Monday 12 February 2018

Australia is a long way short of closing the gap by 2030 and needs to rebuild the foundations of the strategy as a matter of urgency.

The Close the Gap Campaign welcomes the news that there has been an improvement in several closing the gap targets, however, only meeting 3 out of 7 targets for such a critical national priority is no cause for celebration.

Close the Gap Campaign Co-Chair and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO, said the Strategy needs a major recommitment to make the accelerated progress needed.

“After 10 years of closing the gap work, we all expected to be further ahead than just managing to meet 3 out of 7 targets,” Commissioner Oscar said.

“This is a national shame. In 2018, it is still a fact that our people live nearly a decade less than non-Indigenous peoples in this country. ”

Last Thursday, the Close the Gap Campaign released a highly critical review of the last 10 years of COAG’s Closing the Gap Strategy.

The Federal government is currently leading a refresh process of the Closing the Gap Strategy.

Close the Gap Co-Chair and Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, Rod Little says the refresh process is the last chance to get government policy right, in order to achieve the goal of health equality by 2030.

“The analysis of the Campaign is that the Strategy will not work, or only partially work, if governments fails to resource it and stick to the plan.

“All Australian governments must return to the first principles and commitments of the Close the Gap Statement of Intent – first signed in 2008. This was an ambitious, landmark and human-rights based compact that we hold governments to,” said Mr Little.

The Campaign welcomed reports of the success of economic targets relating to Indigenous procurement, which is indicative of the value of targeting setting. Government must continue to be held accountable to national headline targets.

The Government is yet to provide any direct response to the health recommendations provided by the Campaign last week. For example, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) must be supported to expand much further. It is well established that ACCHOs are best placed to deliver culturally safe health services, which cut unnecessary hospital admissions, and lift access across the health system. 

There were some detailed and considered recommendations made by the Campaign in its Review launched on Thursday 8 February. We look forward to a detailed response to those recommendations from Federal, State and Territory governments.

The Close the Gap Campaign Review called for:

• A new Strategy must be co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders and be underpinned by agreements negotiated between Federal, State and Territory governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders.

• The building blocks of a new strategy must include national funding agreements, implementation plans and clear accountability.

• Maternal and infant health programs and a focus on addressing chronic disease must be retained and expanded.

• Strategy targets must be retained and inputs for good health must be measured. State and Territory governments should also report on targets in relation to their jurisdiction.

• The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan Implementation Plan should be fully costed, funded and implemented – and focus on identifying and filling health service gaps.

• The Strategy should work to an overarching health infrastructure and housing plan that works to build the right physical environment for health to flourish.

Media contacts:

Lindy Kerin 0430 366 529
Craig Hodges 0447 873 993

You can download a copy of the Close the Gap Campaign’s Review here