Amelia Ahern visits a Close The Gap Day Event in West End.
Over 120 locals gathered at the Brisbane Homelessness Service Centre, 52 Peel Street West End, to address Indigenous health issues.The event took place as part of the national ‘Close the Gap’ campaign, initiated by Oxfam Australia, designed to raise indigenous health issues across the nation.
Currently, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities experience an average life expectancy of up to 17 years less than other Australians.
Local elder, Uncle Des Sandy says the campaign is a fantastic way to unite the community to spread the message. “There are no strangers here, only people we have not met,” he says.
As well as enjoying live entertainment and fresh food, participants were encouraged to sign a pledge, promising their commitment to the Close the Gap campaign. Oxfam Australia says that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.
The campaign calls on the Australian government to achieve Indigenous health equality within 25 years. Oxfam says long-term investment in Indigenous health and the address of social issues such as poor housing, nutrition, employment and education is key.
Greater Metro South Brisbane project officer, Colleen Lavelle, discussed health improvement strategies for effected communities.
“The main thing is working with GPs to enable better health outcomes. We all need to maintain our health for the sake of futures generations,” she says.
BHSC Social Coordinator Tony Robertson agrees. “Closing the gap is achievable. We’ve got strategies and individuals commitment to address the issues inhibiting all Australians from leading full and rich lives,” says Mr Robertson.
The ‘Close the Gap’ campaign has attracted over 130 000 Australians since 2006. For more information, visit the Oxfam website https://www.oxfam.org.au/explore/indigenous-australia/close-the-gap/