Oxfam Australia today called on governments and the Australian community to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda’s call for a new era for a reconciled Australia.
Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, governments and non-Indigenous Australians is central to achieving Indigenous health equality.
“Oxfam’s experience in Indigenous health has shown that programs that are built on strong relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait people are the most effective,” Mr Hewett said.
“This is because people living in affected communities are best-placed to know what does and doesn’t work both culturally and practically.
“We will not be able to solve the complex issues facing this country, such as the 10 – 17 year life expectancy gap, without working closely in partnership with Indigenous Australians.
“There was a real momentum for change after the apology to the Stolen Generations and the bipartisan commitments to close the Indigenous life expectancy gap but, like with any relationship, we need to continue to put work into reconciliation,” Mr Hewett said.
Oxfam Australia has been working for more than 30 years to improve opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to exercise their rights to basic social services, sustainable livelihoods and health equality.
Mr Hewett also endorsed Commissioner Gooda’s view that reform to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the constitution is needed to progress reconciliation in Australia.
“As a human rights based organisation, we see in our work elsewhere around the world the major improvements in people’s health and development that can be achieved when all of their rights are realised and their equality is recognised,” Mr Hewett said.
For more information or to interview Andrew Hewett, contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Sunita Bose on 0407 555 960.