By Monique Kuzeff
The most recent Closing the Gap (CTG) report shows that only one of seven keys priorities of CTG has gained traction over nine years – meaning Australia still has a way to go to improve average life expectancy in Indigenous people.
Primary Health Network (PHN) joined various health services including Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service, Gateway Health at Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation at a Closing the Gap event on Thursday to celebrate Aboriginal culture and recognise that there was still a lot to do to improve action on the gap.
For the Albury Wodonga region, education for Indigenous children and immunisation rates had improved significantly according to PHN regional manager Richard McClelland.
“For us, the one care area around education for kids has improved and we are quite fortunate in the Albury Wodonga area that we’ve got a range of educational opportunities for Aboriginal children and people,” Mr McClelland said.
“At the moment PHN is hoping to bring in district-wide activities such as Koorie Kindermanna so that we are working right from that preconception phase in life that kids are given a better opportunity.”
He said PHN and Aboriginal services need to focus on the key priorities of closing the gap from preconception.
“I think that what the CTG report shows is that there areas that we still need to work on but we do need to focus on preconception and the early years through school providing a positive start to life.
“There are so many aspects that government and non-government agencies and the Aboriginal communities can work in and I think small steps in each of those areas is very important in terms of working the way forward.”
Mr McClelland said it was important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have access to a range of services.
“Having access to services is the number one priority and certainly those organisations work hard to ensure those services are being targeted and tailored to Aboriginal people,” he said.
“One of the key areas that we recognise in the PHN is that the services must be culturally appropriate which is a big-ticket issue for the Aboriginal communities.”
The Closing the Gap event in Wodonga aimed to bring people together in support of achieving Indigenous health equality by 2030.
“We still have a way to go and the report really does demonstrate that we are well under the par and need to continue our efforts now and in to the future,” Mr McClelland said.