More cuts to Aboriginal health spending

More cuts to Aboriginal health spending

Days after Aboriginal leaders found the fresh Australian national budget leaving indigenous affairs “in a trauma zone” comes news that the state government of Western Australia is slashing Aboriginal health funding by half.


The peak body representing 21 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in Western Australia (AHCWA) has described being hit by a double whammy after finding out about a 50 per cent state budget cut to Indigenous programs.


Budget papers show that funding for Aboriginal-run medical services has halved from more than $30 million to less than $16 million.


The council's chair Michelle Nelson-Cox said the cut came as a shock. "We weren't advised that we were potentially at risk of losing some of our core funding."


"We've been penalised through the Commonwealth and now we're penalised through the State Government," she said.


Cuts although a funding review ordered by the government listed 80% of programs as very good or good?


Health Minister Kim Hames’ explanation: “The funding that I have received through the Treasury process only funded those that were listed as very good, which is in effect a halving of the funding available for those programmes."


Hames said the Health Department believed a lot of programs listed as good still provided a quality service, and funding would be found somewhere.


"[The] Department of Health is going through all of our programs, through all of our budgets in all of our regions to find additional funding."


AHCWA states on its website that they “hope that this is not an exercise in robbing Peter to pay Paul.”


“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.


“Michelle Nelson-Cox said the Minister must ensure the top-up funding did not come from core funding provided to Aboriginal Medical Services to provide primary health care.


“While we welcome news that this strategy is likely to be funded, what we are very concerned about is where in the health budget this money is going to come from,” she said.


Ms Nelson-Cox said AHCWA was particularly concerned that the Department might attempt to take funding out of primary health care.


“We will fight any move to shift funding out of core services to top up the Footprints to Better Health strategy,” she said.


“The primary health care funding is needed to employ doctors and nurses in 20 Aboriginal Medical Services around the state.


“That funding is absolutely vital for the health of Aboriginal people and we would oppose any move to reallocate even one dollar of it.”


Western Australia is widely seen as racist Australia’s most racist state.



The “Bulletin” of the World Health Organization noted in 2008 that “the vast disparities between the health of Australia’s indigenous Aboriginals and the rest of the population are disquieting in such an affluent country”.




WGAR Background: Aboriginal Peoples and the impact of the Federal Budget




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