A meeting with Prime Minister Julia Gillard is a priority to keep the Close the Gap health campaign moving forward, according to delegates at a national Indigenous health meeting.
The ‘Close the Gap - Making it Happen’ workshop held last week in Old Parliament House, Canberra, included key Indigenous and non-Indigenous health peak bodies and experts from across Australia's non-government and government sectors.
The Close the Gap Campaign's Co-Chairs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda, and National Coordinator – Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Dr Tom Calma, look forward to working with the new Prime Minister and praised former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s achievements.
“Only a Prime Minister can bring the whole of government focus to Closing the Gap that is necessary to make progress in all areas, including Indigenous health,” Mr Gooda said.
“The Close the Gap Campaign looks forward to working with the new Prime Minister to meet the government’s commitments to the Indigenous Health Equality Statement of Intent signed by the Government and Opposition in 2008.”
The workshop focused on practical moves to bring to fruition the government’s commitments to Close the Gap, particularly the development of a long term national action plan developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“Delegates agreed that the Statement of Intent expressed the essential philosophy of the campaign,” Mr Gooda said.
“This included that Indigenous community controlled health services and their peak bodies had to be central to the design and delivery of services for our people.”
Campaign Co-Chair Tom Calma, said the first steps had been made toward a partnership with government to Close the Gap in Indigenous health and that the workshop agreed on a way forward based on plans already in place.
“However we need all areas of government involved in helping us make this happen,” Dr Calma said.
“If Indigenous health is just seen as one minor silo in the Health department we will not progress beyond just having good intentions.
"The Department of Health alone will not resolve Indigenous health inequality,” he said.
“A good start has been made by the government to addressing Indigenous health equality but ultimately inequality will only be addressed if all departments and agencies work collectively and cooperatively in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. That is why we look forward to working with Prime Minister Gillard to Close the Gap,” Dr Calma said.
Media contacts: Mick Gooda – contact Louise McDermott 0419 258 597
Tom Calma – 0429 121 942
Close the Gap is a coalition of some of Australia's leading health, human rights and Aboriginal organisations committed to working with Federal, State and Territory Governments to narrow the life expectancy gap between the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander population and other Australians within a generation