National Close the Gap Day: Voyage to Voice, Treaty, Truth and Beyond

First Nations, News | Posted March 21, 2024
National Close the Gap Day: Voyage to Voice, Treaty, Truth and Beyond

by Dr Lisa J. Griffiths, OzChild Chief Executive Officer

The annual report from Close the Gap, an independent campaign led by First Nations peoples, has been unveiled. It underscores achievements and the ongoing need for advancing health equity and justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Titled “Voyage to Voice, Treaty, Truth and Beyond,” the 15th annual report presents nine case studies. These spotlight the efforts of First Nations leaders and organisations within their communities, showcasing their progress and accomplishments in bridging disparities.

Highlighting the achievements of the Close the Gap campaign, which has brought about substantial transformative change, should be the central focus of Close the Gap Day. However, it’s imperative that we remain vigilant about the pressing necessity to fulfil the objectives outlined in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Over the past year, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, non-government organisations, communities, and advocates have dedicated immense effort to champion improved outcomes and acknowledgement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

A notable achievement arising from this advocacy and initiative is the establishment of the inaugural National Children’s Commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People. This marks a significant stride in endeavours to narrow the gap and promote positive change.

This year’s theme for National Close the Gap Day, Voyage to Voice, Treaty, Truth and Beyond, speaks not only about economic and political determinants but also educational and cultural determinants of health that are crucial to the growth of First Nations People.

It is important to remember that when we are talking about closing the gap, we are not only talking about the need to improve health outcomes but also the gap in educational outcomes and a focus on reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in out-of-home care and juvenile justice too.

What is needed? A commitment to providing adequate and long-term financial resources to help achieve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality, allowing increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation around health services and distribution and addressing critical social issues of housing and education, which contribute to the health crisis affecting First Nations Peoples.

Our governments must invest in the right support transferring power and resources to community.

At OzChild, we understand that closing the gap is more than a day’s work—it’s an ongoing mission to ensure that every child, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to thrive, dream big and achieve their fullest potential.

We believe systemic change is needed to build and progress the right of self-determination for First Nations Peoples, with Dhiiyaan Mirri being our deep commitment to change for every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child, young person and family we work with.

It is an important aspect of our ‘Strategic Plan to 2026’; our commitment to improving the lives of our First Nations children and young people extends deeply into the heart of bridging inequalities.

Dr Lisa J. Griffiths is the Chief Executive Officer at OzChild, Victoria’s longest-running child welfare organisation and Australia’s largest provider of evidence-based programs in child protection, family violence and youth justice.

Lisa has a Doctor of Business Leadership, researching evidence-based ethical leadership models for the community services sector and teaches the principles of Evidence-Based Leadership across Australia.


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