Oxfam welcomes Government’s commitment to new partnership to Close the Gap in Indigenous health

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 03 Nov 2011

The Australian Government’s announcement that it will work in partnership with the new National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF) to achieve health equality for Indigenous peoples within a generation heralds the start of a new era in Indigenous health, Oxfam Australia said today.

The newly announced NHLF will work through the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (Congress). The NHLF has established itself as the core body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health peak bodies.

Oxfam Australia Director of Policy James Ensor said this morning’s announcement by Minister for Indigenous Health Warren Snowdon and Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon to develop a plan in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health bodies had been a key and consistent objective of the Close the Gap campaign.

“Partnership must be at the centre of government approaches to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage in health and other areas,” Mr Ensor said.

“The announcement today represents a welcome breakthrough, but Government must use this opportunity to allow the full participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health bodies in all aspects of addressing their health needs.

“Oxfam congratulates the Congress and those Indigenous health bodies for forging this new national partnership.”

Mr Ensor said it was heartening to see these Indigenous health bodies – such as the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisation and the Australian Indigenous Psychologists’ Association – which played such a leading role in the Close the Gap campaign, move into this new NHLF to work in partnership with government on a new national health plan.

He said more than 150,000 Australians were now active supporters of the campaign to Close the Gap. They are aware of the human tragedy that lies behind the statistics on Aboriginal health – that babies born to Aboriginal mothers die at twice the rate of non-Indigenous babies and go on to experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.

The Close the Gap campaign is Australia’s largest campaign to improve Indigenous health. It is a coalition of some of Australia’s leading Indigenous and non-Indigenous health, human rights and Aboriginal organisations, committed to working with Federal, State and Territory Governments to narrow the life expectancy gap between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and other Australians within a generation.

Oxfam Australia is a foundational member of the Close the Gap campaign.

For more information or interviews, please contact Laurelle Keough on 0409 960 100 or laurellek@oxfam.org.au