Supporting communities

These measures reflect the Australian Government’s commitment to helping communities across Australia – in cities, towns and our most remote areas – to get the health and medical care they need, when they need it.

Page last updated: 19 December 2016

Why is this important?

The Government is supporting communities affected by the potential human health and environmental impacts of the long-term use of fire fighting foams at two Defence sites, Williamtown, NSW and Oakey, Queensland. The foams contained per and polyfluroalkyl chemicals (PFAS).

The Government has initiated its response, including more than $14 million under the Health portfolio. The response includes an epidemiological study to look at potential health effects in communities at Williamtown and Oakey, voluntary blood tests, mental health and counselling services, community engagement, and new guidance on toxicity levels.

The Australian Government is determined to eliminate trachoma – a contagious bacterial infection of the eye and a major cause of preventable blindness – by 2020. The Government is allocating $15.5 million for the trachoma elimination program by extending agreements with affected states and territories, ensuring ongoing screening and treatment of children in Indigenous communities.

Australia is the only high income country in the world where trachoma remains a public health problem. Despite being eliminated from most parts of Australia by the 1930s, it continues to be a significant problem in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia.

Reflecting the Government’s commitment to Tasmania, one-off funding of $800,000 will be provided to the Missiondale rehabilitation centre in Northern Tasmania. This will enable Tasmania’s only long-term residential rehabilitation centre providing care and treatment for people with substance misuse issues to keep operating.

This measure is part of the Government’s efforts to reduce harms associated with substance misuse to individuals, families and communities. It builds on investment in drug and alcohol treatment services to Primary Health Networks under the National Ice Action Strategy.

Who will benefit?

Funding to support the Government’s PFAS response will ensure it will do all it can to address all issues around the PFAS contamination, and assist communities exposed to elevated levels of the chemicals contained in the foams.

Eliminating trachoma will be a major benefit in enabling Indigenous Australians to be educated, get a job and live healthy, productive lives.

Support for the Missiondale rehabilitation centre will ensure Tasmanians continue to have access to rehabilitation and treatment services for substance misuse issues, including both drug and alcohol related issues.

How much will this cost?

PFAS – $14 million from 2016–2017 to 2019–2020.

Eliminating trachoma – nil financial implications.

Missiondale rehabilitation centre – $800,000 from 2016–17 to 2019–2020.