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Greens call for government cooperation as NACCHO outlines ten point plan for enhancing Closing the Gap efforts

The Australian Greens have today welcomed the release of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation's (NACCHO) ten point plan for enhancing the work being done to close the gap in health and life expectancy rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and called on the states and territories to urgently renew the National Partnership on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health.

"NACCHO's ten point plan integrates the Close the Gap Statement of Intent signed by state and territory governments across Australia in 2008. It demonstrates the vision of Aboriginal people to continue to work towards better health outcomes, but that vision is yet to be matched by all the state and territory Governments," Senator Rachel Siewert said today

"As the current Closing the Gap health partnership agreement will expire at the end of this month, it is now critical that governments follow through on their commitment to improving health and life expectancy rates of Aboriginal people.

"We know that community driven programs are the best way of delivering health programs, and this is emphasised by the fact that 70% of Closing the Gap health gains have come through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services.

"NACCHO's plan calls for investment in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector driven by partnerships and Aboriginal leadership. The plan also recognises that infrastructure, workforce support, reliable data, monitoring and evaluation are critical for ongoing improvements in Aboriginal health outcomes.

"A significant factor in delivering these objectives will be the willingness of governments across the country to cooperate with each other. Unfortunately, this continues to be a real stumbling block.

"Most states and territories are still yet to commit to another five year funding agreement in their budgets or sign up to the National Partnership on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health. My home state of Western Australia has now begun engaging in the discussions, but so far is yet to commit.

"Just last night, I spoke in the Senate about the significant need for the support and delivery of dialysis services in central Australia- a prime example of where people are suffering because of the breakdown in communication between the federal governments and the states.

"The Federal Government have delayed their delivery of funding, and good programs for delivery of community dialysis have been refused because the NT and WA Governments won't commit their own funding. As a result, much needed investments in infrastructure such as dialysis chairs or accommodation for patients may never be delivered.

"It is time that all levels of government started living up to their Closing the Gap responsibilities, which requires both ongoing investment in the Close the Gap vision through a national funding partnership, and increased commitment to community driven, localised solutions through Aboriginal Community Health services," Senator Siewert concluded.

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