The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has called on the Australian Government to work closely with local communities and organisations such as The Fred Hollows Foundation to improve Indigenous health.

According to AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, "The AMA believes that non-government organisations such as Oxfam, The Fred Hollows Foundation, NACCHO, World Vision, and Save the Children have a successful history and the necessary hands-on experience to improve community capacity."

"Genuine community capacity-building requires significant resources, a long-term vision, and targeted government support to empower the local people. It requires a generational shift from dependence to self-reliance. But government agencies are not always the best choices for facilitating these generational changes," says  Dr Hambleton.

The AMA's statement follows Prime Minister Julia Gillard's recent visit to the Northern Territory.

Work in Indigenous communities

In many Indigenous communities across Australia, levels of poverty are comparable to those in some developing countries. In some parts of the country, between 65 and 70 per cent of Indigenous people die before the age of 65. 

The Foundation's work in Indigenous communities focuses on tackling the social determinants of poor health and supporting the work of Aboriginal-controlled organisations and health services. Through a series of interrelated projects including eye health, community engagement and development, aural health, literacy, nutrition, women's development, and training and skills development, The Foundation is able to address the underlying causes of health inequity.

Professor Fred Hollows' ground-breaking work in Indigenous communities began in the 1970's with the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program which screened the eyes of about 62,000 Indigenous Australians over a period of three years.

Inspired by Fred's work, The Foundation is committed to working with Indigenous partners in 55 Indigenous communities across Australia to improve the health and well-being of Indigenous people.

>Find out more about The Foundation's Indigenous health programs.