This World Health Day, Labor is thanking the health professionals across the country who make Australia’s health system among the best in the world.
World Health Day is a good opportunity to reflect on the strength of our universal health care system in ensuring every Australian has the health care they need. It is also an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to addressing the challenges facing our health care system, and looking at how we will respond to our future health needs.
A particular priority must be addressing the clear and persistent health inequality gap with people living in rural and remote areas, people living in the lowest socioeconomic areas, and people living with disability all having lower health outcomes.
This is also the case with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have a lower life expectancy at birth than their peers. The gap in life expectancy between ATSI and their non-ATSI peers in 2010–2012 was around 10 years. Around 81 per cent of deaths among ATSI people occurred before the age of 75, compared with 34% of deaths for non-ATSI Australians during the period 2009–2013 and the rate for ATSI Australians who died by intentional self-harm or suicide was more than double the rate for non-ATSI Australians.
We also acknowledge the powerful role the ATSI health workforce plays in harnessing improvements in our First Nation population.
This year’s World Health Day focus is depression – something that far too many Australians are familiar with. Nearly one in five Australian adults will experience mental ill health each year and nearly half of our adult population will experience a mental illness at some point during their lives, with depression among the most prevalent mental disorders in Australia.
Once again, Labor calls on the Government to ensure that the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan effectively supports long-term mental health reform – and we must have a suicide prevention target.
While our health system has much to celebrate, there is also much to do. Malcolm Turnbull can make this task easier by dropping his cuts to health – including the Medicare freeze – and giving our health system the investment it needs.
FRIDAY, 7 APRIL 2017