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Health organisations to meet NSW Govt

Indigenous health organisations will meet with The Hon. Minister Paul Lynch, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, and Mr. Greg Aplin MP, Shadow Spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs, at Parliament House on Thursday April 10 to encourage the NSW Government to release their plans and timeframes to achieve Indigenous health equality in line with the Close the Gap campaign.

It follows the commitment given by each government at the December 2007 Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting to fix the Indigenous Health crisis.

Sandra Bailey, CEO of the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council, said the Close the Gap coalition welcomed the New South Wales government’s commitment in December.

“But this is just the beginning of a monumental task which will require sustained commitment and co-ordination over a considerable period of time,” Ms Bailey said.

“We now need them to release details including timeframes, resourcing, goals, targets and program priorities to tackle Aboriginal health inequality in New South Wales.”

The life expectancy of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders is 17 years less than that of other Australians. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women can expect to live to 64.8 years, and men to 59.4 years.

The Close the Gap coalition is made up of 40 organisations. Members of the coalition will formally handover the 28,000 signatures of people from New South Wales who have pledged their support to close the 17 year life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians within 25 years.

NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Paul Lynch said Closing the Gap to improve the lives of Aboriginal people depended on working in partnership with communities.

“Through the State Plan, the Iemma Government is working with Aboriginal communities to build safe communities, improve access to education, provide clean water and sewerage systems and deliver meaningful jobs,” Mr. Lynch said.

More than 115 000 Australians have signed the Close the Gap pledge in support of increasing annual Indigenous primary health funding by $460 million, equal access to health services and Indigenous participation in their delivery, and action on social determinants such as housing and education that are leading contributors to the poor health of Indigenous people.

Their signatures are also being presented to state parliamentarians in similar events organised by Indigenous organisations and Oxfam Australia to be hosted in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.

The New South Wales meeting today comes in the lead up to National Close the Gap Day on April 22, a national day of action where an estimated 400 events will take place across the country in support of the campaign.

About Close the Gap:
Close the Gap is Australia’s largest ever campaign to improve Indigenous health.
Supported by more than 40 Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations, including Oxfam Australia, the campaign calls on federal, state and territory governments to commit to closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation.

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