The Australian Health Promotion Association welcomes an increased focus on prevention in the 2023-2024 Federal Budget.
There were also some key health promotion highlights and some steps in the right direction towards addressing social determinants of health and health equity. We acknowledge these positive directions; however, we continue to call for increased, sustained and comprehensive investment in health promotion and illness prevention beyond 2024-2025.
Investing in health promotion is a smart strategy. It keeps people out of hospital, reduces the burden on overstretched health services and allows people to live healthier, more productive and meaningful lives. Health promotion and illness prevention saves lives, money and deliver the best public return on investment in health – as outlined in our recent infographic calling on increased investment.
Earlier this year AHPA prepared a pre-budget submission, so we have taken a look at how the budget fairs against our asks:
Implementation, monitoring and evaluation of, the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030.
It was pleasing to see significant investment in some key areas of the National Preventive Health Strategy (e.g. vaping reform and smoking cessation, mental health and suicide prevention). Although this investment is positive, significant gaps remain in Strategy investment, with no announcement of the implementation and evaluation plan and relevant resourcing. Ongoing investment in this Strategy is critical to improving health outcomes.
AHPA calls on the Australian Government to get serious about promoting health and to commit at least 5% of the health budget to Health Promotion and Illness Prevention, in line with the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030. As the Strategy states, “Investment in prevention needs to be enhanced in order to achieve a better balance between treatment and prevention in Australia, as outlined in Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan.”
Timely establishment of an Australian Centre for Disease Control with a strong focus on health promotion
AHPA congratulates the Albanese Government for the $91.1 million allocated to establishing the Australian Centre for Disease Control. This is a much-needed investment in the health of Australians. We urge the Government to ensure that this investment continues beyond the two years to ensure sustained efforts to prevent, protect and promote health.
Read the Health Promotion Journal of Australia’s Editorial: Health promotion is central to the establishment of an Australian Centre for Disease Control.
Enhancing the Australian Health Promotion and Illness Prevention Workforce
Investment in a skilled and competent health workforce is vital.
The focus of the health workforce investment in the budget is on primary care, which will provide a critical boost to health capacity in Australia. However, it is unclear how much of this will focus on prevention. AHPA urges the Government to focus future investments in the health workforce on health promotion in order to achieve a better balance between treatment and prevention in Australia. It will be important to see investment in the health promotion and prevention workforce within the Australian Centre for Disease Control.
Action on the forces that shape health
The budget addressed several key factors that shape health.
Providing relief from cost-of-living pressures was a clear focus. AHPA welcomes the announcement to raise the rate of income support and provide some additional support for housing. However, we note that many Australians live below the poverty line and that these investments will only go some way to ameliorating the cost of living and reducing pressure on the housing system. We will continue to partner with ACOSS and other key groups to advocate for a higher level of income support (Raise the Rate campaign) and to ensure everyone’s right to shelter.
It was pleasing to see a focus on climate and investment in renewable energy – this needs to be a more significant focus in subsequent budgets if we are to achieve action to address the climate crisis. An explicit focus on health and climate needs greater action.
A focus on intergenerational disadvantage and improving child and family wellbeing via the Entrenched disadvantage package is commended.
We are pleased to see investment in Indigenous health across a number of areas including but not limited to the expansion of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program to include vaping prevention, funding to strengthen educational outcomes and protect traditional knowledge, and funding to support The Voice. AHPA supports any investment in Indigenous Health that is underpinned by consultation with community and is community-led. Increased and sustained investment is needed.
Other budget outcomes
Four year funding committment on expansion of activities that focus on reducing transmission of HIV and providing care for those living with HIV who do not have access to Medicare. In addition, there was funding to extend sexual health services provided by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.
The 10 Year National Action Plan for LGBTIQA+ Health and Wellbeing continues to have commitment in this budget, however this will come from existing resources.
To read more information about the 2023-2024 Budget below are some helpful links:
- Budget Overview
- Budget Measures
- Fact sheets and other health, aged care and sport information from the 2023–24 Budget
- Croakey Health Media has several commentary pieces with a focus on #HealthBudget2023
- The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) response
- Climate and Health Alliance's budget analysis.
AHPA will continue to share information about budget measures as they arise.