The Close the Gap campaign ended on a high in 2007. At their meeting in Melbourne on December 20, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) committed to close the 17 year life gap between Aboriginal & Strait Islanders and other Australians.
But rather than being “mission completed”, this declaration by Australian governments simply marks the end of the first phase of the campaign. In 2008 Close The Gap will press for increasing detail on COAG’s strategy (including timetabling, funding and program priorities) to tackle health inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
So what did COAG agree in December? Broadly a partnership between all levels of government and to work with Indigenous communities to:
- close the life expectancy gap within a generation
- halve the mortality gap for children under five within a decade
- specifically addressed the importance of tackling the debilitating effect of substance and alcohol abuse on Indigenous Australians
- recognised the pathway to closing the gap is inextricably linked to economic development and improved education outcomes
- halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy within a decade
In addition, the Commonwealth agreed to double the $49.3 million in funding previously provided by COAG in 2006 for substance and alcohol rehabilitation and treatment services, particularly in remote areas. And the states and territories committed to complementary investments in services to support this initiative.
These will include, but are not limited to, strengthened policing of alcohol management plans and licensing laws and additional treatment and family support services. COAG has also agreed that states and territories will report on the use of their Commonwealth Grants Commission funding which is granted on the basis of Indigenous need.
For more information on Close The Gap visit www.oxfam.org.au/closethegap
Click here for Equality in Health plan.