GREATER GENUINE COOPERATION NEEDED TO SIGNIFICANTLY CLOSE THE GAP
AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said today that genuine cooperation between all political parties and across all levels of government is needed if Australia is to achieve significant improvements in closing the gap in life expectancy and health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
On National Close the Gap Day 2017, Dr Gannon said that there is no doubt that our political leaders are committed to improving Indigenous health, but progress is slow and too few targets are being met under the current strategy.
“The Close the Gap Campaign 2017 Progress and Priorities Report, released today, shows that, despite their best efforts, all Australian governments are failing in their endeavours to meet their own targets in closing the gap – but we can turn this around,” Dr Gannon said.
“The AMA believes that positive progress can be made if governments work directly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and better understand the approaches that they know work in their own communities.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to have structured engagement with governments and involvement in decision-making.
“The AMA recognises the importance of self-determination, and fully supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in wanting to take charge of their own lives.
“Governments must recognise and value the knowledge and expertise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have.
“They must understand that Indigenous people have the solutions and the expertise to deliver them.
“This was made clear in the lead-up to the release of the Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap report last month when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders presented the Prime Minister with the Redfern Statement.
“The Redfern Statement, supported by the AMA, calls on governments to better engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
“The Redfern Statement contains the solutions to improving health and life outcomes for Indigenous people.”
Dr Gannon said that the Redfern Statement provides the current Federal Parliament with an unprecedented opportunity to work closely with Indigenous people to meaningfully address the disadvantage that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience.
“The AMA urges the Government, Opposition, and minor parties to take note of the Close the Gap Report and the 2017 Progress and Priorities Report and work in a unified way to make a real difference.
“In tandem with many others working in Indigenous health, the AMA has for decades been campaigning for long-term funding and commitments from governments to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“We will continue our advocacy to help achieve this goal.
“We will focus on Indigenous advancement, and highlight where there is evidence of real improvement.
“Some gaps remain because of equivalent improvements in the health of non-Indigenous Australians.
“It is important to avoid a nihilism about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs.
“We must never consign these issues to the ‘too hard’ basket – but we risk that if we do not carefully appraise measures that are working, acknowledge them, and build on them.”
The 2016 AMA Indigenous Health Report Card is available at https://ama.com.au/article/2016-ama-report-card-indigenous-health-call-action-prevent-new-cases-rheumatic-heart-disease
16 March 2017
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Published: 16 Mar 2017