Close the Gap Day
The article was originally posted on LinkedIn by Fadwa Al Yaman, Head of the Indigenous and Children's Group.
National Close the Gap Day is a national day of action to pledge support for achieving Indigenous health equality by 2030.
The AIHW is committed to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their communities, organisations, and businesses to implement the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap, along with all other Australian Government agencies.
In 2020, 17 (currently 19) national socioeconomic targets across areas that have an impact on life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were established. These were agreed though a partnership between Commonwealth, state and territory governments, the National Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations, and the Australian Local Government Association. The progress against the targets is monitored by the Productivity Commission and will help all parties to the National Agreement understand how their efforts are contributing to progress over the next 10 years – see History of Closing the Gap | Closing the Gap (CTG).
At the centre of the National Agreement on CTG are four Priority Reforms to change the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. These are:
a. Formal Partnerships and Shared Decision Making
b. Build the Community-Controlled Sector
c. Transforming Government Organisations
d. Shared Access to Data and Information at a Regional Level.
The AIHW are committed to implementing these priority reforms and monitoring our progress towards achieving these outcomes.
A large part of our work highlights the improvements being made in the areas identified as priorities through targets in the National Agreement., but also the inequalities that Indigenous Australians continue to face, and how we can use data to better understand and close these gaps through evidence and informed policymaking.
For Indigenous Australians, good health is more than the absence of disease or illness; it is a holistic concept that includes physical, social, emotional, cultural and spiritual wellbeing for both the individual and the community.
We have been reporting on health and welfare issues relating to Indigenous Australians for over 30 years.
We have contributed to and strengthened the evidence base for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across key areas, such as life expectancy and deaths, burden of disease, social and emotional wellbeing, suicide and self-harm, and hearing , eye, hearing and oral health, primary health care, rheumatic fever and rhematic heart disease, access to services relative to needs.
Grounded in Indigenous Australians’ right to be self-determining, the 2023 Close the Gap Report, ‘Strong Culture, Strong Youth: Our Legacy, Our Future’, highlights the vital role of cultural determinants of health in achieving long-term health outcomes for Indigenous Australians and communities.
We contribute to better health and welfare outcomes for Indigenous Australians, with specific data collections to track Closing the Gap targets.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework (HPF)
- Since 2006, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HPF reports have provided information about the state of Indigenous health outcomes, key drivers of health, and the performance of the health system.
- The HPF was designed, in collaboration with Indigenous stakeholder groups, to promote accountability, inform policy and research, and foster informed debate about Indigenous Australians’ health. Information from HPF reporting has been used, in part, to monitor progress towards achieving Australian Governments’ Closing the Gap targets.
The Community Data Project
- The project, under Priority Reform four of the 2020 National Agreement, is to enable participating communities and organisations, to obtain access to locally relevant disaggregated data and information on the Closing the Gap targets relevant to the areas where communities are located. The AIHW has commenced the Community Data Project since 1 April 2022 to develop secure community data portals, for up to six communities.
Regional Insights for Indigenous Communities (RIFIC)
- Access to accurate and locally relevant data and statistics is key to informed decision-making by local communities, services and policy makers. Enhanced and updated yearly, the RIFIC website which was launched on 13 December 2021, brings together a range of government data at the local level into the one location. RIFIC has been designed to be simple, easy to use, a flexible platform that can be used to present statistics or analytical products with a geographic component.
Indigenous mortality and life expectancy project
- Life expectancy estimates are used to measure progress toward the first target of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap that everyone enjoys long and healthy lives. This project will enable the institute to fulfil its obligations in producing accurate and timely Indigenous life expectancy estimates for ongoing reporting to support the Commonwealth and state and territory governments’ policy initiatives towards closing the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Eye health and ear and hearing health
- Eye health and ear and hearing health are linked to Closing the Gap targets across health, education and employment. One target, closely related to ear and hearing health, is to ensure that ‘Children thrive in their early years’ (Joint Council on Closing the Gap 2020).
- The AIHW’s annual eye health report updates on the eye health measures for Indigenous Australians. This provides an evidence base for monitoring changes in eye health among Indigenous Australians over time, their access and use of eye health services, and for identifying gaps in service delivery.
Better cardiac care
- The Better Cardiac Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people project was established in 2014 and aims to reduce morbidity and mortality from cardiac conditions among Indigenous Australians by increasing access to services and treatment, better managing risk factors, and improving coordination of care.
- A set of 21 measures was agreed to track progress and we report on these measures annually. Reporting focuses on monitoring improvements over time for Indigenous Australians. Comparisons with non-Indigenous populations are included, where relevant, as a measure of the gap. This highlights where gains in cardiac health can continue to be made.
Australian Burden of Disease Study
- The Australian Burden of Disease Study estimates the burden of more than 200 specific diseases and injuries for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
- This study shows which conditions have the most impact on the population, which are causing the greatest inequalities, and how this varies geographically and over time. The results provide valuable information to inform health policymaking and health service planning, and to develop and target prevention policies.
Mental health and suicide prevention
- There are several projects that align with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap Outcome for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to enjoy high levels of social and emotional wellbeing.
- The Indigenous Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Clearinghouse was established under the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan to enhance and improve access to the evidence base on Indigenous mental health, suicide prevention, and social and emotional wellbeing.