Minister Nash has welcomed a new partnership between the peak body of Aboriginal health services, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, and the Royal Australian Air Force.
The RAAF and NACCHO have signed an MOU which will form the basis for agreed projects. It is likely the RAAF will fly medical specialists into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and cover all costs, to enhance primary health care outcomes in these communities.
“I applaud this joint effort between the RAAF and NACCHO, which will help improve health outcomes in indigenous people,” Minister Nash says.
“Having medical specialists flown into remote communities by the air force is an innovative way to improve health outcomes for indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as well as providing new experiences for the medical specialists themselves.
“The RAAF will deploy into unique environments to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on projects which are chosen through this partnership, rather than having Canberra bureaucrats decide what’s best for local communities.
“One initial area of focus is increasing access to dentists, particularly in remote communities.
“This is an impressive example of innovation and cooperation to improve the health of Indigenous Australians,” Minister Nash said.
The Minister also welcomed the Healthy Futures Aboriginal Community Controlled Report Card, compiled by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The report card, commissioned by NACCHO, analyses the activities of 112 Aboriginal community controlled health services in providing quality primary health care to Indigenous clients. It assessed staffing, clients, episodes of care, and data on national key performance indicators for chronic disease prevention and management, and maternal and child health.
The report card found improvements in several areas.
“The number of babies whose birthweight was recorded increased to more than 50% in December 2013; the number of clients with type 2 diabetes who had a Medicare-recognised Team Care Arrangement also increased; there were slightly improved results for type 2 diabetes patients; and a slight drop in the rate of overweight and obesity in over 15 year olds,” the Minister says.
Health Sussan Ley announced Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will receive free seasonal influenza vaccines this winter.
Ms Ley says as part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to closing the gap, removing the cost of the vaccination would improve access for Indigenous children aged between six months and five years.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are five times more likely to die from the flu than non-Indigenous children,” she says.
“Free access to the flu vaccine will mean this essential preventative health measure is now within the reach of the most at-risk Indigenous children.”
On average, approximately five Indigenous children aged under five die from the flu or pneumonia every year