Close the Gap

The Close the Gap campaign, which Oxfam helped to launch a decade ago, is testament to the Australian public’s overwhelming support for improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We’ve played a lead role in transforming the Close the Gap campaign for Indigenous Health Equality from a popular movement into a force that has shaped government policy and continues to do so by working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.

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Why is closing the gap so important?

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.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live at least 10 fewer years than other Australians. Babies born to Aboriginal mothers die at more than twice the rate of other Australian babies, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.

The mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is on par with some of the world’s most impoverished nations. The United Nations Report, The State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (2009) indicated Australia and Nepal have the world’s worst life expectancy gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

Is this the Australia you want? With your help we aim to close this health gap and achieve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality within a generation.

Close the Gap: 10 Year Review

Ten-years after its commencement, it is time to critically reflect on why Australian governments have not yet succeeded in closing the health gap to date, and why they will not succeed by 2030 if the current course continues. Read the report:

What we’re campaigning for

The Close the Gap Coalition — a grouping of Indigenous and non-Indigenous health and community organisations — together with nearly 200,000 Australians are calling on governments to take real, measurable action to achieve Indigenous health equality by 2030.

With your support, we are asking for:

  • Reset the Closing the Gap Strategy by establishing a tripartite partnership between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, the Commonwealth, and State and Territory governments to co-design health policies.
  • Invest in Indigenous health on a needs basis. The needs of First Australians are akin to that of older people—they have a higher incidence of illness and therefore greater need. But the government only spends 38 per cent more on Indigenous people even though their needs are 2.3 times greater
  • Fully cost and fund the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health Plan (2013-2023).
  • Ensure that Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHOs) are the preferred model for government investment in primary health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • Commit to providing adequate and long-term financial resources including strengthening of the Indigenous health workforce.
  • Address critical social issues that impact Indigenous health (including poor housing, nutrition, employment and education).
  • Meaningful partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and health services.

How you can Close the Gap

The Close the Gap campaign has achieved a tremendous amount since its launch by Cathy Freeman and Ian Thorpe in 2006. These outcomes include:

  • A commitment by government and all major political parties to take action through the formal signing of the Statement of Intent
  • Allocation of additional health funding through COAG
  • A stated intention to work in partnership with Indigenous health organisations and communities.

But this is just the beginning. Change will take a generation. We need sustained action from Federal and State Governments. This is where we need your help.

Take action now and support Indigenous health equality.


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