The AMA released its 2006 Report card: Undue Punishment? Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Prison: An Unacceptible Reality on 18th May at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, 186 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne.
In the 2006 Report Card the AMA is calling on the Federal Government to:
1. Keep those out of prison who should not be there, principally those with mental health and substance abuse problems.
The AMA calls on all jurisdictions to make imprisonment the action of last resort for those with mental health or substance abuse problems and to set specific annual reduction targets for the number of individuals incarcerated with these problems.
2. Ensure that health service provision in prisons is the best it can be—in particular, supporting inmates to take control of their health and the determinants of their health.
The AMA calls upon the Federal, State and Territory Governments to adopt and actively implement the United Nations 1990 General Assembly Resolution on the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners. Article Nine of the Resolution states: "Prisoners shall have access to the health services available in the country without discrimination on the grounds of their legal situation".
To achieve this the AMA calls for:
- The Federal Health Minister for Health and Ageing to immediately make an exception to clause 19 (2) of the Health Insurance Act so prisoners can claim Medicare rebates for non-hospital health services, and to reinstate their eligibility for the PBS, including all safety net entitlements.
- The Federal Government to require all States and Territories to implement the UN resolution on the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners (1990)and therefore to make the mainstream health system responsible for all aspects, including provision, of prison health services.
- A revision of the Standard Guidelines for Corrections in Australia, to make them consistent with UN Resolution, Article 9.
- Indigenous individuals to have full access to Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs). This is imperative if there is to be a smooth transition of healthcare from within prison to external healthcare agencies, principally AMSs.
- The Corrective Services Administrators Conference to ensure the following two documents comply with the UN resolution on the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners (1990) and as a matter of urgency for all Governments to fund the full implementation of the Operational Standards in all prisons once the documents are consistent and endorsed:
- The Policy Guidelines for the Provision of Health Services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in Custody; and
- Guidance on Operational Standards for the Provision of Health Services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in Custody.
In the 2006 Report Card Update Insert on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service Funding , the AMA identifies a $460 million annual short fall in primary health care spending and calls on the Federal Government to:
- Commit to close the gap within five years and to—jointly with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and other relevant Indigenous representatives—set standards for provision of primary health care services and core fund these at actual cost.
In the 2006 Report Card Update Insert on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Professionals the AMA calls on the Federal Government to:
- All Australian medical schools and governments to adopt and implement the Framework.
- The Federal Government to fully fund the implementation of the Framework, which we estimate would cost approximately $16 million a year.
The Good News Stories insert includes examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific programs and a more general program that represent good alternatives to incarceration for those with substance abuse problems.