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Urgent funding needed to support Indigenous community-led health solutions

Aboriginal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice

The Close the Gap campaign has called for an urgent investment in community-led health services to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the country.

The 2022 Close the Gap Report: Transforming Power – Voices for Generational Change has 12 recommendations for large-scale transformation and systemic reform to avoid further preventable deaths and protect Indigenous health, wellbeing, culture, and Country.

These include the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap plans, investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led data development at the local level and the development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led research agenda for health and wellbeing, with a particular focus on the impacts of systemic racism in health systems.

The report focuses on self-determination, gender justice and highlights the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities. It calls for a paradigm shift in health and wellbeing policy, to ensure all policies and programs are developed and delivered in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and Close the Gap Co-Chair June Oscar AO made clear gender equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls was central to supporting strong families and communities to lead healthy lives.

“This year’s report highlights in no uncertain terms what we already know. It’s our organisations that know our people, carry our culture and knowledges, and deliver the services that we need,” said Commissioner Oscar.

“On this Close the Gap Day, we celebrate this incredible work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations who are keeping our peoples safe and supported everyday.

“Our self-determination is fundamental to forming the programs, organisations and structures that will close the gap—anything done without us will never be good enough.

”This Close the Gap report reminds us of the deep expertise carried within our lived experience, our knowledge systems, our culture and how what we know have formed the systems that have kept all our peoples healthy, safe and cared for across millennia.

“At a time when Australia is grappling with the #MeToo movement, our First Nations women have to be front and centre of reforming discriminatory systems entrenched with racialised sexism that damages and harms all our health and wellbeing.”

CEO of NAATSIHWP and Close the Cap Co-Chair Karl Briscoe said the campaign was again calling on governments to make large-scale systemic reforms to truly empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“Supporting the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart is a positive step towards self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities,” said Mr Briscoe.

“Health equality is a basic human right which should be afforded to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“To achieve better outcomes, the need for investing in programs that are developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a prerequisite.”  

This year’s report was produced by the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s community-controlled national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research.

The 2022 Close the Gap campaign report will be available for the public to read on the websites of the Lowitja Institute, ANTaR and the Australian Human Rights Commission.