National Close the Gap Day – Message from the Head of AA
Today is National Close the Gap Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of the campaign to put an end to the disparity in health and life expectancy outcomes between First Peoples and non-Aboriginal Australians within a generation.
Of course this is more than just a health issue. National Close the Gap Day is an opportunity for all Australians to come together in conversation and action to improve the overall wellbeing and prosperity of First Peoples.
To be successful, these conversations and actions must be strengths-based and focus on partnerships with Aboriginal communities. Solutions must be identified and created by local communities, for local communities, if they are to be effective and sustainable.
It is this vision of true co-design with Aboriginal communities that has underpinned our development and implementation of OCHRE.
Gaps and disadvantage are recent experiences for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and Aboriginal communities throughout NSW have told us that the key to breaking the cycle of disadvantage is healing – without healing we will continue to spend billions of dollars delivering services that target the symptoms of disadvantage without addressing its root causes. This is not beneficial to Aboriginal people, nor the broader NSW community and economy.
The work we do in Aboriginal Affairs, to grow Aboriginal languages, to create economic opportunities, to strengthen local self-determination, and to promote healing responds directly to the positive aspirations of Aboriginal communities, leveraging their strengths to ensure that the language of ‘gaps’ and ‘disadvantage’ is not part of our future discourse.
On National Closing the Gap Day we must not shy away from the confronting statistics, but we need to stay focused on community-led solutions, strengths-based responses and putting the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at the heart of everything we do.