Reflections on the Close the Gap campaign

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By Dr Tom Calma, Reconciliation Australia Co-Chair and former Close the Gap Campaign Co-Chair

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.

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