Health & mental health PolicyHetty Johnston
The Australian health system is world-leading, but is under ongoing threat due to misfocussed funding, workforce shortages, and community access to services, particularly in rural and remote regions.
What we know
Between public and private hospitals, the primary health system, allied health, community mental health and other services seeking to support individuals and families across our community, there are still people who struggle to access health services. We know that:
- According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, around 11 million people living in Australia are living with a chronic disease, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and arthritis, with one in three presentations to hospitals due to preventable, chronic diseases.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and financially disadvantaged people, are more likely to live with chronic illness, and are less likely to be able to access bulk billed general practice and other health services.
- Over 45% of us will experience mental ill-health in our lifetime, with young people and men being more likely to experience significant mental health challenges. This figure increases in the veteran community, with veterans over two-times more likely to lose their life to suicide than men who are not veterans.
- Rural and remote hospitals, primary health and other health services struggle to recruit and keep qualified staff.
- Bulk billed GP and other allied health services are hard to access and are often not well targeted in areas that need them.
- The rise of use of methamphetamine and other illicit drugs, particularly in rural towns and our inner cities, is destroying the lives of individuals and their families and friends.There are currently only two detox units in Queensland, with a limited number of rehabilitation units supporting them.
Call for action
If elected to the Australian Senate, I will:
- Work with Senate and parliamentary colleagues to understand and re-focus health funding to improve chronic disease awareness and responses, consideration of bulk billing dietician services and ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services and services in disadvantaged regions are further assisted through targeted funding.
- Call for the re-introduction of maternal birthing, cancer treatment and emergency facilities and hospital services to rural and regional areas of Queensland.
- Call for a review into the structure of the Primary Health Networks and the focus of their funding, including analysis of bulk billed services and access by disadvantaged populations. Although many of the PHNs have achieved positive outcomes since 2015, it appears that their focus and ability to make genuine inroads into primary health services is limited by political interference and the intractability of some lobby groups. This is stopping people who need help receiving appropriate, timely health services.
- Support increases in focussed mental health services, particularly for children and young people escaping violence and suffering mental health issues
- Call for increased and appropriate funding for our military veterans, police and first responders, particularly those affected by PTSD following their service.Focussing appropriate funding into services that work for these brave Australians , meeting their needs where and when they have them, rather than a ‘one size fits all approach’ will go towards supporting these brave men and women who jobs have meant they risked their own lives to protect ours.
- Call for options that support the development and management of rural and remote health workforces, whether that be housing and accommodation support, increased training and generalist pathways for professionals, study debt rebates and/or tax incentives.
- Urgently investigate the feasibility of additional publicly funded detox and rehabilitation services in Queensland that will meet the needs of our community, including consideration of affected communities in rural and remote regions.