Decade on and gap not yet closed

Pilbara News - - News - ■ Louise Alling­ham

This year marks 10 years since the Close the Gap cam­paign was launched with the aim to im­prove health and raise the life ex­pectancy of in­dige­nous peo­ple.

The re­cently re­leased Progress against Clos­ing the Gap Western Aus­tralia 2016 re­port shows the cam­paign has seen many suc­cesses, but iden­ti­fies many is­sues that still need to be ad­dressed.

Abo­rig­i­nal el­der Toot­sie Daniel said while she had seen some im­prove­ments, the gap was “not even close” to be­ing closed.

Ms Daniel said the big­gest prob­lems were within re­mote com­mu­ni­ties.

She called for more coun­selling ser­vices as sui­cide rates among the in­dige­nous pop­u­la­tion con­tinue to be higher than the non-in­dige­nous pop­u­la­tion.

Min­is­ter for Abo­rig­i­nal Affairs Peter Col­lier said WA had seen pos­i­tive signs in clos­ing the gap be­tween house­hold in­come, read­ing and nu­mer­acy, early child­hood education, and child mor­tal­ity rates, which had low­ered na­tion­ally.

But he agreed there was still more work to be done in ar­eas in­clud­ing the rate of sui­cide.

“Gov­ern­ments still have much work to do to re­alise a brighter fu­ture for Abo­rig­i­nal Aus­tralians, in­clud­ing the dis­pro­por­tion­ate rate of sui­cide, em­ploy­ment, im­pris­on­ment and de­ten­tion and the num­ber of Abo­rig­i­nal chil­dren in State care,” he said.

Close the Gap cam­paign cochair­man Mick Gooda said the 10year an­niver­sary marked many years of hard work and achieve­ment.

“We have seen some en­cour­ag­ing im­prove­ments over that time, but with­out con­certed ef­fort across gov­ern­ments and re­spect­ful en­gage­ment with Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der peo­ples, we as a na­tion will fail to close the gap,” he said. “Health in­equal­ity has been a stain on our na­tion for far too long, but this gen­er­a­tion has the op­por­tu­nity to re­move the stain and de­liver health equal­ity.”

Close the Gap aims to im­prove health and raise the life ex­pectancy of the coun­try’s in­dige­nous pop­u­la­tion by the year 2030.

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