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Indigenous Chronic Disease Package

Posted on: 15 June, 2010
Issue: Vol 10 No 2, April 2010 - June 2010
Related to Cardiovascular health Diabetes Health services Kidney health Respiratory health Nutrition Protective and risk factors Alcohol use Tobacco use

The Commonwealth government has contributed $805.5 million to deliver the Indigenous Chronic Disease Package, as part of the COAG National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a burden of disease two-and-a-half times that of other Australians. A large part of the burden of disease is due to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and chronic kidney disease.

The Package has three main elements:

  1. tackling chronic disease risk factors;
  2. improving chronic disease management and follow-up care; and
  3. expanding and supporting the primary care workforce.

Tackling chronic disease risk factors
A national network of regional tobacco coordinators and tobacco action workers will be created to work with Indigenous communities to reduce the number of people smoking. This workforce will implement a range of community-based smoking prevention and cessation support activities tailored to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. A national network of healthy lifestyle workers will also be created to reduce the lifestyle risk factors that contribute to preventable chronic disease in Indigenous communities. In addition, a research program will be undertaken to determine current behaviour and awareness, from which to develop social marketing campaigns.

Improving chronic disease management and follow-up care
This measure seeks to encourage greater uptake of health assessments and the provision of follow-up care in a coordinated, accessible and systematic manner. The main components of this measure include:

  • subsidising medicine co-payments via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme;
  • revisions to the Medicare Benefits Scheme;
  • supporting primary care providers to coordinate chronic disease management;
  • improving Indigenous participation in health care through chronic disease self management; and
  • increasing specialist and allied health follow up care.

Expanding and supporting the primary care workforce
The capacity of the primary care workforce in Indigenous and mainstream health services will be expanded to meet the expected increase in uptake of health services by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The main components of this measure include:

  • communication and marketing activity to attract more Indigenous people to work in health and more people to work specifically in Indigenous health;
  • additional workforce including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander outreach workers, health professionals and practice managers;
  • additional nursing scholarships, registrar training posts and nurse clinical placements; and
  • the development of Indigenous-specific clinical practice and decision support guidelines.
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