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Western Australian Aboriginal Health Strategy: A Strategic Approach to Improving the Health of Aboriginal People in Western Australia

Category: Policy/Strategy
Sub Category:Policy/Strategy
Location:Western Australia, Australia
Subject Matter:Health and Community Services
Summary Information:
The Western Australian Aboriginal Health Strategy (WAAHS) was signed on the 3 February 2000 by the Western Australian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (WAACCHO), the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care and the Health Department of Western Australia.

The WAAHS was developed by the Western Australian Joint Planning Forum on Aboriginal Health, informed by Regional Aboriginal Health Plans, in order to provide a long term strategic approach to improve the health of Aboriginal people in Western Australia (WA). Health resource decision-making at the local, state and national level will be guided by the WAAHS.

The vision as set out in the WAAHS is headed 'Setting the spirit free' and states: 'Aboriginal people have the right to good health. Aboriginal people must have the freedom, capacity and opportunity to enjoy their cultural, spiritual and physical potential.' 'Health' is defined widely to include control over physical environment, dignity, community self-esteem and justice. It is not seen as 'merely a matter of the provision of doctors, hospitals, medicines or the absence of disease and incapacity.' (Section 1).

The WAAHS states that the vision will be achieved when:

Aboriginal Western Australians:

  • Are free of preventable and premature death, disease and disability;
  • Have access to adequate health resources;
  • Have cultural needs respected within all health services;
  • Have the capacity to action decisions about their individual, family and community lives; and
  • Play an appropriate role in the health system's decision making on matters that might affect their health and wellbeing, their culture or their capacity to be self-determining,

    And when non-Aboriginal Western Australians:

  • Acknowledge the effects of Australia's history on the health and well-being of Aboriginal people;
  • Reconcile Australia's history with the impact on Aboriginal people and work in partnership to overcome this history and improve Aboriginal health; and
  • Acknowledge and respect Aboriginal people's living culture and find ways of growing with it. (Section 1).
  • Detailed Information:
    For the purpose of Aboriginal health planning, WA has been divided into the following regions:

  • Kimberley
  • Pilbara
  • Mid West and Gascoyne
  • Goldfields
  • Ngaanyatjarra Lands (Central Desert) and
  • Metropolitan and South West

    Extensive regional Aboriginal planning processes, including the views of Aboriginal communities, were undertaken during 1998/99 and there are now regional plans for the above regions. These regional plans directly informed the WAAHS framework. The WAAHS does not replace the regional plans but provides, at a strategic level, a statewide unifying framework for the regional plans. It is also complementary to the Western Australian Framework Agreement on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

    In Section 3 the WAAHS sets out the key policy specifications for health service delivery to Aboriginal people. These are:

  • Health is to be looked at from a holistic perspective;
  • Self-determination is fundamental;
  • Aboriginal people must have the right to choose;
  • Health care services must be appropriate and accessible;
  • Health services must be provided in a culturally secure environment and manner;
  • A coordinated and collaborative intersectoral approach is required;
  • Improved, guaranteed funding is central.

    Following review of the six regional plans by the Joint Planning Forum, similar key issues emerged across the state. Recommendations from the regional plans formed the basis of strategic domains of action set out in the WAAHS which will facilitate monitoring, reporting and identification of statewide strategies. These domains of action are:

  • Increasing access to health services;
  • Reforming the health system;
  • Reconciling community control and empowerment;
  • Improving health information management;
  • Strengthening intersectoral collaboration on health;
  • Improving health financing.

    Strategies for each domain of action have also been identified and areas of particular urgency highlighted.

    The Joint Planning Forum has the role of evaluation of the WAAHS which will include measurements against the agreed National Aboriginal Health Performance Indicators. The Joint Planning Forum will provide annual reports.

  • Related Entries

    Agreement
  • Western Australian Framework Agreement on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
  • Organisation
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) - Signatory
  • Western Australian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation - Signatory
  • Department of Health (WA)
  • Department of Health and Ageing (Cth) - Signatory
  • Event
  • Western Australian Joint Planning Forum on Aboriginal Health
  • Policy/Strategy
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Indicators

  • References

    Resource
    Health Department of Western Australia Western Australian Aboriginal Health Strategy: A Strategic Approach to Improving the Health of Aboriginal People in Western Australia

    Glossary

    Policy/Strategy

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