Analee Gale

Ten years since Rudd’s apology, and the health gap continues to grow

It’s been a decade since Kevin Rudd’s apology. However, the declining health of Indigenous Australians should be the issue discussed today.

 

 

 

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report has identified a widening gap in the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, compared to the non-Indigenous population.

In response to these findings the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) are calling for all levels of government to work with, not for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to reduce this health disparity.

Associate Professor Peter O’Mara is Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. He says the increasing gap in life expectancy reflects a disengagement from the national strategies to improve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

“To find out we are going backwards when it comes to health equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is extremely disappointing,” he says. “It is particularly upsetting to learn of this regress on the 10th anniversary of the National Day of Apology.”

O’Mara adds, “I encourage all Australians, not just our political leaders, to reflect upon what we have achieved since then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology, and to consider where we need to be.”

Governments have committed to “working with, not to” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but this commitment has not translated into meaningful engagement, he explains. Adding, “The lack of action in response to The Redfern Statement and Uluru Statement from the Heart reflects this failure. The engagement and participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will decide the success or failure of future policy decisions.”

 

O’Mara adds, “I encourage all Australians, not just our political leaders, to reflect upon what we have achieved since then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology, and to consider where we need to be.”

 

John Singer is Chair of National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). On the National Day of Apology, he says that this year it takes on special significance, as governments attempt to “refresh” the Closing the Gap Strategy. He adds, “The Apology is an important part of healing for Indigenous Australians. It acknowledged the significant trauma and grief suffered as a result of past policies, particularly the removal of children from their families.”

“However, the Close the Gap strategy has never been fully implemented. There has been a decrease in funding over the past five years to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services; the biggest impact has been to our members and affiliates. The Close the Gap refresh being considered by the COAG (the Council of Australian Governments) provides an opportunity to reflect upon and reform current policy settings and institutionalised thinking.”

The RACGP and NACCHO have called on the government to acknowledge the critical role of primary health care, particularly the culturally responsive care offered by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, as it considered the Closing the Gap Strategy this year.

“This will play a vital role in addressing health disparity and ensure we finally make progress,” says A/Prof O’Mara.

 

Analee Gale

Analee Gale is the Food & Health Editor of TBS. Previous to that, she was a freelance writer and editor who has spent so many decades writing about being food and fitness that she sometimes forgets to actually be fit (though she never ever forgets to eat food - hangry is a thing, you know!). Analee made a tree-change from the northern beaches of Sydney, so she now taps out tales from her base in a tiny coastal town in East Gippsland, Victoria.

Related posts

Top