Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, said the Government had approved the continuation of funding to 36 Aboriginal Community ControlledHealth Services and one private health service.
“These health services are all delivering frontline services to prevent young Indigenous people taking up smoking and to encourage existing smokers to quit,” .
“Reducing smoking rates is central to the Government’s efforts to close the gap in life expectancy, but requires a consistent, long-term commitment.
“Smoking causes the greatest burden of disease, disability, injury and earlydeath among Indigenous people and accounts for 23 per cent of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.”
Under the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Healthcare Agreement, all governments have committed to halving the 2008 adult daily smoking rate among Indigenous Australians, of 44.8 per cent, by 2018.
“The rate of smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is still far higher than among other Australians and is damaging their health in many ways,” Minister Wyatt said.
“It’s unlikely now that we will meet the COAG target, but we are making progress.
“It’s important that anti-smoking programs are meaningful for Indigenous people and changes made in recent years have ensured that only programs which are evidence based and effective are receiving grants.”
Continued funding for the 37 health services follows a preliminary evaluation of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program which found that it was operating effectively and using proven approaches to changing smoking behaviour.