Most Australians are aware that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are facing a serious health crisis on a scale unseen in other developed countries, so it’s important to check-in to see if we’re on track toward a solution.
This year Griffith University marked the 10th anniversary of Oxfam’s Close the Gap campaign, which has led to measurable opportunities for First Peoples’ health.
Close the Gap is a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous health and community organisations together with thousands of Australians calling on governments to take genuine, quantifiable action to achieve Indigenous health equality by 2030.
For Indigenous Australians born 2010- 2012, life expectancy was estimated to be 69.1 years for males and 73.7 years for females, around 10-11 years less than the estimates for non-Indigenous males and females.
Sustainable improvements in these areas requires a university-educated Indigenous health workforce, however, the Indigenous Australian population is underrepresented within the university system.
Indigenous people comprise 2.2 per cent of the overall population, but represented only 1.4 per cent of student enrolments at university in 2010 and in 2015 and only one per cent of people working in the health workforce are Indigenous.
“At Griffith, Indigenous students represent about three per cent of enrolments across Griffith’s Health Group and strategies are underway to ensure all eight schools that make up the Group achieve individual parity”, says Professor for First Peoples Health, Roianne West.
“Education, employability and community engagement are things Griffith does well, and ensuring embedment of First Peoples health curriculum, strong First Peoples health leaders and meaningful First Peoples community engagement will make a massive difference to the Close the Gap campaign’s success”, she adds.
“We’re making sure that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who have the ability and the desire are given the opportunity to study health programs at Griffith”, says Professor West.
“The health and wellbeing of Australia’s First Peoples is the responsibility of all health professionals and our Close the Gap 10th anniversary event on March 17 highlighted the level of commitment at Griffith.”