National Close the Gap Day for health equality

Sarah Webb looks into how we can help bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health equality.

With just days to go until the National Close the Gap Day, Oxfam Australia is urging Australians far and wide to get involved and register an event in an effort to support Indigenous health equality. Ten years into the campaign, the anniversary of the nation’s largest public movement to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health is to be held Thursday 17th March.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive, Dr Helen Szoke, said in a media release that “it will be a celebration of all the work our nation has done to come together in solidarity over the past decade, and to hold our nation’s leaders to account to achieve health equality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians by 2030”.

Oxfam is part of the Close the Gap coalition – a group of more than 40 Indigenous and non-Indigenous health and community organisations. This group recognises that equal access to healthcare is a basic human right that we should all be fighting for.

Dr Szoke said the Close the Gap campaign aims to get their largest group ever of Australians to participate this year. “Last year [2015], 150,000 people took part in 1,600 Close the Gap day events,” Dr Szoke said. So far, 1541 events are planned for the day.

“Community groups, health services, businesses, schools, universities, government offices and individuals from all states and territories are registering online. They’re organising a vast range of events, from workplace morning teas and sports days to school events and public events in hospitals and offices.”

National Close the Gap Day is your chance to keep the pressure on government and ensure we achieve health equality within a generation.

In this day and age, Indigenous Australians can expect to live 10 to 17 years less than non-Indigenous Australians. “We know positive change is happening, including improvements in infant and child health, but there’s still a long way to go to achieve health equality,” Dr Szoke said.

“It’s vital that more people register to be involved on National Close the Gap Day because the actions of everyday Australians could create lasting change.”

However, Oxfam needs the nation’s help to create this “lasting change” for Indigenous Australians – to ensure all political parties take real, measurable action – this means making Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing a major funding priority in the federal election.

“We encourage everyone to get involved in this special Close the Gap Day anniversary by simply hosting an activity in your community to raise awareness and demand action. All you need to do is get online and sign up.”

You can register an event now at: www.oxfam.org.au/closethegap

 

Image: Oxfam Australia