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'Please explain' stand on indigenous health, AMA tells Hansonites.

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Media Release


Australian Medical Association




The One Nation Party needs to explain its policies on funding for indigenous health, the Federal President of the Australian Medical Associ ation, Dr David Brand, said today.


“We are deeply disturbed by comments which suggest funding for Aboriginal health programs might be cut or vetoed by One Nation politicians,” Dr Brand said.


“Cuts to programs such as Aboriginal housing and infrastructure will have a direct impact on health outcomes.


“If it is the intention of One Nation at a state or federal level to cut Aboriginal health or health-related programs, we need to know about it, we need to know why and we need to know now.


“Given the level of need and depravation facing many indigenous Australians, it would be an utter tragedy to see this country spend less on improving health outcomes for the most disadvantaged in our society.


“Indigenous Australians get less than their fair share of health spending - 1.6% of the population get just 1.26% of Commonwealth health expenditure despite having a much greater need.


“Any decrease in dollars will inevitably lead to an increase in deaths.


“The real problem we have is that there is a perception that funding is not improving health outcomes for indigenous people. Things are bleak, but the reality is that health programs are making a very real difference.


“It will take a sustained effort over a sustained period of time to see lasting improvement. But all Australians should be dedicated to this task.


“We also know that health programs work. You only have to look at the health revolutions achieved in New Zealand, Canada and the United States to see how effective programs have dramatically improved health outcomes for indigenous people over a few short decades.


“We need a long-term commitment to effective indigenous health funding, not cheap rhetoric. We have seen a commitment by the Commonwealth and state governments to knuckle down and get on with the job. The stand taken by One Nation puts this at risk.


“We need to remember that indigenous Australians have a life expectancy almost 20 years shorter than the rest of the population.


“Mortality rates for infectious diseases are 12 times higher among indigenous people than the Australian average and more Aboriginal people are dying of diabetes, with death rates in males rising from 36 per 100,000 in 1985-86 to 82 per 100,000 in 1991-92.


“Infant mortality still occurs at a rate three times worse than the rest of the population.


“The statistics are bleak, but we are getting results. If One Nation doesn’t support indigenous health programs, we need to know why and we need to know now,” Dr Brand said.



15 June 1998



Dr David Brand (0411) 729 097

Rohan Greenland (02) 6270 5477 / (0419) 494 761