Labor condemns the confirmation today that funding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander anti-smoking programs has a cut of $8.8 million over the next financial year.
The Turnbull government had committed $44 million in the 2015-2016 Budget for 2017-2018 to the Tackling Indigenous Smoking Programme – today’s announcement of $35.2 confirms the cut.
It is good that there is a commitment to address Indigenous smoking but this announcement does not go far enough.
The question is, where has the money gone?
This cut is in addition to the $130 million cut which was taken from the programme in the devastating 2014-15 Abbott/Hockey budget.
Despite the Government’s acknowledgment that smoking causes the greatest burden of disease, disability, injury and early death among Indigenous people and accounts for 23 per cent of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians they have cut funding from this essential programme to tackle smoking.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 2.5 times as likely to smoke as other Australians. We simply cannot afford to cut funding from culturally specific preventative programmes that have been proven to work.
“Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health Organisations do great work in preventing smoking and encouraging smokers to quit, but more needs to be done. And it appears now they are expected to do more with less,” Mr Snowdon said.
“We now know that we will certainly not meet the 2018 COAG target to halve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rates. Our only chance in reaching the target is through this Government’s concerted effort to safeguard the dedicated funding that was in place.”
Smoking is the leading and most preventable cause of illness and early death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but instead the Turnbull government is tackling smoking with less funding.