The Alliance welcomes this opportunity to contribute our insights and recommendations for the Australian Government’s consideration ahead of the 2023-24 Budget.
Self-care support in all aspects of health care is central to achieving high rates of participation by individuals in the maintenance of their health and wellbeing, particularly among disadvantaged, vulnerable and priority health populations.
Investment in person-centred, integrated care models – combined with an increased focus on empowerment of individuals to protect and improve their health, health equity and collaboration – is necessary if the Australian Government is to ensure the long-term sustainability of healthcare funding and improve health and wellbeing for all Australians.
Self-care for health is an evidence-based, complementary, and cost-effective component of the health that, particularly for priority populations who have increased risks of poor health and preventable chronic disease, empowers and supports individuals and communities in the management of their health; enhances preventive health action; fosters a more health resilient population; and helps ensure the sustainability Australia’s healthcare system and services. However, Australia’s current healthcare structures and culture do not adequately encourage, incentivise or support health professionals (HCPs) and services to provide people with this support.
Increasingly, Australia’s health care systems and services, originally structured to primarily support the treatment of acute illness, are ill-equipped to effectively address Australia’s contemporary health needs and challenges; non-acute and preventable illnesses, chronic condition management, mental health services, and specialist care for acute illness and complex, chronic health conditions.
And yet, the evidence is clear that it is the illnesses arising from modifiable risk factors that are now consuming increasing proportions of health budgets, impacting health service capacity and contributing much of the national and individual burden of disease.
The Alliance believes that investing effort and modest resources to enhance the self-care capacity and capabilities of individuals, communities and HCPs, is a straightforward and sensible approach to improving the effectiveness of Australia’s health services, and to begin to develop capability in preventive health, health improvement and illness prevention.
Additionally, targeted investment for initiatives that support greater consumer empowerment and independence in health, policymakers can not only help all Australians to become an informed advocate for, and active participant in their own health, but also relieve the pressure on Australia’s emergency care services.
Australia Self-Care Alliance Budget Recommendations
1. Allocate funding for the staged roll out of a common ailment scheme system in community pharmacy, offering potential national healthcare savings of up to $1.26B per annum.
2. Commit an initial $10M over five years for two (2) complementary and targeted initiatives to enhance Australia’s self-care capabilities, specifically:
- $5M to develop and implement a digital health information accreditation scheme and a library of accredited digital health information apps, and
- $5M to develop training frameworks and programs that strengthen health professionals’ competencies to deliver self-care education and engagement.
About the Self-Care Alliance
The Australian Self-Care Alliance is Australia’s unique collaboration of healthcare consumers, health promotion charities, policy experts and industry partners that promotes the adoption of self-care for health and its implementation as a core element of all aspects of physical and mental health services and policies for Australia. The Alliance was formed to advocate for the structural, cultural and policy changes required to support greater self-care in Australia’s health and care systems.