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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3604

Mr Price asked the Minister for Health and Ageing, in writing, on 19 March 2009:

(1)   Is she aware that the Blacktown Local Government Area (LGA) has the largest urban Aboriginal population.

(2)   Have any initiatives been taken in the Blacktown LGA to increase the life expectancy of the Aboriginal population (ie, Close the Gap).

(3)   Given the current level of acute care availability in Blacktown, is she able to estimate when closing the gap in life expectancy will be achieved.

Ms Roxon (Minister for Health and Ageing) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   According to the 2006 Census Indigenous Profiles Blacktown Local Government Area (LGA) has the biggest urban population in NSW, and ranks 4th among all Australian LGAs.

(2)   The Australian Government is working towards improved health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through whole-of-government arrangements for policy development and service delivery, and improved access to, and responsiveness of, the mainstream health system. On 29 November 2008, the Commonwealth announced $805.5 million over four years from 2009-10 as its contribution to COAGs’ $1.6 billion National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes. This investment will make a significant contribution towards closing the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non Indigenous Australians within a generation. In addition to mainstream services, the Government funds a number of specific initiatives in Blacktown to provide improved health in key areas such as primary health, maternal health, mental health and drug and alcohol services. The Aboriginal Medical Service in Mt Druitt receives $2.1 million to provide primary health care and bringing them home services to Indigenous people in the Sydney West Region, including $281,000 under the New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services. The Marrin Weejali Aboriginal Corporation in Blackett receives $434,000 in Commonwealth funds to provide drug and alcohol services including counselling, advocacy and referral services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and their families. WentWest Limited receives $1.546 million in Commonwealth funds to provide general practice support and health services to the Blacktown LGA, including health checks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Men’s Health Information and Resource Centre known as ‘The Shed’ in Blacktown is an initiative under the National Suicide Prevention Strategy that provides emotional and practical support for men. This service has a special focus on Indigenous men (approximately 80% of clients) and men aged 25 - 45. In 2008/09 ‘the Shed’ will receive $235,541 of Commonwealth funding. Under the National Illicit Drug Strategy Non-Government Organisation Treatment Grant Program (NIDS NGOTGP) Bridges Incorporated will receive $188,000 in 2008/09 to provide outreach counselling to the Aboriginal Medical Service Western Sydney and Mt Druitt Indigenous Church, this funding was recently extended.

(3)   Due to the limitations in data quality and the variation year to year due to the small size of the Indigenous population in Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics publishes Indigenous life expectancy estimates at the state and national levels only. Therefore, it is not possible to determine Indigenous life expectancy estimates for small geographic areas.