Breakfast talk with Hon. Ken Wyatt, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Minister for Indigenous Health

The Honourable Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Minister for Indigenous Health, spoke at The George Institute’s latest #GeorgeTalks Q and A event, hosted at Parliament House, Canberra.

Discussions at the event centered on how to ‘Close The Gap’, with a recognition that co-designed healthcare must be a priority and that to address social determinants a whole government approach was needed.

Minister Wyatt also spoke about the models of care required to ensure true access and equity in the health system.

“We have Aboriginal people working in the system, but when we’ve got them entrenched in every position across the different roles in health, then we’ve got a better opportunity of influencing and changing what happens.”

Minister Wyatt also stressed the increasing number and role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers. “That has seen data and research that truly reflect our people’s views in a way that it hadn’t been reflected before, but it is the translational research and transformation into practice that’s been an evident element of Indigenous researchers working with colleagues. So we’ve seen an incredible change.”

He also discussed Australia’s rapidly ageing population, stressing the need for new strategies to deal with this burden, and highlighted his focus areas, which included tackling rheumatic heart disease and homelessness in the communities.

He concluded by discussing the National Apology saying there is unfinished business: “The apology was a great healing for the nation, but the unfinished business was the expectation of what would come.

“I have two universities who are doing genetic studies that tell me that intergenerational trauma impacts on the genomic structure of the individual…..there was a strong correlation between the Stolen Generation, mothers and fathers and the flow on effect on their children and that will sit for three or four generations. It requires interventions to break the circles, so we’ve got work still to do.”

The panel discussion featured Minister Wyatt and Dr Tamara Mackean, Senior Research Fellow, The George Institute.

The George Institute is a regular convener of independent health policy forums with key policymakers to facilitate robust conversation on Australia's biggest health challenges and opportunities.