Our first contributor Selwyn Button, CEO of Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC)
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Closing the Gap report card needs action
Selwyn Button, CEO of Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) has expressed some disappointment in
Closing the Gap, Prime Minister’s Report 2013.
Responding to yesterday’s Closing the Gap speech delivered by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Mr Button declared that governments nationally are perpetuating the cycle of poverty and dysfunction by continually focussing on the negative elements in communities.
“When the Prime Minister had an opportunity to pay tribute to the commitment and results happening across the country through community controlled services, she chose to take a different slant and raise an issue that she feels relevant for the upcoming Federal election,” Mr Button said.
“There have been some real improvements in health made through our community controlled services, and too much attention is taken by attempts to politicise alcohol abuse in Indigenous communities.
“Let not kid ourselves, alcohol abuse in communities is an issue and it must be addressed, but it is not the biggest contributor to the overall life expectancy gap for our people.
“We must focus on the priorities that have impacted on the health of our people to achieve the ultimate goals of closing the life expectancy gap, such as smoking, heart disease and diabetes,” Mr Button stated.
“Bipartisan support from both State and Commonwealth governments is needed for this to occur.
“These public forums should not be used as a means of mud-slinging, we need to ensure that all parties are working together in achieving positive and progressive outcomes.
“The commitment to Closing the Gap must be seen to be more than a Report,” Mr Button said.
“That is why we are in the process of developing a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan and negotiating a new National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Health, and we are happy to sit down with politicians from all parties to address these issues.
“Importantly, we need to ensure that these discussions include how we are going to address social determinants as a collective and not see issues in isolation.”
My suggestion to assist in addressing nutritional diseases in Aboriginal communities is to embrace a product called Kakadu Complex. Not only is it formulated with 11 Australian wild foods, it has a business model wrapped around it that is based on elements of Aboriginal culture. We are seeing more and more indigenous people take on the whole food product for their own health. Additionally, they are learning to benefit from recommending it to others and earning incomes that are beyond the Intervention or other government grabs. I would be happy to discuss the opportunity with anyone with an open mind and an eye across multiple issues – health, self determination, employment, independence.