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Close the Gap Campaign Report Launch 2022

17 Mar 2022

Co-Chairs of the Close the Gap Campaign, June Oscar AO and Karl Briscoe provide insight into importance of Indigenous led solutions.

If we, as a nation, are genuinely committed to improving health equity and equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a fundamental shift in policy and program design is urgently needed.

Today as we mark 2022 National Close the Gap Day, this stark message is clear in our new report, Transforming Power: Voices for Generational Change.

The report comes when it’s needed. From a worldwide pandemic to the repercussions of climate change, we can feel we are on the cusp of great social upheaval. 

Through this work we are privileged to showcase, on a national level, the work of our mobs and our allies to advance the health equity and equality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The report is a curation of stories, of individuals and their work that show what is possible when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are empowered. 

We all want to have access to care, health services and advice that will keep us and our families well and strong. 

We, the Close the Gap Campaign, call on you to hear our voices, see our journey, and to witness our efforts for generational change. 

The Campaign represents a collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices from across the nation, and we embody the values that we continually advocate for. At the helm of our Campaign, we have equal representation, male and female co-chairs. As a collective, we are guided by the Indigenous Leadership Group and fundamental to our success are the partnerships we share with our non-indigenous allies.

As the preeminent coalition of Australia’s peak Indigenous health bodies, mainstream health and advocacy bodies and human rights organisations, we work together to promote and achieve equality in health and life expectancy for First Nations peoples. And our guiding principle has always been to advocate for policies and programs that are developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Thanks to the continued support of our members, both old and new, we remain completely independent of government. This independence allows us to define our own story, to transform our narrative and to give voice and power to the next generation. 

The Federal Government’s Closing the Gap strategy, initiated in 2008, was in direct response to the work of our Campaign which was founded in 2006. We used our voice then to speak truth to power. We were honest with our allies. We need investment of all kinds, to ensure that our ways of knowing, being and doing can be replicated, to deliver to our mobs the outcomes they need to live healthy lives. We need structural reform so that our success stories are the norm, not the exception. 

Health equity and equality, or the lack of it, is influenced by a range of intersecting social determinants, but the most influential factor has always been whether we have had a seat at the table – to set the agenda, to drive the change, to pursue our needs and aspirations in ways that are meaningful to us. Our self-determination is fundamental to forming the programs, organisations and structures that will close the gap—anything done without us will never be good enough.

What we see in the Report, is our strength, our determination to build a better future for our children. It is our voice and our agency fulfilled. And what this creates is Indigenous-led health policies and practices that are literally life-changing. The Report reminds us of the deep expertise carried within our lived experience, our knowledge systems, our culture, and how what we know has formed the systems that have kept all our peoples healthy, safe, and cared for across millennia. 

This is what the Close the Gap Campaign has always called for: community-led, cross-sectoral solutions that address the social and cultural determinants of health and elevate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and voices. 

This is how we transform our communities, empower our mob and create generational change.

The Campaign and its goals remain as relevant today as the day that it was established. In our Report, we’ve done the work and gathered the evidence. We outline the framework to deliver tangible outcomes. Now is the time to use our knowledge, to use our systems and create a foundation for success.  

The right to health equality is a basic fundamental human right. 

And at this moment, when we could transform the future of generations to come, the question we must ask ourselves is, are we brave enough: bold enough to use our power, our voices to forge a better future for all Australians? 

We know the answer. So, let’s work together and finally, close the gap between our communities.

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