Implementation Plan Advisory Group (IPAG) - Communique - 22 October 2019

Page last updated: 07 January 2020

Implementation Plan Advisory Group (IPAG) - Communique - 22 October 2019 (PDF 153 KB)

The Implementation Plan Advisory Group (IPAG) held its twelfth meeting in Canberra on 22 October 2019 in relation to the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 (the Implementation Plan).

The meeting was co-chaired by Ms Donna Murray, Deputy Chair of the National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF), and Mr Gavin Matthews, First Assistant Secretary, Indigenous Health Division, Australian Government Department of Health. Ms Murray advised that she had been delegated the role of IPAG Co-Chair from Ms Pat Turner (Chair of the NHLF). Ms Turner was also in attendance at this meeting as an IPAG member.

Report Card Launch

The Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt, MP, attended the meeting to launch the Report Card for the Implementation Plan. The Minister acknowledged the members of IPAG, the NHLF and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, communities and other stakeholders for their involvement and advice in the development of the Report Card.

The Report Card outlines the progress made to date against the Implementation Plan, with improvements across a range of health and social outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Some key achievements include:
  • all three goals in the maternal health and parenting domain are on track to be achieved by 2023;
  • the 88 percent immunisation target for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 1-year-olds is on track to be met by 2023;
  • as at 31 December 2018 nationally, 97 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5 years were fully immunised, compared with 95 per cent of other children; and
  • all goals relating to smoking are on track to be achieved by 2023, and this is expected to have an impact on the burden of disease over time.
Despite these achievements, more work is needed to close the gap in health inequality. Areas for action include:
  • building a better understanding of health service needs at the regional level to ensure the right services are available for the populations that need them;
  • embedding cultural safety across health services, particularly within the mainstream sector;
  • acknowledging the impact of trauma as an underlying cause of poor health; and
  • providing young people with access to culturally safe, strength-based mental health and support services.
The Minister discussed a number of priorities to continue to improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
  • The $160 million of Indigenous Health Research Funding over 10 years;
  • Ending avoidable blindness, avoidable deafness and rheumatic heart disease;
  • Continuation of successful immunisation programs; and
  • Ongoing support for the Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health sector.
The Report Card for the Implementation Plan can be located on the Department’s website.

Implementation Plan Development

The Chair of the Implementation Plan Working Group provided an update to IPAG members on the development of the next Implementation Plan, which is progressing well. Members were invited to provide feedback on a draft framework for the next Implementation Plan. A presentation on the development of the next Implementation Plan will be provided at the NACCHO General Members Conference on 5-6 November 2019.


IPAG Members received a range of presentations at the meeting to further inform consideration and monitoring of progress across Aboriginal community-controlled and mainstream health system components associated with the Implementation Plan. These included:
  • Ms Jane Christie from the National Indigenous Australians Agency provided an update on remote housing;
  • The Closing the Gap Refresh Taskforce on current developments towards the Closing the Gap refresh, Ms Turner also provided an update and advised that there are external consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples underway;
  • An update from Prof Kerry Arabena focussing on the cultural determinants of health, with a view to building practical and culturally informed solutions into the next iteration of the Implementation Plan; and
  • A number of updates from the Department of Health, including: the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Medical Workforce Plan; the National Health Reform Agreement; pharmaceutical access in prisons and an update from the health demand and supply utilisation patterns planning tool (HeaDS UPP) team.

Implementation Plan Deliverables

Members noted progress made against the deliverables that are outlined in the Implementation Plan. As at 30 September 2019:
  • 75 of the Implementation Plan deliverables had met their 2018 milestone, with ongoing work to progress the remaining 31;
  • work is progressing well on the Implementation Plan deliverables with a 2023 milestone, with a small number already complete;
  • there are 12 Implementation Plan goals on track, with six not on track and two unable to be reported on.
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