Advertising


News

Close the gap: Transformational change and allyship


Morgan Liotta


17/03/2022 4:17:14 PM

This year’s report advocates for new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led efforts to reduce inequalities.

Two Aboriginal men.
Allyship is a key theme of this year’s Close the Gap report.

Australia has a new blueprint for closing the gap.
 
Produced by the Lowitja Institute, the Close the Gap Campaign Report 2022 – Transforming Power: Voices for Generational Change establishes a plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led transformation and partnerships aimed at reducing health inequalities.
 
Launched on national Close the Gap Day at an event hosted by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander political correspondent, Shahni Wellington, the report’s recommendations are meant to be practical and solutions-focused, with community at its centre, highlighting the ‘strength and importance of self-determination’.
 
The 13th annual Closing the Gap report is the second to be released since the establishment of a new national agreement aimed at giving Indigenous communities a greater say on their own future.
 
Ms Wellington said it highlights the power of the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, and aligns with the theme of ‘voices for generational change’.
 
Lowitja Institute CEO Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed also spoke at the launch and highlighted that 2022 is the first year in which the report features the significance of allyship.
 
‘It’s not just a transformation of systems that is needed [to close the gap], but the need for transformation of minds, which requires allyship and large-scale re-structurisation,’ she said.
 
‘Australia needs to collectively respond and embrace these changes, [and] learn from our [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples] leadership.’
 
Adjunct Professor Mohamed said the report represents a ‘powerful call to action’.
 
‘[It] showcases Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led brilliance at work, in all sorts of settings, paving the way ahead as we have done as peoples over millennia,’ she said.
 
‘It puts a spotlight on our community-led organisations and services that work tirelessly to provide equitable healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia.
 
‘Now it’s time for governments and mainstream services to step up, and step back, if we are to truly close the gap in health outcomes for our peoples.’
 
Close the Gap Campaign Co-Chair Karl Briscoe also spoke at the launch about the journey to closing the gap.
 
‘We need policy initiatives and programs that recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, provides genuine opportunities for decision making, and strengthens and improves our culture,’ he said.
 
‘This is what leads to best health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the 2022 campaign embodies these values of holistic, community-led solutions.
 
‘We are calling on all governments and key stakeholders to reflect on the way they explore good practice and allyship − we all hold responsibility for driving change.
 
‘If we are committed to health equality, then we need to be committed to the recommendations in this report.’
 
Key recommendations of the Close the Gap campaign report build on previous years. They call for structural reform, innovation driven by cultural safety, and empowering communities to improve health and wellbeing through equal access.

Close-the-Gap-article.jpg
The report is the second to be released since the establishment of a new national agreement that aims to giving Indigenous communities a greater say on their own future. 

These include government action on:

  • the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including an enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament
  • development of a national housing framework that delivers appropriate housing and strategies to reduce overcrowding, poor housing conditions and shortages in remote communities
  • the full implementation of and commitment to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–31
  • investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led data development at the local level, incorporating design from community-driven initiatives
  • the development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led research agenda for health and wellbeing, with a particular focus on the impacts of systematic racism in health systems
  • establishing and supporting leadership forums for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young peoples at national and local levels, to provide them with the opportunity to engage in decision-making processes for policies, programs and services.
Despite the ongoing health challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lowitja Institute identifies that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are leading the way in transforming health and community services and policies, retaining culture and Country as the foundation.
 
The report outlines the ‘many achievements’ to be celebrated in the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations. These include successful adaptations and responses to challenges, and the continued ability to demonstrate the value of strengths-based, community-driven initiatives empowering cultural understandings.
 
Dr Norman Swan also spoke at the launch about the healthcare challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have faced and overcome in the wake of − and outside − the pandemic.
 
‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around the country have risen to the challenges, particularly during COVID,’ he said.
 
‘[However, these challenges stem from] systematic and systemic problems that still exist and need to be addressed.’
 
Control and transforming power are important achievements that continue to influence health outcomes, according to Dr Swan.
 
‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have been way ahead of the rest of Australia with control,’ he said.
 
‘[For example,] because there are around 300 Aboriginal Community Controlled Healthcare Organisations around Australia, these communities have taken that control, which is the first step to closing the gap.
 
‘Non-Indigenous [Australians] have to listen – it’s not just about smoking and diabetes and cholesterol … but dispossession, cultural safety, then housing and education – [they] all have an impact on lifestyle and health outcomes.
 
‘So community control is not an option, it’s absolutely core.
 
‘I commend this report [which outlines] that community control is fundamental moving forward to close the gap.’
 
Also covered in the report are ongoing policy efforts to address climate change and housing disparities, gender justice, as well as education and employment opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who represent the ‘voices for generational change’.
 
Adjunct Professor Mohamed said the 2022 report is a blueprint for the transformation of systems and minds, which strongly relies on allyship.
 
‘This report is a strength-based narrative,’ she said.
 
‘We must work together to transform power and change.
 
‘We need non- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to walk with us as we seek generational change to close the gap − which really does hold us back as a nation.’
 
Log in below to join the conversation.



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health Close the Gap Lowitja Institute


newsGP weekly poll When is your next available patient appointment?
 
18%
 
25%
 
28%
 
26%
Related





newsGP weekly poll When is your next available patient appointment?

Advertising

Advertising


Login to comment