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Call to put Indigenous health services on national agenda

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 30 March 2004


The Democrats have identified Indigenous health as a key issue for the upcoming federal Budget.

The Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF) is calling for a national summit, describing the problem as scandalous.

Indigenous people are now living 25 years less than other Australians and the infant mortality rate is twice as high.

FHF spokeswoman Olga Havnen says a bipartisan approach is needed to combat the problems.

"What worries me is that in this year where we have an election and with a time of enormous economic growth and this great budget surplus, the one group of people in this country who are the most disadvantaged on any measure, there has not been a single commitment or initiative to address some of these really basic needs," Ms Havnen said.

Democrats Senator Aden Ridgeway says the Government needs to take the issue more seriously.

"Where there are surpluses they ought to think very carefully about being able to spend those surpluses where services are required," he said.

"If we have such appalling circumstances for Indigenous communities as it relates to health then it must be a number one priority.

"The Government does need to make a commitment in that area.


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