Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003

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Parliamentary Record 11


Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Thursday 1 May 2003 limited social service resources such as housing, home care and many other essential services in Alice Springs. I am proud to say that we have made considerable progress on this issue over the last year. The ongoing treatment of three dialysis patients continues at the Tennant Creek Hospital. This will increase to six patients in May-June, and the construction of the stand-alone Tennant Creek renal facility is included on the 2002-03 Capital Works Program. The Department o f Infrastructure, Planning and Environment has commenced design work on the project and recently engaged a local architectural firm to proceed with design and documentation. Layout designs have been produced and presented to Tennant Creek Hospital staff and the community representative management board for comment. These are real steps forward in the battle against chronic disease in the indigenous community. Madam Speaker, I fear that I may not be able to continue this speech. I seek leave to have the balance of it incorporated in the Hansard. Leave granted. Along with remote area nurses and Aboriginal health workers, District Medical Officers have provided the backbone of remote medical services in Central Australia fo r well over 30 years. District Medical Officers also carry a significant public health role and, i f that was not enough, prior to 13 January 2003, they were responsible for coordinating the evacuation o f emergency cases to hospital. On 13 January 2003, responsibility for managing medical emergency retrieval services for the Central Australian region was transferred to the Alice Springs Hospital. This means that District Medical Officers can now focus their full professional attention on general practice and public health servi8ces in remote areas. District Medical Officers have welcomed these changes as a way to reduce high levels o f overtime brought about by difficulties in recruiting to vacant positions. This transfer has occurred seamlessly and at all times services to the public were maintained. Together with the initiatives possible under the Primary Health Care Access Program, it is expected that the District Medical Officers in Central Australia will ensure enhanced access to quality medical services in remote Central Australia. I would like to demonstrate that elsewhere, efforts continue to improve indigenous health outcomes. The issue o f child health is a key matter for the Northern Territory. The Growth Assessment and Action Program (also known as the GAA program) continues to show remarkable results. This program identifies children in the under-five age group whose growth in these crucial years fails to reach standard measurements. In cases where such problems are identified, the program triggers a systematic response from both health professionals and family members. To illustrate the impact o f GAA, let me describe the achievements in one particular remote Central Australian community where GAA continues to demonstrate its value. At this community in the period between 1999 and October last year, there has been better than a fourfold reduction in the proportion o f children considered stunted - 32% in 1999 versus 7% in October 2002). Stunted children are considered short for their age. In the same period, the number o f underweight children has been more than halved -1 8 % in 1999 versus 7% in October 2002). Underweight children are considered too lightweight for their age. The proportion o f children with iron deficiency anaemia has halved. Along with these improvements, Aboriginal Health Workers at this community have been trained in the growth assessment and action approach so that local people gain the skills necessary to tackle child health and growth issues. This government understands the links between child health and the prevention o f the development o f chronic disease in later life. For this reason, we have committed to fund 25 additional child health staff who will further support GAA program and child health initiatives. I would now like to address male health and, particularly, the health o f indigenous males within the Northern Territory. I am aware that in Aboriginal society, it is not considered appropriate for a woman to speak in detail o f such matters. I respect that cultural view. I would, however, like to speak in general terms about the initiatives being taken by the government in partnership with the Aboriginal community in this area. 3964

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