Healthcare for mothers and babies will get a $27 million boost in a move announced by Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt on Tuesday and welcomed by Aboriginal community health organisations.
Mr Wyatt said the new funding would be invested over the next 18 months into primary health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children in four states.
Of 18 centres that will share in the funding, 10 are Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations.
Services to benefit will include primary health care, antenatal and postnatal care, baby care and breastfeeding, nutrition and parenting help.
Those monitoring developmental milestones, immunisation and infections and providing health checks and referrals for children before they start school will also get more funding.
Mr Wyatt nominated mothers and babies as a priority soon after taking on the Indigenous Health portfolio in January.
His latest announcement follows the release of this year’s Closing the Gap report, released last week, which showed the nation was not on track to achieving most of its Indigenous health goals, including halving the gap in Indigenous child mortality rates by next year.
“These targeted grants will help improve the health and life expectancy, as well as early childhood health and development, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through better access to effective and high quality health services,” Mr Wyatt said on Tuesday.
“This is in addition to our 2014-15 budget announcement of $54 million over three years for an additional 51 ‘New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services’ sites to improve child and maternal health.
“Together, this represents a significant investment in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.”
Mr Wyatt said the beneficiary health providers would be delivering services in culturally appropriate ways.
The peak body for Aboriginal controlled-community health organisations, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health, welcomed the funding boost.
Chairman Matthew Cooke said funding indigenous-led solutions was critical to closing the Indigenous health gap.
“Maternal and early childhood health programs that are culturally appropriate, coordinated and delivered by Aboriginal health professionals working on the ground in local communities are essential to giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children the best possible start in life,” Mr Cooke said.
“This funding is an encouraging and welcome sign that the government has listened to Aboriginal people over the last week and recognises that we must be equal partners in addressing issues that affect our communities.”
Medical centres that will provide the new services in NSW are: Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation, Armajun Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, HealthWISE New England North West, Tamworth Nundle Community Health Service, Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service and Grand Pacific Health.
Queensland: Gidgee Healing, Community Health Mossman, Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Corporation for Health Service and Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre.
Tasmania: Rural Health Tasmania, South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation and Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.
Western Australia: Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation, Nidjalla Waangan Mia Health Centre, Arche Health Ltd, Great Southern Aboriginal Health Service and Wheatbelt Aboriginal Health Service and Boab Health Services.
By Wendy Caccetta