Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (25 March) . . Page.. 919 ..
A more recent national study, involving the participation of The Canberra Hospital, has revealed that there is significant under-identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the ACT hospital system.
This is now being addressed through a range of strategies, including standardising the indigenous identifier question across all health agencies, examining the need for staff training in asking the relevant questions, and the local implementation of other initiatives canvassed in the national Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Health Information Plan.
There are also reasons why ACT indigenous expenditure figures are likely to be proportionally lower than in other jurisdictions, given the nature of the local indigenous population. For instance, the relatively high income levels and better health status of the ACT indigenous population is likely to lead a smaller proportion of this population accessing public hospital and community health services, compared to indigenous people in other jurisdictions. Similarly the ACT has much lower patient transport costs than large States or the Northern Territory with remote areas.
The ACT Government did not make a decision to expend less funding on health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders compared to non-Indigenous people. As noted above the reasons for the apparently low level are largely due to technical problems in the collection of the data.
Since the AIHW figures were collected, the ACT Government expenditure on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has clearly increased, including the following initiatives:
The establishment of the Ginninderra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scholarships for medical and nursing students;
The establishment of a second Aboriginal Liaison Officer position with The Canberra Hospital;
The establishment of an identified Aboriginal Mental Health Worker in ACT Mental Health Services;
The funding of the Aboriginal Outreach Worker at the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre;
The provision of an Aboriginal drug and alcohol youth worker through Gugan Gulwan Aboriginal Youth Service; and
The relocation of the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service and refurbishment of premises located in Ainslie.