Close the Gap: Indigenous Health Campaign

Date: 
Wednesday 19 February 2014
Close the Gap

Campaign for Indigenous Health Equality

The poorer health of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when compared to the non-Indigenous population is no secret – and something can be done about it. Since 2006, Australia's peak Indigenous and non-Indigenous health bodies, NGOs and human rights organisations have worked together to achieve health and life expectation equality for Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This is known as the Close the Gap Campaign.

The campaign's goal is to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation. The campaign is built on evidence that shows that significant improvements in the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be achieved within short time frames.

By joining our efforts we can make sure that by 2030 any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child born in this country has the same opportunity as other Australian children to live a long, healthy and happy life.


What's new?


Who are we?

Under the leadership of Dr Tom Calma, then Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, the campaign membership first met in March 2006 and formed a Steering Committee (see text box). Our patrons, Catherine Freeman OAM and Ian Thorpe OAM, launched the campaign in April 2007.

The campaign is led by its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and funded by the membership, with Oxfam Australia being a major financial supporter.

Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee

Co-chairs

• Ms Jody Broun, Co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
• Mr Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission

Members

• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation
• Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association
• Australian Indigenous Psychologists' Association
• Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses
• Indigenous Allied Health Australia
• Indigenous Dentists' Association of Australia
• National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
• National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers' Association
• National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Physiotherapists
• National Congress of Australia’s First People
• National Coordinator — Tackling Indigenous Smoking (Dr Tom Calma AO — Campaign founder and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner)
• National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee
• The Lowitja Institute
• Torres Strait Island Regional Authority
• Australian College of Nursing
• Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council
• ANTaR
• Australian Human Rights Commission (Secretariat)
• Australian Medical Association
• Australian Medicare Local Alliance
• The Fred Hollows Foundation
• Heart Foundation Australia
• Menzies School of Health Research
• Oxfam Australia
• Palliative Care Australia
• Royal Australasian College of Physicians
• Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
• Professor Ian Ring (expert adviser)

 

 

What are we asking for? What have we achieved to date?

We aim to close the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health gap through the implementation of a human rights based approach set out in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner’s Social Justice Report 2005. This includes the creation of a generational Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality plan with ambitious yet realistic targets supported by a partnership between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their representatives and Australian governments.

The campaign’s approach is supported by Australian governments, namely:

  • by the setting of the two COAG ‘Closing the Gap’ targets (achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality within a generation and halving the under-fives mortality rate gap within a decade) in December 2007; and
  • by former Prime Minister Rudd and the Opposition Leader’s signing of the Close the Gap Statement of Intent in March 2008 at the Close the Gap Campaign’s National Indigenous Health Equality Summit (see below) (This has since been signed by almost all the governments and oppositions of the States and Territories.)

The Close the Gap Campaign has also provided significant impetus for the seven ‘closing the gap’ National Partnership Agreements (NPA) agreed since Nov 2008. These have brought with them approximately $5bn in additional resources, including the $1.6bn attached to the NPA on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes.

The Statement of Intent and commitments yet to be realised

 Prime Minister Rudd and Health Minister Nicola Roxon signing the Close the Gap Statement of Intent, March 2008

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Health Minister Nicola Roxon signing the Close the Gap Statement of Intent, March 2008

The Close the Gap Statement of Intent is the touchstone of the campaign, listing as commitments the main elements of the campaign’s approach to achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality.

When it signed the Statement of Intent the Australian Government committed to a sound, evidence-based path to achieving health equality, a path supported by the entire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector. In particular:

  • To developing a comprehensive, long-term plan of action, that is targeted to need, evidence-based and capable of addressing the existing inequalities in health services, in order to achieve equality of health status and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non- Indigenous Australians by 2030
  • To ensure the full participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representative bodies in all aspects of addressing their health needs.

The Close the Gap Campaign continues to work with Australian governments to secure the development of these two vital elements in any overall effort to achieve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality.


Close the Gap community guide cover

Find out more

General information

The guide is available in PDF and Word versions and provides an accessible introduction to the Campaign and its main asks.

You can order copies from: publications@humanrights.gov.au.


 Achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality within a generation

First published in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner’s Social Justice Report 2005, this sets out the campaign’s human rights based approach to achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality in detail.

You can order copies from publications@humanrights.gov.au.

 


Summit and workshop reports

The campaign has hosted three national workshops. To each were invited key representatives from the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector, the mainstream health services as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts and other stakeholders. Senior representatives from key departments in the Australian Government and representatives from the majority of the State and Territory governments also attended.

Close the Gap - health targetsClose the Gap - National Indigenous Health Equality Summit, March 2008

The Summit was the first and most important national event hosted by the campaign. The Close the Gap National Indigenous Health Equality Targets, published in June 2008, was the main outcome of the workshop itself. The targets were developed to support the achievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality over many areas. This Summit report contains the targets and a record of the Summit proceedings, including photographs of the event.

The Summit closed with the signing of the Close the Gap Statement of Intent

 


Close the Gap - Partnership Position Paper June 2010 Cover

Partnership in Action Workshop, November 2008

The workshop’s focus was on partnership in the context of achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality. It was attended by a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous stakeholders, as well as senior Australian Government representatives. The Partnership in Action - Workshop Report was later distilled into a Close the Gap Campaign Partnership Position Paper (June 2010). Find them both here:


Close the Gap – Making it Happen Workshop, June 2010

The workshop’s focus was on planning in the context of achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality. It was attended by a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous stakeholders, as well as senior Australian Government representatives. The Making it Happen - Workshop Report was later distilled into a Close the Gap –Making it Happen Workshop Key Messages Community Guide Find them both here:


Shadow Report Cover

Shadow reports

Former Prime Minister Rudd committed to making an annual report to Parliament on progress on closing the gap, with the first delivered in February 2009 and the second in March 2010. Each year since 2010 we have provided a ‘shadow’ report that is our assessment of the Australian Government's progress, including against its implementation of the Statement of Intent commitments.


Submissions by the Close the Gap campaign steering Committee


How to participate and show your support

To be successful the Close the Gap Campaign will need support from all corners of the Australian community. You can get involved and play a part in consigning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health inequality to the history books.

National Close the Gap Day - March 21 2013

National Close the Gap Day commemorates the launch of the campaign on 2 April 2007, and is held each year around that time. The day gives people the opportunity to show their support for closing the 17-year life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians.

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Contribute

Share examples of success stories in Indigenous health – and be inspired by others:
www.antar.org.au/issues_and_campaigns/health/success_stories

Participate

 

 Contact us

Australian Human Rights Commission

Phone: +61 2 9284 9600, 1300 369 711

Fax: +61 2 9284 9611

Website: www.humanrights.gov.au

Email: communications@humanrights.gov.au