Responding to the launch of the Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap report this morning, Oxfam Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Program National Manager Ngarra Murray said:
“We are disappointed that the Prime Minister has limited his response to the Closing the Gap agenda by outlining new initiatives in only the area of education.
“Given the admission that the gap in infant mortality is widening, this calls for concerted action to greatly improve maternal and health services across the board for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“With only two of the seven targets on track, State and Federal Governments around Australia must commit to working with First Peoples’ leaders to develop solutions from the ground up with local communities, and investing the necessary resources in these solutions.
“We welcome the support from the Prime Minister and Opposition leader Bill Shorten to create a formal COAG partnership with Indigenous leaders.
“However, much more needs to be done to address the lack of recognition, and on this front we applaud Mr Shorten’s commitment to hold a referendum on establishing the Voice to Parliament in his first term of office.
“Mr Shorten’s commitment to invest in Aboriginal healthcare providers is welcome,. The pledge now needs to be matched with financial resources and planning.”
Oxfam Australia is a founding member of the Close the Gap Campaign, launched in 2006.
The campaign is calling on political parties to back Aboriginal community-controlled healthcare providers by unfreezing their funding, upgrading infrastructure and equipment, and expanding the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce within this network.
The campaign is also calling for a new institution, the Aboriginal Health Authority, to monitor and report on the experience of Aboriginal people in the mainstream system so that racism is not a barrier to better health.