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2011 Media Release: Growing number of Australians support National Close the Gap Day this year

Aboriginal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice

Close the gap

Growing number of Australians support National Close the Gap Day this year

Tens of thousands of Australians are set to pledge their support for closing the 10 – 17 year Indigenous life expectancy gap in events around the country as part of National Close the Gap Day tomorrow (Thursday March 24).

More than 850 National Close the Gap Day events have been registered in schools, workplaces and other community venues across all states and territories in an unprecedented show of support for the campaign.This is almost a 50 per cent increase in the number of events registered last year.

Co-chair of the Close the Gap Campaign Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda said people power was crucial to achieving Indigenous life expectancy equality within a generation.

"Indigenous Australians are such a minority that our votes hold little sway at elections, which is why the people power behind National Close the Gap Day is such a vital force," Commissioner Gooda said.

"Since 2006, 150,000 Australians have formally pledged their support for achieving Indigenous health equality.

"This people power has helped persuade almost every Federal, State and Territory government and opposition party to sign the historic Close the Gap statement of Intent," Commissioner Gooda said.

35 Federal MPs will have the opportunity to personally state their support for the campaign at a breakfast event to be held at Parliament House, Canberra.

In Melbourne, Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu will reaffirm his party's commitment to closing the gap in a National Close the Gap Day event at Victorian Parliament House.

This year almost half the National Close the Gap Day events will take place in schools, in a record show of support from young people.

Co-chair of the Close the Gap campaign and National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking Dr Tom Calma said that it was great to see young people getting behind the campaign. "Indigenous children are dying at more than double the rate of non-Indigenous children, and it is heartening to see thousands of young Australians, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, saying that they don't want to grow up in a country where this is a reality," Mr Calma said.

Campaign co-chairs Mick Gooda and Tom Calma will do a doorstop interview to mark the day in Canberra following the parliamentary breakfast at 9:00am in the Senate Courtyard, Parliament House.

Details of events in each state are listed overleaf, and for a full list of events near you visit http://www.oxfam.org.au/act/events/close-the-gap-day/attend.

For interviews or more information, please contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Sunita Bose on 0407 555 960.