Call for changes to funding priorities in Aboriginal health

The Aboriginal Health Council of WA has called on the major political parties to commit to changing spending priorities in Aboriginal health.

The Council wants whichever party wins the upcoming election to redirect health spending to prevention, promotion, early intervention and community-based services, and to commit to more consultation with Aboriginal people on health issues.

“Investing in community-based services is proven to deliver healthier communities and substantial long-term cost savings,” said AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox.

“Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHs) understand the communities they operate in, and are able to offer culturally sensitive care, which is shown to deliver better outcomes for Aboriginal people.

“We hope that the new government will commit to building the capacity of ACCHSs to deliver therapeutic healing, intensive family support and child protection services.”

Ms Nelson-Cox said AHCWA also wanted the government to fund a patient coordination program within the Aboriginal health sector to manage, coordinate and provide support to patients required to travel to Perth for medical reasons.

“Aboriginal people continue to encounter poor experiences when required to travel to Perth, as no individual service is responsible for the journey, leaving patients vulnerable – particularly those who speak little English and are unfamiliar with the city,” she said.

“Coordination is vital in working towards a solution, to not only ensure communication and collaboration between key stakeholders, but also to ensure successful outcomes and continuity of quality of care for patients.”

Ms Nelson-Cox said AHCWA also wanted the government to implement the results of the Holman Review, which evaluated Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in 2014.

The Review found that of the Aboriginal health projects it evaluated, 91.3% delivered ‘good’, ‘excellent’ or ‘outstanding’ value for money.

“The Holman report found that ACCHSs are the best placed to deliver culturally appropriate health services to Aboriginal people,” she said.

“We want the government to increase funding for the programs that the review found demonstrated excellence and achieved results.”

AHCWA is part of the ‘What if it was me?’ state election campaign, which brings together organisations from across the state who are campaigning on a range of issues in the social services sector.

WA Council of Social Service CEO Louise Giollito said redirecting health funds to community-led services would deliver healthier communities.

“If you, or somebody you cared about, were affected by chronic health issues, wouldn’t you appreciate accessible, high-quality services that support and promote your health and wellbeing?” she asked.

“Increasing support to community-based and community-led services will reduce long-term costs and greatly benefit individuals, families and communities.”

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