News & Events
Close the Gap Day
teagan kum sing
MARCH 16th, 2023
This Thursday March 16 is Close the Gap Day.
Close the Gap Day is observed nationally to draw attention to the profound health, education and economic disadvantages that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience compared to non-Indigenous Australians.
This is called the gap.
On average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have shorter lifespans, suffer more than double the rate of preventable diseases, and experience higher infant mortality rates than non-Indigenous Australians. Indigenous children suffer reduced rates of literacy, numeracy and school attendance when compared to non-Indigenous children. And the average median household income for Indigenous Australians is lower than non-Indigenous Australians. And this is just part of the gap.
Improving this inequality and closing the gap is a national issue that everyone can work towards improving.
Below are just some of the statistics of the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians:
History of Close the Gap
The severity of Australia's gap came to mainstream public attention following the 2005 Social Justice Report authored by Professor Tom Calma. This report detailed the profound health, education and economic inequality that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples face. Prof. Calma called on the Australian Government to urgently work to ‘close the gap’ within a generation.
The Close the Gap Organisation began as a social justice movement that launched in 2007 to ensure that the issues uncovered in Prof. Calma’s report were being actively addressed. It is formed by Australia's peak Indigenous and non-Indigenous health bodies, NGOs and human rights organisations. It is currently chaired by June Oscar (Commissioner of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice) and Karl Brisco (CEO National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers’ Association). The organisation gave rise to the National Close the Gap Day, which is observed in March each year to continue public awareness and inspire cross-government action. Close the Gap Day is observed nationally to draw attention to the profound health, education and economic disadvantages that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience compared to non-Indigenous Australians.
Close the Gap, 2023
What happens on Close the Gap Day?
Close the Gap Day can be observed through holding local events that centre around discussion and education on the health, education and economic disparities faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. These events can be held in workplaces, schools, communities, homes and more. Concrete action of donating to the movement, signing the petition and contacting local members of parliament to request action should accompany these events. Links to do so are provided below, courtesy of the Close The Gap website.
An annual government report is released that examines the progress towards closing the gap. There is also an independent report that is authored by the Lowitja Institute for the Close the Gap Organisation. Previous reports have discovered that progress has been disappointing. This led to the government issuing a full policy overhaul, and releasing a new set of strategies in February 2023. The top investment areas focused on improving remote communities’ access to safe and reliable water, housing, and food. In each objective, the new policy seeks to prioritise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ knowledge, experience and involvement. The solutions aspire to be community-led and address the unique cultural context and intersectional issues specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This is in keeping with the 2022 Lowitja Institute Close the Gap Report, which states that:
"Equity can be achieved when models and approaches are self-determined and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led"
The 2023 Close the Gap Report is titled ‘Strong Culture, Strong Youth: Our Legacy, Our Future’. It is launched officially on Close the Gap Day at a live event featuring keynote speakers. Event details are available here.
How can I help?
Closing the Gap is a national issue that everyone can work towards improving.
A powerful way you can contribute is through donations. When you donate to the Close The Gap Organisation, you are supporting experts who work to improve Indigenous health, education and wellbeing in ways that are self-determined, Indigenous-led, and sensitive to culture and community. If you are aware of other local, community organisations who are actively working to close the gap, then you should support them as well. And if you have special skills or knowledge that can help, you could consider volunteering your time or services.
You can also pledge your support through the link below, courtesy of the Close the Gap website. An organisation and cause has more power and influence when there is a large number of people behind it.
Finally, seek to educate yourself on the the gap and how it impacts so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' lives. Read the reports and listen to and amplify Indigenous voices on the issue. You could host your own event in support of Closing the Gap Day, or this could take place any day of the year.
Remember, Australia's inequality gap is a year-round problem. So continue your support after Close the Gap Day is over.
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