Frequently asked questions - Implementation Plan

This page contains frequently asked questions about the next iteration of the Implementation Plan.

Page last updated: 05 November 2019

How are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples informing the development of the next iteration of the Implementation Plan?

In 2017, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people shared their stories and experiences as part of the extensive consultations to develop My Life, My Lead: Opportunities for strengthening approaches to the social determinants and cultural determinants of Indigenous Health: Report on the national consultations December 2017.

The My Life, My Lead consultations included:
  • thirteen face-to-face consultations, across every state and territory, reaching approximately 600 participants; and
  • 102 written submissions.
The consultations examined the integral and supportive role culture plays and analysed how social factors impact on a person’s health and wellbeing at each stage of life. These experiences are the basis for the revised Implementation Plan.

The Implementation Plan is being co-designed and developed in partnership between the Australian Government and the Implementation Plan Advisory Group and the Implementation Plan Working Group, with strong representation from the community controlled health sector.

What’s the difference between the Implementation Plan and Closing the Gap?

The development of the next Implementation Plan is being guided by the co-design of the overarching policy framework for the Closing the Gap Refresh.

In particular, the Priority Reform Areas developed by the Coalition of Peaks and agreed in principle by governments will be embedded in the Implementation Plan, subject to the outcomes of the public consultation.

These include to:
  • develop and strengthen structures to ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in shared decision making at the national, state, local and regional levels and embedding their ownership, responsibility and expertise to close the gap;
  • build the formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled service sectors to deliver Closing the Gap services and programs in agreed priority areas; and
  • ensure mainstream government agencies and institutions that deliver services and programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples undertake systemic and structural transformation to contribute to Closing the Gap.

How will the new Implementation Plan be different?

The Implementation Plan will remain the integral framework for achieving the vision, principles and strategies of the overarching National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-23. The revision of the Implementation Plan will take into account emerging evidence, opportunities and priorities, with a focus on:
  • embedding the social determinants of health and cultural determinants of health;
  • ensuring alignment with relevant policies and priorities, including the Closing the Gap Refresh; and
  • simplify the goals and actions.
Key priorities will also be incorporated in the new Implementation Plan, including:
  • ending avoidable blindness and deafness;
  • eliminating rheumatic heart disease of the course of this decade; and
  • opportunities through the new $160 million 10-year Indigenous Health Research Fund.
The new Implementation Plan will include focus areas that identify where change is needed to support improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, taking a strengths-based and culturally informed approach to health and wellbeing.

The focus areas will extend across each stage of life and throughout the Australian health system and will target the social determinants of health and promote the cultural determinants of health, as the foundations for a healthy life.

While the focus will be on the Australian health system and its accountability to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, this will include the need for cross-sector partnerships to effectively address the social determinants.

Activities in the new Implementation Plan will be simplified to adopt an outcomes focus and to be relevant to both governments and communities. This will enable the plan to be contextualised to community needs through co-design.

What will the new Implementation Plan focus on?

The draft focus areas for the new Implementation Plan will include:
  • Workforce – addressing the changes needed across the health workforce to drive equitable access to culturally safe, responsive and high quality health care.
  • Healthy living – addressing key measures that support healthy lives, such as preventative health, early intervention, health promotion and health literacy, reducing the impact of disease on quality of life and social and emotional wellbeing.
  • Cultural wellbeing – promoting language, knowledge, beliefs, kinship, cultural expression, caring for country and ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander governance is supported and valued.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Organisations – emphasising the important and ongoing role these organisations play in driving culturally responsive solutions, particularly the community controlled sector.
  • Strong families and communities – enabling safe and healthy families and communities through environmental health, food security and ensuring that strong, community voices and experiences are at the centre of decision making.
  • Cross-sector partnerships – ensuring better planning and coordination between governments, communities and service sectors—particularly mainstream services—to meet the needs of the person, and in the context of their family and community, and respond to these unimpeded by organisational and service silos.

How have the social determinants been identified and included?

The social determinants recognise the holistic nature of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and social and emotional wellbeing.

The Implementation Plan recognises the role of cross-sector partnerships in addressing determinants including early childhood development; education and youth; employment and income; housing; environment and infrastructure; poverty; racism; interaction with government systems and services; law and justice; alcohol, tobacco and other drug dependency; and food security. These social determinants were identified in the My Life, My Lead consultations.

What are the cultural determinants of health?

The cultural determinants of health are the things that support good health, including country and caring for country, knowledge and beliefs, language, self-determination, kinship, and cultural expression.

The cultural determinants in the proposed Implementation Plan framework are informed by the Mayi Kuwayu study on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing and further work by the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research.

How much funding is being provided for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health?

The Implementation Plan guides investment and funding decisions for programs and initiatives that improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This includes:
  • funding through mainstream programs such as the Medicare Benefits Schedule, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, aged care, health workforce, and public hospital funding; and
  • Indigenous-specific funding through the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP).
The Australian Government has committed $4.1 billion for Indigenous-specific health initiatives over four years to 2022-23, which includes an annual increase of around 4 per cent.

Of this funding, nearly $4.0 billion is provided through the IAHP. The Aboriginal community controlled sector receives nearly two-thirds of the total IAHP funding.

Who can I contact for further information?

Further targeted consultations on the development of the Implementation Plan will be occurring in late 2019 and early 2020. For more information, please email health.implementation.plan@health.gov.au.