The members of rock band Eskimo Joe have announced today that they will be official ambassadors of the Close the Gap campaign that aims to close the Indigenous life expectancy gap by 2030.
Their announcement coincides with National Close the Gap Day (Thursday 22 March), which sees over 120,000 people around the country taking part in community events to remind political leaders of their commitments to end the Indigenous health crisis.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples die more than ten years younger than other Australians, and Indigenous infant mortality is more than two times that of other Australians.
Eskimo Joe lead singer Kavyen Temperley said the Indigenous health crisis was an issue for all Australians.
“I consider the life expectancy gap between Indigenous people and other Australians to be one of the most important issues facing Australia, and one that has been neglected for such a long time,” Kavyen said.
“A lot of people in this country are aware of the fact that Indigenous people are disadvantaged, but so many people aren’t aware of just how much.
“Indigenous health is an issue that all Australians should read up on and help spread the word, because it is possible to close the gap in our lifetime.”
Close the Gap campaign co-chair and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, welcomed Eskimo Joe’s commitment to the campaign.
“Eskimo Joe have taken the time to learn about some of the health problems facing Aboriginal people and have seen first-hand some of the work that Indigenous people are doing for themselves to close the life expectancy gap,” Mr Gooda said.
“The Australian Government has committed to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representatives on health inequality to develop a long-term health plan, but we need to ensure that partnership is genuine.
“We must ensure that Indigenous people are at the heart of decision-making about their health needs.”
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.
Aboriginal Australians experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart and kidney disease. Babies born to Aboriginal mothers die at more than twice the rate of other Australian babies.
Watch a video of Eskimo Joe in Shepparton learning about the Close the Gap campaign
Images of Eskimo Joe in Shepparton are available here.
For media enquiries please contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinators Laurelle Keough on 0409 960 100 or Sunita Bose on 0407 555 960.