Commonwealth Launches Roadmap For Aboriginal Control Of Nt Health Services

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11th November 2009, 06:14pm - Views: 1017

People Feature Minister For Indigenous Health 1 image


The launch of Pathways to Community Control is an historic step forward in Closing the Gap of

Aboriginal health, Northern Territory Aboriginal Health Forum Chairperson Stephanie Bell

said today.

Pathways recognises the absolute necessity of developing and strengthening Comprehensive Primary

Health Care [CPHC] through planning, development and delivery at local and regional levels here in

the Territory,” said Ms Bell.

Pathways is designed to get Aboriginal communities in the NT a step closer to taking primary health

care into their own hands.  It is a staged process through which community participation and control

can be encouraged, with the aim of transferring the management of Aboriginal primary health care

services to health boards directly elected by their members. 

“The Aboriginal Health Forum in the Territory has taken a strong stand on developing an evidence-

based approach to CPHC, and recognises the strong gains that can be developed through Aboriginal

Community Control at the grass roots level.

“The Northern Territory Aboriginal Health Forum represents one of the strongest and most productive

partnerships between government and the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector in the

nation, and Pathways provides a road map for the principal of ‘working together for our health’ as part

of the long term vision of Closing the Gap.” 

NT Health Minister Kon Vatskalis said, “Experience in the Territory and elsewhere in Australia and

overseas shows that tackling health challenges at the family and community level is essential if we are

to improve population health overall. 

“Involving Aboriginal communities and families in the design and delivery of primary health and

family services contributes to a better health system and gets people talking, thinking and doing

something about the health of their family and community. In other words, getting involved leads to

better health.”

The Northern Territory Government welcomes the release of this timely and well-argued framework

identifying the key role of Aboriginal communities in the delivery of primary health care services. The

NT has already started working in a number of regions with Aboriginal communities to progressively

implement the framework’s key objectives.”

I thank the many staff at the Forum partners NT Department of Health and Families, AMSANT and

the Commonwealth – for their clear analysis of the issues and advice on how these might best be


Minister Snowdon said improved health care for Indigenous Australians was a key priority in

the Rudd Government’s program of national health care reform.

People Feature Minister For Indigenous Health 2 image

“From the start of the reform process, it was agreed that greater levels of community

involvement in primary health care would bring benefits all round – benefits to those who

deliver the health services as well as to those who use them,” Mr Snowdon said.

“What was required was a more responsive health and family services system, one not only

of a quality equal to that existing in other areas of Australia, but also culturally sensitive to the

needs of Indigenous people.” 

Minister Snowdon said that community-controlled governance of health services was the

optimal expression of the right of Indigenous communities to take part in decision-making.

The Australian Government recognises that change is needed, but it is not always easy.  It will

not be easy for all communities however Pathways to Community Control serves as a guide to

responsible transformative change,” the Minister said.

The Northern Territory Aboriginal Health Forum is the principal partnership mechanism created by

the NT Framework Agreement on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. 

The key principles drawing the parties together under Pathways to Community Control are:


Aboriginal community participation is a key element of sustainable, viable, effective and efficient

delivery of primary health;


a shared commitment to the development of a strategy to secure greater levels of Aboriginal

community control in the delivery of primary health care in the NT;


a shared commitment to foster an effective partnership between governments, communities and

providers that ensures best practice governance of services and optimal health gain; and


a shared commitment to personal and community development as an integral contributor to

improved levels of community participation and control.

Pathways to Community Control seeks to support Aboriginal communities and public sector agencies

in their efforts to incrementally realise these shared principles.

For further details contact:



Chips Mackinolty, 0419844774

Minister Vatskalis contact:

Maria Billias, 0401119746

Minister Snowdon’s contact: 

Alice Plate, 0400045999

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