Thursday 21 March is Close the Gap day – a day dedicated to reflecting on the health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live up to 10-17 years less than non-Indigenous Australians. The health gap exists largely as a result of decades of government inaction and a continuing lack of appropriate medical services.
A recent report on Close the Gap shows the Australian Government is not meeting many of the planned targets. For further information and how you can contribute to closing the gap, please visit: https://closingthegap.pmc.gov.au/
In honour of Close the Gap Day, headspace Darwin acknowledge the ongoing and many harmful impacts of colonisation in Australia and subsequent government policies, including the removal of people from their families, their lands and their cultures that continue to threaten the cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We understand these to be contributing factors to the key areas of disadvantage and crisis that too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer.
We understand that trauma-related impacts of such changes are felt across generations and may cause or directly impact mental health challenges, and therefore should be acknowledged to inform future healing.
We acknowledge that current suicide rates among Aboriginal youth show there is urgent need for appropriate, culturally informed and measurable intervention.
We also recognise the resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and want to express our respect and the opportunity we have to learn from leaders and community members.
We believe that Closing the Gap is in the interest and wellbeing of us all. Whilst we recognise the good in acknowledging the positive steps being taken to move forward, we also realise it can be quite confronting and stir-up negative emotions when reflecting upon disadvantage and trauma. We encourage everyone to focus on their self-care during this time, reach out and let someone know if you’re struggling, and disconnect from social media for a while if you are feeling overwhelmed.
We acknowledge the Larrakia people as the Traditional Custodians of the country headspace Darwin operates from and we pay our respects to the Traditional Custodians and all Elders, past, present and future.
(Close The Gap Day imagery credit: https://antar.org.au/)