While Australia was making some gains in closing the gap on Indigenous health, doing “more of the same” was not going achieve what was required, Indigenous Health minister Ken Wyatt said Friday, announcing two independent reviews.
Wyatt said the government had commissioned two separate appraisals of the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme, which in 2014 rolled together four previously separate funding streams — primary care, child and maternal health, chronic disease and Stronger Futures (Health) in the NT — to examine progress on these fronts.
“Our focus is on closing the gap and, while we are making gains, we need to accelerate progress and in some cases, just doing more of the same is not going to achieve that,” Wyatt said in a statement.
“We need to know what is working well so we can best target our investment in, and support of, health programs.”
The first review, to be conducted by consultant firm Allen and Clarke, will examine Indigenous primary health care, with two distinct phases: a nine-month framework co-design process with stakeholders (communities, key consumer, primary care and government organisations) followed by the substantive four-year inquiry, said Wyatt.
The second, a health economics audit by Deakin University, will look at primary care costs and relative return on investment of various Indigenous-specific and non-Indigenous services, he added.
Improved health, social returns and broader economic benefits will be assessed, with an eye to improving efficiency and health outcomes.
“Both studies will be supported by an Evaluation Advisory Group comprised of key stakeholders and health experts, to ensure a wide range of perspectives are taken into account,” Wyatt said.
“This work aligns with the Turnbull Government’s commitment to a more strategic, long-term approach to Indigenous health and Indigenous affairs as a whole.”
The announcement follows an AIHW report, published this week, which found Australia was falling short on Indigenous disadvantage, and criticisms earlier this year that not enough was being done to meet Close the Gap targets.