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18 Jun 2020

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said that greater investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and concerted action to end institutional racism in Australia, would go a long way towards reducing the need for large protest rallies, such as those seen recently around the country. 

Dr Bartone said the reasons why many thousands of Australians are wanting to protest against racism and discrimination can no longer be ignored – and must be addressed. 

“The AMA stands with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They suffer health disparities that see them become sicker and die earlier than non-Indigenous Australians. 

“In usual times, many doctors and medical students would be marching in these protests. We want to see change. 

“But we cannot allow the coronavirus pandemic continue to affect our way of life. We must stop the spread of COVID-19. 

The AMA urged that Australians comply with the different public health orders in place in each of the States and Territories and avoid large gatherings. 

The emergence of the global Black Lives Matter movement has come at a time when mixed results of Australia’s Close the Gap initiatives warrant new investment. 

Dr Bartone said that governments are rightly saying stay away from large gatherings, but these same governments must also address the calls made by protest leaders to act on racism. 

“Instead of just saying ‘don’t protest’, our political leaders must outline how governments will step up and better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Dr Bartone said. 

“As a nation, we can and must do more.” 

The AMA has identified three priorities for immediate action to get real change started: 

  • Indigenous smoking rates, particularly in the Northern Territory, continue to remain far too high. We must recommit to smoking cessation within Indigenous communities. 
  • We need to train more First Australians to be involved in the delivery of health care as a means of reducing racism in our health system. 
  • A proposal to establish an Indigenous Hospital at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane is sitting on the shelf, and just needs government backing to get it up and running. 

Read the full media release here 


Published: 18 Jun 2020