Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Australian Associated Press

Aboriginal health experts are disappointed indigenous health will not be on the agenda when Prime Minister Julia Gillard meets with state and territory leaders this week.

There’s pressure on the leaders to sign off on a new national partnership agreement on indigenous health because the current one expires in June 2013.

The agreement provides money for health programs to help close the gap of Aboriginal life expectancy and health outcomes.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Julia Gillard, corrected an earlier error from her office, clarifying that it would not be on the agenda at the Council of Australian Governments meeting (COAG) on Friday.

There is a life expectancy gap of 11.5 years between indigenous and non-indigenous men and 9.7 years between women.

Close the Gap Campaign spokesman Mick Gooda said five years ago all sides of politics agreed to do something about the “national disgrace” of poor indigenous health.

Some of the policies and programs are starting to bear fruit and make a real difference on the ground, Mr Gooda said.

“A recommitment from state, territory and federal governments at this Friday’s COAG meeting is needed to quite literally save lives,” campaign co-chair Jody Broun said.

The Australian Medical Association president Dr Steve Hambleton said a new agreement should allocate the same level of funding for another five years.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation spokesman Justin Mohamed said the ability to improve shocking Aboriginal life expectancy rates is at risk if there are any delays.

“It is unacceptable that Aboriginal people who rely on health programs funded through the agreement don’t know if they will still be there come July,” Mr Mohammed said.


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