“Closing the gap” is a government strategy which aims to tackle the disparity of health issues and education between Australian Aboriginals/Torres strait islanders and non-indigenous Australians. Initially this was to close the gap in life expectancy and the amount of available medical/dental treatment available, but has since diversified to include matters such as; child mortality, childhood education, and employment. However, if current trends continue, the gaps in education, health, and job opportunities between indigenous and non-indigenous people will never be closed. Child mortality has actually increased, the life expectancy difference between indigenous and non-indigenous people hasn’t changed, and the education received by indigenous kids is definitely not up to scratch.
The life expectancy for Aboriginals and Torres Strait islanders was, and still is, 10 years shorter than the life expectancy for non-indigenous people, which, in my opinion, is just unacceptable. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, “A recent study has shown the Indigenous life expectancy to be 67.2 years for males (11.5 years lower than for non-Indigenous males), and 72.9 years for females (9.7 years lower than for non-Indigenous females).”. This piece of information alone did not sit very well with me. Not only is the age gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people a massive 10 years, one of the biggest causes of death in the indigenous community is diabetes. Diabetes is a very manageable disease if diagnosed and maintained properly and yet still causes a huge problem for indigenous people. As many as 10% of people in the indigenous community die as a result to diabetes, not to mention all the heart diseases and other associated problems caused by it. Some of the reasons why the deaths due to diabetes are so high; they are oblivious to the fact they have it, and even when they do, they’re unaware of the actions they can take to get affordable medication, they don’t know the actual impact diabetes can have on a person. These are all problems that can be solved simply by educating the indigenous community of diseases that they might be more susceptable to, over the majority of the non-indigenous community, things they can do to prevent/maintain these diseases, and how to receive the right care for the diseases. These things can be easily taught to students, when they are more impressionable and are more likely to remember the effects of diseases can have. This leads me to my next argument.
Indigenous kids are far less likely than non-indigenous kids to receive a good education and it’s utterly disgraceful that a child’s ethnicity can determine what kind of education they get, and ultimately their job, lifestyle, etc... According to ABC news online, “Indigenous 15-year-olds are on average about two-and-a-third years behind non-Indigenous 15-year-olds in reading and maths.” In Australian schools, math is a core subject that is taught to every year level and to find out that indigenous kids are so far behind in a subject used in everyday life was shocking. I’m certain that anyone in this room would agree with me when I say this is utterly intolerable and should be fixed AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! All but one area in equalizing the gap in education between indigenous and non-indigenous people are failing. Education available to indigenous Australians, according to the Mitchell Institute, “education is affected by whether a student attends an urban, regional or remote school, as well as whether or not they come from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.” So, the non-indigenous Australians take the indigenous Australians and relocate them into incredibly remote areas, with poorer education and medical treatment available, less job opportunities, and wonder where they went wrong?
This basically means that students in remote areas and who have less money are less likely to have an education. Since when did the amount of money in my pocket determine how much of a brain I have in my head? It shouldn’t matter whether I have no money or if I bathe in money daily, I should be entitled to the exact same education as everyone in this room.
One of the most concerning statistics, is the fact that nearly double the amount of indigenous infants and children up to the age of 5 years old, die as a direct result of the lack of resources allocated and available to them. ABC news online states, “There has been no significant decline in child mortality rates since 2008, and child mortality rates actually increased slightly from 2014 to 2015. In 2015, there were 124 Indigenous child deaths. This was four deaths outside the range of the target and an increase of six deaths since 2014.” Not enough effort is being put into this growing issue Australia faces. Have you ever had a friend or family member to die at a young age? Taken before they even had any real chance at life? Maybe they were taken before they said their first word? Before they learned to walk? Maybe they were taken when they’d just started primary school? All these precious moments stolen from them and you. Take all that pain, tears, anger, sadness, and anguish, then double it…… Maybe then you can understand how we, as indigenous Australians feel. Nobody would wish that kind of suffering upon anyone, and that’s exactly why we should be trying our best to make this work.
Some people might argue that the indigenous Australian community have just as much access to health care and educational resources as anyone else. Let’s entertain this idea for a minute. Indigenous Australians must simply be attention seekers, who enjoy being less educated which results in a lower level of employment and income than everyone else… They must enjoy watching their family and friends die… Interesting. Yeah, nah. If you ask me and countless other people, they will all tell you this is simply not the truth.
Closing the gap is not getting enough support, or action, for it to be able to achieve any real success. We, as a nation, need to stand up and take responsibility before these issues get any worse. There are many actions you can take to decrease deaths in indigenous children, to close the life expectancy gap, and to give education to those who need it the most. By merely spreading the word about closing the gap, you would be helping a lot of people out. all of us need to take a look around us, and think about the Australia we want. About the Australia we all deserve.