Bill's Media Releases

PARLIAMENT MUST REDOUBLE ITS EFFORTS TO CLOSE THE GAP

 

Today Labor marks the seventh anniversary of the signing of the Closing the Gap health equality statement and calls on the Parliament to recommit to this foundational goal in Australia’s efforts to close the gap.

 

The health equality statement commits the Australian Parliament and the Australian people to offer our First Peoples the most fundamental right of all – the right to grow old.

 

While it is right for the Parliament to recognise this anniversary, the work of improving health outcomes and life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples  requires genuine and ongoing engagement.

 

Labor believes there is need to commit to meaningful bipartisanship, which is why the Leader of the Opposition recently wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to bring together a gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders with political leaders and policy experts to advance the next step in achieving Constitutional Recognition of our First Peoples as well as meaningful engagement on the impediments to achieving the Closing the Gap targets.

 

As part of Close the Gap Day, more than 200,000 Australians gathered at events across the country today to take a stand and support health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

 

Labor congratulates these Australians committed to change, and also recognises the ongoing campaign of the Close the Gap Steering Committee led by co-Chairs Kirstie Parker and Mick Gooda, in bringing these important events together.

 

Closing the Gap on health and life expectancy is the foundation of all the other Closing the Gap targets. Ill health holds people back from finding and keeping a job; ill health means children miss school.

 

Whilst words are important – be they well-meaning or unhelpful – the real test of Parliament’s commitment to Closing the Gap across all the target areas is action.

 

Labor calls on the Government to reverse their half a billion dollars of cuts from frontline services including community legal services, children and family centres and vital preventative health programs.

 

The Government needs to address the chaotic Indigenous Advancement Strategy, which has left communities and service providers confused and anxious.

 

Co-operation and bipartisanship on the Closing the Gap framework must be matched by properly targeted resources delivered in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities if the Parliament is to achieve these vital goals.

 

THURSDAY, 19 MARCH 2015

 

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