Money, strategy and voice: a step-up for Aboriginal health

Thursday, April 18, 2019

‘Today’s announcement by Labor on its plans for improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a much-needed step-up in commitment,’ says Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

‘While additional funding commitments are welcome, importantly with this announcement the focus is on putting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the centre of decision-making about their health.

‘The recent agreement by the Morrison Government and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to enter into a formal partnership with Indigenous people on Closing the Gap discussions was a welcome move.

‘Today’s commitment from Labor is a further step-up, including leadership and governance roles for Aboriginal people through re-establishment of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality Council, and in mainstream health organisations such as Primary Health Networks.

‘This recognition that community voice and control matters in addressing the gross health inequities experienced by Indigenous people is significant and welcome.

‘Also very welcome is the strategic approach to planning for change. Money for individual programs is positive, but the impact of funding can be so much greater if it is part of a coherent policy.

‘It is pleasing to see that primary health and research are key elements in Labor’s announcements today, alongside much-needed investments in suicide prevention, sexual health, improving vision, and health and justice.

‘Both major parties have made strong commitments to ending rheumatic heart disease, a preventable disease which is almost non-existent in other developed countries.

We call on Labor to consider investing in a workforce of Aboriginal health coaches in remote communities.

‘Prevention matters, and when co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and led by coaches in a culturally appropriate way and using community languages, has been shown to make substantial improvements to individual and community health’, says Ms Verhoeven.

To follow AHHA commentary throughout the election campaign, visit You can also follow our #AusVotes2019 #AusVotesHealth commentary on Twitter by following @AusHealthcare.

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, and community and primary healthcare services. 

Media enquiries:  

Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, AHHA

0403 282 501