Australians around the country will be lending their support to the nation’s biggest grassroots movement to close the widening gap in life expectancy between Australia’s First Peoples and non-Indigenous people.
About 640 people have registered events for National Close the Gap Day on Thursday 15 March, with thousands more expected to attend those events.
The annual day, an initiative of the Close the Gap Campaign, aims to highlight the stark health inequality that means on average, an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person will die a full decade younger than a non-Indigenous Australian.
Oxfam Australia’s Close the Gap Day campaign coordinator Tom Widdup said successive governments had effectively abandoned a strategy to close the gap by 2030, and there was an urgent need to reset their approach.
“It’s been 10 years since the government first pledged to close the gap on Indigenous life expectancy, but little progress has been made. In fact, overall health inequality has got wider,” he said.
“This business-as-usual approach to Indigenous health clearly hasn’t worked.”
Mr Widdup said that in contrast to the lack of progress on behalf of governments over the past decade, National Close the Gap Day continued to highlight how important these issues were to ordinary Australians.
“The vast majority of Australians understand that everyone deserves a right to a healthy future. They also understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be at the centre of any decision-making about their own community’s health needs,” he said.
“It’s easy for all of us to get disillusioned when we constantly hear government language like ‘close the gap targets are not being met’, but local communities can achieve a great deal of good.
“National Close the Gap Day is an opportunity for everyone – community groups, health service professionals, schools and individuals – to respond to what is happening in a very human way.
“There are many activities to get involved in this year, and by registering your own you can join a chorus of calls to government that we not only want to see more progress, we want the Indigenous life expectancy gap and other health and well-being gaps to close for good.
“Just by banding together on a day like this, and by letting the government know we won’t rest, we can be part of a movement to see real, lasting change.”
To find a National Close the Gap Day event in your area or to host an event visit www.oxfam.org.au/nctgd
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