Australians are being urged to get behind National Close the Gap Day and register an event for Thursday 22 March.
Tens of thousands of Australians are expected to take part in events in support of the Close the Gap campaign, which aims to achieve health equality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians by 2030.
Around 600 community groups, health services, schools and individuals around Australia have already registered online to hold a Close the Gap event in their homes, workplaces, schools and communities.
Oxfam Close the Gap Day campaign coordinator Tom Widdup said people registering an event would receive a kit containing information on running an event, posters, stickers, an informative DVD, and a Close the Gap T-shirt. School-specific resources also are available.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples die 10 – 17 years earlier than non-Indigenous Australians, and this is totally unacceptable,” Mr Widdup said. “While some progress on Close the Gap commitments has been made, there’s a real need to maintain the pressure so that the government stays on track.
“Australian State and Federal Governments have committed to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representatives on health inequality,“ he said. “However, we must ensure that the partnership is a genuine one that has Indigenous people at the core of the decision-making about their health needs.”
Mr Widdup said the Federal Government also had promised to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples on a national plan to close the gap.
“We must keep the momentum going – we want to see progress towards this national plan of action, as well as continued funding of the government’s closing the gap programs past 2013 when they currently expire,” he said.
Mr Widdup said the critical social issues of housing, education and self-determination that contributed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health inequality still needed to be adequately addressed.
The Close the Gap campaign was formed by over 40 Indigenous, health and human rights organisations in 2006 and has over 175 000 registered supporters committed to closing the gap on life expectancy and tackling the health crisis that sees babies born to Aboriginal mothers die at twice the rate of other Australian babies and experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.
To find an event in your area or to host an event visit www.oxfam.org.au/nctgd
Media queries to Laurelle Keough on 0409 960 100 or firstname.lastname@example.org