funding

The Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) says its anti-smoking program for Aboriginal people will have to be cancelled if the Federal Government does not renew its funding. The program currently receives $1.3 million annually in government funding, but this is due to run out on 31 March 2015. AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox said the effects of cancelling the program could be severe. “Aboriginal people in WA are twice as likely to smoke as non-Aboriginal people and 20% of Aboriginal people die from illnesses caused by smoking,” she said. “Last year, this program was delivered to more than 2,500 people in Perth to help them to fight smoking, adopt healthy lifestyles and create smoke-f

PM wrong about Aboriginal communities

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s support for the withdrawal of government services from Western Australia’s Aboriginal communities is hugely disappointing, according to the Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA). AHCWA is the peak body representing 21 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across Western Australia at a state and national level. The Prime Minister was reported today as having labelled life in Aboriginal communities a “lifestyle choice”, saying it was not the responsibility of taxpayers to fund these communities. AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox said the comments revealed the Prime Minister didn’t appreciate the importance of the communities to the continuing cultur

Forum resolves to reject new reporting conditions

​ A forum of more than 200 people in Perth has passed a resolution to reject the Federal Government’s new reporting conditions for Aboriginal health organisations. The new Terms and Conditions for government grants force Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) around the country to submit to a set of onerous and unfair conditions. The Aboriginal Health Council of WA said the Terms and Conditions enabled the Health Department to micro-manage Aboriginal Health Services around the country from an office in Canberra. “These Terms and Conditions for grants are completely unfair and unworkable,” said AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox. “We do not know of any other sector which will have to sign contr

AHCWA seeks assurances over budget confusion

WA’s peak Aboriginal health organisation is seeking an urgent assurance from the Health Minister that core funding for Aboriginal primary health services will be quarantined from budget cuts. This year’s state budget has cut funding for a range of Aboriginal health programs in half, from $30 million a year to an average of $16 million a year over the next three years. The programs, known as the Footprints to Better Health Strategy, aimed to increase access to quality health care, improve services and create jobs for Aboriginal people in the health sector. In State Parliament yesterday, the Health Minister said the budget figures were not final, and that he would seek additional funding for t

AHCWA seeks urgent meeting over budget confusion

WA’s peak Aboriginal health organisation is seeking urgent meetings with State Government agencies to explain why funding for Aboriginal health services appears to have been slashed in the state budget. The Aboriginal Health Council of WA’s analysis of the budget papers has revealed that funding for Aboriginal-run medical services seems to have been halved, from $30 million a year to an average of $16 million a year over 3 years. “We need the State Government to clarify this situation immediately,” said AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox. “The Aboriginal health sector is already wrestling with changes in funding imposed by the Federal Government, and having their funding slashed by the St

Govt to review community closures

The Barnett Government has moved to reset the rancorous debate surrounding the future of WA’s remote Aboriginal communities by abandoning projections that 150 will close and promising to consult widely under a major new reform. Colin Barnett admitted he had enflamed tensions with his rhetoric to date but insisted poor health, employment, domestic violence and child protection outcomes in many of WA’s 274 communities meant a “significant ” number would close. But claims of a new level of consultation hit an immediate roadblock, with the government’s own chief indigenous adviser claiming he had been sidelined from the process in a continuation of the “top-down” approach to Aboriginal affairs.

Remote area water fails quality tests

The State Government has failed thousands of Aboriginal people by not delivering safe water to dozens of remote communities, WA's peak Aboriginal health body says. An Auditor-General's report into power, water and wastewater services to 84 remote WA communities found drinking water at 68 failed to meet Australian standards. At least one community failed a drinking water quality test every month in the two years to June 2014 because it had E. Coli bacteria or Naegleria microbes, which can both cause fatal illnesses. Two communities had levels of nitrates deemed dangerous for adults and four exceeded safe levels of uranium in their water. Auditor-General Colin Murphy, who visited 27 remote com

Child protection slur a poor start to State Government consultation on Aboriginal communities

The naming of the Child Protection Minister to oversee the withdrawal of services from many Aboriginal communities is a poor start to State Government consultation with Aboriginal people. Premier Colin Barnett today revealed Child Protection Minister Helen Morton and Regional Development Minister Terry Redman would lead the process, reporting to the Aboriginal Affairs Cabinet Sub-Committee. Aboriginal Health Council of WA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox said the linking of service withdrawal to the welfare of children was a slur on all Aboriginal people. “The original justification Colin Barnett used for withdrawing services from Aboriginal communities was the cost of providing these service

Auditor General: State Government failing Aboriginal communities on water quality

The Auditor General has found that the State Government has failed in its responsibility to deliver safe drinking water to remote Aboriginal communities over the last two years. In a report tabled in State Parliament today, the Auditor General identified that drinking water in more than 90 communities often did not meet Australian standards. Testing over two years to June 2014 detected either E.coli or Naegleria microbes in at least one community, every month. In the same period, four communities exceeded safe levels of uranium in their water and fourteen communities recorded nitrates above the safe level for bottle-fed babies under three months old. The State Government has responsibility

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