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Democrats challenge government to deliver on indigenous health.

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MEDIA DEMOCRATS CHALLENGE GOVERNMENT TO DELIVER ON INDIGENOUS HEALTH The budget surplus should be directed to groups with the greatest need not just to marginal seats or swinging voters, say the Australian Democrats. Launching the Democrats Indigenous Affairs budget plan, Indigenous Affairs spokesperson, Senator Aden Ridgeway, said an extra $300 million annual investment in Indigenous primary health care and preventative programs must be a top priority. "The Democrats are giving the Prime Minister an opportunity to put his money where his mouth is," Senator Ridgeway said. "If he is serious about improving the lot of Indigenous people , investing this money in the front end of Indigenous health will begin to contain the burgeoning health emergency. "Indigenous life expectancy is still 20 years below the national average and is below that of third world countries such as Nigeria, Nepal and Bangladesh. Limited access to basic primary health care services coupled with extreme disadvantage contributes to a bleak picture for Indigenous Australians . "The Democrats do not advocate simply 'throwing more money' at this problem "By committing this money the PM is showing he recognises the scale of Indigenous disadvantage and poverty and the bridges that need to be built to allow Indigenous people to engage on equal terms with the rest of Australia. "This amount of money - equivalent of one week's spending on defence and less than 1% of the annual health budget - was advocated in a report to the AMA and backed up by recent research by the Fred Hollows Foundation," concluded Senator Ridgeway. The Democrats have also identified urgent spending required in Indigenous housing, education, legal services, family violence and child care.(see attachment) Media Contact - Liz Willis 0417 410 506 SENATOR ADEN RIDGEWAY


04/301 19 APRIL 2004