To Close the Gap we need partnership with First Peoples and a commitment to self-determination and reconciliation

Thursday, February 8, 2018

‘All governments—federal, state and territory—must urgently work together and in meaningful partnership with Australia’s First Peoples if we’re serious about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians living just as long and as healthily as non-Indigenous Australians.’

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven was commenting on today’s release of a 10-year review of the Closing the Gap Strategy by the Close the Gap campaign, of which AHHA is a member.

‘Last year, the Prime Minister reported that six out of the seven targets were not on track.

‘The burden of disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Australians is 2.3 times higher than for the rest of the population.

‘Let’s not see governments play the blame game when it comes to the health of our First Peoples.

‘Let’s see the federal government properly fund primary healthcare services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples—the current funding shortfall is a major reason First Peoples experience a significantly higher burden of disease.

‘Let’s see all Australian governments affirm or reaffirm their commitments made through the Close the Gap Statement of Intent.

‘Let’s see Premiers, Chief Ministers, Health and Indigenous Affairs Ministers in every jurisdiction provide regular and public accountability on their efforts to address the inequality gaps in their state or territory.

‘The current refresh process of the Closing the Gap Strategy is an opportunity for wide-sweeping reform, which is desperately needed.

‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must be partners in leading the refresh of the Closing the Gap Strategy based upon the principles of self-determination and reconciliation.

‘There is strong evidence that self-determination and meaningful reconciliation are the best way to improve outcomes over the long term.

'We know that the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023 must be funded, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce must be supported and grown, and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector must be supported.

‘Let’s not be afraid to put Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands.'

For more information on AHHA, see:

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.

Media enquiries: Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, 0403 282 501