Health campaigners welcome COAG to Melbourne with big white letters to spell out, CLOSE THE GAP

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 19 Dec 2007

Campaigners concerned at the 17-year life gap between Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians will show their support for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s decision to place the health of Indigenous people top of the agenda at COAG’s meeting today by forming a welcoming committee outside Melbourne’s Government House.
Close The Gap supporters will greet State Premiers, Territory Chief Ministers and Prime Minister Rudd warmly and encourage them all to get active and play their part in helping to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
‘Close The Gap has been calling on our nation’s leaders to end the inequality in outcomes in health care in Australia,’ said Justin Mohamed, Deputy Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation. ‘And we’re calling on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to realise his pre election commitment to Closing the Gap by making the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders a top priority at COAG.’
As a first step the Close The Gap campaign wants State, Federal and Territory Governments to fund the types of health services that are known to make a difference to the lives and health of Indigenous Australians such as Aboriginal Medical Services. For example Access Economics estimated that an additional investment of $460 million a year would begin to meet the primary health care needs of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders.
The Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG), is an important vehicle to help narrow the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians, explains Mr Mohamed. ‘The health problem can only be overcome with the support and cooperation of Governments at all levels of Australian politics.’
‘The health and welfare of Aboriginal people ought to transcend politics but we still need our nation’s leaders to show vision and courage to help us narrow the 17-year life gap between Indigenous and non Indigenous people,’ said Mr Mohamed. ‘At the end of this meeting today in Melbourne, Close The Gap expects to see at least a time line on how COAG will work together to improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians,’ added Mr Mohamed.
For more information call Ian Woolverton on 0409 181 454