Let’s get it right – take part in National Close the Gap Day

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 23 Feb 2010

Show your support for ending the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health crisis by holding an event to mark the fourth annual National Close the Gap Day on Thursday 25 March.

Each year, National Close the Gap Day sees hundreds of events taking place in schools, workplaces, shopping centres, community halls, churches and public spaces throughout the country as people celebrate the progress in the campaign to close the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and urge continued action by the Government.

National Close the Gap Day Coordinator Gary Highland said public support had played a critical role in the government’s progress so far, however it was vital that it continued to ensure the government followed through on the commitments it had made as part of its goal to close the gap by 2030.

“Last year, more than 500 events involving 25,000 people took place around Australia – from large-scale events to small gatherings in people’s homes,” Mr Highland said.  “We’re hoping for even bigger numbers this year.”

Last year’s events ranged from bush tucker days and Indigenous music performances, to school children spelling out CLOSE THE GAP, mural painting, morning teas and Aboriginal community controlled health service open days.

He said while the Government’s support for the goals of the Close the Gap campaign had brought about some big achievements, such as the Council of Australian Governments’ $1.6 billion injection into Indigenous health, gaps remained in the Government’s approach.

As the Close the Gap campaign’s Shadow Report highlighted earlier this month, the Government is yet to deliver on its commitment to a comprehensive action plan made in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and more funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled health services, recognised as the best model of delivering health care for Indigenous Australians.

“More than 135,000 Australians are now active supporters of the campaign to Close the Gap,” Mr Highland said.  “They are aware of the human tragedy that lies behind the statistics on Aboriginal health – that babies born to Indigenous mothers die at twice the rate of other babies, Indigenous Australian men suffer heart disease and stroke at three times the rate of other Australian men, and Indigenous Australian women die from cervical cancer at a rate five times higher than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

“People from all walks of life and from all corners of the country are invited to join them this year – to show their support to close the gap within a generation and urge the government to get it right.”

Oxfam will supply people with everything they need to run an event in their home, workplace or community.

For more information go to http://www.oxfam.org.au/closethegap

For interviews please contact Laurelle Keough at Oxfam Australia on 0409 960 100 or laurellek@oxfam.org.au