$27 Million Health Funding To Provide For Indigenous Children

The Australian Government will put $27 million towards funding immunisation, health checks, and maternal health programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

This comes after the latest release of the Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap report for 2017, which aims to address areas such as health, education and employment. The report identifies where progress has been made and where further efforts are needed.

The new health funding

The $27 million grant will be invested over the next 18 months under the Indigenous Australians’ Health Program. The program focusses on ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children begin school immunised, healthy, and ready to learn.

The Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said comprehensive primary health care services, and antenatal and postnatal care will be priorities for the funding.

“These targeted grants will help to 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,” he said.

“Together, this represents a significant investment in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.”

Other services will include assistance for indigenous mothers and children:

  • Information about baby care for mothers.
  • Assistance with breastfeeding, nutrition advice, and parenting for mothers.
  • Monitoring developmental milestones, vaccine immunisation status, and infections in children.
  • Health checks and referrals for treatment for Indigenous children before starting school.

Mr Wyatt assured the public these targeted health grants would be delivered by providers across NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, and WA in culturally appropriate ways.

Closing the gap?

It appears that while the ninth annual report showed improvement in employment, school enrolment and graduation, it also showed a significant gap in the access to childhood services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a recent statement that he was very saddened and disappointed that the target to halve the gap in Indigenous child mortality is not on track, with the 2015 data being just outside the target.

“This report demonstrates that all Australian Governments have much more work to do,” he said, reminding state and territory governments of the essential importance of education in future success.

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