Closing the gap

Indigenous flags hanging in Curtin university’s Centre of Aboriginal Studies.
The Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Karda flags hanging in Curtin University’s Centre for Aboriginal Studies. Photo: Dhanya Vimalan.

Today marks 16 years since the Close the Gap campaign was launched, and with this year’s theme being ‘Transforming Power: Voices for Generational Change’, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are calling for more to be done to achieve health equality across Australia.

In response to National Closing the Gap Day, Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt announced the Morrison Government will launch a $140 million major capital works program for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to build, buy or renovate health clinics and staff housing.

Mr Hunt believes the funding is a step in the right direction to further improve the Indigenous health sector.

“For the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and people will become genuine partners in efforts to support their mental and physical health.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have one of the poorest health outcomes in the world. On average, the life expectancy of Indigenous people is 10 years less than other Australians, according to Oxfam Australia.

Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service promotion officer Karu Collard says there has been a big change since the start of the Close the Gap campaign, but more needs to be done to raise awareness of this issue.

“Most people don’t know what closing the gap is. One of my staff members here at the clinic didn’t even realise what it meant properly until today,” Ms Collard says.

Wungening Aboriginal Corporation in East Perth
Wungening Aboriginal Corporation is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation which provides culturally secure, confidential, and free of charge services to Aboriginal people in the Perth metropolitan area. Photo: Dhanya Vimalan.

Wungening Aboriginal Corporation chief executive officer Daniel Morrison said more funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations is always welcome, however money should not be the forefront of the campaign.

“Policy frameworks like Closing the Gap are crucial mechanisms for change, but they only work if the leaders and the people operating them are truly committed to creating that change,” Mr Morrison says.

“It is only with truth telling, and an ability to listen and learn from one another, that we will all be able to grow as a society and close the gap.”