Local action, lasting change: Let’s Close the Gap

Campaigns and Advocacy, Indigenous Affairs, Media Releases, News article written on the 01 Feb 2017

Local action can drive lasting change and Oxfam is calling on people around the nation to come together next month to help close the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians by 2030.

Registrations are now open for National Close the Gap Day 2017 on March 16, with tens of thousands of Australians, including community group members, health service professionals, schools and individuals, expected to take part once again this year.

Statistically, an Aboriginal Australian will die at least a full decade younger than a non-Indigenous Australian.

Oxfam Close the Gap Day campaign coordinator Tom Widdup said closing the gap was about more than removing the life expectancy gap within a generation and about improving Indigenous health outcomes overall.

“It’s also about halving the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five, ensuring access to early childhood education in remote communities, halving the gap in in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and tackling the gaps in literacy and numeracy,” Mr Widdup said.

“Our Indigenous suicide rates are among the highest in the world, and Aboriginal people are being locked up in prison at unprecedented rates.

“While some progress has been made, there is no room for complacency in bringing an end to the totally unacceptable inequalities which persist for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Last year was Close the Gap campaign’s biggest year yet, with a record 1630 registered events around the country.

The campaign, now entering its second decade, was formed in 2006 by more than 40 Indigenous, health and human rights organisations committed to closing the gap on life expectancy and health outcomes.

Mr Widdup said people registering an event this year would receive a kit with materials including information about how to run an event, as well as Close the Gap posters, stickers and a T-Shirt.

“Close the Gap is about all of us,” Mr Widdup said. “By supporting and working in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representatives, we can make huge strides towards equality and create lasting change.

“We can do a lot locally while calling on our leaders to step up to do more nationally.

“This is a great opportunity for all Australians, regardless of their background, to come together and tell the Government we want the gap closed once and for all.”

To find an event in your area or to host an event visit www.oxfam.org.au/nctgd

For interviews or more information, please contact Renee Thompson on 0418 873 782 or reneet@oxfam.org.au