Tuesday 3 March 2015

Close The Gap Campaign Co-Chairs Kirstie Parker and Mick Gooda are urging Australians from all walks of life to take part in National Close the Gap Day on Thursday 19 March, calling for an end to health inequality.

Community groups, health services, schools and individuals around Australia are registering online to hold a Close the Gap event in their homes, workplaces, schools and communities.

“Last year, more than 150,000 people took part in over one thousand separate National Close the Gap Day events across the country,” said Ms Parker.

Ms Parker, who is also Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, said National Close the Gap Day is an occasion when Australians tell the nation’s leaders that they want progress on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality.

“The reality is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live approximately 10 years less than non-Indigenous Australians. But there are practical steps we can take to change this,” Ms Parker said.

“We need governments to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people because real and sustained engagement with our communities is one of the critical success factors.”

Mr Gooda, who is also Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, said new research into the high level of undetected chronic conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people demonstrates the significant impact chronic conditions have on life expectancy.

“We have a real opportunity to make relatively large health and life expectancy gains in relatively short periods of time if we detect and treat these chronic conditions.

“There is no room for complacency. Funding for anti-smoking initiatives must continue and we need to fund new initiatives that target chronic conditions such as diabetes, otherwise momentum will be lost,” Commissioner Gooda said.

The Close the Gap campaign is Australia’s biggest public movement for health equality. It is a coalition of Australia’s leading Indigenous and non-Indigenous health and human rights organisations.

National Close the Gap Day on 19 March includes events ranging from workplace morning teas, to sports days, school events and public events in hospitals and offices around the country. Anyone can take part and make a difference.

Media contacts: Dominic O’Grady for Mr Gooda. M: 0419 258 597. Mahala Strohfeldt for Ms Parker on 0457 877 408.