ANU academics, have used the national Close the Gap day on 19 March to comment on what needs to be done to improve Indigenous health and life expectancy.
Close the Gap day aims to focus on the ongoing campaign to close the health and life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. ANU Medical School Rural Society hosted a Close the Gap Conference 21-23 March.
Samia Goudie, Senior Lecturer in Indigenous Health, ANU Medical School
“The focus needs to shift back again to what is central for real change to occur across all the areas identified within the initial report and subsequent follow up. However, we have made some improvements. In health for instance here at the ANU Medical School we have graduated our first Aboriginal doctor and have current Aboriginal student doctors in all years of the post graduate degree. We also have an increase in students wishing to undertake an enhanced learning program, in the Indigenous Health stream, which we offer to all students to apply.”
Dr Jill Bestic, Senior Lecturer in Rural Medicine, ANU Medical School
“As a nation we need to embrace and be proud of the First Nation people. We need to imbed the true history of this country in the curriculum from school beginnings. It is vital we involve communities in education, good nutrition, better housing, employment opportunities, health support from conception and increase awareness programs around the use of gunja and alcohol.”
Dr Janet Hunt, Deputy Director, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research
“The gaps won’t close while Indigenous people have no real say in determining the policies. The biggest gap we have to address is in the Government’s willingness to engage with Indigenous peoples’ own representative organisations and community leaders, and work with their solutions. There are many positive ideas out there but they struggle to get consistent support.”
Dr Bill Fogarty, Research Fellow, National Centre for Indigenous Studies
“The framing of the gap must not just position Indigenous people by what they lack in relation to the non-Indigenous population. It must be more nuanced than just deficit and allow for notions of difference.”
Photo by Les Haines on flickr.