The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) will meet in Darwin tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss a strategic national plan for closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
AMA Federal President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said it is important that governments develop a national plan for Indigenous health in genuine partnership with Indigenous people and health organisations that know what is needed and what will work.
"The Prime Minister has acknowledged that closing the 17-year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians is one of the most significant challenges facing Australia," Dr Pesce said.
"The recent commitment of $1.6 billion through COAG to Indigenous health is a very promising start to tackling this challenge.
"COAG has a responsibility to ensure that this money is used to achieve real and concrete health outcomes for Indigenous people, and isn't simply soaked up by Commonwealth and State bureaucracies at the expense of services on the ground."
Dr Pesce said a priority for a strategic national plan for Indigenous health should be to improve workforce capacity by training more Indigenous doctors and health care workers.
"It should also strengthen the capacity of mainstream health services to provide culturally appropriate primary care for Indigenous people.
"COAG's strategic national plan should contain clear targets and benchmarks for concrete action and health outcomes, and all governments should make a commitment to achieving them," he said.