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Australian Government responds to renal study with $13m funding



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THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP

Minister for Indigenous Health

27 June 2011

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT RESPONDS TO RENAL STUDY WITH $13M FUNDING

The Northern Territory towns of Alice Springs and Tennant Creek will receive $13 million for accommodation to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families affected by renal disease.

The Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon said the new funding is the first step towards addressing some of the issues raised in the Central Australia Renal Study, released by the Minister today.

The study by the George Institute focused on the provision of dialysis services in remote and very remote area. It was a joint initiative of the Australian Government in partnership with the Northern Territory, South Australian and Western Australian governments.

“The study shows that the number of patients on dialysis in Central Australian in the last decade has more than tripled from 62 to 209. By 2020, this will have increased to between to between 312 and 479 patients.

“It illustrates the heavy burden on renal dialysis patients and their families.

“The majority of patients have to undergo haemodialysis three times every week for several hours and have to move to Alice Springs or other urban centres for this treatment.

“This effectively dislocates the patient from their family, impacting on the patient’s social and cultural connectedness to family and community, removing their capacity to be part of family and community life and to carry out family responsibilities,” he said.

A key finding of the Central Australian Renal Study revealed that housing and infrastructure development is a key priority to support renal patients from remote communities accessing renal treatment away from home.

Mr Snowdon said he was pleased to announce Australian Government funding to build renal accommodation in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek that is centred around family.

“Both locations will provide family-centric accommodation for renal patients and their families relocating to a town centre to access dialysis services.

“This will go a long way towards addressing the dislocation Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients feel when they have no choice but to leave their communities for treatment,” Mr Snowdon said.

Mr Snowdon said the findings from the report provide an important roadmap for governments so they can provide an informed, evidence-based response to dialysis and the related support issues.

“The release of this report will allow States and Territories, who have the primary responsibility for renal services to start the important work of service planning within their jurisdictions to respond to the findings and recommendations within the report.

“I would like to thank Health Ministers in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia for their support through this process and I look forward to working with jurisdictions as we together consider the recommendations,” Mr Snowdon said.

The primary recommendation of this study is that a variety of different approaches to providing dialysis to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients is needed to allow them to have access to treatment as close to home as possible.

Mr Snowdon said the Australian Government has taken a pro-active approach to improving renal dialysis services in the Northern Territory.

“We have funded six relocatable renal units in communities, renal ready rooms in communities such as Barunga and Lake Nash, a mobile dialysis bus and two self care drop-in renal facilities in Darwin and Alice Springs.”

The Central Australian Renal Study is available at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/A7B443D6D3F55E67 CA2578B100831F9A

Media contact: Minister Snowdon: Alice Plate 0400 045 999