Strangely enough, Indigenous health didn’t feature much, if at all, in today’s Rudd Vs Abbott debate.
Meanwhile, Thursday is National Close the Gap Day, and thanks to Tom Calma, Co-Chair of the Close the Gap Steering Committee, for this report.
“More than 30,000 people are expected to participate in National Close the Gap Day events around Australia this Thursday (March 25).
Organised by Oxfam Australia, the aim of the day is to send a reminder to government that closing the gap must remain one of its top priorities.
The theme of this year’s day is “Let’s Get it Right,” focussing on the need for Government to develop a comprehensive national plan to achieve Indigenous health equality within a generation in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including the provision of more support to Aboriginal community controlled health services.
More than 520 events will take place in homes, schools, workplaces, community halls, churches, public spaces, government departments as well as Aboriginal and mainstream health services.
In its fourth year, interest in National Close the Gap Day is growing, with an increase of more than 30 events from 2009.
National Close the Gap Day follows a report released by the Close the Gap Steering Committee last month which found that the Australian Government has no comprehensive plan to close the gap on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health inequality by 2030 despite committing to one almost two years ago.
The report commended the Rudd Government for taking significant steps forward in closing the Indigenous life expectancy gap and for honouring its commitment to report annually on efforts to ‘close the gap’.
However, it also found that:
- The Government’s engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples happens on an ad hoc basis and focuses on policy implementation rather than design. It is common sense that Indigenous health experts and those using services have a say in the development of these policies too. A more inclusive and genuine partnership is critical to close the gap;
- The Government’s National Indigenous Workforce Training Plan needs to be more comprehensive to meet the gaps in the Indigenous health workforce;
- Despite committing to supporting and developing Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in urban, rural and remote areas – which the Australian Medical Association recognises is the preferred option for providing comprehensive primary health care to Indigenous peoples – the bulk of the $1.6 billion injection into Indigenous health is going towards mainstream health services;
- There is no comprehensive plan for addressing the social and cultural determinants of health; and
- A lack of adequate data collection and monitoring over many years means that a detailed breakdown of health services gaps for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is still not available.
The Close The Gap Campaign Steering Committee recognises that change will not happen overnight or even within the life of a government and that is why we advocate strongly for a long-term, comprehensive plan of action so all interested parties understand the role that they must play to achieve Indigenous health equality.