Over $1.6 million of funding for Indigenous health services has been awarded to a non-Indigenous health organisation.
Redimed, a private Perth-based company, has been the recipient of an Indigenous Comprehensive Primary Health Care grant worth $1,692,856 from the Commonwealth Department of Health.
Redimed’s grant application was labelled as targeted or restricted, indicating other organisations may not have been invited to tender.
The number of organisations asked to apply is unconfirmed and questions are arising over the suitability of selecting a non-Indigenous organisation to deliver culturally competent health services to Indigenous peoples.
Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre has been Indigenous-owned and run in Perth since it was founded in 2010.
Moorditj Koort’s CEO Jonathon Ford said the organisation was not consulted by the government to apply for the grant.
“It is quite concerning, considering there are only two Aboriginal Health Services in the Perth Metropolitan Region. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have been consulted,” Mr Ford said.
Ford said from an economic standpoint, Moorditj Koort should have been considered for the government grant as research shows Indigenous organisations deliver greater outcomes than non-Indigenous organisations.
The Australian Health Review reported in 2017 that Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Services are more effective at improving Indigenous health than other health providers as they are specialised in delivering care that is consistent with Indigenous patient needs.
“Simply, we have evidence that we can do better with the same amount of funds,” Mr Ford said.
He said it is ethically wrong for non-Indigenous organisations to receive Indigenous health funds.
“Our Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations have the right to self-determination and self-management under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
Ford said he is unsure why the government would give a hefty sum like that awarded to Redimed without consulting the First Nations people of the land in Perth.
“I do know that unless government begins to enable our Aboriginal Organisations to provide community driven strength-based approaches to our people, it will not close the gap.”
National Indigenous Times can report that Redimed has registered a new business name: Aboriginal Health Care 360. It is unclear whether Redimed is collaborating with 360 Health which provides some Indigenous health care services.
Redimed owner Dr Hanh Nguyen was contacted for comment, however no response was received.
The funding issue is expected to be brought up in Friday’s Senate Estimates.
Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt did not respond to National Indigenous Times’ requests for comment.
By Hannah Cross
Editor’s Note 21/02/2019: NIT would like to disclose that one of its shareholders, Clinton Wolf, was a former CEO of Redimed. He left this position in November 2017.