The Senate’s bi-partisan support for closing the gap essential

Campaigns and Advocacy, Indigenous Affairs, Media Releases, News article written on the 22 Mar 2012

Thursday 22 March 2012

The Close the Gap campaign has welcomed the Senate’s re-commitment today to closing the gap on Indigenous health inequality.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert today moved a motion in the Senate that all parties re-affirm their commitment to the Statement of Intent to close the gap.

This was a statement signed four years ago by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and then Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson, which committed them to a number of actions, from working on a national plan to achieve health equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, supporting Aboriginal community controlled health services and ensuring the full participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representatives in all aspects of addressing their health needs.

The Senate’s re-commitment comes on National Close the Gap Day, which sees more than 120,000 Australians taking part in events throughout the country, in homes, schools, workplaces, community halls, churches, public spaces, government departments and Aboriginal and mainstream health services to raise awareness about Indigenous health and urge further action by government.

Close the Gap co-chair Jody Broun welcomed the Senate’s re-commitment to addressing the Indigenous health crisis in a way that respected the rights of Indigenous peoples.

“Today, Senate parties re-affirmed their continued bi-partisan commitment, which is absolutely essential if we are to tackle an Indigenous health crisis that sees Indigenous babies more than twice as likely as non-Indigenous babies to die before their fifth birthday,” Ms Broun said.

Close the Gap co-chair Mick Gooda said that this morning, Close the Gap steering committee members met with MPs from all sides of politics in Parliament House to discuss the issue.

“The government must not take its foot off the pedal now,” he said.

“Closing the life expectancy gap has support from all major political parties, $1.6 billion in funding and the government has agreed to work on a national plan to close the gap, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, through the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

“We continue to urge the government to ensure that this partnership is a genuine one, as only when Indigenous people are involved in designing and delivering policies will the health gap be closed.”

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