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close the gapWorking together to Close the Gap

Five years onfrom co-signing a South Australian Statement of Intent to take action to closethe unacceptable gap in health outcomes and life expectancy between Aboriginaland Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians, the community sectoris leading the way in achieving targets.

On Thursday 26 March 2015, the Aboriginal community controlled health sector, communityorganisations, key stakeholders, governmentand non - government representatives came together to celebrate recent achievementsand reinforce their commitment to addressing Aboriginal and Torres StraitIslander health inequities.

The event was hosted by the Aboriginal Health Council of SA Inc. (AHCSA), andco-hosted by Oxfam Australia and Reconciliation SA. Guest speakers included: John Singer, AHCSA Chair; Shane Mohor, Acting CEO AHCSA; and MatthewCooke, Chair of National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation(NACCHO).

Originally launched in 2006, the Close the Gap campaign is an initiative ofAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal national health andhuman rights organizations and non-Aboriginal organisations. Underpinning thecampaign is the importance of collaborative and meaningful approaches betweenAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Government and thenot-for-profit sector.

Co-host of Thursday’s event, Judee Adams, Oxfam CommunityCampaign & Engagement Coordinator SA/NT, says ‘Closing the gap in health equality between Aboriginal people and otherSouth Australians is an agreed priority, as shown by the State Parliamentbipartisan signing of the Statement of Intent in 2010. For this to be achieved,it is imperative that the South Australian Government continues to work inpartnership with Aboriginal people and their representative organisations inthe development, implementation and monitoring of health policy and programs.’

Although gaps in health outcomes and life expectancy are still of great concern, thereis strong evidence that targets are being achieved, as demonstrated in the recentlyreleased Healthy Future: AboriginalCommunity Controlled Health Services Report Card.

‘The Healthy Futures Report really highlights the evidence of the Aboriginalcommunity-controlled sector’s achievements in providing comprehensive primaryhealth care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and continuallydemonstrates best practice in comprehensive primary health care.’ says ShaneMohor, Acting CEO AHCSA.

Reconciliation SA supported the event. Mark Waters, State Manager ofReconciliation SA, says that ‘Improving health outcomes of Aboriginal andnon-Aboriginal Australians is a critical issue for South Australians. Ouremerging priorities are health and well-being and the impact of, and how torespond to, racism in particular in systems such as health.’

Through continued partnerships, and evidence-based community-led approaches, the sharedvision to close the gap in health and wellbeing is highly achievable forAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.