As with most things, the COVID-19 pandemic has well and truly stolen the spotlight off Close the Gap (CTG) and the Closing The Gap day. Did you know that the annual CTG report has been released? Did you know that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters are amongst the most vulnerable to COVID-19? Did you know there are things we can do to help and make a difference?
You like us must be fatigued with stories of toilet paper battles.
More seriously, healthcare systems across the globe are struggling to rise against an ever-growing challenge. Some people have become resigned to the fact that aspects of COVID-19 will remain undefeatable.
But cut through the noise and fear paralysis..you’ll notice another epidemic – and it’s a good one.
The kindness epidemic – from strangers paying for someone’s supermarket bill, to friends giving you their last roll of toilet paper for your birthday (that was Carla’s experience).
Businesses are giving generously – from organising free online events to care packages for the elderly.
It is the lens that we choose to look through that matters.
And we can extend that lens to National Close the Gap Day – and what we each can do.
What if we told you that there’s a group of Australians whose survival against illness is threatened by factors that can be changed?
The Burden of Disease
A 2016 study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians experienced a Burden of Disease 2.3 times greater than their non-Indigenous counterparts.
In layman’s terms, this means that Indigenous Australians are 2.3 times more likely to pass away prematurely as a result of illness. It’s a grim statistic in any context, but with COVID-19 looming, it suddenly becomes more real.
And it’s not just Burden of Disease that can cause a disparity, either.
The Australian Department of Health’s Interim Advice to Public Health outlines instructions for healthcare professionals on how to manage the virus in their workplaces. It identifies several other factors that might contribute to an increased susceptibility amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, from remoteness of communities to overcrowding.
It’s Time to Close the Gap
National Close the Gap Day is here – and as far as we believe, the timing couldn’t be better.
It may seem difficult to think bigger-picture when you’re wondering where your next roll of toilet paper is going to come from, but if there’s any message to come out of this pandemic – from the authorities, from other countries, from medical practitioners – it’s that we need to think beyond ourselves.
Yes, this means self-isolating when you’re told to. It means being transparent about your travel history. It means not taking unnecessary risks if you are potentially carrying the virus – even if you feel fine.
But you knew that already.
What it also means is continuing to have the important conversations about Australian people. About Reconciliation. Equality. Kindness.
Because at the end of the day, it may seem an undefeatable challenge, but it’s not.
Want to lobby to increase provisions of healthcare to remote areas? It’s possible.
Want to fight to improve housing to alleviate overcrowding? It’s possible.
Want to raise awareness around reducing the Burden of Disease? Totally possible.
In 2018, 54% of non-Indigenous Australians indicated that they would like to do something to support Reconciliation.
To that 54%, guess what?
Now is the time.
Please join the conversation to find out how. We will soon be releasing our annual summary of the closing the gap report along with a discussion paper on the state of reconciliation in Australia: 2020.
Let’s keep connecting – let’s keep talking to each other.
(c) Evolve Communities, 2020