National Women's Health Policy


Page last updated: 07 February 2011

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women

National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples—the new national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation body was announced in November 2009.

The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples will ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people contribute to, and play a lead role in, policy and program development on issues that affect them and that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective is provided on issues across government. The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples has now been incorporated and eight founding directors have been appointed. The congress has mandated equal representation of men and women in the two co-chairs and six directors of the National Executive and in the co-chairing of the Congress’s Ethics Council.

Apology to the Stolen Generations—on 13 February 2008 the then Prime Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd MP, formally apologised to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations on behalf of the Parliament of Australia. The government understands that addressing the impact of the injustices of the past and the adverse treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by other Australians is a critical element in improving health outcomes for Indigenous people.

The Indigenous Leadership Development Program seeks to develop the leadership capacity of individuals and provides Indigenous Australians with increased skills and knowledge to better engage within their community. The Indigenous Women’s Program is a grants program which contributes to the Australian Government’s priorities for reducing Indigenous disadvantage through supporting projects which enhance Indigenous women’s leadership, representation, safety, wellbeing and economic status.

The National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes aims to close the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation. The Commonwealth’s contribution to this partnership is $805.5 million over four years for an Indigenous Chronic Disease Package which will improve the prevention, early detection and ongoing management ofthose chronic diseases that are the main causes of mortality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Indigenous Early Childhood Development National Partnership (IECD NP) Agreement is a joint Commonwealth and state and territory government commitment in response to COAG’s commitment to close the gap in Indigenous early childhood development outcomes, through improving the health and development of Indigenous children in their early years.

On 2 October 2008 COAG signed the IECD NP Agreement, comprising $564 million of Commonwealth funding over six years.

The IECD NP incorporates three elements:
  • Element One: Integration of Early Childhood Services through 38 Children and Family Centres.
  • Element Two: Increased Access to Antenatal Care, Pre-pregnancy and Teenage Sexual and Reproductive Health.
  • Element Three: Increased Access to, and use of, Maternal and Child Health Services by Indigenous Families.
This NP seeks to contribute to halving the gap in Indigenous child mortality within a decade by increasing access to antenatal care, teenage sexual and reproductive health services, child and maternal health services and providing integrated early childhood development and family support services.
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An evaluation will be undertaken to determine the effectiveness of the IECD NP in achieving its outcomes.

Rural and remote women

The Rural Women’s General Practice Service (RWGPS) program aims to improve access to primary health care services for women in rural and remote Australia,
who currently have little or no access to a female GP, by facilitating the travel of female GPs to these communities. The RWGPS is open to all members of the community, including men and children. The RWGPS is auspiced by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The Rural Primary Health Services program aims to improve access to a range of primary and allied health care services and activities for rural and remote communities. Primary health care services encompass active treatment through provision of allied health services; mental health services; screening programs; and health promotion and preventative health activities. The funded service providers are able to determine which mix of services and health professionals best suits the needs of their communities, taking into account the wishes of the community and the availability of health professionals.

The Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program (MSOAP) to improve access to medical specialist services for people living in rural and remote locations. The MSOAP complements medical specialist services provided by the state government and private providers by encouraging specialists to deliver outreach services to targeted areas of need in rural and remote Australia. This is achieved by meeting costs associated with delivering outreach services such as travel, accommodation, and venue hire. The medical specialist disciplines supported include Obstetrics and Gynaecology (including treatment for fertility), Sexual Health, Oncology and Psychiatry. With the exception of Plastic Surgery, all other medical specialities may be supported through MSOAP.

Women with Disability and Women Carers

New strategies for people with disabilities and carers are being introduced that will support women carers and women with disability. These strategies include the National Disability Strategy and the National Carer Strategy.

The draft National Disability Strategy will guide public policy across governments and aims to bring about change in all mainstream services and programs as well as community infrastructure. This change is important to ensuring that people with disability have the same opportunities as other Australians – health care, a quality education, a job where possible and access to buildings, transport and social activities.