Friday 25 May 2012

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The Close the Gap campaign has welcomed the Victorian Government’s actions today in signing the Statement of Intent to achieve health equality and improve life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Victorian Health Minister Mr David Davis MP re-affirmed the Victorian Government’s commitment to Aboriginal Health alongside the CEOs of 20 Victorian hospitals and health services at a major Aboriginal Health Conference in Melbourne.

Close the Gap Campaign co-chair Mick Gooda said it was fantastic the Victorian Government had recommitted to close the gap in Indigenous health equality.

“Recommitting to the Statement of Intent today sends a strong and clear message to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that Victoria is serious about working together to turn around health outcomes for Indigenous Australians,” Mr Gooda said.

“The fact that more than 20 CEOs of hospitals, health and community health services from virtually every corner of Victoria have also signed the Statement of Intent will ensure that our efforts to close the gap will reach exactly where we need to be – on the ground and in the waiting rooms of doctors’ surgeries and health centres around Victoria.”

Chief Executive Officers from health services and hospitals in Albury, Ballarat, Gippsland, Swan Hill, Mildura and Melbourne were among those who signed the Statement of Intent today, joining federal, state and territory governments, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations and non-Indigenous health organisations in their pledge to close the gap in health outcomes and life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

Originally signed in Canberra in March 2008 by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, then Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson and a range of Indigenous and non-Indigenous health organisations, the Close the Gap Statement of Intent has become the touchstone of the campaign.

The Statement of Intent provides the roadmap for achieving equality of health status and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non- Indigenous Australians by 2030 and ensures the full participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representative bodies in all aspects of addressing their health needs.

The Statement of Intent also commits to ensuring primary health care services and health infrastructure are in place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples which are capable of bridging the gap in health standards by 2018.

The Close the Gap Campaign continues to call for closing the gap health programs to be adequately funded past 2013 when the agreement expires.

“The more we can keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health on the national agenda the more likely we are to meet these targets,” Mr Gooda said.

“Not only do we need the guaranteed active involvement of Indigenous people but we’re also more likely to achieve our goals when we have the ‘buy-in’ of those working in the decision-making and policy-setting areas of health services such as the CEOs who signed on today.”

Media contact: Louise McDermott on 0419 258 597

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