Today marks ten years since the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. Ten years later and there is still more work that needs to be done to reach health equality.
Mr Neil Willmett, Chief Executive Officer, Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) says there is a long way to go to reach health equality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.
“Only one of the seven Closing the Gap targets have been met and four are due to expire in June 2018. This is a wake-up call and sends a very sobering message,” said Mr Willmett.
Last year, the Australian Government announced that they will refresh the Closing the Gap targets. They are looking for feedback from Indigenous Australians to help shape the next phase of the Closing the Gap strategy. QAIHC has encouraged their health service members and stakeholders to be part of the conversation.
“The government realises that it is critical to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the determination of policy and targets. They want to know what has worked, what hasn’t worked and what needs to be done to close the gap,” said Mr Willmett.
He says a big part of the conversation needs to be about intergenerational trauma.
“Health professionals and government agencies need to understand how intergenerational trauma affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” said Mr Willmett.
Trauma continues to be passed down through generations and the impact is evident in communities across Australia through poor living conditions, poverty, lack of education and employment opportunities, poor health, and ongoing marginalisation.
“The effects of the past need to be understood and must be a major factor when developing new policies, otherwise these policies will continue to fail the most vulnerable,” said Mr Willmett.