Close The Gap: Coledale clinic calls for greater Aboriginal health awareness

COMING TOGETHER: Jacinta Jones, Daniele Fogg, Kaylan Lyons, Shannoah Overs with Buddy Knox. Photo: Gareth Gardner 160317GGC02
COMING TOGETHER: Jacinta Jones, Daniele Fogg, Kaylan Lyons, Shannoah Overs with Buddy Knox. Photo: Gareth Gardner 160317GGC02

NURSES from the Coledale clinic say there still isn’t enough awareness in the community about indigenous health inequality.

Tamworth joined with the rest of the country to mark Close the Gap Day, an annual awareness campaign to improve Aboriginal health outcomes, which is now in its 11th year.

The Coledale Health and Education Clinic hosted a number of the city’s health providers to help get the community familiar with the services available.

Buddy Knox, with students from Peel and Tamworth high schools, provided entertainment at Coledale on Thursday, but the clinic’s nurses said they were concerned the key message for Close the Gap Day wasn’t getting through.

“In the general community, there’s very little awareness of how large the inequalities in indigenous health are,” clinical facilitator Kristi Latimore said.

“We need to raise that.”

Ms Latimore said the day was a good opportunity for local services to connect with each other and the community.

She said more education and prevention programs would be a good step in bettering health outcomes.

Ms Latimore said the clinic had started running weekly “group exercise and yarn-up” sessions to promote healthy-living, which she said had gained good traction in the community.

Katie Brett – a third year nursing student at the clinic – said employment was also key to closing the gap.

“We should encourage more Aboriginal people to work in the [health] industry,” Miss Brett said.

“Encourage us to try and look after our own people.”

According to Oxfam, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have some of the poorest health outcomes of any group of people in the world”. 

On average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people die 10 to 17 years younger than other Australians and experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.

The campaign has set the target of achieving Aboriginal health equality by the year 2030.