Healthcare providers, legal services, faith-based organisations and community groups working to close the gap in Indigenous health equality gathered on 15 March 2018 in Kurilpa (West End) to call for change.
Marking 12 years since the Close the Gap campaign began, those speaking at the event recognised more needed to be done to achieve the Federal Government’s closing the gap targets set a decade ago.
RQI’s Aunty Rosalie Raciti and Treasurer Simon Brooks attended the event to show support for this important cause.
Yuggera Elder Uncle Des Sandy was first to the microphone with a traditional Welcome to Country, while others expressing their support included ATSICHS Brisbane Board Chair Uncle Billy Gorham, Shadow Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Dr Christian Rowan MP and Councillor Jonathan Sri.
According to Micah Projects Board Member Terry Fitzpatrick, the event was an initiative led by his organisation’s reconciliation committee.
Event supporters included Oxfam Australia, ATSICHS Brisbane, Link-Up Qld, Caxton Legal Centre, BDO tax advisers and ANTAR Qld.
Entertainment and activities
Of course it wouldn’t have been Close the Gap Day with out the organisers and entertainers, and they didn’t disappoint.
Arts and craft activities were on offer at the event, while local social justice identity Tony Robertson brought his usual good humour and charisma to the role of Master of Ceremonies and kept everything ticking along to schedule.
Aunty Marlene Wilson took to the stage first up with her musical collaborators, delivering and uptempo set. Local West End performer Jenny Pineapple then carved it up with some deadly rock and blues numbers to really get the blood pumping.
A shout out also has to go to Jonathan Sri for his brilliant and impromptu slam poetry performance about homelessness and the housing crisis in the local area.
When ‘Jono’ finished he delivered a eulogy to Jason Stone, who, as Tony Roberston later wrote on Instagram, “…was not a celebrity drawing a big crowd and a ceremony of pomp and circumstance. Jason was one of Brisbane’s rough sleepers who died when a garbage truck ran over him while he slept in a lane way at Anzac Square.”
Close the Gap Day is, of course, an important day for raising awareness about the health inequality and difference in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live 10–17 years less than other Australians. Babies born to Aboriginal mothers die at more than twice the rate of other Australian babies, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.
To keep everyone focused on the main game, Micah Projects brought along their Inclusive Health van, which provides after hours healthcare services to people who are homeless. This service is made possible with funding from Brisbane North PHN, Brisbane South PHN and Queensland Health.
Visit the Oxfam Australia website to find out more about the Close the Gap campaign, which Oxfam helped to launch a decade ago, and how you can help to Close the Gap. Go to: https://goo.gl/arQ44h