Closing the Gap on track: but more to be done
The National Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) today welcomed the Closing the Gap Progress Report findings as confirmation that the program is working, but that there is still more to be done to ensure that the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians does not widen.
Included below Close the Gap and AAP news press release
NACCHO Chair, Justin Mohamed (pictured above) , said that it was imperative to continue the good progress made in halving the gap in child death rates, improving early childhood education and year 12 or equivalent attainment.
“The Close The Gap programs are working towards achieving their goal, and improving the health and life expectancy of Aboriginal Australians,” said Mr Mohamed.
“The 150 Aboriginal community controlled health organisations (ACCHOs) that NACCHO represents continue to work to improve Aboriginal health and wellbeing across the board at a local community level, providing over 75 per cent of the work on-the-ground to Close The Gap.
“While we have seen vast improvement in child death rates, more must be done to address the overall mortality rates.
“The death rates of Aboriginal Australians have seen little change. The main cause of deaths for Aboriginal Australians is circulatory disease – attributed to the high level of tobacco usage, poor diet, physical inactivity and hypertension.
“It’s imperative that Close The Gap gets long term investment from governments, rather than just three or four year funding phases, to ensure that they have resources to deliver these vital services.
“The National Partnership Agreement hangs in the balance – which means some of these programs are on a precipice – whilst the Federal Government has renewed its commitment, States and Territories are lagging behind.
“We need Aboriginal health and Close The Gap to be a priority for all governments that goes beyond party politics. These programs which have taken a foothold must be allowed to continue to grow and build momentum so that Close The Gap can continue to improve Aboriginal peoples’ health and chances in life.
“Aboriginal ill-health and mortality rates present a grim picture – one that is out of step comparative to other Australians.
“Close The Gap is about improving outcomes for Aboriginal people, but unless these vital programs get ongoing funding, our chance at increasing life expectancy and health for Aboriginal people narrows.
“Aboriginal comprehensive primary health care provided by Aboriginal communities is the key to making a difference to Aboriginal health outcomes,” said Mr Mohamed.
Closing the Gap progress report: small steps make ongoing commitment vital
Australia is on track to halve the gap in child death rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians but a much greater effort is needed to achieve equality in life expectancy by 2030, an independent report has found.
Close the Gap campaign co-chairs Mick Gooda and Jody Broun welcome the positive results in relation to lowering the child mortality gap
Mr Gooda said addressing child mortality is critical in efforts to close the gap and will help drive improvements in life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
However, Mr Gooda said more needs to be done because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still dying at nearly twice the rate of other Australians.
“The reduction in the death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is a real step forward, but there is long way to go to improve child health outcomes more broadly.
“The good news is that 91% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in remote communities are enrolled in a preschool program and the new attendance target is welcomed.
“We believe the improvements outlined in this report point to what’s possible when we have co-ordinated and long term action from all governments,” Mr Gooda said.
The findings, released today, are part of a report prepared for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on behalf of the COAG Reform Council. The report assesses the progress of Australian governments against the Closing the Gap targets on education, employment and health.
Ms Broun said it is essential that all governments recommit to the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes as a matter of urgency.
“We call on all Australian Governments to put greater effort into closing the life expectancy gap by 2030,” said Ms Broun.
“So far, the Federal and Victorian governments have renewed their funding commitment to the NPA. We urge all other Australian governments to commit to the future health of our people through a renewed NPA.
“In this federal election year, it’s important to remember that the Closing the Gap agenda is a truly multi-partisan national project which must be backed by multi-decade commitments spanning policy cycles, funding agreements and governments”, she said.
National AAP news coverage
MORE action is needed to close the life expectancy gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians to meet the 2031 target, a national report warns.
The life expectancy gap is 11.5 years for men and 9.7 years for women.
In 2008, federal, state and territory governments agreed on six targets to tackle indigenous disadvantage in life expectancy, health, education and employment.
Only the Northern Territory is on track to close the life expectancy gap, according to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Reform Council report released on Wednesday.
Heart attacks and strokes were the most common cause of Aboriginal deaths.
Death rates had declined in Queensland, but not at the needed pace, while NSW and South Australia were not on track to achieve the target, the COAG report said.
Western Australia’s indigenous death rates had also dipped, but the state had not set a target.
But it found half of indigenous mothers were still smoking during pregnancy.
Literacy and numeracy skills of indigenous children were also lagging behind, the report said.
On efforts to increase indigenous employment, it said only NSW had seen some improvement.
The early childhood education target to improve access to preschool for all indigenous four-year-olds in remote communities is expected to be achieved this year.
The federal government accepted the COAG report’s recommendation to set a new target to boost attendance levels in preschool programs.
Year 12 completion rates for indigenous children had improved, and WA, SA, NT and ACT were on track to meet the 2020 target, the report said.
National Congress of Australia’s First People spokesman Les Malezer said the small improvements in the report were welcome, but it also came as a warning that more work was needed.
He reiterated a call for a justice target, to reduce the high representation of Aboriginal people in Australian j