Community-controlled organisations – such as the Cherbourg-based CRAICCHS – hold the key to meeting Closing The Gap targets, according to the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC).
QAIHC has supported the Australian Productivity Commission’s recommendations, released on Wednesday, which call for urgent reforms to meet Closing The Gap targets, saying insufficient progress has been made by governments.
The Review of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap report found progress to implement reforms was “weak”, and that “disparate actions and ad hoc changes” had not led to noticeable improvements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
QAIHC Acting CEO Paula Arnol said the findings demonstrated governments were not sharing responsibility or using the skills and knowledge of community-controlled organisations.
“It’s not a ‘gap’; it’s a chasm. We need urgent action now,” she said.
“Our communities and services live with real inequity. Life expectancy targets aren’t on trajectory, and suicide rates amongst our people are climbing.
“The Priority Reforms under the National Agreement were meant to ensure governments listened to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; we know what is best for our communities.
“The Productivity Commission report proves governments need to strengthen the structures that empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and share decision-making authority.
“The report recommends some key actions, including amending the agreement to better emphasise power sharing, and having governments recognise the expertise of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations in what works for their communities.
“We need stronger involvement from community-controlled organisations if we’re really going to close the gap.
“Our members live and work in our communities and regions, their strength is in building solutions for mob.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships and collaborations are essential to achieve real change.”
QAIHC is an umbrella body which represents more than 30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-controlled health organisations in Queensland, including CRAICCHS (Cherbourg Aboriginal & Islander Community Controlled Health Services).