26 February 2015 | General Interest
The Close the Gap Campaign has urged the Federal Government to focus on greater access to primary health care services to detect, treat and manage chronic health conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Campaign Co-Chairs Mick Gooda and Kirstie Parker released the 2015 Close the Gap Progress and Priorities Report on 11 February, to coincide with the Prime Minister’s annual report card to Parliament on progress made to reduce Indigenous disadvantage.
Key recommendations from the 2015 Close the Gap Progress and Priorities Report include:
- That the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Measures Survey (NATSIHMS) findings are used to better target chronic conditions in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
- That the Australian Government continues to lead the COAG Closing the Gap Strategy.
- That the Australian Government restore the National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee.
The Campaign has also called for clear alignment of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy with the Closing the Gap Strategy; restoration and increase of funding to vital Indigenous anti-smoking initiatives; development of a dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and social and emotional wellbeing plan to complement others relating to general health, suicide prevention and drug use; new Closing the Gap targets to reduce imprisonment and violence rates; and a comprehensive Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan.
Mr Gooda, who is also Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, said the report identified high levels of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with undetected treatable and preventable chronic conditions that impact significantly on life expectancy.
“Armed with this data, the Campaign Steering Committee believes the nation now has a real opportunity to make relatively large health and life expectancy gains in relatively short periods of time,” Commissioner Gooda said.
“We have seen some gains in maternal and child health but without strong and sustainable commitment from Government to ensure chronic conditions are detected, treated and managed, the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is in jeopardy.”
Ms Parker, who is also Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, said there needed to be a clearer connection between the Australian Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy – which focuses on education, employment and community safety – and the national effort to close the gap in Indigenous health.
“Employment, education and community safety are drivers of improved health and wellbeing. It is important to remember that good health contributes to positive outcomes in all these areas.”
To view the complete media release visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website.
A related article from Gerry Georgatos is available via The Stringer.