Chronic disease

The Indigenous Australians' Health Programme (IAHP) includes a strong focus on the prevention, detection and management of chronic disease as this is a driver of the life expectancy gap. The IAHP funds a variety of activities with a focus on chronic disease and these are listed below.

Page last updated: 15/12/2017

Chronic disease prevention

Tackling Indigenous Smoking

The Australian Government is committed to reducing the high rate of smoking amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Under the National Healthcare Agreement, the Council of Australian Governments has committed to halving the daily smoking rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults (aged 18 years or older) from the 2008 rate of 47.7%, by 20181.

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking program (TIS) includes the following components:

  • Regional tobacco control grants to support multi-level approaches to tobacco control that are locally designed and delivered to prevent the uptake of smoking and support smoking cessation among Indigenous Australians;
  • A National Best Practice Unit (NBPU) to support regional tobacco control grant recipients through evidence-based resource sharing, information dissemination, advice and mentoring, workforce development, and monitoring and evaluation, with support and leadership provided by the National Coordinator (Indigenous-TIS-coordinator) Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Professor Tom Calma AO;
  • Enhancements to existing Quitline services and provision of brief intervention training for frontline community and health workers;
  • Program Evaluation and Monitoring which includes the design of an evaluation and monitoring framework to be used for the development of local and national performance indicators for grant reporting and to guide evaluation of the TIS program as a whole; and
  • Innovation grants in remote and very remote areas which have high smoking rates, and within specific groups such as pregnant women and young people susceptible to taking up smoking.
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Chronic disease detection and management

Medical Outreach Indigenous Chronic Disease

The Medical Outreach Indigenous Chronic Disease Program improves access to health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic disease, with a focus on rural and remote locations. The program funds multi-disciplinary outreach services, including medical specialists, general practitioners and allied health professionals. Funding is managed by jurisdictional fundholders. Many of the services are delivered through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

Fundholders:

NSW – Rural Doctors Network

NT – Northern Territory, Primary Health Network

QLD – CheckUP

SA – Rural Doctors Workforce Agency

TAS – Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services

VIC – Rural Workforce Agency Victoria

WA – Rural Health West

Integrated Team Care (ITC)

The aims of the ITC Activity are to:

  • contribute to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic health conditions through better access to coordinated and multidisciplinary care; and
  • contribute to closing the gap in life expectancy by improved access to culturally appropriate mainstream primary care services (including but not limited to general practice, allied health and specialists) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

ITC is provided by a team/teams of Indigenous Health Project Officers (IHPOs), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Workers (Outreach Workers) and Care Coordinators. The team works in their region to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to obtain primary health care as required, provide care coordination services to eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic disease/s who require coordinated, multidisciplinary care, and improve access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to culturally appropriate mainstream primary care.

Care Coordinators have access to the Supplementary Services funding pool for when they need to expedite a patient’s access to an urgent and essential allied health or specialist service (including certain approved medical aids), where the services are not otherwise available in a clinically acceptable timeframe. Supplementary Services can be used to fund the necessary local transport to access the service, where not publicly available.

ITC is funded under the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme and is administered by Primary Health Networks that commission organisations to deliver ITC services.

More information about ITC is available in the ITC Program Implementation Guidelines and the ITC Frequently Asked Questions.

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ITC Program Implementation Guidelines

Word version: ITC Program Implementation Guidelines
PDF version: ITC Program Implementation Guidelines

ITC Frequently Asked Questions

Word version: ITC Frequently Asked Questions
PDF version: ITC Frequently Asked Questions

Lighthouse

The Lighthouse Hospital Project (Lighthouse) aims to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experience Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS). Lighthouse is hospital-based and features the Lighthouse Toolkit (the Toolkit). The Toolkit is a practical continuous quality improvement workbook that hospital staff and clinicians can be trained to use to ensure that culturally competent, streamlined care of the highest clinical standard is provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experience ACS.

The Toolkit includes four domains that focus on the patient, family and community: governance; cultural competence; workforce development; and improved care pathways. These domains support hospitals to work with Aboriginal Medical Services and communities, health services, and Primary Health Networks to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people once they are discharged from hospital.

The project has led to sustainable improvements in identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; cultural competence of hospital staff, including understanding barriers to care; and decreases in the rates of discharge against medical advice and the associated costs.

The Toolkit was originally piloted in eight hospitals. Funding has recently been expanded to implement the Toolkit in 18 hospitals nationally.

Chronic disease activities funded by the IAHP and other areas of the Australian Government Department of Health

PBS Closing the Gap co-payment

The PBS Closing the Gap co-payment provides eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people access to PBS medicines at reduced cost, and in most cases, free of charge.

Chronic disease activities funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, but not funded under the IAHP

  • GP health assessments for Indigenous people (MBS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Assessments) along with follow on care; and
  • Incentive payments for GPs (Practice Incentive Payment – Indigenous Health Incentive).

1 Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision National Agreement Performance Information 2008-09. National Healthcare Agreement. 2009, Productivity Commission: Canberra.


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