Parliament House Close the Gap Campaign
The signing of the Close the Gap Statement of Intent by the Australian Government in 2008, was a watershed moment. The aim of the campaign is to close the health inequality gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians by 2030. The significance for NACCHO, Affiliates and our Members are the health service delivery CTG Statement of Intent Commitments such as;
“Supporting and development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health services in urban, rural and remote areas in order to achieve lasting improvements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing”.
The Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG) set two Closing the Gap Health Targets:
- Achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality within a generation; and
- Halving the under-five year olds’ mortality rate gap within a decade.
As part of the Australian Government’s Commitment, the Prime Minister of Australia on the first sitting day of Parliament delivered a report on the Australian Government’s progress towards the Closing the Gap targets. The Closing the Gap campaign also delivers a “CTG Shadow Report,” known as “CTG Progress and Priorities Report 2014” which is presented to the Australian Government. This Report also provides an opportunity for NACCHO to showcase our Members within the Report to highlight successes, challenges and gaps.
The Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee calls for the Australian Government to strengthen the national effort to close the gap by focusing on expanding health services to meet need, particularly in the areas of mental health, maternal and child health and chronic disease. This should include a systematic inventory of service gaps, and planning to close these gaps on a region by region basis with a focus on Health Services in all areas of Australia. Further steps could also be taken to improve access to medicines. E-health systems should be utilised to enhance continuity of care.
The continued action agenda that NACCHO supports to be adopted for the Health Targets in the Closing the Gap Campaign include:
- Developing specific COAG Closing the Gap Targets in relation to incarceration rates and community safety in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representatives, as well as state and territory governments;
- Developing formal mechanisms that ensure long-term funding commitments, including the national partnership agreements, are linked with progress in closing the health in equality gap;
- Developing a new funding allocation methodology to determine the appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander share of mainstream health programs on a basis that reflects demographic, epidemiological and evidenced-based need data; and
- Introducing and passing legislation to formalise a process for national monitoring and reporting on the national report to close the gap in accordance with benchmarks and targets. This legislation should include a requirement for this process to be undertaken in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representatives. It should also have a sunset clause of 2031 – the year after the date by which all parties have committed to close the gap in health equality.