An Indigenous-led and stronger response is needed to Close the Gap

ClosetheGapDoctors from one of Australasia’s largest specialist medical colleges have called for a strengthened and nationally co-ordinated approach to Close the Gap ​to ensure better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

It follows today’s release of the Ten-year review: the Closing the Gap Strategy and Recommendations for Reset, authored by the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee. 

Commenting on the report, Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) President Dr Catherine Yelland said the RACP supported all recommendations outlined in the review.  

“This review highlights what we already know as doctors,” Dr Yelland said. “The gap that exists between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians health outcomes is widening and requires a stronger and cross-jurisdictional response. 

“We ask the Council of Australian Governments to implement all of the recommendations outlined in the Review to Close the Gap by 2030 and to ensure a nationally co-ordinated and adequately funded action plan, without delay.

“We urge the government to contribute to a greater and sustained investment to expanding primary care services and ensuring these are accessible and culturally safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” 

Key recommendations from the review include:

  • The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan Implementation Plan be fully costed, funded and implemented and have a focus on identifying and addressing any existing health service gaps.
  • Developing a new Strategy to Close the Gap, co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders and supported by agreements between Federal, State and Territory governments.
  • Maintaining ‘the current Closing the Gap Strategy health targets.’ The RACP supports this recommendation and ​​encourages reporting on the inputs to those health targets.

The report’s authors make recommendations for improving maternal and infant health programs and addressing chronic disease. These recommendations are wholly supported by the RACP.

Dr Yelland said it is important that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders and communities are involved when the government is considering future initiatives. 

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be leading the development and implementation of the Closing the Gap Strategy and future initiatives for health reform affecting their communities. They understand the health issues and have the solutions, and can help ensure the services delivered are culturally safe.”

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