The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has welcomed the federal budget's increase funding in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health but will press the government for targeted infrastructure investment in clinics.
NACCHO estimated that a $900 million investment was necessary to ensure its national network of 550 clinics are adequate but acknowledged that the $33 million of additional investment into the Indigenous Australians Health Program was encouraging.
The Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills told NITV News the shortfall was “appalling” and said the disappointment was mostly related to the lack of investment in social housing.
“While it is good to see large stimulus measures helping industry and workers via tax cuts, that is just part of the story. If you invest in communities, then we rebuild the economy together. At the same time, you can also address a range of lingering social issues,” said Ms Mills.
NACCHO labelled the lack of investment in targeted infrastructure for its clinics as a “missed opportunity” and said they will continue working with the government to address this shortfall.
“If stimulus is the main objective of the Budget, we believe that there is no better way to do so than to invest in local communities.
“Collectively, we are the second largest employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the country. Investment in infrastructure will help us generate even more local jobs,” said Ms Mills.
But the organisation recognised that the additional funding, as well as measures for increased medical research, maternal health, mental health, and aged care facilities, was a welcomed move from the government.
Ms Mills told NITV News that the investment of “real money” was needed in social housing to counteract the pressures of overcrowding which cause the escalation of family challenges and unmet legal need.
"We know that social housing is so important in achieving improved health and wellbeing for our people," said Ms Mills.
CEO of VACCHO, Jill Gallagher AO, agreed that the federal budget was flawed, but labelled the lack of support towards Closing the Gap targets as “the major omission.”