Health Policy

Australia has become a nation with vast inequalities in health care, and this should be a concern for all Australians.

The World Health Organisation states "To reach a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being an individual must be able to identify and to realise aspirations, to satisfy needs, and to change or cope with the environment." Health concerns the whole social and economic environment.

The PLP believes that it is better to promote and enhance health and prevent ill health, rather than to attempt to treat illness later and that is why we believe that we need to take the holistic view of health.

The most significant determinants of health status are environmental, social and economic factors. Health is severely affected by poverty and unemployment. The most extreme threats to our health lie in the degradation of our social and physical environment, including deteriorating housing, declining incomes, loss of social services, climate change, and national and international disintegration and war.

The PLP believes that to be effective, health policy must be integrated with other progressive policies on education, economy and environment. Australia's current economic regime is subjecting many people to unhealthy levels of stress at the very time that financial barriers to health care are growing. This can lead to harmful and even tragic delays in seeking needed care. Health services are becoming more fragmented and less accessible. To counteract these negative developments the PLP will commit to the following principles.

The PLP is committed

  • Every Australian has the right to free, high quality health care.

    The PLP is committed to providing every Australian with a readily accessible, comprehensive, fully funded public health system. The basis for this PLP health policy is a strong emphasis on preventative health along with access to effective primary and community health, dental care, and disability services. All covered by Medicare and backed up by effective hospital services when needed.

  • The PLP believes healthy communities aim to prevent illness as well as providing good primary health care and hospital services.

    People will not be healthy if there is poor housing, widespread unemployment, poverty, crime, or environmental pollution.

  • The PLP will seek to remove the financial barriers and reduce waiting lists which now delay early treatment of health problems.

    We will support all moves to remove prescription charges, increase bulk billing, increase nursing and clinical staffing levels, and re-open hospital wards as required.

  • The PLP is opposed to so called ‘free enterprise’ changes to the health system.

    These are neither free nor enterprising. Private hospitals will not be eligible for handouts, government subsidies or tax rebates. The PLP is alarmed at the extent to which our health system has been privatised and we view with great concern the degree to which the “American model” has gained a foothold in our system with its emphasis on private profits rather than health care for the population as a whole. We will seek to reverse that trend, and instead bolster the public sector.

  • The PLP believes that health priorities and needs are best identified from the community upwards.

    So, we will establish democratically elected Area Health Boards which, together with State and Federal government health bodies, be responsible for regulation and coordination of hospitals, GPs, and other health services. Community Health Committees will act as local health issue watchdogs to consult and liaise locally over specific health needs and health-related issues, including water quality, transport and sewerage systems, air and noise pollution, food production, processing and preparation.

  • The PLP will maintain adequate levels of Medicare outlets, and increase them where necessary, in areas that have been neglected.

  • The PLP will investigate the connection between opt out provisions for the higher Medicare Levy in relation to choosing private health insurance, and correct any anomalies.

  • The PLP favours funding a program for rural areas where medical practitioners can be salaried, as are teachers, with financial incentives given to GPs willing to work in rural or isolated areas.

  • The PLP supports funded vaccination programs along with public information campaigns on the importance of vaccinations.

  • The PLP believes that it is important to recognise and respond to early signs of mental health problems and to have in place early intervention and comprehensive illness prevention strategies.

    We recognise that people who suffer mental health problems are one of the groups most discriminated against in our society.

  • The PLP believes that drug abuse should be treated as a health problem as with current tobacco and alcohol use.

    The use of mandated rehabilitation, instead of jailing, will be encouraged when possible.

  • We will work to make sure that women have access to affordable, gender-specific, and culturally appropriate health care, and the right to control their fertility. This will include availability of contraceptive options and access to information regarding contraception; choice of appropriate medical practitioners; birthing centre’s where appropriate; sex education at an appropriate age; Family Planning clinics; genetic counselling; cervical screening program; breast x-rays; the right to control their fertility, reproductive health, and their bodies.

  • The PLP will promote public awareness campaigns aimed specifically towards men.

    Often cultural attitudes encourage men not to seek medical help and to privately tolerate ill health. There is a high incidence of suicide in young men that must recognised and addressed. An ongoing national campaign highlighting this issue along with community level education and assistance programs will be a priority. We will fund research, treatment and health education campaigns for specific men's health problems such as prostrate and testicular cancer.

  • The PLP recognises the need for targeted “close the gap” programs to be implemented to improve the health of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders.

    We will work closely with those communities to ensure that the right programs are directed to the right places, and ensure indigenous people are involved in guiding and implementing them.