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Closing the gap on mental health inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

15 March 2018
 
 
 

Today, National Close the Gap Day (NCTGD), marks a significant date in Australia’s calendar. It is a day to call attention to the inequality of health and life expectancy experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Launched in April 2007, the campaign is organised by NACCHO, Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) and Oxfam Australia. In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments officially committed to closing the gap and bringing about change in our lifetime. The campaign aims to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other Australians by 2030.

Close the Gap Day provides the RANZCP with an opportunity to reflect on the steps we are taking to contribute to the abolition of inequality in mental health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. These steps include:

  • delivering on our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for 2016–2018. This is a key part of our work towards improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • continuing to support the College’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Committee, which provides advice on policy development and on initiatives such as the RANZCP RAP, as well as practice and ethical guidelines
  • providing online modules to improve psychiatrists’ knowledge of culturally appropriate care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s mental health. This is now part of the curriculum for all trainees in Australia
  • engaging with organisations, such as the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA), to create inclusive working relationships and initiatives
  • providing RANZCP trainees with a number of resources for improving knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health care to achieve better outcomes
  • facilitating an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fellows and Trainees Forum, to find ways to better attract and support our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce in psychiatry
  • committing in our Strategic Plan 2018–2020 to advocate for improved mental health services for Māori and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • partnering with the Australian Government, AIDA and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) through the Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges (CPMC) to work towards good health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The gap in health and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians is significant. The RANZCP is committed to closing this gap, as outlined in our Strategic Plan 2018–2020, by working to establish improved health outcomes and access to mental health services for Indigenous populations.

For more information on the role of RANZCP’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Committee please contact policy@ranzcp.org.