Record Support for National Close the Gap Day
Thursday, 24th March 2011 at 11:59 am
Tens of thousands of Australia are expected to pledge their support for closing the 10-17 year Indigenous life expectancy gap at more than 850 National Close the Gap Day events around Australia.
The unprecedented show of support for National Close the Gap Day – Thursday March 24 – represents a 50 percent increase in the number of events registered last year, according to campaign organisers.
Mick Gooda, Co-chair of the Close the Gap Campaign Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, says people power is crucial to achieving Indigenous life expectancy equality within a generation.
He says Indigenous Australians are such a minority that their votes hold little sway at elections, which is why the people power behind National Close the Gap Day is such a vital force.
Gooda says 150,000 Australia have formally pledged their support for achieving Indigenous health equality in the last 5 years, helping to persuade almost every Federal, State and Territory government and opposition party to sign the historic Close the Gap statement of Intent.
In Melbourne, Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu will reaffirm his party’s commitment to closing the gap in a National Close the Gap Day event at Victorian Parliament House.
Organisers says this year almost half the National Close the Gap Day events will take place in schools, in a record show of support from young people.
Richard Weston, CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation, an independent Indigenous organisation with a focus on healing the community says the life expectancy of Indigenous Australians won’t improve until fractured lives are healed.
The Healing Foundation supports the progression of The Close the Gap statement of intent, committing to the development of a comprehensive, long term, targeted and evidence based plan of action and the full participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their representative bodies in all aspects of addressing their health needs.
Weston says building culturally strong community programs locally designed by Indigenous people, delivered by Indigenous people, from an Indigenous world view, improves the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
To mark Close the Gap Day, Northern Territory tertiary institutions Charles Darwin University (CDU) and the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE) will sign a formal partnership agreement to establish the Australian Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Education.
Federal Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, says the collaboration will help close the gap in higher education outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and non-Indigenous students.
The Australian Centre of Indigenous Knowledge and Education, which is being built on CDU's Casuarina campus, is expected to be completed in 2012.
It received Australian Government funding of more than $30 million in May 2009 under round two of the Education Investment Fund.
The Centre will be co-managed and run by staff from both institutions and will house state-of-the-art instructional, research, teaching and computer facilities. Mobile learning units will also allow the Centre to reach out to service remote areas.