Thursday 15 March 2018


Today is National Close the Gap Day. Equal access to healthcare is a basic human right, and in Australia we expect it. So what if you were told you that you can expect to die a decade earlier than your next door neighbour? You wouldn’t accept it. No one should. But in reality, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live 10 years less than non-Indigenous Australians.

Now in its second decade, the Close the Gap campaign is Australia’s largest campaign to close the gap on life expectancy and urges governments to take action to achieve health equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2030.

There are a range of reasons why the health gap exists but one of them is that health services are not accessible to many, and particularly remote, Aboriginal communities. In addition mainstream health services often lack cultural sensitivity and remain unwelcoming places for many Indigenous peoples. The Indigenous health workforce remains disproportionately low when compared to the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders that make up the Australian population.

Working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a critical success factor if we are to close the gap. Indigenous Australians need to be consulted, empowered, resourced and supported to address the health issues facing their communities.

Bass Coast Health is committed to working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the Bass Coast Shire. We have been working towards making our buildings more welcoming and inclusive to our indigenous community. If you have been to Wonthaggi Hospital lately you will have seen the fabulous painting in the hospital foyer by local indigenous artist Steve Ulula Parker depicting Bunjil flying over places of significance within the local area. The new Phillip Island Health Hub, due to open in late April, will feature indigenous surfboard art and an indigenous Healing Garden that will provide both sanctuary and a place of learning. One of our key activities is the development of a BCH Reconciliation Action Plan in consultation with the local indigenous community. This plan will provide us with a framework to realise our vision for reconciliation through providing a practical plan of action, built on relationships, respect and opportunities.