Close the Gap Day 21 March 2024

March 15, 2024

“Disconnection and isolation affect our health and wellbeing” says CatholicCare’s Aboriginal Community Engagement Manager, Judith Murray. Reflecting on Close the Gap Day, held each year on 21 March, Judith notes that we still have a long way to go to improve health, education, employment, justice, safety, digital inclusion, land and waters, and housing outcomes for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“National Close the Gap Day is a National Day of Action to pledge support for achieving Indigenous health equality by 2030,” Judith says. “There is a national agreement on Closing the Gap that includes a non-government signatory (the Coalition of Peaks) calling for fundamental change in the way governments work with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people.”

Judith was instrumental in establishing CatholicCare’s Aboriginal Supported Playgroup, which connects mums and children to community and culture once a week in Waitara. The motivation for starting the playgroup was the need to address the disconnection and isolation that many Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people face, especially young mothers and their children. The playgroup has been highly successful in creating an environment of connection, health and wellbeing and early learning for our Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander families.

Judith knows first-hand the importance of connecting to culture and community. It took 11 misdiagnosed ear infections before finding out that her son had otitis media, more commonly known as glue ear. Had Judith been connected to an Aboriginal playgroup, she believes that the glue ear would have been picked up much earlier, due to its prevalence among Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children. “If we went to an Aboriginal playgroup, I’m sure that someone would have been able to tell us what the problem was right away, rather than having 11 unnecessary courses of antibiotics.”

One of the Closing the Gap targets is to increase the proportion of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children assessed as developmentally on track in all five domains of the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC). It 2018 only 35% of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children were assessed as developmentally on track and the goal is to reach 55% by 2030. Nationally there are some excellent initiatives taking place to reach this goal, such as the Australian Government’s Connected Beginnings grants program, but even so, we are not on track to reaching the goal of 55% by 2030.

How can I get involved with Close the Gap Day?

  • Take action by signing the Close the Gap pledge and asking your friends and colleagues to do the same
  • Call, tweet or write to your local Member of Parliament and tell them that you want them to Close the Gap
  • Listen to and share the stories of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people on Facebook – you can visit Close the Gap Facebook page here
  • Share your photos and stories on social media using the hashtag #ClosetheGap
  • Host an event – you could gather your friends for dinner party/afternoon tea, watch a Close the Gap video and have a discussion about Indigenous health.

Each activity plays an important role. By spreading the word, collecting pledges and showing your support, you will help hold governments to account on their commitment towards health equality for all Australians.

Click here for more information about Close the Gap Day and how you can get involved.

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