What did I learn from National Close the Gap Day?

Campaigning for change, Indigenous Australia article written on the 09 Apr 2015

By Tom Widdup, Close the Gap National Campaign Lead.

The crisis facing Indigenous health has a long and complex history. While events like National Close the Gap Day bring the issue of Indigenous health equality to the public eye, the fight for health equality still continues. Tom Widdup, Close the Gap National Lead, shares his reflections after National Close the Gap Day 2015.

“It’s easy to think as an educated person you are across these issues but that isn’t necessarily the case. We all have to make an effort to find out what’s happening and do something about it.”

This comment really stuck in my head.

It was said to me by a participant at one of the National Close the Gap Day events I attended this year after he’d watched the latest Close the Gap video.

It reminded me again that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and the broader question of Indigenous disadvantage are very complex issues. Issues that are impacted by a range of factors as disparate as access to housing, education and traditional lands, an ability to maintain and practice traditional culture, and our ability to reduce Indigenous incarceration.

In case I needed it, this comment again underscored for me the importance of activities like National Close the Gap Day in providing a stepping-off-point for Australians to learn more about the health crisis facing Indigenous Peoples.

So in looking back at this year’s event, how should we judge its success?

With almost 1600 events, around 20% more than 2014, we could say it’s been a huge success.

But more importantly, its success has been is in the diversity of people and communities that continue to get involved, the passion this event inspires, and the deeper understanding National Close the Gap Day provides — even for those who see themselves as educated on the topic — and this is really important.

Because while people like you have won huge commitments and investments from state and federal governments to Close the Gap we still  have governments talking about closing Aboriginal communities in WA — with what appears to be little consultation or apparent consideration for the impacts of moving Indigenous Peoples from their lands (again).

So this year’s National Close the Gap Day has passed, but our work for Indigenous health equality continues on a range of fronts. Here’s how you can help: