Queensland Health's approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
According to the most recent figures the life expectancy gap in Queensland is 10.8 years for males and 8.6 years for females.
Queensland Health’s vision is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders will experience health outcomes at least equivalent to the general population. In 2007, the Queensland Government committed to this vision through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), agreeing to two health-specific targets aimed at closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, including:
- to close the gap in Indigenous life expectancy within a generation (by 2033)
- to halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five years of age within a decade (2018).
Queensland Health estimates that to meet the life expectancy targets set by COAG, Queensland would need to increase life expectancy by 0.66 years per year to close the gap in Indigenous male life expectancy within a generation, and 0.60 years per year to close the gap in Indigenous female life expectancy within a generation. This represents a 16 year gain in life expectancy over the target period.
Queensland Health’s focus
Evidence indicates that to make sustainable gains in achieving these targets, the most effective interventions (or "best buys") will be those that focus on:
- improved early diagnosis, treatment and management of the diseases and conditions that together contribute 70% of the health gap – cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental disorders, chronic respiratory disease, intentional injuries, and cancers
- health promotion and health education to prevent the adoption of risky behaviours and target the risk factors for poor health outcomes that together contribute just over one third of the health gap – in particular smoking cessation, but also alcohol and other drugs, nutrition, physical activity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, unsafe sex, child sexual abuse and intimate partner violence
- maternal and child health, early childhood development, parenting support, and adolescent health.
Making Tracks towards closing the gap in health outcomes for Indigenous Queenslanders by 2033 – policy and accountability framework provides the overarching policy directions to guide the Queensland Government’s efforts towards closing the health gap to 2033.
Improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders will require simultaneous and sustained action across community, government and non-government sectors. The Queensland Government’s efforts towards closing the gap recognises that a range of government agencies administer programs that contribute to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes (particularly the education and housing sectors) and, as a result, reflect a multi-agency approach to improving Indigenous health.
Queensland Health is committed to working closely with all government and non-government agencies and health service providers to improve the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland. Integral to this is our collaboration with the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC), the Australian Government Department of Health, Queensland Department of Health corporate divisions and Hospital and Health Services. Additionally, through Hospital and Health Services and regional and state-wide health forums, we aim to establish and maintain effective communication and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Queensland.
Queensland Health's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit does not deliver clinical advice or health services. The unit exists to:
- improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders by providing leadership, high-level advice and direction on effective and appropriate policies, services and programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific as well as mainstream program areas (across Government)
- commission targeted health services to support closing the health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Queenslanders
- strategically influence and engage in key decision making and priority setting across Queensland Health to ensure a consistent approach and accountability through:
- the Making Tracks towards closing the gap in health outcomes for Indigenous Queenslanders by 2033 statewide policy and accountability framework and triennial implementation plans
- the National Indigenous Reform Agreement (Closing the Gap)
- influence, add value, support and advocate Queensland Health’s endeavour in the provision of quality effective and appropriate service and programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders
- work with all stakeholders to develop effective monitoring, evaluation and reporting processes in relation to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland.
Hospital and Health Services
Queensland Department of Health administers the majority of its health care services through a network of 16 Hospital and Health Services which are part of the greater Queensland Health organisation.
Each Hospital and Health Service is governed by a board and led by a Chief Executive, and is responsible for managing the operations of their health service to ensure optimal levels of patient care are delivered and current and future local health services are met.