Budget ignored advice on Aboriginal health

Budget ignored advice on Aboriginal health

The Barnett Government ignored its own expert adviser when it halved funding for Aboriginal-run medical services in the State Budget.

A leaked report obtained by _The West Australian _shows Emeritus Professor D'Arcy Holman told the Government in December that funding for indigenous health services needed to be maintained if gains were to be continued.

"The WA Aboriginal health sector is poised to make strides in closing the life expectancy gap and reducing excessive hospital costs during the next 25 years, provided the commitment and funding can be sustained and the sector tuned up to consolidate what has been a somewhat chaotic period of rapid growth," the report said.

The review evaluated 184 programs across the State, finding 91 per cent of projects getting 88 per cent of the funding represented good, excellent or outstanding value for money.

It said extra resources were required for services in the Pilbara and Goldfields, while the Kimberley was not over-resourced.

The report was finalised late last year and went to Cabinet but the Government has refused to release it.

Despite the findings, the Government slashed funding for Aboriginal-run health services from $30 million to just over $16 million in the Budget.

WA Greens senator Rachel Siewert said the report showed the Government had been "irresponsible".

"The State Government seems to have remarkable disinterest in Closing the Gap in WA, but brazenly using this report to justify slashing Aboriginal-run medical services is offensive and counterproductive," she said.

Health Minister Kim Hames is in Tanzania but his office said he wanted to find funds for all but "poor" or "marginal" Aboriginal-run programs.

His office said overall funding for Aboriginal health spending had risen by $16 million.