Tag Archives: budget

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders call for scrapping of co-payments

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.

Budget 2008 – binge drinking is it?

I’m a bit of a budget junkie – particularly when a new government is in power. So tonight I watched the whole shebang closely and was struck by one thing in particular: the prevention versus treatment status quo is certainly not under threat.

Just over 3 billion over five years for prevention versus the 10 billion health infrastructure fund (read: hospitals and MRI machines). That 10 billion is in addition to the current health budget which is totally dominated by non-prevention activities. The Rudd government is obsessed by binge drinking and alcopops but there’s not a lot else on offer. Or am I being too cynical?

The ANCD have released the breakdown of specific initiatives:

The 2008–09 Federal Budget revealed the following funding:

National Binge Drinking Strategy

$53.5 million over 4 years to reduce binge drinking and its associated harms around the nation – from existing funding.

‘Alcopops’ Legislative Change

An increase in the excise and excise‑equivalent customs duty rate applying to ‘other excisable beverages not exceeding 10 per cent by volume of alcohol’ from $39.36 per litre of alcohol content to the full strength spirits rate of $66.67 per litre of alcohol content on and from 27 April 2008.

Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health

$49.3 million over 4 years through COAG to improve access to drug and alcohol services – this doubles the previous 2006 COAG commitment – new funding

$14.5 million over 4 years in the Indigenous Tobacco Control Initiative to help tackle high rates of smoking in Indigenous communities – from existing funding

$9.8 million for 22 remote communities to receive support and assistance from a local Aboriginal family and community worker and/or a safe house and a mobile child-protection team based in Darwin will continue to support families in remote communities

$9.5 million for alcohol diversionary activities for young people between 12 and 18 years offering a range of safe and healthy alternatives to drinking and other substance abuse

Additional Funding for the National Tobacco Strategy

$15.0 million over 4 years to help reduce the health problems caused by smoking and to reduce smoking rates among young people – new funding

Illicit Drug Use National Education Strategy – targeting people using methamphetamines

A national education and marketing strategy to encourage ‘ice’ users to quit – from existing funding

Links Between Drug Use & Mental Illness Community Campaign

$9.7 million in savings expected

National Psychostimulants Initiative

$4.0 million in savings expected

RecLink Program

$2.3 million over 4 years to improve the lives and opportunities for Australians suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, social discrimination and homelessness – new funding.

Model Code of Conduct for National Sporting Organisations

$20.1 million over 4 years to implement a model framework and code of conduct for national sporting organisations to address the issue of illicit drug use by athletes – from existing funding.

National Advisory Council on Mental Health

To be established from existing funding

Mental Health Nurses Training Subsidy

$35.0 million over 4 years to increase the number and value of postgraduate mental health nurse and psychology scholarships – new funding.

Night  Patrols

A total of $17.7 million has been allocated for community night patrols over the 2008-2009 financial year. Night patrols to make remote Indigenous communities safer and more secure for families and children will continue as part of the Australian Government’s commitment to implementing the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER). The additional funding will enable the continued operation of night patrol services in the 73 communities covered by the NTER.

Australian Federal Police

The AFP will receive funding of $47.0 million to deploy additional sworn members to assist in capacity building and narcotic roles in Afghanistan.

The deployment of 66 additional Australian Federal Police as part of the NTER.

Australian Crime Commission

The Australian Crime Commission will receive a further $4.2 million to continue the work of the National Indigenous Violence and Child Abuse Intelligence Task Force


Australia’s port security and border protection capabilities will be strengthened by $16.0 million over the next four years to increase its container examination capacity at four key regional seaports. Funding will be provided to assist in the identification and interception of illegal and potentially dangerous goods.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts – if you had a 21 billion surplus, what would you spend it on?