Reaching 2030 targets for Close the Gap must be a national priority

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven has congratulated the Close the Gap campaign on 10 years of success in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, at the launch of the first State of Reconciliation in Australia report at Parliament House this morning.

“Closing the gap needs to remain a national priority as we focus on ending the life expectancy inequity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and non-Indigenous Australians, by 2030,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“To close the gap by 2030 is ambitious but it is achievable. With 200,000 people having signed the Close the Gap pledge as of last year, and the backing of Australia’s peak Indigenous and non-Indigenous health bodies, NGOs and human rights organisations, it is clearly recognised as a priority for Australians.”

The February edition of AHHA’s bimonthly magazine The Health Advocate is themed around the Close the Gap campaign, and highlights the vital work people and organisations are doing across the healthcare sector to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

There has been particular progress seen in areas such as improving infant mortality and cutting rates of smoking. However, the AHHA has called on governments to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representatives to build on these achievements as a matter of national urgency.

“Greater gains are needed if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are to reach parity with the rest of Australia on health outcomes. With 2016 being an election year, it is important to remind our political representatives of the expectations we have of them and that closing the gap is a top priority,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“The Government’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan Implementation Strategy must be a funding priority and the challenges of putting this strategy into operation need to be carefully addressed. It is essential that the 2016 Federal Budget — the first under incumbent Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull — provides adequate funding for this work. This could be through a renewed commitment to the now-expired National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes.”

“Concerted commitment, funding and partnerships between governments, the healthcare sector and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and community-controlled organisations is required to ensure future years show greater gains.” 

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