It is of great concern to us, the Close the Gap Campaign—as indeed it should be to the Australian nation—that the target to close the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people by 2031 is, in 2019, widening rather than closing. In his Closing the Gap Report 2019 to Parliament, the Prime Minister acknowledged that this target is not on track.
In the past, we have provided a ‘Shadow Report’ including a ten-year review published in 2018. The review assessed the most significant national effort to date to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health—the 2008 Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) Closing the Gap Strategy—with its target to achieve life expectancy equality by 2030.3
In 2019, the Campaign is taking a different approach to its report. After identifying what we believe are urgent priority themes for addressing the health gap, this year we are highlighting stories that illustrate success from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. The report addresses the following three priority themes:
- Targeted, needs-based primary health care
- Responsive health care system
- Good housing for good health.
The stories profiled in this report demonstrate that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are involved in the design of the services they need, we are far more likely to achieve success. These stories illustrate that ‘our choice and our voice’ are vital if we are to make gains and start to close the gap.
The Campaign welcomes the announcement in December 20184 that governments will work in true partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and their appropriate organisations and representatives. This is a critical time for the government to work hand-in-hand with us on solutions, to ensure we turn this gap around and do not allow it to widen any further.
Finally, as Co-Chairs, we sincerely thank the almost fifty Close the Gap Campaign members for their contribution to this work. We could not do what we do without the enduring support and commitment to better health outcomes from our membership.
Ms June Oscar AO
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner
Mr Rod Little
Co-Chair National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
Co-chairs - Close the Gap Campaign