|Jan Barham MP|
Jan Barham, Greens MP and spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs, has welcomed the NSW upper house's passage of a motion calling on the Government to consider a key initiative to close the gap in health outcomes for older Indigenous people.
"This motion called on the NSW Government to consider lowering the eligibility age for the Seniors Card to 45 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I am pleased that the members of the Legislative Council across all parties supported it," Ms Barham said.
"Making the Seniors Card available earlier is a simple, immediate way that we can ensure Indigenous people have improved access to primary health services. By having Seniors Card entitlements, including concession rates on transport and other discounts, we can help to overcome problems with the accessibility and affordability of health services."
The motion was passed on National Close the Gap Day, a campaign that aims to eliminate the health inequality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians by 2030.
"On average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live more than a decade less than other Australians. Closing this gap requires a range of solutions from governments at all levels. Seniors Card eligibility is one part of the solution," Ms Barham said.
"The Aboriginal and Community Care Gathering Committee recommended this initiative, and other organisations involved in the health and human service sectors, including NCOSS, support it. This should be a broadly supported and effective reform."
In its submission on the upcoming budget, NCOSS estimated that lowering the eligibility age would cost approximately $2 million per annum.
Ms Barham noted, "This is an investment worth making, and one that will pay back society as a whole. It will improve the lives of Indigenous people and deliver a more effective allocation of resources."
"I look forward to the day when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people share in the expectation of a healthier and longer life."