Today marks the 7th annual Close the Gap Day, which will see more than 150,000 Australians hold or attend events in Queensland and across the country.
Close the Gap day is seen as a reminder to our politicians from all sides, of their commitment to close the gap on health inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Since 2007 many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations, including Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) have been working with Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) and Oxfam to improve health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. Together they have been calling on the Government to Close the Gap in Aboriginal health - and to do it in 25 years.
To celebrate National Close the Gap Day in Queensland, QAIHC and CheckUP have chosen a Morning Tea event at their shared premises in South Brisbane today to showcase the ongoing story of iconic photographs from the first 7 years of Close the Gap Indigenous health equality program.
Ann Maree Liddy is the CEO CheckUP, a Queensland based industry body dedicated to advancing primary health care, and welcomes the opportunity to mark the occasion this way.
"CheckUP recognises the efforts made across the primary health care sector to eliminate the glaring gap in life expectancy and improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and this photography exhibition is an example of some of the health initiatives that are making a difference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia."
"However there is still more to do," Ms Liddy said.
"There is a need to build on successes and share our collective experiences to ensure resources and services are appropriate and go where they are most needed."
"CheckUP is committed, through our partnerships and co-location with QAIHC, to making meaningful contributions that create and maintain respectful relationships and foster opportunities that make a difference to close the gap."
Cecilia Homerlein, ANTaR Queensland’s President, says that ANTaR Queensland will not stop campaigning for state and federal government support for Close the Gap.
"We will continue to canvass mainstream support to help close the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Australians," Ms Homerlein said.
"ANTaR Queensland knows that communities are taking action.
"Every year we present a ‘Close The Gap’ award to one of the many deserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community based health organisations from around the state and we appreciate the assistance from organisations like QAIHC in our research.
Oxfam Australia’s Indigenous Rights Policy Advisor Andrew Meehan said registered events had now hit a record 1190: showing an undeniable groundswell of support from everyday Australians expecting governments to keep their promise to invest in Indigenous health.
"Just as parliamentarians on all sides put aside their differences and came together last month in Canberra, today Australians will come together as one in support of ending the disgrace that sees Indigenous people die up to 17 years earlier than their non-Indigenous counterparts," Mr Meehan said.
"It’s clear that Australians care about this issue and expect our leaders to act.
"Progress is starting to be made on Indigenous health, as outlined by Prime Minister Tony Abbott last month in his closing the gap speech to Parliament.
"The target to halve the gap in child mortality within a decade is on track to be met, and smoking rates amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are going down," Mr Meehan stated.
"However there’s still a long way to go, which is why we need Federal and State Governments to take a coordinated approach and continue funding Indigenous health initiatives in order to build on the progress already made."
Judi Jabour, Campaign Capital, 0412 402 946, firstname.lastname@example.org