Gap is still not close enough

MORE must be done to improve life expectancy, health and other outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to the latest Closing the Gap report released by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this week.

While the Government is pleased with the number of school enrolments for Indigenous children, greater efforts are still required in the critical areas of life expectancy and infant mortality.

Oakey local and vice president of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) Dr John Hall has worked extensively in the Dalby Hospital and said Dalby's Indigenous healthcare is in quite good shape, but could still see improvements.

"It's really good that we've got a community-controlled Aboriginal Health Service in GOONDIR; it's a key to helping the community when it's informed by the local elders,” said Dr Hall.

"One of the biggest problems with some of the more remote regions is a lack of healthcare altogether, but Dalby is doing really well in that we've got a range of services so that Indigenous people have options.

"We do work and live in an area where there is a higher proportion of the Indigenous community compared to the general suburban population, and we're working towards having a range of individually-trained healthcare practitioners to continue closing that gap even more,” he said.

RDAA President Dr Ewen McPhee said he is disappointed by the Closing the Gap results and calls for changes to be made.

"This latest report should be a strong wake-up call to us all that a significantly greater effort is required to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people” said Dr McPhee. "Only by achieving strong and consistent improvements in each target area will we see significant and much-needed steps forward,” he said.

Dr McPhee said the Government's continuing focus on establishing a National Rural Generalist Pathway is a step in the right direction.

The Pathway will aim to deliver more doctors with advanced training in Indigenous Health to rural and remote communities.


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