On National Close the Gap Day it is crucial that the Government reflects on and renews its commitment to raising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health to be on par with the rest of the nation, says PHAA
“It must be acknowledged that the prolonged attempts by successive governments to reform the state of Indigenous health need to be replaced by a more focused and consistent approach which significantly prioritises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leadership,” says Michael Moore, Chief Executive Officer of the Public Health Association of Australia.
“It is also crucial that this renewed approach incorporates the principles of the social determinants of health as a basis for addressing the longstanding inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
“Federal, State and Territory Governments need to engage with Indigenous health leaders and people in relation to the calls by the Redfern Statement through participating in a National Summit this year and through ongoing consultation in order to change the direction of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,” says Mr Moore.
A national inquiry into racism and institutional racism in health care environments and its contribution to the inequalities experienced by Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders is needed, with the findings then being used to strengthen the Implementation Plan of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.
The Implementation Plan is a commitment on which The Australian Government should deliver through dedicating sufficient resources that will ensure it is carried out effectively.
“The Australian Government should also pursue agreements between Primary Health Networks and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations in each region that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership on Indigenous health issues,” Mr Moore says.
The PHAA has a long-term focus on improving the health of Australia’s First People, and invites those interested in these issues to attend the 15th World Congress on Public Health which will include a key session titled ‘Suicide Prevention in First Nations people’.
Suicide among Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders has become increasingly prevalent in recent decades, with the overall rate being twice that of non-Indigenous Australians and the majority of these deaths occurring before the age of 35 years.
The PHAA strongly supports National Close the Gap Day as part of its wider commitment to improving the lives of all Indigenous Australians.