Hundreds of crucial health programs tackling drug and alcohol abuse, chronic disease, communicable diseases and rural health issues are facing potentially catastrophic funding cuts of $600 million over the next four years, Health Department officials have today confirmed.
But the worst of the cuts have been delayed until after the election as the Department prepares what the Secretary told the hearing was an “attack” on these programs in later years.
The Department revealed that $58 million will be cut this financial year, before doubling to $117 million in 2016/17, $181 million in 2017/18 before the programs are hit with a massive $240 million cut in 2018/19.
This amounts to almost $600 million still to come over the forward estimates, but with the vast bulk of the cuts delayed until after the next election.
This clearly goes way beyond what the Government, in its Orwellian language, described as ‘rationalising and streamlining health programs’.
This cut will affect organisations in every part of the nation that do so much to help in areas like drug and alcohol rehabilitation; mental health services; chronic disease and vital non-government organisations working across the entire health sector, including the Consumers Health Forum, Alzheimer’s Australia, the Heart Foundation and the Public Health Association of Australia.
This confirms the Budget night assessment by the Public Health Association that described this as a bloodbath for those organisations.
These cuts will reach into the heart of every electorate in every state and territory, and rip away the local services that are the very fabric of these local communities.
This is a Government which came to power promising “no cuts to health” and “no new taxes” and then slashed $57 billion out of public hospitals as it persists with plans to slug patients with a 4th version of its disastrous GP Tax.
Australians deserve better than a Government which only ever sees health as a source of Budget cuts, and can only tell vital community groups and health organisations that it is planning an attack on their funding, without being able to spell out how who will be the targets of that attack.
The 11 Flexible Funds cut
- Chronic Disease Prevention and Service Improvement Fund
- Communicable Disease Prevention and Service Improvement Grants Fund
- Substance Misuse Prevention and Service Improvement Grants Fund
- Substance Misuse Service Delivery Grants Fund
- Health Social Surveys Fund
- Single Point of Contact for Health Information, Advice and Counselling Fund
- Practice Incentives for General Practices Fund
- Rural Health Outreach Fund
- Health System Capacity Development Fund
- Health Surveillance Fund
- Health Protection Fund