Tackling Indigenous inequality

Campaigning for change, Indigenous Australia article written on the 25 Jul 2012

Darren Mercy and daughter Avril Mercy play in the garden outside Galambila Aboriginal Health Service. Photo: Jason Malouin/OxfamAUS

For the fourth year running the NRL is again dedicating an entire round of their premiership to the Close the Gap Issue, the largest Australian campaign to improve indigenous health. The NRL’s Close the Gap round last year reached over three million people with the message of health equality. This year the Close the Gap Round 22 will take place from Friday August 3 to Monday August 6. The NRL will again focus on tackling the health inequalities that exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians and call on all Australians to get behind Close the Gap by signing the pledge.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live substantially shorter lives than other Australians – on average between 10-17 years less. The Close the Gap coalition is calling on governments to take action to achieve Indigenous health equality within 25 years by increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ access to health services and addressing critical social issues such as poor housing, nutrition, employment and education.

So far more than 178,000 Australians have signed the Close the Gap pledge and tens of thousands continue to take part in National Close the Gap Day events each year. There is bipartisan political support to Close the Gap federally and in all states and territories (except the NT).

As the first sporting body to sign on to the campaign, the NRL continues to support Close the Gap. The Rugby League’s One Community program serves as an umbrella for several other efforts such as ‘Eat Well Play Well Stay Well’ and ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve.’ The NRL is working to create healthy lifestyle programs targeted at ‘closing the gap’ between the life expectancy of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, as well as participate in reconciliation activities, environmental education and indigenous mentoring and leadership.

Each of the NRL clubs is also involved with their own community efforts. The North Queensland Cowboys in partnership with Muso Magic gathered a group of young Indigenous men from Palm Island who have written and recorded a song, “New Day Attitude.” They then performed the song at half-time at a Cowboys game in front of thousands of people. The Gold Coast Titans have just launched their newest ‘I CAN’ program to inspire Indigenous students in Surat and Bowen Basin communities to complete year 12 and pursue further education.

To see the “New Day Attitude” video and read these full stories, log on to the Close the Gap Facebook page. In the weeks leading up to the Close the Gap round you can follow new club community efforts that will be featured on the site. From there you can also sign the pledge to help Close the Gap—join over 178,000 fellow Australians in the fight for Aboriginal health equality and come support your team during the Close the Gap Round!

by Ewelina Przybyszewski, Close the Gap Intern.