21 March 2019
Today is National Close the Gap Day — an initiative to help improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples through better health, education and employment outcomes.
We’ve implemented a range of initiatives that focus on ensuring Aboriginal people feel safe and welcome at Austin Health.
Our dedicated Ngarra Jarra Aboriginal Health team is working to close the health and life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Ngarra Jarra translates to “healing” in Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people.
Through advocacy and support, the Ngarra Jarra team is reducing barriers to Aboriginal people accessing healthcare.
"Trauma, fear and distrust are real issues, passed on from generation to generation. Avoidance of hospitals and poorer health outcomes can be understood and addressed when put into the context of recent history and how Aboriginal people have been so severely mistreated in the past,” says Aboriginal Liaison Officer Jacob Nelson.
“We want Aboriginal patients to feel respected, listened to and understood. Providing culturally respectful healthcare is crucial to Closing the Gap,” says Jacob.
Austin Health has made a long-term commitment to Closing the Gap.
As part of our focus on advancing career opportunities for Aboriginal people, we produced our Aboriginal Employment Plan. We also joined the Victorian Aboriginal Graduate Cadetship Network;
We proudly celebrate NAIDOC Week through a range of activities hosted across our sites. Last year we provided Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees with leave to attend the NAIDOC March, which we’ll do again this year.
We established our Closing the Gap Steering Committee, whose focus is to help achieve equity in health status.
We’ll also launch our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) this year.
“We’ve been working on our RAP for a number of months and are making excellent progress,” says Nicole Harvey, Director of Employee Relations, Diversity and Inclusion.
“Through our consultation process, we’ve identified a number of important initiatives including education and training, employment opportunities and creating a welcoming hospital environment.
“The RAP has been developed in consultation with staff and members of the community, and outlines a range of activities that will help with improving health outcomes and advancing employment and development opportunities for Aboriginal people,” says Nicole.
Our RAP will formalise our commitment to reconciliation and to improving health and employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.