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The imperative for investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

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Evidence points to a “good return” from funding comprehensive primary care services for Indigenous people

This issue of the Journal showcases the work of health services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care settings across Australia. The research reported provides clear indication of where funding is likely to improve the health of Indigenous peoples. It also creates an economic imperative for action, in addition to the social justice arguments made elsewhere.1

The health care gaps highlighted require policy responses and long-term financial investment. However, there is uncertainty over the ongoing funding of many Closing the Gap initiatives as well as Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHSs) and Medicare Locals. There is also no certainty to the future of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023.2

Panaretto and colleagues describe outcomes achieved by ACCHSs3 among a population poorly served by the health system.4 They see the ACCHS model of comprehensive, holistic, ongoing primary care as being akin to the medical home model widely espoused in Australia and internationally.5 They also note that its benefits in terms of employment are an important contributor to the…