The future of healthcare: Senator Richard Di Natale discussing Health in 21st Century Australia – at The George Institute of Global Health
This morning, the Juntos team were very excited to attend an inspiring discussion at The George Institute with Senator Richard Di Natale about Health in 21st Century Australia.
Senator Di Natale, as Leader of the Australian Greens and previously a public health specialist is a passionate advocate of healthcare reforms and had some thought-provoking points to share with an audience of healthcare professionals. This included some of the key issues our country’s health system is currently facing and how things could be changed for the better.
As an organisation interested in creating impact and affecting behaviour change in the healthcare space, Juntos were keen to understand the key trends and implications of change in the healthcare sector and how this may impact both providers and clients alike.
Below are some of the key outtakes from Senator Di Natale’s talk and the follow-up Q&A.
How do we have the biggest impact on health?
Senator Di Natale highlighted throughout his talk the importance of prevention being put back on the national agenda and stressed that prevention is the most cost effective aspect of our healthcare system.
Instilling prevention into the system requires a drive to tackle key social and environmental factors. With Australia facing an obesity epidemic and having one of the highest rates of diabetes globally, a key element of this would be reforms to corporate influence on public policy, where currently alcohol and fast-food corporations have strong links to both major parties, helping them to maintain their interests.
Senator Di Natale stated that it is important for the government to agree on clear guidelines for food labelling, advertising etc. based on scientific fact and evidence before engaging with these corporations to become ‘part of the solution’.
How do we ensure better health access for communities that need it most?
Having previously worked in Aboriginal health in the Northern Territory, Senator Di Natale had some clear views around the need to offer adequate healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, an area he says is not currently being invested in enough. And funding is not the only thing required. He also spoke about the need for consultation with Aboriginal communities to really understand their needs and also giving Aboriginal people a stronger voice and autonomy in running healthcare programs for their communities.
Senator Di Natale also spoke about the need to advocate for the challenges faced by people in regional communities, where access to sufficient healthcare can be limited and often not a focus on Government spending.
How do we create a sustainable and affordable health system?
Senator Di Natale spoke about his hope for creating a truly universal healthcare system, based on equity and availability for all.
He stated the importance of avoiding a move towards a two-tiered healthcare system (citing the US as an example of a similar system), where only a select group of people have access to top-tier healthcare, whilst a secondary group are faced with healthcare provision similar to a ‘safety net full of holes’.
He also discussed reform in government spending in healthcare, suggesting that Australians should not be incentivised, through rebates, to take out private insurance and that this funding would be much better spent (and give a better return) if invested into the public health system.
At the heart of Senator Di Natale’s talk was the idea that to bring about change, fact and evidence is not enough on its own. People need to become more engaged in the national debate, be opinionated and become the ‘squeaky wheel’ that gets noticed and brings about change.