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Closing the Gap a priority for Central West Health

Friday 5 March 2021

News_Close the Gap

Closing the Gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health inequalities is a key objective of the Central West Hospital and Health Service’s new health service plan.


Speaking in the lead-up to this year’s Closing the Gap Day on 18 March, newly appointed Central West Health Executive Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Daniel Carter said the recently adopted 2020-2025 Health Service Plan was developed in partnership with the Metro North HHS Strategy and Planning Unit.


“The new plan lays out the overall priorities for our health service over the coming years, including strategies we will pursue to help Close the Gap,’’ Mr Carter said.


“My own recent appointment to this brand-new post of Executive Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health is an indication of Central West Health’s commitment to making measurable improvements in health outcomes amongst our local Indigenous communities.’’

Mr Carter said eight per cent of residents in the Central West identified as Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islanders, with the greatest proportion amongst people aged up to 14 years.


“There’s no doubt that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and females have worse health outcomes than non-Indigenous men and women, both in terms of life expectancy and the burden of chronic diseases,’’ he said.

“For instance, here in the Central West, the average life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is 55.2 years – substantially lower than the median age at death of 80 years for the non-Indigenous population in our region.

“But achieving improvements in life expectancy and other health outcomes requires much more than the provision of clinical services.

“It requires us to have an understanding and respect of cultural differences and needs, and a commitment to applying this understanding across all areas of the health service.

“Given the young age of many of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents, we also have to be able to resonate with and connect with young people, quite separately from older men and women.

“My role is to help drive progress in these areas, with the support of Central West Health’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit, which was established in mid–2019.

“I also look forward to working in close partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout the Central West to develop and implement action plans that align with State strategies.

“By working together with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, we hope to target and improve mortality rates, decrease unhealthy behaviours and improve health outcomes overall.

“As part of this process, we will also be looking at empowering and growing our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce as a critical success factor towards building strong community trust.

“National Close the Gap Day on 18 March is all about bringing people together to share information and take action and we will be doing a lot of that throughout the Central West in coming months.

“There will be challenges ahead but we are ready to meet them so we can start making a difference.’’


BACKGROUND
Closing the Gap is a government strategy that aims to reduce disadvantage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with respect to life expectancy, child mortality, access to early childhood education, educational achievement and employment outcomes.

The Closing the Gap commitments require reflection upon the past and a collective understanding that improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health is everyone’s business.

Cultural capability, just like clinical capability, is an ongoing journey of continuous individual learning and organisation improvement; service delivery must be culturally and clinically responsive if we are to close the gap in the life expectancy.


ENDS


For further information contact:
James Guthrie
Principal Media Officer, Rural and Remote Qld
Media and Communication
Department of Health
(07) 3708 5379
Jim.Guthrie@health.qld.gov.au

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Last updated: 8 March 2021