Statement from The George Institute on Closing the Gap

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are still dying 10 years earlier on average than other Australians. Despite Federal, State and Territory governments’ commitment to the Closing the Gap, progress has been unacceptably slow.

Last year's annual report from the Federal Government indicated that six of seven key measures of the Closing the Gap commitment were not on target, with some stagnating while others went backwards.

A review of the Closing the Gap strategy 10 years on has highlighted ineffective policy and extensive funding cuts.

Keziah Bennett-Brook, Manager of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program at The George Institute for Global Health, said:  ‘In order to effect real change in addressing the health disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, the government needs to establish authentic partnerships with Aboriginal communities and let them take the lead on decisions affecting them. 

“With a refresh of the Closing the Gap strategy due, now is the time to consider what needs to be addressed to create real change. Before setting goals there needs to be a fundamental understanding of the long-standing structural issues causing the gap in health and life expectancy outcomes.

“Improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations is a major priority for The George Institute. Our work is underpinned by a fundamental cultural understanding that working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is critical for success and must be based on continued co-operation rather than just consultation with Aboriginal communities.

“Now is the time for governments to reaffirm their commitment to this strategy by actively supporting and listening to voices on the ground. 

“There is a long way to go if we are to achieve the Closing the Gap goal of health equality between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people by 2030. We look forward to working together with community and the Government to move this strategy towards reality.”

Vlado Perkovic, Executive Director of The George Institute, Australia added: “Improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is our responsibility as a nation and as a community and we must not avoid or walk away from it. It is time to recommit, and double-down on our efforts to achieve equity of outcome for all Australians and close this unacceptable gap.”

The George Institute is committed to addressing healthcare inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, through community engagement and evidence based research.