Babies born to Aboriginal mothers die at more than twice the rate of other Australian babies, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of preventable illnesses such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.
The mortality rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is on par with some of the world’s most impoverished nations.
Close The Gap Day at Bairnsdale Regional Health Service yesterday renewed our focus on the gap that still exists between the health and life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and other Australians.
It was also an occasion to once again come together and celebrate those in the local community working hard to close that gap.
“The target is to close the gap in life expectancy within a generation, by 2031,” Linda Daniel, BRHS’ Director of Community Wellbeing & Partnerships, told the audience at Thursday’s gathering. “It is clear that progress needs to be faster, although there have been good things achieved, like reductions in smoking, improved early detection and management of chronic disease, and improvements in social determinants of health, like children reaching higher education levels.”
Last year a new strategy was developed called the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
This was developed in partnership between governments and a coalition of around 50 peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled peak organisations and members.
“The National Agreement marked a significant shift in the approach to the Closing the Gap strategy, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people finally able to determine what is important to them,” Linda said.
Thursday’s important but also entertaining gathering under bright blue skies in Bairnsdale was also an opportunity for BRHS to renew our bonds with elders of the local Koori community and organisations that are leading efforts to improve health outcomes for Indigenous Australians in East Gippsland.
If you are interested in learning more about the work being done to Close The Gap here in this area, our Aboriginal Health Unit is a good place to start.
You can have a yarn with them at AboriginalHealthUnit@brhs.com.au or 5150 3364.