Calls for renewed funds on Close the Gap Day
Updated Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:57pm AEDT
Aboriginal leaders are using today’s seventh national Close the Gap Day to call for a funding boost to ensure a national initiative aimed at improving Indigenous health continues.
The current $1.6 billion national Indigenous health funding program expires in June and there has been no commitment from state, territory or federal governments that it will be renewed.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda says the improved health spending has made a real difference.
He says birth weights of Indigenous babies are improving, and the rate of infant mortality is declining, indicating the benefits of the commitment made five years ago to improve Indigenous health.
Mr Gooda says he is hoping to see federal and state governments renew the funding agreement with Indigenous health bodies around the country.
“Now’s not the time to take the foot off the pedal, but keep the commitment going,” he said.
“We’ve seen the effort that the government and Aboriginal community organisations are putting in, those efforts are now paying dividends.
“The 12 peak bodies have a national leadership forum and are working with the Federal Government and it’s starting to pay dividends.”
The agreement has a long-term aim of closing the gap in the difference between poorer Indigenous health outcomes and the wider community by 2030.
The co-chair of the Close the Gap campaign, Jody Broun, is also calling on funding to be renewed.
She says the funding has been used to tackle smoking rates in Aboriginal communities.
“While it’s a small reduction it’s a reduction, including in pregnant mothers,” she said.
Ms Broun says partnerships between Indigenous communities and community health services are critical to successfully deliver funding.
“It is about getting the community behind the Close the Gaps targets,” she said.
“It is about raising awareness about health equality.”
Activities are planned for health centres around the country today to mark the seventh national Close the Gap Day.