Closing the gap – when will we start listening?
A word from our CEO, Brad Webb:
“Most Australians enjoy one of the highest life expectancies of any country in the world — but this is not true for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
This statement is from ANTaR, the host organisation of National Close the Gap Day, which falls on March 21.
Back in 2008, Close The Gap Day was created in response to the significant gaps in health and life outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.
After 11 years, there have been very few significant gains for most of the areas across health, education and housing. New targets are being set this year as a part of a “Refresh” to ensure an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led-approach through a Joint Council on Closing the Gap.
While I support the move of a Joint Council with the principle of listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, I believe we have already been given a mechanism to do this through the Voice Treaty Truth blueprint of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
The Statement from the Heart was the culmination of the most proportionately significant consultation process that had ever been undertaken with First Peoples.
Its first call as part of a sequenced reform, Voice, was for the establishment of a First Nation’s Voice enshrined in the constitution.
Last month for Apology Day I wrote with disappointment about the governments of two Prime Ministers who have misrepresented the Voice concept.
If we are to genuinely act to “close the gap” and see greater life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, surely listening at the highest level of government is the priority?
There are many areas we need to close the gap. Yet on a national level, our Government is not listening. This is the gap that needs to close.
In the meantime, please join me in supporting ANTaR’s Close the Gap campaign, and demand that political parties commit to:
- Unfreeze funding for Aboriginal Medical Services and invest $100 million in a four year capacity building program to fill the highest priority service gaps
- Establish an Aboriginal Health Authority to oversee service delivery in the mainstream system
- Invest in healthy housing for Aboriginal communities by recommitting to a 10 year National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing, and reinstate the Housing for Health program to help eradicate third world diseases.