National Close the Gap Day acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still experience systemic disparity in health and social outcomes compared to non-Indigenous Australians. Despite a decade of Government focus on the Close the Gap initiative, the gap in health outcomes and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians is narrowing too slowly. The Closing the Gap health measures exclude many of the health issues prevalent in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities such as alcohol and other drug use, mental health, sexual health and blood borne viruses that all contribute to reduced life expectancy. These gaps must be addressed as well to reduce morbidity and increase Aboriginal life expectancy.
National Close the Gap Day reminds us all that there is still much work to be done and to acknowledge the hard work underway to try and close these gaps.
Research at SAHMRI is striving to close the gap in health status for Aboriginal people, by improving access to services and quality of care that results in better outcomes. Rates of heart disease, diabetes and cancer are too high and the devastation on families and communities and the burden of loss and grief as a result must be reduced. Our work in SAHMRI also has a focus on healthy Aboriginal mothers and babies, and improving outcomes in sexual health and blood borne viruses, alcohol and other drugs and offenders health.
Improvements are possible. Through strong community engagement and focused translation processes we influence the way services are delivered and demonstrate how evidence-based and culturally-safe interventions can make a difference now. SAHMRI has proactively developed:
- Effective and culturally respectful resources for conducting meaningful research ‘the right way’, with Aboriginal communities
- The Institute's inaugral Reconcilation Action Plan (RAP)
- An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols document to provide advice and guidence to staff when conducting business at SAHMRI