Closing the gap starts with education

HEALTHCARE inequality was at the centre of Close the Gap Day celebrations at Coledale in Tamworth on Thursday – and for good reason. 

An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander will die 10 to 17 years younger than other Australians on average. 

It is a sobering statistic and one that we can no longer ignore. 

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

These are people in our own backyard – our friends, family, neighbours, colleagues. 

It is a damning statistic that begs the question: how did we let this happen? 

While we have come a little way in bridging the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, there is still a long way to go. 

It’s events like Close the Gap Day – an annual awareness campaign to improve Aboriginal health outcomes, which is now in its 11th year – that help close the divide.

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

But Coledale nurses say there still isn't enough awareness in the community about indigenous health inequality – and it’s time we change this. 

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.

“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.”

It is encouraging to see local services coming together to help the wider community.

But more education and prevention programs are needed to ensure that the gap continues to close – no matter how long it takes.

We shouldn’t let the answer lie in a single day.

Education is the answer to tackling healthcare inequality. And education shouldn’t stop after Close the Gap Day.

That’s why the clinic has started running weekly “group exercise and yarn-up” sessions to promote healthy-living.

Organisers must be applauded for their ongoing commitment to closing the healthcare gap.