Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have some of the worst health outcomes of any group in the world. In 2018, the Indigenous child mortality rate was twice the rate for non-Indigenous children, and Indigenous people die around eight years younger than non-indigenous Australians.
The Close the Gap campaign, which launched in 2006, aims to address the gap in health and life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and achieve equality by 2030. The campaign is driven by a coalition of health, human rights and community organisations (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous), which are working together to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with access to the same healthcare that other Australians benefit from.
The key priorities include:
- Better housing to improve health
- Access to the right healthcare where and when needed
- A more inclusive and responsive healthcare system.
Whilst progress has been made, change isn’t happening fast enough, with the 10-year review released in February 2018 revealing that the gap continues to widen. This includes higher infant mortality rates and higher rates of preventable illness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease. (Download the latest Close the Gap report for more detailed information on campaign progress).
How to Help
Hosted by advocacy organisation ANTaR (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation), National Close the Gap Day takes place on the third Thursday of March each year with the purpose of raising awareness and support around equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
On 18 March, campaign partners, along with around 200,000 Australians (including businesses, schools, hospitals and communities), will be taking part in activities to urge the State and Federal Governments to take meaningful action towards change. Ongoing support from Australians from all walks of life is vital for accomplishing the ultimate outcomes of the campaign.
There are a number of ways you can get involved, including:
- Sign the petition for the campaign and ask your colleagues and friends to do the same
- Contact your local MP and tell them you want to ‘close the gap’
- Share your events, photos and stories on social media using the hashtag #ClosetheGap
- Organise and run an activity or fundraiser, and don’t forget to register the event with ANTaR (some ideas include a hosting a morning tea or BBQ for your friends where you discuss issues related to health equality)
- Donate to support the cause
If you’d like to find out more about National Close the Gap Day and ways you can help, visit the ANTaR website.
How are you participating in Close the Gap Day this year? Are you hosting any events? Let us know!