Tens of thousands of Australians are taking part in events on National Close the Gap Day to call for an end to the appalling health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
More than 1000 events are set to take place around the country on Thursday 16 March to support Australia’s largest campaign to improve Indigenous health, the Close the Gap campaign.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live 10–17 years less than other Australians. Babies born to Aboriginal mothers die at more than twice the rate of other Australian babies, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.
Also on Thursday, Close the Gap Campaign co-chair Jackie Huggins will launch the campaign’s 2017 Progress and Priorities Report at an event in Sydney.
Oxfam Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s Program Manager Justin McCaul said the report was damning of the failure of Australian governments at all levels to meet key measures identified as essential to closing the gap.
“Importantly, the report makes a number of strong recommendations in terms of what can be done to move forward, including calls for all levels of government to join a national summit with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders later this year,” he said.
“Oxfam, as one of the lead agencies as part of the Close the Gap campaign and a firm supporter of the goals of the historic Redfern Statement, echoes the report’s calls for real action and acknowledgement that the current approach by government isn’t working.
“The report calls on the Federal Government to initiate a national inquiry into racism in hospitals and other health care settings, for strategies tackling Indigenous health equality to take into account the social and cultural factors affecting health, and for the state and territory governments to work together in tackling the heath crisis.”
Mr McCaul said the many and varied Close the Gap events taking place across the country this year reflected the groundswell of support from Australians expecting all levels of governments to take action on Indigenous health.
Among them will be an event run by the Northern Territory’s largest community-controlled health service, the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, which will host an event for more than 20 service providers in Alice Springs. It will include a panel of Indigenous speakers to be broadcast on CAAMA.
The service will join schools, community groups, hospitals and other health service providers in running events across the country.
For interviews, photo or filming opportunities at events around the country, please contact Renee Thompson on 0418 873 782 or email@example.com