15 May 2009
- A further net additional over $200m over 4 years has been committed for Indigenous health. This is additional to the funding previously agreed by COAG ($800m from the Commonwealth and almost as much again from the States);
- The two largest elements of the program are $130m for remote primary health and nearly $60m for eye and ear health;
- Indigenous health remains a national disgrace, hence any extra funding is welcome;
- Within the workforce measures, provision has been made for a medical school in the NT with a strong focus on increasing the number of indigenous doctors;
- Whether or not the funding is effective in helping close the gap in health outcomes depends importantly on progress in resolving the socio-economic determinants which have had such a deleterious impact over many years, including lack of access to education, sub-standard health infrastructure (including inadequate access to safe water and sanitation), sub-standard, over-crowded housing and so forth. A National Partnership Program with the States addressing the latter was announced by COAG last year;
- Policy is moving slowly in the right direction. At this pace, it may take many years to narrow the gap and lifetimes to close it altogether.