By Michael Doran
In 2008 the ‘Closing the Gap’ initiative was launched to bridge the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians in the areas of health, education and employment.
The 2019 report, tabled in parliament on 14 February by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, shows marginal progress in some areas but in school attendance, unemployment and literacy and numeracy progress is almost non-existent.
This is the final report against the original framework which means these three targets will expire without ever being met.
Eastern Health, which manages Healesville Hospital, was recognised for its commitment to Indigenous health at the Victorian Public Healthcare Awards in September 2018. The group won the Improving Indigenous Health category for improving access to recovery-oriented adult mental health services for the Aboriginal community in the east.
“Enhancing mental health care for the local Aboriginal community has been a passion for many people on our team,” said Jo Voce, Eastern Health Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer.
As part of closing the health gap, Eastern Health is having its annual ‘Closing the Gap Family Sports Day’, showcasing some of the best Aboriginal sporting talent in Melbourne’s east.
Now in its sixth year, the day will bring together a range of the group’s health professionals to take on the local community in netball and football. In his day job, John Ferraro is Executive Director Clinical Operations with Eastern Health but his passion is now directed to his role as coach of the Eastern Health football team.
“This event has grown every year and is a real highlight for Eastern Health, with our staff and the local community coming together,” he said. “We’ve had a really good response from our staff and the community to participate in the netball and football matches.
“I’m very proud to be involved and to be leading the Eastern Health football team. The community team is always full of talent, so we are looking forward to seeing some really exciting sports action.
“The aim is to raise awareness about closing the health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the non-indigenous community and it’s a fantastic family day out. We want to encourage everyone to come along and cheer the teams on.”
There will be more to do than watch football and netball with activities such as Aboriginal dance, interactive information stands, face painting, a petting zoo, jumping castle, running races, giveaways, show bags and more.
It is on Sunday 3 March at the Don Road Sporting Complex in Healesville from 9.30am to 3.30pm.