Reflections on Close the Gap campaign

As we mark the sixth annual Close the Gap Day, I’ve been reflecting on the progress that has been made to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health over this time.

The campaign’s challenge back in the early days was to harness what political will was there, as well as community support (for example: in the reconciliation movement), and to build on it.

As I mentioning during my National Press Club address 12 months ago, when I was Co-Chair of the campaign, it’s up to the people of Australia to power the change.

The annual Close the Gap Day is a vital part of the awareness raising and support gathering process.  This year thousands of Australians and scores of organisations have held more than 800 events to support the campaign.

Health is a very important issue for me.  It’s a basic human right and its the foundation of life.

We have one of the highest overall life expectancies in the world.  We have managed this for the majority of Australians for decades now.  But what about that 2.5 per cent of the population—Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Now, the government is taking this issue seriously.  And that should be commended but more work needs to be done by all sectors, including addressing the determinants of health.

I am hopeful that together we can close the gaps that still exist between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians by 2030.  It’s up to all of us.

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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