Joint Press Release – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders call for scrapping of co-payments
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Leaders from across Australia met in Canberra today for crisis talks regarding the implications of the Commonwealth Budget.
“The Aboriginal community sector will not agree to turn our backs on the most disadvantaged and disempowered,” said Julie Tongs, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service.
“A coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations calls on the Australian Government to recognise that a co-payment is against the principles of health equity outlined in the Statement of Intent to Close the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes.
“The suggested co-payments run counter to the findings of the World Health Organisation’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health. Australia’s health policies and funding should reflect those findings.
“Introducing co-payments will not serve to close the gap in health outcomes; it will only widen the gap between our people and the rest of the community,’ said Ms Tongs.
We reject the introduction of co-payments because they will increase inequality.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people already experience considerable health disadvantage
- for every dollar spent on non-Indigenous Australians now, only 60 cents is spent on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- international evidence confirms the most efficient way to contain health care costs is a robust universal primary health care system
- the sustainability of Australia’s robust not for profit health sector, which currently supports the most vulnerable in our community, is threatened by this move.
Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and Aboriginal Medical Services:
- are the regular source of care for persons without social capital
- are an embodiment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination
- represent a sound investment in not only health outcomes, but economic participation, employment and education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; the health industry is the single largest employer of Indigenous Australians.
“We are calling for an immediate scrapping of the MBS and PBS co-payments scheme.
“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health sector will not agree to turn our backs on the needy, disadvantaged and desperate.
“We welcome the opportunity to have further constructive conversations with government. We call on our partners, colleagues and all concerned Australians to stand with us at this critical time,” concluded Ms Tongs.
The following agencies were represented at today’s meeting:
VACCHO, AMSANT, Lowitja Institute, NACCHO, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, NATSIHWA, AIDA, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, QAIHC and AHCSA. Also in attendance Public Health Association of Australia.