20 March, 2008

At last! A bi-partisan approach to Aboriginal Health!

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson have both signed a pledge to close the 17-year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2030.

According to Mr Rudd funding to help curb smoking and encourage Indigenous Australians into health careers is at the top of the agenda. He said: "The Government is 100% committed to working in partnership with you over the weeks, months and years ahead."

Ironically opposition Indigenous Affairs Spokesman Tony Abbott refused to sign on to the plan. He made the excuse that he was only given short notice. Thankfully his boss Brendan Nelson has a big enough heart and he has signed the statement on behalf of the opposition. Nelson said: "Of course we support the pledge in closing the gap. There would be no sensible Australian who would believe otherwise than closing the gap."

Dr Mick Adams, the Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), who helped wordcraft the pledge, said he is overwhelmed by the Federal Government's promise. He says it is a milestone and he will work hard at making sure the Government sticks by its commitment.

"One of my ways of doing it is going to sit down with them and generally discuss on how we together could work together in achieving things," he said.

Well done guys! This is a great statement of intent, one of the many good noises coming out of Canberra at the moment. But, please make sure you follow through and turn the rhetoric into substance!


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