COAG meeting: Health update

Paul Hayes

13/12/2018 11:43:29 AM

Australia’s federal, state and territory leaders came together in Adelaide yesterday.

Leaders said they discussed issues to ‘improve the lives and ensure the safety of all Australians’. (Image: Kelly Barnes)
Leaders said they discussed issues to ‘improve the lives and ensure the safety of all Australians’. (Image: Kelly Barnes)

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) met in Adelaide this week, where a number of important national health-related issues were discussed.
Closing the Gap
COAG issued a statement outlining a strengths-based framework, which prioritises intergenerational change and the aspirations and priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across all Australian communities. The finalisation of this framework and associated draft targets will be agreed through a formal partnership.
The arrangements of the formal partnership between COAG and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation will be settled by the end of February 2019, and will include a Ministerial Council on Closing the Gap, with ministers nominated by jurisdictions and representation from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The framework and draft targets will be finalised through this Council by mid-2019, ahead of endorsement by COAG.
A review of the National Indigenous Reform Agreement will be informed by the framework.
Constitutional recognition
COAG acknowledged the release of the Report of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition and endorsed the concept of co-design recommended by the Committee.
Reforming Australia’s health system
Leaders acknowledged progress on developing the next health and hospitals agreement, which will operate from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2025.
Health ministers said the agreement will deliver long-term reforms to encourage joined-up care for patients, emphasise prevention and provide information to help Australians make informed choices.
Leaders agreed to incorporate improved processes in the next health and hospitals agreement to support clear consultation ahead of annual funding determinations and provide greater clarity and transparency for all governments, for COAG’s consideration by June 2019.
Reducing violence against women and their children
COAG leaders committed to strengthening efforts to eliminate domestic, family and sexual violence. Leaders noted the heightened risks faced by children, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, women with disability, older women, women from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and the LGBTQI community.
They also agreed the statement delivered delegates from the National Summit on Reducing Violence against Women and their Children in October will inform the development of the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022.
Ensuring the wellbeing of Australia’s young people
In recognising that high-quality learning in the early years of life has an important influence on educational and whole-of-life outcomes, leaders agreed to the Early Learning Reform Principles developed by the COAG Education Council and informed by the Lifting Our Game review.
COAG leaders also supported in-principle the ‘right to be forgotten’ for victims of cyberbullying and abuse and agreed the Commonwealth, in consultation with states and territories, would bring back to COAG a proposal to achieve this.
Increasing resilience to drought
COAG agreed and signed a new National Drought Agreement, which sets out a joint approach to drought preparedness, response and recovery with a focus on accountability and transparency. It recognises the need to support farming businesses and farming communities to manage and prepare for climate change and variability.
In addition, prior to the COAG meeting the Federal Government pledged $1.25 billion in funding to ‘improve the health and care of Australian patients’.
The ‘Community Health and Hospitals Program’ will fund projects and services in every state and territory and, according to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, ‘[support] patient care while reducing pressure on community and hospital services’.
The program will provide additional funding in main key areas:

  • Specialist hospital services such as cancer treatment, rural health and hospital infrastructure
  • Drug and alcohol treatment
  • Preventive, primary and chronic disease management
  • Mental health
‘This will provide more doctors, more nurses and more services in every state and territory,’ Minister Hunt said.

Closing the Gap COAG health council

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