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Close the Gap 2019 Report: The George Institute statement

Media release: 
26/03/2019

The George Institute for Global Health continues to support the Close the Gap Campaign that takes a human rights-based approach to health equity and is appropriately led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The 2019 Close the Gap report: Our Voices Our Choices takes a strengths-based approach by highlighting success stories in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Three priority themes for addressing the health gap are identified in the report; Good Housing for Good Health, Responsive Health Care System and Targeted, Needs-based Primary Health Care.

Keziah Bennett-Brook, Manager of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program at The George Institute, said: “We strongly support the three priority themes identified in the report which closely align to our research focus areas in this space at The George Institute.

“There is much to learn from the many success stories highlighted within the report that clearly show that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples lead the design and delivery of services for us, our outcomes are far better.”

The 2019 Closing the Gap report from COAG released in February revealed that most targets remain off track with only two of seven targets, Year 12 attainment and early childhood education, progressing.

Ms Kennett-Brook said: “While the Government moves towards positive framing in reporting on the Closing the Gap targets and included additional indicators of importance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, there are still concerns.

“The important role that Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations play in being experts in the health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples remains understated and there remain significant gaps in funding infrastructure, health services and programs run by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

The George Institute urges COAG to progress a formal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies and supports the Close the Gap Campaign’s recommendations for the Government to take action to:

  • Fully cost and fund the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan
  • Build the capacity and provide increased long term funding to extend the reach of Aboriginal Medical Services to meet the demand that exists
  • Ensure that health solutions are culturally appropriate and community focused and controlled

Professor Vlado Perkovic, Executive Director of The George Institute, Australia, said: “There is a pathway forward if priorities and strategies identified by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be taken seriously, committed to and implemented appropriately.”

The George Institute also continues to support recommendations from the Uluru Statement from the Heart to establish a First Nations voice to parliament and recognise this as an important step in achieving equitable health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.