In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community health organisations play a significant role as providers of essential primary health care (PHC) in rural, remote and urban settings. Australian governments have developed policies and funding programs to support this growing health sector. But the current arrangements for funding are much criticised.
Our examination of the current practices and policies of health authorities has identified characteristics of the funding relationship that are important barriers to good practice, as well as some enabling factors. Governments are committed to the development of a robust comprehensive PHC sector, but the classical contracting model is not adequate to support the achievement of this goal. We suggest that implementation of government policy commitments will require a different way of thinking about the relationship between government and the sector, with implications for both sides.
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