The Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) supports the National Agreement on Closing the Gap launched by the Coalition of Peaks today.
The National Agreement signals a turning point in the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and governments – one that is based on shared decision making on policies and programs that impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives.
QAIHC came together with more than fifty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled peak bodies to fight for our communities. We were fed up by the failed attempts by governments to Close the Gap, we knew that for things to change we had to take control.
The new National Agreement is a commitment from all governments to fundamentally change the way they work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations through four Priority Reforms that were overwhelmingly supported during the community engagements led by the Coalition of Peaks late last year.
QAIHC’s Chairperson Gail Wason says the National Agreement is a major step forward in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples taking control of their own health and wellbeing.
“The National Agreement highlights the importance of shared decision making. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations know first-hand the issues affecting their communities and what they need to thrive.
“There have been too many failed attempts in the past to achieve health equity. We don’t have time to wait for governments to get it right. We need to be involved in the decision making affecting our people.”
The National Agreement is not just words, they represent actions that can make a real difference to the lives of our people, our families and communities.
More than 4000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples participated in the discussion about what should be included in the National Agreement, led by the Coalition of Peaks.
The Priority Reforms commit governments to new partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the country; strengthen community-controlled organisations to deliver closing the gap services; address structural racism within government agencies and organisations; and improve sharing of data and information with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to support shared decision making.
There is a big difference from what governments alone were prepared to commit to in December 2018 and where we are now. That change has come about because of the work of the Coalition of Peaks and the support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies.
The National Agreement and the work of the Coalition of Peaks complements the efforts led by First Nations people across the country to improve the life outcomes of our people, including the implementation of the Uluru Statement of the Heart through a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.
The work of the Coalition of Peaks is one part of a much bigger picture, of what has come before us and what still needs to be done. As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we are standing on the shoulders of giants; our ancestors. They are our strength in all that we do. It is their work before us that has made today possible. We continue to do what we can to honour them with our actions as we work for a brighter future for our people.
To read the full new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, head to the Coalition of Peaks website: https://coalitionofpeaks.org.au/download/national-agreement/
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