The Australian Greens have expressed very serious concerns that the WA Government has reportedly not entered into negotiations with the Federal Government on a new funding agreement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
"Today's COAG Reform Council report shows that WA has the nation's biggest discrepancy in mortality rates for Aboriginal people compared to non-Aboriginal people," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues said today.
"Aboriginal people in our state are dying at the rate of 1322.1 per 100,000; whereas for non-Aboriginal people, the rate is 582.4.
"The difference itself is 783.7 people per 100,000 - the highest in the nation. While this gap is reducing, there is no published target for WA, so we cannot measure the progress being made.
"The mortality rate for Aboriginal children in WA is three and a half times that of other kids. While the gap is closing nationally, the discrepancy in WA is still very high. This is unacceptable and is a clear that we need to step up the effort.
"It was revealed yesterday that the WA Government has been unwilling to enter into discussions about signing up to the new National Partnership on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes.
"New funding for this agreement was announced in the Federal budget, the Indigenous Health Minister Warren Snowdon confirmed yesterday that the Government is ‘in negotiation with all but Western Australia, who have refused to talk to us'.
"As a West Australian, I find this deeply concerning, especially as we see the great disparity that exists in our state.
"Members of Mr Barnett's Government must realise the importance of this agreement and the need to do more to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal people across WA, in particular children.
"I strongly urge the WA Government to begin discussions to ensure this much needed funding is delivered," Senator Siewert concluded.
The COAG Reform Council Report is available online by clicking here.
A transcript of Mr Snowdon's comments is available in Hansard.