The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has applauded today’s announcement on the Close the Gap agreement and its historic commitment to reducing the incarceration, domestic violence and suicide rates in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
RANZCP President, Associate Professor John Allan explained that while the details and specific targets are yet to be determined, this announcement provides great encouragement from both the Federal government, as well as state and territory governments, on their commitment to closing these important gaps in society.
‘This agreement symbolises a historic moment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as it is a moment of many firsts’, said Associate Professor Allan.
‘It is the first time that issues such as justice and suicide have been included and made a priority in such an agreement.
‘It is also the first time that we have seen such a level of inclusion and involvement from all levels of government, as well as representation from peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.’
The RANZCP is firmly committed to addressing the mental health disparities found between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.
Chair of the RANZCP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Committee, Dr Siva Balaratnasingam said the new Closing the Gap agreement gives a focus on mental health that has not previously been seen.
‘Issues such as domestic violence, incarceration and suicide have strong mental health factors involved and we are firmly committed to supporting the government and indigenous communities in helping to address these to achieve our goal of addressing these issues’, said Dr Balaratnasingam.
‘There is a lot of work that needs to be done and to have such an inclusive approach is encouraging for everyone involved.
‘All those involved in this new Closing the Gap agreement are to be applauded and we, as mental health practitioners, look forward to being involved in achieving the targets set out today.
The RANZCP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Committee and the whole of RANZCP look forward to working with all governments and peak bodies in working towards achieving the goals outlined in the new Closing the Gap statement.
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