2013 is make or break to Close the Gap by 2030
The Close the Gap campaign says three crucial commitments this year will make or break the achievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander health equality by 2030.
Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda said this year is the juncture of three developments that together will give a strong indication if this target can be met.
“This year will see not only a Federal Election and the implementation of a new National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan but also the need for all governments – including states and territories – to recommit to the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes,” he said
“We need solid assurances from all parties that this funding – already providing tangible outcomes – will continue.
“This year’s Prime Minister’s report on Closing the Gap report comes amidst some promising signs of improvements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health – a key focus of the Close the Gap Campaign, made up of Australia’s peak health and human rights bodies, which today publishes a ‘Shadow Report’ on the government’s progress to close the gap.
The campaign welcomed specific gains including:
- the target to halve the mortality rates for children under five appears to be on track
- significant increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples accessing health services for chronic disease – which is the basis of the significant gap in health outcomes
- the work already underway to develop a long term health plan in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- meeting the target for early childhood education access in remote communities.
“Closing the Gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and life expectancy is a multi-decade commitment that will span policy cycles, funding agreements and governments. The Prime Minster noted the enormous challenges of meeting the life expectancy target. But, the nation expects commitments to be maintained and crucial investment to continue, until we close the gap,” said Commissioner Gooda.
Congress Co-Chair Jody Broun said implementing a new National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan is vital for the long term outlook.
“Implementing the plan must see a recommitment to the $1.57 billion Health National Partnership Agreement, which underpins all of the programs and services provided by Government and our own community-controlled organisations.
“The multiparty support shown through the Close the Gap Statement of Intent provides the basis for ongoing efforts and investment from all of all parties which must be continued over the long term,” she said.
Jaanimili – a new way of working for UnitingCare
The Prime Minister’s 2013 Closing the Gap Report included a case study on UnitingCare’s Jaanimili:
New South Wales has the highest Indigenous population in Australia. As one of the state’s largest providers of support for children and families, UnitingCare Children, Young People and Families recognised there was a pressing need to make their services more accessible for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Five years ago, the organisation committed to develop specific services for Aboriginal children, families and communities. Since 2011, all of this work has been guided by the Jaanimili Unit, a network of the Aboriginal staff employed by UnitingCare Children, Young People and Families.
Jaanimili means ‘gather together’ in the language of the Gumbaynggirr Aboriginal people of North Coast NSW. Since Jaanimili began, access to mainstream and Indigenous-specific services by Aboriginal clients has increased by 70 per cent.
Jaanimili Manager, Servena McIntyre says, ‘UnitingCare Children, Young People and Families recognises that Aboriginal people are best placed to deliver Aboriginal business and in turn have fully resourced Jaanimili’s evolution.’
In addition to managing the organisation’s Aboriginal specific programs, the Jaanimili Unit holds regional yarn ups and all-staff gatherings to offer support and give staff the opportunity to provide their collective input into the agency’s programs. Jaanimili also provides individual staff coaching and mentoring, cultural guidance for programs and staff and creates partnership opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agencies and community groups.
Jaanimili is having a big impact on the success of the organisation’s Indigenous Employment Strategy. When the strategy was introduced in 2008, UnitingCare had nine Aboriginal staff. Today there are 84 Aboriginal people employed across the organisation.
Servena McIntyre sees the Indigenous Employment Strategy as the most important component of their work.
‘Jaanimili engages our Aboriginal staff in influencing change for our people and communities.’
‘We are recognised in the community as a trusted employer. Our employment strategies have led to a change in service delivery and we have made our services more culturally inclusive.’