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Back to basics in Aboriginal health



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PETER NUGENT

Federal Member for Aston

MEDIA

RELEASE SHADOW MINISTER FOR ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER AFFAIRS BACK TO BASICS IN ABORIGINAL HEALTH

In an address today to the AMA National Summit on Aboriginal Health, I put forward the proposition that there are several fundamental approaches and actions which can achieve significant improvements in the appalling Aboriginal health statistics in this country.

Firstly, there is a need for an holistic approach. In other words, we are not only talking about specific health measures but also the need to fix things such as housing, education, substance abuse and employment.

Secondly, I spoke of the need to get away from a "top down" government dictum approach and think in terms of a 'bottom up" approach which emphasises community nursing and basic facilities.

Thirdly, I introduced the concept of a "one-stop" government shop. In many of the communities I visit I hear stories about funding applications which have been made to a multiplicity of agencies over innumerable years with little response coming back from government. The relationships and the mechanisms of the bureaucracy between all levels of

government need to be streamlined for ease of access and speedy resolution.

Fourthly, I emphasised the importance of community consultation and reminded Minister Tickner in particular and the ATSIC Commissioners that when their communities provided views, those views have to be taken into account. The Aboriginal community is one of the most researched communities in the world and yet we have seen program after program which attempts to impose solutions which are in direct contravention of what the communities themselves know they require.

Finally I urged all attendees at the conference to accept their own personal responsibilities for resolving the unacceptable Aboriginal health standards in this country - be they medical practitioners, politicians or indigenous community representatives.

It is time we recognised the failures of past and many current programs and attempted new innovative but essentially community-based programs as a matter of urgency. This does not mean that mainstream funding mechanisms should be totally thrown out the window - a blending of mainstream and special community programs must be seriously considered.

I COMMONWEALTH

10 March 1994 PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY 16/94

MICAH

For further information contact Peter Nugent on 03-887 3890 or 06-277 2088