The overburden report: Contracting for Indigenous health services

2 October 2009

In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community health organisations play a significant role as providers of essential primary health care (PHC) in rural, remote and urban settings. Australian governments have developed policies and funding programs to support this growing health sector. But the current arrangements for funding are much criticised. Providers complain about fragmented funding programs, with too many reports required. Government staff also experience problems with administering these funds, with high workloads in processing and managing a multitude of programs and grants, and some lack of compliance by providers, particularly with activity reporting requirements.

This project aims to expand our understanding of these problems and find better ways of funding and regulating PHC for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Specifically, this report seeks to answer these questions:

• What are the major enablers and impediments to effective PHC delivery embedded in the current frameworks
of funding and accountability for PHC services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australian States and Territories?

• How could the effectiveness of funding and accountability arrangements be improved, drawing on insights from current Australian practice and international comparisons?

Authors: Judith Dwyer, Kim O'Donnell, Josée Lavoie, Uning Marlina and Patrick Sullivan

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