Closing the Gap

National Close the Gap Day on 15 March raises awareness of the need to close the gap in health between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in Australia. The Closing the Gap framework has been in place for 10 years.

A healthy start to life gives children the best opportunity to succeed in school and in getting and keeping jobs in the future.

Improving the health of Indigenous children is of critical importance. A sustained commitment is needed to achieve health equality.

We acknowledge the legacy of trauma and grief and the role our hospitals have played in the Stolen Generations. We respect the richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and the strength and resilience of families and communities.

We are committed to ensuring our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and their families are safe, welcomed and comfortable when using our services.

Our Network is engaged in several projects and studies aiming to improve the health of Indigenous children and young people.

About a quarter of Aboriginal children living in urban areas have ear disease, which often causes hearing and speech problems and can impact on their ability to learn at school. We are part of a large multi-centre clinical trial, the INFLATE trial, of treatments for otitis media in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

We have been part of the highly successful HEALS project, which funded specialist services such as audiology, speech therapy, and ear, nose and throat specialist services for Aboriginal children across five Aboriginal Communities.

Our Centre for Kidney Research is involved in two ongoing studies: the Antecedents for Renal Disease in Aboriginal Children (ARDAC) and the Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEARCH). Now, building on knowledge from these studies, is the Centre for Research Excellence, a collaboration focused on improving the health of Indigenous children and young people.

We have been involved in research into Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder led by Aboriginal elders in the remote Fitzroy Valley in Western Australia. This looked at prevalence of FASD, health and developmental problems in primary school-aged children and is developing strategies to support parents and carers of children and for prevention and education.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have significantly poorer health. The gap in mortality for children under 5 is improving, but still has a way to go. Life expectancy is 10-17 years lower in the Indigenous population.

We want to help change the story for Indigenous children and young people. We want them to reach their full potential. We want them to live their healthiest lives.

We all have a part to play in closing the gap in health inequality.