Health, both physical and mental, is critical to the quality of life of all Australians. Health affects everything we do – our standard of living, our employment, our relationships and how we participate in the social, cultural and economic life of our country. Labor supports the World Health Organisation definition of health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. It is a fundamental human right.
Social and economic inequality are major drivers of ill health in Australia, requiring coordinated and sustained input and investment from different sectors to improve the health of all Australians. This includes the health sector but also the education, employment, housing, social services and other sectors.
Health outcomes and access to health care are unequal for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Labor will work alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to Close the Gap in life expectancy and other indicators of health and wellbeing.
Good health is crucial to Australia’s future economic strength. Good health boosts productivity and improves workplace participation – a healthier country has a stronger economy, as a more equitable society leads to better health for all. A strong and inclusive health system, based on the principle of universal access to health care, is a major competitive advantage for Australia.
Labor created Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Together they form our unique universal health insurance scheme that has seen Australians achieve some of the best health outcomes in the world. Medicare is essential to our vision of a fairer Australia. A Labor Government will reinvest in our universal health care system, including prevention, general practice and primary care, and public hospitals.