Today is National Close the Gap Day. Ten years ago, the Australian Federal Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people agreed to “work together to achieve equality in health status and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians by the year 2030” by signing the Indigenous Health Equality Summit Statement of Intent.
The Council of Australian Governments set targets to monitor improvements in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities, and each year, the Prime Minister of Australia releases a report to Parliament that reviews the progress made towards these targets.
Recently, the Closing the Gap Campaign Steering Committee released a ten year review, a highly critical reflection on why successive Australian governments have not yet closed the gap in health outcomes and life expectancy, and why the 2030 target will not be met.
Neami National’s vision is full citizenship for people living with a mental illness in Australian society, - we believe that all Australians should have equity in health and wellbeing. As a national mental health organisation we are committed to improving mental health and wellbeing in all local communities and we recognise the importance of addressing the unique experiences of disadvantage within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Neami has a number of initiatives that aim to address the reduced physical health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In Victoria, Neami is a partner in Wadamba Wilam (Renew Shelter), a service that provides intensive outreach support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are experiencing homelessness and poor social and emotional wellbeing. Physical health promotion is a key aspect of this program.
In New South Wales, Neami employs three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Rehabilitation and Support Workers and is currently recruiting for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Liaison Officer. These staff members provide culturally appropriate support assistance to consumers, focusing on coordinating support with multiple service providers to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers.
In 2018, Neami will launch its first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). In undertaking this RAP, we seek to cultivate relationships, opportunities and activities that demonstrate awareness and respect for the role and contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities, while better equipping our services and workplaces to provide cultural access, inclusion and safety.
Image sourced from the Inner North West Primary Care Partnership