The Victorian Coalition Government today released Victoria's first ever long term plan to tackle inequalities in Aboriginal health.
Minister for Health David Davis launched Koolin Balit: The Victorian Government's strategic directions for Aboriginal Health 2012 – 2022 during the 2012 Victorian Aboriginal Health Conference at the MCG.
"The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to closing the health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Victorians," Mr Davis said.
"Koolin Balit is part of our whole-of-government approach to improving Aboriginal health and is an important part of our overall health strategy, the Victorian Health Priorities Framework 2012–2022.
"The Victorian Government has highlighted Aboriginal health as a priority area, with a particular focus on increasing life expectancy and reducing child mortality," Mr Davis said.
Koolin Balit means healthy people in the Boonwurrung language.
Mr Davis said the Koolin Balit plan set out clear directions for improving Aboriginal health in Victoria over the next 10 years.
"This will give government, departments, service providers and other stakeholders a shared understanding of priorities and provide the foundations for co-ordinated action to improve Aboriginal health in Victoria," Mr Davis said.
"This is the first time a Victorian government has released a long term plan for Aboriginal health.
"The strategy has priority areas focusing on key life stages, from pregnancy and early childhood through to caring for older people, as well as addressing risk factors and prevention in relation to the management of chronic conditions.
"Underpinning each of the priorities is the need to improve data and evidence, build strong Aboriginal organisations, and ensure cultural responsiveness," Mr Davis said.
"Koolin Balit also acknowledges that achieving better health outcomes for Aboriginal people requires attention not only to medical factors but also the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the whole community.
"We understand that improving health outcomes takes a long time and change can be slow. We are committed to making a sustained effort for the long term.
"The Health Department is putting together a statewide action plan for 2012–14, with measures, targets and milestones, outlining details of who will do what, and how, to implement each of the aims set out in Koolin Balit," Mr Davis said.
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Jeanette Powell welcomed the release of Koolin Balit and the Minister for Health's commitment to improving Aboriginal health in Victoria.
"Good health is critical for improving education outcomes, job prospects and community involvement. Koolin Balit will be a key component of our strategies to close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage and improve the lives of Indigenous Victorians," Mrs Powell said.
Around 400 delegates from Victorian health services and Aboriginal community controlled organisations will attend the Victorian Aboriginal Health Conference on May 24-25.
The conference will showcase Victoria's excellent and innovative work in Aboriginal health. Keynote speakers include respected journalist, author and filmmaker Dr Jeff McMullen AM and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda.
Leaders from Aboriginal community controlled health services, hospitals, community health, general practices, universities and research institutions and government will also sign an historic Statement of Intent to close the health gap.
"This conference is the first major conference on Aboriginal health to be held in this state," Mr Davis said.
"The gap in health status between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Victorians will only close if Aboriginal health becomes the responsibility of all Victorian public health services.
"Aboriginal people need to be confident they can walk through the door of their health service and receive respect and great quality health care.
"With this Statement of Intent, CEOs of Victoria's major hospitals have made a formal commitment to taking action in their organisation and community to close the health gap," Mr Davis said.
See link to 'Koolin Balit': The Victorian Government's strategic directions for Aboriginal Health 2012 – 2022