By Justin Healey

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Extra resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

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The generally poor results of Closing the Gap strategies should signal the need to review how decisions are made and why policy makers fail to adopt and apply their own evidence of ‘what works’. Part of the answer is that it is processes rather than content that undermine the potential of programs to succeed. The first step towards success is to close the gap between political and bureaucratic cultures and the community inequities that need to be overcome. Eva Cox is Professorial Fellow Jumbunna IHL at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Bipartisanship involves giving due credit to what has gone before as well as reaching across the contemporary political aisle. Abbott is seeking to emphasise continuity; on Thursday he marked the anniversary of Rudd’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health apology, describing it as “the end of a damaging period of division and denial”. He is well served by the fact that the two Indigenous MPs, Ken Wyatt and Nova Peris come from opposite sides. They are chair and deputy of the parliamentary committee on constitutional recognition.

We committed to close the health and life expectancy gap within a generation: by 2030. As a result we now have a national effort to close the gap, a priority for government action until the goal is met. Health inequality is a stark reminder of a great divide in the nation across education, income, housing, mental health, chronic disease, child and maternal health, access to health services, and more. It is a scar of an unhealed past and a stain on the reputation of the nation. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Issues in Society | Volume 376 Islander peoples, it is an immense and unnecessary burden of suffering and grief.

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