National Close the Gap Day Event

Monday 21 April 2008

Staff of the Cathedral of St Stephen precinct will join with others from around the Archdiocese of Brisbane in a National Close the Gap Day event in the grounds of the Cathedral at noon tomorrow, Tuesday 22 April

National Close the Gap Day 2008 is promoted by over forty Indigenous and non-Indigenous community organisations as an opportunity for citizens to express their public support for long term, meaningful Government action to close the 17 year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

This event will be one of over five hundred which will take place around the country on 22 April.

One of the organizers of the event, Peter Arndt, who is a Mission Development Officer in the Faith and Life Vicariate and Executive Officer of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Brisbane, said that the Federal, State and Territory Governments need to be reminded of public support for effective action to address the poor health standards of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

“While the Council of Australian Governments has agreed to close the life expectancy gap within a generation, we need to make sure that they actually back up their words with adequate funds to make their commitment a reality,” Mr Arndt said.

“Even though they have pledged to halve Indigenous infant mortality rates within ten years, we need to ensure that they are working closely with Indigenous communities and organisations so that programmes have a real chance of working,” he said.

“Although Mr Rudd and Dr Nelson have made a bipartisan commitment to close the gap, we need to make sure that they develop partnerships with Indigenous people and build on the success stories of many Indigenous-controlled health projects,” he said.

“Holding such events keeps the focus on the issue of poor Indigenous health,” he said.

“We do not want a flourish of words and activity now which disappears in a month or two and leaves the life expectancy gap unchanged,” he said.

“This gap is an immense scandal and closing the gap should be a matter of the highest priority,” he said.

“It is a disgrace that Indigenous health in Australia is getting no better while other countries like the USA, Canada and New Zealand have made tremendous improvements in Indigenous health and significantly reduced the life expectancy gap,” he added.

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