AHCWA seeks urgent meeting over budget confusion

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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 State Government as well would hit them hard.

“We are very surprised at the lack of communication from the government. This apparent funding cut has come as a complete shock and we need the government to explain the situation urgently.”

Ms Nelson-Cox said the possible funding cut had come at a time when the Department of Health was sitting on a high-level report that called for funding to Aboriginal-run medical services to be increased.

“The Department of Health received the Holman Review in December last year and so far has done nothing with it, as far as we’re aware,” she said.

“We understand that this review calls for funding to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations to be increased due to their superior ability to deal with the seriousness and complexity of Aboriginal health-related issues, compared to mainstream services.

“WA’s Aboriginal Medical Services are best placed to deliver primary health care to Aboriginal West Australians, particularly in rural and remote WA.

“For the State Government to slash their funding, particularly when this review calls for funding to be increased, would make no sense and would result in poorer health outcomes for Aboriginal people.”

Ms Nelson-Cox said AHCWA had attempted to contact several government agencies to set up an urgent meeting to explain the budget situation, but had had no response so far.

“Our members are understandably very concerned to learn that funding to the sector may have been slashed,” said Ms Nelson-Cox.

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